You've crammed a lot of questions/issues into this post
so I'm going to break it down a bit and deal with a few of them; some will be left out this time.
I was thinking about starting a planted tank after it's cycled (10 gallon) and I had some questions. On the box it says that the light bulbs are 120V Compact Fluorescent lights and I only have one installed. Since the hood can hold 2 bulbs up to a total of 30 watts, the bulbs came with the hood and I only have 1 in, I'm gonna guess that's 1 15 Watt bulb or 1.5 WPG. I could add a second one to make 3 WPG if that makes it better. (By the way in the tank already is 1 Red Ludwiga and 2 Japanese Rushes) Could you please answer the questions in your response.
CFL bulbs are good for planted tanks, and they come in various wattages so you can select those best suited to the light level needed for the specific plants. First a word about watts per gallon, that is basically useless with this lighting and a small tank. Watts is simply the measurement of energy used by a bulb, and CFL bulbs are more energy efficient so more light can result with fewer watts. Over a basic 10g planted I would use two 10w CFL bulbs; with higher light plants like you're considering, these can be increased. The spectrum is also important, and I like the "daylight" with a kelvin rating of 6500K. You can buy these in hardware-type stores, GE make a good one that I happen to use over my 10g and 20g tanks.
What I really wanted to do was make a aquarium bottom of plants (carpet): |
Do I have to replace my gravel with sand or soil?
If I have to what happens to all the bacteria in my gravel?
How can I preserve the bacteria?
You final choice of plants will determine substrate. Fine gravel works for most plants, less well for hairgrass. I use fine gravel or playsand. Larger gravel (like pea gravel) will work for some plants, but not well for carpeting plants. So not knowing what you have as gravel, can't say much more.
You do not need soil, and if this is your first foray into planted tanks I would certainly not recommend it. It creates some issues that you will not have with sand or fine gravel.
If you decide to toss the existing substrate, the bacteria will go with it, there is no way to save it. Bacteria adheres to surfaces, and quite well, in what we term a biofilm. However, bear in mind we have two main types of bacteria, the nitrifying bacteria (which function the plants will do anyway) and the bacteria in the substrate that breaks down organics and uses nitrates and so forth. You can read more here: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/f...quarium-74891/
Which one seems best in terms of detritus collection, maintenance and looks (They're in order of my most favorable to least favorable):
1st - Dwarf Hairgrass
2nd - Hemianthus (Cuba)
3rd - Pygmy Chain Sword
What's the basic maintenance of the plant you chose?
I use the pygmy chain sword, as I do not like "lawns" in my tanks. I also like seeing some of the substrate, and I have fish that like this too.
My only comment here is that the first two are more fussy, need more light, and need more nutrients [this will come up again below]. This impacts the fish, depending what they will be [the light issue].
After Planting: |
Would Flourish Excel work instead of CO2? (I realize that they are in no way the same thing but Excel seems to do a good job too and I'd rather buy excel than a Diffuser)
Do you have to use Flourish and Flourish Excel together? Which one is more important? (IMO it's Flourish Excel).
What is the basic maintenance of the plant you think is best out of the 3?
I could always make a DIY CO2 Maker With Yeast / Denture Cleaning Tablets (But I would rather Flourish/Excel as it's much easier to handle as in not having to change anything or having to but anything together, just adding the product)
I don't add any CO2 as I find sufficient occurs naturally in a healthy system, to balance my light and other nutrients. Aside from this, I myself would not bother with CO2 diffusion in such a small tank. And, i do not recommend Excel, because it will harm (and melt) some plants, and it is a chemical and if overdosed can harm fish. One member reported it burnt his skin. Enough said on this.
Last, you might find some background info in the series "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium" stickied at the head of the Aquarium Plants section of the forum.