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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello All!

I'm kind of a newbie when it comes to planted aquariums and aquascaping. However, I've watched tons of videos and read a few articles. I will be starting my first planted tank tomorrow, and was wondering if any of you might have some suggestions or advice for starting it up? I plan to use a substrate layer in the back area of the tank, covered with natural gravel, and I will have some sand areas as well. We plan to leave it without any fish for about a week or so to let the water settle and the plants start to do their thing. I want it to look as natural as possible.

Any advice on set-up or suggestions on plant types, fish, substrate types or typical dos and don'ts would be very much appreciated. I don't want to make stupid newbie mistakes.

I'm so excited to finally get started!

Thanks so much,

Crystal (aka Cricket)
 

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Hey Cricket ,
Welcome to Tropical Fish keeping!

When you say substrate layer covered with gravel what do you exactly mean??
As for plant suggestions this is going to depend on your lights. What kind do you have?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hey Cricket ,
Welcome to Tropical Fish keeping!

When you say substrate layer covered with gravel what do you exactly mean??
As for plant suggestions this is going to depend on your lights. What kind do you have?

Thank you :)

By substrate layer, I mean soil layer. I've seen a lot of videos and information on using soil/dirt below your layer of gravel and how this is supposed to be the best thing for growing plants more naturally. From what I've found, the most highly suggested substrates are Carbisea Planted Aquarium Eco-Complete Substrate and MericalGrow Organic Choice Potting Mix.

The tank I have was a gift from my husband's dad. It has led lighting... not sure if that's a good or bad thing for the plants. I know it's better for the electric bill, but if it's no good for plants, I'm willing to change it. :)

The only fish I have at the moment (who are housed at my in-laws until my tank is set up) are a couple of medium sized Angel Fish.
 

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By substrate layer, I mean soil layer. I've seen a lot of videos and information on using soil/dirt below your layer of gravel and how this is supposed to be the best thing for growing plants more naturally. From what I've found, the most highly suggested substrates are Carbisea Planted Aquarium Eco-Complete Substrate and MericalGrow Organic Choice Potting Mix.
You don't need soil under the substrate, however for plants it is better to use sand vs. gravel. If you want to do the soil, you certainly can, but I don't know enough to recommend a particular brand. I'm sure someone with more experience will chime in!
It has led lighting... not sure if that's a good or bad thing for the plants.
It depends what kind it is, I know JDM has success with LEDs, and I am planning on doing a planted thank with LEDs. What brand and make (is that the right word... probably not, but hopefully you know what I mean.) is it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You don't need soil under the substrate, however for plants it is better to use sand vs. gravel. If you want to do the soil, you certainly can, but I don't know enough to recommend a particular brand. I'm sure someone with more experience will chime in!
It depends what kind it is, I know JDM has success with LEDs, and I am planning on doing a planted thank with LEDs. What brand and make (is that the right word... probably not, but hopefully you know what I mean.) is it?

From all the research I've done, I've kinda set my heart on doing the soil layer. It just feels like a more natural way of doing it.

As for the brand of LED light... I can't answer that because honestly I don't know. I've looked at it, but it doesn't seem to have any branding on it at all and I think it might be a custom built job.. >.< Not very helpful I guess.. Sorry.
 

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Miracle grow organic potting mix is fine. I have used it several times. I would go no more then 2" with it and then about an 1-1and half inches of whatever you choice for a cap. But I would have to say I would wait 2 weeks after doing that to make sure the parameters are safe. I have heard if they are going to change they will do so usually within the first 10 days. Mine never did but I started out with lots of plants.

As for the lights I have no experience with LEDs but JDM does. With certain LEDs you can only grow low light plants. That's what I would try at first too see.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Miracle grow organic potting mix is fine. I have used it several times. I would go no more then 2" with it and then about an 1-1and half inches of whatever you choice for a cap. But I would have to say I would wait 2 weeks after doing that to make sure the parameters are safe. I have heard if they are going to change they will do so usually within the first 10 days. Mine never did but I started out with lots of plants.

As for the lights I have no experience with LEDs but JDM does. With certain LEDs you can only grow low light plants. That's what I would try at first too see.


Great! Thanks for the suggested measurements for the top layers. I've been wondering how deep I needed to go with that, and had been planning something along those lines, but it's nice to get actual advice from someone on it. I shall wait the 2 weeks to be safe, though I do plan on putting a lot of plants in. To be honest, the plants are going to be the main focus for the tank.

I know the LED lights that he has are super bright, and he got this particular set because of that. He also had some live plants in his tank. He says the light is pretty much like daylight would be. Still, I'll try to stick to plants who don't need too much in the way of lighting to start. Thanks again for the advice there! :)
 

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i have 1- 2 inches of soil capped with half 1 inch of play sand tank has been up and running for about 3 weeks or so now. water hasnt changed. i did plant it right away and also left my lights off for a couple days after. i did this so i wouldnt get algae from all the excise nutrients. i did waters changes daily for the first 4 days then every other day for another 3 days and now once a week i do about 40% change. everything is looking great thus far. water parameters are all good . i noticed my crypts are going wild in the dirt already sprouting new babies! hope everything works out for you :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Sounds great Rexpepper! I hope I am as lucky. I was planning the water changes every day for the first week then every other day for the second. After that, down to once a week for a few weeks. I will def let you know how mine goes. I'm continually watching videos and such to get more ideas on how I want to plant it and what type of decoration I want. I've got small bit of driftwood root that will be going in there and a few stones that I like the look of. Not sure what else. I may pick up more wood tomorrow when I go to get the supplies and plants. I'm looking at it as a project and experiment to see what works best. :)
 

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What are the specs on the LEDs that you have, there must at least be a wattage or some rating on it somewhere. "Custom job" certainly could mean a whole lot of things.

As far as I have played with LEDs I've used I've found that the light levels are, per linear foot of tank:

- less than 4 Watts = low light Java ferns, moss, crupts and the like. Sparse surface plants and some of those might not do well depending on variety. Duck weed would be OK.

- 4 Watts = low to medium light, Swords, apogonatons, Valls, pennyworts, surface plants are fine but too much coverage can shade too much of the tank for much more than standard swords.

I didn't play with 8 Watts per linear foot but it would obviously be somewhere in the middle

- 12 Watts = high light plants, this will handle most, if not, all high light plants and allow lots of surface plants (I had 6-8 inch thickness of massed surface plants and all my low to medium light plants were still doing well, I just pruned them back heavily for aesthetics and to allow for my new frogbit)

All this assumes that they are in the 5,000 to 7,000 Kelvin range, another spec to look for on the unit.

I use a 24" -36" fixture over a 30" tank and the light is fine, I keep it down to one end to provide a lower lit area. If I had a 36" tank I would probably go with the 36" - 48".

Besides the lower electric bill, they produce less waste heat, last longer (some are rated for 50,000 hours or about 12 years) but you need to get the right fixture as bulbs are not usually replaceable.

The dirt is something that, if you just want to do it, have at it, but if you are only doing it for the plants, they don't need it. Sand works well.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hi Jeff! The only writing at all on the light system says JY-LED Cook Lamp(14.5x500) 2010.07.22 Y-L794 , and I have no idea what that means. If you do, please tell me. :) It is a type of strip lighting for the top of the aquarium case which my aquarium is fitted with. I am looking at other lighting options, since I'm not sure about this one. I also plan to take it to the aquarium shop with me today to ask the guys there what they think about it. The writing looks like a bunch of gobbldiegook to me. I'm still learning, and I also live in the UK where they tend to measure things/write things out differently, so I'm not sure if it's a lost in translation thing. Any info/advice is appreciated. Thanks for your help on this, and thanks for the info on wattage needed for various types of plants. That, I at least understand, but I don't know how that relates to this lighting system.

Thanks!
C
 

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Actually, never mind, I thought that it would give a clue for what the numbers might represent. Anything I could find referencing JY and LED are not aimed at anything other than flashlights or, in your term, torches.

The kelvin rating is very important for the plants and it it doesnt have one, then it is only for our viewing, not plant support.

I have two Marineland products, a double bright and a plant specific system, both I liked and they worked well. The current one is almost too much light for my plants but I just toss a lot of floating plants in to shade things.

If you weren't going to have live plants the lighting would be fine.

Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Well, looks like I have another week to get things sorted out anyway. The aquarium shop near me is out of a lot of the stuff I wanted to use for set up and won't be restocked until next Friday. In the mean time, I'll look and see if I can't sort something out on the lighting. Thanks for the advice and info! :)
 

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If you want natural, I use dirt from my yard. About an inch, sloping up in the back to just under two, then capped with washed play sand. Plant the tank 'dry', spraying the plants with water every few minutes.

After they're planted, add a little more sand around the plants, then fill the tank by gently pouring water onto a plate or saucer.
Angelfish love grassy plants like vallisneria, and driftwood.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
If you want natural, I use dirt from my yard. About an inch, sloping up in the back to just under two, then capped with washed play sand. Plant the tank 'dry', spraying the plants with water every few minutes.

After they're planted, add a little more sand around the plants, then fill the tank by gently pouring water onto a plate or saucer.
Angelfish love grassy plants like vallisneria, and driftwood.

Nice! :) I never thought about just using regular dirt from the yard. I think I'd have to dig up my flower bed to make that work though, so I'll be using the stuff from the fish shop. However, I already have my play sand and drift wood ready to go! :) Thanks for the advice on plants that Angelfish like... I plan to make them my main fish in the tank anyway, so that will be great. I've got some very fine black gravel (not far off from sand) that I plan to use in some areas of the tank as well.

I had been planning to plant the tank mostly dry. I have my spray bottle ready and waiting. I'm really looking forward to getting this going. I appreciate all the info and advice. :)
 

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Please be careful digging up dirt!!! You need to do it in a spot that's been untouched by any chemicals of any kind including fertilizers. Its best to go to the woods somewhere that you know is safe. Dig about 2-3" down just below the top layer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Please be careful digging up dirt!!! You need to do it in a spot that's been untouched by any chemicals of any kind including fertilizers. Its best to go to the woods somewhere that you know is safe. Dig about 2-3" down just below the top layer.
That's part of why I'm going with the stuff from the fish shop instead of digging my own. We only just moved into this house a couple of years ago, and I have no idea how the back garden has been treated prior to us living here. Awesome info on how to do it though.. thank you! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
The Aquarium is all set up, planted and doing well so far. I have another lighting system on order, and have installed a second set of LED lights to help until they arrive. I will post pics up for anyone who wants to see. :) Thanks again for all the advice and helpful tips!
 

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The Aquarium is all set up, planted and doing well so far. I have another lighting system on order, and have installed a second set of LED lights to help until they arrive. I will post pics up for anyone who wants to see. :) Thanks again for all the advice and helpful tips!

ohh pics!!! Yes please do we love seeing them!!
 
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