Pros and cons for Real Plants?

MudHog
  • #1
OK.

I've seen real plants before and I do like the idea.

Someone tell me the pros and cons to real plants.

1. Do they add algae to the tank or dirty the tank up?

2. What kind of substrate would be involved?

3. Do they get planted or stay in pots?

4. I've read about fertilizing them, how to do that safely?

5. My light is a 17W bulb on my 39 gallon aquarium that is 22" in total height. Would this work? If not, can I just change out the bulb or do I need a new light fixture.


I'm not looking for "real plants are the only way to go" replies. Looking for good user information.
 
neverendingninja
  • #2
Real plants are extremely beneficial to the aquatic environment, because the calm the fish, much the same way houseplants calm people. They also add fresh oxygen to the water.

The can help eliminate algae by consuming nutrients that would otherwise be left in the water to feed algae. The do not dirty the tank up if you do proper maintenance such as trimming dead leaves.

There are many fertilizers designed specifically for planted aquaria, along with dry fertilizers which are for the folks that get dragged more in depth into planted tanks.

Lastly, your lasts are not going to be sufficient. You will need at least twice that in order to grow the lowest light demanding plants. You will have to replace the hood or do a retrofit, as fluorescent bulbs come in standard watts per their length.

Hope that helps. Check out Isabella's
 
MudHog
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
this does help.

I would need some seriour upgrading as I only have .4 WPG currently. I would only try to achieve low light status though. Wouldn't jump all in and go High-Light plants from the start.
 
sirdarksol
  • #4
What neverendingninja said, with one caveat. If your tank gets any natural light, it could grow plants even with that lighting. Three of my tanks are technically under-lit, but they get indirect sunlight (not necessarily a good thing, but indirect means no jump in temperature, just a larger amount of algae), so they can grow even mid-light plants.
 
MudHog
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
I get some morning sunlight, but not much.


what I would like is if someone in the plant field has some time and AIM, I'd like to chat with them.
 
MudHog
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
how do you clean/vacuum a tank with live plants? So far I've had fake plants and every time I cleaned my tank I moved my plants around. With live plants, you have to keep them in their location as they are rooted I assume.
 
Barbrella
  • #7
I have only 2 watts per gallon in my 5 gal tanks, and the java fern and anubias I have are growing just fine! I even have some Cabomba putting out roots in there.

Java fern and Anubias cannot have their roots buried. I have them tied to driftwood and a clay pot for now. The roots attach themselves to just about anything, so you can move them around as you please, so that's another option.
 
MudHog
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
another thing that concerns me is my banded lep. they like plants and it would probably nip at my live plants.
 
neverendingninja
  • #9
Here goes another one...WPG rule fails. It does not work on excessively large or small tanks. 2WPG on 5 gallons is only 10 watts, and that is below the MLT(minimum light threshold) for most plants. Anubias, java fern, etc, will do ok with VERY low lighting, but anything else will suffer. But, also, 2WPG over a 240gal tank is 480 watts. That's pretty much overkill, and you'll probably burn your plants up.




Check those two links out if you want a headache

Also, when it comes to cleaning...you don't vacuum the gravel in a planted tank, because the mulm(fish poop, left over food, etc etc...detritus) that settles on the bottom makes excellent plant food. You should just hover the vacuum over the top of the substrate in order to pick up loose particles.
 
MudHog
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
Also, when it comes to cleaning...you don't vacuum the gravel in a planted tank, because the mulm(fish poop, left over food, etc etc...detritus) that settles on the bottom makes excellent plant food. You should just hover the vacuum over the top of the substrate in order to pick up loose particles.

thanks, that clears up the cleaning part.
 
neverendingninja
  • #11
Also, don't fret. You'll see it says over 100 watts for your 39 gallon tank, but that is for a TakashI Amano style tank, and if you've seen his work, you know he does things big Just shoot for around 40-75 watts, by doing retro fits or getting a new light fixture, and you should be able to do some excellent, beautiful aquascaping.
 
MudHog
  • Thread Starter
  • #12
my tank is 30"x12"x22", do they make universal fixtures for me to look for or would I have to do something custom?

I wouldnt attempt to put a 40w bulb in this fixture and would have to look and see how two bulbs would fit on my 12" deep tank.
 
MudHog
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
This is my current hood and light:

30" model
 
neverendingninja
  • #14
edit; nevermind.

give me a few minutes.
 
MudHog
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
has a 24" T-8 8000degreeK bulb.
 
neverendingninja
  • #16
You could look into getting a and a

And then putting your current hood in the front, and the new twin tube in the back, putting you at 51 watts.

Or, you could go for a , and keep your current hood, putting you at 65 watts.
 
MudHog
  • Thread Starter
  • #17
check the last link. it's the same link as the glass versa top.
 
neverendingninja
  • #18
There you go. It comes with a lunar light too, which isn't beneficial for your plants, but its nice to watch your fish when they think you're not

Also check eBay. You can get decent lights there for relatively cheap.

I found a link to a store through ebay, and they had my 130w CF fixture for like $60+shipping
 
MudHog
  • Thread Starter
  • #19
i'm finding these:






2nd one is All-Glass and would likely fit my existing hood to where I don't have to change that out too.
 
neverendingninja
  • #20
You wouldn't have to change out the hood to put that single satellite one on, I don't think.

Another thing I forgot to tell you is that watts don't really transfer very well from bulb type to bulb type. By this, I mean that 55 watts of light from a compact fluorescent is truly more light(lumens) than 55 watts of standard fluorescent. Again, 55 watts of T5 is more than 55watts of T8. So on and so forth.

Anyhow, your best bet will be to do tons of research, DO NOT buy on a whim. Look into it for a bit, find out what's going to suit your needs, decide how far you want to get into this(I started out with a sword plant...and now its all over for me. I'm planning on changing substrate and adding co2 before too long...actually working on a DIY co2 setup now), then ask further questions if you need.
 
MudHog
  • Thread Starter
  • #21
I do like that Satellite fixture and would have to find measurements of it and compare to my current fixture to see if this hood would work.

I think once I can get the lighting figured out, I would be good to go. I've decided I'd like to start with some Java ferns and still keep some fake plants to give some varity.

My current fixture is 20" x 4.5" and has a 24" bulb in side it. Found this number on a sticker: E506A and will see if it means anything like a model number.
 
MudHog
  • Thread Starter
  • #22
Satellite fixture:
24" 1-65 watt 1 No 24-5/8" x 5-1/4" x 2-1/2" 65
30" 1-65 watt 1 No 30-5/8" x 5-1/4" x 2-1/2" 65

The 1/4" on the 5-1/4" is hurting me. I have 5" with 5-1/8" at most between my lid and my Emperor 280. I could probably trim my lid as it would only be 24-5/8" long and be shorter than my current fixture which spans the tank. This would allow the new fixture to recess into the lid itself. If heat a major concern with these? My hood has a plastic clear gass for the light fixture. Would this light put out enough heat to damage the plastic? Would the All-Glass put out as much heat too to where either one would need an actual glass hood?
 
Isabella
  • #23
1. Do they add algae to the tank or dirty the tank up?
If they start decomposing/dying, then yes, they can add algae. How? The decomposing/rotting plant material will release nutrients that alge will use to feed on and grow. If plants are healthy, on the other hand, they help prevent algae by competing with algae for available nutrients in the water. The more nutrients the plants consume, the less nutrients is left for algae, and therefore the algae cannot thrive.

2. What kind of substrate would be involved?
That depends on the kinds of plants you'll have and on the kind of lighting you'll have.

3. Do they get planted or stay in pots?
It's best to take rooting plants out of pots and plant them in substrate. This way, they wind their roots around nutrient-rich substrate particles and extract/consume the nutrients necessary to thrive.

4. I've read about fertilizing them, how to do that safely?
Again, depends on the kinds of plants you'll have, on lighting, whether you'll have CO2, and on substrate. Did you read the guide to the low-light planted tank?

5. My light is a 17W bulb on my 39 gallon aquarium that is 22" in total height. Would this work? If not, can I just change out the bulb or do I need a new light fixture.
17W over 39 Gal. tank gives you approx. 0.4 wpg of lighting. This is not enough for most aquatic plants, though perhaps some very low-light and undemanding plants would be OK under such lighting. If you have a standard lighting hood, a higher wattage light bulb won't work with it. You'll either need to buy another higher wattage fixture, or simply add another fixture to your existing one (or perhaps add a retrofit).
 
MudHog
  • Thread Starter
  • #24
thanks for the reply Isabella.

I went to my not so local fish store today and talked to the lady in there about live plants. She is saying that my Lep. will eat my live plants. This makes since as it's a vegetable eater. My question now would be if he would eat anything and everything in there. I was looking to start with Java Fern and Water Spirite.
 
Kevin
  • #25
if he is fed well, he shouldn't go after the plants much, but he might nibble on them every now and then

those 2 plants are great for a new tank...the water sprite propagates like crazy on its own
 
MudHog
  • Thread Starter
  • #26
That's what I am hoping will be true, he is fed well and won't eat them. If he does, then I will know I can't keep live plants with him. Nipping them here and there is OK with me. My plan is to build my slate planter/cave and put a small java fern in it. Then put another java fern and water sprite in the tank bottom.
 
neverendingninja
  • #27
I'm not sure exactly what a Lep. is (Lepidiolamprologus?), but pretty much no fish will eat Java Fern or moss, or anubias because they're very tough and apparently quite un-appetizing.

I can't say for sure, however. I know my fish are omnivores, but they don't eat too much of my plants. I can't speak for true vegetarian fish, however.
 
MudHog
  • Thread Starter
  • #28
My "lep" is a Leporinus fasciatus.

Black Banded Leporinus fasciatus

I'm still going to give it a shot. I like that Satellite fixture and will probably do the 24" model and get a new hood. I just need to try and sell my old hood and fixture.
 
Barbrella
  • #29
No guarantees, but most fish will not eat the thick, tough leaves of an Anubias.
 
MudHog
  • Thread Starter
  • #30
that's a moderate light level plant. I will barely be in the low level ranges.

from liveaquaria:

Care Level: Easy
Light: Moderate
Placement: Foreground
Tank Conditions: 72-82°F; pH 6.5-7.5; KH 3-7
Propagation: Rhizome Division, Side Shoots on Rhizome
Max. Size In Aquarium: Up to 1' 4"
Color Form: Bright Green, Green
Ideal Supplements: CO2 Fertilization, Substrate Fertilizer
Origin: Farm Raised, USA
Family: Araceae
 
Barbrella
  • #31
Anubias actually prefer subdued light. I have them living and growing in all my tanks, with 2 watts per gallon of light.

My Java fern is growing quite well with less than 1 wpg.
 
MudHog
  • Thread Starter
  • #32
cool deal.

I'll be about 1.5-2.0 WPG with the Satellite fixture.
 
MudHog
  • Thread Starter
  • #33
Update: Went to a LFS and met a guy there, I put him up there with Dino and the others that have ALOT of tanks. This guy has 15 tanks in just his bedroom, multiple other tanks around his house and a shed full of tanks where he breeds and raises fish.

He has a 96w Coralife fixture with a 6500K bulb in it that he will sell to me for $70. He thinks it's still in the box and never been used. Likely has a versa top that he would give me too.

With 96w I would be up to about 2.4 wpg.

The only thing I would have to do is add my lunar lights myself. What yall think of this fixture?
 
Bill
  • #34
Just a few ideas -
You really don't need high light to have a very well-planted aquarium. I have 0.88wpg on my tank, and I'm growing loads of java fern, anubias, anachris and hygrophila corymbosa (there is a recent-ish pic in the link in my sig). The hygrophila is rated as a "medium-low light" plant on Plantgeek, and is growing very well and looks healthy.

If you go up to 2.4wpg you will most likely have to start adding co2 or Flourish Excel to keep the plants healthy, as they will grow so fast 9this also incurs more maintenance with pruning etc.). If you keep it at about 1.5wpg that would be about right for low to medium-low light plants (a good enough range to have lots of variety), and if you have a nutrient-rich substrate or dose with fertiliser the plants should grow very well. You can even get by with no water changes for ages and ages if you do it in a certain way, but that's a different matter

Of course, if you go the high-light + co2/Excel route the tank can have a greater variety of plants, but personally I prefer the cheaper, lazier and easier option.
 
MudHog
  • Thread Starter
  • #35
Thanks for that reply Bill.

You brought up excellent points and now have made my mind up on the Satellite fixture. If having that high of wattage makes me to start needing CO2, then that's not the route I want to tank. I'm not trying to go full blown into live plants with this tank. Came across this fixture and think it's a good deal, but like you said, it's a little more than I need.
 
Bill
  • #36
No problem

Check out this link for some more detailed info..
 

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