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Old 08-02-2012, 01:42 PM   #1 
Sprinkles55
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Question Planted Tank Advice

Hello everyone!

After recently drooling at all the planted tanks on this site, I've realized that I want to make a planted tank of my own. Now, this will be my first take on a planted tank so I have quite a few questions.
I was wanting to do most plants mentioned in the Common Aquarium Plant Guide (http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=98221) considering they all look beautiful and low maintenance. As of right now the only plants I have are nano marimo moss balls, and I currently have duckweed on the way.
The tank I'm wishing to do this in is my Hawkeye 5 gallon Tank I got from Wal-Mart and the light currently in my tank is a 5,000k Fluorescent bulb.

So here are my questions!
  1. I'm still not sure whether to do black gravel or sand...can I have the pros and cons of each?
  2. What plants do you think would thrive in my tank?
  3. Is my bulb okay or should I get a different one?
Any advice for a beginner would also be great!
Thank you for taking your time to read this, I highly appreciate it!
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Old 08-02-2012, 01:59 PM   #2 
kfryman
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Your bulb is too low of a Kelvin temperature, get one that is 6500k or as close as you can get. This will keep your plants growing nicely if everything else is balanced.

Gravel won't compact so it is more low maintainance, but plant roots have a bit more challenge growing, gravel also has problems because everything goes down inside and hides it away forcing you to siphon more. Sand everything stays on top, so you know what you need to clean, also it is easier on the roots. The bad thing is it compacts and can trap gases, causing problems, but Malaysian trumpet snails or stirring will keep the sand nice.

It all comes down to your liking, I like rotala, ludwigia, wisteria, and Crypts for smaller tanks. Stay away from swords as they can outgrow a 100 gallon tank with the correct nutrients, but if not they usually stay small.

You are going to want a fertilizer to keep all the nutrients the plants need. Seachem Flourish, is a comprehensive fertilizer and replaces many needed nutrients.
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Old 08-02-2012, 02:33 PM   #3 
ngrubich
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Duckweed will take over a tank in no time given the ideal conditions, so you'll have to be on top of clearing out spaces on a routine basis.

1. I've used gravel and sand before and would personally go for something like Flourish, if you can find some/you like the color/it's not too expensive for you. Plants will stay in gravel better than in sand, but will be easily disturbed when you vacuum. It's pretty hard to keep plants in sand without weighing them down (I made some posts on plantedtank.net about how to keep them in the sand/fine gravel eassier; I can find it if you are interested).

2. Many low-light plants will do well in your tank with no/little nutrient addition. With that being said, your plants will look healthier if you dose with Flourish Comprehensive (as noted by the poster before me). Some good low-light plants are: mosses (christmas, java, fissidens, etc.), ferns (java fern: you will have to trim them since they can get kinda long), anubias (nana), some cultivars of ludwigia. I don't know how much height or floorspace your tank has, so look them up and see what you like.

3. That bulb should be fine if you plan on keeping low-light plants like mosses or ferns. If you want to get something that needs more light (like ludwigia red), then you'll need to upgrade the bulb to have the plant show it's nice colors. Something along the lines of 6,500 - 6,700K is a safe bet. I have also had good experience with full-spectrum bulbs since they put out all bands of visible light. (http://www.walmart.com/ip/GE-3-Way-Reveal-Bulb/16880832) I don't know the max wattage allowed for your fixture, but they make bulbs in a bunch of ranges: from 40, 60, 100, 150, etc.
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Old 08-02-2012, 07:25 PM   #4 
Sprinkles55
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Thank you kfryman and ngrubich! You were both very helpful and informative.

Is the flourish gravel better than both substrates ngrubich? I'd love to see the posts if you wouldn't mind finding it :)
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Old 08-02-2012, 08:06 PM   #5 
ngrubich
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Oh whoops, I meant Flourite (I've been dosing flourish in my tank and got it confused). Here is a thread from another forum that breaks down the pros and cons of each type of substrate: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...light=flourite

Also, I couldn't find the thread with my pictures of how to plant in sand, but here's another thread that does the same thing I did, except I used some aquarium weights on the middles of the velcro to make sure they stayed in the substrate: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...ad.php?t=47738
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Old 08-02-2012, 09:20 PM   #6 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ngrubich View Post
Oh whoops, I meant Flourite (I've been dosing flourish in my tank and got it confused). Here is a thread from another forum that breaks down the pros and cons of each type of substrate: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...light=flourite
Flourite is pretty good since it has lots of nutrients to start with, though you need to keep dosing or they will run out. It is probably better than both since you do have those added nutrients and it is like sand. I forgot the actual measurements, but you want a small diameter substrate. Gravel is okay if it is small, but sand is better for a planted aquarium.
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Old 08-03-2012, 12:56 AM   #7 
Sprinkles55
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Oh wow, the thread with the velcro is definitely helpful and I'll probably be doing that if I have trouble keeping plants in the substrate.
I'm leaning towards putting Eco Complete in my tank - I like the color and it seems quite ideal. I found some on petco's website and it's on sale, so I figured why not! :) I'll post pictures once it's all set up, but it'll probably be awhile.

Thank you though, all your advice really helped and I appreciate it tons! You two are definitely awesome, lol.
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Old 08-03-2012, 09:46 AM   #8 
Sowman
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This was very helpful for me as well. Thank you
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