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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone! I am new to using substrates and planting live plants, so I am here to ask for general species advice.

I recently acquired through some extreme luck a 55 gallon aquarium that I intend to use to feature live plants and various species of Gourami(and possibly breeding some sub-species on the side) and want to go totally natural on the plant life.

Gourami themselves being semi aggressive under some circumstances I want diverse plant cover to protect my algae eaters and invertebrates.I intend to run 6-10 ghost shrimp to supplement a pair of pleclostami as well as a few chinese algae eaters and probably 5 or 6 cory cats as my cleanup crew.
(this of course after giving the plants a couple weeks to establish an eco- system)

that being said, I want my workhorse fish to have adequate cover from their larger tankmates on all levels of the tank, or at least up to the midlevel, as some of the sunshine and dwarf gourami do not have the same tendency of their larger cousins to hang around the top of the tank.

so yeah... on to the questions!

1. What kind of substrate is recommended? I saw some bags at petco that ran about 20 bucks that claimed to remove the need to cycle water from the initial tank setup.

2. What plant species would work well for my vision? The largest fish in my tank will be about 6 inches long. I do not know the first thing about plant species that work well together, but I did see some that caught my eye while I was at the pet store.

3. How many plants are too many, and is CO2 supplementing a good idea? I have heard mixed things about this practice. I would like a good amount of plant cover in my aquarium and geez.... When I went to pick the tank up, I was just blown away to see simply how large this tank was compared to my previous largest(20 gal).

4. With the proper substrate, is fertilization necessary at the beginning of the tank's life cycle? I have a timer for my natural light producing fluorescent to ensure that my plants get about 5 hours of artificial sunlight per day, is that enough?

ANY good advice from a learned member of this community would do me a lot of good, I really want to make this hobby work well for me and would like my first attempt to not end in tragedy!

Thanks guys!:)
 

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1. What kind of substrate is recommended? I saw some bags at petco that ran about 20 bucks that claimed to remove the need to cycle water from the initial tank setup.
Remove the need to cycle water? I wouldn't trust that..lol
Anyways, for planted tanks, you can go many routes for substrate. I personally use a mix of flourite and regular gravel. Some people do multiple layers with sand, laterite, etc.

3. How many plants are too many, and is CO2 supplementing a good idea? I have heard mixed things about this practice. I would like a good amount of plant cover in my aquarium and geez.... When I went to pick the tank up, I was just blown away to see simply how large this tank was compared to my previous largest(20 gal).
There really isn't a limit on how many plants you can have. As long as you can fit them, put them in! One of the local fish shops here told me to make the tank at least 75% planted or it'll be a waste of time. All his tanks are crowded with plants, and they are all self sustaining! No filter or air pumps. CO2 is definitely a good idea. Remember that plants need CO2 for photosynthesis to occur.

4. With the proper substrate, is fertilization necessary at the beginning of the tank's life cycle? I have a timer for my natural light producing fluorescent to ensure that my plants get about 5 hours of artificial sunlight per day, is that enough?
If you decide to run CO2, then you should probably also add fertilizer. Anyhow, adding fertilizer won't do any harm if your water parameters are good. If you have high nitrates/phosphates and you add fertilizer (without CO2), prepare to have an algae-fest.
Most people suggest about 8 hours for the photo-period.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ah, thanks! I was hoping it would be possible to have enough fish to not have to spend a lot of money on a CO2 system- I've seen a lot of references to DIY systems, which works best for a tank this size? My biggest worry is runaway algae, since 55 gallons is just... big.
Also, from the research I've done since I wrote this post, Would it be best to simply get a relatively large family of Siamese algae eaters and forgo the others? It seems most people's worries on these boards is algae.

I was also reading that many AE's won't actually eat algae unless it's the only food available and they "learn" it as their primary food supply. Is this true? My plan is to get the plants flourishing and experiment with light/fertilizer, then add the cleaner fish, and then add the schools of Rasbora and serpae tetra, and then finally add my larger gourami just to slowly introduce the fish and see how they impact my plants.

I intend to have fairly large schools of the smaller fish- is it possible to need minimal CO2 supplementation to where it becomes a pretty cheap a simple process or am I always going to be facing crowding issues if I try to watch my fish population to moderate algae growth? I want my plants to be vibrant and healthy, but don't want a green cloudy nightmare of algae.
 

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1. What kind of substrate is recommended? I saw some bags at petco that ran about 20 bucks that claimed to remove the need to cycle water from the initial tank setup.!
As far as I know. Nothing removes the need to cycle. I doubt that bag has all the beneficial bacteria that is needed for te nitrogen cycle. Some substrates run out of nutrients after a certain amount of time. Try researching Mineralized Substrate. Its a DIY substrate with a mix of topsoil and red pottery clay. Im using it now and have great results ALSO it last well over 2 yrs WITHOUT additional fertilizer supplements.


2. What plant species would work well for my vision? The largest fish in my tank will be about 6 inches long. I do not know the first thing about plant species that work well together, but I did see some that caught my eye while I was at the pet store.
The plants that you want usually goes with your lighting. If you decide to have low lights then low-light requirement plants are for you. If you go with high lighting then its high-light requirements plants. But you have to remember that with high lighting... you will often have to supplement CO2 or liquified carbon such Flourish Excel or FlourinAxis along with a lot more maintenance.

3. How many plants are too many, and is CO2 supplementing a good idea? I have heard mixed things about this practice. I would like a good amount of plant cover in my aquarium and geez.... When I went to pick the tank up, I was just blown away to see simply how large this tank was compared to my previous largest(20 gal).
What I understand is... The more plants the better because it removes toxins from the aquarium. CO2 benefits all plants even in low-light requirement plants. But if you go with high lighting as I said before, CO2 it's basically a must. I had high lighting for a while without CO2 and all sorts of algae spawned all over the place. Algaes such as Hair algae, Staghorn algae, fuzz algae, and Green spot algae. I added DIY CO2 and FlourinAxis and it removed all except staghorn which I am currently still battling.

4. With the proper substrate, is fertilization necessary at the beginning of the tank's life cycle? I have a timer for my natural light producing fluorescent to ensure that my plants get about 5 hours of artificial sunlight per day, is that enough?
Fertilization is neccesary if you are lacking that certain element that your plants rae missing. For your lighting make sure you have lightings with the spectrum color from 6500k-6700k. I think 5 hrs is too little. I leave mine on for 12 hrs. But I think the recommended is 8-10.
:p
 
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Queen Platy
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Would it be best to simply get a relatively large family of Siamese algae eaters and forgo the others? It seems most people's worries on these boards is algae.
Saimese algae eaters do eat lots of algae but you cant depend on them. They are your allies to battle algae and cant do it alone.

I was also reading that many AE's won't actually eat algae unless it's the only food available and they "learn" it as their primary food supply. Is this true?
I read about this also and I dont know for sure. My Oto cats eat strictly algae and once in a while some food that falls to the floor. My Saimese algae eaters eat flakes that the HOB throws into the water. I see then eat algae but not much. I might have to train them to eat algae.

I intend to have fairly large schools of the smaller fish- is it possible to need minimal CO2 supplementation to where it becomes a pretty cheap a simple process or am I always going to be facing crowding issues if I try to watch my fish population to moderate algae growth? I want my plants to be vibrant and healthy, but don't want a green cloudy nightmare of algae.
I have a fairly small tank. 20 gallon tank. I am using DIY CO2 and it is not adequate. DIY CO2 will never be enough and will need supplements of liquified carbon. Or more CO2 bottles linked in series.
:)
 
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