Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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shadetreeme 10-17-2010 06:45 PM

Just want a few plants
Hi all.... I am pretty new to all of this, but having a blast.
I have a 55 gal with 2 15 watt fluorescent bulbs that came with the tank.
The tank was all sand when I got it, but I am changing part of it to gravel.
I have 2 small Grass like plants that I got at petsmart last week.
I am not looking at making a full blown planted tank, but I would like a few live plants.
Soooooo now for the questions.....
Are there any plants that will work with this lighting?
If I have to change bulbs, can I only do one or do I need to do both?
What plants do you suggest...I kinda like the plastic ones that are in the tank( see pics)
where is the best place to get plants... I went to LFS and everything they had said that it needed HIgh light.

Thanks in advance!!!

Byron 10-17-2010 08:03 PM

Hello, welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum. And welcome to the wonderful world of planted aquaria (wonderful for the fish as well as us:-)).

We need some info on the lights. You said bulbs, are they screw-in bulbs or fluorescent tubes? If the latter, can you give us whatever is printed on one end of the tube, and the length of the tube? If they are screw-in bulbs, what type are they (should be on the bulb base)? That should tell us what you have.

There are lots of plants that will do fine with less (low to moderate) light, and there are a few that need higher light. We can get into that when we know more of what your light is.


Calmwaters 10-17-2010 08:15 PM

Hi welcome to the forum! Listen to what ever Byron tell you he is the best when it comes to plants he has helped me tons in changeing all of my tanks over to real plants and my tanks have never looked better and my fish have never been happier.

shadetreeme 10-17-2010 08:20 PM

I have 2-18" tubes and all they say is 15W aquarium lamp
I have been swimming through the posts in the plan section and found a couple of plants I would like.
Amazon sward and Vallisneria americana.
Thanks for your help.... plants seem like they can be as addictive as the fish :-D

Calmwaters 10-17-2010 08:34 PM

Yes once you go to real plants you will never want to go back they really look awsome in the tanks and are not hard at all to take care of. I was so afraid I would kill my plants but so far I have not had any casualties. LOL Those are both very good plants to begin with. The Amazon Swords grow very big and the Vall will grow very tall. If you go with the swords you will want to get a root tab like Seachem Root tabs because they need alot of nutrients but those are easy to use you just put then in the gravel beside the plant and replace every three months. And with any plants you will also want a liquid fertalizer like Seachem Flourish it has all the minerals and such your plants will need. Did you notice at the top of the page we have a section for fish profiles? If so there are also plant profiles there if you click on it. As far as ordering plants online two of the best places I have ordered from both price wise and customer service are and I prefer sweetaquatics just because there prices are a little better and I like the way there site is set up.

Byron 10-17-2010 08:41 PM


Originally Posted by shadetreeme (Post 494724)
I have 2-18" tubes and all they say is 15W aquarium lamp
I have been swimming through the posts in the plan section and found a couple of plants I would like.
Amazon sward and Vallisneria americana.
Thanks for your help.... plants seem like they can be as addictive as the fish :-D

OK, first thing is, you will have to get new tubes. But relax, they are not expensive if you buy them at a hardware store. The normal "aquarium" tubes are usually weak light, high in the red and blue so the tank will take on a purplish hue. Plants do best under full spectrum lighting, and fish and plant colours will be rendered correctly for viewing.

You will look for 18-inch tubes, preferably T8 (rather than the thicker T12, the "T" number is just the tube diameter so T8 is smaller but they are more efficient); choose a full spectrum that has a Kelvin rating of around 6500K. Phillips, Sylvania, GE all make these, they call them "Daylight" or some such name, just try to find the Kelvin number if you can. Two of those will work well.

And with that light, sword plants will be fine. Vallisneria should also work OK, I would suggest the smaller corkscrew Vallisneria as the other species can get very large. We have fish and plant profiles here, second tab from the left in the blue bar at the top of the screen, or you can click on a shaded name in posts to see that profile (example, Corkscrew Vallisneria is shaded). The common Amazon Sword is also in the profiles, along with many other species.

For your browsing, there is a "sticky" series of 4 articles at the head of this section entitled "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium" that will provide a lot of background information on plants.


Calmwaters 10-17-2010 08:48 PM

If you have a Lowes or a Home Depot near were you live the bulbs like Byron are talking about are about $8-9 at least they are here compared to about $30 at my local fish store.

shadetreeme 10-17-2010 09:06 PM

YOU guys are AWSOME!!! I looked at the LFS and was shocked at the price..... should have known there was a way around that.

Calmwaters 10-17-2010 09:17 PM

LOL were just here to help as much as we can so you can enjoy your tanks as much as you can.

redchigh 10-19-2010 10:25 AM

If you wanted, you can probably get by only replacing one of the bulbs to 6500k.

This pink bulbs are for highlighting colors and simulating plant growth. They do appear dim, but it has more to do with our eyes than the bulb. (Human eye's sensitivity to light peaks in the green, and fades off toward red and blue.)

I agree to switch out one, but both would be a matter of preference only.

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