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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Sorry if I posted this in the wrong section, but I haven't seen where else this should go.
I'm trying to grow some plants in my aquarium. I have tried in the past, but I wasn't successful, so here I go again. I was wondering what is the best approach and where to really start. I found tons of info on the net, but it's confusing. I started with fertilizer tabs and good light. I bought java fern and moss to start with. They are doing ok, but other plants that were suggested in the aquarium store not so much. I started adding equilibrium for plants and keep checking water hardness. I know I need co2 system, but not sure what is the best choice. Rogers aquarium sells one that they're using, but there is no info on the package, so I'm not sure on how to properly use it (placement, hook-up, adjustments etc.). It all sounds so easy when they explain it to me in the store right there. I have a good memory but I would like to confirm with someone to make sure I'm doing it right, you know what I mean. Any info on how you guys started and how long it took for you to have those beautiful underwater gardens would be appreciated. Oh and what plants I should get and what to stay away from for now. Thanx a bunch.
Viera
 

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First of all, you dont need a CO2 system to have a planted tank.

I personally only rely on light and fish poop for my plants...and they grow like crazy.

I would suggest that you start with some easy to grow plants that have low light requirements.

If you can provide us with more details on your tank size (dimensions), substrate, lighting etc, we can provide more specific advice that would be useful for you.

Also, if you want you can come grab some Sunset Hygro off me and see how they work for you. You can have some for free since you are just starting out :)
 

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Totally agree :)
I only use low maintanance plants and believe me there is huge variety of them :) And they all grow pretty well with nothing else then light and fish.
Sunset hydro is an excellent plant, I got mine from Smiladon and it grows great! The plant is very beautiful and undemanding.
I would also suggest hornwort (I can give you one small stem for free) - it grows real fast, it is great for the water quality and again very undemanding.
Check the plants sections, there was a topic from me asking for plants suggestions and somebody got me an awesome list of low light plants.

Good luck!
 

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There are many "styles" of planted tanks. To suit your style, you will need to ask yourself:
How much money you want to spend?
How much time would you be willing to spend on maintenance (pruning, water change)?
What kind of plants would you like to grow?

For example, you could start with your current light setup. What's your existing light and would you be willing to upgrade/buy a light setup?
 

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i would invest on some decent substrate...and a nice light. the CO2 and yada depends on the size of tank, quantity of plant and type of plant you are planning to grow. the plants in my tank, i guess, are low maintenance cuz i dun add co2(i used to have diy co2) cuz they grow at a decent rate. btw i dun add any special additives to the tank for the plants. but yah maybe the other member can give you a better explanation and advice.
 

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A low maintenance setup usually consist of 1.5 to 2 watt per gallon of light (Power compact and HO T5 on the lower end and standard T8 to T12 on the higher end), no CO2 and small amount of fertilizer, little to no water change


I have been growing ferns, crypts, moss, fissiden echindorous parviflorus 'Tropica', val, hydrophila polysperma, h polysperma 'sunset', with no CO2 and lots of surface movement.

I run a fairly lean fertilizer mixed at a ratio of N:p:K:Ca:Mg. 3-1-2-3.5-1.5
NOTE: this is N and not NO3 and P and not PO4

This is tailor towards soft water of BC with no water change and inert substrate.

In my smaller tanks with no CO2, I add the pre-mixed once a week. This works out to roughly 5 ppm of N and do a 50% water change weekly. Lots of good surface movement to increase aeration to the tank. Reason being is that oxygen helps break down organic matter into inorganic nutrients that the plants can use. As a result will reduce algae which feeds off of organic matter.

In my big tank with CO2, I run this at a dilution of 40% and add bi-daily, roughly 2 ppm of N, bi-daily and do not do any water change.

In my emersed setup, I run this at 4x the concentration and change weekly.

The main focus is to keep the nutrients ratio fairly consistent. different elements react differently with each other. Some will cause inhibition (antagonism). If the Ca, K and Mg is out of proportion, plants will start showing sign of deficiency despite having all the nutrients in the water at higher level. likewise for other elements such as N, P and the trace element as well.

Ca helps with Cell structure and K helps with sugar and enzyme in plants. They work pretty much in relation to each other. When they are out of balance, plants cannot function properly because one of the nutrients get locked out by the plant.

Adding little daily is better than adding larger amount infrequently if this is a fast growing set up. electrical conductivity is more stable in the tank without those swing and plants will be a lot happier.
 

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Viera, I could offer you some java fern or moss... pm me if interested. Grows very easily in as little as 0.5 watt per gallon if your water keeps steady nutrient levels, which you should be testing for every so often.

In some cases if some nutrients are missing your plants won't grow well or will all die, I had that happen to me when I first started... I lost all of my crypt plants, I guess it was 5 or 6 of em, and then after that I also lost most of my java ferns. I didn't know why but now I do (there was not enough nitrates)

If I were you I'd take Smiladon / InfraredDream up on those offers, I don't have those plants myself but wish I did I'm just starting up a shrimp tank in a spare 5 gallon and they sound like they would easy to grown / maintain
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Wow! Thank you so much for such a great response! Extra thanx for the great info and the offers. I would love to come and p/u the plants. I will pm you all.
So here is little bit more info about my tank. I have 20G with tropic sun 5500K daylight bulb, also it says on it F15T8. I have it on since about 4pm -10pm. I just moved in june and my place is pretty bright now. My aquarium is on the angle around the corner turned away from the window and does not get direct sun. Is it enought lightime or should I change the settings?
I have bought anubias plant little while ago and it is attached on the piece of wood. It was doing ok, but now it looks that it's not growing. It has been same for a while. Today I bought another anubias, this one has tall long thin leaves and Echinodorus quadricostatus (I think it's called dwarf sworplant). They have been recommended as a low maintenance, low light suitable plant.
As for the investments, I don't mind buying a new lightbulb if necessary, but I would probably hold off on any more expensive investments for now. I do plant to spend more time on pruning and maintenance. For now, I will be happy if anything will start growing nicely in my tank. I see that you recommend fertilizers, any particular brands? Where would be best (possibly cheapest) place to get it? Oh and I also got nice piece of manzanita wood and I was thinking to attach some moss to it or maybe some fern?

Thanx again everybody. I apprieciate your time to respond
Viera
 

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15 watt T8 bulb.

You will not see a lot of growth in the tank with 1 tube of 15 watt T8. If you add another tube over the 20 gallon that would be way better or swap out the lights for 2 screw in fluorescent. Anything to bring the light to 1.5 to 2 watt per gallon. At 1.5 wpg, you can see some noticeable growth.

java fern, crypts, moss and anubias would be your best choice for your low light set up.

What kind of substrate do you have? That makes a huge difference in the choice of fertilizer to use. For the sake of simplicity, seachem Equilibrium + seachem flourish is all your need.
 

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i'm looking to upgrade the hood/light in my 20gallon as well, it's a 17w so only 0.85 watts per gallon...

i'd like something around 40-50 watts, max 60. not sure what to pick yet but if anyone knows something? i see some 65 watt but i also hear if you go with t5 bulb you don't need as much watts because it's a more efficient light? any advice post it here ! :)
 

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Hagen GLO T5 is a simple ready to use retrofit kit. all you need is a hood and or reflector. They come in 2x 24 watt kit.

I suggest 2 Giesemann midday bulb or if you want to go cheaper, GE HO T5 6500K 24". Definitely add CO2 if you are using 2x 24 watt HO T5 over 20 gallon.

I have 3x 54 watt HO T5 6500k over a 75gallon. They have been running for over 3 years.
 

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I've got a 55 gal, with quite a few plants. I'm just getting into them like you. I use Excel instead of the expensive CO2 system and it seems work quite well, you just pour in a capful every day. Between that and the Flourish Comprehensive. That should at least get you started out pretty well. Good Luck! Post some pics for us to see!
 

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Planted tanks are addictive; be warned!
I use 4* 55W fluorescents (good price from Canadian aquatics on this site) with two on all day and the other two on for just a few hours in the middle of the day. My tank is 75 gallons and I change 15 gallons a week, adding 10 mL of both Flourish and Flourish excel and one Indian almond leaf. I also add root tab fertilizer once in a while. I have a variety of "easy" and "medium" plants that have done well (mostly by trial and error) planted in a black substrate (Name I can't remember right now) which I do not clean so it has a great deal of organic matter built up over the years.
Check out a couple of pictures here: http://www.bcaquaria.com/forum/members/david-j-673/albums/75-gallon-42/
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Hi EDGE

thanx for the message
I just have regular gravel. I think it's the most common substrate I've seen. I was thinking to get sand in near future. Would that be a better option?
And I already have seachem equilibrium and I will p/u the seachem flourish on my way today. I will have to check into the cost of getting new lighting and see what I can do about that.
Thanx again

Viera
 

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Discussion Starter #17
nice underwater jungle

Wow, thanx for the link. That's a very nice setup you have there.

Planted tanks are addictive; be warned!
I use 4* 55W fluorescents (good price from Canadian aquatics on this site) with two on all day and the other two on for just a few hours in the middle of the day. My tank is 75 gallons and I change 15 gallons a week, adding 10 mL of both Flourish and Flourish excel and one Indian almond leaf. I also add root tab fertilizer once in a while. I have a variety of "easy" and "medium" plants that have done well (mostly by trial and error) planted in a black substrate (Name I can't remember right now) which I do not clean so it has a great deal of organic matter built up over the years.
Check out a couple of pictures here: http://www.bcaquaria.com/forum/members/david-j-673/albums/75-gallon-42/
 

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Discussion Starter #18
So yesterday I went and bought new coralife light fixture with 65W bulb, seachem fertilizer and excel. I guess I just have to see what happens now with my plants. I just downloaded the Seachem daily dose calculator to keep my plants properly fertilized. I will be adding manzanita wood piece after I'll receive my moss and java and after that I will take a picture and try to post it here for you. And then again maybe 30days later to see my (hopefully) progress. Thanx again to everybody who helped.

Viera
 

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Discussion Starter #19
So I finally set up my aquarium with plants. I had to wait untill my manzanita soaked + I needed to get some more plants. After about 4 hours of work and arranging, here is the result. I will try to post updated pictures in few weeks to see my (hopefully positive) progress. Thanx everyone for helping anyway you could.

 
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