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New 50 Gallon tank being cycled and soon to be planted


hughesyau

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Hi again fellow users,

 

We are in the process of cycling a new 50 gallon tank, that we will be moving our current goldie in to and once it has properly settled, adding a few other members.

 

I've learnt a lot about goldfish and their requirements and my partner and I really like the look of planted tanks, so we are going to start on this learning curve also now.

 

I am not interested in stressing about high tech plants, so have researched a bit about low tech, natural setup's. However, I still have a few questions I'd like to ask...

 

- We will be using a gravel substrate, approx one to one and a half inches thick. The size of it varies from pea size to about... three times the size of a pea..?

Will we need to continue uprooting plants to vacuum the gravel? Or, once we have a few plants sustained in there, do we no longer need to vacuum?

 

We do not plan on adding any fertilizer's, whether it be root tabs or liquid forms for now, in an effort to see what works and keep costs down.

 

 

Our new tank came with a rangehood that can hold two 4 foot fluorescent tubes. One is currently fitted which output is that blueish white, daylight spectrum. From what I have read this 6500K approx output is ideal for planted tanks? If so, I will purchase a second tube and install it.

 

 

Also, we want to get a more natural look out of our tank, so are considering hitting up the local creek's/river's and trying to find some nice looking rocks and/or driftwood to give the tank a prettier natural look. Would the 1 part bleach 19 parts water be suitable to sterilise either of these before placing in the tank?

Or, if we do find a nice piece of wood, will we require to soak it for a long period of time to eliminate any tannins contaminating our water?

 

 

Any answer's or further advice/suggestions/tips that can make this adventure a little bit smoother would be great

 

Thanks in advance :)

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Uprooting plants will depend on what you are growing. Whilst it is true most planted tanks do not have the substrate probed with a gravel vac, if you were only growing stem plants that do just fine being constantly uprooted and replanted, then you could vacuum as normal. Carpeting plants, crypts, swords, etc are best left planted. The latter two typically like having their roots left alone.

 

Whilst gravel is fine, there are pragmatic reasons for preferring sand. First it does not hold debris like gravel, second it holds plants better and third goldfish can't choke on it. If you're worried about cost, it's fairly cheap. I bought a 20kg bag of river sand from Flower Power for about $8 a few years ago; it has lasted forever. 

 

Depending on what you grow, fertilisation may/may not be an issue—sometimes they grow well with only fish waste, other times fertilisation is necessary. Fertilisation can be rather cheap. Dry ferts can be purchased from Aquagreen for rather cheap (I spent about $50 and have enough to last me two years), and if this is something you want to consider, I can help guide you through the process.

 

Plants will grow just fine under a wide array of kelvin temperatures, what is more important is that the bulb is full spectrum (which most fluorescents I see are anyway). If you want to add another bulb you can. Since 6500K tends to be more yellow, I find off-setting it with a 10,000K bulb to be visually pleasing. It's probably just me, but I find the white of the latter helps balance the yellow of the former.

 

I don't know what the terrain is like down your way, but up around here, I find most rocks to be sandstone or bushrock. The former is no good and the latter cannot be legally removed from crown land in NSW (do make sure where you are collecting is not state/federal property). If you go to a landscaping place, you should be able to find some decent rocks on the cheap: look for igneous rocks. My local Australian Native Landscapes carry both andersite and basalt, which are fine to use.

 

If you are going to look for wood, check along banks of rivers where there is a lot of plant life—you can usually find some good bits of suitable wood there. Make sure they have no rot though. I wouldn't bleach them either, just boil for several hours. Alternatively, leave them to bake in the sun for a few weeks/months and then soak prior to use.

 

Good luck with your tank! If you have any more questions feel free to ask. :)

Edited by dan in aus
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Uprooting plants will depend on what you are growing. Whilst it is true most planted tanks do not have the substrate probed with a gravel vac, if you were only growing stem plants that do just fine being constantly uprooted and replanted, then you could vacuum as normal. Carpeting plants, crypts, swords, etc are best left planted. The latter two typically like having their roots left alone.

 

Firstly, thanks for the detailed and informative response, appreciated.

Currently I am thinking of trying again with a mauve stricta and elodea, maybe some duckweed also. I trialled these in my smaller 30 litre tank, but I believe due to poor lighting they did not succeed. So while these are in the trial stage I shall uproot and replant them when cleaning. Eventually I would like to add some carpeting plants as the look is awesome, although currently would not know of any particulars I should try sourcing.

 

Whilst gravel is fine, there are pragmatic reasons for preferring sand. First it does not hold debris like gravel, second it holds plants better and third goldfish can't choke on it. If you're worried about cost, it's fairly cheap. I bought a 20kg bag of river sand from Flower Power for about $8 a few years ago; it has lasted forever. 

 

As we bought this 200 litre tank second hand, it came with gravel supplied. So for cost reasons and for now I think I shall stick with this and see how we go. Will keep the info stored for the future though.

 

Depending on what you grow, fertilisation may/may not be an issue—sometimes they grow well with only fish waste, other times fertilisation is necessary. Fertilisation can be rather cheap. Dry ferts can be purchased from Aquagreen for rather cheap (I spent about $50 and have enough to last me two years), and if this is something you want to consider, I can help guide you through the process.

 

When I do decide to expand from the "basic?" plants I mentioned above, I may consider this option also. By dry ferts do you mean root tabs or something similar?

 

Plants will grow just fine under a wide array of kelvin temperatures, what is more important is that the bulb is full spectrum (which most fluorescents I see are anyway). If you want to add another bulb you can. Since 6500K tends to be more yellow, I find off-setting it with a 10,000K bulb to be visually pleasing. It's probably just me, but I find the white of the latter helps balance the yellow of the former.

 

I may be mistaken. I know my old globe was the yellow light you mention (The K rating currently eludes me). However, the new fluro tube that came with the tank, does produce that white/blueish light that looks so much better. I will get the specs and google it to try and find out the ratings of K etc. .. (by full spectrum, you refer to the "colour" that the tube actually emits, not solely the K rating, is that correct?)

I will try and match the white/blue light I have, or enhance it more with a "fuller/natural" colour of 10,000K, If i can easily find a fluro that does so. I do not want to pay a fortune initially so I'm hoping Bunnings/Masters would have something suitable?

 

I don't know what the terrain is like down your way, but up around here, I find most rocks to be sandstone or bushrock. The former is no good and the latter cannot be legally removed from crown land in NSW (do make sure where you are collecting is not state/federal property). If you go to a landscaping place, you should be able to find some decent rocks on the cheap: look for igneous rocks. My local Australian Native Landscapes carry both andersite and basalt, which are fine to use.

 

I am only recently expanding my knowledge on these topics. So lets be honest.. When I see a rock or piece of wood... I am going to have no idea what type either of them are :/ - Obviously some types are not going to be suitable... Is there an easy way to know this? And is there a specific reason that sandstone is no good? I assume it must decay over time and mess with the water parameters?

 

If you are going to look for wood, check along banks of rivers where there is a lot of plant life—you can usually find some good bits of suitable wood there. Make sure they have no rot though. I wouldn't bleach them either, just boil for several hours. Alternatively, leave them to bake in the sun for a few weeks/months and then soak prior to use.

 

I am close to the banks of the Yarra and a few other off-shoot creeks, so I plan to spend a day there searching initially. If I have no luck, I may venture further out and try some of the back beaches on the coast line.

 

Good luck with your tank! If you have any more questions feel free to ask. :)

 

Thanks again for your answers so far mate

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You're very welcome. :)

Don't be disheartened, plants have a tendency to do that, especially when you're first getting started. It's all about learning as much as you can and taking the plunge! The hygrophila stricta 'mauve' should do okay, a lot of hygrophila species tend to be rather weedy. You could also look at hygrophila polysperma or difformis, both are excellent beginner weeds. The first plant I ever grew many years ago was polysperma. It never received fertilisation beyond the fish and ended up about 4ft tall. The thing to consider with carpeting plants is that they tend to like a lot of light and injected co2. That said, there are a few undemanding species and various mosses can be used to full effect in low tech. In fact, I'm actually in the process of setting up a small low tech carpet tank. It's my first foray into non-high tech carpets, so I'm quite interested to see if it is as easy as others claim. If and when the time comes, you should consider helanthium tenellum (often incorrectly labelled as echinodorus tennelus), it's a great plant.

Dry ferts are powders that look suspiciously like illicit substances. :rofl They can be pre-dissolved, mixed into pump bottles or just put in dry. When you're up and running, if you want to give it a try for a few weeks, I'd be happy to send a sample package your way. I have more than plenty to share.

Yes, by full spectrum I mean the colour wavelengths the bulbs emit. The K rating is the visible colour, what you or I can see; hence why I don't mind mixing 6500K and 10,000K bulbs for visual aesthetics. You should be able to find what you want at Bunnings. An Osram tube will suffice, but check the temperature because different models tend to be anywhere from 2000K to 10,000K.

Besides it being able to alter pH, the main reason I avoid sandstone is because it falls apart rather rapidly and can contain a lot of iron depending on where it's from. Rocks can be a mixed bag. If they have metallic veins running through them, avoid them. If you collect others, you can test to see whether they will alter the pH by placing them in a bucket of water and testing periodically. If you do a little bit of research as to the geology around your section of the Yarra, you should be able to find out whether there is anything worth looking at. If not, any of those rounded river rocks landscaping stores carry should be safe. I've got a few in storage. Not entirely sure where they've come from, but when I smashed into one I found out it was a nice granite. As for wood, I've been told by a few knowledgable Australian aquascapers that most wood here is safe (a few recommend steering clear of Moreton Bay Fig Trees because the wood leaches latex), but the best wood will be a hardwood. People on a few Australian forums have used Eucalyptus, Melaleuca, etc no problem. The key is to pick the dead stuff and not anything that looks recently felled.

Edited by dan in aus
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Thanks again mate.

 

Hahaha I appreciate that generous offer, I shall look into a few of these plant species and shall post updates as I progress, detailing what plants I'm trying and how they are going!!

 

Also, good to know that most wood appears to be fine! From my initial brief research  I was worried that eucalyptus and other common Australian wood may not have been suitable!

 

I will source an additional fluro tube and go hunting for some rocks/driftwood as soon as I get the time, if I have no success I shall take up your idea of going to a landscaping store

 

Cheers!!!

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I was surprised by the Eucalyptus too, but people use it just fine and fish stores up in QLD supposedly carry it. I guess the oils are only found in the leaves and not the wood? :idont If you have bottle brush around, that makes excellent driftwood. :)

 

Two things I forgot to mention: when looking for wood if you think it has been exposed to sewerage or sprayed with pesticides at some point leave it be, and avoid overly pointy pieces of wood for use with goldfish—they're clumsy.

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  • 3 weeks later...
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Hi folks,

 

An update on this thread :

 

We added another light globe to the tank while its still in the cycling process

 

We went hunting for some driftwood this week just passed and found 3 nice bits. Currently they are soaking in a rubbish bin to try and remove as much of the tannins as possible. As they are big pieces, we were unable to boil them on the stove :(

 

We have also purchased a few plants as trial and error. When we got them, I sanitised them in the bleach solution as recommended on the forum.

 

Unfortunately, this didn't do what I had hoped. One of the purple plants "Purple Waffle" didnt like the treatment at all and its leaves are looking horrible at the moment. Also, somehow some snails snuck through the process, so now we have to crush a few of them daily in the hope they stop returning!

 

The java fern appears to be going well... We also got another thinner stemmed plant, the name eludes me.... it was marketed as "violet" or something similar. This also does not appear to be doing to well currently and has lost a lot of its vibrant pinky colour.

 

I purchased a small bottle of "Flourish" as a sampler, as I wanted to try and give the plants a good shot. I am beginning to think I may need something else to help re-stimulate these plants to get back into good shape? Would you have any suggestions?

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They must be some killer pieces of wood, Hughesy! I've been meaning to go collect some myself, but haven't had time lately.

Some plants will die back after bleaching, but they should recover given time. Just trim back any dead sections and let the plant do its thing. The micro nutrients in Flourish will do them good, but you might want to look at a carbon source (Flourish Excel) if fish water isn't enough for them. The thing with plants, particularly in low tech setups, is that it's all a game of patience.

Edited by dan in aus
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Hey Dan,

 

Haha yeah we got excited and carried away with some of the bits we found so grabbed a few so we could experiment with what worked the best! Once they have been soaked for a sufficient time and we place them in I shall post some pictures.

Speaking of which, I know tannins will colour the water and slowly lower the PH. Would you know... Apart from this is there anything else to be concerned about? I'm just forward thinking and if we get impatient with the tannins coming out and just place it in the tank, managing the slow PH shift, once the tannins are in the tank are they hard to remove?? I'd assume a few water changes and the water would be back to clear again? 

 

 

Been doing a fair bit of research into plants. Isn't this a whole different kettle of fish!

It would appear that to have a more successful growth/success rate, fertilization will be necessary and if I keep trying to "put it off" probably will suffer along with our plants in the long run

Please, correct me if I am wrong, but to my understanding, this may require the following additional supplements : Phospate, Iron, Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium and Nitrates.

 

Once the fish are in the tank, I believe their bio-load will produce some Phospate and obviously Nitrates.

 

This would lead me to believe the more critical additional supplements needed would be Iron (for plant colour) and Potassium?

 

However, I notice Seachem Flourish (http://www.seachem.com/Products/product_pages/Flourish.html) contains trace elements of Magnesium, Iron and Potassium/Potash.

 

So I suppose, my long winded question is : Apart from flourish, what additional dry ferts or root tabs would be a good base to establish a good planted tank?

What do you use?

I think I will go with the dry fert option out of the two as it would appear to be cheaper and last longer.

 

Look forward to your response, Cheers!

 

PS. I forgot to mention CO2, but as I intend on a low tech tank, this should be sufficient from the fish waste I hope?

Edited by hughesyau
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Truthfully, I'm not even that phased by tannins. You should be alright, there shouldn't be anything else to worry about. Tannins aren't too difficult to deal with. You end up with tea coloured water until they stop leaching, but water changes help a lot.

I use potassium nitrate, monopotassium phosphate, and a micro mix. There are some other fertilisers I use, but those are the staples if you will. The potassium nitrate is a bit dodgy to find due to it being regulated, but with goldfish supplying nitrates, it seems kind of redundant. So, I would go with the monopotassium phosphate and the micros, which you already have in the Flourish. Hopefully the fish will provide enough carbon, but if not, Flourish Excel is a carbon source. Dino Spit (can be purchased from Dave and Robyn at Aquagreen) is a carbon source too (what I use on my low tech), it's all watered down gluteraldehyde though.

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You're very welcome. :)

Don't be disheartened, plants have a tendency to do that, especially when you're first getting started. It's all about learning as much as you can and taking the plunge! The hygrophila stricta 'mauve' should do okay, a lot of hygrophila species tend to be rather weedy. You could also look at hygrophila polysperma or difformis, both are excellent beginner weeds. The first plant I ever grew many years ago was polysperma. It never received fertilisation beyond the fish and ended up about 4ft tall. The thing to consider with carpeting plants is that they tend to like a lot of light and injected co2. That said, there are a few undemanding species and various mosses can be used to full effect in low tech. In fact, I'm actually in the process of setting up a small low tech carpet tank. It's my first foray into non-high tech carpets, so I'm quite interested to see if it is as easy as others claim. If and when the time comes, you should consider helanthium tenellum (often incorrectly labelled as echinodorus tennelus), it's a great plant.

 

 

Hey Dan,

 

Gotta love the scams us newbies fall for. Coburg Aquarium is one of the largest we have in Melbourne so we would have thought that their information was reliable.

 

Unfortunately, they sold us the "mauve stricta", "purple waffle" and something they labelled as "violet". From the research I have done currently due to the poor performance of these plants, to find out they are not truly aquatic species. How a so-called reputable store sells them as such doesn't quite make sense to me, although it obviously makes cents to them.

 

Mauve stricta - It appears the one I was referring to had the scientific name of "Hemigraphis sp." not Hygrophilia! It had a purple tinge to its leaves.

 

Purple waffle - www.aquariumlife.com.au/.../389-Hemigraphis-Exotica-Purple-Waffle -  article on this site clearly states it is no good submerged.

 

Violet - I cannot find a look a like online or a scientific name for this anywhere. Like the two above it was a thin stemmed plant, although it didnt branch out and expand as much and had a lovely bright pink colour to it. I feel this will also be another non-aquatic plant over time...

 

:(

 

Disappointing, but live and learn. I guess if they look so pretty they are probably to good to be true!

 

Was hoping you might have some recommendations for some easier, low tech plants that would add  a bit of colour to the aquarium, that actually are suited to be fully submerged?

 

Thanks again in advance for your help Dan (or any others with suggestions), we appreciate it :)

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Yes, that's a common problem. Another is stores using trade names for plants and not their scientific ones. Lots of aquatic plants have the same trade names, but are vastly different.

Umm, hygrophila polysperma rosanervig turns pink with enough light, ludwigia repens too. Cryptocoryne wendtii red and red tiger lotus offer a good splash of colour and keep their colour. Another would be alternanthera reineckii. :)

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Thanks for the details Dan  :)

They all look nice, especially the Nymphea Zenkeri! Now, I just got to hope the ones we do decide on we can find and get our hands on!

 

 

 

Here is a picture of the "Violet" they sold to us. Wonder if anyone can recognise this, whether in aquatics or in the backyard?

 

Violet_pic.jpg

 

 

We plan on "making a complaint" to the aquarium that sold non-aquatic plants to us knowing how we intended to plant them. Hopefully they provide a good response and maybe replace the "dud's" with actual aquatic plants for free or something similar... Otherwise we have half the mind to take our business elsewhere from now on.

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They must be some killer pieces of wood, Hughesy! I've been meaning to go collect some myself, but haven't had time lately.

Some plants will die back after bleaching, but they should recover given time. Just trim back any dead sections and let the plant do its thing. The micro nutrients in Flourish will do them good, but you might want to look at a carbon source (Flourish Excel) if fish water isn't enough for them. The thing with plants, particularly in low tech setups, is that it's all a game of patience.

I just got a new batch of plants in and am having meting and dying, too. It's very normal, and part of the acclimation process for some species. I've always had them bounce back as long ad the roots stay intact and don't rot away :)

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Good luck!

I always see die off as an opportunity to buy more plants. :rofl So, at worst, you just get to go shopping again! :nana

I do think yours should bounce back, as ArcticMama said, if the roots stay in tact then most likely they'll come back. :D Good luck with the shop, i too have bought non-aquatic plants and it's never fun realizing that.

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I buy plants from Aquagreen and Liverpool Creek Aquariums. Aquagreen is closed for the moment, the owners have gone on holidays, but they should have some nymphaea lotus in stock. I bought some not too long ago. Dave and Robyn are known for cultivating a lot of Australian native plants, fish and inverts. The lotus isn't native, but they do sell more common non-natives too. In my opinion they're two of the nicest people you could do business with. Plants and livestock are always healthy, shipping is fast, and they're very curteous in the emails I've had with them.

Jeff at Liverpool Creek Aquariums is as equally nice. He tends to cultivate more in demand plants that a lot of aquascapers want. He has a Facebook Auction group too, where you can snag some great bargains. Just look up Liverpool Creek Aquariums Auction and request to join. :)

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