re:New 30 gallon Plant tank

>I would like advice on setting up a small plant tank.  Here is
>the deal. It is a 30 gallon tank (normal dimensions) and only has a
>heater. (I can not have a pump since I will be putting it in the
>bedroom and my girlfriend has outlawed any sort of noise producing fish tank
>stuff.  (I have a 130 gallon Tanganykan set up in the other room and my
>two magnums can be less than silent at times.)  I also dont want to get
>too complicated and buy a CO2 pump for the evenings. Although I might
>sping for a good lamp set up if anyone has any good suggestions.

You can set up a really nice plant tank without a pump, but you'll be very 
limited in your fish selection.  If this is ok with you, I'd reccommend a small 
school of platies or barbs for the tank (other fish selections may work too).  
Basically, I try to have the mass of plant:fish ratio extremely high.  I don't 
think 30:1 is a small ratio when you're doing a zero-circulation tank.

On the other hand, you could add a pump if you do things right, just not an air 
pump (which isn't a very good idea if you want to inject CO2 anyways).  You can 
use a powerhead to circulate water around in the tank or you can use a 
substrate-level tank drain/settling tank combination without fear of noise.  
You can either go with a conventional setup with the settling tank (like a 
trickle filter sump) below the main tank, or you can hide it in a box beside or 
behind the main tank (preferred) and use a smaller, less expensive pump (pick 
your powerhead carefully).  

>I would like to pack the tank with plants but I dont know too much about
>substrates.. I have medium gravel in the 130 and what plants that I
>have there do fine for about a year or so, but they dont grow out of control
>like i would like.  

The upper portion of your substrate should probably be sand with a grain size 
smaller than 3 mm.  If you use playground sand, you won't be able to get your 
pH below 8.0 because of the carbonate content, but I prefer TexBlast brand 
quartz blasting sand (I get it in 50 lb. bags at the aquarium store).  The 
upper substrate should be about 2" deep.  The lower substrate is the area where 
many of us have personal recipies, and I won't go into it since there is almost 
always a discussion on substrate going here.
Lots of light, CO2, and proper trace elements will give you explosive growth.  
I reccommend 3 or 4 tubes the length of the tank for 12" wide tanks, more for 
wider tanks.  

>(Another plus would be plants that grow well at
>high pH, since I plan on keeping the pH at 8.0 of so, just in case my
>girlfrined caves in on the pump... in which case I would put a coulple
>of dwarf cichids in the talk once the plants are doing well.

I'm assuming that you already have Tanganikan dwarves or something.  If not, 
you can keep SA dwarves in softer water with a pH of around 7.0.  Also, my 
recipes above for tanks without nitrification filters might be less effective 
at higher pH values.

>So if anyone has suggestions on what sort of substrate and or what type
>of plants I sould get please let me know.  I plan to put some oto's in
>the tank to keep the algae down.

I really need to know how much lighting you are using before I can reccommend 
many plants.  Java Fern, Java Moss, and Anubias will survive in low lighting 
conditions.  Anubias is capable of stripping carbonates from the water if there 
isn't enough CO2, but it doesn't do it as fast as anacharis in my experience.
Ottos will probably work well in your tank.  You may have problems with them 
though if you plan to keep the pH high.  Then again you may not have any 
problems at all.  

David W. Webb
Enterprise Computing Provisioning
Texas Instruments Inc. Dallas, TX USA
(214) 575-3443 (voice)  MSGID:       DAWB
(214) 575-4853 (fax)    Internet:    dwebb at ti_com
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