help setting up a planted tank 250 L
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help setting up a planted tank 250 L

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help setting up a planted tank 250 L
Old 11-26-2009, 02:06 AM   #1
 
help setting up a planted tank 250 L

so i have been ignoring my big tank for the last month and a bit due to work and exams >.< and now thats done with (exams that is). Im thinking of replanting the tank with live plants.

i currently have 2 java ferns, some rocks and a few fakes set up so its not the most eye catching setup.
tank is temp 27 ph 7 all other parametres normal

as this will be my first planted tank i was hoping for a nice easy set with some good looking plants so ill have a few questions posted here.

ive heard co2 is needed to grow plants, should i get a setup or can i get by without one ?

what plants would you suggest besides java ferns ?

i have some flourite red fertalisr under a layer of sand as the substrate will this be enough ?

UV steraliser, i was told that i needed one by a friend, would this come with a co2 system or do i need to get it seperate ?

more noob questions to come
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Old 11-26-2009, 01:10 PM   #2
 
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First thing is for you to set out exactly what sort of planted tank you want when it's finished. This will determine a few things in setup. For instance, it is not by any means necessary to have a CO2 system in order to grow the majority of aquarium plants. There are a few species--some of the stem plants and plants like babytears and dwarf hairgrass--that usually fare better (= grow) with more lighting and thus CO2 becomes an advantage; but the vast majority of aquatic plants will grow very well in what some term low-tech or what I prefer to call "natural" setups. My "Aquarium" photos will give you a clue as to what is possible with such basic simple setups.

Plants require light (which has to be adequate in terms of intensity and duration) in balance with nutrients (which includes CO2, nitrogen and minerals). The CO2 and nitrogen comes from the fish and biological processes, but the aquarist controls the light and other nutrients. If these are in balance, the plants will flourish. If one of these elements is missing or in excess, trouble may occur from either poor plant growth and/or algae problems.

A UV sterilizer is not needed nor advisable unless you have a problem with green water. Substrate additives aren't necessary either, but will not be harmful if you already have it. Sand is a suitable substrate, I prefer small-grain gravel, but sand is certainly workable if you recognize and deal with the slight additional maintenance to prevent compaction which can occur more with sand than gravel.

I and others can offer suggestions on any aspect of the above once we know the direction you're heading. Also, mention your present lighting, presumably fluorescent, so how many tubes over the tank, what are the tube lengths, and is it regular (T8/T12) or T5. And, what fish (in general) do you have or do you want in this tank.

Byron.

Last edited by Byron; 11-26-2009 at 01:13 PM..
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Old 11-27-2009, 09:36 AM   #3
 
ok my lighting setup is 3 T5 tubes, one of them is a 'softish' light the other 2 are bright (UV?) running for about 8>10 hours a day, and im running 2 sunsun HAJ-900G pumps attached to a 'trickle filter?' or whatever its called built into the cover of the tank

as for a setup, something similar to the ones in your tank would be nice. i currently have alot of slate/basalt left over from redoing the garden of my perents place. Im thinking if i boil that ( or pour water over the rocks just in case) and the vinigar test thing works out i may use that as basis for the setup.

currently the tank is housing

4 Brittlenose catfish (2 smallish and 2 about 2" in size)
10 neons tertras
4 kerri tetras
2 bolivian rams
1 Dwarf gourami
1 burmese Loach

the 2 smaller catfish belong to a friend of mine who's having tank problems, so i told him i would hold on to them for him. As for future stocking options im really just gonna add a few more kerri's 2 more loachs and another dwarf gourami and end up with something like this



may add a couple of german blue rams but that is it for fish.
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Old 11-27-2009, 11:21 AM   #4
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Havoc View Post
ok my lighting setup is 3 T5 tubes, one of them is a 'softish' light the other 2 are bright (UV?) running for about 8>10 hours a day, and im running 2 sunsun HAJ-900G pumps attached to a 'trickle filter?' or whatever its called built into the cover of the tank

as for a setup, something similar to the ones in your tank would be nice. i currently have alot of slate/basalt left over from redoing the garden of my perents place. Im thinking if i boil that ( or pour water over the rocks just in case) and the vinigar test thing works out i may use that as basis for the setup.

currently the tank is housing

4 Brittlenose catfish (2 smallish and 2 about 2" in size)
10 neons tertras
4 kerri tetras
2 bolivian rams
1 Dwarf gourami
1 burmese Loach

the 2 smaller catfish belong to a friend of mine who's having tank problems, so i told him i would hold on to them for him. As for future stocking options im really just gonna add a few more kerri's 2 more loachs and another dwarf gourami and end up with something like this



may add a couple of german blue rams but that is it for fish.
This helps, thanks. Fish are basically soft slightly acidic water species. What is your tap water pH and hardness? Some species are more critical in this area than others.

The slate should be fine; basalt I suspect not as it is a volcanic rock and from my reading usually calcareous. I don't know the extent to which this could affect the water chemistry, so I would myself avoid it, unless your water is naturally very soft and acidic, then it may be helpful in maintaining some mineral in the water. Wood in the tank would be highly desirous for many of the fish species you mention.

A 250 litre tank is approximately 66 US gallons (although Canadian and thus forced to use metric everyday, I think better in gallons). Three fluorescent tubes may be too much, if they are full-length or close, and certainly if they are T5 HO (high output). You will have algae problems guaranteed. A good guide (which is old but still works) is one watt of regular fluorescent (T8 or T12 tubes) per gallon. That's what I have, slightly less actually, on my tanks in the photos. And it is plenty to balance the nutrients. T5 HO tubes are much more intense, roughly 1.5 times as bright, so two T5's is equivalent to three regular tubes, etc. Can you give me the tank dimensions, and the length of the tubes themselves? Will have more after I know this.

Byron.
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Old 11-27-2009, 08:51 PM   #5
 
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While you're working with Byron to have a optimal light for tank / plants, I'd like to make a few suggestions for planting
You said you wanted Java Ferns, so these are larger growing plants and would ideally cover your back part. What does go nicely with that is different types of Cryptocorynes, I personally prefer a mix out of the ones who's leaves are on the reddish end and then the green ones, makes for a neat contrast in the tank.
You said you wanted to use various rocks on tested with vinegar, that would be VERY nice to see some smaller Anubias on them (for starters you can tie them down to the rock and they'll eventually attach themselves).
What is also a nice plant IMO to add a little color to the tank are Ludwiga Natans as they'll show off in their different tones of red & darker greens.
For the front part of the tank, you have a few options: Either use more rocks or piece driftwood and cover that in moss, another plant I like in the front is Hairgrass, however you WILL need good light for that (so listen to Byron's advises )
As for its looks, I recently started planting dwarf baby tears, look great but I can not make recommendations based of experience just yet on this plant, but it stay's nice and low and creates this thick carpet looking like.
If you don't know what all these plants look like by heart (don't know if you dealt with any plants before or not at all) Go here Aquarium Plants and check out the named plants, or brows around and see what you like for its looks so we can discuss its needs
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Old 11-27-2009, 10:26 PM   #6
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron View Post
Three fluorescent tubes may be too much, if they are full-length or close, and certainly if they are T5 HO (high output). You will have algae problems guaranteed.
the lights are all on individual switchs so i can leave one or two off its two much >.< though i havnt had n e algue problems so far (couple of fat hungry brittlenose seem to do a good job + babysitting 2 more)

my tap water is pretty good still have to raise the ph before doin water changes and stuff but thats ok melbourne water is pretty good all other parameters are normal. Will the basalt be that bad ? the majority of the rocks are basalt >.< so if its unsuable may have to get some more slate.

ill take a look at the plants and might head into my LFS morrow.

Ps mesurements are 40'lx18'wx22'h so just over 68 us G so maybe a bit more than 250l.


thanks for the help
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Old 11-28-2009, 11:01 AM   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Havoc View Post
the lights are all on individual switchs so i can leave one or two off its two much >.< though i havnt had n e algue problems so far (couple of fat hungry brittlenose seem to do a good job + babysitting 2 more)

my tap water is pretty good still have to raise the ph before doin water changes and stuff but thats ok melbourne water is pretty good all other parameters are normal. Will the basalt be that bad ? the majority of the rocks are basalt >.< so if its unsuable may have to get some more slate.

ill take a look at the plants and might head into my LFS morrow.

Ps mesurements are 40'lx18'wx22'h so just over 68 us G so maybe a bit more than 250l.


thanks for the help
For this tank, I would go with two regular fluorescents or one T5 HO tube, in whatever size fits. It will probably be around 36 inches for the tubes I would think. Three tubes will be more light than you can balance with nutrients (CO2, nitrogen, minerals). Short-term this may work, but long term is doesn't. There must be a balance, and the factor in least supply will be the limit for plants. This should always be the light, which is what the aquarist can control. IF CO2 is the limiting factor, i.e., more light that CO2 to balance, the plants cannot use the light and algae will. And I mean algaes that fish will not consume.

A full spectrum tube (around 6500K) and a cool white combo provides the best plant growth. With a single tube, full spectrum works well. The blue and red that plants require is there, plus green to balance for a natural appearance of plant and fish colours.

What is the tap pH, and what fish do you keep? Asking because it is always better not to fiddle with pH, if what comes out of the tap suits the fish.

Byron.

Last edited by Byron; 11-28-2009 at 01:23 PM..
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Old 11-28-2009, 12:16 PM   #8
 
ill have a look for the globes next time i go into the shop. Will also keep an eye out for algae? will just using one of the T5's for now and leave the other 2 off work.

tap ph is about 6.4 > 6.6 but i usally raise it to about 7 as i was told that was a better range for my rams.

another couple of questions,

what kind of adheasives can you use that are safe with fish?, i was thinking of sticking the rocks together rather than just stacking them, can you only use aquarium silicon?

does anyone know a reputable site for buying plants off the net ? the local stock is kinda basic around here but dont wanna just go off buy from any random website.
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Old 11-28-2009, 01:21 PM   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Havoc View Post
ill have a look for the globes next time i go into the shop. Will also keep an eye out for algae? will just using one of the T5's for now and leave the other 2 off work.

tap ph is about 6.4 > 6.6 but i usally raise it to about 7 as i was told that was a better range for my rams.

another couple of questions,

what kind of adheasives can you use that are safe with fish?, i was thinking of sticking the rocks together rather than just stacking them, can you only use aquarium silicon?

does anyone know a reputable site for buying plants off the net ? the local stock is kinda basic around here but dont wanna just go off buy from any random website.
Bolivian Rams will do fine in acidic water. I've had a male for more than a year in my 115g with a pH of 6 and I can't imagine a more beautiful specimen. There is actually a photo of him (though it doesn't do him justice, his colours are much more intense, just my cheapo camera) in the "Amazonian Riverscape" set under my "Aquariums." Mikrogeophagus altispinosus, unlike the cousin M. ramirezi, is very tolerant of a wide range in parameters, from acidic to slightly basic (alkaline), provided it is stable.

Which brings me to your pH. I would leave it at 6.4-6.6, this is perfect for the fish you list. There are others on this forum who are green with envy over such water. You don't say how you are raising it, I hope not with chemicals (any of the pH adjuster things). These will over time have an impact on fish health. They cause stress, some fish more than others, and stress always means weakened immune systems and thus poorer health and more prone to various problems.

Aquarium silicone is the best, it is safe and waterproof.

Aunt kymmie mentioned plant sites online, and Angel did too. Perhaps they'll see this and chime in.

Byron.

Last edited by Byron; 11-28-2009 at 01:24 PM..
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Old 11-28-2009, 04:36 PM   #10
 
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I've used:
www.aquariumplants.com
www.liveaquaria.com

and have been very happy with all my orders. I always opt for overnight shipping as that's the only way to ensure that perfectly healthy plants will arrive on your door step. Good luck with your tank, nothing's better than planted.
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