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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I was thinking about starting a planted tank after it's cycled (10 gallon) and I had some questions. On the box it says that the light bulbs are 120V Compact Fluorescent lights and I only have one installed. Since the hood can hold 2 bulbs up to a total of 30 watts, the bulbs came with the hood and I only have 1 in, I'm gonna guess that's 1 15 Watt bulb or 1.5 WPG. I could add a second one to make 3 WPG if that makes it better. (By the way in the tank already is 1 Red Ludwiga and 2 Japanese Rushes) Could you please answer the questions in your response. What I really wanted to do was make a aquarium bottom of plants (carpet):
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Before Planting:
Do I have to replace my gravel with sand or soil?
If I have to what happens to all the bacteria in my gravel?
How can I preserve the bacteria?
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Choices:
Which one seems best in terms of detritus collection, maintenance and looks (They're in order of my most favorable to least favorable):

1st - Dwarf Hairgrass
2nd - Hemianthus (Cuba)
3rd - Pygmy Chain Sword

What's the basic maintenance of the plant you chose?

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After Planting:

Would Flourish Excel work instead of CO2? (I realize that they are in no way the same thing but Excel seems to do a good job too and I'd rather buy excel than a Diffuser)
Do you have to use Flourish and Flourish Excel together? Which one is more important? (IMO it's Flourish Excel).
What is the basic maintenance of the plant you think is best out of the 3?

I could always make a DIY CO2 Maker With Yeast / Denture Cleaning Tablets (But I would rather Flourish/Excel as it's much easier to handle as in not having to change anything or having to but anything together, just adding the product)

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Thank You For Your Responses,
Sly13Cat
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
I'm going for a field look or I guess you could say a "lawn" like this:

So generally what I would do is...

Step 1: Buy some dwarf hairgrass
Step 2: Have 1.5 WPG or 3 WPG lighting depending on the needs of hairgrass.
Step 3: I'd put the fish in their own containers, the gravel in it's own container(s).
Step 4: I'd siphon the water until there's about 10% left.
Step 5: I'd plant it in the gravel or if enough, add a inch or 2 of Alltreat Farms All Purpose Potting Soil if it's safe.
Step 6: I'd plant the hairgrass.
Step 7: Put the gravel on top of it then fill the water up to about 50% and wait until the dirt and gravel settles.
Step 8: Then add the fish once everything has settled.

At that point, I'd buy Flourish Excel and Flourish if I have the money. Then I'd just dose the products as directed.
My only question is if the Hairgrass will collect detritus and if it does how to clean it out of the plants/ gravel.
 

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You've crammed a lot of questions/issues into this post;-) so I'm going to break it down a bit and deal with a few of them; some will be left out this time.

I was thinking about starting a planted tank after it's cycled (10 gallon) and I had some questions. On the box it says that the light bulbs are 120V Compact Fluorescent lights and I only have one installed. Since the hood can hold 2 bulbs up to a total of 30 watts, the bulbs came with the hood and I only have 1 in, I'm gonna guess that's 1 15 Watt bulb or 1.5 WPG. I could add a second one to make 3 WPG if that makes it better. (By the way in the tank already is 1 Red Ludwiga and 2 Japanese Rushes) Could you please answer the questions in your response.
CFL bulbs are good for planted tanks, and they come in various wattages so you can select those best suited to the light level needed for the specific plants. First a word about watts per gallon, that is basically useless with this lighting and a small tank. Watts is simply the measurement of energy used by a bulb, and CFL bulbs are more energy efficient so more light can result with fewer watts. Over a basic 10g planted I would use two 10w CFL bulbs; with higher light plants like you're considering, these can be increased. The spectrum is also important, and I like the "daylight" with a kelvin rating of 6500K. You can buy these in hardware-type stores, GE make a good one that I happen to use over my 10g and 20g tanks.

What I really wanted to do was make a aquarium bottom of plants (carpet):
Before Planting:
Do I have to replace my gravel with sand or soil?
If I have to what happens to all the bacteria in my gravel?
How can I preserve the bacteria?
You final choice of plants will determine substrate. Fine gravel works for most plants, less well for hairgrass. I use fine gravel or playsand. Larger gravel (like pea gravel) will work for some plants, but not well for carpeting plants. So not knowing what you have as gravel, can't say much more.

You do not need soil, and if this is your first foray into planted tanks I would certainly not recommend it. It creates some issues that you will not have with sand or fine gravel.

If you decide to toss the existing substrate, the bacteria will go with it, there is no way to save it. Bacteria adheres to surfaces, and quite well, in what we term a biofilm. However, bear in mind we have two main types of bacteria, the nitrifying bacteria (which function the plants will do anyway) and the bacteria in the substrate that breaks down organics and uses nitrates and so forth. You can read more here:
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/freshwater-articles/bacteria-freshwater-aquarium-74891/

Choices:
Which one seems best in terms of detritus collection, maintenance and looks (They're in order of my most favorable to least favorable):

1st - Dwarf Hairgrass
2nd - Hemianthus (Cuba)
3rd - Pygmy Chain Sword

What's the basic maintenance of the plant you chose?
I use the pygmy chain sword, as I do not like "lawns" in my tanks. I also like seeing some of the substrate, and I have fish that like this too.:lol: My only comment here is that the first two are more fussy, need more light, and need more nutrients [this will come up again below]. This impacts the fish, depending what they will be [the light issue].

After Planting:
Would Flourish Excel work instead of CO2? (I realize that they are in no way the same thing but Excel seems to do a good job too and I'd rather buy excel than a Diffuser)
Do you have to use Flourish and Flourish Excel together? Which one is more important? (IMO it's Flourish Excel).
What is the basic maintenance of the plant you think is best out of the 3?

I could always make a DIY CO2 Maker With Yeast / Denture Cleaning Tablets (But I would rather Flourish/Excel as it's much easier to handle as in not having to change anything or having to but anything together, just adding the product)
I don't add any CO2 as I find sufficient occurs naturally in a healthy system, to balance my light and other nutrients. Aside from this, I myself would not bother with CO2 diffusion in such a small tank. And, i do not recommend Excel, because it will harm (and melt) some plants, and it is a chemical and if overdosed can harm fish. One member reported it burnt his skin. Enough said on this.

Last, you might find some background info in the series "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium" stickied at the head of the Aquarium Plants section of the forum.

Byron.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Well I plan on buying Flourish instead of Flourish Excel after reading the ingredients and what it can do to you (not putting anything in my tank that is used in hospitals as a Viriceide, Fungicide and Bacteriacide:shock:. So I'm buying Dwarf Hairgrass with a 2 inch soil substrate and a 1 inch gravel sub. Then I plant, add Flourish and go.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I was wondering after everything is planted if I can have a Betta with a school of pygmy cories in the 10 gallon (6-8 Cories). Would that be okay?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
By the way here are my soil choices at the moment:

Circle H Farms Natural Black Earth (Very Generic Can't Find The Brand Online):
-High in Organic Matter

Circle H Farms Top Soil:
-Screened -Compost Enriched

Alltreat Farms All Purpose Potting Soil:
-A Blend of "Rich Organic Material": Peat Sedge, Compost and Horticultural Grade Peat Moss

Bonus:
Miracle Gro Organic Choice Bone Meal
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I need a answer right now because whichever of these is good (or the best), I'm gonna leave out to dry until tomorrow and I need to know which one of these is good to use so I can get started. So basically I plan on leaving it out to dry overnight and adding it to the aquarium tomorrow so which one(s) can I use and which is the best? Also can I add the bone meal to make it better? The reason I need the info now is because I'm buying the grass tomorrow.

Thank You,
Sly13Cat
 

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I really do not recomend soil, so I cannot offer help. Sorry.
 

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The soil sounds like disaster soup to me. Maybe use it for a plant only aquarium. The look you're trying to achieve usually doesn't include fish. In any event, best of luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Aquascaping NPT

In the NPT tank I plan on making I want a very good aquascape as it's very hard to change the look of one. I'm using an inch of Miracle Gro Organic Potting Mix with an inch of substrate to top it off. But I want to know what substrate looks really nice to use until the Dwarf Hairgrass I plan on using can form a carpet.

I'm going to use a 10 gallon tank with 1 Betta and 7 Pygmy Cories (There'll be 4 Dalmatian mollies until I can get the cories).

The lighting is those normal orange CF light bulbs that come with the tank. I could change the lighting to a better color based on your suggestions.

The plants will be a carpet of Dwarf Hairgrass with 1 red ludwigia in the middle. You can also suggest plants that would complement those mentioned above. I'm going for a field look or I geuss you could say a Iguami set up with a NPT substrate and lighting.
I'm going to use Flourish liquid fertilizer as a fert and flourish tabs cut in quarters in the dirt. No C02. I'll change my ferts based on your recomendations.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Well I took the plunge and started the NPT with Miracle Gro Organic Potting Mix as the substrate and my "disaster" worked out quite well. My Red Ludwigia has grown roots for the first time since I bought it and my Micro Sword (Narrow Leaf) seems to be sprouting new runners every day. It's only been about a week and I'm really liking this method. I plan on returning the bottle of Seachem Stability (Long Story) and buying a bottle of Prime and Flourish. What I wanted to know was if the Flourish would help out.
 

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Been following this thread and disappointed to see no new developments but I need to point out similarities in our stories. My 20 gallon has been up for four months. I have 6 types of plants including red ludwigia and micro sword (also looking for a carpet effect). I currently have stock lighting (~14W on a full spectrum fluorescent) so the micro sword has been doing poorly i.e. not propagating or even laying a root network. I have some water sprite that has been slowly melting away (reduced by ~75%) whether or not planted. I attribute my problems to insufficient lighting. My water is also rock solid, around 14-15 dGH.

My first upgrade will be a new fixture that can house two 24W T5 bulbs. Second renovation will occur towards the end of the summer when I have to move apartments. I'm excitedly planning on replacing the fluorite I'm currently using as substrate with some soil and sand. I really want some corydoras eventually; at the moment I have 7 Serpae tetra, 3 Otocinclus and a couple assassin snails.

So, I am obviously interested in what you're doing here and would love updates, possibly with some pictures.
 

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Well I took the plunge and started the NPT with Miracle Gro Organic Potting Mix as the substrate and my "disaster" worked out quite well. My Red Ludwigia has grown roots for the first time since I bought it and my Micro Sword (Narrow Leaf) seems to be sprouting new runners every day. It's only been about a week and I'm really liking this method. I plan on returning the bottle of Seachem Stability (Long Story) and buying a bottle of Prime and Flourish. What I wanted to know was if the Flourish would help out.
Glad it's working out well for you. You could check the potting mix bag for ingredients and see how much, if any, of the Flourish you should add. Over time, you will probably need it more as the nutrients in the potting mix get depleted. Do you have any fish in the tank ?
 

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Been following this thread and disappointed to see no new developments but I need to point out similarities in our stories. My 20 gallon has been up for four months. I have 6 types of plants including red ludwigia and micro sword (also looking for a carpet effect). I currently have stock lighting (~14W on a full spectrum fluorescent) so the micro sword has been doing poorly i.e. not propagating or even laying a root network. I have some water sprite that has been slowly melting away (reduced by ~75%) whether or not planted. I attribute my problems to insufficient lighting. My water is also rock solid, around 14-15 dGH.

My first upgrade will be a new fixture that can house two 24W T5 bulbs. Second renovation will occur towards the end of the summer when I have to move apartments. I'm excitedly planning on replacing the fluorite I'm currently using as substrate with some soil and sand. I really want some corydoras eventually; at the moment I have 7 Serpae tetra, 3 Otocinclus and a couple assassin snails.

So, I am obviously interested in what you're doing here and would love updates, possibly with some pictures.
I have the same problem with lighting. I replaced the full spectrum tube with a daylight 6500 kelvin tube and there seems to be a little improvement. You might try that in the interim.
 

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This will respond to the light issue raised by both Malakh and fishmonger.

Full spectrum is adequate light, it is very close to the "daylight" so this should not make much of a difference. Of course, it depends upon the tube, not all "full spectrum" or "daylight" are the same, it depends upon the phosphors used to coat the tubes. This is why i tend to suggest brands, since i have tried them.

Malakh, I would not recommend T5 lighting over a 20g, that is going to be way overboard and cause trouble. You will not have sufficient nutrients to balance, and algae will likely explode and the fish will be stressed under that. A single tube T8 with a good tube is sufficient. I used to have this, no issues; I now have an incandescent fixture with two daylight 6500K CFL 10w bulbs and it too is doing well. More lighting is not the answer.

Water Sprite when floating will always grow under practically any light. I suspect there is something else going on that is causing trouble for both members. To sort that out, I need to know the data: GH and pH of your tap water and tank water if different, and what fertilizers are you adding and how often. [The Flourite substrate will have no effect on floating plants].

Byron.
 
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Wow, thank you for the responses guys! I had a feeling the light would be overkill but the tank seems dim to me with the light I currently have. It's a normal sized 2g tank so the light is about 20-22" above the substrate.

So Byron if you would throw some suggestions out there on T8 bulbs and fixtures that would be awesome.

About my plant issue, I have been using Madison tap water from deep ground aquifers for the aquarium, that about says it all. It's just not plausible for me to get to a store to buy RO water as I do not have a car. So my GH is around 400-500 ppm while the KH is just a little bit lower at 250 ppm or so. Initially I thought to try a softening pillow but have since given up on that, not looking to fluctuate the hardness for the fish. Unfortunately I do not know the pH. And I do not add any ferts.

I'm really not sure what is out of order obviously but I have read that water sprite is easy to grow and it is sure is dying well in my tank so something must be wrong. With that said, the other plants like the red ludwigia and moneywort are doing decent. Growing slowly but not thriving by any means. How much of a difference will kicking up the light to a T8 make and with this limited information what do you think could be the matter?
 

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Wow, thank you for the responses guys! I had a feeling the light would be overkill but the tank seems dim to me with the light I currently have. It's a normal sized 2g tank so the light is about 20-22" above the substrate.

So Byron if you would throw some suggestions out there on T8 bulbs and fixtures that would be awesome.

About my plant issue, I have been using Madison tap water from deep ground aquifers for the aquarium, that about says it all. It's just not plausible for me to get to a store to buy RO water as I do not have a car. So my GH is around 400-500 ppm while the KH is just a little bit lower at 250 ppm or so. Initially I thought to try a softening pillow but have since given up on that, not looking to fluctuate the hardness for the fish. Unfortunately I do not know the pH. And I do not add any ferts.

I'm really not sure what is out of order obviously but I have read that water sprite is easy to grow and it is sure is dying well in my tank so something must be wrong. With that said, the other plants like the red ludwigia and moneywort are doing decent. Growing slowly but not thriving by any means. How much of a difference will kicking up the light to a T8 make and with this limited information what do you think could be the matter?
What is your present light fixture? I earlier assumed fluorescent tube, maybe that is incorrect. Do you have this (which would be T8, the "normal" tube fixture), or do you have incandescent (screw-in bulbs)? You can have very good plant light either way, I will suggest tubes/bulbs when I know the type. [You type 2g, presumably you meant 20g at 24 inches length.]

Your water is very hard, 22-28 dGH. This might be part of the issue with Water Sprite, it is a soft water plant and while it should adapt to harder water I'm not sure how far this will go. But before we worry about that, a liquid fertilizer is probably needed, as there may not be sufficient nutrients from just fish foods breaking down. I recommend 2 that are complete, Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement or Brightwell Aquatics' FlorinMulti. With either, make sure you get these exact products, as both manufacturers make several different products under these names. It takes very little, for a 20g no more than half a teaspoon once or at most twice a week.

Another point is that plants take time to adjust to different water and environment. No idea how long you've had the Water Sprite, but mine will fall back just moving it to another tank with near-identical water and light. If you have had it more than 6 weeks or so, it should be adjusted from this.

You should get an API pH test kit. The pH and nitrates are worth checking periodically, as sudden changes can alert you to trouble. You might find out the pH of the water from the Madison water supply people, which presumably is where you got the GH.

Byron.
 

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T8 is just the bulb size. It is expressed in 1/8 inches. So a T12 is 1 and 1/2 inches, T8 is 1 inch, and a T5 is 5/8 of an inch in diameter. Byron has answered the question that I have had a hard time finding regarding the difference between full spectrum and daylight tubes. At this point, I would research plants that meet your lighting...moderate. I don't know what to say about the water sprite issue. Back in the day, we used to have to throw away a lot of it due to excessive growth. The floating plants will naturally shade the plants below. So do your research about the plants you like and make your list. Swords, sagitaria, and crypts should do well.
 

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I have a GH, KH and ammonia kit. I am going to buy further tests eventually but I am on a tight budget.

I did mean 20 gallons. The light is most definitely fluorescent as it is a single tube and came in the Aqueon Deluxe kit I bought. I had thought it was a T5 but it could very well be a T8.

I will start adding ferts but I thought the fluorite would be sufficient, at least for the first 6 months. I have had the water sprite in the tank for 4 months and it just continues to melt. It sprout new shoots here and there but they tend not to survive long it seems. I've been all over the cities water site and my districts numbers and mine are slightly different (why I mentioned 15 dGH earlier) because of the water pillow I was using. The city claims 25 dGH. I know that is unhealthy for fish in the long term. What sort of indication is it that they've been in there for four months and seem to be doing well?
 
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