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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm new to using live plants.

Out of sheer habit, I bought gravel to set up my tank. Now I'm thinking I should have gone with sand for the live plants.

I'm not too interested in them growing fast or big but rather want them to stay healthy and live as long as possible doing what they do.

If it turns out that sand will make a big enough impact, I'm thinking I'll only use it at the rear corners in a large triangle but leave gravel in front up the center to the rear.

What do you think?

EDIT: I should probably mention that the two Albino Corys will probably be the most active out of my final selection of a peaceful community like : bleeding hearts, cardinals, black phantoms, glowlights, harlequin rasboras, ghost shrimp, honey gouramis, ottos, endlers, serpaes, etc, etc, etc.
 

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I highly recommend sand. plants root in it much better.

Actually I use 1" peat moss, 1"play sand,1" pc select (or aquarium gravel). Each layer I put in, add water to the top of that layer, clean and level, then add the next.

I then put the plants in and fill the tank by running the water over a saucer.

I find when I do that no only do the plants thrive but the tank is much cleaner at the start.

With planting when the tank is already full, I get a dust cloud for the first couple of days.



my .02
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
With that triple layer, do you not clean the gravel with a siphon hose/tube?

I intended on changing 20% of the water with tap water that's been sitting for at least 2 days(oops, I mean 2 weeks) every couple weeks. And I planed on doing it with a siphon hose/tube that will also clean the gravel in the front portion of the tank.

I was thinking of building a plastic border to keep the rear/corners higher and separated from the lower gravel so I could clean as mentioned. It will be a sort of cliff drop from the sand to the gravel.

 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So! How do I go about making this transition?

After getting 5 5g buckets, peat moss and sand ready for use shall I fill the buckets with the existing aquarium water, place the fish in one bucket that's black in color. Build the aquarium with the three layers as you indecated. And put the fish back in?

Isn't going from not using peat moss to using it going to cause too much of a change in water chemistry too fast? How do I do this the best way possible?

Readying peat moss: how? from a garden shop, boiled to sink?

What other questions am I not thinking of asking?
 

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With peat moss you want to make sure that there is no chemicals added to it. Just straight peat.

Me personally I would just use a thin layer of peat as you really don't need that much. It will lower you ph some and would be best to drip acclimate the fish if there is much difference. It will leach some tannins into the water changing the tint of the water, but depends on how much you use as to how much it changes it.

I just use a thin dusting then layer with others, but I also run peat in my filter as I want lower ph for the angels and discus.

This setup is basically the walstead method, which is a great way to go. If you are running a filter on it, make sure you keep it wet in one of your buckets and if possible keep it running so that the bacteria on it don't die.
 

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So! How do I go about making this transition?

After getting 5 5g buckets, peat moss and sand ready for use shall I fill the buckets with the existing aquarium water, place the fish in one bucket that's black in color. Build the aquarium with the three layers as you indecated. And put the fish back in?
If you are reusing your existing aquarium water then you should be fine. My wife started a 10g using that layering with about 50-70% existing aquarium water and the rest just tap. Fish were 6 neon tetras and 5 glo fish. And they were added immediately after the tank was filled. We did lose one neon the next day so it was "close" IMHO. But a year later all the other fish are still doing fine. And the tank fills with plants every 3-4 months or so.
Isn't going from not using peat moss to using it going to cause too much of a change in water chemistry too fast? How do I do this the best way possible?
The best way imho is with the 1 week wait but just normal acclimation as you would for any new fish should work also. In my tests of unfiltered uncirculated planted tank, there was an initial ph lowering. At first pH was like 6.6 or so. Then then next day pH was up to 7.2. It stayed there for a few weeks then rose to 8.4-8.8. In my non peat tank the pH was over 8 the next day.
Readying peat moss: how? from a garden shop, boiled to sink?
As posters stated before get straight peat with no fertz added. Not the plotting soil type peat. What I got was a 3/4 yard bale. It was around something like almost a 2' cube. Straight spaghum peat moss. Cost like $11 at a local home depot. The type in the outside fenced in area not inside in the garden section smaller bags stuff.
What other questions am I not thinking of asking?
I give up what? :)

Look the most "dangerous" part of this is the first few days. I think with a tank with fast growing plants, you should have no problems. IMHO one of the greatest advantageous of planted aquaria is the stability provided by the plants. Within very large limits you can make rather serious "goofs" and the plants will rapidly bring the tank environment back to safe levels. As I have tested several times in the past.

But keep us informed.

my .02
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well, after much thought on this I've decided to not use peat moss and/ or sand.

Instead, I'm going to use only Flourite Black. It's 1 - 3mm sized grains should be small enough to prevent water from passing through the plants roots flushing nutrients away and causing them to cool yet be large enough to stay out of my hob filter system.

I'm also dumping that cliff layout. I'll just have a 3 - 4" layer in most of the rear so I can plant any type of plant (including my existing) and grade it down to an inch or less in the front.

Since this is a change from not using to using live plants, my next step is to STOP and decide exactly what fish I want (including quantity) so I can learn what plants they like and what those plants needs are.

Thanks

P.S. I found this ad on Craigslist today Aquarium Plants - free perhaps I'll see you at the next meeting.
 

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I am glad that you have figured out what you want in your own tank. It is yours after all. I personally use a layer of unfertilized potting soil covered by a layer of gravel. The potting soil gives me a decent growing medium while the gravel keeps the potting soil from floating all over the tank and making a mess. My plants are mostly low to moderate in light requirements and I can use the potting soil without added fertilizers or CO2 to grow a good assortment of plants.
 

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I am glad that you have figured out what you want in your own tank. It is yours after all. I personally use a layer of unfertilized potting soil covered by a layer of gravel. The potting soil gives me a decent growing medium while the gravel keeps the potting soil from floating all over the tank and making a mess. My plants are mostly low to moderate in light requirements and I can use the potting soil without added fertilizers or CO2 to grow a good assortment of plants.
+1
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Questions:

Isn't deep cleaning the gravel while changing some water pretty critical? To me it's like defeating the purpose of not using an underground gravel filter if you don't.

I don't understand how to maintain a base or peat moss or potting soil because it seems to me that once I shove the tip of the tube down into the upper grave it's going to disturb the stuff and just make a mess every time.

Also, isn't one of the reason for using peat moss or soil to feed the plants? If that's the case, won't I need to replenish the nutrients from time to time by completely replacing it?

I'm sorry but I'm new to having live plants and am just trying to learn so as to make the best desision I can.

Thanks
 

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Questions:

Isn't deep cleaning the gravel while changing some water pretty critical?
no. I have never deep cleaned the gravel. I do sometimes siphon off the top crud. But never disturb the substrate.
To me it's like defeating the purpose of not using an underground gravel filter if you don't.

I don't understand how to maintain a base or peat moss or potting soil because it seems to me that once I shove the tip of the tube down into the upper grave it's going to disturb the stuff and just make a mess every time.
that is a good reason to not deep clean the gravel. I just let the peat set at the bottom "trapped" in the sand on top.
Also, isn't one of the reason for using peat moss or soil to feed the plants?
could be. But I have had thriving plants in tank for years with just sand. Peat IMHO is to maintain the water hardness. It also IME allows neon tetras to thrive
If that's the case, won't I need to replenish the nutrients from time to time by completely replacing it?
Yep. but time to time can be a very long time. I have tank which have been setup with peat which are still dong fine with constant kh and gh values over 2-3 years of running
I'm sorry but I'm new to having live plants and am just trying to learn so as to make the best desision I can.

Thanks
Understand. When I first setup a planted tank I was "nervious" but that stupid 10g tank was still going strong 7 years later with descendents from the original cycle fish.

I think once you set it up and see the results you will be amazed.

my .02
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks everyone.

I'm done for now and will have to wait to see the results.
 

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I am in the same boat as you. Hopefully this next week I will get my first actual planted tank up and running. I have a tank with a few random plants growing here and there, but nothing dedicated to growing plants. Let us know how your setup worked
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I have never deep cleaned the gravel.
I'm using only Flourite Black (not sand). About 4" in the rear sloping to 1" in the front so most solid waste drift to the front. I only feed after turning off all that disturb the surface and I feed in the exact same spot in the front every time. And that's why I think it's important to clean the gravel in the front portion, if not more.

I suppose if I did use peat I could have just used it toward the rear but my water hardness seems to be at a steady 75 anyway. And, as you say, plants will thrive whether with or without peat. Mine are all growing as is.

allows neon tetras to thrive
I believe any fish, if acclimated correctly, could thrive in most water chemistries.

Now that I have this planted tank running I regret not doing so from my very first one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
I am in the same boat as you. Hopefully this next week I will get my first actual planted tank up and running. I have a tank with a few random plants growing here and there, but nothing dedicated to growing plants. Let us know how your setup worked
I couldn't help but notice your fish list. You really should reconsider them as many are schooling and need to be in a larger group, they will be so much happier. Some are just shoaling but will also be happier in larger groups.

I too don't have a dedicated tank for plants just in a community tank.

I added some Java Moss yesterday and tied it onto a rock and artificial driftwood. With any luck I'll be seeing some fry there soon.
 

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