I want to get serious with planting 55 gallon
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I want to get serious with planting 55 gallon

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I want to get serious with planting 55 gallon
Old 03-25-2011, 09:25 AM   #1
Cassandra90's Avatar
Question I want to get serious with planting 55 gallon

I have a 55 gallon long tank. I decided that I would love to make it a fully planted tank. It probably wont happen until late spring when the weather gets nicer to get live plants shipped.

All my information is on the aquarium log/aquariums.

My main questions are:

I have noticed alot of members using fine gravel or sand when having a planted tank.
Should I switch to this substrate? ( I have larger gravel)

Should I remove my undergravel filter?

What is the correct light wattage to keep plants alive?

At the moment I have 9 live plants: Moneyworts, Java Ferns, I think a anuabis(sp), and another fern type plant.

I use API plant fertilizer.

Any other suggestions or tips will be appreciated. Thank you!
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Old 03-25-2011, 12:32 PM   #2
Fine grain gravel and sand are usually used for planted tanks because the smaller grain size allows the plant to root more securely and easily, with larger grain gravel, it becomes easy for plants to float and get pulled out before its rooted deep enough to hold.

For the UGF, most people remove it when planting a tank because its supposed to be bad for plants, not exactly sure why, but it seems to be the general consensus. However, some have used it with plants to some degree of success and others have switched their pumps to pump water into the system to create a reverse flow UGF and that fixes some of the problems.

Correct light is dependent on what plants you want, most plants will do ok with low lights, using higher lighting sometimes means you are aiming to keep more advanced plants like HC, but then you start getting into CO2 injection, fert dosing schedules, etc to maintain a balance in the aquarium.

With the plants you have, get plant bulbs, assuming you have a t-8 hood, but dont go over 1-2w per gallon. anymore than that might get you too much algae. You will need way more plants than 9 though, just from that assortment of plants, if you fill the tank with them, 1-2w should be fine.

Flourish Comprehensive the usual recommended fert, I am unfamiliar with API's leafzone, but I do know that flourish contains most of the macro and micro ferts needed for the aquarium.
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Old 03-25-2011, 12:40 PM   #3
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THank you for the much needed help. I'll keep doing my research for the next 2 months or so.
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Old 03-26-2011, 01:29 PM   #4
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I'll just expand a bit on the suggestions from SinCrisis (with which I concur).

Undergravel filters can work, there are too many planted tanks using them to say otherwise, but they are not the filter of choice for a planted tank. One problem is that plant roots will clog the plate openings. Another is that the water is drawn down through the substrate faster than it should be for optimum plant growth. In the substrate there is a very complex cycle going on, between bacteria (here we are talking bacteria different from the normal nitrifying bacteria), plant roots, and nutrients brought down in the water. There is a natural flow of water through the substrate in the aquarium just as what occurs in nature. It is always best to let nature do its thing without interference; it usually means more success, with less to go wrong.

As you may be switching substrates anyway, removing the UG filter plate would be recommended. As for the substrate, a finer substrate works better both from the aspect of anchoring the plant roots and be assisting the afore-mentioned complex activity. In my 20+ years I have used just about every substrate material there is, except for soil [which is a whole different issue], and I can say with certainty that plants do best in a small-grain fine gravel or sand.

For some background on these and other issues, like the light question, have a read of my article "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium" at the head of this section of the forum. There are 4 parts (too long for one post) covering the basics of a natural or low-tech setup.

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Old 03-28-2011, 07:29 AM   #5
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Thank you Bryon. I am going to slowly buy the materials needed.
Hopefully it all works out for me.
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