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RE: Mission Impossible

> My boss at the LFS has chosen me to set up and maintain our
> planted display

I empathize with Andy, I too over the years have had to deal with superiors
who did not understand the basic rules of the game. As a person involved
with the sale of live animals, I'm sure however, that he is familiar with
laws surrounding cruelty to animals. Perhaps you could appeal to his basic
decency with an argument based upon cruelty to plants.

Hey, it's worth a try. <grin>

I think all of the people on this list who have been involved with the hobby
for longer than 10 or 15 years can attest to the fact that years ago we DID
maintain tanks under low light conditions and still managed to have plants
in our tanks. However, the species of plants which were widely available
back in those days was not as extensive as it is today. In addition, our
expectations of a "planted tank" were probably a lot different (and a lot
less) than it is today where anything short of a jungle is considered in
some quarters to be a failure.

Based upon the amount of light you have available, I would suggest that you
limit your plant selection to ONLY those species which can tolerate low
light levels. A beautiful display could be obtained thru the use of Java
Fern, Javal Moss and perhaps some Crypts. You could even forego the Crypts.
Both Java Fern and Java Moss will tolerate this low light level and, against
a black background, would provide a beautiful foil to the school of Cardinal
Tetras. Check the Amano volumes for possible aquascaping ideas. Not every
planted aquarium has to look like a jungle. A simple, spare layout can
achieve spectacular results.

Remind your manager that a tank full of dying plants is certainly NOT going
to be an attractive sales feature, in fact it might be self defeating,
making customers think that the store personnel know absolutely nothing
about growing live plants and tempting them to shop elsewhere (I've seen it
happen here in Toronto).

Your manager seems to be very concerned about taking a saleable product out
of inventory (a second light fixture) in order to provide sufficient light
to maintain the selection of plants which you mention. Maybe if you set down
a cost benefit analysis of both avenues would be appropriate.

1. Determine the number of each plant species which will be required to
plant the tank initially.
2. Determine the wholesale cost of those plants to the store.
3. Determine the likely life span of the individual species under the low
light conditions provided.
4. Determine the number of times, over the course of one year, that those
plants are going to have to be replaced (at cost) in order to maintain the
tank in an attractive condition.
5. Work out the projected cost, to the store, of the initial plant set-up
and the on-going cost of replacing plants which fail to thrive under such
low light conditions.
6. Compare the cost of #5 with the cost, to the store, of a second light
fixture from the beginning.
7. If the manager can't see the benefit to the bottom line, of doing things
correctly from the start, consider my earlier suggestion of using only
plants like Java Fern and Java Moss. Driftood and rocks can also be very
effective aquascaping tools.

On your proposed equipment selection, I offer the following comments:

1. With a lighting level of only 1 Watt per gallon, additional CO2, from the
CEOMAT system, will likely not be necessary. If it IS used, the cost of
refills must be worked into the cost benefit analysis I suggested above.

2. Seachem Flourite is supposed to be used either as the sole substrate or
mixed with at most 50% plain gravel. It apprears that you are proposing to
use it like laterite, in the lower third of the gravel bed. Flourite is NOT

3. I think that a Canister filter would be a better selection for filtration
than the Millenium 1000. I'm not too familiar with this particular model,
but from the description of the Millennium line in the Pet Warehouse
catalogue, it would seem that for this size of tank you would need at least
the Millenium 3000. But in any tank with artificial CO2 injection, an over
the top power filter would probably disturb the water surface too much,
causing outgassing of CO2, and increasing the cost of maintaining the system
over time.

4. Your proposed plant selection is not designed for a low light tank. The
following recommendations are from the Tropica Catalogue:

Species:				Lighting Level:
Lilaeopsis (lawn)			medium - high or very high
Hygrophila polysperma		low - very high
Vesicularia dubyana		very low - very high
Shinnersia rivularis		medium - very high
Cabomba carolinia			medium - very high
Eleocharis acicularis		medium - very high

I hope that this helps you find your way out of this dilema.

James Purchase