Problems with starting up - please help! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-31-2013, 01:03 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Queensland
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Problems with starting up - please help!

We are extremely new to this! Kindly help us out please - any advice is greatly appreciated!

Our intention is to set up a planted tank with the addition of some cherry shrimp. But we thought we'd go slow and just try out a few plants in gravel first to see how that goes before progressing on to aquarium soil. Currently, we have set up our 10 gallon tank with just some plants (Marbled Nana attached to some drift wood; Java Fern; Anubias minima) in gravel and LED light (240 Volts).

1) We were advised to buy an air pump for the tank. However, we're really confused as the air pump seems to be stirring up some sediments and the tank just cannot settle and clear up. Do we need a filter, or an air pump? And if it's a filter, what kind does it have to be?

2) With regards to the substrate at the bottom of the tank - we just used gravel in the meantime for the plants (due to cost concern with aqua soil). What would be a good liquid fertiliser to use in the meantime with our gravel? We were recommended to use Seachem Excel - any thoughts on that? Aqua soil seems to be quite expensive - is there any alternate commercial soil we can use instead?

Thank you so much for your help!! And Happy Easter!
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-31-2013, 01:53 AM
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Do you have a hob or canister set up for filtration?

You can use gravel to plant with but it's not the best option. If you still go with the gravel -add root tabs.

As far as more info on substrate, do some reading under the substrate threads. There's a ton of info and it will help you make the right decision.

Any of the liquid fertilizers sold at the pet store are good. I use the API line. Excel is not a macro/micro fert. There's lots of threads on it. Do a search on it.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-31-2013, 02:15 AM
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I suggest to STOP at this point and start reading the forums on the is website. There a lot of options that are inexpensive. If you can access chemical free garden soil and some chemical free sand you can create a substrate for very little $$$ vs, buying a bag of Aquasoil.

There's too much Hype about CO2 and Excel. You can grow many plants well without either. You light is the the most important part as the light drives the system.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-31-2013, 03:32 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Queensland
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Thank you so much guys.

We don't have a hob or a canister for filtration. We've only got an air pump in there - do we even need the air pump? Will try looking for a hob or a canister.

Will sand be enough as a substrate?
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-31-2013, 04:15 AM
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Anything can be a good substrate if you put tlc behind it. I'm currently trying out my first tank with organic soil aka dirt.

You have a 240v LED light? Could you be abit more descriptive about it

Air pump vs filter. I can't help you on that, but I do know you need one or the other. Reason to have water movement and to break the water surface to allow air exchange.
(I'm starting to sound like a pro only after reading along for a few weeks lol)
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-31-2013, 07:05 AM
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For your purposes and experience level I would suggest a HOB or canister filter. They're straightforward and effective. If you go HOB try to steer clear of the kind that use cartridges. They're dowright useless.

Sand will work great for a substrate but you'll need some root tabs to feed your plants.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-31-2013, 01:33 PM
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A very good filter for a 10 gallon tank is the Aquaclear 20. Do you have the Aquaclear product line in Oz?

Your tank does need some kind of water movement. It should not stir up sediments when all you have is gravel at the moment. There is no sediment in gravel until it is several months old, and even then the debris falls through the gravel toward the bottom of the tank.
I use some pretty strong filters and power heads on most of my tanks, I have finer substrate than gravel, and the water is crystal clear. Good water movement does not stir up clouds of debris.

At the current time all you have are plants that are not grown in the gravel, so water column fertilizer is the way to go.
Do you have the shrimp? Do you have any fish?
Fish food or shrimp food contain some of the nutrients that plants need. If you have a nitrate test, please tell us what the nitrate reads.

If the food keeps the nitrate above about 5 ppm (mg/l) then there is enough nitrate, phosphate, and probably trace minerals for the plants. I would start by feeding potassium and iron. Foods seem to be the lowest in these nutrients.

If feeding the livestock is not enough to keep the nitrate in a range from about 5-20 ppm then you probably do need to add more fertilizer.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-31-2013, 02:40 PM
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Figure out what plants you want and research them. Some plants require a lot of light, some a little bit of light.

High light plants will also require more nutrients and often times supplementation of CO2 either by injecting CO2 gas into your system or using a liquid carbon source such as Seachem Excel. CO2 is usually not needed with low light setups although it certainly won't hurt.

You can get an off the shelf all in one type liquid fertilizer for the plants and those work well in more simple, low light type setups where the plants are generally less demanding. You also dose less often. When you start getting into high light CO2 (high-tech) setups, dosing fertilizers can get a little more complicated and require frequent dosing, even daily dosing, usually with dry fertilizers. Many times each individual element is dosed as needed rather than just an all in one premade liquid.

You can go pretty simple or you can go bonkers with this stuff. It just depends on what you want. Don't think that going basic and low tech can't produce very nice planted tanks because they can. It still takes some forethought and a little work to get things going and maintained, but you can get results just as good as the high-tech setups.

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-31-2013, 04:12 PM
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The air pump isn't really needed until you have fish in the tank and even then, it's not required. I would highly recommend an AquaClear 20 filter by Fluval for your tank. Also, do multiple water changes after the filter is set up to reduce the cloudiness. Like everyone else said, just read your butt off around these forums and you'll gain loads of valuable information.

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 02:33 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Queensland
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thank you

Hey everyone, thanks for your advice. It has been very helpful. I have done alot of reading in the last few days. It has helped but confused me as well.

The light I have is
I have read some reviews and it seems to be a low intensity light. A low tech tank is what I am after currently.
The dimensions of the tank is 20x10x11 inches.
with regards to substrate eco-complete seems to be one of the top few. Would something like
1. be good as well.

I am trying to keep the cost down so could i mix any of these products 50% with 50% gravel.
If i get eco-complete, Using the substrate calculator, it seems like in order to get 3 inches of substrate I would need the whole bag 9kg would that be right? Also would I need to put a layer of gravel on top of it to reduce any disturbances.

I have already noticed some snails in the tank 3 days after the initial set up. Should I be introducing some loachers into the tank now to control the problem? How soon after this new setup should i wait before introducing some cherry shrimp?

So far I have decided given my horrible start to
1. get a HOB filter, the aquaclear 20 as recommended
2. get a substrate eg ecocomplete and layer at least 3 inches (is that enough?) OR can i get a
and replant the tank that has only 3 plants anyway.

Should i be adding additional fertilizer, or let it settle for a week or two before adding anything other then chemicals to dechlorinate the water.

Once again thanks for your patience. This planted tank business is indeed very tricky and it is such a steep learning curve for a newbie like me.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 03:44 PM
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If you are trying to keep costs down then stick to fine gravel, coarse sand or one of the fired clay absorbent products such as Turface [turf conditioner], Schultz's Aquatic Soil [for planting pond plants]or SafeTSorb [absorbent sweeping media]. I am sure you have equivalents on your side of the ocean with different names, ask about them locally? Aquarium specific products are expensive. You may like the appearance better is all and unless you are using something like ADA's Aquasoil you must add root tabs anyway. If the gravel you have now is coarser than you like simply mixing it with a finer one will work and may look more natural as well.

The plants you have don't need rich substrate anyway but consider looking at common crypts such as C. wendtii that would appreciate a nice substrate and can tolerate low light. Moss is another plant you might enjoy in your low light tank. There are lots of patient people on this forum with great low light planted tanks, see the low tech forum for more plants to try out.

New plants have nutrient reserves so won't need anything added. I never quite believe this and start adding liquid right away in smaller quantities as well as putting any root supplements in at set up time. I haven't ever had any plant eating snails on plants so suggest any snails that appear be left to clean up debris, dying leaves and polish off small amount of algae that you see.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-03-2013, 08:22 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Queensland
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ok guys,
I have bought a hob filter. the water looks better. tested the water at a local fish shop. ph 7.8, ammonia and nitrate negative. what should i do next. Should i start adding some cherry shrimp to help the tank achieve some equilibrium?

Thanks again for all your kind help! Much appreciated
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