My first attempt at a planted tank, help please

Discussion in 'General Planted Tank Discussions' started by blindcavefish, 2 Sep 2009.

  1. blindcavefish

    blindcavefish Newly Registered

    Firstly I should say that I have only been on this forum for a short while and already I can see what a huge help it is going to be. The depth of knowledge and understanding on this forum is outstanding. Well done you lot!

    I used to work in a LSF some years ago, but I only dealt with fish and knew nothing much of planted tanks. I currently have a small 70 l tank but I am weeks away from moving to my new house where I will have a lot more space. I was always going to upgrade and buy a much bigger tank, but now I feel ready and inspired to try for a modest planted tank.

    This is what I want to achieve:

    I want a large fish tank with A LOT of healthy plants inside so that it looks as natural as possible. I do not want to use a canister CO2 kit, nor do I want to make my own using a Fire Extinguisher. This is because I haven’t got the time to deal with plants growing like crazy and I doubt I would be able to keep up with the demands of the tank. Also, those canisters scare the hell out of me! Sorry to sound like a douche bag, I just don’t want to use canisters or fermentation come to think of it.

    So basically I don’t want to become an award winning aquascapist over night. I just want a good healthy looking tank with lots of lush green plants that don’t die, but grow nice and strong.

    This is the plan, will it work?

    I am either going to buy a Juwel Vision 260 or a Juwel Vision 450.

    Thankfully this isn’t down to space or money, I just haven’t decided if I will be taking on too much if I went with the 450 litre tank. However, if I went with the 260 litre tank, would I just regret not getting a larger tank when I had the chance?

    I am going to use an 80/20 mix of eco-complete with very small gravel as a substrate. Will that work?

    The Juwel tanks that I mentioned above have T5 lighting at 2 x 54w. Will that be enough light for what I want?

    Instead of using a CO2 canister I would use a liquid carbon on a daily basis such as Easylife Easycarbo. As long as I stuck to the correct daily amount for a tank my size, would that be okay?

    Could I then get away with using Easy Life Profito as my only fert or would I need to use root tabs and other individual chemical additives?

    Will that work for me, or am I missing something?

    As you can probably tell, I want a set up that will get a good looking tank, but I’m not trying to be the new Mr Amano. My set up needs to be relatively easy and not too time demanding. When I read the threads and blogs of the planted set ups that some of you guys have done, I have nothing but admiration for you. However, I know that I don’t have the time or inclination to go through with something like that. Maybe if I start off like this I will eventually be able to move on and take the hobby more seriously.

    Thanks for any replies in advance!
  2. Vito

    Vito Member

    Watford, Hertfordshire
    Sounds to me like your after a low maintanance setup and I know many of the scapers on here have some threads posted in the journals section of the forum which will probably give you alot of guidance. I think the key is probably picking the correct plants that will tollorate your parameters and you should be alright.
    Good luck mate.
  3. CeeJay

    CeeJay Member

    Surrey UK
    Hi blindcavefish
    As Vito says you are after a low maintenance low tech set up.
    You will still be able to grow healthy plants in this set up, they just won't grow as fast, but that's what you're after anyway.
    Yes it will :D . You'll be surprised what some people grow their plants in. Check out the substrate section of this forum to give you an idea.
    More than enough :D . The plants will adapt to whatever light you give them. Just get the ferts right.
    That would be OK, but boy it will cost you a fortune on a tank that size. Why not consider no Easycarbo at all. I have 2 low tech tanks with no additional Carbon source and all they get is ferts once a week and filter cleaned once a month. Plants are nice and healthy too :D. The plants will adapt to the low carbon environment but you have to remember, no water changes. Yes none :wideyed: . My low techs have been set up for 6 months now and I haven't changed the water once. Plants and fish are just fine.
    If you stick with Anubias, Crypts and Swords to start with, of which there are plenty to choose from, you can easily have a tank full of slow growing, healthy, lush looking plants and low maintenance into the bargain. Can't be bad :D .
    Hope this helps. Any other queries just holler ;)

  4. Mark Evans

    Mark Evans Expert

    newark notts.
    i mentioned this somewhere else, but IMO 2 x 54wtd over a 260 will require good co2.
  5. blindcavefish

    blindcavefish Newly Registered

    Great replies, thanks.

    I'm going to do more research and look into what you have suggested and then pick your brains once more.

    Thanks again :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:
  6. blindcavefish

    blindcavefish Newly Registered

    Okay, so let me get this straight...

    Because the lights in my set up will be very powerful the plants will require a lot more CO2 to grow properly.

    If I were to use easycarbo, I would need to use more than the recommended dosage, thus costing me a lot of money.

    So, if I want my plants to grow in a Juwel 260 or 450 with T5 lighting, I have to use a CO2 canister.

    If I went for a canister set up I really wouldn't want a FE set up, it scares the hell out of me and I'd rather just by a modest kit. Would either of these do for a 260 or 450l tank with T5's? ... f=shopping ... 6558.html#

    There is £65 difference, is it worth the extra £65 for the more expensive one?

    In all honesty using this type of equipment baffles me and it is really what I wanted to try and avoid. But from reading a lot of what you have written, maybe I could give it a good go, as long as I put a bit of time and effort in.

    What would happen to the plants (and my tank in general) if I added no CO2, did very few water changes, just added off the shelf ferts but stuck to low maintenance easy growing plants?

    Thanks again, I’m sure you get newbies like me asking all the same questions. I am reading as much as I can in between posting.
  7. CeeJay

    CeeJay Member

    Surrey UK
    Hi blindcavefish
    I agree with saintlys' statement that 2x54w T5's over a 260 litre would be asking for trouble without CO2.
    However, if you really are after a low tech setup how about considering lowering the lighting by removing one tube. Not sure if the Juwel ballasts work with one tube out though, better check that out. Also a shorter lighting period will help.
    What saintly is getting at is that light drives the whole process, the more light you have, the more of everything else you need, namely ferts and CO2. If you reduce the lighting, you reduce the demand for nutrients which is how we can get away with no CO2 on our low tech setups and the plants adapt accordingly.
    If you adopted the lower light approach your tank would be fine.

    Just for your info. It may seem odd to you at the moment that we do very few water changes on the low tech setups. It goes against everything we were taught about fishkeeping in years gone by, but there is good reason for this. The reason is this. Your plants usually take 3-4 weeks to adapt to their low CO2 environment. Tap water contains some CO2. So once a month you come along with your buckets and hoses and do a water change. You have now raised the CO2 level in the tank and your plants now try and adapt to the higher CO2 levels. When this CO2 gets low after a day or two, the plants then have to readapt to the low CO2 environment again. This uses up the plants valuable energy adapting up and down instead of growing, and the plants suffer. Water changes once or twice a year is more than enough.
    As I stated previously, I only add ferts once a week and clean filter once a month. What I forgot to add is I only have about 1 watt per US gallon T8, and I only have my lights on for 6 hours (evening viewing) a day and no Easycarbo.
    How simple is that.
    Plants are slow growing but healthy. The fish don't care about the lighting. But your biggest bonus is healthy plants and low light = no algae :D but try and add all your plants at the beginning.
    So if you really don't want CO2 there are ways round it. Lighting is the key.
    Hope this helps.

  8. blindcavefish

    blindcavefish Newly Registered

    Thank you for all the replies. You have been very helpful and I really appreciate all the time you have given to me some so that I have some insight into this great hobby.

    It would seem that there are some differing opinions on what I need and should do. However, there does seem do bit a bit of a consensus that if I went for the 450 litre tank, as opposed to the 260 litre tank, things might be a little easier.

    From what I have read I may not even need additional CO2 in a 450 litre tank with 2 x 54 watt lighting. I guess I could use the easycarbo if things weren’t going so well?

    I will use the eco-complete substrate and the high lighting in the big tank and hopefully things will work out. I will also use some floating plants and only put the lights on for 7 hours a day to moderate the light output.

    I am actually really looking forward to seeing what works and what doesn’t. I know it could end up costing me a pretty penny, but half the fun is having a try and finding out what works for yourself.

    As I said before, I’m not looking to become an award winning aquascapist, I just want a tank with lots of lush green plants that don’t die on me.

    As soon as I’m up and running I’ll post some pics. In the meantime I’ve got a lot of reading to do!

    Thanks again so much.


    I’ve decided to have a mini go at my 70 litre tank. I’ve just ordered some java moss, a brighter 24 watt tube (the current one is 15 watt) and a small bottle of easycarbo. Hopefully this give me some useful experience.

    What other less demanding plants could I order for the 70 litre tank bearing in mind I will only have a 24 watt light, normal natural gravel that’s been in there for years and will only be adding CO2 by means of the easycarbo?
  9. CeeJay

    CeeJay Member

    Surrey UK
    Hi blindcavefish
    Just remember, Confucious say: A fool learns by his mistakes, a wise man learns from the mistakes of others :lol: That's what we're here for, to promote the hobby.
    Just don't go reinventing the wheel. You've started in the right place (here), for sound advice and I know you've got a lot of reading to do (I know I did when I started), so that should keep you occupied for a while. Took me weeks to read all the old posts :lol: .
    In my low techs I have got Swords and a humungous Crypt in a 60 litre and in my 95 litre I have Swords, Vallis and some Anubias (along with some cuttings that came from my hi tech set up of various plants that I wouldn't recommend to begin with).
    Stick with Swords, Crypts and Anubias for now and you won't go far wrong :D and on the 70 litre I wouldn't even bother with the Easycarbo. Even less expense ;) .
    There are lots of different leaf forms, heights and colours in the Crypt family to keep you more than occupied. There are also different leaf forms in the Anubia family too. One tip about Anubias though, do not cover the rhizome in the substrate or the rhizome will rot. I tie mine to wood and rocks (some people have been known to use superglue) and they have eventually attached themselves.
    Good luck and keep us posted on your progress. Always interested to see what others are doing.


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