Need Some Advice.

Byron

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Shabba82 said:
http://www.scottishwater.co.uk/~/media/Domestic/Files/You%20and%20Your%20Home/Water%20Quality/ScottishWaterHardnessData.ashx
According to Scottish Water, I enter my postcode, the nearest site is Blairlinnans North. Soft Water.
 
Yes, very soft.  Not a real problem, I have slightly softer water still, but it is important that we recognize this as there are some plants that will have issues, but many will be fine.
 
This does cause trouble for your livebearers though, the mollies and swordtails.  They will have very serious problems long-term.  Unless you are adding mineral to the tank, via calcareous rock/sand/gravel or something.
 
All of the other fish will be very happy in this water.
 
Now to the lighting, from post #15.  Both tubes, Aqua-Glo and Power-Glo, are high in the blue and red (the colours that drive photosynthesis in plants) and with two tubes over this sized tank, no issues here respecting intensity.  However, you could improve things by using a Life-Glo tube as one or both.  Life-Glo has high red and blue but also green; this has been shown to improve the response of plants, plus it gives a truer rendition of colours.  You need to replace T8 tubes every 12-16 months (meaning, before they actually give out) because they lose a lot of intensity as they burn, and past 12 or so months they are getting quite weak.  You might consider the Life-Glo as one with say the Aqua-Glo.
 
So, having dealt with the light and determined the GH, we are left with the type of plants you had.  As you need to acquire new plants, I would suggest you consider swords: the chain swords provide a nice substrate plant, and one of the larger Amazon swords would make a nice specimen plant.  Stem plants like Ludwigia, pennywort, Wisteria should be OK.  You will need to use fertilizer though, as these are fast growing and thus need nutrients beyond what the fish will provide.
 
Byron.
 

Akasha72

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I have very soft water too. In case it helps here's a plant list from my tank(s) past and present
 
Amazon swords
Echinodorus 'ozelot'
Cryptocoryne (I've had a few different one's but all have done well once established)
Altnanthera
Hygrophila
Java fern
Java moss
Anubias (all types do well)
Cabomba (check out the red variety, it's beautiful)
Elodea
lilaopsis
Tigar lotus 
 
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Shabba82

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Ok Many Thanks For Your Assistance.

So bout the lighting.
I want the best lighting, cost doesn't matter, but I was looking at the different types of bulbs and as stated the life-glo seems the best. But due to the tank size am I limited by choice and wattage, can my hood only take 20W bulbs.

I also have black gravel, which I purchased a few mths ago, but it looks untidy and it I think, some gold substrate would be good, would u recommend sand as an option, do I need a special type and what is the best one I could buy. Thanks.
 

Akasha72

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I'll leave the lighting question for Byron as he's better for understanding these things
 
Regarding the substrate, if you want to change to sand the best bet is to go to Argos and buy a bag of childrens play sand - it's around £3 per bag. You'll need to wash it well though as the last bag I got was quite dirty.
The best way to wash is is to 3/4 fill a bucket with sand and start running water into it ... once the thick of the muck has washed away you can go in with your hand and start stirring it round - any fine bits of muck will come to the surface and you can pour this away. Keep going until the water runs clear then dump the cleaned sand in a seperate container and move on to the next bucket full of sand! It'll probably take you a couple of hours to clean it all but you'll thank yourself when you go to put it in the tank. If you don't clean it well you'll be looking at a dirty brown tank for weeks!!
 
You can buy proper aquiarium sand but it's more expensive and you won't get away with not cleaning that either! It can be just as dirty as playsand. 
 
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Shabba82

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I'm thinking the sand won't hold onto the waste and leftover food, as it tends to get stuck in the gravel and I have to stir it a few times to get the stuff out.

Also has anyone else ever used the python no spill kits?
 

chrisdenyer

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Akasha72 said:
I'll leave the lighting question for Byron as he's better for understanding these things
 
Regarding the substrate, if you want to change to sand the best bet is to go to Argos and buy a bag of childrens play sand - it's around £3 per bag. You'll need to wash it well though as the last bag I got was quite dirty.
The best way to wash is is to 3/4 fill a bucket with sand and start running water into it ... once the thick of the muck has washed away you can go in with your hand and start stirring it round - any fine bits of muck will come to the surface and you can pour this away. Keep going until the water runs clear then dump the cleaned sand in a seperate container and move on to the next bucket full of sand! It'll probably take you a couple of hours to clean it all but you'll thank yourself when you go to put it in the tank. If you don't clean it well you'll be looking at a dirty brown tank for weeks!!
 
You can buy proper aquiarium sand but it's more expensive and you won't get away with not cleaning that either! It can be just as dirty as playsand. 
 
 
I second Akasha72, I wasted £20 on aquarium sand for my first tank before I cottoned on to using play sand! It's actually much easier to clean than it sounds. I've got a 20L bucket that can take it all at once, stick e garden hose in it and I've got it crystal clear in about 20 minutes! Let it fill almost to the top (you get all this hideous scum coming off) and then tip out the water, slowly so you don't tip all the sand away (you'll always lose a little) and you'll see all the dust pouring off, then keep repeating this, using the hose nozzle to stir it up a bit when you're filling it, until the water running off looks clear. If you have the hose underwater as you're filling the bucket you can see each time the water stays clearer, and it's quite cool watching the sand dance around! I've never had even slightly cloudy water once I've added it to the tank. Actually I say 20 mins, but that's just when I'm doing top-ups (you always lose a bit of sand with your weekly maintenance), I forget how long it took for the first time, but it wasn't too bad - never more than an hour! 
 
Sand is awesome. It's easier to siphon everything up off of it, even if you do end up taking some sand as well, and all my fish seem to love it! They all nose around in it, sucking it in and blowing it back out on the hunt for nibbles. It's easier for the plants to take root in too, I think. When I've used gravel it's always been harder to keep them alive, all my tanks are planted but I don't know anything about the plants! Some thrive, some don't, some get eaten, some lose a lot of leaves but then perk up again...I'm also stuck with pets at home most of the time, I've had quite a few plants from there do well though. I'd much rather buy plants from them than fish, they always look half dead - I rely on friends who drive to get me to the nearest garden centre for fish! Not sure what I'd do otherwise :/ Unfortunately I have no idea what they are so I can't help you, plus I'm in South England with liquid rock so it might not be useful anyway ;-) I've personally never tried CO2 or fertiliser, although I'm considering it now I've added considerably more foliage...I suppose if your tank is still pretty new some fertiliser would help. I don't think I had any plants start growing until about two months in.
 
I know a little more about my last lot of plants thanks to Byron - he seems to know pretty much anything you'd ever need to know!
 

Byron

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So bout the lighting. 
I want the best lighting, cost doesn't matter, but I was looking at the different types of bulbs and as stated the life-glo seems the best. But due to the tank size am I limited by choice and wattage, can my hood only take 20W bulbs.
 
 
With fluorescent tube lighting, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.  First, you have T8 so only T8 tubes will work (there are T5, T12, some others, these won't work).  The Hagen "Glo" series comes in T8 and T5, make sure you always buy T8.
 
Second is the wattage.  In T8 fluorescent the length of the tube comes in a basic wattage.  For example, 24-inch tubes (which you have) will be 20 watts, or close to this.  The way a tube is made can vary the watts a bit; for instance, some manufacturers are now producing 17w T8 24-inch tubes rather than 20w, but they are the same thing.  Depending upon the manufacturer, the wattage will be somewhere around this.  So the Hagen Life-Glo 24-inch T8 is 20w, and that is it.  The 30-inch tube would be 25w, and so forth.
 
But here we come to the way the tube is manufactured, meaning the phosphors inside that produce the light.  This can vary a lot, even though the various tubes will still be 17w/20w, and the same length.  The Life-Glo produces more light intensity than the Aqua-Glo.  And the Power-Glo more again.  But there is also the spectrum, the colours that make up the light.  The Life-Glo is closest to mid-day sun, so it gives the truest rendition of colours of plants, fish and objects in the aquarium.  The Power-Glo being high in the red and blue gives off a purplish hue.  The Aqua-Glo is a bit different.  The Sun-Glo is closer to the Life-Glo, but warmer.
 
IF this were me, I would use one Life-Glo and one Sun-Glo.  Or perhaps one Life-Glo and one Aqua-Glo, or one Life-Glo and one Power-Glo.  I have used these tubes on their own, but not combined (my smaller tanks have a single T8 tube over them), and each combination will give a different hue to the tank.  If you get one Life-Glo, you can try it with the Aqua-Glo and then the Power-Glo to see what you think.  With the Life-Glo, your light will be basically good, as this tube is without question one of the best for aquatic plants.
 
I also have black gravel, which I purchased a few mths ago, but it looks untidy and it I think, some gold substrate would be good, would u recommend sand as an option, do I need a special type and what is the best one I could buy. Thanks.
 
 
I think I know what you mean; I tried black once, and after two years got rid of it (for other reasons) but I did notice it showed up everything.  The "mix" sands like most play sand is probably the way to go.  Sand is better for substrate fish like corys and several others.  And the play sand is the less sharp grained sand.  "Play Sand" can be very different in colour depending who makes it, but get the darkest you can find.  One thing you absolutely do not want is white sand; this is completely un-natural to the fish, and it can cause a glare with overhead fluorescent lighting.
 
Byron.
 

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