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I am new to the hobby although have previous experience in keeping tropical fish. I am in the process of buying a 48"x18"x18" tank & having seen the many beautiful planted tanks on the web, hope to produce something similar.
I have researched the subject extensively & have decided on the following perameters: External 'Eheim 2026' canister filter, 300 watt heater, DIY CO2, 160 watt of T8 lighting & a substrate of 2"clay/gravel mix beneath 2" 'Florite'.
My main question is that in addition to the above nutrients do I need to use a liquid fertalizer & is there any glaring problem with my setup that I am missing?
I read somewhere that without fertilizer most plants will soon die, is this true? Also I keep reading about other aquarium owners who use KNO3, NO3 & PO4. What are these nutrients & am I going to need to buy a range of liquid nutrients or is there an 'all in one' product I could use?
All help & advise will be gratefully appreciated.

Many thanks, Nick.W (UK)
 

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Welcome, Nik. Where are you located in the UK?

48 * 18 * 18 inches: That is a 67 US gallon (or 56 Imperial gallons, 253 litres), unless my math is out. A nice tank size. What is it? Juwel? Deltec? Eheim?

I suppose the answer to your question about whether it is necessary to add iquid fertilizers such as KNO3 (which you can order in the UK via a chemists as saltpetre) and PO4 (which is also available in the UK as Fleet Enema in chemists, I think) depends on what plants you will grow and whether you might consider adding CO2 as well. The lighting you plan to use is fairly low, I think. This could be a nice easy tank to maintain at that level of light.

Andrew Cribb
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for your reply PINEAPPLE. In answer to your questions, I live in an area of the East Midlands called Leicester.
The tank I am getting is being made locally to my spec. as it will incorporate a cabinet & hood. Unfortunately 160 watt of light is as much as the starters will take, although I intend to use reflectors to amplify the light. My intention as stated, is to use CO2 & to reduce costs I produce it using the Yeast DIY method.
I am a great fan of AMANO & want to try to reproduce his carpeting effect using Riccia Fluitans & Jarva Moss. The other plants I hope to use will include Green Cabomba, Amazon Sword, varieties of Hygrophilia, Windlov's fern & Dwarf Hairgrass to mention a few (dont worry I'm not intending to go too mad with the number of plants, but hope to get a nice variety of differing leaf shapes & colours).
Can you tell me whether KNO3 & PO4 are needed in this setup or is there a simple ' all in one' furtilizer available. Also would these nutrients have any effect on my water perameters as I keep Rams (Gold, Bolivian & Blue), which require a PH of about 6.5 - 7? What furtilizer do you use?
Hope to speak to you soon.
Regards Nick.W
 

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Leicester is a nice place.

DIY CO2 is viable, but somewhat burdensome when it comes to keeping the supply constant. I have used it and remember running through sugar by the ton, and yeast too. The single most helpful step in my history of aquatic gardening was the purchase of a pressurized system. It freed me to concentrate on growing plants and building more tanks... rather than constantly worrying about how many bubbles per minute the DIY culture was producing.

With a tank your size, I would run the CO2 into the filter intake. I have been doing that one Eheim 2224s with no problem. It is a very efficient means of ensuring all the CO2 is dissolved.

Is your water soft? I seem to remember there is some limestone nearby.

Flourite doesn't provide much in the way of substrate nutrients. I would say there is a need to fertilize. People who prefer complete control over what they put into the aquarium use KNO3 and PO4 individually. Otherwise, a complete solution might be provided by Seachem's line of Flourish products (possibly not available in the UK). I think the Dennerle fertilizer range is more common and you could check www.newleafaquarium.com for details.

Andrew Cribb
 

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Discussion Starter #5
:? Andy, I'd love to be able to use a pressurized CO2 system but at present my cash flow is a bit short following the outlay on the cabinet, tank, filter etc.
Hopefully in the future I'll be able to afford one, until then I'll rely on the DIY version. I like the idea of putting the CO2 through the filter intake, although somewhere on this site I read that some people feel the CO2 could destroy the bacteria in the filter media, but if it has worked for you I'll give it a go. Can you tell me how I will know if I have right amount of CO2 going into the system? You mentioned a bubble counter, are they expensive, where do they fit in the system & how many bubbles should I be getting? I know when I previously experimented with it in an empty bottle, I put a airstone on the end of a tube from the CO2 bottle & got a steady stream of bubbles every second, is that too much??
With regards to the GH of the water I think it's about <10. Do I take it from your knowledge of the local Leicester area that you have been here before?
I was interested to note what you said about Florite, I thought it was a rich source of Iron. If it's low in nutrients would I be better using Laterite or some other type of commercial substrate?
Sorry for all the questions but I thought I had researched the subject thoroughly, I obviously still have a lot to learn, but I appreciate your experience.
Regards Nick.W
 

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Flourite is rich in Iron, it is a superb substrate. Really with that kind of light you will be able to grow anything. I think you europeans can get the Hagen NPK fert. I know Oliver uses it and his tanks look great. He also uses ADA substrates though...
 

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I sympathise with the cash flow thoughts. I'm trying to get hold of some Arcadia lights at present. These big outlays can delay other aspects of planting...

At least the larger Eheims, if not the smaller ones, have metal impellers so the CO2 does not harm that part.

As for the bacterial culture inside the filter media, I am not sure it does cause any harm, at least from my observations. Even if you fed the CO2 into the water via another means, the filter would eventually take in water of similar nature.

With DIY CO2 systems, a bubble counter is not a lot of good since one cannot really control the CO2 output. If you run it into the filter intake, you will be able to watch the bubbles go up the tube and time them. If you use another method such as a glass diffuser or Hagen Ladder, you can also see the bubbles. The bubble counter is almost essential with a pressurized system.

As for knowing the level of CO2 you are getting into the water, check the following link:

http://www.csd.net/~cgadd/aqua/articles.htm

Check the article about measuring CO2 in the planted aquarium.

This article is also good:

http://www.qsl.net/w2wdx/aquaria/diyco2.html

I should think you would need 2 or 3 2 litre soda bottles to provide CO2 to a tank of this size. But then again, if you grow low light demanding plants, you can have a beautiful aquarium which can run without CO2. Carpet plants like Marsilea sp. do well in low light (they are ferns).

I studied geology in London University and spent time in various places, including the midlands - but my memory does not serve me too well about the local geology. I thought there was a little Carboniferous limestone about. Possibly not. You can check with the local water authority to see if they provide figures for hardness etc.

Flourite is not so bad. I use it. The thing which I do not like about it is that the textures is like shards. I would prefer something more granular. Flora Base, available here, is more to my liking. I wonder what the Dennerle substrates are like. I added some silica sand to the top of the Flourite to make it easier for Eleocharis to take root.

Andrew Cribb
 
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