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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I want to do something different so I am going to throw my hat into the ring and start a fresh water planted tank, but I have a few questions. It will be a 20gal long tank with T5 lighting. My back ground is in salt water so I know not all the same rules will apply. In the beginning I just want to do some Anacharis and Hygrophilia. My first question is do I have to have a sand bed or can I use gravel? And secound will I need more then a few air stones or will that be enough Oxygen? And last can I use 10k bulbs or should I use 67k and and some atinic for more color? Thanks
 

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You can use gravel, just try to avoid the huge gravel. Air stones aren't really needed as they tend to deplete the CO2 from the water. 10,000 bulbs will work just fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You can use gravel, just try to avoid the huge gravel. Air stones aren't really needed as they tend to deplete the CO2 from the water. 10,000 bulbs will work just fine.
Any info on the plants that I'm trying? are they rooted or will they float?
 

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I believe the Anacharis can be planted or floated along the top of the tank. I ordered some last night and I'll probably float it along the top for my gourami once I get one. I'm not familiar with the other plant though.
 

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Glad you're trying a planted tank! I think you'll find it rewarding (not to mention beautiful). As SweetTee says the anacharis doesn't need to be planted in the substrate at all. You can use plant weights or a rock and fishing line to keep them in line if you want them to be that way. Or you can plant it if you want, it's a really hardy plant and will grow either way.

There are literally tons of hygrophlia's, so if the know the scientific name of it we can tell you more. Generally though they need to be planted in the substrate because they have root systems. Also, google PlantGeek, as there is an amazing amount of knowledge there regarding different species.

As a side note, anacharis is a fast growing plant that is a great absorber of nutrients.

10,000k lights should be ok, as you are using T5's, but 6500 or 6700 are want plants really want. Also, if you aren't injecting CO2, with T5's you may have algae issues. How many bulbs are you using? Are they 24"?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Glad you're trying a planted tank! I think you'll find it rewarding (not to mention beautiful). As SweetTee says the anacharis doesn't need to be planted in the substrate at all. You can use plant weights or a rock and fishing line to keep them in line if you want them to be that way. Or you can plant it if you want, it's a really hardy plant and will grow either way.

There are literally tons of hygrophlia's, so if the know the scientific name of it we can tell you more. Generally though they need to be planted in the substrate because they have root systems. Also, google PlantGeek, as there is an amazing amount of knowledge there regarding different species.

As a side note, anacharis is a fast growing plant that is a great absorber of nutrients.

10,000k lights should be ok, as you are using T5's, but 6500 or 6700 are want plants really want. Also, if you aren't injecting CO2, with T5's you may have algae issues. How many bulbs are you using? Are they 24"?
I'll find the scientific name of the hygrophlia I was looking at. I do plan to use CO2 some where down the line but not just yet. I want to get my feet wet first. Then after I get a working knowledge and the hang of it I'll move up to a bigger tank. Question what other substrate can I use insted of gravel? Or will the root system of the hygrophlia be hurt or even die? As far as the bulbs go there will be two 28watt 24" T5's and to add some color I was thinking about maybe one bulb for atinic. Or am I looking at this wrong? I know in a salt water tank 10k's have a yellow hue to them, is it the same way for fresh water? If not I won't need any atinic and just go with the 65 or 6700 bulbs.
I like the fish line idea I can already see it, it will look like it just hanging in mid air(water) in the middle of the tank. That bring me to another question, will I need to add a power head or two? Is flow as important in a fresh water tank as it is in a salt water tank?
 

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Ok..first the lighting. the 10k bulbs will just be..."ok". Not very recommended in the planting world.

Second...at that light...you will need start right off with ferts and CO2.

Third...actinics do nothing for the freshwater world except add ambiance for night viewing.

Would highly suggest starting with the 6700 bulbs.

You can use the power head to help diffuse the CO2. Depending on the species (not too many), flow will not be much a factor. Your exception would be a river tank like Hillstreams and such.

Any substrate will work. The gravel will be more of a pain to deal with. For a planted tank, look to a nutrient rich substrate like Flourite, Eco-Complete, Turface, etc. I have seen some custom soils available online as well.
 

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Yes, as James says with that much light you'll need CO2. I have the same amount of T5 light in my 29 gallon and it would be algae soup without CO2 and ferts. The idea of adding co2 and ferts to a high light tank is to get the plants growing to a point that they out compete the algae for nutrients. I wouldn't use actinic bulbs either as all they do is promote more algae growth.

You can make a simple DIY CO2 reactor for a small tank like that by using a 2L soda bottle filled with yeast, sugar, and water (some say baking soda too, though I don't use it). If you look up DIY Co2, you'll find tons of recipes and instructions for making your own system. A power head would be a great way to diffuse the co2 into your tank. Flow is not critical in a planted tank as it is SW reef tanks.

The problem with plain gravel is that plants don't really like to root in it very well and you could find yourself replanting them a lot! It also needs to be enriched with fertilizer tabs every few months.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Here I thought it was going to be easy...I'm going to look into a DIY CO2 reactor because I really want to use the T5's. I still have to make a canopy for the tank so I might as well do it all at once. If you would give me some other plant names to look up before I start to stock. I can see those sleepless nights all over again just like when I started my first salt water tank. Just to make sure, when you say ferts you do mean fertilizer right? So no atinic is needed. And I should start CO2 right away. I'll keep this thread going through out this build. Oh happy days!!! OK I looked up a few reactors and now I have a few more questions...Just what part does the CO2 play? And is this something I will have to replenish or do I just add the reactor and that's it?
 

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Well...CO2 is vital for all plants to survive. But that's another science lesson. ;o)

DIY CO2 systems can last anywhere from 2 weeks to a month depending on how it's done and room conditions. Mine usually last a little over a month before having to recharge. By recharge, I mean you mix up another batch of yeast mixture.

What type of filter do you have? If you have a canister, you can put the CO2 tube right at the canisters intake. That will provide for the best diffusion. If it is an HOB kind, you can diffuse through either limewood or even a glass diffuser. Depending on you vessel of course.

As for plants...the sky's the limit. Your LFS will only carry a very select few if that. I would suggest checking online as there are a few good places out there to order from.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well...CO2 is vital for all plants to survive. But that's another science lesson. ;o)

DIY CO2 systems can last anywhere from 2 weeks to a month depending on how it's done and room conditions. Mine usually last a little over a month before having to recharge. By recharge, I mean you mix up another batch of yeast mixture.

What type of filter do you have? If you have a canister, you can put the CO2 tube right at the canisters intake. That will provide for the best diffusion. If it is an HOB kind, you can diffuse through either limewood or even a glass diffuser. Depending on you vessel of course.

As for plants...the sky's the limit. Your LFS will only carry a very select few if that. I would suggest checking online as there are a few good places out there to order from.
I may have worded that wrong...I know what the co2 does what I should have asked is how does the reactor work? Does it just keep running until it all out or will I have to set it up and add it daily? And yes it will have a canister filter. Tell me alittle more about the diffusion.
 

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Gotcha...my apologies. The reactor is the vessel where the CO2 is generated. It contains your ingredients. Once you get it set up, you won't have to do anything else to it until it fizzles out. What happens is the yeast have consumed all the sugar and the alcohol level gets too high for them to survive. This is where bubble counters come in to play. While not required, it helps to let you when to put in a fresh batch.

I thought I had posted my DIY CO2 generator here but turns out I didn't. I'll post it shortly.

As for the diffusion part, this is where the CO2 actually mixes in with the water. The more contact that the bubbles have with the water, the more gas actually gets to the tank. Once the bubbles reach the surface and pop, the gas is lost.

Since canister filters are closed systems, this gives the CO2 more of an opportunity to fully disolve in the water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I just posted my DIY CO2 method.

Here's the link:

DIY CO2 Made Easy
OK Looks simple enough...what I don't understand is the jell-o do I add all of it when I set this up or will my grand kids have some of the left overs? And what does it do?( won't it melt back down?) secoundly where does the air stone go, and is that what pushes the mix from one bottle to the other? And lastly I know this goes up from the beginning, but do I add it after the first plant or after the water goes in?
 

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Just my .02 here.

1) you don't need co2

2) you dont need circulation or mechanical filters.

3) I use a substarte that is 1" peat moss (no frets added), 1" play sand,1" pc select

4) for a 20g I would use 10 bunches of anacharis, 10 vals, 10 small potted plants and a single amazon sword.

5) for lighting I use 3 15w spiral compact flourescents 6,500 k avalable from wall mart. In round clip on spot reflectors. For a top I use an egg crate cut to size and just put the light on top of the egg crate.

I set the tank up and let it set a week. Then add a single fish and wait a week with no food being added. I then more or less stock up the tank and start feeding 1-2 flakes per day.

my .02
 
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OK Looks simple enough...what I don't understand is the jell-o do I add all of it when I set this up or will my grand kids have some of the left overs? And what does it do?( won't it melt back down?) secoundly where does the air stone go, and is that what pushes the mix from one bottle to the other? And lastly I know this goes up from the beginning, but do I add it after the first plant or after the water goes in?
1) The Jell-O is so the mixture will last longer. As it slowly dissolves, it will release more sugars to the yeast. Unfortunately, no there shouldn't be any left overs for the kiddies. Not sure you would want them to have that much sugar anyway. ;o)

2) The airstone (diffuser) can go any where in the tank. The best placement for it will be under the output of an HOB or right at the intake for a canister. The pressure from the reactor vessel pushes the gas from bottle to bottle to tank.

3) You can add it at any point during the process. I would say that if you are just getting it set up, to add it first. That way you'll get the hang of it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Just my .02 here.

1) you don't need co2

2) you dont need circulation of mechanical filters.

3) I use a substarte that is 1" peat moss (no frets added), 1" play sand,1" pc select

4) for a 20g I would use 10 bunches of anacharis, 10 vals, 10 small potted plants and a single amazon sword.

5) for lighting I use 3 15w spiral compact flourescents 6,500 k avalable from wall mart. In round clip on spot reflectors. For a top I use an egg crate cut to size and just put the light on top of the egg crate.

I set the tank up and let it set a week. then add a single fish and wait a week with no food being added. I then more or less stopck up the tank and start feeding 1-2 flakes per day.

my .02
I already have the lights, so I have to work with what I have. With the peat moss can I for go the sand and add gravel on top of that? This is for my wife so of course it has to look pretty. And by adding the peat moss I don't have to add fertilizer ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
1) The Jell-O is so the mixture will last longer. As it slowly dissolves, it will release more sugars to the yeast. Unfortunately, no there shouldn't be any left overs for the kiddies. Not sure you would want them to have that much sugar anyway. ;o)

2) The airstone (diffuser) can go any where in the tank. The best placement for it will be under the output of an HOB or right at the intake for a canister. The pressure from the reactor vessel pushes the gas from bottle to bottle to tank.

3) You can add it at any point during the process. I would say that if you are just getting it set up, to add it first. That way you'll get the hang of it.
OK I have everything for the reactor, but before I start to put it together I want to get a better understanding of the substrate like the peat moss and gravel. And will I be able to add fish right away? Is there a cycle you have to go through for fresh water? My wife has 3 gold fish in a tank on the stand I have to use for this set up and I don't want them to be homeless she would kill me she has had them for years. And I need to know about PH phosphate's and Nitrates where should they be in a fresh water tank. I do understand water chemistry, but me being a salty I feel like a guy how has worked on BMW's for years and then somebody brings him a chevette and says fix this and make it go faster. I just didn't know it was this much to a fresh water tank. I have a new found respect for the work you'll put into this type of tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I just posted my DIY CO2 method.

Here's the link:

DIY CO2 Made Easy
There is still one part I'm missing, The air stone is what's in the tank I got that the big bottle is where the jell-o goes but what did you put in the small bottle? I know the big bottle loops to the small bottle and then to the tank. So is it just the gas that is pushes into the secound bottle? And what keeps the level in check? Is it possible to add to much since it will be running 24/7 and one more thing when it's time to replenish are you doing the whole mix again starting with the jell-o ?
 

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OK I have everything for the reactor, but before I start to put it together I want to get a better understanding of the substrate like the peat moss and gravel. And will I be able to add fish right away? Is there a cycle you have to go through for fresh water? My wife has 3 gold fish in a tank on the stand I have to use for this set up and I don't want them to be homeless she would kill me she has had them for years. And I need to know about PH phosphate's and Nitrates where should they be in a fresh water tank. I do understand water chemistry, but me being a salty I feel like a guy how has worked on BMW's for years and then somebody brings him a chevette and says fix this and make it go faster. I just didn't know it was this much to a fresh water tank. I have a new found respect for the work you'll put into this type of tank.
Good Morning and first off....Merry Christmas!

Peat is usually used as a bottom layer. You will need something finer than gravel to cover the peat as it will work its way through the gravel. You can do a layer of peat, sand then gravel if you want. Have you thought about the look you want? (I.e. gravel, sand, etc.)

You can add a couple fish now and do a fishy cycle. Though not very popular it can be done. When cycling the tank this way, you will have to be very diligent on testing and maintenance so as to not harm the fishies. Are the goldies going in here?

Your water parms will vary. One thing to note with peat is that it will lower your PH. While most species are adaptable to most PH levels, it is important to know what stocking you will be going with as some species prefer lower or higher than "normal" PH values. An ideal range would be 6.8 - 7.4.

The small bottle (gas seperator) is just filled with water. The gas created will build up in the reactor vessel and be pushed through the tubing to the seperator bottle. You will see the bubbles coming out of the tube and can get an idea of how much gas is being generated. Then as the pressure builds in the seperator bottle, the same process as before. It will get pushed into the tank.

With DIY CO2, you will not be adding too much gas to the tank..even for a 24x7 setup. What most people do is to run a standard air stone at night to get O2 into the tank. Plants use O2 during the night time.

When using the Jell-O method, after the gas level drops to where it is no longer effective, you pour out the water on the top and replenish with a new yeast batch. The only time you add Jell-O is if you are starting completely from scratch. I normally recharge with new yeast once and then redo the entire mix.

Use a device called a drop checker to determine your CO2 level. This is a small container that has a fluid called 4dKH solution in it. You want it to be Green. This tells you that you have the proper amount of gas. Blue will be too little and Yellow is too much.
 
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