Starting Planted Tank, need help and advice :) - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 6 Old 12-21-2010, 09:52 PM Thread Starter
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Question Starting Planted Tank, need help and advice :)

OK so I have a 29 gallon long aquarium with white gravel, a handful of tetras and guppys, an angel fish, and a female betta, and a molly. Anyways I want to turn it into a planted aquarium and so i need to know

-What lighting I will need (I have a desk lamp now)

-If I will need special substrate

-What plants I should have, I want to have some sections of carpet and wanted to try a mosswall, but other ideas would be awesome :)

I don't have buckets of money to spend but any help is appreciated :)
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post #2 of 6 Old 12-21-2010, 10:19 PM
Your standard gravel should do okay, but you could mix it with Eco-Complete Plant Substrate or Substrate for Freshwater Planted Aquariums: Seachem Flourite Planted Aquarium Substrate. You definitely want to upgrade your lighting to at least 6500k if you want to do Dwarf Hairgrass. Other plants that you might want to look into that are hardier would be Java Fern, Jungle Vine, Cardinal Plant, ect.. Aquarium Plants Pond Plants From Sweet Aquatics has all the plants you would want for a good price.

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post #3 of 6 Old 12-21-2010, 10:51 PM Thread Starter
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I'v seen several places where people put down natural potting soil and then put fine gravel on top and it appears to work, has anyone tried that? *shrugs*

Also do they make hoods for a 29 gallon long tank? I can't find any, seems to be an odd size. I have a screen top can i set a basic light fixture on top of that?
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post #4 of 6 Old 12-22-2010, 02:06 AM Thread Starter
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If i got
Aqueon Deluxe Full Fluorescent Black Aquarium Hoods at PETCO this hood in the 36"

and then VHO Aquarium Lighting: VHO Actinic "03" Fluorescent Tubes this bulb in the 36" would that be adequate lighting?

I know you are supposed to have 2-5 watts per gallon and i have a 29 gallon so 95 watts should be perfect right?
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post #5 of 6 Old 12-22-2010, 03:15 AM
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Were it me, I would purchase a glass top for the tank (petco) and place the light fixture on the glass.Would not use actinic bulbs for planted aquarium but would instead look for Daylight,or Full spectrum bulbs with 5000 to 67000 k rating which should appear on the bulb somewhere or on the box that the bulb comes in.
Plain potting soil with no additives (about an inch) covered with fine dark colored gravel (about two inches) would be my choice. Would get an idea as to where the plant's should go and try not to disturb them once they are planted.Would consider Flourish comprehensive plant supplement to help provide nutrition for the plant's. Would aim for around 1.5 to 2 watts per gallon of afore mentioned light and would select plant's that fair well with low to moderate lighting which I would start by running for eight hours a day and after a few months,increase to ten hours a day. Hope some of this helps.

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.
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post #6 of 6 Old 12-22-2010, 06:26 PM
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Some of what I'll write has already been said, so pardon the repetition as I want the "story" to be complete.

First, you do not need so much light. But to understand that, you must decide what type of setup you want. As 1077 I think mentioned, there are many ways to set up a planted tank, each with pro's and (some more than others) con's, and varying in cost to set up and long-term operation costs and maintenance. The method you select will determine some specifics.

The simplest by far method is the one outlined in the 4-part series "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium" at the head of this section of the forum. I won't repeat that here, but it is a low-tech natural approach that I have used for 20 some years, and you can see the results in the photos under "Aquariums" below my name on the left.

Soil is another method, I saw your thread on soil too; and others have mentioned redchigh's series on setting that up. This is also a "low-tech" method.

"High tech" involves more equipment and more maintenance long-term; generally you are adding CO2 diffusion, which means more light and more nutrient fertilization to balance.

Whatever you select, I definitely would replace the white substrate; darker colours (very dark) replicate the natural environment of fish like the tetra you mention, and they tend to be less stressed and thus healthier and more colourful over a dark substrate. And the plants also stand out more.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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