Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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zachhay11 08-30-2009 06:09 PM

live plant needs
 
i wanted to get some live plants but wasn't sure if i had what they need. i currently have: one dwarf puffer, one dolmation molly, one cory cat, and two oto algie eaters. i also have a hang on back filter, bubbler and airstone and heater. its a twenty gallon.Also i have rather large gravle peices as opposed to pea gravle. is this a problem? anyway i have an 80 watt light fixture and it was origanaly used to grow tomato plants but my mom gave it to me because she didn't need it. so what else do i need? what mantence is required? what is a hardy, and cheep type? ;-)

Byron 08-31-2009 02:02 PM

Plants are not difficult if you provide what they require, and this can be very simple and still produce a healthy planted aquarium.

Light is the single most important thing. You are on the right track with a fluorescent tube light fixture, but a new tube will be needed. And 80 watts over a 20 gallon is way too much light. Is this a two-tube fixture that is 48 inches long? Can one tube be removed and the other still light (some fixtures won't do this)? A smaller fixture may be best, one that will fit exactly the length of your 20g tank. Whatever you do in this regard, you will want a full spectrum tube. Hagen makes an excellent one, Life Glo 2 is the name. Also Zoo Med makes one similar, called Ultra Sun. Both are rated 6700K which is close to the sun at mid day and provides the mandatory blue and red light plus green to balance so it looks natural. The Zoo Med is less expensive to buy.

Second is your substrate; smaller grain gravel works best for rooted plants, and as you want something easier rooted plants would be better. They pretty much stay where you plant them, in that they grow but not so much that you have to constantly be trimming them like you would with stem plants. On the other hand, plants like Anubias and Java Fern have roots that attach to rocks and wood, and are not planted in the substrate, so the gravel would not matter. They manage best with low light, so one appropriately sized tube would be plenty. And floating plants are easy to grow, and maintainance is just removing some of them when they get too numerous; especially if there are other plants below, since the floating plants can cover the suface and block out light.

The hang-on filter is OK, but you might want to remove the bubbler and airstone. Plants need CO2 (carbon dioxide) to grow, and the bubbles serve to remove CO2 faster from the water. As the CO2 only comes from the fish (and certain other biiological processes in the aquarium), it is not in great supply from a few fish so you want to keep as much in the tank as you can.

Having plants is a great aid to filtration in any aquarium, so it is well worth having them.

Byron.

zachhay11 08-31-2009 03:09 PM

yeah, its a two tube 48 inch. and i can let one light on and turn the other off. it just takes some messing around. also i can make it higher from the tank too. its hanging from my ceiling with chains and i can adjust it.

zachhay11 08-31-2009 03:10 PM

also, i have been wanting to cut down on wattage. i believe the intense light has been boosting algie growth

Byron 08-31-2009 04:26 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by zachhay11 (Post 236151)
also, i have been wanting to cut down on wattage. i believe the intense light has been boosting algie growth

Yes, it will, because the nutrients are there and the algae uses the light in the absence of plants. Even with plants though, you will still have to be careful to prevent algae issues with only one 40w tube. The light will have to be on for the minimum to serve the plants' needs, something like 8 hours perhaps. The best would be a fixture made for the tank size; one tube will work fine with low maintainance plants. Have a look at the photos of my aquariums to see what's possible with 1 watt or less per gallon (that's what I have) and little fussing. Aquascapes like these scaled down to a 20g can be very beautiful.

Responding to your previous post, fixtures hanging above the tank work well with open-top tanks with plants growing above the surface, and with plaudariums and such. But on regular closed fish tanks, when you sit viewing the tank you have the light shining in your face if it is not sitting on the tank frame.

Just to show what's possible with a smaller tank and one tube, here's a photo of my 33g when it was setup last fall. It has one 20w Life-Glo tube over it, and good plant growth but very minimal algae.

Byron.

Twistersmom 08-31-2009 04:34 PM

Truly amazing tank Byron! So beautiful!

zachhay11 08-31-2009 05:06 PM

very beautiful indeed! so if i have a 40 watt light and have maybe 4-6 live plants would i need the air pump? because i'm gonna need one that size in my SW tank soon if i start getting it heavily stocked. also i want to have maybe one more dwarf puffer and some algie eaters and corys. my wish list is: 2 dps. 5 otos, 3 or so corys, 10 small ghost shrimp, and 2 mollys. along with some hardy live plants. will this work out?

Byron 08-31-2009 05:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Twistersmom (Post 236205)
Truly amazing tank Byron! So beautiful!

Not any more, I tore this down in January.:shock: Moved the fish and plants into my 70g. This 33g is now a "spare plant" tank until i decide what i want in it. Ideas I'm toying with are mudskippers (I had these in mid 1980's, absolutely delightful little fellows, got so excited at feeding time (they ate off my finger) he jumped out, the rascal, and I had to chase him across the floor!:lol: I still have the rockwork in the photo, and it could be used to build up the land area.

Another idea are amphibians (also had frogs and newts back then, my Oriental Fire-Bellied Toad died 3 years ago, in his 19th year, and the last newt (of a batch I bred no less) died a year after, in his 21st year. Maybe time for a new amphibian vivarium, last one was a 20g so the 33g would have more options for a waterfall or something. Or a Rio Negro biotope tank. I'll decide once I get the 70g SE Asian swamp/stream tank finished.

Thanks for your compliments TM. Much appreciated.

Byron.

Byron 08-31-2009 05:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by zachhay11 (Post 236217)
very beautiful indeed! so if i have a 40 watt light and have maybe 4-6 live plants would i need the air pump? because i'm gonna need one that size in my SW tank soon if i start getting it heavily stocked. also i want to have maybe one more dwarf puffer and some algie eaters and corys. my wish list is: 2 dps. 5 otos, 3 or so corys, 10 small ghost shrimp, and 2 mollys. along with some hardy live plants. will this work out?

Last things first, I'll assume the dwarf puffers are freshwater (some are brackish). I think they will be OK with the corys, will leave it to the molly folks to comment on mixing them. The shrimp might disappear quickly, puffers are predatory I believe. And I doubt 5 ottos are needed; I would hope the algae would not be that terrible in a 20g. I have five ottos in my 115g, and they can't find enough. Shrimp eat algae, so you might want to leave the ottos until the tank is running a while. Also better to add them to an established tank, both due to their sensitivity over water quality in new tanks, and it allows algae to appear so they have food when they first go in, as they are by nature grazers and will settle in faster.

Is the air pump only for the filter? What filter are you planning? Unless it is to run a filter, I wuld not use it on a planted tank (like for an airstone, drives off needed CO2). And I would seriously look at getting a smaller light fixture, maybe on ebay or Craig's list a used one? Just so happens I'm looking for one myself for my empty 20g, thought I could make a small biotope tank but not urgent so I'm keeping my eyes open locally for a light fixture.

Byron.

Twistersmom 08-31-2009 06:04 PM

Sorry to thread hijack Zachhay11.

Byron, what kind of skippers did you have? I have 6 Indian Mudskippers, not large enough to bite hard.

You should start a thread on your 70g project. I would love to see pictures of the progress and know more about the future inhabitants. I am sure we could all learn a lot from it.


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