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Old 08-25-2011, 12:36 AM   #1 
Sakura8
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Tank Questions, Oh So Many Questions

My 10g community tank (with betta) is driving me insane. It has so many issues, I'm not sure where to start. I'm currently trying to make it into a planted tank so I have water wisteria, moneywort, and one lonely anubias in there. The filter is an AquaClear 20 and the substrate is play sand. Here are my questions and I apologize in advance for the super long post. Thanks for hanging in there till the end. :)

1) The water wisteria. It keeps sending out little roots from the stems, sometimes as high up as midway. Is there something I should do about these little white roots/shoots? I plucked them off a couple of times but they grow back so now I'm thinking they're supposed to be there. But the stems don't seem to be sending roots into the sand at all because the plants tend to float up during water changes. Also, should I have done something special before planting the wisteria, like trim the leaves off? Some of the leaves appear to be dying/rotting.

2) The moneywort. It seems to be going through "crypt melt" but I'm not sure it's a crypt. Again, should I have trimmed off the leaves before planting it?

3) Because of some of the rotting plant material in there, the water tends to look pretty murky. Plus, I have a cat hair problem even though I have a hood. I'm wondering if a better filter would take care of this. Is there such a thing as overfiltering? The AquaClear is rated for 10-20gs but I'm wondering if I need a stronger filter or a second filter. The cat hair, the cat hair! Aargh!

4) I'm beginning to think play sand is not a good plant substrate but I got it before I decided to use live plants (the plastic plants were getting serious algae). Is it possible to use a plant substrate on the bottom and cover that with the play sand? I'm not trying to have a tank where the substrate is covered in foreground plants (like Takashi Amano's tanks) so I'd like to have some decent substrate to look at. All the plants are at the back and sides.

What is the best substrate to use for plants? One of my LFS carries the ADA line so I could get some of that, or is there another kind I can use? And what's the best fertilizer? Will a liquid fertilizer harm panda cory cats?

Thanks again for any advice you can give me, I appreciate it. Fish I can do. Plants . . . enh, not so good with those.
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Old 08-25-2011, 01:05 AM   #2 
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All stem plants send off aerial roots, particularly if they are left floating. This is because they absorb most of their nutrients through the water column. I just give mine a bit of a trim, but otherwise let them be.

Play sand will compact around plant roots as it is so fine. This can form anaerobic pockets, which are supposedly toxic. A smaller pea gravel or coarser sand is generally recommended if you are looking for an attractive but inert substrate.

The plants you have are more dependent on nutrients from the water column so you don't need a nutrient rich substrate. ADA aqua soil is one of the best but it will leech ammonia (like 4-8ppm) for around a month or so. You can cycle it in a spare bucket but honestly I wouldn't bother.

ADA does have a range of coarser grained sands/fine gravel that I particularly like the look of. I would recommend something like that if you're wanting something that is aesthetically appealing.

If you're not providing adequate nutrients, your stems will be the first to show deficiencies. Your moneywort could be melting because of a change in water conditions, or not enough of a particular element being available to it.

Your AquaClear should be enough filtration for a 10 gallon. If you're having trouble with water clarity, some Seachem Purigen and fine filter wool should clear it up. Also using a fish net to scoop out rotting pieces of plant, will prevent any ammonia from possibly accumulating.

Seachem provides a basic, user friendly range of fertilisers. Excel is the only one that could really harm any of your fish if overdosed. However, all the others are perfectly safe.

I would personally dose Potassium, Flourish and Iron simply because that covers the basics. Most trace elements are found in tap water so you don't really need to supply them.

Hope that helps.
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Old 08-25-2011, 01:19 AM   #3 
Sakura8
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*hugs* Bless you, LittleBettaFish! Thanks, this helps so much.

The play sand is actually quite coarse, surprisingly. I went with it because I had some of that super fine aquarium sand and it did develop those anaerobic pockets - I didn't know then that I needed to stir it. -_- Killed two of my cory cats that way. :(

How do I use the fine filter wool with my filter?
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Old 08-25-2011, 02:07 AM   #4 
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To polish your water and remove fine particles, you can place the filter wool right before the outlet of your filter.

Some people also put a second lot of filter wool near the inlet of their filter to catch larger particles and debris so as to prevent your sponges etc. from clogging.

Filter wool is simply rinsed off during water changes. Unlike sponge, it does wear out eventually, so its purpose is more to improve water clarity than provide biological filtration.

One of my favourite sands ADA sells is Forest Sand Xingu. It is a coarse grain sand mixed with gravel and looks really nice in my tanks. Branco is also good, but it is a little bit darker in colouration.
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Old 08-25-2011, 02:16 AM   #5 
Sakura8
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Thanks for the info about the filter wool. I have some that I bought for a little box filter so I can set it up right away. :) And I love ADA things. The guy at my LFS gave me a huge catalog of their products so I've been drooling over it every day. In a few months I plan to switch the community into a 20g and I intend to start out right, with the right substrate and getting the plants started before I add fish (I've had to tear the tank apart 3 times to remove sick fish). Thank you again. :)
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Old 08-25-2011, 02:23 AM   #6 
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I got a catalogue too, but all I can do is wish. ADA is hugely expensive here like a couple of hundred dollars for an 18 inch cube. It's my guilty pleasure however, since I hate tanks with rims. Thankfully I found a brand that sells tanks nearly identical to ADA for about a quarter of the price. I still purchase their hang-on thermometers though.

I have 9kgs of ADA Africana I intend to use in a planted aquarium. I'm going to cap it with sand though, since I find Aquasoil really ugly to look at. I want to try my hand at some more difficult plants... which I will probably end up killing.
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Old 08-25-2011, 02:51 AM   #7 
Sakura8
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I wish you luck with your tank. :) And I have a feeling I'll end up killing even the easy plants before I get the hang of this planted tank thing.

I haven't checked the prices of ADA here. I haven't gone to the LFS yet, trying to resist the temptation to buy for a months. I have a feeling it ain't cheap here either, though, haha.
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Old 08-25-2011, 03:25 AM   #8 
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Hopefully your plants should perk up. I had my fair share of stems turn to mush before I found that they will grow like weeds given enough ferts and light.

I was going to add too, you can just let your wisteria float if it won't stay rooted. I let my water sprite do that since it was a notorious water change floater, and it started sending off all this emersed growth. My bettas were always resting in it. A sprinkling of duckweed in between the leaves (use the wisteria to keep it contained) can be added as an ammonia/nitrate sponge.

I was surprised at how much ammonia my faster-growing stems used. My sorority tank has never registered the slightest ammonia reading and it was completely uncycled before I added my females.

I hope to see photos of your tank when all its issues are sorted. I like having a snoop at what people have done with their scapes.
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Old 08-25-2011, 03:59 AM   #9 
Sakura8
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Sure thing, I'll throw up some pics as soon as the plants grow. It looks a little sparse right now. And thanks for the tip about floating the wisteria, I might just have to do that if they won't stay put. The roots will be a good place for fry to hide because I have some platies in there, a male and a female right now (my third one passed for some reason just a few days ago). Thank you for all your help, I (and my fish) appreciate it. :)
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Old 08-25-2011, 04:05 AM   #10 
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No worries. Look forward to seeing your pics.
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