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Discussion Starter #1
As the title suggest I have acquired a nice little 38 gallon that I plan on using as a planted tank. I've had fish my entire life and even as an adult have several tanks but this is my first go with freshwater plants. I would love any feedback or tips that your knowledge could bestow upon me.
What I have going on;

Lighting - I've done a bit or research involving the hood, so I have a t5 coral sun fluorescents. They give off around 6500k. (The flora-sun t5 only claimed 5000k)

Substrate - I got 3 bags of "wet gravel" from a local fish supply. It states perfect pH (witch is true so far) and that it's suited with minerals and whatnot to help plants flourish. It's about 2½ inches worth, spread evenly.

Filtration - I have 2 quiet flow in-tank 40 gallon filters made by tetra. And also a power head that is just for current.
I also have a ceramic filtered co2 injector dry drip system putting one bubble every 5 seconds during the day.

Heating - one of my main concerns is the temp. I'm out of Texas so without any heating at all, the tank rarely hits 80°f. It usually stays around 81-82.

Plants - I've got several small bunches of hair grass, both dwarf and regular, they are spread all around the tank in hopes of an even plain of lushery. Also, there is a sort of onion (crinum thaianum), a small java fern, and 2 plant bunches that I have no clue what they are, and an aponogeton ulvaceus.
[HR][/HR]
Animals - there are 21 ghost shrimp (was 24), and one single rosey red minnow, the green brown type. Also, I saw one tiny little rams horn snail, but the minnow ate it, I assume there will be others. I don't mind snails, in fact I plan to purchase around 5 nerite snails for this setup. I haven't figured out what type of fish to have in the tank. I'm not keen on many community species. I have been toying with the idea of around 10-15 serpae tetras. I also like the looks of those rose line sharks, or Denson barbs. Im also looking into some black phantom tetras. Haven't decided on that yet. Any ideas?

And that brings me to the part where I ask for your knowledgeable feedback. Other random facts include;
I change 20% once a week and use conditioner (well water)
I have "flora pride" I use once every other day or so.
I feed the shrimp some omnivore wafers every couple days. The minnow loves these as well.
There's a piece of driftwood that seems to soften the water a bit.
Thanks guys I'll throw some pics up when I figure out how.
 

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80 deg should be fine in your tank. In fact, most planted tanks are pretty happy between 75 and 81.
Looks like you are set up for success. I'm not sure about the 'flora pride' ferts. I'll read up on it when I have some time.

Perhaps so we can be more specific with our help, why don't you ask some questions?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
My main concern is still temp. Yesterday it was 103° during the day. So when I got home the tank was 86° I put a zip lock of ice in there to try to cool it down a couple degrees. Still sat at 84°. Is a chiller my only other option? Cause 110° isn't uncommon at all down here in Houston. I'd expect 90° tank water in that. Even though the house is 72°, that doesn't seem to effect the tank. I'd guess because of the lights and the motors on the pumps.
I also have a couple plants that need identification. I can post pics in just a bit. (I'm at work) there's a massive piece of driftwood in the tank that I've put some of the plants on. I read its better not to bury the roots. Is that true? I guess the answer has something to do with the type of plant.. so I'll get pics up on my break. Thank you for your input. It means a lot to have a little guidance. Also, there are now 5 black phantom tetras in there.

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I haven't had any experience with chillers. Though I think it makes sense if the water continues to be in the mid 80s or higher for a large part of the year.

I know last summer my water temp crept up to the low 80s. My plants and fish did alright though it was only for a couple months.
Plants with a rhizome should not have it buried. The most common of these include java ferns, bolbitis, and anubias.
We can try iding the plants when you find time to post pics.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I've never had the temp issue before or had to mess with chillers either. My cichlid tanks are in a better part of the house and stay around 80 in the summer. 84 at most. But as far as planting into the substrate, I need to move the java fern. It's right in the front on the wood. I'll plant that sucker tonight.

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Discussion Starter #7
Idk if my pics are posting. It won't let me see them but it says "download successful" let me know if you're seeing them. I have a few more for further dissection if it's working.
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Yup make sure the java fern's rhizome is NOT under the substrate. The 2 plants on the wood look like some sort of (young) melon sword plant though I suppose based on their smaller size they can also be full grown crypts of some sort.

Try to make sure the hairgrass isn't always in the shade of the driftwood. They like light and co2.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
This pic is a week old, so I've moved stuff a little more. And the water has cleared up quite a bit. I'll get a new shot tonight. So do you think i should move the fern or no? The hair grass is all over the place. I bought like 6 packs, each pack had 3 to 4 little pieces. So I do have some in a bit of shade, but some is even on top of the wood about 4 inches from the surface. Do you have any idea what the pink and green ones are? My fiancé has brought several unknown things with no label. But I don't plan on buying any more plants at all cause I want what I have to explode. It seems more of tge same thing would be more aesthetically pleasing than 30 different things fighting for their spot.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Yeah, so re-reading a bit I see the confusion I had about the fern. My apologies, I was at work and was on quick read, quick reply mode. I'm glad the fern doesn't need to move, I like the spot it's in.
Also, who knew that rosy minnows happen to be super aggressive? This a-hole constantly chases the phantom tetras, picks at the ghost shrimp, and I don't really like the way he looks at the fern.. I think he would take a bite it if he could beat the current. He harasses the oto cats (4) the most. He'll be Texas Cichlid food by weeks end, guaranteed.

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I think the pink/green plant is Alternanthera reineckii ''roseafolia''
 

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I think the green rosette plants look like some kind of Echinodorus (Echinodorus Schlueteri 'Leopard'?)...
About the temperature, I've seen people in Taiwan (where it sometimes reaches 110 F too) have fans blowing at the water surface to cool the tank through evaporation... It's quite popular, but I don't know how efficient this really is...
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I'll look those up for sure. Thanks. I've never heard that about the fans, but I've got one, I'll give it a shot on a day I'll be home during the heat.
I'm looking into chillers, but I just don't want another thing to plug in. If all else fails I'll move it under an ac duct.

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Discussion Starter #18
I got an l.e.d. lamp made by fluval. It said 48watt 7200k on it. So I'm giving that a shot along side my other lamp. Any ideas on led versus florescent?
I added 15 more ghosts shrimp and one (adoption) bamboo shrimp to the mix.

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