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setting up an amazon biotope/habitat aquarium

This is a discussion on setting up an amazon biotope/habitat aquarium within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> so if i use the sand substrate, will i need to supplement with tabs still? i read the guide to natural aquariums and talked ...

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setting up an amazon biotope/habitat aquarium
Old 01-16-2012, 08:31 PM   #11
 
so if i use the sand substrate, will i need to supplement with tabs still? i read the guide to natural aquariums and talked to some people and they said once in a long while, it could help to stick like fertilizer sticks into the sand to help with the root growth. should i do this? or will the plants be able to grow naturally without any human intervention?
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Old 01-17-2012, 11:23 AM   #12
 
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Originally Posted by pandamonium View Post
so if i use the sand substrate, will i need to supplement with tabs still? i read the guide to natural aquariums and talked to some people and they said once in a long while, it could help to stick like fertilizer sticks into the sand to help with the root growth. should i do this? or will the plants be able to grow naturally without any human intervention?
On nutrient fertilization in general, it depends upon the plant species and the aquarium (fish load, feeding, tap water). Nutrients for plants occur from two main sources: tap water (the hardness is key) and organics (from fish foods and decaying plant matter). The plant species is important because some plants need more nutrients; generzally, the faster growing a plant is, the more nutrients. My tap water is near-zero in hardness so right away I need to supplement calcium and magnesium, and trace minerals too. I use Flourish Comprehensive Supplement because it contains everything in proportion. This is intended as a supplement in a natural or low-tech system. You can maintain a healthy planted aquarium with this alone.

Some plants are heavy feeders, and this usually applies to substrate-rooted plants such as swords, crypts, Vallisneria, aponogeton, Sagittaria, etc. Since these plants are rooted in the substrate, and their root systems are buried in the substrate, using substrate fertilizers like Flourish Tabs does improve growth because it targets the roots directly. But they will still grow without. I have experimented with this over several years, with the result that I now use Flourish Tabs next to the larger swords, along with Flourish Comprehensive weekly. I do this in both my gravel and sand tanks.
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Old 01-17-2012, 12:38 PM   #13
 
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On nutrient fertilization in general, it depends upon the plant species and the aquarium (fish load, feeding, tap water). Nutrients for plants occur from two main sources: tap water (the hardness is key) and organics (from fish foods and decaying plant matter). The plant species is important because some plants need more nutrients; generzally, the faster growing a plant is, the more nutrients. My tap water is near-zero in hardness so right away I need to supplement calcium and magnesium, and trace minerals too. I use Flourish Comprehensive Supplement because it contains everything in proportion. This is intended as a supplement in a natural or low-tech system. You can maintain a healthy planted aquarium with this alone.

Some plants are heavy feeders, and this usually applies to substrate-rooted plants such as swords, crypts, Vallisneria, aponogeton, Sagittaria, etc. Since these plants are rooted in the substrate, and their root systems are buried in the substrate, using substrate fertilizers like Flourish Tabs does improve growth because it targets the roots directly. But they will still grow without. I have experimented with this over several years, with the result that I now use Flourish Tabs next to the larger swords, along with Flourish Comprehensive weekly. I do this in both my gravel and sand tanks.
i know that my tap water is medium to high hardness. i checked it a while back when i set up my 12gallon. i know this is not ideal for amazon fish since they like soft water. will the plants just absorb this out of the water column? or should i try to make the water softer?
and i will definitely take a look at the flourish supplement. i plan to have some swords in the background and possibly midground, depending on the size so once i have that finalized i will decide on which swords to use the tabs.
on a good note though i have a clearer idea of what to do for my tank.
tank size: 40 gallon breeder (36x18x16 i think)
filter: an eheim fit for this size, i think 2271 or something like that. it was 150 online
the fish list stays the same i think. the tnak doesnt have a lid so i was gonna get an aqueon glass lid and cut out the back holes for all the media.
however i still have questions for lighting. so byron you suggested t8 lighting and i didnt need to do 2 watts per gallon. in your tanks i noticed it was about 1 watt or less per gallon and it looks amazing. so should i have a grand total of about 35-40watts over 2 bulbs? or 40 watts in 1 bulb? and the plant species i aske dyou about earlier.
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Old 01-17-2012, 01:26 PM   #14
 
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Originally Posted by pandamonium View Post
i know that my tap water is medium to high hardness. i checked it a while back when i set up my 12gallon. i know this is not ideal for amazon fish since they like soft water. will the plants just absorb this out of the water column? or should i try to make the water softer?
and i will definitely take a look at the flourish supplement. i plan to have some swords in the background and possibly midground, depending on the size so once i have that finalized i will decide on which swords to use the tabs.
on a good note though i have a clearer idea of what to do for my tank.
tank size: 40 gallon breeder (36x18x16 i think)
filter: an eheim fit for this size, i think 2271 or something like that. it was 150 online
the fish list stays the same i think. the tnak doesnt have a lid so i was gonna get an aqueon glass lid and cut out the back holes for all the media.
however i still have questions for lighting. so byron you suggested t8 lighting and i didnt need to do 2 watts per gallon. in your tanks i noticed it was about 1 watt or less per gallon and it looks amazing. so should i have a grand total of about 35-40watts over 2 bulbs? or 40 watts in 1 bulb? and the plant species i aske dyou about earlier.
The dimensions of your 40g are close to my 33g; same length and depth (height), your 40g is wider (front to back). I have a single T8 tube, 25w, 30 inch length, over the 33g. For your 40g I would up this, as I know I am limited in this tank with the single T8 tube. This is where a single tube T5 HO would work well, or a dual-tube T8. Single-tube T5 is not easy to come by, but Foster&Smith do have one for 36-inch tank:
Aquarium Lighting for Planted & Reef Aquariums: Hagen GLO T5 HO Linear Fluorescent Fixtures
And this is the tube:
Aquarium Lighting: T-5 Fluorescent Bulbs: Hagen Life-GLO T-5 HO 6700K Bulb

A dual T8 would be something like this:
Fluorescent Aquarium Lighting: Perfecto Fluorescent Double-Bulb Strip Lights

Interestingly, the price on both fixtures is the same. The T5 is a "clearance" so perhaps they are discontinuing it. You'll have no trouble getting tubes, as T5 HO will be here a long time. T5 was introduced for marine tanks where more intense light with fewer tubes was the advantage, which is why one sees T5 in multi-tube fixtures more.

The tubes for the T8 would be standard T8 tubes, and there are plenty around:
Aquarium Lighting: Compatible Fluorescent Bulbs for Standard Fluorescent Fixtures
The 36 inch tubes are for the above T8 fixture, and I would suggest either the Life-Glo 2 or UltraSun as basic, plus (with two tubes) you can have a second with a different spectrum which can create good light together.

I won't suggest one over the other now, so think about this.

With either fixture, it is just the light so a glass cover unit would be needed; you can buy these, and they have a strip at the back that is not glass but plaqstic so you can cut out for heaters and filters.
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Old 01-17-2012, 07:48 PM   #15
 
since the t5 is hard to come by i would probably go with the t8. i want to make it easy to replace should something bad happen haha. while looking at the tanks, i noticed all these numbers like 6700k and such. i read through your sticky in the plants section (very clear might i add). so i should try to invest in a bulb with a 6000-7000k rating. but you also mentioned using another tube, both in the sticky and in your last reply. i dont quite understand the purpose of this other tube. will it add increase the wattage of the tank in a negative way? or will it just provide a section of the spectrum that a normal bulb does not?
with the glass covers i have looked around at those and i think i found ones that will fit by perfecto and aqueon.
Aqueon Versa-Top? Hinged Glass Tops | Products
something like those. i heard perfecto is very good but this got me wondering. they sell the replacement hinges and back panels separately. if i go to home depot and have the proper size glass cut and assemble it myself, will that work just as well as buying a glass lid? or should i just not be stingy haha. my craftsmanship may not be up to par. i have also heard of plexiglass being used for the lids. will either glass or plexiglass warp under the heat of the light fixtures?
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Old 01-17-2012, 08:34 PM   #16
 
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Originally Posted by pandamonium View Post
since the t5 is hard to come by i would probably go with the t8. i want to make it easy to replace should something bad happen haha. while looking at the tanks, i noticed all these numbers like 6700k and such. i read through your sticky in the plants section (very clear might i add). so i should try to invest in a bulb with a 6000-7000k rating. but you also mentioned using another tube, both in the sticky and in your last reply. i dont quite understand the purpose of this other tube. will it add increase the wattage of the tank in a negative way? or will it just provide a section of the spectrum that a normal bulb does not?
with the glass covers i have looked around at those and i think i found ones that will fit by perfecto and aqueon.
Aqueon Versa-Top? Hinged Glass Tops | Products
something like those. i heard perfecto is very good but this got me wondering. they sell the replacement hinges and back panels separately. if i go to home depot and have the proper size glass cut and assemble it myself, will that work just as well as buying a glass lid? or should i just not be stingy haha. my craftsmanship may not be up to par. i have also heard of plexiglass being used for the lids. will either glass or plexiglass warp under the heat of the light fixtures?
The glass cover sets are not very expensive, and the benefit is they are easier to handle. I have one of the Aqueon ones linked, and my larger tanks have the sets that are glass panes in a plastic dual-rail strip that sits on the tank frame. Both have pro's and con's compared to each other. But on the whole I prefer the rail system. Sliding the front pane back a couple inches to feed is for me easier than lifting up the front half and opening half the tank. Just did a quick Google and can't see these; may not be around any longer.?? I would stay with glass for the cover. Easier to clean I would expect.

Light. With dual tubes you can mix spectrum. This is largely a matter of personal taste. I do not like warm white light over my tanks, but prefer cool white. I always have one full spectrum 6700K (within 5000K to 7000K will work), and when I can get them, a cooler (more blue, less red) for the second. I can no longer get these locally, so I'm using Phillips 6500K as my second tube. The plants do just as well under either, it is solely the hue in the tank, and I like a crisper cleaner white rather than the yellowish warmer white that something like a 4000K tube would emit. Blue also penetrates water better, so there may be a slight benefit with my larger tanks by having a blue-ish tube with the full spectrum.
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Old 01-18-2012, 08:32 PM   #17
 
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I don't believe that the plants affect the water hardness, or if so, likely not enough... but I really don't know. I have very soft water out of the tap so that part is easy for me... curious what folks will have to say about your hardness. What are your parameters?

I know some folks with harder water who want soft-water fish talk about using RO water, or adding peat or driftwood but I honestly don't know enough about it all to be of any help. ;)
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Old 01-19-2012, 11:02 AM   #18
 
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Got sidetracked on the light and missed the water hardness question. Sorry pandamonium.

Magpie is correct, plants have very little effect on hardness. But before we mess around with adjusting the water, what is the GH (geeneral hardness) and KH (Alkalinity) of the tap water, and the pH (tap, not tank, and let a glass of water sit overnight to test pH)? You can ascertain the hardness from the water supply folks, they mayhave a website; might also indicate average pH, that will be fine.

Byron.
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Old 01-19-2012, 03:35 PM   #19
 
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Got sidetracked on the light and missed the water hardness question. Sorry pandamonium.

Magpie is correct, plants have very little effect on hardness. But before we mess around with adjusting the water, what is the GH (geeneral hardness) and KH (Alkalinity) of the tap water, and the pH (tap, not tank, and let a glass of water sit overnight to test pH)? You can ascertain the hardness from the water supply folks, they mayhave a website; might also indicate average pH, that will be fine.

Byron.
thanks magpie and byron for the insight. i just looked up the water quality reports for my city. unfortunately they only have one up from 2010 and previous so its not as recent as i want to show you guys but hopefully it helps.

the GH of the water has a range of 8-104ppm with an average of 53ppm
the KH of the water has a range of 8-96ppm with an average of 49ppm
and i can't test the pH since i am at school in new york and i live in california. but according to the report, the pH ranges from 8.2-8.7 with an average of 8.5.

in my past tanks i haven't had any problems with fish and this water, except for my first (and failed) attempt at keeping neons. since then i have not tried any fish that need acidic water except maybe for otos which were able to cope fairly well. i remember when i measured the pH of the water a year ago, it was about 7.5. up at school i used driftwood to lower the pH and stain the water.
other than that, i confess, i know little to nothing about water hardness so im hoping you can enlighten me :)
i defintely do not want to kill any more neons because it was quite sad.

and on another note, the tank i wanted to get was a 40 breeder but my father said it was too deep (front to back). the other option is a 38 gallon which has dimensions 36.5x13.5x19.8. i believe these are outside dimensions. would this affect me much at all? in terms of fish/substrate/rooms for plants to grow/etc? from the dimensions its slightly higher than a 40breeder tank but defintely thinner. any thoughts on this or am i overthinking it?
i wanted to set up a flooded forest tnak though a little different than your tanks byron. i will post an image when i can find it again. but i know i defintley have question about it.
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Old 01-20-2012, 03:08 AM   #20
 
Tank Lighting

Hey Pandamonium, I am in the process of setting up a Amazon tank myself and Byron has been helping me a s well. I just purchased my lighting the other day. A lighting store in my area had a new type of T5 set up which does not have a ballast. With most florescents you will need to occasionally change the ballasts as they burn out. This new type has none and can be linked one to the other with simple plug connection. I am setting up a large tank, that will hopefully look half as good as Byron's 115g, so I am going with two of the T5's. One is around 6500k and the other is more of a cool white, around 4500k. I do not think they are HO's, but they put out more light than the T8's. Byron has his T8's sitting on top of his glass covers. My tank is going into a custom wall unit, so I can adjust the height of the T5's above the water in case they are too bright.
I went with this idea so I would not have to mess with changing out ballasts. Im not sure if this will actually save me money in the long run but should save time and effort which was what I was after. I will have them on a timer and probably start out with 8 hours a day based on my previous conversations with Byron. If you need more detail on these lights let me know and I will send it to you. I can give you the exact K ratings, etc, and you can see what Byron thinks. Hope this helps.
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