Trying Not To Epically Fail: First Planted Tank
Tropical Fish

Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources » Freshwater Fish and Aquariums » Beginner Freshwater Aquarium » Beginner Planted Aquarium » Trying Not To Epically Fail: First Planted Tank

Trying Not To Epically Fail: First Planted Tank

This is a discussion on Trying Not To Epically Fail: First Planted Tank within the Beginner Planted Aquarium forums, part of the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium category; ...

Reply
LinkBack Thread Tools vBmenu Seperating Image Search this Thread vBmenu Seperating Image
Trying Not To Epically Fail: First Planted Tank
Old 05-23-2010, 06:19 AM   #1
 
IceBerg's Avatar
 
Trying Not To Epically Fail: First Planted Tank

Hi,

For a beginner a planted tank is very overwhelming. So I'm trying to break it down into small manageable steps. Currently I'm saving up for my lighting system for my 55gal community tank. I'm either going with the 48 All-Glass twin-tube fluorescent strip light or the triple tube, which were both recommended by Byron. I was wondering if more was better here, or is the twin-tube the correct call?

With that out of the way, I think I need some help with my substrate. From the pictures of all of your beautiful planted tanks, I'm kind of getting the idea that my gravel diameter is a little large. I have attached a photo of my gravel so you can get a better idea of what I'm working with.The suggestions I got from Byron was for my gravel to be around 1 to 2 millimeters. I think mine is larger but was wondering if it was salvageable? If not were do I go from here? There are a million types of aquarium gravel at Petco and PetSmart, which one will work best for me? Also how deep should my gravel be?

After that I was wondering about the Malaysian driftwood that Sweet Aquatics is selling. Is it any good, and how many pieces should I get for my 55gal? Also is it best to boil it then soak it for a couple of weeks? I really want to get this right and not epically fail again.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Snapshot_20100523_4.jpg (63.1 KB, 77 views)
IceBerg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-23-2010, 01:39 PM   #2
 
Byron's Avatar
 
I'll start this off with some suggestions on the specific issues you've raised. Also, have you read the 4-part series at the head of this section (we call them "stickies")? They contain some background info on the various aspects of a low-tech natural planted aquarium that you might find useful. Now to your issues.

Quote:
For a beginner a planted tank is very overwhelming. So I'm trying to break it down into small manageable steps. Currently I'm saving up for my lighting system for my 55gal community tank. I'm either going with the 48 All-Glass twin-tube fluorescent strip light or the triple tube, which were both recommended by Byron. I was wondering if more was better here, or is the twin-tube the correct call?
The nice thing about low-tech natural systems is that nature handles most of it if we have provided the few basics. Lighting is the single most important aspect. I recommend the All-Glass fixtures because I bought two last year and they appear to be well made. The tubes that come with them went straight to recycling but good tubes can be bought at hardware stores for little money.

On a 55g I would certainly not have three tubes, and two may be over-kill. I would suggest one will be adequate; Angel079 recently went from two to one tube over her 55g and raved about the increased plant growth and activity of the fish in response to less bright light. Depending upon which plants you are looking at, I would go with one regular T8 tube fixture. Most dual-tube fixtures (the All-Glass are like this) will only work if both tubes are in, so removing one is not an option if you were to try that. Years ago I had a 55g with one tube, and had good plant growth. I explain more on why this is better in that article series. [One tube will also save you money on energy.]

Quote:
With that out of the way, I think I need some help with my substrate. From the pictures of all of your beautiful planted tanks, I'm kind of getting the idea that my gravel diameter is a little large. I have attached a photo of my gravel so you can get a better idea of what I'm working with.The suggestions I got from Byron was for my gravel to be around 1 to 2 millimeters. I think mine is larger but was wondering if it was salvageable? If not were do I go from here? There are a million types of aquarium gravel at Petco and PetSmart, which one will work best for me? Also how deep should my gravel be?
If that photo is the 55g, I agree the gravel is rather large. It could be workable, but as you are almost starting from the beginning, I would recommend changing the substrate. A fine-grain gravel (basically the smallest you can find, which is usually around 1-2 mm diameter grain) works best at providing adequate plant root medium and the essential bacteria colony that must live in the substrate. Too small a grain and the substrate can compact (sand will do this, although with some maintenance and care this is preventable) and too large means the water is flowing through too fast for the plants to be able to adequately assimilate nutrients. There is quite a complex biological process at work in the substrate of a planted aquarium, and assisting it is preferable to providing obstacles.

The depth of substrate depends upon the plants; large root system plants like the Echinodorus (swords) and Cryptocoryne need sufficient depth; minimum 2 inches at the front (smaller plants or no plants along the front) to 4-5 inches at the rear where the larger swords, etc. would be planted. I have about 5 inches in my 115g, and the three Echinodorus bleherae have root systems that extend out almost a foot from the plant crown and right down to the bottom (I can see the roots through the bottom glass from underneath, thick all over the tank). This depth is where the compaction issue can arise, but I have never had problems with my regular gravel, and I do not vacuum the substrate except along the open front where the corys feed.

Another comment on substrate, the darker the better, both for the appearance [fish and plant colours pop with a dark substrate and background] but even more for the fish. Forest fish, such as those we normally house in planted tanks, prefer a darker substrate like their natural habitats, and they will be more relaxed and thus more colourful with black, dark gray or dark brown natural-looking gravels.

Quote:
After that I was wondering about the Malaysian driftwood that Sweet Aquatics is selling. Is it any good, and how many pieces should I get for my 55gal? Also is it best to boil it then soak it for a couple of weeks? I really want to get this right and not epically fail again.
I have not personally used this particular wood, but SA has a great reputation among forum members so someone who has may chime in. From what I see on their site, this is very good wood, it is natural, dark brown, sinks and they say it is tannin free. In appearance it is certainly excellent.

Byron.
Byron is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-23-2010, 03:42 PM   #3
 
IceBerg's Avatar
 
Quote:
Also, have you read the 4-part series at the head of this section (we call them "stickies")? They contain some background info on the various aspects of a low-tech natural planted aquarium that you might find useful.
Yes, I have read it a few times. Very helpful and informative. Pretty much they have gave me the info and courage to go on.



Quote:
On a 55g I would certainly not have three tubes, and two may be over-kill. I would suggest one will be adequate; Angel079 recently went from two to one tube over her 55g and raved about the increased plant growth and activity of the fish in response to less bright light. Depending upon which plants you are looking at, I would go with one regular T8 tube fixture.
That is good news, the single tube fixtures are less expensive and I dont have to special order them at my LFS. Also I'm sure Sweet Aquatics can build me a plant package based around only one regular T8 florescent light.


Quote:
If that photo is the 55g, I agree the gravel is rather large. It could be workable, but as you are almost starting from the beginning, I would recommend changing the substrate. A fine-grain gravel (basically the smallest you can find, which is usually around 1-2 mm diameter grain) works best at providing adequate plant root medium and the essential bacteria colony that must live in the substrate.
I will be switching out my gravel soon. Since I will be replacing my substrate, how long should I let my gravel mature before planting?
IceBerg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-23-2010, 06:14 PM   #4
 
redchigh's Avatar
 
Sweet Aquatics will definately be able to help- perhaps you would be interested in one of their biotope packages since several of them include driftwood.

Malaysian wood only needs to be rinsed before putting it in the aquarium- It's not quite tannin free, but compared to other woods it has next to 0.

As far as switching out the gravel, you may have to treat it as if it were a cycle. (If you have fish in the tank already- you'll be removing 50-90% of the filtration bacteria when you replace the gravel- monitor your nitrites and ammonia)

As far as establishing the gravel for your plants, that's not neccesary. Plants don't mind virgin gravel at all- I have set up a new tank and planted it first thing- and I let it cycle with the plants.
redchigh is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to redchigh For This Useful Post:
IceBerg (05-24-2010)
Old 05-23-2010, 07:31 PM   #5
 
Byron's Avatar
 
I concur with redchigh's comments. And I would suggest that when you change the substrate, you do so when you have your plants. Live plants in an aquarium will assimilate a lot of ammonia/ammonium, and even in fully new tanks with enough live plants and not too many fish you will never see a "cycle" of any sort.

Byron.
Byron is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to Byron For This Useful Post:
IceBerg (05-24-2010)
Old 05-24-2010, 05:02 AM   #6
 
IceBerg's Avatar
 
Thanks Byron and Redchigh for all your great advice. I'm sure I will have a few more questions, but Im feeling a lot better about the whole process. I definitely owe you guys some high quality pictures after I get this bad boy up and running.
IceBerg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-24-2010, 08:20 PM   #7
 
Dont feel bad if at first you dont succeedl, It took me six months to finially get a plant to grow."I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that wont work." Thomas Edison
FuzzAz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-27-2010, 07:49 PM   #8
 
zoragen's Avatar
 
I started my tank last Oct - an eclipse 6 gal - sucky lighting! And I've done well w/ 2 crypts - lutea & spiralis.

I even have a sword that with root tabs is doing pretty good.

I do dose excel & seacheme comprehensive which I think makes a huge difference.

So if I can do it with that type of set up - I'm sure you'll do fine!
zoragen is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Transition from 45 gallon non-planted community tank to larger, planted, discus tank borkborkbork Cichlids 7 03-02-2009 02:49 PM
Transition from 45 gallon non-planted community tank to larger, planted, discus tank borkborkbork Beginner Freshwater Aquarium 0 02-23-2009 12:11 AM


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:50 AM.