55 gal w/ 10 gal refugium

Discussion in 'Aquarium Plants' started by Fydo44, Apr 18, 2010.

  1. Fydo44

    Fydo44New MemberMember

    Background Info: I have have a 55 gallon tank with 2 cichlids, 1 blood parrot, 3 pictus catfish, and 1 pleco. My water is a little more on the acidic side around 7.6 and last test was 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and 20 nitrate. Doing weekly 20% water changes.

    PLAN: I want to set up a 10 gal refugium to do live plants and plumb in to the 55 gal. My current plans are to use a 18 watts of florescent on the tank and pool filter sand as the substrate. I am just wanting to start a small planted tank to get a little experience on some plants. So what would some good plants be and any other tips.
  2. Nutter

    NutterFishlore VIPMember

    My first tip would have to be don't use pool filter sand as a substrate in a planted tank. Because of the depth of the sand, poisonous nitrogen bubbles can form. These are bad for any fish you might like to add & they are bad for the plants roots when they form around them. Plants root into sand easily but no nutrients travel through the sand to the plants roots. Much better off using ordinary aquarium gravel with a fairly small grade (less than 1/8") or a plant specific substrate like Eco-Complete. If you really want to go with the sand it will require gentle stirring every week using you fingers so that you don't damage the plants roots & you will need to use substrate fertiliser tablets around the roots of any plants that are planted directly into the substrate.

    For the amount of light you will have I recommend you stick to low light plants. Java Moss, Java Fern, most Anubius varietes, most Cryptocoryne varietes, Water Sprite, Water Wisteria, Bolbitis Fern & Marimo Moss Balls would all be good starter plants for you. Research Crypt & Anubius varieties first to be certain of eventual size & light requirements.
  3. ilikefish

    ilikefishValued MemberMember

    I agree with nutter... trust me... you don't want sand... its not as cool as most people think... gravel is way easier and my plants grow equally well in both. Eco-complete is like a dream gravel... I would strive for that.

    Orrr you could step up the lighting and have access to an even larger variety of plants which would make the plant thing a more exciting hobby lol
  4. harpua2002

    harpua2002Fishlore VIPMember

    I love pool filter sand for a low light tank. Swords can be supplemented easily with root tabs. For more demanding plants, eco complete or fluorite are great options.

    How do you plan to plumb your 10 gallon into your 55? Will you tear the tank down and have it drilled and set it up again? Will you use a hang on back overflow? Have you considered using a larger tank than a 10 to impact overall system volume as well as for nutrient export?

    I cannot caution you enough about hang on back overflows. I know this is just my personal experience and that lots of people are successful with them, but I bought a 29 gallon reef setup with a HOB overflow and hated it. It was a CPR-style overflow, using a pump to suck air bubbles out of the overflow through airline tubing. If the pump fails or isn't powerful enough, air bubbles will collect in the overflow and you will lose siphon, and your return pump will empty your sump into your display, probably resulting in a flood. With mine, I went through 3 Aqualifter pumps (not powerful enough to reliably get the job done, even though everyone seems to use those) and a Maxi Jet 600 (failed). That's 4 potential floods that would have been disastrous if I hadn't been in the same room watching the display start to fill up. I tore down this tank yesterday and moved it into an all in one tank and slept easier last night than I have in months. ;)

    Hang on overflows are a deal breaker for me... never again! LOL
  5. OP

    Fydo44New MemberMember

    Homemade hang on back will be used. I have done lots of testing and it has yet to come up with a problem. Using 1/2 pvc with hose plumbed in to keep syphon. I do have a empty 30 gal that I could use. But lighting is the problem as I am on a college budget at the moment. I just wanna get my feet wet with plants really.
  6. ilikefish

    ilikefishValued MemberMember

    Go college bugets!... They inspire the best DIY ideas ^^ lol
  7. yukoandk

    yukoandkValued MemberMember

    Speaking of budgets--of any kind--I just started a 55 gal tank that came with an aprox. 20 gal sump. I put some left over plant substrate in one of the compartments and threw in a good handful of hornwort, and I am trying a clamp-on-shop-lamp ($6) with a screw on Day Light CFL ($3) equivalent of 75w for it. I'm thinking hornwort shouldn't be too fussy, and the purpose of it is to help the overall health of the system (according to my plan,) but I see no reason why a cheep clamp lamp wouldn't work. Or I will find out otherwise. Good luck with your experiment!