Need input on my current setup - Page 2 - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #11 of 12 Old 09-14-2010, 05:03 AM Thread Starter
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I just read the 4 part plant primer. Great work Byron.

I've come to the conclusion that I've gone as far as I can go, as far as trying to create the high tech fresh water/artificial aquarium goes. I have the following which all is part of having artificial decorations:

- high quality DI water machine
- timed light set to precise measurents
- lots of air stones. bubble effects, on a high end air machine for the fish's oxygen
- oversized cannister filter for massive filtration, bacterial coloniy, and chemical filtration
- lots of current from the properly placed head from the cannister

All of the expensive filtration, chemicals, air, and time consuming maintenance could be avoided using live plants. I've come to the conclusion that live plants make the aquarium a lot less expensive and easier to maintain.

I'm gonna experiment with my water for a bit to reconstitute with tap water. Maybe a month or so. Then I'm gonna plunge into swapping out for live plants.

Byron, I used to have fairly large black gravel. 4mm+ size. I swaped it out for sand for the cories and loach. Would this sand be adequate for plants? You talked aobut it being too compact. What about using potted plants?

All I have now is 1 horse faced. 1 bronze corry with no fins left. And maybe 5 neons and 1 black phantom. No big deal if I loose them. I havn't been restocking until I get my routine straightened out. They are all around 4 years old and the neons are slowly dying off 1 at a time from old age. It woldn't bother me to restock the tank. Any suggestions for a 30 gallon freshwater.

My next tank will be a 120g or larger salt water built in tank with sump. For fresh I am just going to keep the 30g and that's it.
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post #12 of 12 Old 09-14-2010, 10:09 AM
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Live plants will grow in sand. The issue with sand that I always caution new planted tank aquarists about is the extra effort to keep it healthy. Any substrate will in time compact; the smaller the size of grain the quicker it happens, and the more dense it will be. Raking the sand, stirring it (except around the plants obviously), having Malaysian livebearing snails that borrow through the substrate, all help to keep it aerated and healthy. Because it compacts faster, it can become heavy, something like adding water to sugar; dry, the sugar is loose, but as you add water, the granules begin to bond together into a syrup. Sand is something like that.

Potting the plants is not something I recommend unless there is a need due to fish uprooting them, or in breeding tanks. Plant roots need room to spread out, and the more they spread the healthier the substrate. Potting the plants is only making this more difficult to manage.

In the back of the tank, where larger plants with larger root systems will be planted, a mixture of sand and small grain gravel of the same colour would work well, with more gravel than sand. We don't vacuum the substrate around plants, many with planted aquaria never touch the substrate. I can't even see it in my 90g for all the plants.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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