Real or Silk?
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Real or Silk?

This is a discussion on Real or Silk? within the Beginner Planted Aquarium forums, part of the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium category; --> Hi, I'm getting ready to purchase a 46 bowfront. I would love to have live plants - swords, anubias and something low and creepy ...

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Old 08-26-2009, 07:42 AM   #1
 
Real or Silk?

Hi,

I'm getting ready to purchase a 46 bowfront. I would love to have live plants - swords, anubias and something low and creepy (nothing that won't stay where I put it), but in the past have had bad luck with plants.

Bad luck looked like constantly dying plants, turning yellow and transluscent. the only thing I ever go to live was a anubias nana

Given prior bad luck, do you think i should stay with silk, or is it easy to learn? If you reco live, expect quick follow up questions about weather I need to think about CO2 and what lighting I need.

Thanks!
Sue
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Old 08-26-2009, 02:29 PM   #2
 
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In an aquarium where you want plants (i.e., with fish that won't view them as gourmet salad), live plants are beneficial far beyond mere appearance. The filtration they perform far outpaces any filter. I'll bore other members if I repeat what I've posted previously, so you may like to have a read of the last two paragraphs on plant filtration in my post in this thread: http://www.fishforum.com/freshwater-...ishless-27878/

Maintaining healthy plants is no more difficult that healthy fish. It jsut requires a knowledge of the basics and providing the few essentials. Your comment about plants staying where you put them is very suitable to a "low-tech" planted tank such as what I maintain (have a look at the photos under "My Aquariums" to see what's possible). Some might argue this is a bit above true low-tech, since heat and light is provided; but its still very basic and simple.

Plants require light and nutrients, and these must be in balance to provide the right conditions and prevent algae from taking over. Nutrients includes carbon dioxide (CO2, provided by the fish alone) and macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients [provided in liquid fertilization].

Light is the most imortant factor. Without adequate light (in intensity and duration) no plant will grow. Full spectrum fluorescent light (there are several manufacturers of good tubes) on for 8-12 hours each day (minimum 8, longer is your preference) is required, at 1-2 watts per gallon. Liquid fertilizer may or may not be necessary, but generally is; Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Plant Supplement is one of the best; 1/2 teaspoon treats 30g once a week, or sometimes twice [this depends upon the light and available CO2 from the fish]. This one provides all the necessary macro- and micro-nutrients and in the necessary porportion that plants require.

Plants that will grow well under these conditions include rooted plants like swords, crypts, vallisneria, sagitarria, aponegetons; rhizome plants like Anubias, Java Fern; floating plants; and some stem plants. Stem plants require the most light and nutrients because they are the fastest growing plants, but they also require more maintainance (trimming, replanting) because of this higher growth rate. The rooted and rhizome plants basically grow slowly but well where you plant them. All the plants in my aquaria are these, except for the stem plant Brazilian Pennywort at the rear corners of the 90g in the photos.

Substrate additives are not essential, but a plant tab or stick inserted next to the larger sword plants will improve their growth--but they still stay put. Substrate can be gravel (the smalest grain size is best) or sand depending upon what you want for your fish.

I can suggest some fluorescent tubes and may have more suggestions on light once we know the fixture you'll have over your tank. Tubes come in standard wattages dependant upon the tube length, and there must be sufficient tubes to provide the amount of light needed. I have two 40w tubes over each of my tanks, which is approximately 1 watt per gallon.

Hope this helps start you down the road to a successful planted aquarium.

Byron.
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Old 08-26-2009, 02:58 PM   #3
 
Real plants by far. As Byron said plants are avid filters for your aquarium. I have seen countless tests on the water quality of the same fish, in the same size tank, with all of the same filtration, and one of the tanks has silk plants and one has real. You can tell the difference in all of the water tests. Real plants REALLY work. Not to mention they look nice.
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Old 08-26-2009, 08:09 PM   #4
 
I feel silly now, but I hadn't thought of them as a water quality issue. I'm sold, live gets another chance.

It sounds like flourescents are adequate? (No stem plants) I assume I'll need a fixture that holds 2 bulbs? Will heat then be a problem? The fixture isn't bought yet, so I have plenty of felxibility here!

Thanks, I really appreciate all the info.
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Old 08-27-2009, 06:38 AM   #5
 
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It sounds like flourescents are adequate? (No stem plants) I assume I'll need a fixture that holds 2 bulbs? Will heat then be a problem? The fixture isn't bought yet, so I have plenty of felxibility here!
.
Sorry - I don't mean to drown you with questions and take advantage, just excited! I'm sure I can research this part, I've been finding a ton of info right here and have Byrons rule of thumb on watts per gallon to help guide.
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Old 08-27-2009, 09:17 AM   #6
 
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Sue, we're here to offer advice when we can from our own experiences and research, so don't hesitate to feed any of us questions. That's the wonderful thing about this forum, exchanging ideas and giving help to each other. We all continue to learn.

Fluorescents are the best light, period, for a planted tank. It's just a matter of how much light you want; stem plants require more, but rooted plants etc. can grow healthily with less. Fluorescents produce very little heat by comparisn to any other type of light; I have never found this an issue.

Two tubes will probably work, depending upon the tank size. I know its a bowfront 46g, but what are the actual dimensions of the tank (length from end to end in the centre, width at the ends, and depth)? Tube sizes are standard with corresponding standard wattage, so the number will depend upon what can fit over your tank.

Byron.
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Old 08-27-2009, 03:18 PM   #7
 
Another solution could be to do a mixture of live and fake plants. The fake plants will offer the decorative look you want while the plants settle in and root and grow. You can slowly experiment with live plants and remove silk plants as you develop the aqua scape.
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Old 08-30-2009, 10:54 PM   #8
 
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bryon ur tanks are beutiful! i would love to have a tank like that
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Old 08-31-2009, 10:19 AM   #9
 
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Originally Posted by teddyzaper View Post
bryon ur tanks are beutiful! i would love to have a tank like that
Thank you sincerely. It really is quite easy, I just think low-tech, simple, basic--call it whatever, it is not difficult. It's by far much easier than the fish side.

Byron.
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