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Hey everyone, I used to post a bit on the forum years ago but took some time off. I've decided to change up my tank and start a low tech 20g planted tank. So I'm going to drain it and start from scratch. I've done a bunch of research, but just wanted to get a bit more info.

First off, lighting. I'm trying to decide between these 2:
CHIHIROS A Series LED light with intensity control | Shrimpoly

Or Freshwater Bright LED Aquarium Light 24" 0.5W 6500K-Odyssea Aquarium Appliance Co.,Ltd

The first one is a bit cheaper, and has a built in dimmer, but it's 8000 kelvin. The second one is a bit more, doesn't have a dimmer and is 6500 kelvin. My tank is 24x12x18 deep. What would you guys recommend?

I've decided to use Eco-Complete. Do I cycle the tank like I normally would, or do I add plants right away? What about for adding fish? I would like to have shrimp and small fish like rasboras, if I decide to use fertilizer, either with flourish or tabs, do I have to be aware of anything?

And finally for now, what filter media should I be running?

Thanks for the help everyone!
 

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Hi , i can`t speak to the Odyssea fixture , but i have the 18-24 inch Chihiros A series, for it`s price point, it`s a decent fixture, the 8,000K color can be a deterrent for some , especially if they are keeping red plants, it grows plants well ,but the reds & other hues may not pop as much.
I`m a firm believer of fully planting a new tank from the get go, they are times i would even add some fast growing stem plants & remove as the tank matures.
 

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I can't say about the Chihiros, but I have a similar Beamswork fixture to the one you listed (36" 6500K on a 18" tall tank) and it's only good for low light.

As for setting up the tank, plants can be added right away. I prefer establishing the bacteria fishless, so I'd hold off getting fish until you're cycled in the month or so.
As long as you don't overdose, the fertilizers won't harm the fish or shrimp. Instead of Flourish, I'd suggest getting dry ferts since they're much cheaper and do the same thing. You can pm Pat (Mykiss) for dry ferts. If you don't want to mess around with measuring the ferts, I'd use Thrive which is an all-in-one fert and it's still cheaper than the Flourish line.

Liquid
 

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It would be beneficial for you to think hard about what you want to do - or else you'll end up restarting and constantly changing things (and consequently not using your money very well). There are many ways to do a planted tank with many different opinions now. Do you have a goal of some sort? Do you just want to create a natural environment for your fauna? Or do you want to enter aquascaping contests and whatnot?

I have the chihiros lights and it works very well - and for what you pay you get great value. Lots of people say different things about cycling with plants or without plants - but the key IMO to the cycle is just warm water + time + ammonia. If you don't want mass algae blooms in the beginning, then don't use very much light. Once the cycle is done - you read 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and nitrates, do a large WC to get rid of the nitrates (this is food the diatoms will be eating). Then you can start adding plants/fish + increase the light without worrying too much about the algae. If you want a lush tank, then it will be a balancing act between the amount of light you use, the amount of fertilizers (go easy here) and CO2. This is one thing the chihiros light is good for - the dimmer which allows flexibility. I would say you wouldn't need much light until you have a large plant mass going (and/or you choose demanding plants). If you choose the stronger light, just lower the light period until you need more light.

Regarding filter media, depending on how much work you want to do then you will want to use different types. I'm assuming you dont want to be constantly changing, cleaning so I recommend you add mechanical and bio filters at the minimum -> foam + ceramic rings (surface area for bacteria to grow on). If you want to give it a little extra, then lots of my friends use purigen and/or activated carbon on top of mechanical/bio. If you really want to go all out, you would start with foam + ceramic + purigen/activated carbon. A couple months in, you can remove the foam and add all bio filters with purigen/activated carbon. You would adjust the filters depending on what issues you face in the tank (ex. activated carbon for lots of humic acid leeches) and adjust as necessary.
 
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