Setting up a 29 gallon
Hey guys :-D
So I'm upgrading my female betta sorority to a 29 gallon tank and I'm hoping to make it into a nicely planted tank.
I haven't had much luck with my plants just far, not enough WPG and I don't really get the whole fertilizer thing and how much to use, etc.
So... as for my set up as it is right now.
29g tank, no hood
Penguin 175 HOB <--- Will this be enough for this tank?
Substrate is a mix of ADA aquasoil, fluoramax, and a little bit of sand.
So my first round of business is lighting. I want enough light that I can grow stem plants but I'm also on a very fixed budget so I don't want to go so crazy that I end up having to buy a huge CO2 set up.
I was thinking of getting one of these fixtures... opinions?
I was also wondering if I should attempt to hang the fixture above the tank or if setting it on the tank would be fine? Also, would adding a glass hood (since bettas can be jumpers) inhibit the plant growth?
My next round of questions is CO2...would dosing with Excel be enough? I can't afford a real CO2 system and I've always heard DIY CO2 is iffy... are there any safe DIY CO2 methods?
I also have questions on plant selections but I'd like to get the lighting situation figured out first so I can get the tank up and running. Right now my girls are separated into jars and having 10 extra jars to clean is not my idea of fun :roll:
First, to dispel a myth; watts per gallon is not a reliable measurement for light over an aquarium. It can serve as a guide when one considers regular T8 fluorescent lighting over tanks from say 30g to 150g. But as soon as one starts using different types of light, such as the T5 in the linked fixture or compact fluorescent (screw-in) bulbs, and over smaller or larger tanks, the wpg "guide" is unreliable. With these other types of lighting, it is comparable to comparing apples to oranges; 2 apples and 2 oranges are as different as chalk from cheese.
The fixture linked is a dual-tube T5, and that means the tubes are HO (high output). This is very good light over a reef saltwater system. Over freshwater it is too intense unless one is balancing it with high-tech paraphernalia like CO2 systems and daily nutrient fertilization. Without this, you will have a tank of algae.
You have a few options.
A single T8 fixture that takes a 24-inch tube. I have this over my 29g (tank is 30 inches in length, standard 29g). I am growing swords and floating plants in this tank quite well, with a plain gravel substrate and twice weekly fertilization. I would consider this the minimum light for this tank.
A single T5 fixture with a 24-inch HO tube. This will give about 1.5 times more light than the T8, so it increases the light intensity quite a bit. With floating plants and keeping the photoperiod (duration) minimum it will allow you to grow moderate and some if not most high light plants. The down is the expense, both for the fixture and the tubes. And tubes need replacing every 12-18 months.
An incandescent fixture (taking screw-in bulbs) with 3 sockets. Using compact fluorescent bulbs, you will have very good plant growth. Plus the options in CF bulbs allows you to increase or decrease the light intensity simply by using different wattage bulbs. Wattage means something here because we are comparing the same type of bulbs, so a 13w daylight will output more intense light than a 10w daylight. This is the least expensive option of the three. I use a 2-bulb incandescent fixture over my 10g and 20g and it is very good.
You should be able to find any of the above in a complete hood to fit the tank. As mentioned, the incandescent will be considerably less expensive. The CF bulbs can be bought at hardware stores. I use GE daylight with a kelvin of 6500K and it is ideal plant light, plus good colour rendition.
With any of the above, CO2 is not necessary. And here we have another myth, that CO2 is essential for plants. No. If you take a look at the photos under "Aquariums" below my name on the left you will see my tanks, none have CO2, and I see no issues with the plant growth. I have minimum light and thus avoid high light plants, but as I noted above this is more of an option with the smaller 29g tank.
Fertilizer may or may not be necessary. Nutrients occur from fish food, organics, and tap water. Depending upon the hardness of the tap water, the fish load in the tank, the type of plants and feeding regime, a complete liquid fertilizer such as Flourish Comprehensive Supplement added once or at most twice a week will be all you need. Plus you mention an enriched substrate, so that will benefit your substrate-rooted plants like swords, crypts, Vallisneria, etc .
Thanks for the info.
So a stock hood with a 24in T8 should be enough to have decent plant growth if I stick with low light plants? I think it'll be kind of hard to find an incandescent hood but I'll shop around. I do have one on a 10 gallon with 2 13w CFls in it and the plants did pretty well when I had it set up but I think that may have been a little too much light.
Mainly what I want are floaters, some crypts and java ferns/moss, dwarf sags, and some stem plants like anarchis, brazilian penny wort, bacopa, etc. I want the tank to have a full look so I'm looking for plants that can grow semi-tall and fill up some of the vertical space in the tank. Would vals be another option?
I also have a few misfits from other tanks I migh throw in there. A couple E. parviflorus "tropica", an unidentified sword, some random anubias.
My water is pretty hard. I'll have to break out my gh/kh kit to get a number because I haven't done that since I moved, although I don't think my water has changed much in the 5 miles I moved. The tank will have ~10 female bettas, one or two nerites, and if possible I would like a small school of corydoras or otos. I'm not sure if ferts would be needed with that stocking or not but I do have Flourish Comprehensive and all the other ferts in the line if I need them.
My other question is about the filter. I read in your Plant article that for planted tanks all that is really needed is mechanical filtration so would an HOB filter filled with sponge/filter floss serve as mechanical filtration or should I make a sponge filter for the tank?
I would recommend a good tube though, I use the Life-Glo on all my single-tube fluorescent tanks. It has very good plant light, plus good colour rendition. The Power-Glo will give a tad more intensity, but with it comes a purplish hue that distorts colours that I don't particularly like. That is Life-Glo light in all my tank photos.
On the filter, for the fish you mention I would not use a HOB due to the current. A simple sponge filter will work well. I have a dual Elite sponge on my 29g and 20g, a single on my 10g. Nice filters. These tanks interestingly are crystal clear, my larger canister filter tanks are just slightly less so.
Flourish Comp once a week will suffice in my view. The other products in that line will be unnecessary. Which reminds me, I left out your Excel issue previously, sorry. I do not recommend Excel. For one thing, it will melt your Vallisneria, and possibly some other plants. But more importantly, once you start adding nutrients in this quantity, and here carbon which is an essential macro-nutrient, you up everything else, including light. The balance will be off, and poorer plant growth plus algae issues will likely result. The line of Flourish products are intended more for a medium-high-tech system. Adding carbon via Excel, plus trace elements, potassium, iron, and Comprehensive all means a higher level of balance, and will not work with the moderate light. Or perhaps more correctly, will not be necessary and thus wasting money plus dumping more stuff in the tank than necessary. I have never used anything other than Flourish Comp, plus in my 70g a Flourite substrate, and in my 115g substrate tabs once or twice for the larger swords.
That sounds reasonable. The less additives I have to add the better IMO. I'll scratch the Anarchis and bacopa. Vals will grow plenty tall for my needs. The tropicas were doing well in my 10 gallon and eclipse 3 so perhaps I'll move them back into those tanks instead of the 29.
In your experience has having glass tops vs plastic hoods made any difference? Some people I've read swear that the glass tops allow more light in than the regular hoods.
The hoods I have all have a piece of clear plastic under the light section instead of glass. I prefer the glass lids myself but it'll be more expensive to buy a glass lid and light strip vs a full hood kit. I guess I can always replace the hood with glass later on.
I really appreciate all the help. The lighting aspect is something that I've had troubles with and even though I'm on a few different plant related forums I still felt the information going way over my head.
Did the water changes today, and thought I'd get a photo of the temp 29g to show the plant growth with a single T8 Life-Glo tube.
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