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Plant stocking options

Discussion in 'Plants Index' started by TheVeilTaleAngelMaster, Dec 21, 2018.

  1. TheVeilTaleAngelMaster

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    Hello, I have a 55 gal tank with gravel and only fake plants. So I have no experience with live plants. I was wanting some to fill in and create more hiding places for fish. What plants would you suggest i also will not be doing co 2 and I'm not sure yet about fertilizer. Anything will help . thanks

     
  2. Byron

    Byron Member

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    Welcome to TYFF. :hi:

    The first thing we/you need to know is the data on your tank lighting. There are plants that do well with low to moderate lighting, and those that must have more intense lighting. The spectrum is also important. Any data you can give us on your present lighting will help.

    CO2 is not needed at all unless you intend an aquatic garden high-tech planted tank. That doesn't sound like what you're after, and "natural" planted tanks are easy to manage provided the selected plants will work with your lighting. Other fertilizers may or may not be needed, again depending upon the light and plant species. Generally speaking, faster-growing plants need brighter light and more nutrients in balance, while slower-growing species require less of both.

    The tank dimensions are also important, as height obviously affects light penetration.
     
  3. TheVeilTaleAngelMaster

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    Thanks for replying, my dimensions are 27 in tall 4ft wide and 1 foot deep. I will get lighting in a second.
     
  4. TheVeilTaleAngelMaster

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    I'm not sure what's necessary but its a 48 in deluxe florescent aquarium reflector . 120v , 40w and 60 hz.
     
  5. Byron

    Byron Member

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    I assume this is T8, not T5, with a 40w 48-inch tube. This is standard. This we can consider low to moderate lighting, depending upon the tube. The absolute best you can have here is a Hagen Life-Glo which is 6700K (48-inch T8 is 32 watts, again standard). These are available from some fish stores or online, and are expensive (compared to most other tubes). If this is too expensive, you can use a Sylvannia or Phillips T8 48-inch Daylight at 6500K available from hardware and home improvement stores like Home Depot. I have two of the Phillips over my 4-foot and 5-foot tanks, and that is just moderate lighting.

    T8 tubes come in a given wattage depending upon the tube length and manufacture so there is no higher wattage unless you have longer tubes. You cannot add intensity unless you add more tubes, but within the individual tubes there is some difference in intensity. The Life-Glo is a more intense light because of the phosphors, so it would be my suggestion. It is without question the best T8 lighting for a planted tank. The spectrum is very good, and scientifically-controlled studies have shown better plant growth with light in this spectrum.

    Beyond that, even with the one tube you will have success if you stay with low-light requiring plants. Amazon sword plants usually work, and the pygmy chain swords can bee a nice substrate cover though not a "carpet." Java Fern, Java Moss and Anubias, all of which attach to wood or rock, are low light. Crypts can sometimes work, but these tend to be very fussy plants and sometimes they will grow, sometimes not, under this low light. I would forget any stem plants because these are fast-growing and thus high light requiring. One fast growing plant group that will work and is advisable are floating plants. Water Sprite is the best of these. Obviously floating plants will further reduce light getting down, but keeping them thinned out should still work.

    Another option here is to go with floating plants alone, and no lower plants, but instead lots of wood chunks and branches, and some dried leaves on the substrate. This is a very natural habitat for most forest fish, and they will show brighter colouration with the more dimly-lit tank.
     
  6. TheVeilTaleAngelMaster

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    Thanks for all the great info. One last question, do I need anything like fertilizer to grow the plants you mentioned?
     
  7. Byron

    Byron Member

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    Depends. The feeding of the fish creates organics in the substrate and these provide CO2 and other nutrients for plants. Floating plants have the aerial advantage and are able to assimilate CO2 from the air which is faster. The light here is not bright, so that means the light/nutrient balance will be lower. But floating plants do like more food, being fast growing, so a liquid comprehensive supplement might be advisable.

    Sword plants, the larger ones, are heavy feeders and this is best supplied with substrate tabs. Liquid fertilizer can be used too and will help, but the substrate tabs make a real difference in the health of the plants.

    I use Flouriish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planted Aquarium, and in the tanks with swords I use Flourish Tabs; one next to a large sword plant, replaced every 3-4 months.

    The GH is also important, as this is the prime source of the "hard" minerals calcium and magnesium.
     
  8. TheVeilTaleAngelMaster

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    That really help:) :) thanks a lot!!
     
  9. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    Your tank is 27 inches high and will require quite a bit of light if you want the plants on the bottom to do well. One fluorescent globe might be sufficient for some plants growing in the substrate, and it will be fine for floating plants, but most plants will want more light. On my plant tank that was 4ft long x 2ft wide x 2ft high (24inches high so not as tall as your tank), I had 6 x 4 ft long T8 fluorescent globes, and each globe was 36 watts (a total of 216 watts). Fluorescent globes produce less light over time and should be replaced every 12 months. The lights were on timers and one came on, then 30 minutes later another came on, and so on until they were all on. All 6 globes were on for about 10 hours per day before they started turning off 1 at a time. They got fertiliser and had clay mixed in with the gravel. I did not add CO2. The plants did pretty well.

    Because your tank is so high, you might be better off looking at LED spotlights, available from hardware or lighting stores. You can hang them about 8-12 inches above the tank and they should have sufficient light to get to the bottom. If you just want floating plants then stay with the single fluoro that you have but if you want lots of plants growing on the bottom, then look at 150-250 watt LED spotlights. You would need 2 of them hanging above the tank.

    To see if they are going to produce sufficient light, turn them on and put your hand just underneath the surface of the water. If there is a good shadow of your hand on the bottom, there is plenty of light. If there is no shadow then the light is very low.

    Look for light globes that have a 6500K rating. They are usually the cheapest and closest to natural sunlight.

    ------------------------
    Some good plants to try include Ambulia, most Hygrophila species but H. polysperma & H. ruba/ rubra being the best ones, Elodia/ Hydrilla, Ludwigia species, common Amazon sword plants, narrow Vallis and Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides/ cornuta).

    The water sprite is a floating plant that can also be grown in the substrate. The other plants should be planted in the substrate.
     
  10. NickAu

    NickAu Member
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  11. TheVeilTaleAngelMaster

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    Ok, thanks for the tips!:):)
     
  12. Vorpal

    Vorpal Fish Fanatic

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    I tend to just buy three or so different plants, and see which ones do well, then get more of those. It does take a little experimenting. Besides lighting, the amount of natural light, and the type of fish can influence which plants thrive. Something like a sagittaria that grows fairly quickly & spreads by runners is easy to grow in low light, and relatively hard for beginners to kill :)
     
  13. TheVeilTaleAngelMaster

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    OK thanks I'll do that.
     
  14. Stan510

    Stan510 New Member

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    Well,light is the most important part of growing aquarium plants. One 40 watt fluorescent will not due at all. Double is the least. It depends on budget also. You could use that one 40 watt grow bulb that brings out fish and plants colors and use a $20 LED shoplight 4' and 30 watts behind it. The combination should work well.
    Fluval makes the best light I've seen if money isn't that big a deal for about $160 for a 4' bulb that's plenty for the 55-60 gallon you have I would think.
     

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