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Old 09-29-2011, 04:50 PM   #1 
Trobar
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I am starting a NPT and need LOTS of help

Several threads and people here have inspired me to start a 20g NPT. Oldfishlady your tanks are absolutely dropdead gorgeous!!
Sakura, you give me hope in knowing that even those who have several fishes and are very knowledgable still ask questions about this type of tank.

Since Jake has survived well and is growing, hubby gave me the go ahead and start buying what I need for a 20g NPT. I plan on a heavily planted tank with a soil then sand substrate. The fish will be a male betta, 5 or 6 cories, 5 or 6 glofish, snail or two. I would love to have this fully stocked and running by the holidays.

Now the questions
What do I need to get with the tank?

Hood? or light strip and if light strip are those the expensive LED things. If a light strip, how do I keep it on the tank? plexi or a screen?

Filter?

Heater?

What kind of plants are good to start. I like the wisteria, moss balls, and anubias(sp?) but what order should I put them in and when.

What is the best way to cycle one of these types of tanks? If fish in what fish should I use, the betta I have or buy something else to get it going? Jake has been in his tank for about a month. It is a 1.8 gal hex and it has a filter and 1 little live plant, a cave and multicolored gravel. can I use any of that to jump start the 20g?

While the tank is cycling what kind of things am I going to need to look for. One of the 1st thins I plan on buying a master test kit, the strips are expensive and according to many here not very accurate.

Before you all jump on the glofish, yeah I know they have a possibility of not working out but grandkid wants them, if they don't work out will set up a tank just for them and let her take them home, her mom will love me

Thanks for all the support you've already giving me.
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Old 09-30-2011, 10:11 AM   #2 
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Did some research. Will these work?

Tank 20g but not sure if I should get the normal one or the long one

Lighting
http://www.petsmart.com/product/inde...uctId=11000158

Heater
http://www.petco.com/product/102227/...pplies_Heaters
or the one they sell at walmart (don't remember the model)

Filter (if needed)
http://www.petco.com/Shop/Product.as...lated_Products

soil will be topsoil from where ever I pick it up
sand will be either natural coloring or black

Do I need to get plexi cut to fit?
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Old 09-30-2011, 11:32 AM   #3 
Oldfishlady
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I would keep it open top with just the light strips over it-for best light penetration to the plants...if the light strip doesn't have two tubes get two of them for a 20gal tank and with 2 light strips...it kinda makes a hood for the tank....but with the needed floating plants that you have to have for a NPT-they help prevent fish from jumping out even with it filled to the top with water....

I make slats for the light strips by cutting yard sticks to size so that they fit on the inside lip of the tank-perfect to keep the lights in place without hindering light to the plants.....

Soil-top soil is fine-sift well first and use 11/2-2 inch and cap with either sand or gravel half as much as the soil-the sand is to keep the soil in place so you don't need as much of it and too much can be problematic...

You don't cycle NPT per se'-they will cycle, however, due to the mass amount of plants that are needed to keep a NPT-they will keep the water safe as long as they are actively growing....often you will never get nitrate readings for years if they are set up correctly.
Plants are the filtration system on a NPT......

Plants-really important to start out with enough of the right species of plants or the tank will crash......
You will need at least 3-4 different species of stem/bunching type plants...usually sold in stems of 6-12-get at least 3-5 bunches of 3-4 different stem plants...75% of the floor needs stem plants....also get vals, sags, sword, crypt to plant as well and ferns, moss to tie on driftwood
Good stem plants-naja grass, water wisteria, rotala, ludwigia, hygrophilia the list goes on.....
Floating plants-25% of the top need these-water lettuce, frogbit or duckweed

When I setup a NPT-I place the livestock the same day and make needed water changes until it is mature enough to go without or nearly self care......

I usually use a filter for the first month-3 months and then I usually will take them off...this varies from system to system-however, the water movement is nice in a NPT-just not too much since it can gas off the natural CO2 that the system creates naturally by decomp and from the livestock and plants
The filter you linked will be fine, however, I would look into a small canister-Toms make a small canister for planted tanks that works great and you have more control over the overflow with a sprayer bar...Dr Foster and Smith sells them...for about $25.00 I think

The LED-personally I have never used LED, however, in my research I have found that most are not good enough for live plants...I would get something like this
http://www.petsmart.com/product/inde...uctId=11252589
Either 2 with single tube or 1 with double tube and you can get the perfect light bulb for them really cheap since they have to be changed out once a year....I get mine at Walmart lighting dept-GE brand Daylight 6500k 20w for less than $6.00 each

The heater is fine...I use all kinds and have found them to work about the same....

If you have a choice....get 20gal long-this give more room to plant-so double the amount of plants I suggested and it allows for better light penetration......you just may have to trim plants more often....lol......

NPT are great setups and really easy if you start right from the get go.....if you can't start out with enough of the right species of plants you can have a lot of problems.....
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Old 10-01-2011, 12:34 PM   #4 
tf1265
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Bravo for doing your research ahead of time :)

OFL is about the top expert I've seen on here, so when in doubt go with her advice.

I would get the 150W heater for a 20 gallon tank. I have 100W in my 10 gallon tanks and they work very well. You want AT LEAST 5W per gallon, so you need at least a 100W heater, however I've found that when they start having to really do their job (in the winter when room temps drop to high 60s-low70s), you want more like 10W/gallon. As long as you have one where you set the desired temp, slightly more wattage is better.

I disagree about removing a filter.... In a tank with just a betta filters aren't always necessary, but your other fish really need it. With a 20 gallon you'd have to do a LOT of water changes.

I also disagree about the planted tanks cycling themselves. It will take a lot of time for that to happen. Don't add all the fish at once.

I would add 3 cories, wait a week. Add 3 more cories, wait another week. 3 glofish, wait a week, 3 more glofish. Add the betta last to lessen the chances of aggression - they are territorial. If you add all the fish at once in a tank that isn't cycled, the bioload will be too much. You'll want to keep ammonia levels to below .25pm to avoid poisoning your fish.

To cycle a tank, you need a source of ammonia. Many people do NOT recommend fish-in cycling. Some fish definitely can't handle the stress, bettas can, but like I said you don't want to add the betta first. Depending on the cories you get, they can do well. I cycled my tank with cories, but you have to pay EXTRA attention.

Put 3 cories in the tank. Fish-in cycling requires a LOT of water changes. You want to test the water daily. For cycling, you need to let the ammonia levels rise a bit more, closer to .5ppm. When it hits around there, do a water change to get it back down (25%). Continue this process, it will take a couple weeks. Check the nitrites and nitrates. Nitrities will spike, and then go back down to 0. Once you've gotten a reading for nitrites and then they stay at 0, you should start to have a reading for nitrates for the first time. When you're tests are reading 0 for ammonia and nitrites, and above 0 for nitrates, it is cycled and you can begin to slowly add more fish.

Like I said, the cycling won't be for the betta as much as the other fish. And even though it will happen on its own if your tank is heavily planted enough, it's safer to just go ahead and do it than to trust that you have enough plants to neutralize the bad stuff.
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Old 10-01-2011, 03:05 PM   #5 
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Would the dead shrimp.method be good to do for a 20 long npt?
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Old 10-01-2011, 03:53 PM   #6 
Oldfishlady
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When you are setting up a soil based heavy planted tank-it a lot different than a planted tank without soil....the soil will provide the food for the nitrifying bacteria for the nitrogen cycle....the active growth of the stem plants and floating plants will use the ammonia before conversion....often in a soil based tanks that have the right number and species of plants- you will not get the nitrate that you normally look for to indicate cycling stage.....

When a NPT soil based tank is setup properly-you don't have to worry about the nitrogen cycle per se' and generally it is safe to stock the tank once setup...as long as you have the right number and species of live actively growing plants they will function as the filtration and keep the water safe for the livestock and the plants themselves will provide some oxygen as well, however, you do have to make water changes until the soil starts it life underwater and this can take about 3 months....

You have to understand that soil based tanks are different than a regular planted tanks...

Betta311-with a soil based tank that is properly planted with the stem plants along with the proper amount of floating plants...you don't want to add anything to cycle it....just the soil, plants and livestock will do it.......
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Old 10-01-2011, 04:19 PM   #7 
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Got it. I prefaced by saying you were the expert for a reason :)

And now I learned something new as well. Disregard my advice (obviously).
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Old 10-01-2011, 09:28 PM   #8 
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And that is EXACTLY what I want OldFishLady. Tuesday I start my purchases. LOL hubby told me not to spend more than a total of 500 by xmas I THINK I can manage. Or maybe squeak a little more out of him... I could use more shoes....

First purchase is the tank from Petco while they still have that dollar/gallon thing going on. Also the filter, heater and test kit.

I am going to have to put some kind of cover on it though, at least in the beginning, the 4 nosy cats will be in the thing if I don't. Will probably coat the edge of the wire mesh tank cover (like for reptiles) with tabasco or lavender to make the tank less appealing to the nosy cats.

will probably have to order some of the plants. There is only Petsmart, Petco and a smallish mini chain store here. Not alot of plants to chose from. I may drive about 30 min to a aquarium store. Does anyone know if the nurseries that stock plants for outdoor ponds would have anything that would be appropriate for indoor freshwater fish?

Lights are still a small problem, not sure how to set them up but will deal with that after I can see the tank in my house and what I have to work with. If nothing else I can drag out the grow lights we use to start our habanero pepper seeds and rig them somehow near the tank until I come up with a better option.

When I get the plants I'll buy the cories and start up the tank with them and Jake.

Once again, THANK YOU for the help
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Old 10-01-2011, 09:37 PM   #9 
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OH and tf1265, the glofish will be last to add. They are going to be about the most expensive things I have in the tank. If I have to I'll take the betta out for a couple days and move something. Unfortunatly my granddaughter wants the burping shell decoration. I really really hope I can talk her into something else but who can argue with a 9year old and actually win..... hehe, may buy it and tell her the glofish don't like it so it gotta go, Jake goes back into his 'new' tank with new glowing buddies :) win win I hope
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Old 10-01-2011, 11:34 PM   #10 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldfishlady View Post
The filter you linked will be fine, however, I would look into a small canister-Toms make a small canister for planted tanks that works great and you have more control over the overflow with a sprayer bar...Dr Foster and Smith sells them...for about $25.00 I think
this the one you mean? http://www.fosterandsmithaquatics.co...2&pcatid=16742
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