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  1. We are after as many aquarium plant images that we can get, doing so will assist us in completing the aquarium plant database.

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Need help for new setup, please.

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by kleb, Jan 4, 2016.

  1. kleb

    kleb Junior Poster

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    Hi everyone,


    I am planning to setup a planted non-CO2 community 450l (about 120gl) tank (180cm x 50cm x 50cm or apron. 71in x 20in x 20in) and need your help on several topics. I appreciate it! Nominal volume is 450l, but after discounting the glass thickness it drops to 391l. After substrate and rocks it may drop to less than 350l (95gl).


    I used to have aquariums long time ago, before all this great info was widely available. I had some success (got lucky) and lots of failures back then, and now I have an ambitious plan (for my aquarium skillset or lack of it), for which I have been reading and planning to avoid common mistakes and learn from your experience, so I can have healthy plants and happy fishes.


    Here are the questions:


    1. Water - my tap water is soft (2GH, 2 to 3KH) and has a 7.5PH. I am concerned with the lack of buffering and its risks. Should I add some crushed coral to the substrate or use seachem equilibrium or something else? Some of the rocks I want to use fizzles when tested with a 35% HCL solution, but when submerged in a bucket for few days, they still don't change the ph, kh nor gh - I guess because some of their minerals (e.g. calcium) does not dissolve at the 7.5ph of my tap water. If that is the case, could they act as a natural buffer when the ph drops, starting to dissolve then increasing ph to a level they no longer dissolve and prevent ph shock? I have no idea at the pace/speed which this potential balance could occur, and whether this is possible and a viable approach. Any thoughts on this approach?


    2. Filtration and media - are 2 eheim classic 600 (2217) with the included media adequate? I already purchased these filters and I am thinking to try to cycle them in a bucket, after kicking the DSM..., so I can have some bacteria in the filter media, prior to flooding the tank. I am thinking to use lily acrylic pipes for the output.


    3. Lighting - I had help from folks in this forum (thank you!) and ordered a single 72" BML Nature Style 6500K, which I should receive this afternoon. Unfortunately it was held up for several days by customs in Brazil. Anyway, I am planning to leave it on for 2 periods of 4-5 hours, with a siesta of 2-4 hours in between, so I can enjoy it at night. Is this ok? I will likely try to raise it a little bit to avoid dark spots.


    4. Substrate - purchased ADA AS Amazonia Normal. I am planning to have a slope and I am wondering how deep can the substrate be on the back, without running into H2S or CH4. Or shouldn't be worried about H2S, as it may be immediately oxidized and not harm fish? I don't know how much impact the Amazonia will have on item 1 (water), any thoughts? And if too deep (e.g. over 10cm or 4 in) is not recommended, is it ok to put something else (an inert object, e.g. styrofoam) to accomplish this?


    5. Hardscape and plants - I have lots of rocks, big ones (over 10l, 15l of volume), which I really want to use (see item 1 above), thus I am planning a half rock, half plant look mixed together. This may drastically reduce the volume of water and the room for plants. If I use moss to cover the top of the large rocks, and leave only 10-15% of area unplanted (when looking from the top), will it still act/function as a heavily planted tank? Large sides of the rock would still be exposed. I am looking for the benefits and looks of plants plus looks of rocks.


    6. Plants - below are the plants I want to have - info between parenthesis is from Tropica. Will I be ok with these, are there any of these I should avoid? I may not buy all these types, but this is the pool of plants I desire to use, because I like their small/delicate foliage. I like how it looks with large rocks and small fishes. Feel free to suggest any other plant with small/delicate foliage. Btw, I understand the ideal is to start fully planted and with high growth plants, but I want to avoid replanting or moving plants around. I am planning to use the DSM for the carpet and mosses, and add the others after flooding the tank. Based on your experience, would the medium and high CO2 demanding plants below be healthy in a non-CO2 tank? Will any of these require constant pruning in a non-CO2 tank?


    Background: cabomba caroliniana (easy care, high growth, 20-30cm, medium light, low co2) ceratophyllum demersum “foxtail” (easy care, high growth, 5-30cm, low light, low co2)


    ceratopteris thalictroides - talvez (medium care, high growth, 15-30cm, medium light, low co2)


    myriophyllum matogrossense (medium care, high growth, 20-30cm, medium light, medium co2)

     


    Middleground:


    bacopa australis (medium care, high growth, 5-30cm, medium light, medium co2) Pogostemon erectus (medium care, medium growth, 15-30cm, medium light, medium co2)


    hottonia palustris (easy care, medium growth, 10-20cm, low light, low co2)

     


    Carpet (to be grown trough DSM):


    helianthus callitrichoides “cuba” (advanced care, medium growth, 3-5cm, high light, high co2)


    eleocharis acicularis “mini” (medium care, slow growth, 3-5cm, medium light, medium co2)


    marsilea crenata (medium care, medium growth, 3-10cm, medium light, low co2)

     


    flutuante:


    azalea carolinians ou azolla caroliniana (easy care, medium growth, 3-5cm, low light, low co2)

     


    Riccia fluitans (medium care, medium growth, 3-5cm, medium light, medium co2)


    limnobium laevigatum (easy care, medium growth, 3-5cm, low light, low co2)


    salvinia nations (easy care, high growth, 3-5cm, low light, low co2)

     


    moss:


    Vesicularia ferriei ‘Weeping(medium care, medium growth, 3-5cm, medium light, low co2)


    vesicular dubyana “christmas” (medium care, medium growth, 3-5cm, medium light, low co2)


    Riccia fluitane (medium care, medium growth, 3-5cm, medium light, medium co2)





    7. Ferts - based on item#1, seachem equilibrium and KNO3/KH2PO4 once a week or biweekly, according to the effective volume (likely less than 350l or 95g)?


    8. Fishes - below is the current plan.


    1 school of 30 tetra neon cardinal or 2 schools (15 neons and 15 danios)


    1 male betta


    1 or 2 female bettas


    1 male dwarf gourami


    1 female dwarf gourami


    10 neocaradina shrimps (I hope they can breed and increase population - they are expensive) - there will be plenty of hiding space for them.


    5-7 guppies (only 1 male)


    9. UPS - I got a true sine wave UPS plus external battery to keep the filters going during the frequent and sometimes long power outages. 12V, 41Ah. Any comments or things to avoid here?


    10. Cabinet top leveling - the hardwood cabinet has an irregular top, with irregularities up to 3mm. Stupid and lazy question: will a 10mm EVA mat under the aquarium be enough to prevent these irregularities to crack or break the bottom glass? The top is 5cm (2in) thick and can be sanded, but if the rubber mat can work, with no risks of cracking, I can avoid the messy wood work in the house. On the other side, if there are risks, I rather fix it now than have a flooded living room. The aquarium is arriving soon...


    Does this all make sense and work well together? Should I make any changes?


    Thank you very much and sorry for the long loaded question(s).
     
  2. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    1. 2 GH and 3 KH is fine. You can add a little GH Booster if you want. Add a little Equilibrium and forget about it.


    2. Filtration - don't see any issues.


    3. Lighting. I don't understand siesta for plants. Just turn on light later in the day, so you can enjoy in the evening. 2-4 hours of darkness in the middle of the day is odd. One 72" BML may still be too much light for a non-CO2 tank. This is the only problem I see with the system.


    4. Substrate. Keep it simple. ADA is excellent choice. But it will produce ammonia for the first month, so do big water changes twice a week. May be less of an issue with DSM.


    6. Some of your plants will do well. Others may not. Be flexible with your outlook.


    7. Ferts. May not need as much if you have low light. And a good number of fish.


    Your research seems thorough. A bit eager and micro-managed for a tank without CO2, which typically requires an approach that is relaxed and lazy. So step back, enjoy, and let it be.


    I predict you will acquire a CO2 system in the not-too-distant future. :)
     
  3. kleb

    kleb Junior Poster

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    Thank you Pikez! I am trying to setup something like these beautiful contest aquascaping designs, for my long-term enjoyment at home without all the husbandry those tanks require. I am excited with all the reading and planning, it is fascinating how much the hobby has evolved.


    I hope your prediction is wrong (lol), I really want to stay away from CO2 and heavy husbandry. :) I rather invest time in the planning/setup phase to reduce my to do list, not to increase my recurrent chores. :) I hope to stay this way...


    1. I really want to add the rocks, which may not exclude the use of Equilibrium... Do you think it is a bad idea or is it hard to tell without knowing more about these rocks?


    3. I received the fixture yesterday with the dimmer, I ordered it just in case...
     
  4. 691175002

    691175002 Junior Poster

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    CO2 alone won't dramatically speed up plant growth, its the combination of high light and CO2 that makes them take off.


    Tom Barr actually measured several Aqua Forest tanks and discovered they run low PAR with CO2. This supports the full range of "high tech" plants at more managable growth rates.


    http://www.barrreport.com/forum/barr-report/lighting/5073-ada-lighting-at-aqua-forest-and-nice-low-par-values-who-knew


    Given your goals I actually think low/med light + CO2 would be a great choice. With a dimmable fixture you can even drop the light/CO2 a bit once the tank grows in to slow things down even more.


    CO2 can be a pretty large up-front cost but non-CO2 tanks have a very different style than what you see in aquascaping competetions.
     
  5. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    kleb - if you don't want to spend a lot of time with husbandry, then reduce light. Not using CO2 is not the best way to reduce husbandry work.


    I understand if you don't want to spend a lot of time on your tank. I can also understand if you don't have money to buy CO2 system, after all, it is expensive. But I think there is a disconnect between what you want and how you are approaching it.


    Get the CO2 if you can afford it and use your dimmer to reduce light to 30 or 40% of maximum output. Use slow growing plants and keep fewer fish.


    In my experience, light-limited tanks always looks better than a CO2 limited tanks. Don't learn this lesson the hard way. I have not measured many contest winning aquascapes, but most people who follow the Amano approach have light limited tanks. You'd be surprised how easy it is to grow 'difficult' plants with low light and medium CO2.
     
  6. kleb

    kleb Junior Poster

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    Thank you guys, this is eye opening for me. I appreciate your advice and I am reconsidering CO2. Little did I know about Pikes' prediction :) . Great thread on Aqua Forrest and PAR values.


    I was under the impression that CO2:


    a) Even at low levels, requires water changes way more often than non-CO2, thus I completely ignored it. Water change is a pain and I didn't plan to automate it... Can you please share your average PWC percentage and frequency for a low or medium CO2, no EI?


    b) Is hard to manage.


    I am lost on CO2, no idea what a reliable long-term setup needs to be to properly dose the tank and not fail me when I am out of town.


    I thought I could grow most of those plants without CO2....


    I was also put off by the need to often recharge cylinders... (one more chore)
     
  7. Dennis Singh

    Dennis Singh SynKing!

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    You can do your low maintenance thing without co2. You just need low to moderate lighting. Especially with the plants you are growing. You may need some nutrients, but you can balance it where are you have to do is top offs.


    co2 will cost you $ mostly, its not going to add that much maintenance really...
     
  8. easternlethal

    easternlethal Lifetime Members
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    I don't think having more than one betta is a good idea, and not with guppies. Also I don't think 10 shrimp would survive in that environment, and even if they did they'd be hiding. I would get the tank, plants and shrimp in order before adding fish because juggling the health of the number of plants will be hard enough without having to worry about the fish. This will also give your shrimp population some time to grow.


    Then I would add a few fish at a time, make sure the shrimp population is still growing, then add a few more, etc. Maybe your fish population can even grow to the size you want without having to buy them all at once.


    If you're going for the sculpted aquascape look, you'll need to trim regularly, so make sure you know how to do that and how to control the growth path of plants. Taking your eye off that and you could easily end up with an intractable bundle of stems and weeds and a lot of work. This is the hardest part for me...


    I suggest against riccia because they don't attach and end up going everywhere.
     
    #8 easternlethal, Jan 7, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 7, 2016
  9. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    Do you have a link the thread on Aqua forest on PAR values?


    You CAN do a nice tank without CO2. But know your approaches.


    A low-tech, low-light, low-fish load tank can do very well with no additional CO2. But if you add components of a high-tech tank, like EI ferts or bright light to a low-tech CO2 tank, you will throw off balance. If you want to stay away from CO2, keep EVERYTHING low-tech. If you are using BML LED for this approach, then reduce light to well below 50% intensity. You can do this without too many water changes.


    A different approach is the Amano style tank (which is what I think you want) with a lot more technology but this approach is light limited. It is successful because it has low light, medium CO2, and a lot of work. If you do not do water changes, this approach will fail more often than the low-tech approach above.


    The third and most high-tech approach is what you see Tom and a lot of people following on this forum. High light, high CO2, EI, big (50-70%) weekly water changes, lots and lots of work. If you get lazy, or do not do everything right, you will end up with lots of algae.


    Read more. Understand WHY all three of these approaches work. And understand why you may have issues if you pick and choose features of one approach and mix with another approach. Example: people following Walstad method do not have 100-150 PAR at substrate.


    If you do not want CO2 and do not like doing water changes. You have already chosen an approach. :)
     
    #9 Pikez, Jan 7, 2016
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  10. kleb

    kleb Junior Poster

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    Hi easternlethal, that's the plan! Shrimps first. In the past, I had a betta that behaved well with guppies, and other that didn't - I guess it may or may not work. I understand bettas and dwarf gouramis may not go well together and are a threat to shrimp, but I will try and see. Betta and gourami will be the last to go in and closely watched in the beginning. Planning to have lots of hiding places for everyone.


    Hi strungout and Pikez,


    I don't want to mix approaches (will dim the light accordingly, etc) just looking for an easy way :) (non-CO2) to get the great looks of the Amano approach. And if I am understanding it correctly this is not possible, the end look/result will not be the same, right?


    Thank you for all the help.
     
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