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Old 09-14-2011, 09:32 AM   #1 
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Help planting a 5gal tank

I currently have a filtered and heated five gallon that is lit with a 50-60watt incandescent light bulb from a desk lamp which is right next to the side of the tank. The lamp has a white shade on it so the light comes out of all sides of the lamp. I have decent sized pebbles for substrate(~1/2in), I'm definitely willing to get a more plant appropriate substrate if needed. Right now I have nothing but a bit of anacharis floating at the top. In the past I have had an Anubais nana attached to driftwood which would do well for a little while but seems to die in cycles, I've gone through three in the past three years. Its very strange because they seem to do very well, they grow into the wood, sprout new leaves and just when it looks like they're going to get bigger and better...they croak. I'll post a picture of my set-up for clarification of what i mean by the light. (the beer bottle is meant to be a place for my betta, Ivan, to hide and escape the light because every ornament i looked at had more sharp edges than i could count, so i boiled the bottle after rinsing it an uncountable number of times and gave it to him for that purpose, just so you don't think I'm and alcoholic or something lol In fact id like to get rid of it in the finished product so if you could suggest a hide out too that would be great, i know people recommend the tiny terracotta pots). I'm really hoping that i can get an awesome NPT going but idk how realistic that will be considering my lack of a green thumb and not even being able to keep the anubais alive but one can hope... so I've looked at a few plants that I'm interested in like the Marimo Balls and dwarf babies tears but those are for accent and carpeting....I pretty much need help building up. So suggest away! Clearly I need easy to care for plants and ones that are hard to kill. Ps. I also have a golf ball sized apple snail(named Slowpoke) I know they're not supposed to eat aquarium plants but something tells me they've been known to eat a type or two so that's just so you know about him. Here's the pic I told you I'd post.
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Old 09-14-2011, 11:28 AM   #2 
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I know some people have had success with java/christmas moss just by a window, but I am just not sure how that light is going to work out as far as growing plants. It is, however, a lovely tank. It will look amazing planted!
That being said, you really will just have to experiment to see what works. I have 2 ecoxotic LED stunner strips over my 5 gallon and I am somehow able to grow plants (the lights are only supposed to be for color). I have anubias (which is doing okay, not great...), christmas moss, and 3 moss balls. I want to get some duckweed because I think there is too much direct light on the anubias.
You should be able to use the substrate. I know other people have used similar with success. I use some kind of plant substrate, but now I am wondering why I bought it because I don't have any stem plants...
Here is a picture of my tank. This picture is getting old. It really is amazing how fast the moss grows in a couple of weeks!
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Old 09-14-2011, 02:44 PM   #3 
Join Date: Mar 2010
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Welcome to the forum.......

Proper lighting is the driving force behind successful planted tanks...not just the proper color temp or kelvin- but photoperiod as well.....too short for too long can trick the plants into thinking the season changed and its time to-go dormant, die or flower....and if the plants can't see or use the light provided it doesn't matter how long the light is on......

Then you have ferts that are equally important-however, these can be added artificially...then the livestock byproducts, decomp of plant material and water changes will provide nutrients as well....

On a 5gal tank-if you want to do a natural planted (NPT) you will need to add some type of soil(dirt is what makes it natural)-either organic potting soil, top soil or soil/dirt from your yard/garden and top/cap the soil layer with either sand or small size gravel in ratio of-1-2inch dirt-cap with half of the amount of dirt used...example-2in dirt to 1in sand=3in total substrate...the cap is only used to help hold the soil in place so you only need half as much cap to base......NPT come with their own set of problems if not properly setup......

Back to the lighting......on the 5gal you need to find a light strip to go over the tank and/or you can also use natural sunlight if you want to setup a NPT with supplemented light for 10-12h/d-PP

Florescent lighting-daylight bulb 5500-6500kelvin- 10-15watts-with a PP of 10-12h/day or the lamp you have can be used if you can find the right bulb-same kelvin and watts-10-15w-5500-6500k....this bulb will need to be changed out every year even though it still works-you can see the light but the plants can't- to use it for photosynthesis.....

Since 5gal are not very deep they are great for plants an a bit easier to light...... your tank will work fine with proper lighting and I suspect that was the reason for the anubais death-even though they are low light plants-the wrong lighting and it is like the plant is in total darkness......

We can help you be successful if you want to setup a NPT (NPT's are all I keep) or a regular planted tank with plain gravel or specific plant substrate......but you need to get the proper lights first.....(go to my album and you can see some pics of my NPT's)

Some species of snail will eat/feed on healthy plants, however, most all snails will feed on dead or dying plant material and often will be blamed for eating plants when its really unhealthy/dying plant leaves....

Planted tanks are a balance and a lot easier than you think.....
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Old 09-14-2011, 05:52 PM   #4 
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Thank you to both of you! Especially to OFL, I actually saw your tanks in another thread before I even posted this question, and they are absolutely BEAUTIFUL! They're actually my inspiration for wanting to go all out on the plants. So I couldn't be more thrilled that you responded to my post, you're kind of a mini guru to me at this point...i hope this doesn't seem too "suck up-ish" I'm just very excited.

As far as my tank situation goes I stopped at Petco on the way home from work and got a bulb for my current lamp that meets the specifications you gave me. It is a 10watt 6500K bulb...this one to be exact,
Is that one alright?

And as far as the soil goes, just any regular old soil? I mean like you said organic, top, or the kind from my yard but, I just really careful about certain things like putting dirt into my tank. You'll have to forgive me, I am an animal person not a plant person, I by no means have a green thumb...this may be silly but, I'm worried that the soil will hurt Ivan are there any precautions i have to take? Or will he be ok since the soil will be held down with the gravel? I trust in your judgement, since clearly you're tanks are gorgeous, I just want to make sure I go about it right.
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Old 09-14-2011, 06:27 PM   #5 
fishy friend2
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This is my 5 gallon it is just the light that came with the kit and only one bulb I grow poppy hornwort anacharis and duckweed
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Old 09-14-2011, 06:33 PM   #6 
fishy friend2
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And here is another pic of it
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Old 09-14-2011, 07:04 PM   #7 
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I love the little duckweed sprouts. they're so cute. i want some. XP
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Old 09-14-2011, 07:05 PM   #8 
fishy friend2
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I got them at walmart they were taking over the tank and I got a lot of duckweed
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Old 09-15-2011, 10:24 AM   #9 
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I was the same way when if first heard about the natural method....what dirt!'t that make mud and a you think about it...what is on the bottom of most natural water systems....dirt....true they are not closed systems like an this is where we come

If you use dirt in your yard-make sure it is pesticide free-yard hasn't been sprayed with ferts or for bugs or anything like that.....or find a potting soil that is organic...nothing added like ferts or that stuff that hold water gel bead it and add to the tank-top it off with sand or gravel....add water to cover-

It is really really important to start out with enough stem plants and floating plants...if not things can go wrong really want at least 2-3 bunches of 3-4 different types of stem plants....stem plants are usually sold in bunches of 6-12 stems-you want to start out with several different kinds because not all plants will do well in your system-if one species of plant doesn't do well-don't replace it-the ones that do well-as they grow and need trimmed-plant the trimmings in place of the plants that don't do well...make I am trying to let your system pick the also want to add some rosette plants like vals and sags in the back or pygmy chain sword in the front for ground can add other plants too-like crypts, moss, ferns, anubais
Good stem plants-naja grass, rotala, ludwigia, water wisteria, hygrophilia
Good floating plants-water lettuce, frogbit, duckweed, hornwort

The tank need to be about 75% stem plants with the other types planted between and as the tank matures and the soil starts its life under water (about 3mo) you can start removing some of the stem plants to give the other plants room to grow-you also need at least 25% floating plants-this helps with algae control by using up excessive nutrients-especially ammonia....

I set NPT up and add the livestock all in the same day and have never had any problems-in the beginning you will have to make water only changes a couple of times a week and then this decreases-I use a filter for the first month-3 months and then I remove it-but you can keep a filter in all the time but more for water movement since the plants are the true filtration system...

You don't rinse the dirt or the sand/gravel-what I do-I add my soil and cap fill it up and drain it a couple of times or until fairly clear-then I drain it to the top of the substrate-Place my hard scape and plant-fill with water and drain if needed if it is cloudy-I may let it settle for an hour and drain and re-fill-again if needed-turn the filter on and let it come to temp and add livestock....the water should be pretty clear and free of any debris floating around...trick is adding the water without disruption of the soil......

The bulb you found is perfect....set it up so that it is over the tank about 3 inches from the water and keep it on for 12h/day....

Or if you don't feel comfortable with using the soil-use the substrate you have-since you have the proper light that will support plant growth and try that first and once you see that you can grow plants-get a 2-3 gal and do a NPT using your trimmings from the 5gal...remember-not all plants will do well in every system-sometimes you have to experiment by trial and error until you find the right plant....and this can be different in one system to another even with the all the same stuff......
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Old 09-15-2011, 09:02 PM   #10 
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No, I trust you especially after the explanation and after you've told me that you've never had a problem with the soil harming the fish. So I'll stick with the plan of making my current tank a NPT. I just have a few more questions about it.

Will I have to recycle my tank before I can put him back in or will it be alright since my filter and gravel will hold the good bacteria/the plants will be trying to do their job of decreasing the ammonia levels etc. or both?

What do you mean by "cap fill it up"? I took it as put the soil in the tank then fill with water, then dump and repeat until the water runs clear...I have a feeling that I'm wrong on that one though...

As far as the plants go it makes sense...plant and let the plants that thrive continue to do so and if they die just don't worry about it, right?

I looked at some plants this morning on AB since i have virtually no clue were to start as far as what types would work for my needs, what i like the look of etc... So I figured I would look at what's available and go from there. So out of what was currently up for sale I picked a couple that i thought i liked and would suit my needs(meaning the size of my tank, since so many can get REALLY tall) So here we go, I'll try to keep this organized and post a link to the plant I'm talking about if it seems like a plant that might not be as common, please don't take offense..I'm not trying to insult your plant knowledge, just trying to make it easier for you to see what I'm talking about. Also, in the foreground category I'm kind of looking for a suggestion of which would be best.

-Baby's tears
-micro sword
-java or christmas moss
-Glossostigma elatinoides

-Micro sword?? I'm not sure if this would be a fore or mid ground in my tank, it says it can grow up to 4in high...which seems like in a 5gal it would lean more towards a mid than a fore
-Echinodorus tenellus
( I think its the chain sword you were talking about for the foreground...I'm all confused )

-Cyprus helferi
The only thing about this one is I'm not sure if you can trim it like some "grass like" ones if you can't i was thinking this one: Vallisneria spiralis
-Didiplis diandra
Not sure about this one because of the light requirements, I liked it because of the hint of red it gets.
-Dwarf lily plant (Nymphaea stellata)
I REALLY like this one and hope that I can get it, my only concern is its too big for my tank :/ If neither one of these red plants is good for my tank could you suggest one that might be? I really like the idea of a red accent plant.
-Java fern

-Anacharis, that I have
-Java moss

Plus a couple marimo balls.

Sorry for how long this message is, I don't plan on stuffing ALL of these plants in my tank its just a list of plants I like and for you to say yes to, or maybe "heck no" to.

Also this is how I have my tank set up now,
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