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Discussion Starter #1
I just found this site the other day - very nice! :D
It's good to see more plant boards popping up these days...how long has this site been around? I'm familiar with the Aqua Botanic site as well as the one on Apistgramma.com There are also a few others I pop in on now and then. Feel free to let me know of your (other) favorite sites - if that's allowed. ;)

I just tore down my 40 gallon plant/dwarf cichlid tank and am now in the process of setting up a new 75 tank where the main emphasis will be the plants (somehow those dwarfs have always stolen my attention in the past...)

I have been into plant tanks for a number of years, but got into reef keeping about 6 years ago and well, I'm sure you know the story. ;)
Once I had bought all that CO2 equpment for the Ca reactor, it didn't take too long for the plants to get back into my head.

The 75 will have a 3" 2-3 mm gravel/laterite bed with a bottom layer of pre-waterlogged vermiculite (yeah, I know, to each their own). I have a substrate heater that I used on the 40, so it may be too small for the 75, but I'm going to use it anyway...IMO, some sub heat is better than none. It will be lit with some reefing "leftovers" - 2 daylight bulbs on a VHO ballast and 2 55W 10K PCs. Just got the Eheim 2224 filter the other day, so now all I'm waiting for is some decent weather so I can finish painting the stand and canopy. Can anyone recommend their favorite CO2 reactor for a tank around 75 gals? I have a vortex right now, but I think I can do better. I've never used a diffuser - would I still need a reactor?

Blah, blah, blah...anyway, I'm glad to have found this site - hope to get here often.
 

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Welcome to the forum, Graham!

Ok, first of all, I see a few problems in your plans. Why do you want to use vermiculite or laterite/gravel for that matter? It can get messy when uprooting plants, etc. A better option would probably be to go with the comercial product called Eco-complete. You could use a thin layer of Diamond Black (which you can get in your local Hydroponics store) to further fortify your substrate.

Ditch the substrate heater. It's really just not necessary and will be more of a pain, IMO.

You have a plantguild mini-vortex reactor? A larger reactor would definitely help. I like the original version of the Plantguild reactor in my 55g, although, if I could, I would use an inline reactor. I believe Gomer, one of our members, knows how to make these. I have it inline on my 20g, and it works great.

Carlos
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Carlos.

Gravel/laterite has always worked well for me in the past. I find the "mess" to not be that bad and I'd rather go that route than spend over $100 on commercial products that will just eventually require supplementation after a couple years anyway. The laterite will be mixed in with the lower 1-1/2" of the gravel and I will cover that with another 2" of regular gravel. I was going to use the vermiculite so I could have a relatively inert base with a high CEC. This is one thing I've never done before, so I will have to evaluate how well it holds water. If it seems pretty hard to waterlog, I will not use it.

As for the substrate heat, why do you say they are a "pain"? I know the use of them is debatable, but I've always had better results with than without them - especially with crypts and swords. You place it, cover it, dial it in and essentially forget about it. IMO, the convection they produce is worth their use alone. I want water moving through the substrate. Unless there is a heat gradient, the only movement is via diffusion - very slow. Convection also helps keep the substrate oxygenated. I'm a firm believer in them. :)
 

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Welcome Graham! I just wanted to make a small little comment on the 10k light you're gonna use. I have one myself right now and I don't feel too good about it. It doesnt' seem to bring out the beautiful reds that some plants are suppose to produce and some of my more delicate plants seem to be burning off. I'm not too sure if it has to do with the 10k, but if you can get a 6.4-6.7k that would probably work better for the plants. However, 10k is doable, just make sure they are hardy plants. =) GOOD LUCK WITH EVERYTHING! Let us know what happens.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hi litesky. Thanks for your input.
I agree that 10K isn't the best temperature bulb - I'm mostly using it for my eyes to add a little crispness to the 6700K bulbs. I just bough 2 new 10K PC bulbs, so I feel like I have to use them ;). I think you're right though - lower K is where it's at.
 
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