First Planted, 5 gallons on a budget - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 62 (permalink) Old 04-10-2012, 07:11 AM Thread Starter
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First Planted, 5 gallons on a budget

Hey folks, just starting with aquariums again after 20 years; I'm on a budget, so am going slow and trying to stay really low tech (by agreement, I spend as much on the tank as my lovely wife does on gardening ). I got a 5-gallon cheapie tank kit and added A 10W, 5100K fluorescent bulb. Substrate is some basic natural gravel from LFS, no other substrate additives: I was going to get laterite but forgot until after everything was running. After discussing it with the plant guy at LFS, decided to let it ride; we also decided to try using Seachem Flourish Tabs instead of fluid since the doses would be so small and hard to manage. I am using Amquel Plus and NovAqua Plus in the water whenever I do a partial water change.

Plants are three different varieties of Anubia and a Java Fern as basic starter plants. Also have a nice rock (well.. for a rock...) and a piece of Malaysian Driftwood. The big Anubia in the front has a broken off leaf, the LFS guy thought it was just broken in shipping, and I liked how it looked so decided to give it a try.

Curious how people fertilize at this size, and anything I can do to improve the tank. I'd love to get some plants near the top somehow but not sure where to go with it. Thanks for taking a look.

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Last edited by ArchimedesTheDog; 06-04-2012 at 07:05 AM.
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post #2 of 62 (permalink) Old 04-10-2012, 03:31 PM
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Off to a great start! I can't tell for sure but make sure you only bury the roots of the anubias and not the rhizome also make sure the java fern has rhizome above the substrate. Rhizominous plants need light on the rhizome.

I think your root tabs are a good idea but you can easily dose other ways. You just have to figure out how much or liquid or dry ferts to add for your tank size. There are online calculators to help. I would suggest going to the fertilizers section here and looking around.
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post #3 of 62 (permalink) Old 04-10-2012, 05:07 PM
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Nice start, nice and simple. Since they are low tech plants, I would just get some root tabs or some liquid ferts and just dose every so often. They don't demand much.

I kept some Java Fern and Anubias in a ziplock back on top of my tank, and they still grew with just the ambient room light.
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post #4 of 62 (permalink) Old 04-10-2012, 05:42 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks! I think the Anubia rhizomes are above gravel (well, except for that big one in the middle, I'll have to try to work that up), mainly because I couldn't get them into the gravel very well, maybe now I know why; I'll double check at home tonight.

I actually read elsewhere in these forums that the roots of the java fern are supposed to not be buried, that the fern would take care of the roots itself, so last night I unburied the roots and just left it floating on the bottom. I was curious to see if the roots grabbed onto the rock next to the fern, but let me know if I was misunderstanding the instruction on the fern, I can easily re-bury the roots, it has a nice horizontal rhizome that seems in good health so far. I have had a brown thumb with potted plants in the past, so I am fretful about this learning process.

At this size of tank my main concern with fertilizer dosing was over-encouraging algae growth. I'll poke around the fertilizer forum and see what I can learn, it's pretty overwhelming, to be honest!

Is this a good place to ask about an easy floating plant to start with, or is that better to go to the plants subforum? With a small tank and one bulb, I know I don't want to choke the light, but I love the look.
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post #5 of 62 (permalink) Old 04-10-2012, 06:34 PM
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I have dosed lquid ferts as small as a 2.5g tank. What I do is figure out how many drops from a dropper fit into the lid, do some math and go from there. So instead of dosing from the lid I just use a dropper.
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post #6 of 62 (permalink) Old 04-11-2012, 06:18 AM Thread Starter
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I adjusted the clump of big Anubias tonight, trying to get more exposed. Turns out it wasn't three shoots off a single rhizome like I thought, and instead was three shoots with roots, one with a bit of rhizome coming off I think. I really struggled with getting them into the gravel again and some roots are still above the gravel. lesson learned (most of the white is the lower layer of white gravel I have below the tan).

I swear the crab came out of its log, looked at what I was doing, then went back inside to judge me in peace and quiet.

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post #7 of 62 (permalink) Old 04-11-2012, 10:56 AM
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crypts looks like stil in emerse form
dont worry when it melt it will grow back with aquatic leaves
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post #8 of 62 (permalink) Old 04-11-2012, 02:36 PM
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I usually tie my anubias and java ferns onto the rocks or driftwood. You have some very nice looking, healthy plants
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post #9 of 62 (permalink) Old 04-12-2012, 03:33 PM Thread Starter
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Some brown spotting has appeared overnight in the plants.

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post #10 of 62 (permalink) Old 04-13-2012, 04:15 PM
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Nice plants.
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post #11 of 62 (permalink) Old 04-13-2012, 04:46 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks!

I have added Flourish Excel to the tank. I am going to underdose for a while to see how it goes, especialyl with the tabs in there.
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post #12 of 62 (permalink) Old 04-17-2012, 06:42 PM Thread Starter
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The brown spots are brown algae, and there are brown algae hairs growing off the end of the broken leaf in the foreground. It rubs off with my finger. I'll head to the algae forum to ask for advice.

Tank is still cycling, the Ammonia has dropped to 0 but the Nitrites are still at ~5.0 PPM, I expect them to start dropping soon. I change about a gallon of water every other day. I am using Amquel+ and NovAqua+, I switched to tap water from purified water, the Flourish Tabs are still in the gravel and I am doing ~5 drops of Flourish Excel every 3 days at the moment.

I am considering Water Sprite in the tank to provide some floating greenery, I like the look better than Dwarf Water Lettuce.


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post #13 of 62 (permalink) Old 04-22-2012, 03:15 PM Thread Starter
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Thursday night I tested my nitrites and they were about 5 PPM, Ammonia had been down to zero since Monday. I changed a gallon of water, then I left town for a couple days on business. This morning, I am testing Nitrites at zero. I'm very pleased.

My Diatoms/Brown Algae are very prominent, now, though mostly leaving the glass alone. I'm trying to be patient, I know that usually it stabilizes, but it's really unattractive, of course. Now that the bacteria are present I will try to lower light levels for a few days, please let me kniow if that is the wrong approach.

Today I will change 2 gallons of water to try and get some of the detritus out.

Also, I have an unexpected tank denizen.

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post #14 of 62 (permalink) Old 04-22-2012, 04:03 PM
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looks like he's clearing up the algae for you...

"I am Groot", the faithful protector
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post #15 of 62 (permalink) Old 04-22-2012, 11:43 PM Thread Starter
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I picked up a Water Sprite and an Otocinclus, today. To say that the Otocinclus started eating diatoms immediately would be an understatement! He spent zero time learning his environment, he sank onto a plant and set to work. I better go get some algae tabs! Not the prettiest fish, they had some expensive panda loaches that were beautiful, but I already like this guy's work ethic.

The mechanical filter medium in my HOB was also pretty sparse and didn't seem effective, so I bought some Fluval foam pads and stuck it in the filter with the other one.
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