Questions On Growing Plants In A 30 Gallon Tank

Vindicare066

Mostly New Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2016
Messages
70
Reaction score
3
Location
CA
Hi everyone,
 
So I have recently acquired a 29-30 gallon tank, and I have a few questions about growing plants in it. To get it cycled quickly I have transferred substrate (combination of eco-ecomplete and black gravel), decorations and 6 plants from my 5 and 3.5 gallon into it as this tank will be their final home. The plants I transferred in include 1 Amazon sword, 1 java fern, 1 anubias, 2 ludwigia and 1 rosafolia (pretty sure). This tank is going to be their final home and so I want to make sure these plants flourish. 
 
For fertilizer I am using Seachem flourish tabs and placed them 6 inches apart in the substrate just as instructed on the package I have 4 in the tank at the current time.
 
My first question set of questions pertain to the fertilizer. Should I be using any other fertilizers in addition to the Seachem tabs? Or are the tabs enough? Finally, I would ideally like to add shrimp to this tank (RCS and Amanos)So will the Seachem tabs be enough to feed the plants while not being harmful to the shrimp?
 
For lighting I picked up a 30-36'' Aqueon LED Optibright. It illuminates the tank very well, it comes with i believe 48 white LEDs, 6 red and 6 Blue LEDs.  however, i am concerned it doesn't produce enough for certain plants the Amazon swords and Rosafolia come to mind here. I have been unsuccessful at locating any technical information on this product. So has anyone else used this light before and would recommend it, or should I look at getting a different light to work in conjunction with this one or just out right get rid of it? 
 
Thanks for your help!
 
Vindi
 

Byron

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2009
Messages
13,307
Reaction score
4,260
Location
CA
The answer to your question about fertilisers partly depends upon the lighting, so let's deal with that first.  I cannot say if the Aqueon LED Optibright will or won't work as I have never tried it.  LED in general has not been lucky for me, and I've tried five different units (for the same sized tank incidentally) and all went back.  I stayed with the T8 single tube.
 
Intensity (brightness) is important, but so is spectrum.  I found all the LEDs I tried seriously lacking in the red wavelength.  One of the units I tried was the NAtional Geographic modular that had red, white, blue modules; the red here created distinct lines of red down into the water.  Another unit I tried, can't remember the manufacturer, had white and red, and when the red was on the black substrate turned purple.  If you have the tank running, you should be able to eliminate these particular issues.  But we are still left with the overall spectrum of the light mix.  Red and blue are essential to drive photosynthesis, with red being the more important.  Adding green to the mix creates a truer colour rendition but it also does provide better plant response, probably because of the increased intensity.
 
You may or may not need to add liquid fertilisers.  What is the GH of your source water (I ask because this is the prime source of the "hard" minerals)?  Fish foods will provide all necessary nutrients, along with water changes, but not necessarily sufficient.  I've ended up using Flourish Comprehensive Supplement, Flourish Trace, and Flourish Iron; all at doses less than recommended (to prevent problem algae which did appear) and varying depending upon which of my 8 tanks.  Depending upon the GH, your swords should do fine with just the Flourish Tabs, but adding the Trace and Iron will likely improve things a bit, it has for me.  Java Fern and Anubias are low light/low nutrient plants, so they should manage no matter what (though again the LED light may be a factor).  Stem plants are faster growing and thus need higher light and nutrients, so the Trace may help these, again depending upon the light.  The light is what drives photosynthesis, so it is the most important factor.
 
Byron.
 
OP
V

Vindicare066

Mostly New Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2016
Messages
70
Reaction score
3
Location
CA
Hi Byron,
 
Okay so using one of the API test stripes (my liquid test kit is in the mail at the moment) my GH reading was between 120 and 180ppm for my tap water. I then tested the tank and I am again looking at the same level of GH. To confirm that these measurements were correct, I double checked the municipal water site and they said the average for Toronto is 124ppm. So the readings I got from the test strips are somewhat accurate.
 
on another note I just went to a LFS this afternoon and picked up a marineland florescent light stripe which came with an 18 Watt T8 bulb. I was told the stock T8 bulb is not good for growing plants and so I was sold a T8 Flora Sun florescent light. looking at the box it says its a 5000k high intensity lamp with peak emission in blue and red regions. The only dilemma I am now faced with this light is that the glass canopy that i picked up to protect this light is just a tad to big for my aquarium and as a result doesnt sit properly on the top of the tank. So I can't safely mount the light without risk exposing it to moisture. Do have any suggestions on how I might get around this little problem? 
 
Vindi
 

Byron

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2009
Messages
13,307
Reaction score
4,260
Location
CA
The GH is fine, that equates to 6-7 dGH for those like me who are better with smaller numbers, lol.  Good for plants, no problems there, and workable for soft water fish (just mentioning).
 
I have the 24-inch T8 single tube over my two 29g tanks so I know their strengths and limits.  With a good tube, this will give you moderate light, which will be fine for swords (my chain swords thrive in these tanks), Java Fern, Anubias.  The stem plants might manage, or maybe not so well.  What I do is try a plant, if it does fine, I keep it, and if not, I move on to something else.
 
For the tube, I would recommend either a Hagen Life-Glo, or a ZooMed Ultra Sun.  The Life-Glo is 6700K, the UltraSun is 6500K.  Both are trichromatic phosphor "daylight" tubes with the strongest light output I have yet found in T8 smaller tubes.  I use either of these over my single-tube tanks.  Having said that, I have not tried the Flora Sun, but I have tried the Hagen equivalents (Aqua-Glo, Flora-Glo and Sun-Glo).  The problem with the "plant" tubes is (1) the hue, and (2) the intensity.  The tube is blue and red, which is rather purplish, which some like, but the lack of green also lessens the intensity.  I found these to be about half the light intensity of the Life-Glo (and UltraSun).  You have the tube in front of you, though assessing the intensity is not always easy.  You should be able to exchange this, if you decide too.  You seem to have access to the ZooMed line.  The Life-Glo and Ultra Sun really are good light.
 
To the cover issue.  Is this a glass cover set, hinged roughly in the middle, with a plastic strip at the back that can be cut out for filters and heaters?  Or something else?
 
Byron.
 
OP
V

Vindicare066

Mostly New Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2016
Messages
70
Reaction score
3
Location
CA
Hi Byron,
 
Good to know on the tube, I just realized the Flora Sun is a Zoo Med product, so I don't think I will have to much trouble exchanging this bulb for the ultra sun, I am pretty sure I saw it at the store. 
 
In regards to the glass canopy it has a hinge in the middle and what looks like a plastic strip that can be attached, although I don't think this piece can be cut to make room for a heater and filter. which could also be a problem, as I have a externally mounted filter. 
 
Now I do have a sheet of plexieglass kicking around and I believe its 30x36. Which i could cut to meet the specific dimensions of the tank. But my concern there is the heat generated by the bulb.... could it melt the plexieglass?
 

Byron

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2009
Messages
13,307
Reaction score
4,260
Location
CA
Vindicare066 said:
Hi Byron,
 
Good to know on the tube, I just realized the Flora Sun is a Zoo Med product, so I don't think I will have to much trouble exchanging this bulb for the ultra sun, I am pretty sure I saw it at the store. 
 
In regards to the glass canopy it has a hinge in the middle and what looks like a plastic strip that can be attached, although I don't think this piece can be cut to make room for a heater and filter. which could also be a problem, as I have a externally mounted filter. 
 
Now I do have a sheet of plexieglass kicking around and I believe its 30x36. Which i could cut to meet the specific dimensions of the tank. But my concern there is the heat generated by the bulb.... could it melt the plexieglass?
 
The glass cover is intended to sit down inside the frame on the lip that runs around the tank about 1/4 inch or so below.  The light fixture itself should then sit on the tank frame, not the cover glass.  If that makes sense.
 
If the glass pieces are the correct length and width to sit on the lip, all is well.  The plastic strip will fit over the back glass (sometimes this is a very tight fit, and takes a bit of effort to get the plastic ridge over the glass).  The plastic can be cut with sturdy scissors (like garden scissors), or with an Exacto-type knife.  If you score the plastic where you want to cut it, then use pliers to bend the piece to be cut out, it usually breaks along the score.  I usually use scissors to cut straight into the plastic for the width cuts of the heater and filter, and then score the 90-degree cut for the length.  I hope this is making sense, it is not easy to put into words.
 
I would use glass under the light.  Not sure if the plexiglass might melt or not, but glass is easier to keep clean and this should be cleaned every water change.  Water stains can soon cloud the glass and lessen the light.
 
Now that you have the cover set, if it doesn't fit as I described above, you can always get two pieces of glass cut from a glass store.  I've done this to replace broken pieces a couple times.  Measure the length and width inside the frame on that lip, and make sure you get glass that is the same thickness so the hinge piece and the plastic piece will fit over the glass.
 
Byron.
 
OP
V

Vindicare066

Mostly New Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2016
Messages
70
Reaction score
3
Location
CA
hmm okay I will see if i can track down a glass store that can cut two pieces to the dimensions of the lid and get a quote on how much it might cost. The canopy i have now is literally an 1/8th of an inch to wide to fit on top of the lip and an 1/8th of an inch to short to fit atop of the frame, so I'm not really sure what to do in this situation. I was thinking I could maybe sand it or cut it down to fit but I am not sure if I could do it considering there isn't much to take off, and if i mess up I could end up with a product I can't return. On the other hand  could try modifying the tank frame, it looks like it can be popped off, so I can probably take a dremmel to it and shave both sides of the frame down a little to allow the glass pane to drop in smoothly.
 
I did a bit more reading on plexiglass and it sounds like it could actually melt or warp if to close to the light, if this happens then you run the risk of having chemicals making their way into the tank. So I think that option is off the table. 
 

Byron

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2009
Messages
13,307
Reaction score
4,260
Location
CA
Vindicare066 said:
hmm okay I will see if i can track down a glass store that can cut two pieces to the dimensions of the lid and get a quote on how much it might cost. The canopy i have now is literally an 1/8th of an inch to wide to fit on top of the lip and an 1/8th of an inch to short to fit atop of the frame, so I'm not really sure what to do in this situation. I was thinking I could maybe sand it or cut it down to fit but I am not sure if I could do it considering there isn't much to take off, and if i mess up I could end up with a product I can't return. On the other hand  could try modifying the tank frame, it looks like it can be popped off, so I can probably take a dremmel to it and shave both sides of the frame down a little to allow the glass pane to drop in smoothly.
 
I did a bit more reading on plexiglass and it sounds like it could actually melt or warp if to close to the light, if this happens then you run the risk of having chemicals making their way into the tank. So I think that option is off the table. 
 
A glass store might trim the existing glass, but the cost would probably be about the same as buying two new pieces.  Glass is not expensive, certainly no where what you pay for the complete cover in my experience.  Be careful doing anything to the frame; this is very thin and the glass is right under it.
 
OP
V

Vindicare066

Mostly New Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2016
Messages
70
Reaction score
3
Location
CA
Hey Byron,
 
So I got the Ultra Sun T8 bulb, and I actually exchanged the original canopy for a larger one that is 36 inches long rather than 30, I figure it will be easier to cut a few inches off rather than an 1/8th be it done professionally or by myself. I have just set up the florescent light so that is resting on top of the back portion of the glass should I elevate it or will it be fine as is? I have also set up the original LED  light strip on the front pane of glass. This would only be temporary set up until I can track down a company that does glass cutting, as the one close to me appears to be out of business. I also don't know if I will be keeping the LED lights I bought fortunately, I have 60 days to decide on whether or not I want to return it. I may have found a suitable LED light product which seems has some potential. It's called Marineland Plant LED and it comes with an integrated timer. From what I have read in reviews, it provides full spectrum colour at 6500K the only challenges is tracking down the correct price of it. Amazon lists it at anywhere from 150-500. So might look at this product in the near future. 
 
Do you think I would need two light sources on the tank?
 

Byron

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2009
Messages
13,307
Reaction score
4,260
Location
CA
Vindicare066 said:
Hey Byron,
 
So I got the Ultra Sun T8 bulb, and I actually exchanged the original canopy for a larger one that is 36 inches long rather than 30, I figure it will be easier to cut a few inches off rather than an 1/8th be it done professionally or by myself. I have just set up the florescent light so that is resting on top of the back portion of the glass should I elevate it or will it be fine as is? I have also set up the original LED  light strip on the front pane of glass. This would only be temporary set up until I can track down a company that does glass cutting, as the one close to me appears to be out of business. I also don't know if I will be keeping the LED lights I bought fortunately, I have 60 days to decide on whether or not I want to return it. I may have found a suitable LED light product which seems has some potential. It's called Marineland Plant LED and it comes with an integrated timer. From what I have read in reviews, it provides full spectrum colour at 6500K the only challenges is tracking down the correct price of it. Amazon lists it at anywhere from 150-500. So might look at this product in the near future. 
 
Do you think I would need two light sources on the tank?
 
You do not need two light sources, or you will have algae problems from too much light.  And if the Marineland plant LED is a good light, the intensity will probably be sufficient on its own, and the T8 is pretty much self sufficient too, so you would be almost doubling the intensity.  This would be more workable in a high-tech system (with diffused CO2 and daily nutrient supplementation) with higher-requiring plants.  But in a low-tech or natural system, which seems to be what you are after here, too much light is as bad as too little.  Plants can't use it and algae will take advantage.
 
If the light fixture (the T8) provides some space between the tube itself and the cover glass, say an inch or more, this should be OK.
 
OP
V

Vindicare066

Mostly New Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2016
Messages
70
Reaction score
3
Location
CA
Hi Byron, 
 
okay great thanks for your help on the lighting. The current LED light isn't really meant for plants but rather lighting the tank. But I will probably take this light back within the next week or so. The light fixture does have about an inch or two of space between the light and the glass. The light is certainly not making contact on the glass. I will probably hold off on buying the other LED for a while, maybe when I set up my second 30 gallon I will try it out. 
 

Byron

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2009
Messages
13,307
Reaction score
4,260
Location
CA
Vindicare066 said:
Hi Byron, 
 
okay great thanks for your help on the lighting. The current LED light isn't really meant for plants but rather lighting the tank. But I will probably take this light back within the next week or so. The light fixture does have about an inch or two of space between the light and the glass. The light is certainly not making contact on the glass. I will probably hold off on buying the other LED for a while, maybe when I set up my second 30 gallon I will try it out. 
 
Yes, I would definitely remove the present LED.  Being on the blue side, this can encourage algae, as this additional light is not going to benefit the plants much (if at all once you have the T8) and blue light does promote algae.
 
OP
V

Vindicare066

Mostly New Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2016
Messages
70
Reaction score
3
Location
CA
Okay so one final question. Where should I position the T8 light? This new lid I have also has a hinge in the middle of canopy so I can't place it directly in the middle. Will being placed on the back panel be fine or should I place it on the front panel? 
 
Thanks again
 
Vindi
 

Byron

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2009
Messages
13,307
Reaction score
4,260
Location
CA
Vindicare066 said:
Okay so one final question. Where should I position the T8 light? This new lid I have also has a hinge in the middle of canopy so I can't place it directly in the middle. Will being placed on the back panel be fine or should I place it on the front panel? 
 
Thanks again
 
Vindi
 
The hinge on the glass covers I have is slightly to the front of centre, and the plastic strip along the back usually makes this so anyway.  But I put the light just behind the hinge, so the light is toward the back more than the front.  You should be able to raise the front glass to feed without disturbing the light position.  I use the light to rest the open front glass against which works quite well.
 
Top