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    New to Live plants question

    HI again
    Thanks for your first responses Mandi and Matt... a serious NEWBIE question.
    I am going with Live plants for the first time ever :) The wife had allot to-do with that decision as she likes they way live plants look.
    First question is should I add my first plants at the beginning of the two or so week period that the water is in my tank with no fish (conditioning. Or do I need to wait a week or so, add plants, wait another week or so, add fish?
    Second question is How do you clean the gravel thoroughly with a Live planted aquarium?? I am used to fake plants that you take out, then syphon/clean the ENTIRE gravel bed.
    I assume with live plants you just CAREFULLY clean around the plants.
    Thanks in advance

  • Hi again.... this DOES seem like a most helpful community and I thank you already:)
    OK a little more detail is in order I see to help you all help me.
    I have the Latterite (enough for about 1 "coverage on the first layer) and gravel (fine) for another 2 to 3" on top of the 1" latterite.
    I plan on doing a general community tank, with varied species of plants (not biotype specific). I wanted to do that"He Man" tank of Cichlids but the petstore owner and my wife talked me out of it. So I will probably try the tetras, charcins, and maybe a few paradise fishes, and maybe 3 kribs (after the tank has cycled of course..and even then slowly adding).
    I guess the plants IM looking for are Hardy to somewhat easy (nothing too complex) for both foreground, middle and background. I would appreciate any suggestions.
    If you really cant vacuum your gravel with a planted tank.... how do you remove the fish detrium. I know the plants will use allot of that as fertilizer...but wont there be a point where the Nitrates are more than the plants can digest and cause harmful levels to rise quickly???

  • Ok..not a bad start..substrate sounds Ok...what about light?...How much?...And re:vacuuming I did say you can pick up debris just go gently over the top not grind it deep in the don't want the laterlite blowing up into your water column...believe me you will be able to keep your nitrates down with this plus a little bigger waterchanges of about 20% weekly..but how much plants are you planning on placing in there anyway...when I say heavy I mean 80% or better...You don't have's just if you do have good light you will need to get ground cover and growth happening fast before you have an algae war. Be careful of your fish selection some are real chompers...I am sure the others here can help you out better than me regarding selection etc...I will just concentrate on the again slow down and think about it before jumping in...when your ready we can talk about plant selection..keep it up the end results are beautiful!

  • Jeff,
    Thanks for the help.
    I have a two tube strip light (48' each). The Fish store owner said that these should be plenty. Each tube is 40 watt, one full spectrum, the other a Dayglo?? medium intensity light (at least that's what the box says).
    I would like to have a fairly plant full aquarium (around 70% or so). The plants I would like to start with, I have more research to do and just bought two books on the subject (a Barrons book and forgot the other). As far as type of plants..... hardy ones to start with... I can go more complex later, and add another striplight if needed as I have a all glass top that looks like I can set two strips up (the double tube and a single tube or two doubles).
    OK, how's that sound?? :)

  • Ok..that's a you got 80watts for 55gals that gives you about 1.5 watts per gal...depending on depth of your this in the plant world is considered a low light tank...most of what you hear and read will recommend about 2.5- 4 watts per gal. that's not to say you can't grow anything with your set-up.. I have been amazed with some people's sucess..if you can add another strip light you will be able to do better...however that is up to you..right now with your light some hygros(polysperma,corymbosia,strictica) will work, Java fern,micro pteropus some anubias and crypts like wenditii will get you started...more light better selection...when you do decide what you want be sure to get your plants from a good store.. Be picky! hope this is coming together for you...

  • IT sure is coming together. By what I have read in books, and researched on the web, I thought that was not enough light.
    Oh...and I am starting a 75 gallon (20" deep I believe). So it looks like Ill nee two twin tube lights then to get enough light.
    Do the tubes come in a higher wattage maybe??? Like I said above the Fish store owner sold me the 40 watt tubes (48"). If they have higher wattage then maybe I should just buy that.
    IF they don't come in higher wattages....then I'll just have to buy a second twin tube strip.
    Thanks for confirming my suspicions, and for the plant ideas. I have to write these down now so I can go look them up in my plant book.

  • You are most I said light is a big topic these days....with your standard bulbs you won't be able to get more watts than 40 per...the ballast won't handle it ..You are right either more strip lights or get into a conversion kit from HR supply or VHO strip lights..again the choice is your and so is your pocket book....another tank?..ahh would be so nice but my wife would divorce me....

  • welcome to our board...firstly, I sure hope you have thought out what you are about to embark on....doing the planted thing can be really easy of real frustrating..I have been into the planted tank for about 5yrs before plastic...everyone has a little different approach to things....I can tell you it's much easier to plan way ahead than to try and make up later...we can help you do that if you like...but regarding your question..start your plants right from the get go...there are reasons for this..if you want to know them I can tell you later if you would like...if you plant heavily as you should your gravel vacuuming as your tank has grown in will amount to know more than lightly over the open areas just to pick up debris etc..not deep into the substrate...that is another big topic...but anyway as you have said technology has changed over the years and there is so much knowledge and opinions out there allot will have to be decided on what you want to welcome and have fun..

  • I added my crypt after my tank was already over a year old, but someone else with experience ?Ilboy maybe? can tell you how to do it right from the start( According to magazines you usually do plants before fish...and fertilize the bed properly with laterite).The fish magazine says you would not want to vacuum out your 'laterite'fertilizer from the tank, since the plants need the nutrients. Gravel vacuuming is usually necessary with Undergravel filters which are not a very good idea for a planted tank. I do have a very old and probably useless UGH filter running on my tank. I suspect it is by now pretty clogged (since the plants are in great shape)and I have added hang on aquaclear filters. My tank is just full of crypt that I have already thinned and given to the guy at my LPS store..that stuff grows like crazy.


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