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Few questions on my future set up

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by Jared77, Mar 24, 2010.

  1. Jared77

    Jared77 Junior Poster

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    Ive been doing my homework as Ive been out of planted tanks for a few years. Did a high tech set up and don't want the headaches and high wire act again while pruning every few days. Been doing lots of reading and Tom Barr's comments have really inspired me to try this again but with a slightly different approach.

    This tank is still in storage so this is all still in the planning stages. 55 gallon tank (48" x 12" footprint) with the typical "shop light" (I think they are T12 or T8s each bulb is 40 watts for a grand total of 80 watts) mounted to the lid of the canopy which is about 3" from the surface of the water. This was a cichlid tank thats why I used this light and worked out great for me.

    Flora would be a variety of Anubias species, a variety of Crypts, Hygro Kompact, and something like an Ozelet Sword or a red tiger lotus as the main focal point.

    Fauna would be Praecox rainbows, Congos, a pair of Apistos or Kribs, possibly a school of tetras not sure yet, (might just have a few extra rainbows and congos in place of a school of tetras) and the typical clean up crew of corys and otos.

    Filtration would be a Fluval 405 and do have a powerhead I could put at the other end of the tank for circulation.

    Looking for this tank to look really nice with good color in the fish and plants without being a slave to the flora or fauna. I'm not after fast growth rates and I can always add more plants to help fill in gaps till things grow in.

    Now for the questions:

    What kind of substrate will work out best long term for these kind of heavy root feeders? I'm open to ideas and I want to do it right. I'm not opposed to mineralized substrates or any of the commercial substrates out currently either. I anticipate having to supplement the substrate because I have so many root feeding plants so does it really matter then what I use? Or is just aesthetics at that point?

    Because I'm planting with mostly root feeders should I dose the water column? Or just supplement the substrate with ferts there?

    If I do dose the water column should I keep some kind of stem plant like Water Sprite or a Hygro species to help with excess nutrients? Or will my lower light set up be enough to keep algae at bay?

    CO2? Id rather not but would I still need to dose with Excel? I know pressurized would be cheaper in the long run and if I still need something then I'll go that route but would rather not run anything if I don't have to. Again slow growth rates are anticipated and preferred so long as they are healthy.

    Thoughts? Just trying to get handle on what I want and set it up for long term success. I really want to spend with my tank enjoying it not laboring over it. Thats why I tore down my high tech set up some years back and got out of SW too. I was too busy working on them or worrying over them to really sit and enjoy them.

    Thank you and I look forward to your input on this.
     
  2. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Definitely dose the column. Plants don't just uptake through their roots, they can gain many nutrients through passive uptake from the column. Even so-called heavy root feeders benefit from dosing, and it seems just the presence of good nutrients along with balanced light and CO2 reduces algae a whole ton compared to a limiting column.

    You can get away without CO2 at that level of light I'd think. Perhaps integrate a mid day break and some time at 1/2 wattage during low-CO2 concentration periods. DIY CO2 would be helpful, and you can save some money by using Metricide (thank you to whoever it was that started the thread about it recently) or Cidex Plus rather than excel. In all honesty, compressed CO2 will make life easier; it's great stuff to have even on the lowest light tanks.

    For substrate, ADA AS I is the best stuff I've ever worked with. It's not cheap, but it's effective at dropping pH, scaping well, and providing nutrients. On the other hand, you can save a pile of money with Turface or the right brand of kitty litter and some Osmocote Plus underneath. Plenty also do mineralized soil/worm castings underneath, a fine sprinkling of peat (or a thick one if you're doing apistos), old mulm from another tank, and probably just about anything else containing nutrients without being toxic.

    I'm doing a mix of osmocote and peat mixed with turface then capped with some pure turface in an emersed growth tray right now, and I couldn't be happier. The HC is deep green and growing well after less than a week of re-planting. The exact same substrate will go in on Mrs Philo's 80 gal.
     
    #2 Philosophos, Mar 24, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 24, 2010
  3. justin.sterling.scott

    justin.sterling.scott Prolific Poster

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    With your current lighting, you'll be coming in to about 1.5 W/gallon... Everything I've read about Ozelot Swords and Tiger Lotus suggest they would benefit from more light. Now, I've never planted either, so I have no experience. It could be they'll do fine without the higher light requirements of 2.5-3 W/gallon, or whatever it is they need. Perhaps the color won't be quite as deep in the lotus, for instance. If you do increase your lighting, you'll likely need to increase the available carbon for all the plants in order to keep them growing and to prevent algae growth. In that case, dosing with a liquid supplement is a great idea.

    Tom has written quite a bit about non-CO2 planted tanks and how viable an option they are. I know they can be searched out. If you can't find them, I will. But definitely worth a read.
     
  4. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    I can't say I've seen evidence for a species of plant requiring "medium" or "high" light by our standards. There's actually a good bit of debunking that's been going on that way, and perhaps the best known would be HC. It started out with Tom's measurement of HC growing under 40mmol PAR in AquaforestAquarium's show tanks, and now more recently Diana Walstad has managed to keep the stuff on its own in low light with a dry start NPT.

    The big issue is that with every new species discovered or popularized, there will be someone trying to keep the price high by claiming extraordinary requirements. For some reason the longer a plant has been in the hobby, the lower sites seem to list its requirements.

    If you open up a March issue of TFH, you'll find an article titled, "Aquatic Plants Don't Read the Books" that's all about a sword plant making it in incredibly low light. You'll also find the plant in plenty of low light El Natural tanks.
     
  5. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    I once planted about 6 corkscrew vals in a 6 inch square planted container, using a soil substrate. I put the vals in a pail of water under on a rack near the floor and forgot about them. They got no direct light at all, only indirect light from the room lighting and not a lot of that.

    About 6 months later I happened to look at them. They were quite small and were a vivid green in color, the brightest green I've ever seen in a plant. I put the container with the plants into an aquarium with decent lighting, and in about a month the vals were at full size and putting out runners galore. I took them to the local fish store and there were over 100 healthy plants in that 6 by 6 container!

    The moral of that story is that some plants are pretty tough and will prosper under sub-optimal conditions. That doesn't mean that's the best way to raise them, though.

    Bill
     
  6. Jared77

    Jared77 Junior Poster

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    Thank you for the fast replies

    Ive got room on there to put on another double bulb fixture giving me 160 watts total giving me 2.9 watts/gallon or I can also add a single bulb fixture to give me 120 watts giving me 2.1 watts/gallon. There is plenty of room for either under the canopy. The Crypts off my head would be C. spiralis, C. wendtii in a few color forms (green, bronze, etc), C. lutea, and C. parva.

    And if I do dose the water column what dosing regiment would you suggest with a lower light tank?

    I'm off to look for Tom Barr's non-CO2 articles.
     
  7. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    That's the issue though; I haven't seen any deterioration in health. Growth speed is definitely affected for obvious reasons, so are growth forms, but there isn't anything indicating that the plant isn't healthy. Growth forms are also a matter of the plants you're keeping and personal aesthetic.

    Not only does tiger lotus look beautiful under low light, crypts aren't the least bit picky to lighting saturation. Swords really aren't that difficult or demanding of even light spread either; talk to Brian20 about it, he keeps tons of swords if I recall correctly, and uses NPT for a number of tanks. If you want an easy to maintain tank, raising the light to 2wpg+ of T8 is going to be heading in just the opposite direction, especially without compressed CO2. You'll be facing weekly trims and water changes as a long-term thing this way.

    If you stay lower light, you can run 50% quantities for dosing standard EI, and after the tank is grown in and settled you could probably do water changes half as often too.
     
  8. justin.sterling.scott

    justin.sterling.scott Prolific Poster

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    Were those emersed?
     
  9. Jared77

    Jared77 Junior Poster

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    My thoughts exactly. Ive done the high tech set up and I don't want to go back. If the leaves have good color and are not curled under then I'm happy because they look good.

    Thats actually right about where I want to be with my maintenance long term. I'm not trying to get out of doing water changes I believe they are important to the fauna especially. I just don't want to have to struggle to stay on top of the tank with constant pruning, large water changes, and forever checking/rechecking of parameters.
     
    #9 Jared77, Mar 25, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 25, 2010
  10. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    No.

    Bill
     
  11. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Then I'd say go with the low light, but strap on some compressed CO2. Plants with high CO2 available thrive under lower light conditions far better than plants without, and you'll find lower light tanks don't need the best CO2 systems available. Save up for a little while if you have to, snipe on ebay where you can, and by the time you've got it running you'll notice a huge difference.
     
  12. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Also, with the lower light you won't need to use as much CO2 either saving you money since you won't need a larger tank or need to refill it very often. So you'll have decent growth with stable CO2, but not excessive use, and you won't need to go nuts with ferts and water changes. 50% weekly is still a good amount for the WC ( but that's me and I have fairly high stocking amounts and my discus seem to like the new water after they've calmed down ). Your WC needs will likely be different.

    -
    S
     
  13. Jared77

    Jared77 Junior Poster

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    What kind of rate should I be setting the CO2 at with the lower light?
     
  14. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Bubble count isn't the greatest way to fine tune your CO2. First time around with new equipment, I'd say start off at 1bps and slowly increase. Use a drop checker as a reference, move it around the tank. CO2 is more of an art for most of us as we don't have the equipment to make it a science. Be sure you're hanging around when you increase the CO2; don't just walk away for the rest of the day.

    Personally I like pushing upper levels of CO2 on lower light tanks; the plants benefit as more CO2 means higher saturation in the low flow areas. Take it easy the first time around though, CO2 is the #1 biggest killer in planted tanks and it can be prevented through caution. I've only lost a couple of shrimp myself.
     
  15. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Also, to expound on Dan's remarks, when you do any major rescaping and lots of plants come out drop the CO2 a bit as what was adequate for a certain biomass may prove lethal for the current plantings. I would also recommend the same when switching from a reactor to a needlewheel or similar. There is not really a good way to know how these changes will affect your CO2 levels ahead of time. CO2 is a great tool, but it's double edged. Treat it with respect and you and your critters will be fine. :)

    -
    S
     
  16. Jared77

    Jared77 Junior Poster

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    reactor to a needlewheel? Whats a needle wheel? Last time I ran CO2 I had it running into a powerhead because I had a HOB filter on the back of the tank. I was going to order a nice reactor when thing fell apart on the tank and I tore it down. Considering what I want can I still run it this way? To increase flow and still get respectable saturation?
     
  17. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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