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Aquarium Calculator

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To find the approximate quantities of accessories you will need to outfit your aquarium, select the size aquarium you are considering by either size in gallons (or by dimensions to fit that certain somewhere) from the pop down menu below. Then click "Enter" to get the information you need.

Note that this is for a natural aquarium using live plants. Donald Wilson gave Aquatic Visions permission to use this calculator on our site. Copying this script is breaking copy right laws and you need to talk to Donald for permission.

This calculator is intended to be used to give the inexperienced the ability to get a handle on their requirements as opposed to being a tool for the experienced aquarist. At this time, I do not attempt to round off to available values, as I will leave that to you the user. (Example: 42.75 watt heater would be rounded off to a 50 watt heater.) Also keep in mind that these are guidelines based on guidelines. Rule of thumb is all there is to go on when working with the natural realm. Keeping fish is not a math test but rather think of it as an artistic endeavor. If you want to succeed, first and foremost will be water condition stability.

CONCERNING THE USE OF NAME BRANDS!!!!!!!!
Any products mentioned by name are called up that way so to make purchases simple for the new aquarist. They are readily available anywhere (If you can't get them locally, they are also readily available by mail order). They ARE NOT necessarily the best by any means, and feel free to use other brands if they are more readily available to you.


You should figure on pounds of gravel, boxe(s) of Tetra Hilena D (or equiv.) and boxe(s) of Tetra Crypto Tabs (or equiv.), and individual plants for the substrate. Hilena D is an iron rich clay product that is mixed with the bottom layer of substrate. There is some question as to the necessity of this, especially for long term setups. Crypto tabs are a nutrient to enhance root growth. I do not know of a direct equivalent though I am sure some exist. Although I am unsure what they are made of, plants do run their roots right to the broken tabs, (even several inches), so I'm taking Tetra's word on their usefulness.

Before continuing, a note on quantity of plants. If you purchase one pot of stem plants, this would frequently end up being a half dozen plants once seperated as they should be. Also keep in mind the size of something such as an amazon sword if your planting it in a 10 gallon aquarium.

For heating you should use heater(s) with a total wattage of watts. I would recommend a type of filter able to move around gph gallons per hour) of water. In my opinion there is no better filtration than that offered by a canister filter. If the aquarium is small enough however, I think the ease of use of a power filter outweighs the canister's thoroughness.

Last, but certainly not least in our planted aquarium is the topic of lighting. So many times it seems to me the wattage levels usually recommended are very high, and then they require CO2 injection to keep up with the plants greater nutrient requirements. With the ratings expressed here, there will be plants that won't grow well, red stem plants in particular, but most species will flourish. That being said, for the tank selected I would recommend lighting putting out at least watts of light. If the program called for High Performance lighting, what I mean by this is either metal halide, sodium, etc. Unlike many others, I would feel comfortable calling VHO fluorescents High performance also.


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