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Somebody help this Newbie!!!
>The size of the tank will be 10 gallons. Yeast and suger water for CO2
Perfectly adequate on a 10G tank, or even a 20. I would suggest that you
consider starting with a 20 instead of the 10. The problem with a 10 is
that it is so small that if you do well, most plants will be outgrowing
the tank within a few weeks.
>and DIY heating cables
>or under tank heating pads for the substrate is my plan
Really unnecessary for a project of this size. Certainly not a
requirement for a big tank either. If you have to shave cost, do it
>I know that this will probably be more
>difficult to keep than a larger aquarium due to the lower volume of
>water, but I don't want to invest a large sum of money initially into
>hobby just to find out that I dont like the end result.
Spend the few $ extra that you would have spent on your substrate heating
and get the 20G tank instead of the 10. Except for the cost of the
greater amount of lighting, there should not be much difference in cost
between setting up a small planted tank and any other FW tank of
comparable size. Even over a 20G tank, a double bulb 20W strip light
will do the job, and is not too expensive. Over a 10G tank, it is
possible to get by with a single 15W bulb, although my preference is for
>Would a Penguin Biowheel be an adequate source of filtration for a 10
>gal planted aquarium?
Any OPF will be fine. Don't get the "mini" sizes though, even if the
flow rate listed looks adequate. There's a lot of stuff that needs to be
removed mechanically in a planted tank, and the little filters clog up
pretty quickly. There's very little increase in price between the
smallest filters and the next couple of sizes up. If you're concerned
about too much water flow, go with an Aquaclear, which has an adjustable
flow rate. Another advantage of the Aquaclear is taht you just take the
sponge out and rinse it, so you'r not always buying and throwing away
>The splash of the biowheel kinda has me worried that CO2 will rapidly
>escape but the cost and maintenence is cheap.
I was concerned about that too until I did some experiments with
Bio-wheels. As long as you keep the water level high enough, there is
really not as much outgassing as you might expect. If you are adding CO2
via a yeast reactor, you'll hae no trouble replacing the little that you
lose. _ALL_ OPF's will cause more outgassing than you want if you allow
the water level to get too low.
>(2) Testing equipment
>Besides Iron, Carbonate Hardness, pH, and CO2, what testing kits do I
>need? Do I even need these? pH i'm pretty certain of but what brands
>the most accurate?
An iron kit is nice, but I don't consider it essential for a novice using
commercial fertilizers in a conservative manner. Particularly if the
light levels are 2W/G or lower. KH and pH are absolutely necessary. GH
test kits are cheap, and it's nice to know where you stand. CO2 test
kits are absolutely _not_ necessary. The KH/pH charts work fine as long
as your KH and pH tests are accurate. Even if they're off a little, what
it is most important to watch are CHANGES, not absolute values. So as
long as you don't change brands and expect the exact same result, most
are probably adequate. I use and like the Tetra KH and GH test kits. I
use cheap bromethymol blue pH test kits
IMO, low range phosphate and nitrate test kits are important to have on
hand for the aquatic gardener. I don't use them that often, but they can
be important diagnostic tools. I use the Tetra NO3 test kit, and have
been satisfied with the results. I am still working my way through a
Dupla PO4 test kit, which isn't that easy to use or read. I will
probably switch to Hach or Lamotte when I use it up.
In general, Hach and Lamotte test kits are highly reliable, easy to use
and quite expensive for the initial kit, although refills are much less.
For most aquatic gardeners, particularly those with lower light levels
and moderate growth rates, lower quality, lower price test kits are
usually adequate, especially if you don't want to spend a fotune when
you're starting out. You can replace less expesnsive test kits with
nicer ones one at a time as time goes on and the initial cost of tank
set-up is past.
Remember, the above advice is based on the use of high quality commercial
fertilizers, good observation, and the premise that changes in values are
more important than absolute values. If you are using the Sears/Conlin
method, and trying to carefully control various parameters, you will
probably need the high quality, expensive test kits.
>(3) Plant nutrient supplements.
>Besides laterite and Duplagan water conditioner, what is needed? Is
>Florasan a good product? What is the best nutrient additive and why?
I advise all beginners to start with a laterite substrate, and you can't
go wrong with Dupla. I don't think Duplagan is necessary unless you are
using the complete Dupla fertilization system. If you use Dupla drops
and Dupla tablets, you _must_ either use Duplagan, or supplement
magnesium via epsom salts.
I can't comment on Florasan as I have no experience with it. The Dupla
products are good quality, very concentrated, and therefore not as
expensive as they seem on first look. I find that with my particular tap
water, Tropica Mastergrow works better for me than anything else I've
tried. I do not purchase fertilizers based on price. I want the product
that works best on my tanks.
>Besides "The Optimum Aquarium" what books are the most informative
>regarding environmental conditions for plants and that aren't full of
See my article archived at: <underline>www.aquariumfrontiers.com
>Most importantly, WHAT PRODUCTS SHOULD I AVOID?
Any fertilizers containing phosphate, unless you are _positive_ that your
tank is actually phosphate limited. I also won't use any product where
the manufacturer won't tell me what's in it. That's one reason that
there are a lot of commercial fertilizers that I won't even "test drive".