Concerned about redoing tank


Junior Poster
Apr 9, 2008

I have been doing a lot of reading including Greg Watson's dosing guide. I want to redo my aquarium but I'm afraid to take the next step. Please help.

I've had 2 local aquarium professionals give me advice since I was getting overwhelmed trying to establish my 55 gal tank myself. I made all the usual mistakes anyway - too much light, no added carbon source, no ferts, and I ,of course, ended up with ~55 gallons of lovely green water. I was told to use Velvet Guard and a micron filter, which did succeed in getting rid of the GW and, I believe, most of my plants. I was told it was probably not the VG but a combination of factors. Maybe so.

I need to start over and could use the experience, wisdom and advice of the people on this forum to help me learn and decide what to do next.

Here is a list of how the tank was set-up originally:

1. Eheim 2213 filter

2. 2 light strips that accommodate 4 40-watt T12 Coralife bulbs:
2 Day Max - 6000K
1 Nutrigro - 6700K
1 Actinic
(I stopped using the actinic after the first week)
3. 12 hour photo period

4. Pea gravel with laterite mixed into the bottom layer.

5. 5 Congo tetras, 13 inch long Hengel's rasboras, and 3 small Danios.

6. I wasn't even sure of all of the plant names, but I soon found out that Green
Hedge is not an aquatic. There were lots of stem plants, vals, micro sword, etc.
that didn't make it. A banana plant, 3 moss balls, some small crypts did.

When the GW started we shortened the photo period to 6 hrs/day with only one
bulb.When it was resolved I used GAC to remove the Velvet Guard and changed
20% of the water every 4 days X3. There was a small amount of algae forming on
the glass but other than that everything looked pretty sterile. Then the water started to look slightly cloudy so it was suggested that I do no more WCs.

Also, just after the water cleared and 1 week before the plants started dying I was given SeaChem's trace, iron, phosphorus, and potassium to dose with per bottle instructions - no nitrogen. Out of the tap the pH is 7.4, KH and GH just need 1 drop to change color. The GH is 6 in the tank because we wanted to raise the KH but incorrectly used a SeaChem product that was meant to raise the GH. A rock meant for a marine tank was suggested to raise the KH but the value is only up 1 degree.

I have now had new plants floating in the tank since Friday waiting for me to get the nerve to remove the gravel and start over. I have 3 bags of new black flourite for the front of the tank and an almost full 5-gallon bucket of reclaimed (used) red flourite for the back (it looks like it's mixed with black). How much do I need?

My plan was to take the fish out and redo everything all at once, but, I'm afraid to kill all of them by starting a new cycle.

I want to use Excel and ferts and keep low light plants. Actually, I should have lots more plants but won't be able to do anything about that right away unless I order online.

Suggestions would be very welcomed. Thanks!


Junior Poster
Apr 9, 2008

I've decided just to go for it and do it all at once. So, I need to find a source for leonardite, which I will research later today. The most important question right now is, what is the best place to order plants online - would that be Fosters and Smith?

I'll be able to get through the rest myself, I think, just need advice on purchasing plants. Thanks so much.


Plant Guru Team
Lifetime Member
Sep 23, 2007
South Florida

You may want to swap in 1/2 sections per week, to lessen the stress overall. Check out this thread from Tom. It may help.

Arizona Aquatic Gardens (AAG) has worked well for me buying/shipping plants.

Aquarium Plants, Pond Plants, Freshwater Aquarium Plant & Aquarium Accessories – Arizona Aquatic Gardens


Aquarium Largest online sales / service site for the live aquarium plants & aquarium products community.


Aqua Botanic

Aqua Botanic Aquarium Plants Sales and Library

I have used the first two. Not yet Aqua Botanic.

I have purchased fish from Foster's and Smith but not plants............Quality was okay.....

Best of luck.

Tom Barr

Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
I think you might also consider TPT swap and trade mart.
They sell a fair amount of plants and plants from hobbyists tend to be the best quality.

Tom Barr