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Re: Many Questions ...

>Date: Mon, 26 May 1997 07:58:06 -0400
>From: WebServices <webservices at elam-software_com>

>55g glass tank
>3" 2-3 mm gravel
>20 Dupla laterite balls pressed into the gravel, spaced evenly

Add some at the base of bigger plants, also.

>160 watts fluorescent lighting (2 80 watt "shop light" fixtures)
>DIY Co2 injection
>Emperor 400 filter (use of 2 carbon/floss cartridges, aux. media cartridges 
>are filled with peat)

I would not use the carbon cartridges.  The carbon will remove the chelated
trace elements in the Dupla products.  No point in wasting that much money. 

>good-sized colony of Malaysian Livebearing Trumpet snails
>use of Duplagan water conditioner

Duplagan is optional.  It's mostly a water conditioner to help the fish
through the minor trauma of a water change.  It contains some magnesium.
It's very expensive.   

>daily use of Duplaplant 24 drops (2 drops daily)
>daily addition of Plant Tabbs tablet fertilizer (1 tablet daily)
>weekly 30 - 50% water change

Maybe bi-weekly?

>heavy planting
>light/medium fish load (10 corys, 3 clown loaches, 6 or 8 gouramis, a 
>school of 10-15 tetras)

>- - Can I add the laterite balls even with the tank 50% full? Should I push 
>them all the way to the bottom?

Yes, you can add them at any time.  They are dry and will hold together
while you insert them.  Push them about half way down in the gravel.
Besides putting them around the tank, put some at the base of the larger

>- - Is it ok just to use the generic "GE Aquarium & Plant" fluorescent
>They are far cheaper...

Cheaper but dimmer.  If that is all you use, the tank will have a funny,
"black light" look.  You might like it but I think the more expensive full
spectrum bulbs will be much more pleasing.  You are spending lots of bucks
on the Dupla products -- why skimp on light bulbs?  
>- - Should I use 1 or 2 two-liter bottles for Co2?

Use two, but start them two weeks apart.  That way you will have a more
even production of CO2 and when one runs down, it won't affect the CO2
levels in the water as much. 

>- - Is the filter ok? I know it's probably overkill in the GPH rating, but...

Good water movement is important.  The amount of filtering that is done is
not that critical in a planted tank, but the use of a larger filter to
produce more water movement is good. 

>- - Will the Trumpet Snails survive the loaches? I would think so, if they 
>stay in the substrate.

They come out to browse the tanks sides and substrate at night, so will be
tasty morsels at that time.  Some may survive, but I feel the tank won't
get the full benefit of the snails with clown loaches present, especially
when the loaches get bigger. 

>- - Is 2 drops of Duplaplant 24 daily sufficient?

This will depend on how the tank runs.  It's a good starting point but it's
better to use an iron test kit to determine the actual iron concentration
you achieve.  0.1 mg/l is recommended.  If you don't use a test kit, watch
for the long stringy thread algae.  If you see some, reduce the daily drops. 

>- - Is 1 Plant Tabb tablet daily sufficient?

NO, NO, NO!  ONLY use the plant tablets when you first set up the tank (add
enough for about 47 gallons of water) and then ONLY when you do a water
change (add enough tablets for ONLY the amount of water that is changed). 

The tablets contain trace elements that are not toxic in a dose large
enough for a two week period.  The drops contain trace elements that would
be toxic in a large dose or would rapidly oxidize.  The tablets and drops
serve different purposes!
>- - Acceptable fish load?

Too many gouramis -- most types get pretty big. 
Think about the clown loaches -- they are cute and all that but they will
raise havoc with the snails. 

>- - Any suggestions for plants?

Get a LOT of fast growing plants at first.  Try to get some from other
aquarists -- they will do much better than store-bought.  After six months
or so when the tank stabilizes, start adding more decorative plants.  Fast
growers are Bacopas, Hygrophilas, Vals, Aponogetons, Ludwigias. 

George Booth, Ft. Collins, Colorado (booth at frii_com)
Need info? http://www.frii.com/~booth/AquaticConcepts.htm