Starting a new planted tank - Betta Fish and Betta Fish Care
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-23-2016, 12:04 AM Thread Starter
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Starting a new planted tank


This is my first planted tank. It's a 20g with a male betta, two corydoras (planning to get a couple more soon so they can school better), three kuhli loaches, one ghost shrimp, and a mystery snail.

I have organic potting soil on the bottom, capped with about an inch of sand...however, some of the soil has moved above the sand. Is this a problem besides how it looks, is it harmful to the water or fish?

I have this plant bundle:

This light:

And this plant pack:

So far I have only used the Flourish Excel. What else should I be using and how often? I'm pretty nervous about overdosing and killing fish.

I also have a sponge filter and heater.

My tank is only a few days old (I actually just added the fish in today from their old 10g tank) and the water seems really green. Should I be concerned, or will this clear up naturally? Should I do water changes?

Thank you!
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-23-2016, 01:21 AM
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Green water is a type of algae. You can kill it by stopping fertilizers, turning off the lights, and doing a water change. Apparently, it is a common problem in new planted tanks, but I haven't had a problem with it in the past. You can also get an algae killer, just make sure you add aeration or move the fish out for a day or two after dosing it. I am fairly new to planted tanks, though, so I can't offer too much help with the soil issue. I know that Aquarium Co-op and Dustin's Fishtanks have good videos on YouTube about different problems. '
Here is one from Aquarium Co-op about all the different types of algae and how to get rid of them:

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-02-2016, 10:53 PM Thread Starter
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I have mostly heard that the best way to kill the algae is to not give the tank light for about a week...if I do that, can I take out my plants first, or do they have to die with it? :/

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-03-2016, 12:22 AM
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I wouldn't worry too much about the algae if your tank is only a few days old--this is considered normal. The overabundance of nutrients from the soil should die down over time. Excel should also help kill off the algae--just be careful and watch out for any ammonia spikes from the die-off. The dirt on top of your cap should not harm your fish. It just tends to be less aesthetically pleasing.

Continue doing water changes as normal, and test your water religiously until it's cycled. It's also completely normal to have plants melt back initially after you plant them, as they adjust to their new environment. Don't panic if this happens. Leave them in and look for new growth. Remove dead leaves from the water as needed to reduce ammonia build-up.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-03-2016, 04:27 AM
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You cannot use Seachem Excel if you have Anacharis in the tank; even Seachem admits Excel will kill it. The only thing you can try is doing a .25 dose for a week and gradually increase. Whatever you do, don't add a full or double dose if you with would like to keep Anacharis.

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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-03-2016, 08:31 AM
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You could also try Dr. Tim's Clear Up (which I've had no real success with), or more commonly, just add some charcoal filter media. The algae is harmless, though and will often clear up on its own in time.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-11-2016, 02:35 AM Thread Starter
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Oh wow, no wonder my Anacharis was dying much faster than the other plants. Thanks for telling me. The tank is now a few weeks old and still seems to be green. I was wondering how to use the other items in the plant pack? It includes: flourish, flourish iron, flourish excel.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-11-2016, 11:01 AM
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Many people (including myself) like to used the Estimated Index (EI) fertilizer dosing method:

I also use this fertilizer calculator (Fertilator) to calculate dosage amounts:

I found this guide to be very helpful when starting my first planted tank: How to Setup a Low-tech Planted Tank: Planted Aquarium Guide ? Welcome to Sudeep Mandal's spot on the net

There is a lot of trial and error involved in figuring out what plants work in your setup and what amounts of fertilizers you need (or don't need). Just keep at it! It took me about 6-8 months to really get the hang of it for my set up. But now I am very proud of my first planted aquarium.

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-14-2016, 03:10 AM Thread Starter
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Your tank is beautiful! I will definitely check out those links when I get a chance, thank you!

This is my tank, currently. Not so beautiful, haha. The water is a little cloudier than usual due to some recent sand-rummaging, it has actually been clearing up a bit. However, my sand bed is pretty deep. I keep trying to add more sand to cover up the soil, because I hate it, but that hasn't helped how deep it is. (A LOT more soil was showing before the sand rummaging a bit ago.) Additionally, some of the sand is a bit green due to some of it being from my old tank. For some reason I didn't think that would transfer over. -_-

Anyway, I'm in the midst of a water change (changing more water than usual and took out some of the hiding places, so ignore that) and kind of wondering...Should I just start over? I feel like I'm doing this all wrong, and the fish don't seem super happy. I also feel like the sand/soil mixture is going to be a recurring on earth do people get it so they don't mix?

I almost want to put them back into the 10g tank, but I felt like they were overstocked in there.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-14-2016, 09:01 AM
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You can certainly start over! The only way to learn what works for you is to try new things.

I knew sand would be messy and difficult to clean (and keep in one spot), so I chose small shells that I got at a craft store to make the white "river" you see in the photo of my aquarium. Every few months the shells grow enough algae in their nooks and crannies, that I carefully remove the top layer to clean or replace.

As long as you choose a substrate with a medium to high cation exchange capacity (CEC), your plants will do well in it. Some plants require a very fine-grain substrate in order to establish their roots, but not many. The black substrate you see in my aquarium is Eco-Complete, which is a popular substrate for planted tanks. But there are many options, and just go with what you find visually appealing. Flourite and Aquasoil are also popular options.

This is what my aquarium looked like on Day 2, just to show that I also started from humble beginnings in my aquascaping adventure:

Last edited by christinamac; 10-14-2016 at 09:02 AM. Reason: spelling
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