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Old 12-11-2011, 11:21 PM   #1 
scrap
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Setting up a tank

I have a HM I rescued from the despair of my local petsmart (seriously..I bought him because of his neat pale silver color only to discover that he was light red once taken care of..) And plan to get a nice 5g setup for him this Christmas. I want to try and make the tank take care of itself as much as possible. I plan on having a marimo ball to cut down on algae, driftwood for tannin, and plants to help with cycling. Could anyone give me a nice quick and dirty guide to keeping a planted setup like this? I can find specifics..If just need the basics of planted ownership (introducing, filters, water changes, etc.), and maybe a few good plants with low light requirements that work really well for beginners. Sorry if the post's a bit long, and thank you for the responses.
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Old 12-11-2011, 11:26 PM   #2 
Comet1993
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I suggest cabomba, if you can legally get it where you live. It's beautiful and reasonably priced. =] My betta enjoyed his. They don't really require any special fertilizer, either, which is a plus, and they grow well. =] I had some issues with lighting with my plants, though, so make sure you have enough light. I was told 5,500-6,500 Kelvins is best. =] Once my fish is all healed up, I'm going to re-add the cabomba! (That's one thing about live plants, though; if you add salt, it will harm them...) Also, be sure to quarantine any plants that you bring in. Mine came with two snails.. Pond snails.. That populate quickly.. Lol. So, it's a good idea to put them in a tank on their own for a while to be sure you're not getting any snails that you didn't plan for. And, if you get cabomba, you can snip the fast-growing little stems and re-plant them and have even more cabomba! =D I have a moss ball, too, and they're lovely, as well. :) Even with a filter, you'll have to do water changes fairly frequently, which would include 100% water changes, since it's pretty hard to cycle a smaller tank. The filter is still great to have, though. Of course, you'll be needing a heater. Some plants may be sensitive to temperature changes.. So, I'd research which plants would be good for a tropical set-up. Make sure that you watch your plants carefully for any sign of them dying, so that they don't make your water foul; a few stalks of my cabomba did that, and it messed up the water quality, resulting in fin rot. I've also heard that anacharis is good.. A five-gallon is relatively small, so you may have issues with having too much plant growth. I'm glad that you rescued the little betta. :) I'm sure he'll be very happy with you and his plants!

Last edited by Comet1993; 12-11-2011 at 11:36 PM. Reason: Forgot to add some things..
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Old 12-12-2011, 12:24 AM   #3 
EvilVOG
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The general opinion around here is that anything under a 10 gallon doesn't have enough surface area to completely cycle, while it may even look like it under testing ammonia levels can still spike to levels the "good bacteria" can't convert.

I have a three gallon that did just that to me but i happened to be watching it at the time to catch it. So now i just change the water frequently and even though it's more work it's not that much work and i don't have to worry about an ammonia spike killing my CT.
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Old 12-12-2011, 09:37 AM   #4 
Myates
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5 gals you can safely cycle and hold it, anything less is where you will find difficulties in. I can direct one of the best planted tank experts here to help you if you wish :) I will say that even with a naturally planted tank, you will still have to do weekly water changes and maintenance such as algae control, siphoning of the substrate; as I'm sure you understand that.

One thing I will add though is the moss balls don't normally control algae all that much, but they are very cute to have around.

Last edited by Myates; 12-12-2011 at 09:40 AM.
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Old 12-12-2011, 10:23 AM   #5 
Oldfishlady
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Welcome to the forum.....

As posted....the driving force behind successful planted tanks...are the lights....without the proper color temp on the light a lot of the plants won't thrive and can end up being a cause of water problems.....

Most failures with aquatic plants are due to the wrong kelvin, old light bulbs and too short a photoperiod.....

What kind of substrate did you want to use and tell us about your lights.

For plain gravel or sand-you still need to make weekly water changes since it is important to change the water before you add ferts for the plants-

You generally don't need any added ferts with the natural planted soil based-once the tank is mature they need limited water changes, however, you have to start out with enough of the right species of plants for them to function as the filtration....
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Old 12-12-2011, 05:22 PM   #6 
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I was going to do fine gravel but after seeing a few proclaiming the wonders of sand I'm leaning towards that. I'll honestly do whatever works best. I heard somewhere that the moss balls were actually a type of algae, and inhibited other algae growth by using nutrients required by them...must have been incorrect I suppose. As for the lights, I don't yet have the tank, so I can really go for whatever you recommend (I plan to get one of the cheap topfin 5gs, I've heard no issues with them)
with this setup I won't need full water changes will I? and what do I do with the plants during the change?
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Old 12-13-2011, 09:26 AM   #7 
Oldfishlady
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For regular planted tanks-sometimes small diameter gravel is better than sand...but sand will work too...it just sometimes it can compact too much and limit nutrients to the plants...this also depends on how planted you want to go.....any idea on plant species you want other than the moss ball-and you are correct they are a type of algae......

With rooted plants you don't want or need to make 100% water changes and disrupt the roots and for the plants to function as the filtration you need a lot of active plant growth of the right species of plants.

When you use sand or gravel as substrate you usually need to add plant ferts and with adding ferts you need to make water changes or you can end up with an algae farm......its all about balance....

It is normal and expected to have some algae in a container of water that has both light and nutrients, some can be a sign of a healthy system, help to make the tank look more natural by softening edges and provide food source for microorganism that the Betta will graze on, however, since this is a closed system it will have to be controlled and manual removal on occasion....you can limit some of the algae with plants that will out compete it to a degree...it a balance......

Then you have soil based tanks (NPT)-these are the systems that need very little care and water changes once mature (about 3moniths)..this is what I keep(see my album for pic)...I use dirt from my yard and cap this with sand to keep it in place...the nutrient rich dirt will feed the plants...but these are not without problems and unless you start out with enough of the right species of plants, lights, PP...they can crash pretty fast....
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Old 12-13-2011, 04:18 PM   #8 
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I live in SC so the dirt outside my house is hard red clay. The soil tank sounds interesting though...would potting soil work? Is there a specific kind for aquatics?
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Old 12-13-2011, 04:54 PM   #9 
Oldfishlady
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You can use organic type potting soil...no added ferts or anything and if you add about 10% of the red clay can be good too-especially for sword plants...you can also use top soil and then cap with either play sand or pool filter sand to hold the soil in place.....

With soil based tanks....you have to start with lots of stem plants....at least 75% of the floor needs stems and 10-25% floating...you can't start them with a few plants with plans to add more later....it would end up being a big mess...

I would recommend that you do some research on NPT and get a better understanding of the theory too...the more you know and understand the better.....there are some step-by-step info on them you should look into as well...just google...Diana Walstad natural planted aquariums and even getting her book she wrote on them is a great read...I use some of her method along with a twist of my own.....

Research plants, snails, especially trumpet snails and shrimp...all of which will make keeping a NPT much easier in the long run...they all have a job in the system....lol....

These are not system for everyone and do need a bit of work in the beginning....but once they are mature.....low tech-low care.....as close to a complete ecosystem you can create in a closed system....lol....

I have some pic in my album of a 5gal NPT and some other size NPT's you can look at to give you some ideas....
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