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Old 08-11-2012, 09:26 PM   #1 
kellyyoungmoney's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: North Carolina
lots of plant questions

i would really like to do my first planted tank in a 5.5 gal im planning on getting but being a plant noob i have a lot of questions.

1. is dwarf hairgrass too hard to maintain, especially for someone with no experience? ( i love the look of it)
2. is there anyway to control the hairgrass growth? (i know its a carpet plant but i love the look of it sporadically placed around the tank)
3. driftwood. i know nothing about it. does it mess up the water in terms of pH and other things? where can i get it?
4. is cleaning a planted tank extremely difficult?
5. how can you control the growth of the plants so they dont completely overrun the tank?
6. what kind of substrates work best?

sorry if im being annoying with all the questions, im just trying to weigh my options!
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Old 08-11-2012, 10:03 PM   #2 
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Join Date: May 2012
Location: Ontario Canada
Questions are good!
What kind of lighting will you have? That will determine which plants you can keep and how they will grow.
Driftwood can leach tannins and lower ph I believe, you can soak it or boil it to cut down on tannins.
Cleaning is easy, if it is heavily planted it won't need much. You can use a gravel vacuum just be careful around the plants so as to not uproot them
Substrate depends on your plants and tastes, you can use soil, sand, or special plant substrate, some plants can also do well in gravel.
I don't know much about dwarf hair grass, planted tank. Net has plant bios that gives a good overview.
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Old 08-12-2012, 12:28 AM   #3 
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Fremont, CA
Dwarf hargrass is a harder plant, get dwarf saggitaria instead as it is easy and it spreads but not super fast. Dwarf hairgrass should have access to CO2 and a more powerful light. There is nothing that can be done besides put plastic in the substrate around the plants, but that will look ugly or pulling the plants out.

Driftwood is nice for escapes it makes it look more natural. Driftwood can lower pH but you would need a lot or a big piece to adjust a big number, you would be looking at maybe a .2 difference. It can add tannins, but if soaked long enough or boiled, it shouldn't release very much.

Cleaning is normal, just have to be careful with roots if in gravel. Nothing is changed besides you can't move the plants to go around them.

The only thing you can do is trim the plants and either replant them to create a more dense area or tossed. I use overly big plant scissors and planting tweezers. Works very well...

Sand is usually best in terms of gravel and sand, but flourite is vest as it is much cheaper than a plant specific substrate. Also soil is good (NPT) but it has some downsides.
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Old 08-12-2012, 12:22 PM   #4 
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Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Third Planet From The Sun
I just want to share my experience with the driftwood. Let me just start off by saying you can't beat the real thing in terms of how it will improve the look of your tank.

I bought a small piece for my 5g tank and boy was it a long process to get the driftwood to where it is today. I didn't know at the time, but the soaking process actually takes weeks, or even months. You can shortcut this by boiling the wood and I don't mean for 30mins or so but hours and hours and hours. After soaking my piece for about a month and a half with still no change in the amount of tannins it was leaching, I decided to go ahead and boil. I boiled it for about 5 days (during the weekends only) all day - one day I had it in there for a good 12hrs. Heat accelerates the leaching process so the water turned black after each "session". During the week, in between the boiling sessions, I would just have it sit in a pale of hot water. So all in all, tons of work. Was it worth it? Yes. Would I have still gone with it knowing what I know now? I would have to think long and hard about that... not to steer you in another direction (and I probably will get some flack from others), but there are several companies that sell very lifelike driftwood made of resin. Look for a thread about a tank with the 3D background. The company who made that also sells fake wood pieces that look realistic (I wouldn't be able to tell the difference from the pics).

Anyways, good luck with your planted tank. Nothing beats real plants as far as all the positives they bring to your tank. Always quarantine the plants in a bucket or if you have a spare tank in case they come with a hitchhiker.
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Old 08-12-2012, 02:18 PM   #5 
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Canada
I have a driftwood in my tank. It did leach some tannins but it doesn't bother my fish and the filter is doing a pretty good job with them.
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Old 08-12-2012, 04:12 PM   #6 
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Location: Australia!
I just plop the driftwood in, once plants have been tethered to it.

I find Malaysian and other harder woods great for this approach as they don't leach a lot and can often be bought pre-soaked (as is heavy enough to sink quickly if not).

Mopani is a stunning looking wood, but will leach a pile of tannins for weeks and also grow white wood mold, which is pretty much harmless and great shrimp food - I keep a few RCS or Darwin Algae Shrimp to keep the mold down, and have never had a single issue other than that in using the wood with nothing but a quick hot water rinse (you Americans -need- to experience the algae munching powers of our native Aussie shrimp! haha)

I love the tannins, so do the bettas - who also love snacking on the shrimp, who in turn love snacking on the wood mold. Fish and shrimp are all fat and happy (the shrimp don't really enjoy being snacked upon, but anyway..), so I don't feel the need to boil the heck out of the wood.
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Old 08-12-2012, 04:33 PM   #7 
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Location: Australia!
Oh yeah - there were other questions! here's the ones I know about:

2. Pull it out when it grows where you don't want it to.

3. I have several large bits of wood and tons of IAL in my 3ft tank and the ph is dropped from 7.4 or so to 6.3. So you'll see a drop, but it won't be excessive unless you really stack in a shedload of wood like I do.

4. Nope. Vac lightly. Get non-plant eating snails and/or a few shrimp.

5. Trim them. Or hey, why not let the tank get wild.. it's kind of cool and the fish really enjoy it.

6. Inert sand is fine - ask your LFS for stuff that won't shift your ph too much. If you use that you'll need ferts (flourish + some root tabs for root-feeders like swords). Or you can splash out on expensive dirt - special substrates like aquasoil. I prefer sand or small gravel + fish poo + dosing ferts in my non-NPT tanks.

NPT is awesome and is easier than it seems, if you set it up correctly from the get-go.

Last edited by Aus; 08-12-2012 at 04:35 PM.
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Old 08-13-2012, 01:59 AM   #8 
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Join Date: May 2011
Location: Shangdong, China
I have a piece of Mopani wood that I found in the reptile section of petco.
However, I am almost positive that Mopani wood lowers the PH of the water and releases tannins.
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Old 08-13-2012, 02:36 PM   #9 
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Location: Canada
I have the GEOsystem Mopani driftwood.
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