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Thinking of starting a planted tank...?

970 Views 12 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  BambooTikiBettaGirl84
Hello all!

I've been fish keeping for about a year now, my tanks range from 1.5gal-10gal (10 tanks in total: Two 1.5s, four 3gal, one 5 gal, and three 10 gal) I've cycled almost all of my tanks, so all that stuff I'm familiar with.

My friends recently gave me their 30 gallon tank which had not been used for a couple years and was just sitting in a garage. It had/has some water scale build up near the top, which I've gotten most of it off, and it had some white, crusty stuff on it - which they told me was dried up algae..? What ever it was, it came off like dust, and rinsed totally off as soon as I turned on the hose.
All they asked for in return was one of my 10 gallon tanks. Easily done! lol

I'm going to be combining two of my 10 gallons into this 30 gallon. One 10gal will go to my friends, and the other will be divided so I can get rid of my 1.5gal tanks.
I have pool filter sand (Two 20lb bags from Canadian Tire) and it will house 1 male betta, 6 julii corydoras, 5 neon tetras, 5 harlequin rasboras, and a nerite snail or two. I may or may not look into adding some more neons or rasboras, or maybe some more corydoras, since aqadvisor tells me I'm only at 56% capacity.

Anyways, I took the thing to my back yard and hosed it down and scrubbed it down, with paper towel and a non-abrasive brush, and hosed it down again, and it's sitting in the sun to dry. It came with a hood as well, and a filter - but I'm likely going to replace the filter since I have no idea what brand this one is.

I have used nothing but silk plants before, so I have NO idea where to start with plants. I hope to buy a nice piece of driftwood for the 30 gallon as a bit of a centre piece and some nice, easy to care for plants to make the tank look nice and give the tetras and rasboras some place to hide if the betta gets too feisty (though he is rather good natured with tank mates).

I am on a bit of a tight budget since I have four events coming up (friend's birthday, husband's birthday, our wedding anniversary and of course Christmas), and I already have $420CND spoken for for my husband's Christmas gift... He better love it xD So money is a bit tight, so in the mean time, I cannot go ALL OUT on a planted tank. Just want it to look nice :) I might still throw in some of my silk plants to help fill it up a bit more.

I also like the idea of live plants helping keep the tank a bit more balanced. When I punch everything into - it tells me that my filtration is adequate at 119% if I used a Aqua Clear 30 filter (the only good brand my local pet store carries), but if I add any more fish, it says I need more filtration. Should I just buy an Aqua Clear 50 instead, just for good measure...?

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Sand is a inert substrate. some plants will be able to grow in it. but to have really good growth you need to have some sort if plant food in it. you can buy plant tabs which go under the substrate, or you can do a dirted tank( soil substrate capped with sand or whatever). i personaly think the latter option is better becouse it will require less maintenance in the long run.
here are some nice low tech plants that will most likely do good in your sand:
java fern
java moss
water sprite
that's all i can think of for right now, if i think of more i will tell you.
Yes the aqua clear 50 should be ok.
what kind of light do you have?
Hope this helps!!!:-D
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When Adequate estimates the filtration of a tank and its community they use 65% as the end result and give leeway in their equation. Their answer is not based on 100% of all. (this is a good way to keep the tank safe) Using the plants that Sponge has listed is a good starter idea. I would recommend more than just sand for a substrate also your plants need iron and minerals that sand does not have. Dirt tanks do very well I use Fluorite as my substrate capped with natural small pebbles. (I have 2-3 inches of Fluorite and about an inch of pebbles.) I have many bunch plants that have taken root in this environment. I also use flourish once a week as a fertilizer and I add API CO2 Booster once a day. My plants have thrived in this environment. As for Driftwood It makes a nice centerpiece, but make sure you either Boil it for a few hours or boil and soak it for a few days before adding it to your tank. (This releases the Tannin in the wood.(Tannin will make the water very dark and the tank will look like creek water)) Also be aware that adding plants and driftwood will lower the PH balance (this is not a maybe, It will lower the PH.) The fish you have in the community can withstand a range form 6.0 to 7.6 in PH. With the recommended plants they also can take a PH of 6.0 to 7.6 with no problem. If you start your tank with a PH of 7.0 and add the plants and driftwood you will see the PH drop to about 6.4 to 6.8 ( don't get upset it is natural and won't hurt the tank mates. It happens over a few days and the fish will be able to adjust with no problems. You will also notice if the tank is heavily planted that the Ammonia and nitrite levels will decrease to 0 ppm quickly and there may not be any nitrate readings either. (not to worry after a few weeks you will have nitrate and the good bacteria will be doing it's job in the filter.) The plants absorb the Ammonia and Nitrites and really do help keep the tank healthy.
I have always enjoyed watching the changes the plants go through from the time I put them in till the roots start to sprout. Once the roots start to sprout and you notice new leaf growth is amazing.
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I grow all my plants in just sand (including some 24" tall Amazon swords). Substrate of choice for me, as those "enhanced" substrates do not last forever, and some of them will start you off with higher ammonia readings.
You tap water will likely contain all of the nutrients needed to keep your plants going. Unless you have a water softener or an RO machine hooked up to your tap. ;) Ferts of course can be added to speed up growth.
Not all start off with high ammonia readings, unless your talking about ADA aquasoil. Rich substrates contain CEC which adsorbs nutrients from the water column, which is why we use it for planted tanks. To be honest you can grow easy plants (Amazon swords)with no problem with plain oh sand/gravel with root tabs. I suggest if budget is a problem I'd go with organic soil with sand/gravel cap.
as those "enhanced" substrates do not last forever.
What are the enhanced substrates you're talking about?
The enhanced substrates are any plant substrate. So flourite, eco complete, ada soil, floramax, ect... They help a lot in a planted tank.
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The enhanced substrates are any plant substrate. So flourite, eco complete, ada soil, floramax, ect... They help a lot in a planted tank.
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I was kinda asking Olympia because it kinda makes me worried that I will have to remove my eco-complete flourite mix if that is true. It says that you don't ever have to change the substrate for those, that is a huge reason why I wanted to get these products.

So yeah I wanna find out if those are what she means.
Okay sorry. But those to substrates are AMAZIMG and only have to replace them every 7-10 years. You dont have to remove them.
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Sorry, I'm working on a reply to your PM, I'm a bit bad at them haha.
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Okay sorry. But those to substrates are AMAZIMG and only have to replace them every 7-10 years. You dont have to remove them.
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It's okay tankman, I know you were trying to help, I just prefer hearing it from the person who said it just incase it's different information. :-D
My water is straight from the tap, using Prime as a conditioner. The pH is 7.6, so it won't hurt too much if it drops a bit...

Is there a certain soil that is better than others..? The nearest aquarium supply store is about 2hrs away, so I want to make sure I pick up the right kind of stuff the first time ;) I'm not sure on their stock either - I will likely have to go to Petland... I could try to order online, as long as it doesn't cost me an arm and a leg xD

Are there certain kinds of soil that are not safe for corydoras? That would be one of my main concerns...
Sorry, I'm working on a reply to your PM, I'm a bit bad at them haha.
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It's fine, I just thought I would pick your brain about substrate.
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