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Substrate for a beginner 15 gallon planted tank?

Discussion in 'Substrate' started by Bigs, Nov 5, 2013.

  1. Bigs

    Bigs New Member

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    I have a 15 gallon tank in which I want to have plants like Java fern, Anubias and would also like to add Java moss on driftwood. The substrate choices available here are Fluval and amazonia. But amazonia is pricey.If I want to have a substrate thickness of 5cm(2 inches), how many kilograms, of which substrate should I buy?
    Since I am new to this, I would like to grow plants which are hardy and are not too sensitive to pH difference, do not require CO2 either entirely or can do with a homemade yeast+sugar co2 system.
    Also,will a lighting of 3-4 watts per gallon suffice for this aquarium?
    Please advise.
    Thanks...:)
     

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  2. greenfinger 2

    greenfinger 2 Active Aquascaper

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    Hi Bigs, With your plant choice:cool: You could use simple gravel. As the plants all grow on DW add the moss fab:D And if you want grow some plants in the gravel put some root tabs in (y)Hope this helps Others will know more;)
     
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  3. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree with greenfinger. The plants you chose do not root into the substrate, so any simple inert large grain sand or gravel would do just fine. I recommend using a water column fertilizing routine, nothing fancy but something as simple as Seachem Flourish dosed per the bottle instructions would be enough.
     
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  4. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    http://www.plantedtank.net/substratecalculator.html

    Bigs that will help you use it as a guide only

    Substrate is a minefield its a work backwards thing first you work out the plants and the shape of the Substrate for the Aquascape.

    One WARNING keep away from sand especially if you are a beginner it will give you a few problems if you do not fully understand it.

    That now means do all your research first then ask if its OK etc.

    Keith:):)
     
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  5. Bigs

    Bigs New Member

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    Thank you all for your fast response. :). I have some doubts regarding water chemistry so I have posted my queries in the apt forum. :)
     
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  6. Garuf

    Garuf Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm afraid from reading your description you're setting yourself up for a failure and a suggest you worry more and read up about co2 and lighting than you do about substrate.

    The advice I would give anyone beginning is to forget the wpg rule, invest well in equipment before starting the tank, and run lower levels of light as a good place to start.

    Picking plants that don't need co2, is like saying show me people that don't need food. It's a nonsense and an idea that is worth forgetting.

    If you want to succeed it's best to set yourself up for the universal needs of all plants than the tiny pool of plants that try and mix and match all sorts of ideologies that will not meet the universal needs.

    Take the needs of the plants, co2, water movement, npk and trace and light. Now imagine that these are an engine, light is the throttle, co2, ferts and trace are the fuel, they're vital, water movement is the fuel pump, the more light you throw at a tank, the more fuel you'll need and the more quickly and in larger quantities it will be needed so you need a bigger pump or more water movement. Lower levels of light, less demand on fuel and the smaller the pump you need.

    I can't honestly recommend yeast set ups for a planted tank of any sort of quality, it has far too many issues with stability and delivery that it's just a risk and a hardship I wouldn't wish on someone.

    Also, what are the dimensions of the tank and it's volume. Sizes aren't universal and gallons could be US or UK which are not the same. Remember we're an international forum and we need to know things in a global universal to help. Everyone all over the world will know a latin name because it's universal but come to me saying a common name and as far as I know you could be talking about anything.

    Another thing, forget substrates as a weight, they're better talked of as a volume as the weight between something like ADA's aquasoil and a bag of sand will be very different.

    While we're at it, flat substrates as a scaper are a nightmare and have a habit of killing all sense of depth in a scape as well as allowing mulm to settle largely everywhere rather than in an area easily siphoned off or dealt with by the filter.
     
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  7. Bigs

    Bigs New Member

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    Hi Garuf. I have updated my place of residence. The dimensions of my tank is 2 feet x 1 feet x 1 feet. I have considered all that you have wrote and will try to incorporate it. One major problem is a lot many things which are available in the US,UK are either not available or are astronomically priced. Along with that, I am a novice. So I am trying to do the best I can with the resources at my disposal.

    :)
     
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  8. Garuf

    Garuf Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks for that.

    I appreciate what you are saying, there are Indian members on here however are getting around things be it by DIYing or otherwise so it's all about resourcefulness. The methodology and needs of the plants are universal and unchanging, how you meet them is not.

    What are you trying to achieve ultimately? Cause hardscape only or low tech would greatly reduce costs, that said saying that you're looking at using the outmoded WPG to give 3-4 watts this would suggest you want a high-tech type set up? If that's the case then corners can't really be cut.

    Either way, you can pretty much forget WPG, it means nothing these days, typically a good quality t5 with a good ballast and a reflector is more than enough to grow anything provided you have enough co2 and water movements.
     
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  9. Bigs

    Bigs New Member

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    What I basically want is a tank with few plants,mosses and hardy fishes. I can go for T5HO or CFL tubes to provide the necessary lighting. It would really help me out if I can get through by DIYing for the Co2 initially and then invest in a high tech co2 setup after a couple of months.

    For starting off I was thinking of introducing a few plants,like an anubias,one or two java ferns and a couple of java moss on DW. Any other plant/moss you can suggest would be appreciated.

    Thanks :)
     
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  10. Garuf

    Garuf Moderator Staff Member

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    Forget lighting, co2 is far more important. For what you're outlining go for a single t8 with a reflector and use liquid carbon, then upgrade to pressurised and then upgrade your lighting if you must go about things that way, it will be slow but it will be controllable and within your imposed margins. You won't be able to go high light. High light and yeast based co2 just is not good enough to cut it when you're going high light, it's a recipe for disaster.

    Asking about plants still suggests you're thinking as though picking plants will make your intended set up work, it wont.

    Best bet still would be to wait and get everything you want all in one go. A bit hear and a bit there upgrade as you go mentality doesn't really work and you only end up with a failing tank and disillusionment from the hobby.
     
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  11. Bigs

    Bigs New Member

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    Hmm..ok Garuf. I will take your advice and go with single t8 with reflector and liquid carbon. What else do you suggest along with this set up?What should be my other parameters?

    Thanks..:)
     
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  12. Garuf

    Garuf Moderator Staff Member

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    Stop thinking about chasing parameters, they're nearly impossible to achieve and it's a pointless task, what comes out of the tap in 99% of applications is perfect. It's much better to think about achieving the needs of the plants, a good propriety fertiliser will be plenty to achieve good results with low light plants. Have a look at the guides on the Barr Report and work from there, there's a big learning curve ahead.
     
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  13. cmathews95

    cmathews95 New Member

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    For a 15 gallon, get some 6500 cfls. They are cheap and can be found everywhere. Reflectors shouldn't be too hard to find. I wish I had bought cfls instead of an expensive t5 fixture. The cfls can give you a good amount of light, which you can increase/decrease by changing the height. Also, you don't need to supplement co2 for a great looking planted tank. There are great examples of them on the internet. However, I do suggest you do, at least for now. It can prevent algae, and the plants will appreciate it. I think for the plants you want, some root tabs which you can probably put together with stuff you can find locally, and some seachem comprehensive should be fine.
    Good Luck!
     
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  14. Bigs

    Bigs New Member

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    Thank you both. I think I will do just that. Stop worrying about parameters and just try to control the pH. Since I plan to start with Java fern, I will try to supplement it with some water column fertilisation and seachem flourish excel. After monitoring the tank for a couple of months, and only if the plants seem healthy and the tank seem stabilised, I will start adding hardy fishes like tiger barbs.
    Does this seem right?
    Thanks...:)
     
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  15. greenfinger 2

    greenfinger 2 Active Aquascaper

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    Hi Bigs, Looks like you are on the way to a fab tank :) One thing Tiger barbs can be aggressive to other fish Ok if you just want a shoal of them only. But if you want other fish Rosie barbs are a better bet there not so aggressive to other fish. I had tiger barbs but they never stopped chasing my other fish around the tank and stressing them out :( I gave them away in the end and got Rosie barbs then had a peace full tank again :D (y)
     
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  16. Bigs

    Bigs New Member

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    Thanks greenfinger 2. I have read that if one keeps tiger barbs in a shoal,like more than 5 or 7, they mostly keep to themselves and leave other inhabitants alone. So lets see. :) . How was your experience with the tiger barbs? What temperature,water conditions did you maintain?
     
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  17. greenfinger 2

    greenfinger 2 Active Aquascaper

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    Hi Bigs, You can only try :) I had a shoal of 6 and they were a pain in the butt :( Water temp 75f- 77f Low end of there temperature range but all did ok PH 6.8- 7, GH 7 :) But only kept them for about 6 months:( Then i got the rosie Barbs and kept them for 6 or 7 years lovely little fish (y)
     
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  18. Garuf

    Garuf Moderator Staff Member

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    Cma, you're right in that you don't have to have co2 to achieve good results however it depends on what you consider good results, some people consider their tank to be excellent yet to most scapers it's an algal mess. I had recommended t8's because they're linear tubes which gives good efficiency, reflectors are extremely easy and cheap to find they're typically not as bright and give better distribution than cfls and they're safer to use over water. A good quality t8 and ballast is perfect for the application bigs seems to be going towards, I personally don't understand the desire to save very little money to have an inferior for purpose product. Changing the levels of par by lowering or raising the tube is not unique to cfls, most aquascapers with t5's do just this to dial in how much light they want for how fast they want to run the scape.

    More light = a need to apply co2, Less light, few plant species and less need to supplement. it's as simple as that, there are no tricks to avoid it. I can't stress it enough no co2 tanks work for very specific reasons and have their own management methods and they are without exception low light tanks, this is how they ensure enough co2 is available, the demand doesn't need supplementation. It ultimately depends on what you are happy with, you can't have a high light tank and no co2, it just doesn't work like that.

    I suggest you contact our fellow Indian scapers and ask what they do with regard to substrates and ferts, I don't know how available they are, I do know that root tabs are only really any good in a set up where there is no water column or very little dosing and there is a substrate with a low level of Cation exchange. Save your money, they're pretty much useless in most typical set ups.
     
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  19. Bigs

    Bigs New Member

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    Well, I wasn't thinking of root tabs. I think water column fertilising will be the best for the java ferns anyway. I know you said that the tap water will be 99% correct for my needs, but that is an area I am concerned about as I believe that my pH is just too high. So I will try to reduce the pH and start with a few ferns(like barely a couple) with low lighting and water column fertilising and see if they are doing fine. If they look good to me after a few weeks, I will upgrade to pressurised co2,upgrade the lighting and add more plants.
    Thanks..:)
     
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  20. Garuf

    Garuf Moderator Staff Member

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    I had liquid rock. 8.2 out of the tap in Stoke and I still managed, Londons water is similarly hard and they don't stuggle either. It's a needless battle to reduce the water ph, especially when ferns and crypts like harder water as a general rule.
     

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