How to convert a tank to real plants? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 16 Old 09-04-2012, 02:07 PM Thread Starter
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How to convert a tank to real plants?

Hi All!
I have a 65 gal. artificial plant community aquarium. Its been set up for about 1.5 years. I am thinking of trying real plants for the first time!
What is the process to convert the tank over? Can I do it without too much distruption? I have small gravel now - does that work with real plants? I see that most planted tanks have a different substrate under the gravel. Do I need to do this or does plain gravel work, too? Thank you for the advice!

65 gal. community
3 Angel fish
3 cory cats
1 bushy nose pleco
3 small rainbow fish
6 lemon tetra's
2 male black mollies (no baby's!)
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post #2 of 16 Old 09-04-2012, 03:24 PM
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The gravel you have now is fine for plants. When you decide to go ahead with live plants you will need to have some fertilizer on hand. A good liquid fertilizer is Seachems Flourish Comprehensive plant fertilizer. Also what kinda lights do you have? You will need a full spectrum bulb like Zoo meds Ultra Sun daylight bulb. That's just one type I can think of right now. There other full spectrums out there but can't remember their names right now. Another choice and a cheaper is going to a hardware store and getting A Daylight bulb that's around 6500k. GE and Silvania make some that are good. If you don't know what kind of bulb you have now you can look at the bulbs you have now and tells us what it says and we can let you know.

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post #3 of 16 Old 09-05-2012, 12:50 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the information, I really appreciate it!

I looked at my bulbs and there isn't much written on them. It says: All Glass Aquarium Hg, 25w, Rapid Start. I have two bulbs in the fixture that are 36". Would these be the bulbs you mentioned and work for plants?

On a side note: my Angel fish laid eggs yesterday ~ surprise! This morning the eggs were gone, so someone had a really good midnight snack. After reading online, this is normal and they will probably do it again. Pretty cool, though!

Thanks again
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post #4 of 16 Old 09-05-2012, 04:38 PM
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Do they say anything about the Kelvin rating? Also I am assuming the Bulbs are T8 bulbs? I couldnt find much on the bulb you listed. 36" bulbs are a odd size and can sometimes be hard to find. I know Lowes and Home Depot don't carry the right bulbs in that size for plants as far as the Kelvin rating is concerned. I do Zoo Med Ultra Sun which is a good bulb for plants just a little more money makes a 36" bulb. Fluorescent Aquarium Lighting: Zoo Med Ultra Sun Trichromatic Fluorescent Bulbs
If it was me and couldn't find the Kelvin rating for the bulbs you have I would go with the Zoo meds Ultra sun bulbs.
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post #5 of 16 Old 09-05-2012, 05:37 PM
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A was actually about topoast something for this. Only its a ten gallon with AQ gravel.
Dont mind if I tag along?

We were two ships in the night
Hell bent on trying to survive and
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post #6 of 16 Old 09-05-2012, 06:07 PM Thread Starter
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Boredomb ~

My tank is a little rare - a 65 gallon. Its called a breeder, the size is not as wide as a 55 gal. but taller and deeper. I got it about 7 years ago from my neighbor and love it! It has survived two moves and after each move I can't wait to get it back up!

I did go to to PetSmart today and they do have 36" bulbs that are not too much $$. About $20 per bulb. I looked online and saw others for a ton more - like $59! Will have to check out Lowe's/Home Depot.

I also looked at the plants and I may have to go to my LFS because they didn't look too good at PetSmart. They had a bunch of snails on them. What are your thoughts on snails?

Thanks again!
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post #7 of 16 Old 09-05-2012, 07:26 PM
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Lisa look online for bulbs they will be cheaper! The one's I linked in my last post were like $11 each. Also you should have a look at the plant profiles we have under Tropical Fish Profiles if you haven't already.

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post #8 of 16 Old 09-07-2012, 08:15 PM
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Make sure you plant the tank densely from the start to reduce the possibility of algae problems.

Everything happens for a reason, but the reason isn't always good.
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post #9 of 16 Old 09-08-2012, 11:02 AM
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Lisa 123 ; I think you are making a good choice switching to real plants. Most plants are pretty undemanding. They need light and in my experience you do not need any fertilizers. The fish will do that part for free. I sell plants to my local fish stores and have never used a liquid fert. Go slow and just start replacing the plastic. or go fast and ripe it all out and plant real plants. I f you do want to get serious with real plants I would do a tear down and put about 1/2" of a product called Laterite under you gravel or any similar product. It is a simple hardened natural clay product and is very safe for plants and Fish too
The best light in my opinion is still the > Growlux Florescent bulb. The fixtures are cheap and the bulbs are only about $10.00 each. Doug

"I once thought I was brave; now I can't stop crying." By kendal Payne.
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post #10 of 16 Old 09-08-2012, 12:49 PM
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Tankfull Tropicals I have to respectfully disagree here with you on the no Fertilizer though there are some plants that you might get away with this depending on your water hardness and your substrate. Even then it is just a matter of time before these will run out of the nutrients. As you said already Laterite is a type of clay and it only provides just iron to plants. Also it is true that fish poo and food will help fertilizer the plants but IMO these are not enough to solely fertilizer plants. Plants need 17 nutrients to photosynthesis and some are more demanding of these nutrients then others. I have a tank full of plants now and I will be honest here I havent had time to take of then as I should with the way my schedule has been lately. The swords are the ones showing the most problems and are probably the most demanding in my tank for nutrients. They have brown leaves showing this nutrients deficiency. I still highly recommend fertilizer and your plants will thank you for it too.
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