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anonapersona 10-19-2002 10:37 PM

I have a 10 gallon tank with the standard single flourescent light. I have Java Fern on driftwood and some fourleaf clover (pond type, we'll see if it gets shorter) started in flourite. I'll be adding some stem plants as soon as I find out what I can find locally that looks good and will tolerate 1.5 wpg.

Question 1 - Does anyone have any reccomendations for background stem plants for a new small tank?

Question 2 - I will switch that tube for a better bulb soon, as it is whatever comes standard from Walmart and it looks very purple which is weird with the driftwood.
There is no reflector in this hood, do I need one, can I make one?

Question 3 - I have no filter on this yet. I have a powerhead that I just got at a garage sale, it was running an UGF in a 20 gallon saltwater tank. Should I add that powerhead to this tank now for circulation, or do I really need a filter?

Question 4 - I do intend to add fish, eventually. I love the idea of a species tank (read an article about that and it sounds great) but first I know that I'll need certain things to take care of algae, how many otos and/or cory catfish and/or mollies and/or shrimp do I need, and after those, what else can I fit in the 10 gallon tank?

I'm OK if this will only hold a clean up crew and a single betta, or zebra danios or something. One day I will have a huge tank with schools of fish and plants. This is a learning tank. When it is running well I'll start on the 20 gallon I just picked up. Lighting will be an investment there and I'm not ready for it just yet.

Thanks for any advice you can offer.

KyleT 10-20-2002 04:48 PM

First off welcome to the board anonapersona. Oh and what an interesting name you have there too.

Now on to the questions:

1) There are a thousand different stem plants that you can have as a background. Actually you can have pretty much any stem plant as your background. Since you have a ten gallon you are just going to continuously have to trim it. My personal favorite background stem plant is Rotalica Indica.

2) What type of bulb is it? Is it in a swirl, is it pear shape, or is it straight???

DIY reflectors are pretty easy. All you woould have to do is get some tin foil and spread it above the light and find some way to fasten it. Try to get as little creases in the foil that you can.

3) I personally wouldn't recommend the powerhead in the ten however I would recommend that you get a small Aqua-clear mini hang on the back filter. They are excellent filters and won't cost you more than $15 at your LFS.

4) With the plants and the ac mini you can pretty easily keep a small school of fish, some ottos and a few shrimp if you wanted to. Say for example 2-3 ottos, 5-6 neon tetras and 2 amano shrimp. You should be fine with that as long as you keep up regular water changes.

I hope this helps but it sounds like you are well on your way to a sucessful tank already as you seemed to have done your research.


anonapersona 10-21-2002 10:45 PM

The bulb is a straight tube, 15 watts, I did change it to a GE sunshine bulb that I got at Home Depot, not much brighter, but at least it is not purple. I'm still not happy as the thing buzzes slightly -- cheap ballast? Guess that $4 I saved at Walmart came back to haunt me.

I have a Whisper mini (5 - 10?) on a barebottom goldfish tank that I could swap for use on this tank.

Do you really think that any stem plants will do OK in this low light? Did I mention that I have hard water?

KH ~7, pH 8.0.

I'd love a blobitis but am afraid it would be very unhappy and I'm concerned about fish, too. I'd love the tetras but the water?!

I have elodia densa, from the pond, and water lillies that have some underwater leaves that are pretty, are they the same as what is sold for aquariums?

I'm confused about what I just read about elodia affecting ph when co2 is low, does it make the water harder or softer if CO2 is low?

GulfCoastAquarian 10-22-2002 01:02 PM

I'm not sure of what you're referring to when you say Elodea affects alkalinity when CO2 is low. I have witnessed biogenic decalcification in high light, low CO2 environments (i.e. my 55 g tank, haha) but the calcerous deposits are insoluble in the tank water and shouldn't really affect the water chemistry by much, if any.

At the light level you are at right now, you will have a somewhat difficult time growing most stem plants with the exception of the Elodea you already have. The reason your light buzzes is because it is a magnetic ballast running at 60Hz - what your AC outlet provides. If I could suggest you get a magnetic ballast (which runs at 20,000Hz and is far more efficient) I believe you'd be pleased. If you want to try your hand at overdriving the 15 watt light to 30 watts, read my post on overdriving Normal Output fluorescents in the lighting forum on this site.

Hard water seems to be a problem at first for planted tanks, but I've come to find that hard water can actually be easier for high tech planted tanks than soft water. The buffering capability of hard water prevents drastic pH shifts when you add CO2, and the minerals in the water are usually beneficial to plants. I keep many varieties of tetras in my hard tap water, which is about the same as yours. CO2 injection brings the pH down to 7.2 and the fish and plants seem very happy.

anonapersona 10-23-2002 01:56 PM

So, I'd really need to bump up the lights in order to do CO2. And, I probably need to make this decision ASAP, since the plants are already in.
I just added what I think is red ludwigia, rotala indica, and maybe myriophylum aquaticum. No labels and although I explained my light and water there was either a language barrier or the clerk really didn't know better.

anonapersona 10-25-2002 01:37 AM

I did add the spiral daylight bulbs and the light is brighter than the single 15 watt.

As a test for later CO2, a got some of those plant tablets that fizz (8 weeks worth for $5 MegaFS) and 24 hrs after the addition, the tank is at 7.4 pH., down from 7.8 of aged dechlorinated water. I'll monitor it daily to see how wide the pH swing is, but I think it will be moderate as you say. The same stuff is $2 online and so for $0.25 a week I might be able to just keep this single tank going on fizz tablets.

I'll run it a week with no filtration or water movement to watch pH, then test another week with that smalll filter going before I choose fish. I'm thinking here that the filter will drive off a lot of CO2 and I'd like to let the plants get a foothold.

GulfCoastAquarian 10-25-2002 12:54 PM

I think that's a good plan. You can probably run that small tank with those Fizz tablets or even Flourish Excel (or a combination of both). It would take you a long time to justify the cost of a pressurized system and yeast generators can be a pain.

anonapersona 10-25-2002 04:39 PM

Yes, it is looking good! I think the pinkish stem plant is rotala macranda with micrnatem umbrosum and limnophila auatica. The pink plant is starting to put on new, even darker growth, the green ferny plant is greener and the tiny bulb of water lilly I stole from the pond has a new leaf begun. The only strange part is the strong seltzer smell, I can't help but think of pouring a scotch for my dad. I do hope that it is OK for fish, it SAYS it is.

The hardware store guy said that instead of adding a glass cover between the bulbs and the water, he thought I should just put a small barrier to protect the ballast and screw-in part of the bulbs, he wasn't worried about any water hittng the flourescent bulbs. Is that OK?

So, how long should I go before I start adding these Dupla24 drops? Below the flourite I put some broken pond plant fertilizer tablets. I think I recall on the Amano site that he recommends waiting some time, 2 weeks, to let the plants get going, then adding the algae crew after the algae appears. I'll go locate that site again, do you concurr?

GulfCoastAquarian 10-25-2002 07:35 PM

Those sound like some beautiful plants!

I've actually used seltzer water a few times in my planted tanks, to give the tank a "burst" of CO2 when I add new plants, for instance. Just make sure it's not mineral water, just plain CO2-injected water.

Even if the fluorescent bulbs do get splashed, if they aren't too hot, they should be ok. I like to go with a full glass cover anyway just to curb evaporation and evaporative gas exchange. I like to let the plants do the O2 provision instead.

The Dupla drops can be added once weekly now. As long as they contain no organics, they'll just set up a good mineral base of micronutrients for the plants in the future. Whatever the plants don't use will be absorbed by the porous substrate or filter. You should definitely wait at least 2-4 weeks to add any organics or macronutrients such as N-P-K.
Although it is a bit early for the tablets in the gravel, at least they are contained therein and not in the water column, where they would be sure to wreak havoc with an algae bloom.

I also concur about waiting for algae to appear before adding an algae crew. I made the mistake of buying a GORGEOUS Zebra pleco when I first set up this planted tank, and without any algae to eat, the poor guy starved to death.

anonapersona 10-25-2002 10:37 PM

GulfCoast, It is really super to have someone who has traveled this same path, waterwise, to help me along. Advice from someone who begins with similar parameters is so valuable!

So... if you're not too tired of me pestering you, some questions about starting to add fish.

I read that the bloodfin tetra can tolerate changing water conditions all the way up to pH of 8 which would cover me if I forgot or dropped the CO2, and the big store has some.

Only 5 left today, though. They are very jumpy, probably not enough buddies there to keep them happy as there was a tank full just a couple of days ago. This fish is written up as a pretty tough fish, good for beginners. It is not the most beautiful fish, but it is good looking and might be a good start. Should I start with a few, like the 5 left now, or try to find a larger group, since these do prefer groups of 6 or more they say.

I can add some used filter padding from the cycled 29 gallon that is healthy, though lightly stocked.

What I'm not sure of, is whether I need to stock slowly, because of cycling concerns, or add a small pack of 6 small fish so they feel better together. The objective here is to have nice fish, but a beautiful tank, so a species tank is more what I'm shooting for. With 10 gallons, can I even get 6 small fish and a few ottos and a corry or two and not be overstocked?

SNPiccolo5 10-26-2002 04:19 AM

You must get the same water I do... because I just tested mine today and the KH ~7 and the pH was 8.

One thing that is important is that consistency is more important than the actual measure. Tetras will do fine at a pH of 8, just as long as it doesn't change, everything should be good.

Now, about adding fish... I would reccomend getting something you really like. Look for a tetra that you like. Rummy noses, neons, cardinals, black neons, lemon, there are many more in addition. Get something you want. Also, I would reccomend getting a couple fish at first, then adding more. It is definitely safe that way, and fish lonliness really takes a toll in the long-term, and you would be adding more fish any way!

Adding filter media from your other tank will help a LOT. I did it to my 55 gallon tank and it was cycled in less than 2 weeks. Eventually, if you plant your 10 g more, the bacteria will actually die, since the plants will use the ammonia, and the bacteria won't get any, the plants out compete the bacteria. But this is fine, don't worry.

I would say a school of 4-6 tetras would be good with 2-3 ottos, but I would add 2-3 tetras first to help cycle the tank, however if you are picking a more delicate tetra to have, just cycle the tank with 2 zebra danios. Hope this helps! Good luck!


anonapersona 10-26-2002 11:24 PM

I took my weekly journey to the "better" fish store in town (the "best" that also secializes in plants is a lot farther) just to get familiar with the fish there, now that I'm looking at freshwater fish and not goldfish.

Ended up taking home 3 Serpae tetras and a skunk cory. The guy there really thought that my water hardness and pH wasn't a problem for these fish and thought the fizz tablets (and even adding CO2) were not necesary for plant growth. This is not what I read, but I'm gonna give it a try.

So, before adding the fish I decided to do some water testing as they floated awhile. My pH is back to 7.8, same as the bucket I have aging in the bathroom, and the KH has skyrocketed to 13 degrees, from 7 or 8 of aged water. So, the tablets may have added CO2 the first time, but with the KH now so high, I don't think I dare to add a second tablet.

The seltzer smell is all gone. The plants are very, very green. I added some regular gravel freshly rinsed, to cover the sharp flourite. Followed precedure for acclamating the fish to temp and water, released them, and two were dead wthin the hour.

The fish store thinks it was the fact that I disinfected the filter box with bleach after transferring it from the goldfish tank. I rinsed it well, let it dry for a couple of hours, added Dechlor straight into it when I added some extra to the tank before addiing the fish, used a fresh filter bag with a chunk of old filter inside.

I think it was the KH being so high. So, I got almost all of the water out of the tank, filled with aged dechlorinated water, and added the cory and the single tetra back to the tank on the advice of the store. Actually, he wanted me to not dump the tank, but I couldn't bear to kill the other fish on purpose.

This is getting discouraging. The goldfish was so unhappy I put him back in the pond. A bunch of empty tanks, how depressing.

anonapersona 11-11-2002 03:21 AM

It wasn't the bleach that killed the fish, but the massive bacterial die-off and the resutling ammonia spike that killed them.
I had a rough and short cycle, with levels approaching 16ppm as near as I can figure as it took very large water changes to even get the test kit to register levels not off the scale. I was testing the water twice a day, morning and night, and changing water 2 and 3 times in a row at 50% to 90% rates. Eventually I killed the last tetra with a shock of cold water. The cory survived. Now the tank is cycled and restocked.

Flgatorguy 11-11-2002 07:55 AM

this might be a little late but good starter fish that ive actually used are what you mentioned before Zebra Danias....just make sure the ones you get are all the same size i recently purchased 3 of them from my LFS with the larger one picking on the other 2.......seperated the large from the small and the same sized fish get along great....and about the water said you killed the last tatra due to cold water.....that could be, but also be "to much "clean" water".....

GulfCoastAquarian 11-11-2002 01:47 PM

anon, I'm sorry I never got back to this post! It sounds like you've been through some tough experiences with your new tank! We really should have helped you through. Feel free to email me when you have a specific question that needs a timely answer. I can't always get on this board so feel free to email me anytime -

Anyway, it sounds like you've learned a great deal in the past month, and while it is sad to have lost so many fish in the process, the experience you gained is invaluable towards keeping your future fish happy and healthy.

I made the very same mistake YEARS ago when I first started the hobby (circa late 1980's). I cleaned out my Whisper filter with bleach, dechlorinated and lost a ton of fish. It was a two-cartridge filter (large model) and subsequently, I made sure to change only ONE filter pad at a time, allowing the old pad to colonize the new with nitrobacter.

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