Forgive me, I had no idea - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-08-2017, 10:42 PM Thread Starter
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Forgive me, I had no idea

I had no idea the amount of work that was required to growing plants in a small aquarium. It was an impulse purchase; Fluval Spec V on sale at the local pet store. I brought it home and decided to set it up at work where it could be enjoyed by myself and my customers. On the advice of my pet store's staff I bought Aquavitro Aquasolum and a few "starter plants". Without doing any research, I set it up, planted the plants and added a single Endler. I was happy w/ the look of the tank and went home for the weekend, where I decided to look for pictures of other's planted tanks. Which led me here, and to the realization that I may have really screwed up my chances of having a successful tank.

I never realized a nano sized aquarium would be tougher than a larger one. I didn't realize a tank needed to be cycled, or fertilized. I still don't know when to do water changes or how often. Water test kit?! Really? I've never used one before... LOL Is Chemipure Elite a good idea? Purigen?

So what do I need to do to make my chances higher for success w/ this tank?
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-08-2017, 11:11 PM
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Hi! And welcome to the forum! There's absolutely no reason why your tank shouldn't be successful! In fact, you've already done a lot- your aquascape looks great!
What I think you should do first is return your endler, assuming he's only been there a short time. That way your tank can cycle, and you can get another at the proper time. Maybe you have a friend with a tank that he could stay with?
Buy an API Master test kit for testing water, and a bottle of Prime water conditioner.
Others will chime in, but that's how I would start.
Did you boil and soak your driftwood so all the tannins are out? Endlers like hard water. The driftwood tends to lower the hardness. While you're getting the Master test kit, may as well get a GH, KH kit too.
Then get back to us. Just don't get more fish yet. The members here will help you.
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-08-2017, 11:11 PM
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I would suggest doing a search for Fish in cycle. Get a dechlorinator like Seachem Prime and dose it everyday to protect your fish. Expect to do a partial water change every 3 days, i. e. 25% every 3 days. Just til its cycled.

You can also take your fish back. And go fishless cycle.

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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-08-2017, 11:49 PM
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I got put in a list of advanced aquarium keepers. wow.
You are not as bad off as you think, I have done a few cycles with fish and they turned out alright. Do what @Econde said 25% water change every three days until you don't read ammonia for 3 days. Then move to a normal schedule of water changes etc. I also recommend getting a book to read that can give you a good basis to start from. Freshwater aquariums for dummy's really helped me when I started my first tank. Another good read is ecology of the planted aquarium by Diana Walstad (it is a more scientific read, but gives some good insight). The single Endler should be okay I think with the cycle as they are pretty tough fish.
I would recommend posting your water parameters so we can give you any heads up about your stocking requirements etc.
The largest part of this hobby is to be patient and to not do things impulsively. It can make things better in the long run.
Welcome to TPT! And welcome to the world of aquarium keeping!
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-08-2017, 11:52 PM
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I'm not a huge fan of the fish in cycle in many cases, but your bio load is so small it will likely work. A test kit is a good idea for sure. For a cycling tank, you need ammonia and nitrite and then nitrate when planning your water change schedule afterward. The plants you have will eventually get quite large for a tank of that size, but I wouldn't fret just yet. Really, keeping your live stock healthy is your only real concern right now in my opinion. Tackle researching that, something you've shown you are quite adept at. Decided on whether you want to return it or keep up with some water changes while he lives in there. The only difficult part of a smaller aquarium is keeping yourself from over stocking it. In reality, it is less maintenance overall if you can keep yourself modest.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-09-2017, 12:04 AM
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Sloo50 A sufficiently lit dirted tank cannot fail. I predict success! Nice tank sloo.

(sure hope that it is dirt i see in the tank)

I would get the single endler a friend though eventually. It will make the tank look a little less LONE Survivor, If ya know what i mean
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-09-2017, 02:21 PM
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Aside from everything, at least you realized things were off sooner. You will learn a lot from here so keep on posting! Your scape is really nice BTW!

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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-09-2017, 03:20 PM
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Wow what a nice scape for a first tank! Don't beat yourself up, you are on the right track. The store advised you well, that's definitely a good sign.

Just an FYI in case you didn't know, but plants are fine in a non cycled tank, in fact, they will help cycle.
I would buy a live bacteria product, such as Tetra Safe Start, and it will cycle your tank instantly by adding the necessary bacteria, and you can keep the endler.
At the moment, you don't want to do water changes, but once established I'd suggest 20-30% (~1 gallon) every week or two.
As to Ferts, you can see how they do without supplementation, and if it looks like they need supplementation Seachem flourish is perfect for low tech tanks. You really don't want fast growth in a tank that size, otherwise you'll be trimming every week!

Purigen is nice to have, but not neccesary.
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-09-2017, 03:40 PM
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Don't waste money on Safestart, it will at best take a few days off the cycle.

I suppose the things to keep an eye on is when food, plants, and other organic substances degrade in water, it gives off very toxic ammonia, bacteria will convert this into nitrite, which is still nasty but less toxic, other bacteria will then have a go at it and convert the nitrite into nitrate which is much less harmful. So, a cycled tank will take care of the first two stages of decay. The nitrate has to be removed by being used by plants, or taken out with regular water changes and filter media rinses.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-09-2017, 06:47 PM
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Well, you made the right choice on the most important one: the choice to go with a planted tank! As mentioned by other posters, nothing in your tank is going to die over night with 25% water changes ever 3 days. You will need fertilizers eventually but right now you have time to think about what kind of growth you looking to get out of your tank. Fast growth isn't necessarily desirable in a small tank, but of course everyone wants Healthy Growth. If you want to spend less time worrying about your dosing go with Flourish Excel. Do you want to get into the specifics of macro micro nutrients, and tailor dosing to the needs of your plants, researching dosing methods might be something that interests you. I personally dirt my tanks, but as you are just starting out and and have taken the time to make a very nice Aquascape, you may not want to go that route.

Overall the pet store did right by you from what I can tell; the plants I see are all very common easy to grow plants that you can enjoy whether you're growing them fast or slow.

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Last edited by thanatopsian; 01-09-2017 at 06:50 PM. Reason: Added the option of dirt.
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-09-2017, 10:11 PM
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You have a nice looking tank to start with. If you are consistent with your maintenance I don't know that small tanks are any harder to be successful with than larger tanks. If you start getting lax on things conditions in a small tank will change faster than in a large tank.

The API master kit and Prime are good suggestions. Right now your goal is to get the tank cycled. Search "cycling a new aquarium" for the info you need. Very simple process but it will take a couple weeks to do. During this time you will be testing for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate until the ammonia and nitrite both read zero and nitrate is present. You can also test other things like ph(also in the master kit), kh(carbonate hardness) and gh(general hardness) while you are cycling the tank to determine what water conditions you will be dealing with down the road. You will have to get a separate test kit for the hardness tests, as mentioned they are not included in the master kit.

As long as the replacement water when you do water changes comes from the same source each time the water conditions in your tank should stay pretty stable with proper maintenance. Water sources vary a lot and you need to figure out what water conditions you will have in the tank in order to plan what type of fish to stock the tank with. Some prefer hard water, others soft, etc. Most fish are quite adaptable but it's best to start in the ball park at least.

After the tank is cycled you will need to do partial water changes to keep nitrate levels at a safe level. How often will depend on how heavily the tank is stocked and how much you water you change each time. This varies greatly from tank to tank but about 25% to 50% every 2 weeks would be a place to start and then modify based on your nitrate test results.

Get some basic info on keeping aquarium plants and ask questions here. It can be very simple or fairly complex depending on what YOU want to do with it.

This is a great place to get information, there are people here from beginners to experts that will help out. Good luck!
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-09-2017, 11:16 PM
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Welcome to the forum!

You have a low-light tank. In my opinion, that's the best place for beginners to start because less can go wrong and they're a little more forgiving.

Here's my suggestion for a simple list of steps for success.

1) Cycle. Read as much as you can about how to do this. The above suggestions are all correct.
2) Get more plants if you can. Don't let anyone tell you to get expensive stuff. There are fabulous looking tanks with dirt-cheap plants. Plants, more than anything else, will help keep your tank healthy and stable.
3) BE PATIENT. When I was getting started this was the hardest lesson to learn.
a) when you see algae, you'll be tempted to do any number of things to get rid of it. Do ONE thing. Wait a couple weeks to see if it works. Repeat as needed.
b) Don't try to do anything in a hurry, especially messing with your water chemistry. Some will try to tell you that some organism needs X Y and Z in the water and your tap water is A, B, and C. Trying to change your water is hard at best and futile at worst.
4) Be patient.
5) Ask for help.
6) Get more plants.

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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-09-2017, 11:45 PM
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All these suggestions are apt. Only thing I don't get is your impression that a small tank is more difficult than a larger one. All size tanks need to be cycled to function properly and not injure livestock; in a nano tank this just happens in a smaller scale. The only difficulty that a nano has over a larger tank, IMO, is figuring out how to scape in such a small space, and that the water parameters are harder to keep stable when dealing with such a small volume. I am genuinely curious what your impression is based on, if you don't mind me asking?
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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-09-2017, 11:53 PM
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I cant wait till you see how addicting this hobby becomes @sloo50
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-10-2017, 12:48 AM
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You've got a lot of good advice to start things off. The only thing I would add is to replant your Java fern, the tall plant on the right with the 2 or 3 long leaves. That should have the rhizome out of the substrate or it will rot. Tie it, rubber band it or superglue it to driftwood or a rock.
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