01-18-2011, 05:45 PM
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hi, i'm new to these forums, and thinking about starting a planted tank. i currently have a 55 gallon unplanted community tank, and just recently bought a 10 gallon tank that i was gonna start up. i want to use this 10 gallon tank as a trial and error for my first planted tank, and if i get the hang of it, maybe put some in my 55 gallon as well.
one question i have is about the gravel. how much gravel is needed for a planted tank? like how many inches deep? does it have to be a little more than a non-planted tank, because roots need room to grow?
and what would be some appropriate plants for such a small tank?
and also, what plant food/fertilizer is appropriate for those plants?
01-18-2011, 07:57 PM
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Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum. I'll try to respond to your several questions in the two posts.
Substrate: in a 10g you will not have plants with enormous root systems, so a gravel substrate of 2 inches throughout the tank would be my recommendation. You can slope this from front to back, either as a gradual slope or with rock or wood pieces to form small terraces, so it is deeper at the back where the larger plants will naturally be placed. A dark substrate is always better, black, gray, brown, natural mix. And small grain gravel, the smallest you can find. This has a significance for the colony of bacteria that lives in the substrate and is essential to a healthy planted aquarium.
Fertilizer: a good comprehensive liquid will suffice. I use and highly recommend Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planted Aquarium. Nutra-fin's Plant-Gro is my second choice. Flourish is in my view much better, it is the only one with all nutrients, and it takes so very little it is long-term much less expensive.
Light: the single most important item. Plants need adequate light, meaning light that is of sufficient intensity (brightness) and duration for them to photosynthesize (grow). Kelvin is the measurement of the colour of light; it has nothing to do with intensity (brightness or strength of light). But it is significant, because aquatic plants use only red and blue light to photosynthesize, and both must be present. The sun at mid-day is about 5600K, and a lower K rating means more red (warm light) while a higher K means more blue (cool). There is less blue in the warm K, and less red in the cool K. So a balance is important; studies have proven beyond doubt that a mix of full spectrum and cool white is the best, and in terms of K that means between 6000K and 7000K. The "daylight" type tubes with a K of 6500K are ideal. They provide the necessary red and blue, but also include some green which balances for a true rendition of fish and plant colours. You can buy daylight tubes at hardware stores, just look for the K around 6500K.
The intensity of the light depends upon the lumens, but for our purposes as long as you have a daylight tube it will work fine for the majority of plants. The duration depends upon the nutrients; these must balance. If the light is greater than the available nutrients, plants can't use it and algae will take advantage.
Lastly, suitable plants. I would suggest the pygmy chain sword, dwarf sword, corkscrew Vallisneria. These are all hardy, easy to grow and not high light demanding. Crypts are another choice, but they can be fussy and if you want to start with more chance of success, I would leave them for later. These plants are included in our profiles, click on the shaded name or use the second tab from the left in the blue bar at the top of the page to go to the Fish Profiles section. Lots of fish there too.
01-18-2011, 09:38 PM
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give me a few days, and i'll post some pics. i'm just gonna fill it with water now.
i was going to use water from my established tank, and a few scoops of gravel, and a few rocks. is that a good idea?
01-19-2011, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Rip
eventually i'll probably convert my 55 gallon tank to be a planted tank as well. i currently have only 2 15watt bulbs in there.
i read in some thread, that a rule of thumb for a planted tank is to provide approximately 1 watt per gallon.
right now i have two 15 watt bulbs. 15 x 2 = 30, which is well below 55, representing the size of my tank. is that how it's figured out? if so, would i want to get higher watt bulbs, while still staying with the 6500k ?
The watt per gallon idea can work as a rough guide, but with all the new lighting coming on the market now it is difficult to use any sort of "guide" as the lighting is so varied in intensity and wattage, etc. With the basic T8 fluorescent tubes over 4-foot tanks, one watt per gallon or less will work; all my large tanks have less than this.
For a 55g tank that is 4 feet in length, I would use a single 48-inch T8 tube (daylight, 6500K). I had this years ago and it worked fine. The existing two-tube fixture is probably workable, but you would be pushing the limit I think, unless you go with higher intensity tubes. Hagen/Nutrafin make a series of tubes called "...-Glo" and the best for planted tanks is the Life-Glo. They make two types, the Life-Glo and the Life-Glo 2. The latter is basically a normal daylight tube. The former (without the "2") produces slightly more intense light due to a special coating on half the inside of the tube that directs more light out the other half. I have used these, and on single-tube tanks they can sometimes provide that little "extra" that helps. They are of course considerably more expensive. And they still need replacing every 2-3 years.
If you decide to go the single-tube 4-foot fixture, the cheapest is to buy a good fixture and a glass cover. I use this on all my larger tanks. The glass covers sit down on the lip around the frame, and the front panels slide back for feeding. The light fixture sits on the frame. Much cheaper than a "hood" type.
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