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Things to avoid in your first tank?

ellena

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14 Apr 2009
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40
Hi, I'm just in the first stages of setting up my first planted tank and I'm trying to get the right advice first to avoid mistakes :)
So, are there any styles of scape or particular plants that aren't for beginners?
And any pitfalls you can help me avoid?
Thanks!
 

BINKSY1973

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13 Nov 2008
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Location
Oxford
ellena said:
I'm just in the first stages of setting up my first planted tank

If you tell us your tanks size., lighting and filtration people will be able to advise you a lot easier.

Cheers Gordon.
 

Nick16

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13 Aug 2008
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Surrey, UK
there is always stuff you need to know

1. its not all about light, co2 and ferts are massively important, you have to find the balance (unless you are going for a low tech set up with no co2, low light and no ferts)

2. Learning to grow the plants well is the best place to start. Rather than comming up with a master plan and then finding you cant actually get the plants to grow, reproduce or pearl. This is how many scapers started off and have since progressed to much dizzier heights. Dont jump in at the deep end and find you cant swim :D

3. I always think for newbies, chuking some cheap stems in (99p stuff from your LFS) will help in the first few weeks of tank set up, these are fast growers and will help to use up any excess ferts etc before the algae does.

4. Filtration and flow are very important, a 10x rule is often used in planted aquaria. E.G a 240L tank would need 2400LPH of filtration/flow. So get some good filters and add a koralia if need be.

5. read, read and read some more. It is the best thing you can do, especially from trusted sites like this, where people have hands on personal experiance.

6. Dont be afraid to ask some questions, we were all new once. :D

if there are any tips you need on more specific areas fire away. Everyone has their own tips and tricks and will hopefully share them for all to see/read.
 

ceg4048

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Nick16 said:
3. I always think for newbies, chuking some cheap stems in (99p stuff from your LFS) will help in the first few weeks of tank set up, these are fast growers and will help to use up any excess ferts etc before the algae does.
For the umpteen millionth time: Excess of nutrients can not cause algae. :silent:

Cheers,
 
Joined
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stroud, glos
ceg4048 said:
Nick16 said:
3. I always think for newbies, chuking some cheap stems in (99p stuff from your LFS) will help in the first few weeks of tank set up, these are fast growers and will help to use up any excess ferts etc before the algae does.
For the umpteen millionth time: Excess of nutrients can not cause algae. :silent:

Cheers,

substitute "ferts" for "ammonia", and the statement will be kinda right.
having cheap, fast growers to help through the initial stages can be a good thing.
 

ceg4048

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Agreed, but It's not just dealing with ammonia. Having a high density of fast growing plants creates more oxygenation (improving Redox Potential thus helping to neutralize the negative effects of organic waste) and facilitates a more rapid bacterial development, especially in the sediment. These bacterial colonies can then do a better job of nitrification. But all this doesn't happen by itself. The plants have to be properly fed to accomplish this, so you could actually do well to have excess nutrients, otherwise you'll just have a lot of starving plants in an unbalanced ecosystem which results in algae. That's why it's folly to think in terms of plants somehow "sucking up nutrients before algae can get to it", which is impossible anyway. I mean, good grief, algae spores are actually sitting on the surface of the plants. That's where they live. Nutrients have to actually pass by the algal spores BEFORE getting into the plant, so this notion is totally absurd. :wideyed:

A high plant density can cause an overload of organic waste so this has to be balanced by large, frequent water changes in the first few weeks. The only excesses that causes problems is excess light intensity and excess organic waste. We need to focus on having a high plant biomass, keeping the tank scrupulously clean, keeping nutrients and CO2 high, keeping the lighting low and keeping flow high. This is a much more cerebral, comprehensive and effective approach to plant husbandry than blindly succumbing to the Matrix induced hypnosis of nutrient paranoia. :thumbup:

Cheers,
 

chris1004

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27 Dec 2008
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565
Hi Ellana.

The first thing you need to do is decide what / how you are going to use CO2 if at all. From there you can assemble the other building blocks for you tanks configuration. Plants need CO2 in order to photosynthasize which is akin to breathing for us, it therefore must be your first consideration. Lighting would be your second cosideration and some plants need high levels to flourish while others do well with much lower lighting demands. Getting a good balance between co2 and lighting levels is paramount to success.

You have several options open to you, diy co2 fermentation, pressurised gas, liguid carbon or none at all and each will have specific light and fert requirements.

Optimum growth is achieved by high CO2 and high output lighting, normally from a pressurised canisters with a high initial startup costs of around £80- £100 or more. However this combination is also the one frought with most trouble to master initially but allows the user unlimited scope to attempt to grow whatever they choose.

Diy CO2 (about £15 startup cost) with mid range lighting can be a bit hit and miss but is used by many on small tanks such as the one you are setting up with great success. Achieving enough and stable CO2 is the main issue and it can be a messy affair.

For a tank of your size (27 litre) liquid carbon would cost less than £2 per month (flourish excel or easycarbo) with low to mid range lighting is an easier (and cleaner) option but can become costly on larger tanks. It has an added benifit of being a mild algacide but some plants like Vallis don't do very well with it, to be honest its probably the way I would go initially as a newbie with a tank of that size.

Some plants can be grown with low lighting and no co2 addition but will tend to grow much slower and your choice will be limited as to what you can grow but there is stil quite a few good hardy and attractive plants that you could choose from.

If you use high lighting on a tank with no co2 you will suffer from massive problems with algae (remeber the addage light+ammonia= algae). Thats probably the biggest mistake most newbies make and the one I made when I was new to this planted tank hobby. That and using phosphate removers as per misinformed popular advise...... :lol: :lol:

There are exceptions to the above guidelines so once you have decided which way you want to go foward then seek out the relevant information for those methods, and which plants you can grow with the level of lighting / method of carbon addition employed. Don't waste your time and effort worrying about ferts at this point as they are very very simple and cheap just a little tricky to get your head around initially.

Regards, Chris.
 

ellena

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14 Apr 2009
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Thank chris :) I'm still looking around and gathering advice about the best way to go. I think I've finally settled on a filter and heater, so just need to decide lights, CO2, substrate and plants now! :lol:
Liquid carbon is something I'm considering as I think it would be easy to avoid the plants that don't like it for my first go. Can you still go high lighting and grow most plants with liquid carbon?
 

chris1004

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27 Dec 2008
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Hi Ellana,

I do use seachems 'florurish excel' but I have never used it exclusivly as a source of carbon so it would probably be best to get advise from someone who does or search this forum for discussions on this subject of which there are many. I reckon a lot may have to do with what and how many fish you have in the tank aswell, I suspect that the higher doses of liquid carbon that you will need with higher lighting may irritate your fish. I could easily be wrong about that but someone with experience of this method will be able to put you right. Basically the higher your lighting the more carbon your plants will need, if you don't supply sufficient carbon for your lighting scheme you WILL suffer from outbreaks of algae thats a fact of life I'm affraid. Many plants have specific lighting requirements but with a couple of hundred species to choose from you will be able to grow some no matter what syatem you employ.

http://www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk/p ... blogid=234

Worth a read for starters, IMO.

Start first with deciding how you will give the plants the carbon that they need then find a balance from there i.e. lighting, which plant species are most suited, then finally (but just as importantly) a good robust ferting regime with the afformentioned parameters employed in mind.

Regards, Chris.
 

ellena

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Great link chris, thanks. And great to have an order to do things, helps to get it straight in my head :thumbup:
 

chris1004

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Hi Ellana

No problems, although I've kept fish for quite a long time this planted tank game was new to me a year or so ago so I know how confusing it can all get, but its really not all that bad if you take the logical step by step approach. There are some really great and knowledgable people on here and loads of info that you just need to search for. Its well worth spending the time to read the relevant articles in the tutorial section of this forum, you will find a lot of usefull information there.

Have you kept tanks at all before Ellana?

Regards, Chris.
 

ellena

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Not really Chris. I bought my first at Easter this year and fishless cycled it for 18 weeks (!) then for 6 endlers, 6 galaxy rasboras and 4 cherry shrimp for it. A couple of weeks ago I had a load of deaths which now seem to have stopped, thank goodness, but I only have the 6 endlers left. There's only 2 live plants in there-a java fern and a moss ball.
I also have a planted betta tank with a cat litter under sand substrate with amazon sword, wisteria, cabomba, elodea and a moss ball and a betta bowl with java fern, free floating elodea and amazon frogbit.
These are all really small tanks, and low tech so it's going to be a steep learning curve!
 

chris1004

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Hi Ellana,

Glad your fish deaths have stopped!!!

It seems to happen to most people when they are just starting out but with more experience you'll be fine I'm sure, overfeeding tends to be the biggest downfall of newbies. If I can be of any help please feel free to PM me for whatever reason, if i can help I will.

It can be quite daunting when starting out as there is a lot of technical info to absorb quite quickly (if your that way inclined) and if that ain't bad enough there is a lot of conflicting advise to sift through. Probably the biggest misnomer with planted tanks is that of phosphates and nutrients causing algae. A lot of the advise you will get from apparantly trusted sources including manufacturers and local fish stores (LFS) will have you believe that phosphate/nutrients cause algae. This simply isn't true and is a real bug bear to some on this website (quite rightly too) as Clive points out frequently in his eloquent and often humourous manner.

The thing is phosphates and nutrients will feed existing algae compounding an existing problem but won't cause algae in the first instance. Ammonia combined with lighting triggers the algae to bloom. Once you have algae the nutrients/phosphate will feed it just as it would any plant matter.

To be healthy plants need to feed and photosynthesize, which we normally supply via fertilizers often refered to as NPK which stands for nitrogen, phosphate and pottasium. Carbon and lighting supplying the demands of photosynthesis. If plants are unable to satify ALL their needs for these elements they become unhealthy and decay which causes ammonia which will then trigger algae spores which are constantly present in the water to bloom. They need smaller ammounts of other things too which we supply in a mixture called 'trace elements'.

This is why people who keep tanks without plants like to keep their phosphate and nitrates/nutrients as low as possible hense they don't feed any algae that appears in their plantless tanks which would compound their problem. This often leads to confusing and conflicting advise being dished out freely, even those who should know better i.e. the manufacturers, are lacking in this area.

To be honest I'm only really repeating what others have taught me through this website in the last year or so when it comes to plants and their requirements. What I can say though is that they are right as born out with the results of my own planted tank. Better to learn this quickly before your led astray by some well meaning but misinformed LFS assistant trying to sell you phosphate remover as what happened to me which ended up causing me problems and £20 out of pocket for the lesson.

If you can grasp the above the rest will fall into place relativly easily.

Also read this its not the only way to do things but it works and is soooo easy.

viewtopic.php?f=34&t=1211

Regards Chris.
 

ellena

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Thread starter
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Yep, it didn't take much reading through these forums to notice the 'excess nutrients don't cause algae' posts!
The fish deaths were a mystery. I only feed once a day and only a very small amount. I never saw the fish look ill, they just disappeared or I'd find bodies with no visible signs of anything wrong. The shrimp just appeared in wierd places (like on top of the filter!?) looking ready to eat, cooked and deshelled. this made me question the temp, but it was fine every time I checked.
I use the TTF forums too and from advice on there I dosed with a copper free general antibacterial med and that seems to have solved the problem. I had a bit of ammonia towards the end of the saga, but otherwise stats were all fine. No deaths for a week now, so fingers crossed.
Thanks for the link-I have bought some TPN+ to start off with, but I fully intend doing the EI dry powder thing as I work in a school science dept so have access to all the stuff required, and for free for the tiny amounts needed :)
 

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