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I have had my aquarium set up for about a year now. It has 11 Cardinal Tetras and 10 Rummy Nose Tetras. The only decorations I have in the tank are a bubble wall and artificial plants. I would now like to put live plants in my tank, but I have no idea how to keep them. Also, how hard is it to keep live plants? Any help here would be greatly appreciated?

The hood on my tank holds two fluorescent lights. I know for a fact that I need to get new lights but I have no idea how many watts I need. The main plant I would like to get is a Amazon sword plant which requires medium lighting. Can someone help me figure out how many watts I need? Also, what brand of lights should I get?

Another question I have is: how do you add fertilizer and how often? And how will I know if I need to add CO2?

Substrate = natural color gravel
Tank volume = 29 gallons
Length = 30 in.
Width = 12 in.
Height = 18 in.
pH = 7.4
GH = 10
KH = 3
 

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Hey there Carttman.

I'm fairly new to the hobby myself. About 3 months now. I have 10 gallon and 29 as of last week that I am in the middle of creating. I am also in the process of updating the lighting system for the 29 gallon.
2.5 to 3 watts per gallon from what I understand is a good number to play with.

Here is a recommended place for upgrading your existing light fixture
http://ahsupply.com/index.html

Regarding substrate, here is a page that helped me.
http://home.infinet.net/teban/substrat.htm

CO2, well thats the stage that I am in right now. Here is a page that helped me.
http://www.qsl.net/w2wdx/aquaria/diyco2.html

Well thats the extent of my knowledge. I'll let some of the wiser turtles chim in now.
 

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I would shoot for a minimum of two watts per gallon for the lighting to start with. You can proably get by with plain gravel if you add some fertilizer tabs to it. I know seachem makes some that are supposed to be good. You will especially need something like that for amazon swords as they are heavy root feeders. As for whether or not to add co2, it really depends on your lighting. Everything has to be in balance. Lighting, fertilizing, and co2. In a low light tank, say 1.5 to 2 watts per gallon, co2 is usually not needed because the plants arent growing fast enough to be co2 limited. I would recommend starting slow with 2 watts per gallon, no co2. What other plants are you planning on putting in there? It is always best to plant heavily from the beginning to try to keep algae to a minimum. You might be able to get by with just some root tabs and use the food you feed your fish as fertilizer.
 

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Welcome Carttman,

Sir Black is right, as always:) I also would recommend starting with ~2wpg and no co2. You could upgrade your lighting to hold 3-24" tubes or use an AH supply PC(power compact) light to 1x 55 watt lamp. Any lamp will work as long as it is full spectrum with a color temp (the K rating) of 5500K to 10,000K Any oof those temps will be fine for the plants. What you settle with is purely aestetic really. Kigher K looks more redish, lower is bluer. Do not use actinic bulbs. If you want to make your own hood, check out my thread "Ask Dennis" in the DIY section. I use flourish tabs in my substrate and fine they work wonderfully.

Last recomemndation, read, read, read. The APC is a wonderful resource. Most any question you may have is answered here somewhere. Please though, feel free to ask for help. THat's what its all about:)
 

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dennis said:
Last recomemndation, read, read, read. The APC is a wonderful resource. Most any question you may have is answered here somewhere. Please though, feel free to ask for help. THat's what its all about:)
I agree, 2 wpg is about a bare miniumum. Also the gravel should be fine with tabs, and also mixing in a little bit of laterite would probably help as well.

As for feeling free to ask questions, make sure you use the search button before hand, and then when you are frustrated with the amount of information it returns, then ask.. :) heheh..

Welcome to a wonderful forum..

Matt
 

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While I agree that laterite would be beneficial, I would be cautious about adding the laterite to regular aquarium gravel.

When I first started my 75g I added laterite "balls" (laterite rolled into 1/2 diameter balls) to my aquarium gravel on the suggestion of the person I got my plants from. It leeched into the water column and kept my tank an orange, cloudy mess for about six weeks. I then changed out my substrate.

Please, make sure your gravel is very small before you add any laterite to your substrate. You need gravel small enough to keep the laterite from seeping through it and into your water column.
 
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