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New tank questions

This is a discussion on New tank questions within the Beginner Planted Aquarium forums, part of the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium category; --> I'm in the process of setting up my first tank with live plants and have a couple questions that searching the forum did not ...

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Old 04-04-2011, 08:38 PM   #1
 
New tank questions

I'm in the process of setting up my first tank with live plants and have a couple questions that searching the forum did not resolve.

I am using a canister filter with an in-line heater in a 55 gallon tank - trying to keep as much hardware out of the tank as possible. Are there any advantages to using a spray bar as opposed to a single return outlet?

My lighting is a Coralife with four 65 watt compact flourescent bulbs at 6500K each. I know that's too much. Will removing two bulbs get me in the right range?

I'm planning on using Eco Complete as a substrate with a little black sand over it for some sparkle. Decorations will be basically stones and a little driftwood. Just enough too highlight the plants and fish. This will be a community tank, probably all Amazonian.

I would entertain any suggestions as to what plants to use. I've been keeping fish for years, but never attempted a planted tank before. Any guidance would be appreciated.
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Old 04-05-2011, 11:26 AM   #2
 
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First off, welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum. I see you joined in March, and I don't think I've had the opportunity to welcome you before now.

To your questions. I will respond here, but you may also find some info in the series at the head of this section entitled "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium," it is in 4 parts, and will review the whole setup for you.

Filter: I like the canister with heating element included, i have an Eheim like this on my 90g and it is incredibly effective and efficient. And it means less equipment hanging in the tank as you mention. As for the outlet, a spray bar lessens the force and spreads it out, whereas the spigot causes a stronger directed flow. Both have their uses. On my 115g I use the spigot because I have a few fish that prefer (= need) slightly stronger water flow and they have taken up residence at that end of the tank. It is not so strong as to cause significant flow further down the tank, so the other fish that do not like currents are equally happy. On the other hand, in my 70g and 90g I use the spray bar, along one end wall with the holes toward the glass to further weaken the initial current. This works well for most forest fish which come from slow-flowing streams, lagoons, flooded forest, etc. So the fish you select will decide which way to go. In both cases, the filter return should be at the opposite end of the tank.

Light: By "compact fluorescent bulbs" I am assuming screw-in bulbs as opposed to fluorescent tubes. I have never used bulbs on larger tanks, only on smaller (10g and 20g currently). All my larger tanks have tubes. Tubes distribute the light evenly along thee tank length which not only helps visually but dissipates the light to all plants below so they will tend to grow more evenly (toward the light). If you have bulbs, i would suggest ensuring they are all across the tank length for the same reasons. This may mean acquiring lower wattage bulbs. Having spots of very bright light is not advisable.

Substrate: "Sparkle" is something to be avoided in substrates, always. Fish do not like brightness below them, so the "duller" the better. They naturally occur over dark substrates, composed of mud, sand or wood and leaves (considering Amazonian fish as you mentioned). Also, fish and plant colours will shine in their own right if the substrate and background are dark neutral. I have black Flourite in my 70g and it is taking on the appearance, somewhat, of "mud" which is perfect as this is a flooded Amazon forest display. Photo attached for reference.

Plant suggestions: For Amazonian displays, any of the Echinodorus (sword) species are ideal, especially with an enriched substrate. That 70g in the photo is all Echinodorus species [7 or 8 I believe] except for the floating Amazon Frogbit and one small stand of Sagittaria. I tend to avoid stem plants, except for Brazilian Pennywort, simply because they require weekly pruning and I prefer plants that will generally remain as planted so I can keep the aquascape somewhat uniform. Of course, all plants will increase in size, but that is not the same as the fast growth of stem plants. Pennywort makes an excellent floating plant by the way. All of these plants (save the Sag) are in our profiles, second tab from the left in the blue bar across the top of the page, or when names are shaded in posts you can click on them to se that species' profile.

Hope this is of some help.

Byron.
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Old 04-05-2011, 12:47 PM   #3
 
Byron,

I've placed my responses in blue since I couldn't figure out how to include your post. (I just cut and pasted.)

To your questions. I will respond here, but you may also find some info in the series at the head of this section entitled "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium," it is in 4 parts, and will review the whole setup for you.

I read those and did find them helpful. The biggest problem I've found is a lack of agreement on many issues regarding planted tanks. I've visited several forums and many websites and am as confused as when I started looking for information. Some say my light is moderate, some say it is high, some say the K rating is too low, others say just right. Aggghhh.......

Light: By "compact fluorescent bulbs" I am assuming screw-in bulbs as opposed to fluorescent tubes.

No, they are four pin tubes that are basically bent back upon themselves. (Photo attached.) There are two switches on the fixture, so I can turn off two tubes at a time. One set in the front of the fixture, one set in the back.

Substrate: "Sparkle" is something to be avoided in substrates, always. Fish do not like brightness below them, so the "duller" the better. They naturally occur over dark substrates, composed of mud, sand or wood and leaves (considering Amazonian fish as you mentioned).

I did not know that and I've been keeping fish for a long time!


Plant suggestions: For Amazonian displays, any of the Echinodorus (sword) species are ideal, especially with an enriched substrate. That 70g in the photo is all Echinodorus species [7 or 8 I believe] except for the floating Amazon Frogbit and one small stand of Sagittaria. I tend to avoid stem plants, except for Brazilian Pennywort, simply because they require weekly pruning and I prefer plants that will generally remain as planted so I can keep the aquascape somewhat uniform. Of course, all plants will increase in size, but that is not the same as the fast growth of stem plants. Pennywort makes an excellent floating plant by the way. All of these plants (save the Sag) are in our profiles, second tab from the left in the blue bar across the top of the page, or when names are shaded in posts you can click on them to se that species' profile.

Hope this is of some help.

Actually, you've been very helpful. I appreciate it. Great looking tank, BTW. If I can get a result similar to that, I'll be elated.

Mark


Read more: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/a...#ixzz1IffRHcrz
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Old 04-05-2011, 01:08 PM   #4
 
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[quote]
Quote:
Originally Posted by texyank View Post
Byron,

I've placed my responses in blue since I couldn't figure out how to include your post. (I just cut and pasted.)

To your questions. I will respond here, but you may also find some info in the series at the head of this section entitled "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium," it is in 4 parts, and will review the whole setup for you.

I read those and did find them helpful. The biggest problem I've found is a lack of agreement on many issues regarding planted tanks. I've visited several forums and many websites and am as confused as when I started looking for information. Some say my light is moderate, some say it is high, some say the K rating is too low, others say just right. Aggghhh.......

Light: By "compact fluorescent bulbs" I am assuming screw-in bulbs as opposed to fluorescent tubes.

No, they are four pin tubes that are basically bent back upon themselves. (Photo attached.) There are two switches on the fixture, so I can turn off two tubes at a time. One set in the front of the fixture, one set in the back.

Substrate: "Sparkle" is something to be avoided in substrates, always. Fish do not like brightness below them, so the "duller" the better. They naturally occur over dark substrates, composed of mud, sand or wood and leaves (considering Amazonian fish as you mentioned).

I did not know that and I've been keeping fish for a long time!


Plant suggestions: For Amazonian displays, any of the Echinodorus (sword) species are ideal, especially with an enriched substrate. That 70g in the photo is all Echinodorus species [7 or 8 I believe] except for the floating Amazon Frogbit and one small stand of Sagittaria. I tend to avoid stem plants, except for Brazilian Pennywort, simply because they require weekly pruning and I prefer plants that will generally remain as planted so I can keep the aquascape somewhat uniform. Of course, all plants will increase in size, but that is not the same as the fast growth of stem plants. Pennywort makes an excellent floating plant by the way. All of these plants (save the Sag) are in our profiles, second tab from the left in the blue bar across the top of the page, or when names are shaded in posts you can click on them to se that species' profile.

Hope this is of some help.

Actually, you've been very helpful. I appreciate it. Great looking tank, BTW. If I can get a result similar to that, I'll be elated.

Mark
Thanks for the compliment on my tanks. It is not difficult to achieve that, the method outlined in that series of articles is what I've followed for 20+ years, and the results speak for themselves.

As for the varying opinions, please remember that there are many methods for a planted tank, and all of them basically "work." The question you must decide at the beginning is, what do you expect? And this will determine the method and complexity. Planted tank aquarists speak of low-tech and high-tech, and in between there are so many levels. I take a natural approach, which to me means less interference from me and more reliance on nature. If I don't mess with it, nature will do the job.

"High light" and similar terms are very subjective. Rather than get into semantics, I again follow my natural approach. Forest fish do not like overhead bright light, any more than they like a bright substrate. There is no argument over that, it is a proven scientific fact. So, I start by using the least light necessary and build the rest accordingly. The amount of light again depends upon what you want from your plants. Almost all plants will grow faster with more light--but that means more CO2 and nutrients to balance. Some plants need more light than others. If you choose a natural less-involved approach, you then avoid the high light plants.

I have never written that my method is the only one for success, that would be absurd. But it is one of the simplest, and one that has I believe the least amount of risk in terms of the fish's health. And particularly when a beginning aquarist is venturing into their first planted tank, simple with success is much more useful than complicated with risk.

Byron.

P.S. How to edit/respond with edits: Do a "Quote" response post, and then select [highlight] the text you want to respond to, and click on the "wrap" button; that will put the selected text in "QUOTE" mode. Then space down and type your response. Do the same for other sections of the text.

Last edited by Byron; 04-05-2011 at 01:12 PM..
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