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Newbie (and Re-Newbie) questions (fwd)
> From: jim kozel <jkozel at ohio_net>
> About 10 years back, I had a 90 gallon reef tank with a wet dry setup. After
> selling off the saltwater stuff, I began a 90 gallon plant tank using the wet dry
> filter and two broad spectrum bulbs and two blue actinic. Someone had told me the
> blue spectrum is all that reaches the plants at their natural depth. Well the
> plants and tank did great for the two years I had it set up. I sold all the stuff
> and have started again and noticed that the members of the list don't like to use
> blue actinics and I've seen no mention of wet dry filters.
The general feeling I've seen is that almost any spectrum of light
works in a planted tank, as long as you have enough of it.
(Personally, I think the "blue" theory is hogwash, as many plants are
not that deep in the water.) The more important issue is usually how
well the plants LOOK under the different types of lighting. Maybe one
actinic with four full-spectrum bulbs might give it an interesting
"kick", but I'd never want any more blue than that. But it's a
personal preference, nothing more.
Wet-dry filters are not necessarily something one needs for a plant
tank. There is one school of thought that says plants actually prefer
ammonia to nitrate, and that NO biological filtration is the
preferable configuration... none of that precious ammonia taken away
from the plants. There are a few of us who do minimal filtered tanks.
Then there are some (c.f. George Booth) who use wet-dry filters to
One thing I like in wet-dry units is that they give you a SUMP in which to put
all the ugly CO2 reactors, heaters and return pump.
> From: "Harry" <harryvdb at dbtech_net>
> Subject: Re: nothing under the substrate or a newbie's first planted aquarium
> I am a newbie who has lurked for a while, spent a lot of time studying the
> FAQs, and read many of the recommendations at many of the excellent sites
> on the 'net. I had planned on setting up my first planted tank with
> Duplarit in the substrate, 90 watts of fluorescent lighting (46gal tank),
> Fluval 303 filter, and probably DIY C02.
An excellent starter tank. You might want to think of one or two more
tubes if you can get away with it. :)
> I can see that there is a high tech/high expense approach and a low
> tech/lower expense approach. I have concluded (maybe wrongly so) that for
> this newbie the higher tech approach is better (less prone to failure).
Having written one of the snippets you quoted, I would say this is
quite true, especially with the Dupla approach. :) If you follow their
directions, there is a much higher probability of success than
experimenting on your own.
> Now I am reading that the "nothing in the substrate" approach (which I
> assume means plain gravel, no C02, etc.) is better for newbies.
> Is there somewhere a recommendation for a newbie's first tank that is
> somewhat agreed upon by the "planted aquarium experts" that I have missed?
> I, for one, have no problem "practicing" for period of time (a month, a
> year, or whatever) in order to "do it right", but I do want to know what to
> do in order to "do it right".
IMO, I think what they're trying to do here is recommend something for
the people who don't want to spend the money on a full Dupla setup.
Many newbies are instead trying to start by experimenting with strange
substrates or trace mixes before having any experience. I think they're saying
new folks may have better results without substrate at all.
So there is a breakdown into three possible newbie "personality types":
1. You have a lot of money to spend, and want really good plant growth now.
Buy Dupla, and follow it closely.
2. You have a tendency to tinker, have a certain amount of money, and
don't mind taking a year or more to learn how it all works. Build
your own CO2 cylinder and lighting fixture. Mix up some PMDD, and buy
iron, nitrate, and phosphate test kits. If you're OK with tearing
down your tank after a while, try one of the substrate additives in
your gravel (KL *OR* soil *OR* laterite etc. Not all of them
3. You want some plant growth, and don't have money, and hate futzing
with things. Use plain gravel, plant easy plants. Get extra light
(like a second strip light, or a shoplight). If feeling a little
adventurous, try yeast CO2.
You don't meet a lot of #1's out there. You do meet a lot of #3's. I
usually tell my #3 friends to get more light, because it's the biggest
barrier keeping them from growing anything. Many of the "experienced"
people on this list are #2's (I am). It's hard to be a #2 newbie,
because you can get easily discouraged. It's much better to start as
a #1 or #3 and then gradually turn into the #2 freak that we are..
eriko at wrq.com