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Bryce's New Tank

> Hi! I am just starting up a 20 gallon aquarium and I
> was wondering if anyone knows any good plants for 
> beginners(btw, this is my first aquarium). My friend

> said that Anubias plants are good to start out with.

I offer my congratulations (and condolences ;) on your
first planted tank.  Trust me in one thing--both of
what I offer are appropriate.

Anubias are undemanding plants, but they are slow
growers and are some of the most expensive aquarium
plants you can buy.  I think I avoided a lot of
problems with a dense initial planting.  If I had
chosen to plant a lot of Anubias, the plants in the
tank would have cost a small fortune.  In fact, if I
were to spend that kind of money on a first plant
tank, my wife would shoot me for not using the cash on
a much larger tank.  I don't want to talk you out of
buying plants you really like, but if you are doing
this on a budget, you might want to look for something

One of the easiest plants to grow is Cryptocoryne
wendtii.  It tolerates as wide a range as the Anubia,
but is faster growing and less expensive.  It comes in
a lot of flavors, too.  ;) My planted tank is an
experiment.  If the experiment fails, I don't feel as
bad tossing a $3.00 plant as I would if I were tossing
a $10, $12 or even $20 plant! 

> I also have another question: I don't think that my 
> fluorescent light is powerful enough for a lot of 
> plants(I think it said 17 watts #:O).  Anyway, would

> it be alright if I hung a shop light(4 ft. I think) 
> above the aquarium(with, of course, fluorescent 
> lighting)?

I don't think 17 watts is enough either.  That's less
than 1 watt per gallon, and the general rule is 2-3
watts per gallon is 'average light.'  One 4' shop
light fixture with a pair of 40 watt tubes will get
you about 4 watts per gallon.  That's enough light to
grow almost anything, *IF* the tubes are within an
inch or so of the surface.  The farther away your
lights are, the less light you have penetrating to the
floor of the aquarium.  

I built a wooden light hood using 3/4" cabinet grade
plywood and a flourescent 'repair kit' from the local
lighting supply store.  This turned out to be a bit
more expensive than I planned, but the results are
worth it, IMO.

I strongly recommend Erik Olsen's site,
http://www.thekrib.com.  You'll find a wealth of
information on that site, covering just about
everything you'll encounter in the weeks (and months,
and years) ahead.

My planted tank experiment has been running now for
about 6 weeks.  So far, it has been the most exciting,
most horrifying, most puzzling and most satisfying
experience I've ever had with plants.

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