Novice Looking For Advice - On a tight budget

jwrage

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9 Jul 2008
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Hi all,
I have a pearl 60 bowfront aquarium which I am hoping to turn into a dedicated planted tank. I've looked at some of the photos on this site and others and hope that I can get a tank looking that great.

The Stats
Tank Volume 45L
26cm high, 60cm long, 23cm wide.
1 Light which came with the tank = Phillips TL-D- 15w / 54-765

I examined the light fitting and it looks to me as though it could fit another light as there seems to be two unused 'caps' behind the plastic shield the light sits behind.

Questions:
1. Substrate
I've done lots of research into this tank, I wanna get it just right but also not spend a fortune. I was looking at 'aquagrit' and perhaps mixing it with aquatic compost or 'ferka base'; and then top this with the pea gravel that is currently in the tank.

2. Lighting
I don't think my current lighting is sufficient, I want to be able to grow anything up to medium-high light plants(is this to ambitious?). Ideally I'd like to be able to grow any plant that takes my fancy, I don't want my setup to be it's limiting factor. How would I go about upgrading lighting? How cheap can I do it? Does anybody have a Pearl 60 and have they succesfully upgraded/ is there room for two bulbs in the hood or am I looking at the wrong thing.

3. CO2
I'm thinking of going for DIY CO2, (nice and cheap). However does it actually work? How do I measure the CO2 in my tank? Would a JBL Permenent CO2 Test Kit be needed?

4. Fertilisers
What should I dose? How difficult is it mixing up my own? I read a guide on this site(I think) about making your own ferts but it did look kinda complicated.

Sorry for my noob questions, I have searched and researched for a while now, but I wanna make sure I get everything 100% right so as not to waste my time/money.

Thanks
James
 

Dan Crawford

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jwrage said:
1. Substrate
I've done lots of research into this tank, I wanna get it just right but also not spend a fortune. I was looking at 'aquagrit' and perhaps mixing it with aquatic compost or 'ferka base'; and then top this with the pea gravel that is currently in the tank.
If you add the cost of 3 substrates and their efficiency then your money would be much better spent on ADA Aqua Soil, it looks expensive but if you add it all up you'll probably pay the same as you were gonna pay for an inferior substrate. Tropica topped with 2-3mm gravel also works very very well but again i think once youve bought the Tropica stuff and then the gravel it's almost as expensive as AS. On a little tank like yours i would defo be going down the AS route but its your choice. :D
jwrage said:
2. Lighting
I don't think my current lighting is sufficient, I want to be able to grow anything up to medium-high light plants(is this to ambitious?). Ideally I'd like to be able to grow any plant that takes my fancy, I don't want my setup to be it's limiting factor. How would I go about upgrading lighting? How cheap can I do it? Does anybody have a Pearl 60 and have they succesfully upgraded/ is there room for two bulbs in the hood or am I looking at the wrong thing.

Yeah, this is a bit too low. if you can upgrade the existing lighting then great! I'm guessing the tubes are T8 ie. almost an inch wide as opposed to T5s which are half inch? T5s are better but you may get away with 2 T8s proviing the ferts and CO2 are balanced correctly.
jwrage said:
3. CO2
I'm thinking of going for DIY CO2, (nice and cheap). However does it actually work? How do I measure the CO2 in my tank? Would a JBL Permenent CO2 Test Kit be needed?

I wouldn't bother with yeast, grab a regulator from the link below and i sell Fire Extinguishers for £15, last way longer, more efficient and much much better source of CO2.
Refer to the dropchecker article and read up on how to measure CO2 http://www.ukaps.org/drop-checker.htm

jwrage said:
4. Fertilisers
What should I dose? How difficult is it mixing up my own? I read a guide on this site(I think) about making your own ferts but it did look kinda complicated.

Mixing your own ferts isn't as hard as it looks but you may be better to just but Tropica Plant Nutrition Plus from AE as the links below and once youve got everything together in your head and running well then maybe make the change to dry ferts.

I wrote this post below for someone else, it lists the stuff you'll need to grow pretty demanding plants.


Here's a list of what you may need based on a wish to grow carpeting plants.

dan crawford said:
CO2 there are lots of different methods but i'd suggest you build yourself a system, it's cheaper it's really easy.
2kg fire extinguisher - viewtopic.php?f=23&t=1553
regulator and solanoid - http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/CO2-Regulator-Ele ... dZViewItem
CO2 tube http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Rhinox-Co2-Tubing ... m153.l1262
diffuser - http://www.thegreenmachineaquatics.com/ ... dID=246391
one way check valve & bubble counter - http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Gamba-XII-Japanes ... m153.l1262
drop checker - http://www.thegreenmachineaquatics.com/ ... dID=246393

substrate fertaliser
Tropica aquacare substrate since you already have gravel (it's a base layer and then capped with your gravel)
http://www.thegreenmachineaquatics.com/ ... dID=224626

Water column fertaliser
Tropica Plant Nutrition Plus & Easylife Carbo http://www.thegreenmachineaquatics.com/ ... dID=224628
http://www.aquaessentials.co.uk/index.p ... ts_id=1715

You may want to dose EI, check out this article. http://www.ukaps.org/EI.htm

Good quality plants ie. tropica. http://www.thegreenmachineaquatics.com/ ... me=Tropica

I hope this helps. :D
 

Dacious

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Hi jwrage,

I too am in your position and set up my tank with as little as possible as I don't have too much money and given the current economical current, well.....

Anyway here is what I did:

For substrate I used Red Sea Flora Base, it is a complete substrate that requires no work done to it i.e. just add straight to the tank and you will not need any other substrate to mix with it. Given the size of your tank I think one bag should do the trick and you will probably use less than a bag anyway. (RRP £23.99) This is costly but definitely worth the intial outlay.

I concur with Dan that the lighting is quite low to grow the more demanding plants, especially if you are planning to use CO2 and fertilise in the substrate and in the water column. If the lighting level is not sufficient it will cause algae because you are dosing everything else. Sadly I have no idea how you can upgrade with the model you have.

Regarding the CO2, I use a homemade yeast system and it really does work. It won't be particularly difficult as your tank is small. My homemade CO2 is sufficient for my 125L tank so your should be no problem if you decide to go down this route. I agree with Dan that fire extinguisher is much better in every sense but on a low budget like me there is only one choice.

For fertiliser I dose dry ferts. as this is very much cheaper than buying it ready made, not only do you have better control but ml for ml it is more cost-effective. If you are unsure (as I was) then start with Tropica fertiliser and once more confident consider dry ferts.

I am not saying that the way I have done things is better (far from it!), it is simply what has worked for me. I too am on a tight budget so I can sympathise! O and if you can get cuttings instead of buying plants the better as this will save you money too, I tried to buy as little as possible as paying up to £8-9 for a plant wasn't an option!!!

Hope this helps and good luck!!!
 

jwrage

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Thanks for your great replies. I'm gonna read through the links, and plan out exactly what I'm going to buy.
I think I will go for the more expensive stuff aquasoil or flora base, because hopefully it'll be worth it in the long run.
 

jwrage

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I'm not to sure about making my own CO2 system, I can't see my parents going for the idea. I think I'll try a DIY Yeast based system or perhaps the CO2 Optimat. Have any of you had experiences with that?

Thanks
James
 

Dan Crawford

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That Optimat is good mate. I used it on a 60 x 30 x 30 for ages and it works well IME. gotta be religious about filling it up in the morning and after work depending on how much is in the cylinder, you'll figure it out. I used to fill it up in the morning with no lights on then half fill it after work, it's way better than yeast IME, i'd forgotten all about it or i would have suggested it :rolleyes:
 
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I agree it does work well, it's all too easy to forget to fill it! replacement canisters are about a fiver, last a good amount of time(esp if you forget to use it :lol: )
 
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Dan Crawford said:
I used to fill it up in the morning with no lights on then half fill it after work, it's way better than yeast IME, i'd forgotten all about it or i would have suggested it

I think the design has changed now though and it can only be completely filled. I might be wrong though :D
 

jwrage

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Nice ;) Thats a real inspiration that I dont need to spend loads to have a great looking tank!

I'm currently confusing myself about installing the lighting. I'm sure it can't be that hard, but I'm having trouble finding twin lighting units that accept a lamp that are 44cm long.
 

Dacious

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I'm sorry I can't help you there as I'm not the most technical of people. Do you have to have the hood on? If not you could invest in a luminaire(?)
 

jwrage

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Yeah there is a hood. I've got some old fish tanks/equipment in the shed. I'm contemplating selling it all and buying something particularly fancy.
 

aaronnorth

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Here is my view, sorry if it has been mentioned already :D

1. Substrate
I've done lots of research into this tank, I wanna get it just right but also not spend a fortune. I was looking at 'aquagrit' and perhaps mixing it with aquatic compost or 'ferka base'; and then top this with the pea gravel that is currently in the tank.

Akadama, check this thread out:

viewtopic.php?f=17&t=741

2. Lighting
I don't think my current lighting is sufficient, I want to be able to grow anything up to medium-high light plants(is this to ambitious?). Ideally I'd like to be able to grow any plant that takes my fancy, I don't want my setup to be it's limiting factor. How would I go about upgrading lighting? How cheap can I do it? Does anybody have a Pearl 60 and have they succesfully upgraded/ is there room for two bulbs in the hood or am I looking at the wrong thing.

i fitted a 36w PC T5 in my 60l hood, the bulb and convertagar cost me £30. There is cheaper options out there, i bet you could get one for <£20

filter001.jpg

DSC00256.jpg

filter002.jpg


3. CO2
I'm thinking of going for DIY CO2, (nice and cheap). However does it actually work? How do I measure the CO2 in my tank? Would a JBL Permenent CO2 Test Kit be needed?

I used it for quite a bit but i got fed up of the maintenance required. I had 2 bottles, changed one midweek and the other at the weekend for a steady CO2 output.
Measure it with a drop checker for constantt results, here is a cheap one and is perfect:

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Co2-Drop-Checker- ... .m14.l1318

4. Fertilisers
What should I dose? How difficult is it mixing up my own? I read a guide on this site(I think) about making your own ferts but it did look kinda complicated.

I have never done it but i suppose once you get into it, it is simple, like everything else, you can get cheap weighning scales of ebay that do 0.1g for about £6 - £8
 

Dan Crawford

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Thats a nice idea. I'm not too sure on growing bamboo in the aquarium, i think it is more of a marsh plant so just the roots want to be submerged, if the whole stem is under water i suspect it would rott, not too sure though. Bamboo poles for the garden would work well although they are incredibly boyant!

Im not too sure on the budha's safety.
 

Dacious

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Dan Crawford said:
i think it is more of a marsh plant so just the roots want to be submerged, if the whole stem is under water i suspect it would rott

Dan is right, you can use bamboo as long as the roots are in the water and the leaves are out (although it is not a marsh plant). The best bamboo to use are the ones found in ikea or florists (i.e. the individual thick stem variety in ikea for around 70-80p each).

I have seen this done before similar to a mangrove plant in a brackish/marine tank and it worked fine.

I'm not sure how you would go about testing the statue but if it is carved from an inert stone then I think it would be ok.
 

Ed Seeley

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Dacious said:
I'm not sure how you would go about testing the statue but if it is carved from an inert stone then I think it would be ok.

Stick it in some RO water and then test the water for GH, KH and pH after a day or so. If it's a little concrete ornament then it will have raised all three pretty rapidly IME. If it is releasing lots into the water then you may be able to seal it with a concrete sealing clear paint or varnish, but it will change the way the look. Or soak it repeatedly for a few weeks to lessen the effect.
 

LondonDragon

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