totally newbie questions - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 8 Old 04-11-2012, 10:55 AM Thread Starter
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totally newbie questions

After reading and reading and more reading, I finally started my first planted tank...well sort of as I have not planted and I am still just cycling the tank.

I decided on the following for my 56g tank:
Canister filer set to 1/2 flow
80% sand/ 20% medium gravel. dark in color
Lighting - I know I need more and have not decided on what to add yet
Fish - 4 tetras end goal is maybe a couple of small schools
no co2 injector yet and the air-stones get pulled when I have plants

My question is before it is to late, did I miss anything and what are some good background and foreground plants that are good for a newbie to start with?

I have gone pretty deep into the forum archives but still a wee nervous about buying my first potential plant victims. Any help/advice would be great!
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post #2 of 8 Old 04-11-2012, 11:46 AM
Well.. lighting is the most important thing with plants.. we need to know what you have, and what you are planning to get before we can recommend too much. Also do you plan on getting Co2 and going high tech or do you want to stay low tech?

That being said you should be able to do java fern and anubias. Both are hardy and can grow in nearly any condition. However neither can be planted directly into the substrate and must be anchored to a piece of wood or rock. The roots will then grow into whatever it is anchored to.
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post #3 of 8 Old 04-11-2012, 12:07 PM Thread Starter
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Right now I just have the standard aquarium, single tube lamp. I plan to stick to CFL for now and possibly upgrade much later to LED. The tank in 18" deep so I am still researching lighting options. For CO2, I think I will start lowtech and upgrade from there and still looking at the best options in that area too.

I didn't plan on introducing plants for a few more weeks, which would give me time to sort out the lighting and CO2 issues.
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post #4 of 8 Old 04-11-2012, 02:54 PM
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As this is your first planted tank, it would be advisable to stay natural or low-tech, which just happens to be what many of us here have ourselves. There is a 4-part series stickied at the head of this section entitles "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium" which will provide a comprehensive summary.

CO2 is a non-issue in a natural setup as it occurs from the fish, plants and bacteria/breakdown of organics. Light does not need to be high, and CFL is a good way to go as there are some very good bulbs available. Over a 56g, I assume there are 4 sockets? I would suggest 13w CFL "daylight" bulbs, having a Kelvin of 6500K. I use GE brand but Phillips and Sylvania also make them, all are available from hardware-type stores.

Canister is ideal filtration. On the substrate, you mention gravel and sand, so a caution here. Sand and gravel will mix with sand on the bottom no matter what, if they are mixed over each other. If side by side, they will also shift to mix unless there is a distinct division of some sort. Fine gravel or sand is best for plants.

In addition to the low light species that ladayen mentioned, swords (Echinodorus species) and pygmy chain sword are good moderate light plants. There are several species in our profiles, second tab from the left in the blue bar across the top of the page. If the name is used the same in a post as in the profile, it shades (as some did here) and you can click the shaded name for that profile. Photos are included so you can see what they look like. In a 56g I would suggest 3 Echinodorus bleherae (this is the usual sword one sees as "Amazon Sword," and an Echinodorus cordifolius is a good specimen plant. If you have medium hard to hard water, Vallisneria species (two are i the profiles) will do well, but not so good in soft water. Floating plants are essential to shade the fish (tetra do not appreciate bright overhead light) and there are several in the profiles.

Last comment...welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum. Glad you joined us.


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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post #5 of 8 Old 04-11-2012, 04:05 PM Thread Starter
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thanks for the information Byron and your guides is what got me to finally settle on a planted tank. I had many misperceptions and all of the information I have found on this forum has been great and I am glad I did most the research before going out an buying equipment I didn't really need

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post #6 of 8 Old 04-11-2012, 04:28 PM
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I would also reccomend some crypts- maybe crypt wendtii as a midground plant.
You might want to try some stem plants, I'd go with pennywort (floating), and ludwigea repens (It does ok in medium to low light in my experience).

As far as foreground, I've never tried the pygmy chain sword, but dwarf sag has always done well for me in low light.

Originally Posted by Christople View Post
^^ genius

Soil Substrates Guide:
Part 1
--------- Part 2

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post #7 of 8 Old 04-15-2012, 10:33 PM
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I wouldn't use sand unless you have to(plants root better in gravel then sand and it's easy to pull out plant in sand)
For plants best gravel is 2-4 mm

I use plants from this store Tropica Aquarium Plants - Plant list A-Z

They can be found on e-bay too

As for lighting plants need 10 hours of lighting - if you have natural light then probably 2 hours would be ok - when you get fish inside you'll probably spend more time a day anyway

You don't need airation - plants airate water during the day and leave Co2 at night. They produce more air then they use during the day but bubbles looks nice though they lower CO2

Last edited by Norbert; 04-15-2012 at 10:37 PM.
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post #8 of 8 Old 04-15-2012, 10:44 PM Thread Starter
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that was my 80% sand/20% tiny gravel. I work for the state in Colorado and I only get get paid once a month, most of this month has been just reading an collecting stuff. The tank is cycling and my 6 tetra and 3 snails are doing well.

Next month I am buying a few plants, including a floater like Byron suggested.

I am a computer geek so slow changes are my motto

BTW and other Colorado folks out there? would love some coffee and aquarium chit-chat
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