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Re: [AGA-Member] Planted Aquarium Help

Welcome to the AGA and welcome to the fun.

I offer some comments below.

--- Imw88@aol.com wrote:

>     Dear AGA, I'm a new member and I'm a rookie to the
> planted aquarium. I 
> joined with the hope of gaining from more experienced
> people so I pose this 
> question to anyone who has advice for me. Basically I
> would appreciate any advice 
> anyone has for a rookie like myself. Books,

For lists of plants, the Tropica catalogue is good as is
the Aquarium Plant Handbook. Christel Kasselmann's
_Aquarium Plants_ is great for when you really get into it.

You can get those from most bookstores and fromthe AGA

Also, Ines Scheurmann's books aren't too bad.

Teriffic stuff on how to grow plants in Karen Randall's
articles for Aquarium Frontiers (an on-line magazine that
is no longer operating as such). Luckily, Chuck has links
to the archived material:


She also wrote great helpful stuff in her regular column in
Aquarium Fish Magazine. She no longer writes that column
but if you can find back issues, look up "Sunken Gardens." 

Also there's good info on this list and the APD (aquatic
plants digest) mail list:


I have a small on-line column:


you can find a bit better summary of CO2 use there and it's

> websites 

see above and also, don't overlook the tons of good stuff
collected on Erik Olson's Thekrib.com. I don't know anyone
in thehobby who hasnt been helped by The Krib.

> any advice you wish to 
> send via e-mail. I've bought some books but I haven't
> found them to be so 
> helpful so I'm hoping someone at there has some better
> ones they can recommend. I 
> also have been having trouble locating some of the
> equipment I've been 
> hearing about. Namely Co2 systems. I tried the CarboPlus
> system but I didn't like 
> it. 

You can use a bottle of sugar and yeast -- look up CO2 on
thekrib.com. or see my self-srving comment above. Briefly, 
for CO2 parts, if you want to make the up front expenditure
in a compressed gas system, first find out who in your area
sells CO2 and find out if they refill your tank or swap
your empty for a full tank. If the latter then you don't
need to buy a tank. If the former, check out
customaquatic.com for tanks and a regulator and
needle-valve. It often costs as much for a 5-pound refill
as a 10-pound refill, so get the larger tank if you can
afford it and have room for it. The higher price of the
larger tnak will be offset inthe first year or two by the
savings on CO2. 

You can fed the CO2 line into the intake on a canister
filter, and that's an inexpensive and effective way to get
the CO2 mixed into the water.

Set the regulator for about 10-20 psi and turn the needle
valve down until the CO2 is jsut bubble about 20 times per
minute (stick the end fo the CO2 line into the water to see
the bubbles). If your aquarium is smaller than 30 gallons,
then cut the rate in half to start out. Then use the
CO2/pH/KH table to find out how much CO2 is being absorbed
into the water. Adjust the valve in small increments if you
need more or less, and wait several hours between
adjustments. You want to get about 20 ppm of CO2. To use
the table, measure the pH and the Kh -- both are
inexpensive test kits.

Maybe someone out there has a better solution. In the
> TAG issue I received, 
> in the article titled Scenery with Rocks, in the
> Aquascape data, they mention 
> filters and substrates that I have never heard of. Are
> they available here in 
> the States? 

You can use any substrate that isn't toxic. Lots of folks
like Flourite, Onxy Sand, or CaribSea's Eco-complete.
That's nice porous material, which the plants seem to like.
But regular ol' epoxy coated gravel formthe local fish
store (LFS) will work, although not as well until a bit of
detritus (old food and fish poop) builds up in the

Also, something called Aeration is mentioned.
> I assume this is 
> adding O2 at night when plants are doing respiration but
> I've never heard of the 
> systems they use to do it. 

To aerate you can run a water flow, like powerhead or
filter output -- twater mixes with air as it goes into the
aquarium. Or use an airpump and airstone. Some 
But it's best to let the plants provide the oxygen, then
you provide good water circulation so that the O2 rich
water gets all around the aquarium. 

The more turbulence you have, including airstones or filter
outputs that splash, the faster the CO2 will escape from
the water. If you're adding CO2, you don't want tubulence,
just good circulation. The CO2 will help the plants
photosynthesize and they'll put plenty of O2 in the water.

> and Does anyone know where to get
> them?

Bigalsonline.com, petsolutions.com, customaquatic.com, 
discount online places to shop for stuff:

> Mr. Amano seems 
> to add only two additives, Brighty K and Green Brighty
> STEP2 with amazing 
> results. 

That's his own brand from Japan. You can buy it from only
one place in the US but it's terribly pricey:


If yo don't use too much light, not more than about 2 watts
per gallon of good fluorescent lighting, then you probably
won't need to add any macronutrient fertilizers to the
substrate or water. So try to aim for about 1.5-2 watts per

Add trace mix (like Tropica Master Grow or Flourish (not
Flourish Trace but just plain Flourish) every other day,
about 5-10 ml per 100 gallon of aquarium.

Call or write or email your local water company/provider
and find out if there is a lot of phosphate or nitrate or
ammonia in the water supply. If so come back on the list
and depending on what you find out, it can be dealt with.

Where can I get these? I have the whole Seachem
> line of products and my 
> plants don't look anything like Mr. Amano's. 

If we all had tanks like Amano's, know one would buy his
books ;-)

CO2 will make a big diff in growth rate for plants.
If yo don't have many fish, then you can add potassium
nitrate and potassium phosphate to the water. Check out
Chuck Gadd's web site for a dosage calculator:


You can get potassium nitrate and potassium phosphate from
hydroponic stores and from:


a pound of nitrate will last for years -- a pound of
phosphate will last abut ten times longer.

With those two compounds you can feed all the
macronutrients (potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorous) that
plants need. Btw, most beginners feed to little rather than
too much. You don't want to feed *too* much, but that's
easy to avoid. And don't worry that there's some exact
amount that you have to hit just right -- aim for the
target levels and watch how your plants grow. Follow
Chuck's calculator and recommendations on target levels --
they are conservative for the most part and won't lead you
to excesses. Well, I'd be satisfied without about 1/4th to
1/2 the amount of potassium he suggests, but going heavy on
potassium doesn't hurt much, so why pick nits ;-) .

If you not sure about using testing to monitor the levels
of nitrate and phosphate, than instead you can skip those
tests, dose based on the calculator and change a least 50%
of the water every week. If you have lots of plants, then
dose twice a week. If your tank is robust with plants, then
dose every other day. Regulor water changes are a good idea
anyhow -- jsut be sure to redose after change a lot of
water. the water changes will avoid a build up of excesses.

Algae: If the plants can't grow, then algae will grow.
Clean up algae when it appears -- say, do a cleaning and
pruning once a week if needed, and aim for robust plants.
alge then becomes a very small matter.

> Also, I
> can't seem to find the 
> vast majority of the plants that are mentioned.

Sadly that's so if you look in the lffs. You can do either
or both of two things to get more than just the few types
of plants caried in many lfss: join a  local aquatic plant
club or order on-line.

There are a number of decent on-line stores selling aquatic
plants -- look for one that specializes in aqautic plants.
Stick with the easy plants first and try diff things to see
what works well for you. A year from now folks will be
asking *you* where you got those rare and wonderful plants.

> all these questions are 
> really basic rookie questions but I'm hoping someone out
> there can offer some 
> advice. 

No prob. Every person growing aquatic plants is a rookie
now or was one sometime earlier. Sharing is part of what
makes it fun.

That's a start for general questions. I'm sure others can
add more. If you have specific questions, please post them.
Someone almost always can help. No two will give exactly
the same advice, but don't that that throw you. it might
sound like everyone is nuts but it jsut means that a
variety of techniques are effective.

Good luch, good fun,

_Aquarium Plants_, Christel Kasselmann, will be speaking about plants and tanks at the NEC 30th Annual Convention

It's not too late to register. Get info at:

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