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Hi

I am about to buy some plants and was wondering do I have to buy a special bulb or can I use a regular plant bulb from home depot. The plants I'm getting are. Java Fern, Dwarf Sagittaria, Italian Val, Jungle Val and some duckweed. Do I need to use any substrate?
 

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I use the aquarium plant buld from home depot and lowes, its called a gro-lux bulb, they work very well and they are only $6 for a 48" 40W bulb
 

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Java fern can live/grow when attached to a rock or a piece of wood, so does not necessarily need gravel.
The others (apart from duckweed, don't know about that one), must be planted with their roots in gravel, or else they'll die.
 

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If you prefer low light levels and not too many light hours, buy mainly java fern and anubias plants (I planted my tank predominantly with these two plants). They don't need a lot of light to grow, unlike most other, thin-leafed plants you mentioned earlier.
I leave my tank lights on as long as I'm awake, unless the sun is shining brightly; then, the sun light is enough, and I turn on the tank lights when the sun sets.
I don't have trouble uprooting plants when doing tank maintenance (of course I'll uproot some occasionally, but I guess you'll have to live with that when using live plants). My p's on the other hand love to redecorate their tank from time to time, uprooting plants and moving pieces of wood, creating a mess


Also, my p's never chewed on java fern or anubias plants, but often took bites out of swords, vallisneria and other plants I tried (I have no idea why they do it, though)...
I guess all piranha's occasionally bite a chunks out of plants, although I'm only 100% sure about the pygo-species doing it.
 
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