New planted aquarium
Hey there! I was hoping I could tap into the collective here and check some things as I embark on my new planted aquarium.
First things first, I've had the tank (around 20 gallons) set up and running for four weeks now. I've checked the levels and it has cycled nicely.
It's been planted for most of those 4 weeks, and I've gone through what I assume to be the usual die-off of a few of my plants. They came from a cheap source, so this doesn't bother me too much. I've also added the first of my fish with 6 albino cherry barbs.
I'm now going to add a C02 system, which I plan on using a DIY set-up. I can't justify to my good lady forking out £100+ on a proper one at the moment.
I have a recipe from here - Tropical Fish Centre - DIY CO2 PRIMER - which seems to me pretty good after looking at a few others. I'm going to use a 2 litre soda bottle, with a smaller one taped to the side to be used as a trap for any gunk.
My questions are, has anyone got any do's and don'ts concerning a DIY setup? Should I somehow stop the process at night time? And does anyone have any different recipes? Should I be wary of the whole thing exploding?
Any comments would be greatly appreciated.
what lighting do you have? It needs to have a reasonably high output (more then 2 wpg) for it to be worth having a C02 system. Also you'll need to be fertilising - what will you be using?
I'm using a fertilizer under my substrate ('Roman' gravel 1 - 2mm). Can't remember the brand of fertilizer, but it was recommended by my local store. They are good there, and themselves have some fine examples of planted tanks so I trust them in this particular area. I'm also using liquid fertilizer once a week.
My lighting consists of 2 x 18", which are, I believe, 15W a peice. Obvioulsy I am restricted to 18", so can I get higher wattage at the same length?
I am already getting some good growth on the plants in the tank, which I take to be a positive, no matter how small that may be!
Ordinarily C02 is provided from fish waste, which your plants will use. Adding C02 is only useful when it is C02 that is the limiting factor preventing faster plant growth - eg high light situations. With that lighting I'd say your tank wouldn't actually benefit much from DIY C02 as light will be the limiting factor. If you wanna do it anyway go ahead and try though
I don't know much about different light fittings I'm afraid
Well done on getting good growth already!
I agree. Unless you want to go into aquatic gardening you are in my view best without added CO2. You can have a lush planted tank with minimal lighting and nutrient fertilization; just look at the photos of my tanks under "Aquariums" below my name on the left. I use the low-tech "natural" method. I explain this method in the articles "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium " that are stickied at the head of this section if you'd like to read up on it. Very simple, nature does the work, we just provide the light and some nutrients.
There is nothing wrong with going high-tech but it is more expense and more work. Adding CO2 means more light, twice as much as otherwise required, and daily dosing of nutrients to balance.
On the light question, only tubes that fit your fixture will work, and with fluorescent tubes, the tubes are generally speaking all the same watts for the length; example, 48-inch tubes are 40w regardless. Now, having said that, some manufacturers make more energy-efficient tubes that use less energy (= lower watts, which is simply the measurement of the energy used by the tube) and produce comparable light intensity. You can get 32w 48-inch tubes for example that equate to the 40w. But aside from this, all tubes of a specific length will be roughly the same. But it is the phosphor coating in the tube that makes a big difference.
These coatings produce the light spectrum and colour. A full spectrum that highlights red and blue is best for plant growth, and most have a kelvin around 6500K. This is important. I can go into this more if asked.
Thank you all for your comments.
Byron, when you talk about the different coatings on the tubes, would this refer to the different types of lighting tubes you can buy? By that, I mean the information on the tubes that state 'best for bringing out the colour of your fish' or 'best for a heavily planted tank'? In which case, I would obvioulsy go for the latter.
Or are you talking about a whole world of information I am yet to discover? :-D
Perhaps I should have also mentioned that I'm planning on the plants being the main feature, with the fish there to add movement, and selected to thrive in that kind of environment. (if that makes any difference at all of course...)
ETA: Also, thanks, yes I have read your sticky guides at the top a few times.. they were the reason for me signing up to this forum in the first place.
Yes, the tube information is what I am referring to, though we need to know the specs. Such phrases are rather meaningless, and can't be trusted.
For example, the so-called "planted tank" tubes are garbage. Hagen's Aqua-Glo and Flora-Gro, and similar tubes made by other manufacturers, are not good plant light. While they do provide the red and blue wavelengths that are necessary, they first off have no green to balance for a natural rendition of plant and fish colours, so the tank takes on a purplish hue. This in itself is appearance, and obviously up to the aquarist. But with it comes the problem that the light intensity is much less with these tubes. Hagen's Aqua-Glo for instance is half the light intensity of their Life-Glo 2.
The spectrum chart on the package is important to ensure the light has the necessary spectrum. The appearance can be ascertained from the Kelvin; midday sun is around 5500K, and it has been shown that plants respond best to light around 6000K to 7000K. Most of the full spectrum or daylight tubes are around 6500K. Life-Glo is 6700K, ZooMed's UltraSun is the same, Phillips Daylight Deluxe is 6500K, etc. This colour and spectrum is determined by the phosphors coating the tube.
I would avoid any so-called plant tubes. I have them, several brands, and they are sitting in a corner of the fish room.
All read and understood.. thanks again :-)
Off to the shop later then, armed with this information, to invest in some new tubes.
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