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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello to all the regulars on this aquarium board.

I am new to this specific hobbie, but not new to keeping an aquarium. I have had many fresh water aquariums, usually with plastic plants and decorations, then I jumped into salt water tank in which I kept many coral, fish, inverts etc...

Now I want to try my hand at keeping a live planted aquarium. I looked at some of the tanks from the AGA competition I believe its called and they look incredible.

So I go off to the LFS today and talk to the guy about starting up a small 10 gallon fresh water tank. I already have the lighting, heater, filters etc...from when I kept salt, so I assumed all I needed was a different substrate, lower K bulbs, and a way to get Co2 into the system. After talking to the guy for a while he told me that keeping a live planted tank is much harder than even keeping a salt water system. The reason being the balance between making plants thrive and keeping away algae is extremely hard.

I don't jump into anything without researching first, so I have been extensively reading on this site. What I would like to hear from the people on this board that have experience and nothing to gain from trying to sell me a $500 Ph monitor is whether or not what this guy told me is true.

What do I need to jump into keeping easy to care for live plants??? How do most people keep a small healthy tank that doesn't have an enormous amount of maintenance? Am I kidding myself to think that this is possible? One of the main reasons I didn't keep my salt water tank was because I just didn't have the time for all it required, plus the cost of coral and fish compared to that of fresh water is extremely different.

So if anyone could help me out with my questions that would be very appreciated.

thanks

R*
 

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1 Good lighting 2-4 watts a gallon.
2.C02
3.Good substrate Fourite,Eco complete or sand
4.macro's and micro nutrients.Learn about this in the fertlization catergory
That is what you will need for a planted tank.Then just create a design your happy with.
 

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ruuskystar,

First of all, welcome to APC! You're in the right place :)

If you want a low-maintenance tank, you might want to try a non-CO2 setup. They are very stable and easy to maintain. Some of the basic tenets of fishkeeping (specifically water changes) are all but discarded with this method.

For a non-CO2 setup, I personally prefer a mix of peat moss and topsoil under a layer of regular aquarium gravel. The soil/peat mixture for me is usually .5-.75 inches in depth, whereas the gravel is 1-2 inches deep. To create space in a 10 gallon, you might want to keep the total substrate at 2.5 inches or less.

The path of fertilization with a non-CO2 setup is through fish food. Fish food contains all of the nutrients plants need, and with slightly lower light and no injected CO2, the plants will have plenty of nutrients to maintain good growth. Maintenance (i.e., pruning, etc.) is much less with this sort of setup, but growth is slower and your species options are a bit less. This is not to say, however, that a beautiful tank cannot be accomplished with this method.

Alternatively, you can opt for the so-called "high-tech" setup, where you can include injected CO2 (pressurized is best, in my opinion, since maintaining 30+ ppm with a DIY setup is very difficult...and I personally don't use a pH monitor--to me it's an unnecessary and peripheral frill), a specific substrate, weekly water changes, and fertilizers. A little more light than for a non-CO2 tank should be used.

I assume you have a fixture left over from your salt tank. How many watts is it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
thanks paul and error for the replies.

Glad I found the right place.

Left over from my salt water setup is a 96watt power compact light, alot of sand, heaters, powerheads, aquaclear and penguin filters, all the media that goes with them, air pumps etc...

I really want a low maintanance tank like you suggest, so I'm very intrigued by your post error. I do want to keep live plants, but was told this is going to be very difficult to achieve a successful tank without Co2, especially trying to balance plant health and algae growth.

Do you have any links of setups of people who are doing the method you suggested to me so I can read up some more?

Also, what are some of the plant species that I could try with my light and no Co2...

I have many more questions but this is a good start, don't want to bog anyone down.

Again, thanks for the reply's, looking forward to the next one. :D

r*
 

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A 96 power compact over a ten gallon? You will absolutely need CO2 injection then, with that much light. The amount of CO2 addition necessary is a function of the amount of lighting you place over your setup. A 2wpg tank may do fine with 15ppm CO2 but a 4wpg tank will be much harder to control and require the already mentioned 30ppm.

If you want to follow the non-CO2 route, I recommend plants like:

Anubias barteri var. nana
Bacopa caroliniana
Bacopa monnieri
Cryptocoryne sp (wendtii, walkeri, lutea, lucens, etc)
Hygrophila difformis
Hygrophila polysperma
Lysimachia nummularia
Java fern
Java moss
Rotala rotundifolia
...just to name a few

You'll still have quite a bit of pruning to do, though. Really, CO2 injection does not make an aquarium any more difficult than a non-CO2 tank, IMO. Aquariums functioning with CO2 injection also tend to be more visually appealing.

It depends on your goals,

Carlos
 

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Left over from my salt water setup is a 96watt power compact light
That's 9.6 watts per gallon (wpg). You're not going to need anywhere near that much for a planted tank whether it is CO2 injected or not. Non-CO2 setups do fine in the 1.5-2.5 wpg range. In my opinion, 2-2.25 is best. If you want to inject CO2, 2-4 wpg is typically plenty. I use 5.5 wpg with my current setup and it's swiftly becoming apparent that i have too much light.

Do you have any links of setups of people who are doing the method you suggested to me so I can read up some more?
Tom Barr uses this method with some of his tanks. I'll look into finding links for you, but here is a picture of a setup I had several years ago using the aforementioned method (please pardon the lack of coherent aquascaping):


Also, what are some of the plant species that I could try with my light and no Co2...
Some genera I recommend:

- Anubias
- Echinodorus
- Cryptcoryne
- Hygrophila
- Microsorum
- Vesicularia
- Vallisneria
- Sagittaria
- Bacopa
- Ludwigia

Not all species in these genera will do well with a non-CO2 setup, but that is a substantial palette for a beginning planted tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
thanks for the replies guys. the help is really appreciated.

first off, i'm not opposed to selling my current light to buy something smaller with less watts and getting less k bulbs.

so with that said i'll do whatever it takes to achieve an environment that my plants can thrive in...not just survive. Would like to spend as little money as possible though, as a full time student it doesn't leave that much $$$ left over, if ya know what i mean. I honestly thought by going to live planted tank instead of a marine tank I could have a little easier time maintaining, I suppose I was wrong in my thinking.

so what is the easiest and best way you guys inject co2 in your systems? I mean i've been reading alot on this site, but haven't come across a simple, not high maintanace method yet. the guy from the LFS tried to sell me a 500 dollar unit. Thanks but no thanks I told him. I'm not exactly a super DIY kinda guy either, so any suggestions would be helpful.

I'm also still interesting in this non co2 method, if all I have to do is get a less watt light that shouldn't be a problem at all.

thanks and looking forward to any response...appreciated.

r*

ps error...that tank you posted would be something that I want. I might aquascape differently, but that is pretty much what i'm going for. what size is that tank? i really like the small grass like plants in the front...the tanks that look the best to me so far have been the ones that have the entire bottom covered in short, full plants like that...and then designed with caves and rocks and larger plants around..etc...alot of the tanks on AGA Aquascaping site are great for inspiration...
 

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ruuskystar said:
first off, i'm not opposed to selling my current light to buy something smaller with less watts and getting less k bulbs.
I use 6700K bulbs. They're available and they work. Other people like to use 9325K, which also work but are less available.

I honestly thought by going to live planted tank instead of a marine tank I could have a little easier time maintaining, I suppose I was wrong in my thinking.
You weren't wrong in your thinking :) The major aspects of planted tank maintenance are pruning and fertilizers, both of which are reduced with a non-CO2 system.

so what is the easiest and best way you guys inject co2 in your systems? I mean i've been reading alot on this site, but haven't come across a simple, not high maintanace method yet. the guy from the LFS tried to sell me a 500 dollar unit. Thanks but no thanks I told him. I'm not exactly a super DIY kinda guy either, so any suggestions would be helpful.
The cheapest you'll spend on a pressurized system will be about $150, and it'll be more like $160. I recommend this regulator, it usually runs around $100. You'll want to use it with a 2.5 lb or 5 lb cylinder on a 10 gal. These you can get at welding supply stores or fire extinguisher/equipment stores and run $50-$70, usually. Then all you need is good tubing and, depending on your filtration system, a way to get the CO2 into the tank.

I'm also still interesting in this non co2 method, if all I have to do is get a less watt light that shouldn't be a problem at all.
Soil + gravel + 1.5-2.5 wpg = non-CO2 tank. They're asy to maintain.

ps error...that tank you posted would be something that I want. I might aquascape differently, but that is pretty much what i'm going for. what size is that tank? i really like the small grass like plants in the front...the tanks that look the best to me so far have been the ones that have the entire bottom covered in short, full plants like that...and then designed with caves and rocks and larger plants around..etc...alot of the tanks on AGA Aquascaping site are great for inspiration...
That's a 46 gallon bowfront. The plants in the front are Echinodorus tenellus, commonly known as "Pygmy Chain Sword". This is a species that is easy to maintain.
 

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Ok, you want a 10 gallon planted tank. Here's my take on the way to do it right and not spend a lot of money.

Go to www.ahsupply.com and get a 36 watt kit with bulb and an enclosure. If you have access to a drill and a screwdriver you can assemble this in about an hour. Then get a custom piece of glass cut for the top of the 10 gallon tank to avoid the nasty hinge in the middle. Use DIY CO2, 1 or 2 2 liter bottles with a Hagen bubble counter/ramp. Pressurized CO2 on a 10 gallon tank is IMHO overkill of the worst kind. Buy a bag of Flourite or Eco-Complete for the substrate. Get some basic nutrients from www.gregwatson.com. Mix all this together and grow happy plants. If you have questions E-MAIL me. You can find my address in my FAQ.
 
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