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Stupid Questions #1

I'm setting up an aquarium for the first time in 15 years. This time I'm
going to try
heavy planting. So far I have a 48" x 18" x 12" tank.  My substrate is 1"
of course sand mixed with 1" of moss peat. On top is another 1" of gravel
(about 1/10" to 1/8").

I have ProPlant fertilizer (in a net bag to put in the back of the tank or
in a canister filter). It was recommended in the British Practical
Fishkeeping magazine and the distributer is only 30 miles from where I live
in Scotland.

My tap water is soft with a PH of 7.0. I'm hoping the peat and if necessary
CO2 will help lower the PH a little to suit the fish.

I'm aiming towards a 'South American' feel to the aquarium with a shoal of
cardinal tetras, 3 Otos, 4 or 5 Corydorus and eventually a pair of

I have ordered a mixture of  plants as a start. The plants (from memory)
25 x Sagittaria subulata
10 x generic amazon swords. (This is probably too many I know, but it was
much cheaper
                          buying 10 instead of 1 at a time).
25 x Echinodorus tenellus.
25 x Eleocharis acicularis.
1 x Echinodorus martii (maior)

OK to the stupid questions...

1. I have 3 x 42" tubes (38W) each. Two are 'original tropical' (blue/red)
and one is 'freshwater tropical', (white). Is this sufficient lighting?

2. Am I likely to need CO2 at that level of lighting.

3. At the weekend I bought 5 clumps of Vallisnera from the LFS. They came
with bits of foam and lead strip above the roots. How should I plant these?
Should I have removed the lead and foam? Will I be able to remove the  lead
after the plants have rooted? Is the lead not dangerous to fish? If I
remove the lead how do I get the plants to stay in the substrate until they
have rooted?

4. What other plant species would complement the plants I've chosen
(remembering the South
American feel)?

I've read all the FAQs and am probably suffering from information overload.
Am I on the right tracks?


Mike Dodds
Fife, Scotland