Advice on starting planted tank
Don't know if this is the right place to post but here goes.
So i've been running a 25g tank for around 6 months now quite successfully (No deaths or diseases) and decided i would like to try at a planted aquarium. I've been to my lfs and asked for some advice on products that i need+would benefit. Was told that fluorite substrate with a fertilizer would help keep my plants going nicely and that i needed around 6-7cm depth of substrate. So i've gone with their advice and purchased that along with a new filter (Fluval u3). I was also told that i would need around 2-2.5 watts/gallon for some medium level plants. So i purchased another double t8 light fitting (15w x2) to go along with the one i've already had. Oh, Forgot to say. The tubes are 7100k. I've also been told by a friend that you can buy UV lights, Although i'm not sure that i need them. I've seen alot of people on these forums talking about Co2 systems. Is this something i need to have success with a planted aquarium, If so how do i go about setting a system up?
I'm planning to transfer my fish into a spare 20g tank thats been cycling for about 2 weeks with my golden barbs in it.
How long should a cycle the new setup for before i add the fish back into it?
What plants would you guys recommend for my aquarium?
Its 60cm long and 40cm tall with a total capacity of just under 25gallons. The fish a currently have are: 3 Sajica (T-Bar) Cichlids Around 5-7 cm long.
4 golden barbs at around 4cm long (2 males 2 females).
A single 5 cm long bristle nose catfish.
I'm also planning to buy a small Black Ghost Knifefish, I'm buying a 80g tank in 3 months so the BGK will have the appropriate amount of space it needs.
Would you suggest i use a liquid fertilizer (I've Heard Flourish excel is the best thing to use) In my tank along with the substrate fertilizer?
I already have a nice piece of Java fern that has rooted itself to a small piece of drift wood.
Sorry for all the questions, I just like to get things right.
Byron made some nice sticky posts about plants that im sure you could find a lot out from, he knows his stuff.
About the cycle, from what I hear with enough plants its kinda like cycled. (to slowly add fish im sure)
From my experience plants really arent any trouble, I just put them in and they do fine. But going all out for them is Im sure anything but bad.
But Im sure somebody more informative will be by to help, just thought Id give you a consolation comment if youre as impatient as me.
Might get myself an external filter but i don't know if its worth it for the size of the tank.:-?
I have a small internal filter in my 29 gallon planted. The Cascade 400 - the whole filter housing goes into the water. I have it hiding behind some tall plants in the corner, so you can't even really tell its there.
There are many methods to a successful planted tank, ranging from what we term low-tech (or "natural") to high-tech, with many variants in between these two. Except for the light issue [more on this momentarily], you're off to a good start. I'll try to comment on the principle issues you mention.
Deciding on the method will determine what you need in the way of hardware, fertilizers and obviously plants. Unless you intend a plant-only tank, all these considerations should depend first and foremost on the fish that are to be housed. You mention knifefish; these occur in very dark waters, scarcely any sunlight enters their environment, and if it does, they are nocturnal. This tells us that if you want to see them during the day, and want them to be healthy (free of stress), the lighting will have to be very minimal. Bright light stresses out such fish, and stress weakens the immune system which means disease and parasites are more likely to attack the fish and take hold because it is weakened. Filtration can have similar effect, as can the choice of substrate. Which is why I said that hardware should depend upon the fish.
It does nothave to be complicated. You do not need CO2 diffusion to grow healthy plants. Just look at the photos of the planted aquaria of so many members [including mine obviously, under "Aquariums" below my name on the left] who follow the low-tech method. I won't get into all this, but it comes down to what you want from your plants.
Assuming you are heading for a somewhat low-tech approach, without CO2, then you do not want 2-3 watts of light. I have less than 1 watt per gallon on those tanks in the photos, and I don't consider the plant growth to be poor. It is all about balance; light must be balanced with available nutrients. If you read my articles referenced by another member, you will have noted the point about Liebig's law of minimum; light should always be the limiting factor in any planted aquarium, regardless of the method, or algae is more likely to be a nuisance. I agree with Tom Barr's comments elsewhere that one should always start with the least amount of light necessary, and then increase nutrients to balance that level. T8 (regular fluorescent, the narrower tubes) are fine, but in the correct light spectrum. Which is full spectrum/cool white. A kelvin around 6500K works best, and has been shown to provide the best light for plant growth.
Quick word on nutrients. Flourish Excel is a carbon supplement, not a "fertilizer" as we commonly think of fertilizers. Plants need 17 nutrients, of which carbon is just one. In most aquaria with fish, the carbon (CO2) from the fish and bacteria is sufficient for (low-tech) plant growth. Oxygen and hydrogen occur naturally. Nitrogen as ammonium is usually prevalent. The rest are included in Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planted Aquarium at the proper ratio and in sufficient quantity to serve well in this type of system. Flourite substrate is a bonus; it will assist substrate rooted plants like swords, crypts, aponogetons, vallisneria, etc.
This will start you off; questions? Just ask.
Yes i do have some question. People say you can help control algae by slightly over-dosing your aquarium with flourish excel, If this is true, Is it a good idea to be doing this with a scaleless fish such as the black ghost knife fish in the aquarium?
I did alot of research on the BGK before i ordered it and i saw many people stating you should REDUCE any chemicals put into a tank with a fish like that in it.
Providing i do not add any more fish to the aquarium (I do not plan to). What are a few plants would you suggest as a start? Don't want anything to difficult to start off with.
P.S. Your aquariums look very nice and healthy.:-)
On the Excel, it sometimes (not always, sometimes) will eliminate black beard/brush algae [not other types]. Seachem themselves admit this but also wisely caution that it should not be used for this purpose because it may not work. Using it introduces another level of "balance" which can be detrimental to plants and fish. There has to be a balance for the plants between all 17 nutrients--which plants require in varying amounts depending upon the nutrients. Increasing carbon via Excel creates a new balance, and other issues occur.
Plants in a properly aquascaped tank for a BGK is not easy, due to the weak light. This fish lives in dark waters full of wood, branches, roots, fallen trees, etc., and remains hidden among these during what little daylight there is. Anubias and Java Fern, though not native to SA, might manage with some light. A floating canopy of plants would help keep the light in the water minimal, while still allowing floating plants to benefit. Surface plants assimilate their carbon from the air, which is one reason why they grow so well.
Alright, got my substrate in now. Used the fluorite with 2 small layers of fertilizer in the middle and bottom.
Decided to go for slightly less light as it was suggested that the less lighting the better for the BGK now have double t8 7100k x2 + another single 15w fitting with a UV grow tube(My old light). Decided to buy an external filter to keep it as clean as possible, Got the fluval 105 for 100l tanks. Have the all the fish in my spare tank now. Have everything setup, Want to wait a week or so before i start adding any fish into there. Also went down to the store and got some plants which i will list:
They didn't have very many plants at the time and unfortunately no floating plants.
Also bought a large resin bell with a few entrances that i thought would provide a nice refuge for the BGK while its young. Its about 35cm tall, 13cm wide.
I'm going to see how i go without any CO2 supplementation for the time being and see how it goes.:-)
Well, Thats what i've done so far anyway.
Just realized we are talking a 29g tank for a knifefish. While this is workable when the fish is very small, it will soon need much more room to develop properly. A 4-foot tank is minimum so the fish can attain its expected size of about 20 inches. You may realize this, and be preparing for a larger tank in the near future.
Well, After 5 days cycling with API stress zyme. Decided to add my golden barbs as they are quite hardy and should help with the cycling process. In another 5 days will add the Cichlids and Catfish. BGK is paid and sitting in a tank at the LFS. They were very nice about it and were happy to hold the fish until the tank was cycled properly.
As for the plants, They're booming. Have noticed a high amount of growth from my Java fern especially. :-):-):-P:-P
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