Need help with low tech setup


Junior Poster
May 17, 2009
I am setting up a 75 gallon and I like Tom's method of low tech. I am going to use three 32 watt t-8 bulbs for light. Sound good? If not, I have an extra fixture I can add for four 32 watt bulbs or always remove some bulbs.

The big issue is my water. My water out of tap instantly is a ph of 7.6, kh just about 2, gh around 12. Then after a few days in my tank it settles to the ph is about 6.0, kh is still about 2, and gh is still about 12. So I usually add a bad of crushed coral to my filter to keep my water parameters solid at a ph of about 6.6, kh around 5 and gh at around 12 and it all stays there as long as I buffer it with the bag of just a little bit of crushed coral.

So using Tom's method of putting down leonardite or peat with mulm, and working with my water, will this have any ill effects making my water even more acidic and softer? Should I still buffer with the crushed coral? Should I skip the peat or leonardite or replace them with something else? Not sure if my water should be worked with differently than the average.

Also, I am a little confused on what the peat and leonardite's purpose is as the bottom layer? Is it just for the acidic properties or does it have something to do with nutrients? Or is it just a carbon source? I read it but I just didn't understand, I am sure I am just missing it.

I also plan to use Flourite Black. Thats good, right? Also, how many pounds should I use for the standard 75 gallon?



Guru Class Expert
Oct 18, 2009
low buffering, 2dKH is reason for pH thing, crushed coral or baking soda or quick lime takes care of that. depends on plants you like or don't.

leonardite or peat with mulm add 'humic' material, never used leonardite, supposed to be beter than peat, i use peat. leonardite or peat with mulm, humic stuff tends to 'soften water', a little of above buffer should take care of problems.

if you want enriched substrate i would add worm poop stuff. i have a low teh tank using peat 'violet potting mix' boiled of course mixed with kitty litter topped with sand blasting shot running over a year about same lighting. works well