Upgrade to a fully planted goldfish tank How Do I

Discussion in 'Aquarium Plants' started by yukoandk, Mar 26, 2010.

  1. yukoandkValued MemberMember

    I would like to upgrade my 55gal goldfish tank into a fully planted tank, and would like to ask if anyone will share his/her expertise.

    The tank's been set up for about 9 months, and I've been adding and rotating plants periodically for my goldfish to munch on and to help with the nitrate level. Well the plants never thrive enough to have any effect on nitrate partly because my goldfish do devour some of them and do thrash around in the tank a lot, but also I think because the environment isn't quite right.

    After reading about benefits of proper water hardiness in aquariums in general, I've been working on raising the hardiness in my tank for the past few weeks by adding Seachem buffer and Wondershells. The tap water is soft around here, and I used to get readings of below 70ppm for both KH and GH, and they are now KH at 100 and GH 180+.

    I have a 36" single florescent light fixture at 30w, and that probably isn't even close to being enough light. I've been looking into options such as T5HO and power compact, and from reading some other threads here T5HO seems to have more member votes. I noticed power compact bulbs have much higher wattage than T5HOs though, so if I went with, for example, a 48" T5HO fixture, would I need one that holds 4 bulbs?

    I'm thinking I may have to do something with the gravel as well. There is average 1.5" of pea gravel in the tank now, and the only plant now that's actually somewhat rooted is a type of lotus I think with a bulb to hold it in place. Should I use a layer of plant substrate of some sort or perhaps mix finer substrate with the existing gravel?

    I understand it maybe a bit trickier with goldfish, but I'm not talking about highly manicured aquascaping. I'm just very attracted to the idea of an aquarium as a balanced and working system. Am I missing something here? Any ideas will be appreciated. Thanks!

  2. NutterFishlore VIPMember

    Your going to be in for a very tough time trying to have plants with Goldies. Your going to need to stick to very tough plants like Anubius, Java Fern & Sword Plants while still rotating through some soft plants like Ambulia & Duckweed for the fish to eat. There's no need for you to worry aobut T5HO lighting or intense lighting of any sort for having a planted Goldfish tank as the sort of plants that might survive the attention from the fish are mainly low light plants anyway. You would probably want to double the amount of light you currently have or look at a dual 40w T8 fixture which would be perfect for your purposes.

    It takes plants a very long time to absorb nitrate so don't look for that as a result. Plants actually much prefer ammonia as thier nitrogen source & that means less ammonia is being converted into nitrates. Adding an extra inch or so of standard aquarium gravel would be a good idea but don't use any planted tank substrates. Goldfish like to forrage around in the substrate & traditionally planted tank substrates cloud up the water when disturbed by larger digging fish like Goldies.

    Having water that is too hard & with a high PH is not good for plants. So long as nutrients are used to provide the essential minerals you can grow plants very well in distilled water so don't get too carried away with the Seachem buffer or the shells. You will be better served by letting your water go back to it's original values & supplementing with a liquid fertiliser like Flourish Comprehensive. The plants won't appreciate the high PH that comes from using lots of buffers anyway. Most plants prefer a PH of about 6.8 but anything in the range of 6.5-7.6 is fine.

    To get things like Java Fern & other attached plants established without your fish destroying them you will need to attach them to wood or whatever & let them grow in a different tank until they are well established. Keep in mind that many of the plants you buy from LFS will be from heated tanks & are unsuitable for cool water tanks. The ones that are suitable for cool water are probably being kept in heated water at the LFS & will need time to acclimate to the cool water of your tank.

  3. yukoandkValued MemberMember

    Thank you Nutter for the useful information--make sense. I've gotten some idea of types of plants that may work as far as compatibility with goldfish, but understanding the plants operations and requirements is new to me. I thought the lighting was a good place to start because a few stem plants that survived (not thrived) turned very skinny and slinky. They quickly get covered with brown algae, and I have brown hair algae growing strong in there as well. It will be a challenging project most likely with a lot of trial and error, but I want to do it! I will continue with my homework. I'm sure I'll be back soon with more questions--thanks again!

  4. platy benWell Known MemberMember

    Heres a method me and my grand father use in our ponds, our koi ruin our weed so this is what we do.

    We use large tubs, but for a tank, find a small plastic tub which you know is safe for fish, then put some substrate in the bottom which a plant can root in easily. The find and item that you can put on top of the tub, which has gaps big enough for the plant to get through, but not big enough for the goldfish to get in. Put a heavy stone or piece of decor on top.
    This works great with our oxygen weed in the ponds so this is the weed I would recommend using. The weed will then grow through the gaps, the goldfish can ruin it as much as they like, but you will always have the healthy rooted section protected :)
  5. yukoandkValued MemberMember

    Thank you for the neat idea, platy ben. I was actually thinking about something similar, like a boxed section in the tank for the weeds using a breeder continer or something. Or I may get less crafty and just designate a spot for rotating plants.

    Another thing I have to figure out is that I was never able to get bunched plants to root. If I just sticked a cut bunch of plants in the gravel, the bottom of the plants would just rot under there. Then they'd eventually turn into aqua-tumbleweeds!

    Anyways, Thanks again!
  6. platy benWell Known MemberMember

    Do you have any local ponds near you? or know anybody with a pond?
  7. yukoandkValued MemberMember

    Yes and no, why?
  8. AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Good morning,

    My 26g Goldie tank is planted. As Nutter mentioned the Anubias should do well. I have one in my tank and it's doing great! There are photos in my profile is you care to take a peek. The ferns are doing well and so are the plants in the back left hand corner (in profile photos) but I'm not certain as to what they are.

    If you can find some Japanese Marimo Balls, I highly recommend them too. Mine are doing very well and I've had them for several months.
    My goldfish love to peck on them from time to time but they haven't done any damage to the ball.

    I don't do anything special for my plants at all other than clean them off, keep them pruned, generic lighting and regular aquarium rock for substrate.

    I hope you can share some photos with us some time.
  9. NutterFishlore VIPMember

    The plants in the back left of your 26gal tank are some form of Anubius Ken. Either Afzelii or Frazeri I think.
  10. AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Thanks Nutter! When I bought them it just stated variety pack or something like that.
    I appreciate it!

    Edit: My Java Moss is doing really well too. :)
  11. NutterFishlore VIPMember

    I noticed that. I'm so jealous. I've been trying to get Java Moss growing on the rocks in my sig tank but just can't get it to take. It's driving me nuts. I can get it to grow in every tank I have except the one I really want it in. First time I had a good look at your 265gal to. I love it.
  12. AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Thanks Nutter! :)

    I had shoved my Java Moss down into the terracotta pot and left it there for a while. I removed it and rinsed it in siphoned tank water. I discovered that some of it has actually attached itself to the inside of the pot and is growing there on it's own! So I fluffed the Java Moss out/up and its all doing well.

    Maybe the rocks aren't porous enough for the moss to actually attach?

  13. platy benWell Known MemberMember

    If it were me I would just take some of the weed from the pond you know if it is a healthy pond, no pollution etc.
    Ive used oxygen weed from my pond many times in my tanks and its fine.
  14. yukoandkValued MemberMember

    Hello Ken, all your tanks are beautiful! I've had marimo before with my commons/comets, and they had a grand ol' time tearing up the balls. I've had the same "plant assortment" too--I always thought the darker leafed one was a type of peace lily or something. Thanks platy ben, I actually have a small container pond in the back yard, and right now being the end of winter the plants in there are quite dingy. There is a local pond shop I go to sometimes as well.

    About diatoms, I've read many times that they'd go away on their own after a while, but why is that? Does the chemistry in a tank change over time?

    Another question my BF wants to ask: will a glass cover block some spectrums of light? His is a 29gal FW community, and his plants aren't doing so hot neither. Both our tanks are looking rather sad right now:(:)
  15. NutterFishlore VIPMember

    Though the leaves of a Peace Lilly look similar to some Anubius varieties, Peace Lillys are non aquatic & will rot & die within a few months of being kept submersed in a tank. If you have had your plants for more than 6 months & it hasn't died, chances are it is an Anubius or maybe a Sword depending on exactly how it is growing.

    As far as I'm aware glass lids do not black any specific part of the light spectrum. They can cut down the intensity of light that travels through them but all wavelengths should penetrate clear glass. Keeping the lids clean is very important as is replacing flourescent tubes every 12 months or so.

    Diatoms dissapear as a tank matures & the system starts to balance out, assuming the cause of the diatom bloom has been addressed. If you have a problem with diatoms please post the details of light hours & type as well as the water parameters both from the tap & the tank.

    Ken - The Java Moss just doesn't seem to like the conditions in the tank very much for what ever reason. I've got Moss growing on the exact same rocks in a different tank & I've tried attaching some to a piece of bogwood in the problem tank to. It just doesn't like it for what ever reason. It's no big deal, I've just added some Anubius Nana 'Petite' to attach to the wood & hopefully I will be able to get some Xmas Moss next week to try for on the rocks.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2010

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