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Author Topic: low light plant tanks  (Read 1846 times)

lohachata

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low light plant tanks
« on: March 16, 2009, 02:57:34 PM »
first off;i am not a believer in newbies playing with high light plants..i don't mess with them because i am cheap and not wealthy.high light set ups will not only cost you an arm and a leg ; but also your firstborn....
so, lets start off with the easier and cheaper stuff..........
first....lighting..........these days hoods and striplights are fluorescents...i really don't have any tanks with hoods and such..all of my lights come from home depot..48" 2 tube shoplights..under $10.00..and daylight T8 bulbs..about $3.00 each....to me; wattage is not the only thing to look at..i also pay attention to lumens...i like the T8's and they cost less to run....but for a low light tank ; you really do need at least .75 watts per gallon..(wpg)...........if you have a 40 gallon long with a 2 tube shoplight; you have almost 2 wpg...which is great..you can also get plant and fish bulbs at home depot or lowes..cheaper than shops too..
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substrate..................i like the dark natural look to an aquarium..i have been to many lakes and rivers in my life; and have never seen one with fluorescent colored gravel..and not many plants living in white sand in nature either.and although i do happen to like it ; i have never seen plants growing in black sand or gravel in nature either.the most beautiful substrate i have ever used came from the shores of ake erie.....but you do want a fine substrate..from 3/16" down to a very coarse sand.rinse it well and put it in the tank before you fill it.
put a plate or bowl on the gavel and pour the water into it.fill to about 3/4 of the way or so....place some driftwood and a few rocks................now it's time to plant.............

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now come the plants..........
there are quite a few species of plants that do well in low light..i will only mention a few of the more common ones here..
anubias....a beautiful deep green plant that is not placed in the substrate; but rather attatched to a rock or piece of driftwood.it is rare that a fish will touch it as it is tough and reputed to taste terrible.slow growing;but worth it.

java fern......another plant to attatch to something.very nice..looks just like a fern..almost...this stuff will almost grow in the dark.

cryptocoryne...one of my favorite groups of plants..they look almost like small sword plants..if you have a smaller or shallow tank;crypts are just the ticket.they come in different colors and sizes that can fill every area of your tank perfectly.and they will form a beautiful litle forest carpeting the floor of your tank.

java moss....let it just hang around..will form a deep green mass.many egg scatterers love to spawn in it...needs very litle light.

najas grass......another floating plant that will create a bright green mass..great for livebearers too.

aponogetons............what awesome plants...you will need a tall tank for these lovelies..ulvaceous have wider gracefully wavey leaves that can reach 3-4 feet in length...crispus have narrow leaves with wrinkled edges.and one of the most awesome of all aquarium plants is the madagascarensis; or madagascar laceleaf..leaves look like open netting..but this plant likes water that is a little cooler..in the 60-75 degree region.....
aponogetons can grow fast...as much as 16 inches in a months time..if your tank has an open top;the plants will send up a flower spike too.

plants need certain things to make them grow..light.....food....and carbon dioxide (co2)...........there are a lot of folks out there using special lighting,chemical fertilizers; and co2 injection systems..i am not saying that they are wrong....but they are really not right..to a certain degree of course....lol
you have lights to provide light...your fish will provide the co2 and fertilizer...you don't need anything else.... at least,not for a low light planted aquarium..

now this post may confuse a few folks; but it is coming from my own personal experiences and not from some book or website.i use books to help me in many ways;and they are important; but learning from doing is much better..
so get busy and do that planted tank that you have been afraid to do..you will be hooked for life.
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if we ignore nature;maybe it will go away.
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