I was going to get african chilids, but I have came to a descion that I am going to start a planted tank. Right now I have a 29 gallon, with a bio filter, heater, standard lighting, and nothing live in it except for fish. Can someone help me and tell me what new equiptment I might need, good fish species for planted tanks, how long plnats should grow before adding the fish, and the price range of an average 29 gallon planted tank, with all the equiptment and plants. Anythign can help me at this point.
I have a 28 gallon tank, which I'm trying to plant, so maybe I can help. First of all, the lighting, substrate, CO2, fertilizers, will all depend on what kind of plants you want. Low light plants may not need CO2, an enriched substrate, or ferts. If you decide to go with more lighting, it will cost a little bit more.
There's not much you can grow with the standard strip light that comes with tank kits. There are low light plants that could get by with it, but if you want it to really be a nicely planted tank, you'll need to upgrade the lighting. I have a Hagen GLO T5 lighting fixture, and it works awesome! It's about $90-$110, depending on where you buy it. You can get a single bulb, or double buld unit. Of course you can find cheaper fixtures, or more expensive fixtures, but it all depends on what you want to grow. T5 lighting is much better than standard flourescent lighting.
If you go with higher light plants, it would be a good idea to add CO2 and use an enriched substrate, like Eco-Complete or laterite mixed with small-ish gravel. I know that some people use pool filter sand instead of gravel. For 29 gallons, you could do DIY CO2. It's pretty simple to set up and maintain, and will be very beneficial to medium, and high light plants.
You can add fish and then plants, or the other way around. It doesn't really matter. Some fish may be more suited for planted tanks, so adding some plants before the fish may be a good idea. Otherwise, I think it's just a personal choice.
As for choosing fish, there are a ton of options for a planted tank. What kinds of fish are you interested in? If you let us know what you like, we can give you a better idea of what might be a good choice for you tank.
Total cost will depend on what type of setup you want, how heavily planted you want the tank, the lighting you decide on, ect. But, if you think of it as a project, and build it up over a little bit of time, it's not that huge of a deal. A nice planted tank can look amazing!!
Substrate, lighting and ferts are always a goog thing. It doesn't matter if you use CO2, although it will definitely help. Substrates Like EcoComplete for Planted tanks is nutrient heavy and will definitely help roof feeders like Amazon swords. Depending upon the tank's size, liquid ferts or "dry dosing" could and should by employed.
I, too, have a 29g planted, low tech tank. I am using a standard flourescent single light fixture, but have changed to a Marineland all glass canopy. Th bulb is a "Gro-Lux" bulb found at most pet shops and home improvement stores. My bulbs are currently T8's, but I would recommend compact fluorescents or T5's with the CP's being preferred because they would give fuller lighting. T5's do not come in a 30" length, so the outside edges would not get even lighting.
This tank has a mix of red/black Fluorite, another substrate for plants, and a red/black blend of gravel as substrate.
I fertilize using both API and Jungle plant tabs. I just grab whatever is handy come "feeding" time. I also dose this tank with Pfertz liquid fertilizer. These come as a four bottle set and the dosing is idiot proof. Really tremendous stuff. Not cheap, but I think that it is cheaper than Flourish products and much more user friendly when dosing. I do, however, still use Flourish Excel as Pfertz does not offer a product that is the same thing.
I got one of these when we got our tax return...it's really about a 28" bulb that's in there but that's just me being overly specific :) And damn, the price went down another few dollars.
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