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Desiree

I Really Want A Planted Tank!

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Hello folks! So, here's the thing, I really want a planted tank. Thanks to all the beautiful pictures of heavily planted, well manicured tanks on here, I can't stop thinking about it! I've got quite the green thumb with both indoor and outdoor plants, so I figure it might be worth a shot. I feel like I've done my research. However, even after reading numerous posts and articles I still have some questions.

I have found some great deals on plants on Ebay and am really hoping to plant my tank in the next few weeks. Here's what I would like to plant in my 30 gallon tank:

3 Tall Amazon Swords, 2 Ludwigia Peruensis, 1 Java Fern Plant, 4 Red Jungle Val, 3 Cryptocorynes, Lutea, Ciliata, or Spiralis , 2 Anubias, 1 small portion Java Moss. 2 Saggitaria Subulata, 4 Saggitaria Chilensis, Marimo balls, and Anacharis.

So, here's some info on my tank and some questions too!

Gravel: Currently I have about an inch of gravel and large river rocks for substrate. Will this be enough substrate for planting directly? I'm curious, when you have a heavily planted tank, with planted rooted directly into the substrate; how do you vacuum your gravel without horribly disturbing the plants roots?

Lighting: Coralife T5 fixture with two bulbs in it that are marked "F18 T5 BP 6700K". I'm having difficulty identifying how much watts these bulbs are. I've had my current bulbs for about 1 1/2 years, so I assume it's about time to get new ones. Any help in figuring out how much watts this is would be greatly appreciated. Also, are there other bulbs I could place in this fixture to reach 3-4 watts per gallon (90-120 watts)?

Fertilization: I used to keep Anacharis in a tank before and it grew so very much. I used Excel and it seemed to work pretty well. But, I've read that Excel and Flourish can "melt" some plants. Not sure exactly what "melt" means, but it doesn't sound good. Also, I do not plan on setting up a C02 system, but I do want my tank to be heavily planted. Any recommendations on certain fertilizers would be awesome!

Driftwood: I had a very small piece of driftwood once, I failed to soak it, and it leached tannins into my tank. I know better now! I would like to get some driftwood but am curious what people think about the pros vs. cons of real driftwood vs. fake driftwood.

Any thoughts suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Edited by Desiree

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I'll be watching this topic super close as I want to plant my tank when I upgrade it (which is soon hopefully).

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As far as your gravel, 2.5-3" is optimal and since you have some root thriving plants I'd suggest it. You could try a layer of Eco-complete under a larger layer of plain gravel. Eco-complete is a aqua-plant substrate that provides more nutrients.

Lighting should be at least 2-3 wpg (watts per gallon) the higher the wattage, the higher the need for co2 and if you have any colorful plants, they're going to require a lot more light.

If you're thinking about planting your tank heavy I would definitely recommend trying to inject some co2 and other nutrients (macro and micro) for the best results...

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Thanks! I will look into that substrate. I actually do not have plants right now, so this will be a new endeavor! As for lighting, I know I need a decent amount of wattage per gallon, but I haven't been able to find if my lights are sufficient. Also, the plants I've listed is what I plan to plant, not sure if that is considered planting heavily or not.

Edited by Desiree

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Okay, I found my current light fixture has two 18 watt/ 6700K bulbs in it, giving my tank 36 watts. I'm thinking about getting an additional fixture just like the one I have, which would bring me to 72 watts. Thoughts?

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The 72watts would only give you just over 2WPG. For the amount of plants and the ones you picked you need more light. I would suggest getting up to at least 3.5WPG, if possible.

Here is a good site to buy plants and to get more info on them: http://www.aquariumplants.com/?gclid=CNmp6_rf6ZcCFQO5GgodWQkCCg

Aslo you do want at least 2.5" of substrate for them. Regarding vacuming the gravel, while doing it just push the tube down about 1 >1.5" and clean that section. Anything below that level will help the plants.

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I personally use cheaply priced and easy to grow plants in my tanks. I have plants such as hornwort, duckweed, water lettuce, frog bit, and anacharis. This gives me a mixture of floating plants (duckweed, water lettuce, frog bit), background and mid bottom plants (hornwort, anacharis). Often you can find most of these plants grouped together in one online auction pretty cheap. I know there is a plant bulb package set for $5 or less at most LFS or department stores that includes a good mixture of plants as well (floating, rooted) - it may be a good option as well. I have tried the plant bulb packs from one store so far and had no luck at all with them, perhaps it was just a old pack.

I also tie small groups of stemmed plants together with fishing line to small river stones for a varied plant look in my tank (hornwort, anacharis). Also you could keep some of the plants trimmed to give your plants a look of greater variety/interest. With the low priced plants if the time come to replant I can do so for about $10 or less, there are no fancy lights needed, they do not need CO2 or fertilized, and can grow fast enough the plants may not need to be changed/replaced at all from fish/snails eating them.

I have found that no matter how much the goldfish are fed they still will eat on the plants. They have picked a few stem areas of hornwort nearly clean (but the plant has started some new thick branches), and ate through all the root area of a few of the water lettuce plants to the point the lettuce leaves are falling apart. I also keep several mystery snails (gold and black) and they are often seen on the plants but I can't tell if they are truly eating the plants or fish food that lands on the branches.

That is my experience so far with my planted tanks. Just keep the plants that are fast growers, no special light/CO2/fertilizer requirements, and offer a nice varied look through-out the tank (in your substrate/bottom, on caves/driftwood structures, and on the top of the water).

I also do this in my ACF's (African Clawed Frog) tank so it can be planted too (most people say don't bother with plants as they won't survive with an ACF), as they can be even harder on the plants as they like to dig in my substrate/sand.

I really like the more natural look and feel of a planted tank versus the fake plants or bare tank. I think it is well worth the small amount of extra effort and the low cost of the plants. :D

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Thanks for all the great information! I'm curious, has anyone used LED aquarium lights for a planted tank? I know LED's have found their way into the homes of many indoor gardeners as being an effective light source so I did some searching and I found this on Big Al's website and I'm intrigued:

http://www.bigalsonline.com/BigAlsUS/ctl3684/cp18366/si2989513/cl0/currentusa1225powerbriteledlightfixture10000kdaylight

http://www.current-usa.com/powerbrite.html

But, I can't seem to figure out what the equivalent wattage this fixture would be in comparison to a traditional lighting system. As always, any thoughts, comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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Wow, LED lights would be so cool. They'd create less heat and use less electricity! I thought they only made these for moonlight effects and stuff. I wonder if they'd be good for plants... if they are I am definitely switching out my lights for some of these! I have about 3.5 WPG with compact flourescents and the lights put out so much heat that there's a little fan installed in the fixture, and the fan is just so loud!

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