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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, so my 20 gallon tank is now established, no ammonia spikes, no cloudiness. . . YES!! Only thing this, I just bought a 45 gallon tank. Now I won't be switching over quickly, I'll be slowly gettin' that up and running. So I'd like to learn some more before and when I have all of the items needed to start aquascaping my tank then filling it up with water so I can start cycling it. Like; stocking it up, how many small fish can I put in there? Maximum size would be 3", I prefer schools of fish than having very few large fish. I'd like to make this tank a fully planted tank, not a semi-planted like my 20 gallon. I know I'll be using sand, no dirt or fertilizer-type substrate. I'll be using fluorescent lighting, I forgot what I'd have to go for but retracing my steps can help with that. Right now it has a T8 Full Spectrum 17 w bulb, I know that is not efficient for plants, it's just what came with the tank. I'd like to know what I got to do to keep my plants alive with no CO2, or any expensive equipment. I'm out to achieve a perfect balance between fish and plants where they'd support each other, but of course with supplements to keep things in check.

For my 20 gallon, once I move the fish to the 45, I'll be using it as a shrimp tank for Red Cherry Shrimp, accompanied by Harlequin Rasboras. I might make this tank fully planted as well, and instead of the filter it has now(Fluval Aquaclear 50), it'd be a dual sponge filter that is made for 20 gallon tanks. So any of you with knowledge, please share.
 

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If you are going with "fully planted" you don't need to cycle the tank, particularly if you can stock it slowly. A few weeks between additions of no more than 8 to 10 or so small fish at a time. Fish numbers will depend on a good number of factors but a good place to start is the old 1" of fish per gallon... sort of gets you in the ball park. I think if you only have two or three species and they are a mix of bottom dwellers, mid water and surface fish with well matched water parameter needs and temperments you could have as many as 40 2" fish in there but don't rush it.

For the plants, once you get the right light (I'm LED so I can't really say much about the fluorescent) all you should need are root tabs (once every three months) for the root feeders and a liquid comprhensive fertilizer for the rest (once or twice a week).

Oh, and pictures.

Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
If you are going with "fully planted" you don't need to cycle the tank, particularly if you can stock it slowly. A few weeks between additions of no more than 8 to 10 or so small fish at a time. Fish numbers will depend on a good number of factors but a good place to start is the old 1" of fish per gallon... sort of gets you in the ball park. I think if you only have two or three species and they are a mix of bottom dwellers, mid water and surface fish with well matched water parameter needs and temperments you could have as many as 40 2" fish in there but don't rush it.

For the plants, once you get the right light (I'm LED so I can't really say much about the fluorescent) all you should need are root tabs (once every three months) for the root feeders and a liquid comprhensive fertilizer for the rest (once or twice a week).

Oh, and pictures.

Jeff
I've learned my lesson the hard way from adding multiple fish too fast, so trust me, I'll add them in slowly. I've already got Neon Tetras, Zebra Danios, and Gold Pristella Tetras so far. They all seem to swim at all levels, actually. They even pick at any leftover food on the bottom, during a feeding. I may add more Tetras(Bloodfin, Glowlight, Penguin), haven't fully thought about it yet. Now, Byron told me about a Seachem supplement which I will try out, and for the roof tabs, do you have any suggestions on brand? I think I've seen API selling those, and so far I trust API.

My 20g gallon has basic LED lighting, and I've been thinking of upgrading but I've seen the prices of these things... I guess I could afford it, but to me, it makes more sense spending 200+ on a full tank setup than one light fixture... If I do though, what LED should I go for? As I said before, it'll be a shrimp tank, fully planted, with a dual sponge filter. I may have a HOB filter to keep things in check, I've got a marineland penguin bio-wheel 150 hangin' around that I didn't like but I could use different media as long as I fit it correctly. Judging from the size of my current filter's media, I probably could. Point is, would algae grow in that small a tank? Or would I have to have a certain amount of plants to prevent that? Which brings me to my next question.

What other plants should I go for? So far I've got an Amazon Sword, Melon Sword, Anubias, and Java Moss which is on a bendable rod so I'm too afraid to take some off and tie it to a rock... And how do I even propagate? Did I spell that right? Right now my Melon Sword is growing a mini-me and I don't know how to cut it off properly and plant that tiny thing. I was hesitant just to nuzzle their roots into the sand, lol. Back to the point, I've been wanting a plant that stays small and will carpet the sand on its own with not-to-fast speed so my shrimp can have their natural hiding spots along with any babies they'd have. For now I have Java Fern, Wisteria, Jungle Val, on my list for plants to look for. Oh, that reminds me, I mostly shop at Petco, and they have these poor plants in tubes. One of them is called an Argentine Sword, and another; Tropica Fern. . That throws me off. I don't remember seeing anything on these two. Is the Tropica Fern the same as Java Fern? Or is it just a mimic?
 

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I've learned my lesson the hard way from adding multiple fish too fast, so trust me, I'll add them in slowly. I've already got Neon Tetras, Zebra Danios, and Gold Pristella Tetras so far. They all seem to swim at all levels, actually. They even pick at any leftover food on the bottom, during a feeding. I may add more Tetras(Bloodfin, Glowlight, Penguin), haven't fully thought about it yet. Now, Byron told me about a Seachem supplement which I will try out, and for the roof tabs, do you have any suggestions on brand? I think I've seen API selling those, and so far I trust API.
I use Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive and their root tabs as well... I can't vouch for others.

I have a bunch of barbs, a betta and catfish (sort of corys) and I had the barbs, and sometimes the betta, on the bottom competing for the food that fell there. I now use two sizes of food. A small sinking pellet that takes a while to get to the bottom and gets somewhat swirled around byt the filter output... the barbs no longer go to the bottom. I then I drop larger faster sinking pellets for the cats to graze on. I spot feed the betta so he stays at the top, I can make the sinkers float long enough for him to grab them. Takes a little longer but I believe that the fish not competing for food in the same part of the water column is easier on all of the fish in general... less stress.

My 20g gallon has basic LED lighting, and I've been thinking of upgrading but I've seen the prices of these things... I guess I could afford it, but to me, it makes more sense spending 200+ on a full tank setup than one light fixture... If I do though, what LED should I go for? As I said before, it'll be a shrimp tank, fully planted, with a dual sponge filter. I may have a HOB filter to keep things in check, I've got a marineland penguin bio-wheel 150 hangin' around that I didn't like but I could use different media as long as I fit it correctly. Judging from the size of my current filter's media, I probably could. Point is, would algae grow in that small a tank? Or would I have to have a certain amount of plants to prevent that? Which brings me to my next question.
Algae will grow in a thimble... size doesn't matter. Lots of plants and a well balanced setup go a long way in reducing algae growth.

I'm a fan of LED... but I understand that the up front pricetag for a good light can be prohibitive. I just spent $290 on a 254" aquatic LED system from Marineland. It is rated for 50,000 hours which is about 12 years at 12 hours a day. I have a lesser LED from the same company that worked well for about $100 rated for 17,000 hours (about 4 years). I consider that buying a fluorescent for $50 and spending $20 every 9 months for a replacement tube is $370 over 12 years (without inflation) or $156 over 4 years. It doesn't take much to justify the up front... and I think that a good fluorescent fixture is more than $50.

What other plants should I go for? So far I've got an Amazon Sword, Melon Sword, Anubias, and Java Moss which is on a bendable rod so I'm too afraid to take some off and tie it to a rock... And how do I even propagate? Did I spell that right? Right now my Melon Sword is growing a mini-me and I don't know how to cut it off properly and plant that tiny thing. I was hesitant just to nuzzle their roots into the sand, lol. Back to the point, I've been wanting a plant that stays small and will carpet the sand on its own with not-to-fast speed so my shrimp can have their natural hiding spots along with any babies they'd have. For now I have Java Fern, Wisteria, Jungle Val, on my list for plants to look for. Oh, that reminds me, I mostly shop at Petco, and they have these poor plants in tubes. One of them is called an Argentine Sword, and another; Tropica Fern. . That throws me off. I don't remember seeing anything on these two. Is the Tropica Fern the same as Java Fern? Or is it just a mimic?
The sword daughter plant can be cut once the roots are well developed and then plant it. I typically wait for the runner to disintegrate on it's own so the daughters are already "planted" by that time anyway. I haven't had my swords do that but other plants have... valls, lilies and crypts (although crypts are not so much runners as adventurous roots).

Java moss, you can chop that up into little pieces and they will all grow, don't worry about harming it by moving it around. Cut off a hunk and tie it to what ever.

Your plant list is pretty good... I am a fan of just buying what you think might look good and seeing how it fares. Watch out for "semi-aquatic" plants as they won't survive completely submerged. Tropica Fern sounds suspect. Even the other tube packaged plants have likely been started emersed and will either eventually not look like they do now or they may die off and come back due to going from emersed to immersed growth. I like buying plants that are growing under water already... but my LFS has a nice plant setup.

Jeff.
 

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Rather than buy new lighting for the 20g, I would get something better for the 48g. What you have, a single T8 24-inch tube is not going to be adequate no matter what tube you put in it (except for a few very low light plants like Java Fern and Anubias, and Java Moss); I have this over my 29g which is 30 inches in length (the tank), and with a Life-Glo tube it is just sufficient for low and some moderate light plants. Believe me, you will not be happy with the tank unless you change the lighting. Light is the most critical issue for planted tanks; plants cannot photosynthesize without sufficient light intensity.

Assuming you have a manufactured hood which includes the light fixture, you will be limited when it comes to a T8 fixture that fits. You don't mention the tank dimensions (length particularly) so I don't know the maximum tube you could have, but getting fixtures to fit into manufactured hoods is not easy. A better plan might be to get a glass cover set, and then you can get any light fixture you want. The glass cover sits down on the lip running around the inside of the tank frame, and is hinged (some models) or sliding, so the front part opens for feeding. The light fixture then sits on the tank frame itself, at both ends.

If you do the glass cover, you could get a dual tube T8, a single tube T5, or LED. LED can work very well, provided you know what you are getting. It is more expensive. The least expensive plan would be a twin T8 or a single T5. Tubes have to be replaced regularly, around 12-18 months for T8, and for T5 I believe they last a bit longer. They will eventually burn out, but long before that stage they are emitting so little light intensity (they continually weaken as they burn) that the plants will begin to fail and algae will increase.

To the number of fish, this depends upon what they are, their behaviours as well as their size.

Byron.
 

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The LED fixtures can be light enough to just sit right on the glass too. Both of mine are like that. They also, mine anyway, are adjustable. I have a 24" fixture on a 30" tank but it would fit a 36". I like having a slightly shadier end as I keep it off to one side.

Byron makes a good point, go the extra on the larger tank.

Jeff.
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Gosh, so now I may even need to replace the original hood of the 45 too. It's 36" L x 12 1/4" W x 24" H, not 100% sure about the width but it's around that length. I may just buy a Marineland LED light that JDM has which fits up to that, which one is it again? Is it that reef one? I'll still be getting a light for the 20 as well though, but I may just use my one lamp with that bulb I spoke to Byron about from GE.
 

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Not the reef, it's the "aquatic plant system". I had a "double bright" that was very good but I wanted more surface plants and needed more light. Going to a full 36" fixture is another price level higher though. If you go double bright, go for the 36-48 unit for sure. The APS could manage the 24-36 unit but you will have either a darker end or slightly darker sides.

Another point, that is a fairly tall tank and light will be lower at the bottom. If you go with higher light levels you can always add surface plants to compensate.

Jeff.
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Gosh, so now I may even need to replace the original hood of the 45 too. It's 36" L x 12 1/4" W x 24" H, not 100% sure about the width but it's around that length. I may just buy a Marineland LED light that JDM has which fits up to that, which one is it again? Is it that reef one? I'll still be getting a light for the 20 as well though, but I may just use my one lamp with that bulb I spoke to Byron about from GE.
Over my 33g which is also 36 inches length, 12" wide, but only 18" deep, I have a single T8 tube that is 30 inches [longer than your 24 inch] and here again with a Life-Glo tube it just manages low light plants. This tank has no lower plants except a couple clumps of Java Fern, some Java Moss, and 3-4 crypts and even they are not doing that well. This is all I want in this tank, as it is a different sort of aquascape, not meant to be planted like the others, so this light functions. But you won't have luck over your tank with one T8 even full length.

Jeff can advise on LED better than I, as he has done.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Well I've gone and done something on impulse. I bought a Aqueon Floramax tube for my light fixture on the 45(the tank is from Aqueon too), and moved it over to my 20 for now so the plants can get some proper light. It ranks at 5000k. I also bought Wisteria too, plus the supplement for the plants. As I am now, I'll need be to treated like a fool since I'm still lost even with your explanations on things. I'm still trying to figure out the difference between all these different tubes, and LEDs. Like what's the difference between T8, T5, T12, etc.?

I'd like to know all the details so I can know which kind of lighting to choose for the tanks I have now like I've said before; 45 is 24" high, then my 20 is about 16" high I think. . And as you, Byron, said a T8 won't reach the bottom for my 45 but would it do it for the 20?
 

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I don't know any fools who will admit when they don't know something.

T rating is the tube diameter... I don't immediately recall what the fractional equivalents are, someone will... maybe eights of an inch? T5 = 5/8ths, T8 = 8/8ths or 1 inch I think.

LEDs are so much simpler in some senses... I don't happen to have time now to explain, perhaps I'll drag some stuff that I wrote out and post or link it.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Well, I'll be doing some research as well. I just need to get over the fact that LEDs are expensive but necessary if I want to go for all plants, I think. I'm not sure, since the brighter the lighting, the more I'd need CO2, right? I'm burning myself out with all this thinking, lol.
 

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This is going to look like a post that should be in my plant thread... but it isn't... maybe I'll copy it over there later too.

"Needing" LEDs is a stretch. Any type of light can be configured to work for plants and, at least until recently, people have been of the opinion that LED would not work for plants.

You won't likely "need" to add CO2 either. That's a whole other setup and expense... at least doing it right is.

The typical LED plant suitable setup will include 1 Watt bulbs in an array that includes some coloured bulbs. The intensity of the overall fixture is determined by the number of bulbs in the fixture and, sort of by default, how much the light from each bulb overlaps the others.

I had 8 white bulbs (8 Watts total) in two rows over a 24" span in my first fixture and they worked over a 22" deep tank for low to medium light plants including swords and a dwarf lily. I could keep some surface plants but not a full covering or the shade probably would have been too great for some plants.

My new fixture has the same 1 Watt bulbs (they are actually a better bulb bulb have the same light ratings) but 23 of them (23 Watts total) over the same 24" span in three rows. The bulbs are closer together and the overlap is a lot more creating a very bright light footprint. I have a very thick mat of plants on the surface and the light level is still higher than it was with the less surface plant coverage and weaker fixture.

The advantages of LED over fluorescent include

-more efficient bulbs
- more efficient focusing method used
- less heat produced
- no replacement bulbs needed
- much slimmer profile (less than 1" in my case)
- nice shimmering and spot effects with exposed moving surface water
- multi-staged light levels in most fixtures with multi-stage timers in some fixtures
- you can create your own more custom fixtures if so inclined

The disadvantages include

- higher up front cost (which is more than mitigated by the long term savings)
- if a bulb goes they are not really user serviceable
- the bulbs cannot be swapped for something different so you want to be right the first time.

The range of Watts per linear foot over typical tank would start at 4 LED Watts per linear foot for low to medium light plants and minimal surface plants to 12 LED Watts per linear foot for very high light plants or lots of surface plants with medium light plants below.

I have not had algae problems using either range and 14 hour photo-periods with minimal fertilization... very low tech. I am going to start pruning my surface plants to increase the light levels at the bottom but don't want to reduce the photo-period... looking for that balance so I anticipate that I will have to increase my liquid fertilizer dosing to once a week or maybe even as much as twice a week. CO2 is not going to be a consideration as the only real reason to add this is to force faster plant growth or to compensate for an unbalance of some other factors.

I would suggest deciding what you think you may want for light levels and go a little higher. You can always reduce the intensity using more surface plants or just physically shading the tank but you cannot increase it later.

I like both of the Marineland products, Doublebright and the Aquatic Plant Light Systems.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I'm not trying to change the subject, we'll get back to lighting but right now I have a quick question. If I were to go with dirt as my substrate, could I put sand over it so my Cory Cat's can be happy? Or will they be okay with the dirt?
 

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I'm not trying to change the subject...
Your thread, your rules. Better to keep it all under one anyway, more contiguous and better answer streams.

... we'll get back to lighting but right now I have a quick question. If I were to go with dirt as my substrate, could I put sand over it so my Cory Cat's can be happy? Or will they be okay with the dirt?
Short answer... the sand cap is what is done most often and the corys will be fine.

You could get away without it and they might be fine but you would probably always have cloudy water as they stir it up. Dirt is pretty much a mud bottom and it will settle out nice and clear... if you never touch it.

I always question why someone would choose dirt when sand, with very little care and attention, is just as good... or close enough that most might never see the difference at least.

So... why do you want dirt?

Jeff.
 

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I would bypass the dirt personally. And yes, the corys would toss that dirt around like kids in a mud pit. They dig and sift and toss substrate around all day in my tank. Very cute. The sand is really good for them and I have no problem growing plants in any of my sand tanks.
As for lighting for plants. I actually on impulse bought for my 75g the Aqueon Floramax tube(t8) to replace to fullspectrum it came with just to see. It worked well and the the tank is an absolute jungle of every plant under the sun. So that one does work and I also use Flourish and sometimes a root tab here and there. But throughout my house I have Everytype of light fixture you could think of on tanks and rarely have problems getting them to grow.(even have a 12k t5 4 tube light but I'm scared to put that on anything haha) Only thing I don't like about the floramax tube is the purplish hue so I went ridiculous and got the fluval 5200k full spectrum plant & aqualife LED fixture. I like it more because of the white color on the day setting but it wasn't neccesary..in fact it is more in the category of overkill lol(but I love it..plants do too)
 

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Corys really should not be over dirt without a 1 inch (minimum sand cap. Dirt as someone said compacts, and this means the corys can't get into it. I know of no cory species that live in streams with anything other than sand substrates, but there may be (I would expect these would have a deep leaf layer over the clay). But they have a need to dig into the sand and sift it through their gills, and this is something they can't do with congealed dirt/mud.

It is also worth noting that few if any watercourses in the tropical areas have "dirt" anyway; it is either sand or compacted clay or gravel/rock. The sediment that gets stirred up as when you see videos of these streams is decomposing organics, not true soil.

Byron.
 

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...
Only thing I don't like about the floramax tube is the purplish hue so I went ridiculous and got the fluval 5200k full spectrum plant & aqualife LED fixture. I like it more because of the white color on the day setting but it wasn't neccesary..in fact it is more in the category of overkill lol(but I love it..plants do too)
I just looked at the specs on those LEDs... quite a bulb count 696 for the 48" fixture. I guess those aren't 1 Watt bulbs:shock:

This is what I like about LEDs when trying to compare them

"Size adjustment: 122 cm - 145 cm (48 in - 57 in)
Number of LEDs: 696
Wattage: 46W
Lumens: 3475 LM
Lux: 7827
CRI: 5200K
Lifetime Hours: 50,000
Provides 120 degree light dispersion."

The Lux is a little ambiguous as you need the distance from the fixture for it to mean much but knowing the lumens it's a good relative thing with LEDs. Pricing looks decent but I don't like the wide dispersion, 120 degrees would, I think, produce a lot of waste light.

Very easy to pick this and a few others and just say "THAT one gives me what I want"... once you know what you want.

Jeff.
 

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The sediment that gets stirred up as when you see videos of these streams is decomposing organics, not true soil.

Byron.
True enough.

Jeff.
 

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I just looked at the specs on those LEDs... quite a bulb count 696 for the 48" fixture. I guess those aren't 1 Watt bulbs:shock:

This is what I like about LEDs when trying to compare them

"Size adjustment: 122 cm - 145 cm (48 in - 57 in)
Number of LEDs: 696
Wattage: 46W
Lumens: 3475 LM
Lux: 7827
CRI: 5200K
Lifetime Hours: 50,000
Provides 120 degree light dispersion."

The Lux is a little ambiguous as you need the distance from the fixture for it to mean much but knowing the lumens it's a good relative thing with LEDs. Pricing looks decent but I don't like the wide dispersion, 120 degrees would, I think, produce a lot of waste light.

Very easy to pick this and a few others and just say "THAT one gives me what I want"... once you know what you want.

Jeff.
Yep.. it is total overkill category haha. It can pretty much help light the room. Even the night setting is super bright and is a lovely blue light for my dinning room at night. Makes a nice streamline look for the top of the tank and a light that the fish, my plants and people can all enjoy. I have constantly been told "You don't know how to do anything halfway..do you?" lol
 
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