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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have been wanting to get a few live plants for my 20g tank. Its fully cycled and is currently stocked as follows:
1 gourami
3 neon tetras
3 guppies
6 Panda corys, a platy and a few more neon tetras on the way

I am a beginner to planted aquariums so i was hoping to start off with two or so small plants... any recomendations?

As far as lighting do i need anything specific? I get really confused when it comes to the lighting. I bought my tank used so i dont even know whats in it currently :oops:

How about substrate? I have about 1 centimeter diameter gravel right now. Its roughly 2 inches thick. Will i need new substrate? I hope i dont :-?

What will i need for chemicals? I have flourish excel right now, what else do i need?

Like i said, i dont know much at all but those are my main concerns. The guy who owned this tank before seemed to have a planted aquarium so i didnt think i would need to change my substrate. Thats my main worry :/ Any help would be greatly appretiated! Sorry for all the questions, just cant seem to find what i need by research, so many mixed emotions DX Thanks in advance for any advice and help.

 

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There are few plants species that don't need to be rooted in a substrate. Just tie them to some wood, rock or ornament until they attach themselves (for a month or two). Those are Anubias sp., Java Fern, any of the mosses and Bolbitus sp (another fern). They are also low light plants and can tolerate some water current. No fertilizers required since they are all slow growing plants, meaning that you can't expect them to "filtrate" your water.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Do you know anything about lights by any chance? What about moss balls? Iv been reading that they dont need to be rooted?
 

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I knew nothing about lights few years ago when I decided to go planted so I asked the guy at LFS to sell me lights for plants or else, I'll be back. He sold me an Aquaticlife T5HO fixture with dual bulbs (one roseate, the other is full spectrum 6.000K). I grew water sprite, crypts, anubias, Amazon swords and Amazon frogbits very well under that light. I moved some swords, frogbits and water sprite in other tanks (with T8 lights) and did not do well. The only one that does OK in any light is the Anubias. And java moss.
If you are serious about plants, I recommend T5HO. I know nothing about LED.
What are your lights?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well i just wanted to try it out but yes i wanted to try for a fully planted tank if that went well. Iim not entirely sure like i said before i bought my tank used, but im pretty sure i have a 15 watt fluorescent. I dont know much else about it though DX Will this require me to get a new hood? My tank is only about 2 feet long so I dont know how much room ill have, unless i get dual.

Sorry realized after reading that again, so the T5HO is dual? Im assuming ill need a new hood for that...
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Well i wasnt wanting to get LED because iv heard they produce heat and therefore need a fan, dont reeally want to get into all that right now.

I just looked up that T5-HO aquatic life, wasnt sure how that works? Does it sit up over the lid where the glass covers for the hood? That seems like to much for me right now, since im not super serious yet. I was thinking about only having some java moss and maybe some java fern for now. See if i like that and go from there.
 

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The dual was for my 75G. 48' each, 54W each.
For my 180G I also have Aquaticlife fixture, with 8 bulbs (basically 4 rows, 2 bulbs per row, 36', 39W each). It has a fan and build-in timer, you can programme it to start with 4 lights, then go all 8, then only 4....).
The watt per gallon rule is old since the T12 bulbs. It assumes that light mix with water like sugar will.
I don't know much about light other than to say that plants don't need the full spectrum to photosynthetize. They need something between 400 and 700 nm wavelength, with a peak in the red and another in the blue. A good fixture will have good reflectors so the light is not wasted in the wrong directions. A good bulb will be coated (phosphorous I believe) on the inside so only the right light (that plants can use) is emitted.
The Kelvin ratings (color temperature) is for human eye. Plants don't care.
 

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Aquaticlife fixtures have "legs" that sits on the aquarium frame. They can be suspended (from above)as well. Ideally, you shouldn't even have a glass lid on your tank since glass canopy restricts about 6-10% of light intensity. But I do. Not much because of fish jumping (never happened to me) but because evaporation.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Perfect, alright thank you. Very helpful :) Ill look into it some more and see what i need. Feel alot less lost now :p
 

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I don't think LEDs are heating. I believe those are the "metal halides" (some sort of crazy lights for which ferts and CO2 are a must). LEDs (if they have the right wavelengths) are using very little watts (cheap hydro bills) and don't need reflectors since they are unidimentional. They also have good penetration in deep water. That will take us to PAR (photosynthetically active radiation) as a measure of light intensity as it is perceived by plants. For human eye- same thing is called LUX.
Moss balls need quite a bit of light. One reason is that they sit low, on the substrate where PAR is low.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Maybe i read it wrong then :eek: Well a new light and hood is appearing in my near future :p If im going to get one im going all out and doing it right though... ill look more into the T5HO.
 
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