New 29 Gallon Tank / Bottom Feeders? - Page 2 - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #11 of 14 Old 09-03-2011, 10:27 AM
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If live plants are intended, then start with them and avoid any "cycling" issues. Plants need nitrogen, and they use ammonia/ammonium as their preferred source. So the ammonia produced by fish and bacteria gets grabbed by the plants. Some nitrifying bacteria will also colonize the surfaces, but the plants are fast to grab much of the ammonia, especially if you have faster-growing species of plants. The nice thing about the plants is that when they use the ammonia, they do not produce nitrite, so the second stage of the usual cycle is not present. This is by far the easiest and safest way to start a new tank. And once it is reasonably well planted, you put in a few fish and as I said, there will be no detrimental cycling effect.

On the gravel, small grain works best. Darker or natural colours look better but also settle fish more; all substrates in natural habitats where most of our fish occur is dark, and the fish is darker on the top so that it will be less visible over the substrate when viewed by a predator above. Gravel or sand will work.

The light is important. I wrote a basic intro to a natural planted tank that is stickied at the head of the Aquarium Plants section, "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium," you might want to read through the 4 parts of that series. We also have plants in our profiles, most of the common ones are there, with requirements and care data.


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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post #12 of 14 Old 09-03-2011, 10:29 AM
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Doing a planted tank is easier than it may seem. With doing a natural low tech setup making sure that you have the right lighting and choosing plants that do well in low to moderate light you will be fine. In the plants section in the forum there is a 4 part series on the natural approach to the planted aquarium, which covers substrate, lighting and nutrients. A gravel substrate will work fine with doing plants, I have gravel in my 50 gallon planted and it does well. If you have your tank planted heavily enough you can add some fish right away. Plants will take up the ammonia that is produced by the fish, along with that plants help with the filtration of the water. Once you have a chance to read the plants series, if you have any particular questions just let us know.
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post #13 of 14 Old 09-03-2011, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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Byron, BarbH, Nubster

Thank you so much for the help you have given me in the early stages of my aquarium setup. Read through the plant intro Byron and found it very helpful. Went out today and got some water test kits - the API mentioned by BarbH - for ammonia, nitrates, pH, etc. Also bought a few plants - Wisteria, "Stricta" (hygrophila corymbosa stricta), and a couple waterlily bulbs. Will probably add a couple more next week but wanted to get an initial planting in and see where I am at afterwards. Also got a pre-soaked piece of wood to add to my tank.

Silly question -- There are small fake plants attached to a cave decoration in my tank - will the combination of those fake plants with the real plants be a problem? Will it bother or confuse the fish?
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post #14 of 14 Old 09-03-2011, 06:42 PM
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In my first tank I started with plastic and switch over to live I added a live one I removed a fake one. Never seemed to be an issue when there was both in the tank at the same time.
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