Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   Considering live plants... (http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/beginner-planted-aquarium/considering-live-plants-37409/)

Austin 02-16-2010 05:45 PM

Considering live plants...
 
Ok, so if lighting isn't too expensive like I always thought it was (I guess I based that assumption off the expensiveness of saltwater light bulbs...) I'm thinking of considering trying live plants. :]

I've been reading around the forum and ya'll made me want live plants. =[ They are so much more beautiful than fake plants. I got a few questions though.

My aquarium hood has a basic fluorescent bulb in it... And of course the hood can only handle a certain amount of watts. Would it probably be able to handle a bulb that is strong enough for plants? Or am I gonna have to buy a new hood? I have a standard 29 g tank...

What kind of bulbs do I need? About how much do you guys think they are? Hoping I won't need a new hood.

How do you clean your gravel? I was just reading about moving the plants and how it will kill them if you move it too much. I typically vacuum my gravel on my water changes... Will I no longer need to gravel the vacuum? Will the plants keep the gravel clean? I'll just suck it off the top?

Will I be able to add plants continuously or do you think it's better to add them all at once?

Do you need to acclimate plants after you buy them or is it ok to just throw them in the water?

I tried plants before, but I think my lighting was too bad (I didn't think about it before...) and they all died and ended up rotting away. Do older roots and leafs normally rot...? lol

Do I need a special filter?

Will I NEED fertilizer or anything special to keep the plants healthy?

How do you avoid algae outbreaks with the heavy lighting and how do you keep algae off the plants?

Sorry about the common questions... I'll probably be able to find them around here... but if I do decide to start getting some live plants, I'd really really reallyyyyy love anyone who could give me some personalized help! :-D

Thanks guys! Hope the lighting isn't too expensive, I'd really love live plants. Need to find a way to get money!


Edit: Feel free to skip the common questions which is probably all of them... I'm going to read around this section!!


Hmm... my water is hard... Says plants like soft water. :x

Byron 02-16-2010 09:50 PM

Hi Austin, glad to hear of another convert to planted aquaria.:-D

Quote:

My aquarium hood has a basic fluorescent bulb in it... And of course the hood can only handle a certain amount of watts. Would it probably be able to handle a bulb that is strong enough for plants? Or am I gonna have to buy a new hood? I have a standard 29 g tank...

What kind of bulbs do I need? About how much do you guys think they are? Hoping I won't need a new hood.
Will work fine. The hood will only take the tube that fits it in length. Fluorescent tubes are standard in watts per the length, except now they are making tubes that use less energy (watts are thus less) but produce same intensity of light (brightness) so wattages differ. But you will have a standard fluorescent that takes T8 tubes. The best single tube is a full spectrum around 6700K, and you can buy inexpensive ones at Home Depot, Lowe's, etc.

Quote:

How do you clean your gravel? I was just reading about moving the plants and how it will kill them if you move it too much. I typically vacuum my gravel on my water changes... Will I no longer need to gravel the vacuum? Will the plants keep the gravel clean? I'll just suck it off the top?
We've had a couple threads about this lately; generally, the substrate is left alone because the bacteria break down the organics into nutrients for the plants. I only vacuum the gravel along the front where my Corydoras feed to keep it clean for them.

Quote:

Will I be able to add plants continuously or do you think it's better to add them all at once?

Do you need to acclimate plants after you buy them or is it ok to just throw them in the water?
Doesn't really matter; at the beginning the most you can plant the better because you can add fish immediately as there is no "cycle" with live plants. But they can be added as you find one you like. Only today I bought a new Echinodorus for my 90g, and if look at the photos of that tank you'll wonder where on earth it will fit.:lol: I just drop mine in the aquarium when I get home, and plant them properly then or later.

Quote:

I tried plants before, but I think my lighting was too bad (I didn't think about it before...) and they all died and ended up rotting away. Do older roots and leafs normally rot...? lol
Yes, but naturally over time. Plants continue to grow and new leaves emerge and older ones yellow and get cut off.

Quote:

Do I need a special filter?

Will I NEED fertilizer or anything special to keep the plants healthy?

How do you avoid algae outbreaks with the heavy lighting and how do you keep algae off the plants?
These questions will be covered in the 4-part series of stickies at the head of this section that I authored. I suggest you have a read, they are a general guide to setting up a low-tech natural planted aquarium. I can answer specific questions from that if you have any, and I expect you will. Have a look at my aquaria photos to see what is achievable with the approach outlined in that series.

Your last point was hard water, just how hard? If you know the hardness (GH and KH) and pH of your tap water, post it. Plants are more adaptable than many fish to differing water parameters, within reason. And there are some that are more particular, others less.

Byron.

Promelas 02-16-2010 09:51 PM

I'm sure you'll get tons of info, but I can add my experiences so far with live plants since I'm new to them as well and answer a few questions.

I have a 29g, with 2 basic hoods on the tank since I didn't have a double light hood. I have a total of 33W between both bulbs (18w and 15w) one is 8,000K and the other is 5,000K. Both are T8 lights. With this low wattage all of the plants in my tank have taken root and are now starting to grow noticeably each day. I think each bulb was around 15-20 bucks.

I'm yet to have to clean my gravel, but if you have enough plants you shouldn't have to vacuum as much, if at all.

From what I know, you don't need to acclimate your plants to your tank, but you may see portions of the plants die off as they slowly get used to your water's parameters. My crypt, for example, lost half of it's leaves in the first week, but is now growing like crazy. Just trim off the dying portions so the plant doesn't waste energy on them.

Someone else will have to answer about the need for ferts. I have eco complete substrate, and I add flourish fert once a week at some suggestions from this board.

Algae for me hasn't been a problem yet, since I have a "low" light setup. If you aren't going to buy new expensive lights I wouldn't think algae will be too much of a problem.

As far as a filter goes, I have a small power-head with a sponge filter attached. You don't want to have a bio-wheel or any filter that bubbles air through or breaks the surface of the water. That process removes necessary CO2 from the system.

Hope this helps a little! I'm new to raising aquatic plants myself, but with a little research they really are pretty simple! And its great looking at the changes taking place in my aquarium each day!

Angel079 02-16-2010 11:01 PM

YAY!!! Another converter awesome!
Yea I buy my lights at Lowes as well and you can see the planted tan pic's in my log here to see how its working with the plants. I pref to get the Daylights from Bright effects but settle for GE as well dep on the size you need.
For a nomal 29g anything like 15-20watts bulbs will be fully workable there. I have recently changed my 55g to 30w and its working GREAT (normal 4ft T8 Daylight from GE)
Uhm I payed like less then $10 for a 2pack of 4ft'ers last time but bite me what the exact price now was I donno:-?
And no any hood is workable and you'll find fitting lights for it that are good for plants at Lowes, Homedepot Walmart whatever you have close by.

I vac in the "open" spots and hover a lil between plants but that's it. The mulm that builds up from not vacuuming is actually real good plant food ;-)

Visually to plant it fully in one go is nicer but as far as your tank & fish are concerned it really doesn't matter at all.

I usually acclimate mine in a plastic bucket for anywheres from 1hrs to a day or so till I'm having enough time to do the job.

Yo may need liquid ferts for stem plants or root tablets for plants like Swords & Crypts but that really dep on your source water...Outta all the tank you see under my log only ONE gets liquid ferts and the rest I believe speaks for itself :-D

Algaewon't be no issue if you have the lights as described by B. and myself and if need be have ferts added (or not if your water permits it).

How hard in degrees is your water? I don't recall my old hardness by heart but it was something like 7-8 dKH and you see the tanks there, no problem. I find (now that I have super soft water) some plants actually do thrive better in harder water then softer water.

So let's get your lights sorted; test your hardness and we can all work together on a inexpensive plat list for ya;-)

aunt kymmie 02-16-2010 11:43 PM

I have nothing to add (as everyone else here has got you covered) other than "smart choice", your fish will love you for it.
I have San Diego tap water (hard as concrete) and my plants do great. If I can grow them you can too. :-)

Austin 02-17-2010 08:50 AM

I'm sorry but I honestly don't know the hardness of my tap water. :X Other than the inaccurate test strips I've never tested it before, and I've yet to get a liquid test kit or something.... I'll try to get one! But is there somewhere I can find out the hardness and PH of my tap water? It might be similar to Aunt Kymmie as I live just north of San Diego up past Camp Pendleton. Though my water readings were always VERY HARD on the test strips! Don't know about the PH though... it seems to be nothing extreme though...

Anyways, about lighting... A 20W T8 6500k light would work? I've posted pictures of my tank before and there's a picture of it on my aquarium log so you can see the size... it's somewhat tall....

If it would accept a 20W bulb that would be amazing because I wouldn't need to buy a new lighting fixture? It says for up to 20W.... I could probably squeeze in a little bit above 20W at it'd probably be fine... But I don't want the house to burn down.

Do you think petsmart would sell the lights? Even if they are a bit more, I might have a gift card somewhere with some money on it....

Also the lighting fixture is 30" long and I believe it takes 24" bulbs... Can anyone tell me exactly what to look for? Also I think it only has one plug for a bulb, so I'd need an all-in-one bulb...

My 29g has too many fish in it...

6 balloon molly
5 platy
3 guppy

So I think the plants will have ample "fertilizer" as well as CO2?

My filter is a hang over the top 200 GPH biowheel type filter... will I be needing to exchange that out? :x What kind of filter is recommended and how much do you expect it to cost? I could take out the biowheel part if needed... Though I plan to only add one or two plants at first to see how they do (so I don't want to take out the nitrogenous bacteria!) but will they do bad if they don't have the ammonia?

Also will my fish be able to get enough oxygen during the night? :S

Thanks so much guys, your answers really have helped!

LisaC144 02-17-2010 09:52 AM

Hi Austin,
Byron and Angel are WAAAAY more experienced than I'll probably ever be. They are amazing resources for people with planted tanks and more! I am just getting into the planted world myself. However, I will point out a few things you had questions on. PetSmart will carry the lighting, but when I priced them there out of curiousity (I was there for something else) the light at PetSmart was $16.99 and the SAME light at Lowe's was $6.49. I needed 2....nice savings there! My hood also takes 24" bulbs. 2 of them. Just look for 24" bulb at 15-20w and 5000-6700k.

I did change my hang on back (HOB) filter to a canister. One MAJOR thing I noticed with the HOB filter is that if the water level isn't at the VERY TOP of the tank, it causes a splashing sound and forces a ton of air bubbles into the tank. This will not be good for plants. The air bubbles will drive out the CO2, which is what plants need. I instead changed my HOB filter to an Eheim 2213 canister filter. It can be found at PetSmart.com for $86 shipped (not available in stores for this price), or I found mine on Ebay for $75 shipped. However, I'm not sure if it's still available from that seller. He had 10 left when I bought mine.

Austin 02-17-2010 10:28 AM

Damnnn, 86$ is quite a bit...

I'm suprised lights are that cheap. I'll have to scavenger my drawers in hopes of finding 10$ or something. :p I have like 10$ in change maybe I should just cash that in... Wouldn't wanna make someone count it all out. XD



I got a question, are the plants more sensitive to the O2 and CO2 levels than the fish?? Everyone is mostly concerned that there won't be enough CO2 in the tank... I have quite a few fish and my concern even w/o plants is will there be enough O2!? And at night time both the fish and plants produce CO2... won't the fish suffocate? :X

My good good friend online offered to help me pay for it... I'm so broke I'm tempted to take the offer... I'll feel bad though, and dunno how I'd explain it to my parents. Dx

Don't think I'm a horrible person for considering, please! D:

Austin 02-17-2010 10:48 AM

Oh, and I forgot to mention I had salt in my tank... I added around 1tsp-1tbsp per 5 gallons for my mollies/platies/guppies.

But since they do not really need it, I plan to remove it fully over a period of time.

I plan to do about 25-30% water changes daily to remove the salt. Replacing the water with freshwater with no salt.

How many day do you recommend I change the water 25-30% until it's safe (salt-wise) to add plants?

Austin 02-17-2010 12:19 PM

Promise this is the last post in a rowww... I can't edit... so :/

Ummm my dad's gonna take me to lowes in a few hours, and maybe walmart if lowes doesn't have it... I'm going to look for a 24" T8 20W(is somwhere around that ok?) 6500k (also can this be +/- a little? does it make a difference) CFL? so yaaa those are the last quick questions I got. I'm happily surprised how cheap the bulbs are! I found 8$ scavenging my drawers! :D and had 5$ worth of quarters so hopefully that will cover it! ;)

What else should I look for?

I searched the lowes website and I couldn't really find exactly what I needed... though the websites are way harder to navigate than the stores... If anyone can link me to a bulb I should look for would you please? :D if you know exactly what to look for on the website...


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