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Hi...newbie here


14 Sep 2007
Lewes, East Sussex
Hi all, just stumbled upon your site and it is very informative. I have 35 years trop experience, 20 years with marines and reefs and i've had ponds for as long as i can remember including my 3,000 gallon koi pond at the moment.

I have a small 30 x 15 x 12" community tank that i'd really like to strip down and start again as a nice planted tank.

My proposed set up would be as follows (i'm on a bit of a budget too)

Lighting....2 x 55w T5 power compact triplus tubes

Substrate....2cm aquatic soil or tetra plant substrate with 4cm black sand on top (no UG heating will be used unless advised)

Filteration....small eheim external

Temp....78 F

Water....50/50 RO/tap water....which is on the hard, alkaline side as we live in the middle of the chalky south downs.

CO2....from cylinder.....dosage to be advised (poss 1 bubble every 2 seconds)

Stocking....30-40 cardinal tetras, a couple of panda cories, a couple of otocinclus and maybe a few shrimps....typically an amazon type set up.

Plants.....bought online from somewhere like greenline who have been superb in the past. varieties to be decided yet !!!!

Comments, critisism, advice etc etc all welcome.

Many thanks for your time


George Farmer

30 Jun 2007
Hi Andy and welcome to UKAPS!

Your plans sound good. I have a few comments.

How will you mount the lighting? In a hood?

Power Compacts get very hot, especially twin 55w.

Will you be using reflectors? I don't know of any available for PC T5 so you may have to modify T8 or HO T5 reflectors.

110w over your size tank (approx 90 l.) is a lot of light - over 4 watts per gal.

I recommend using just the one light for the majority of the photoperiod. You'll be able to grow the vast majority of plants with the one 55w PC T5.

One popular technique is running a midday burst i.e. only all the light on for a few hours in the middle of the photoperiod i.e. 4 hours 1x55w - 3 hours 2x55w - 3 hours 1x55w.

Also consider the Daylight Plus lamp over the Triplus. The Triplus has a purple hue that looks odd IMO. A mix would work well.

I recommend the Tetra substrate, rather than aquatic soil. I've used the Tetra stuff in a client's tank and it's very good, growing Amazon swords, crypts and lilies very well indeed - all greedy root feeders.

Don't skimp on filtration. Although the plants do most of the biological filtration, a good filter is necessary for water clarity and circulation. Flow is good in a planted tank, despite what you may have read elsewhere. I recommend an Eheim 2215 or 2026 Pro 2. The Tetratec EX 700 are good too and great value. I've just bought an EX 1200 for my 125 litre.

RO/tap mix is good. Most plants are unfussy. Fish can be though, as you know.

CO2 - a pressurzied system is a great idea. Your bubble rate will depend on how big the bubbles are (bubble counters vary), how much surface agitation there is and how much CO2 the plants use (relatively little compared with surface agitation).

Surface agitation is good too BTW, it helps prevent CO2 overdose through low O2. Check out my blog here - http://www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk/p ... blogid=116

Don't forget fertilisation of the water. This makes good reading - http://www.barrreport.com/estimative-in ... folks.html

I hope that helps and please feel free to ask any more questions.


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