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Old 09-06-2013, 11:06 PM   #1
nikkifro8994
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Newbie with lots of questions. Help?


I want to set up a fully planted tank with either a betta or a few WCMMs (White Cloud Mountain Minnows) but I don't know where to begin. I've had limited success with live plants in my betta tanks. The only things that survived were a moss ball and a small Anubis that I attached to a small piece of driftwood.

I have an empty 5.5 gallon tank that I want to use for this little project. I am a poor college student and I don't want this to break the bank. The closest chain pet store is about 40 minutes from me and the only strictly fish store is a saltwater shop 45 minutes away. We have a little shop down the road, but I haven't been in to check it out yet. I'm expecting to purchase most of this from Amazon or no ebay links allowed The plants will definitely have to be purchased online.

Let's start from the bottom with substrate. I have some gravel (smooth pebbles) and 5 lbs of caribsea sand from previous tanks. Most of what I've read says I need a plant substrate. Which ones are good and which should I avoid?

Next onto lighting. My tank came with a hood, but the light fixture is broken. Since I need lights to keep the plants alive, I'll need to buy a new one. What kind of lighting/hood should I get? The classic black hood with one screw in bulb? A glass cover with a light strip? Also, what kind of light bulbs are best for growing various plants?

I am planning on adding either a betta or a few WCMMs once the plants are in, so do I need to invest in a CO2 system? I would think the plants would be fine with the CO2 from the fish. I already have a heater on hand, but will I need a filter as well once I add the fish? Is there any other equipment that I'll need?

And last, but not least, the plants. I want a huge variety, no more than 2 or 3 of the same plant. I also like color. Green is good, but it gets kind of boring when EVERYTHING is green. Some reds and purples are a must. Also a variety of size. Some plants in the back that will get taller, a few kinds in the midground, and some short guys or groundcover for the front.

One more thing - fertilizer. The fish waste will provide some of the nutrients, but this tank will probably need more than that. What kinds of ferts should I look for? Any specific brands or ingredients?

Thank you for taking the time to read this rather long, question filled post. I'm sure all of you guys combined can provide some great answers for me.
Nikki

Last edited by nikkifro8994; 09-07-2013 at 01:54 PM.. Reason: typos
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Old 09-07-2013, 12:22 PM   #2
Zer
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You mention that you are pretty new to the hobby. I'll have to warn you that in some ways a nano tank requires high maintenance. They can't tolerate the occasional missed water change or off parameter the way a 20 or even 10g tank can. Maybe you could start with a larger tank?

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Originally Posted by nikkifro8994 View Post
Let's start from the bottom with substrate. I have some gravel (smooth pebbles) and 5 lbs of caribsea sand from previous tanks. Most of what I've read says I need a plant substrate. Which ones are good and which should I avoid?
I used eco complete a few years ago, and flourite is also a standby (I believe it comes in a few colors now). You can also use regular gravel and add root tabs, but I would strongly recommend starting with one of the above listed substrates, they are affordable and should provide stable nutrition for at least a year. They're far from perfect but on a budget it's a good way to go.

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Next onto lighting. My tank came with a hood, but the light fixture is broken. Since I need lights to keep the plants alive, I'll need to buy a new one. What kind of lighting/hood should I get? The classic black hood with one screw in bulb? A glass cover with a light strip? Also, what kind of light bulbs are best for growing various plants?
You can get screw in or standard CFL bulbs in good spectrums for plants. I'm not sure what the exact color temperatures are off the top of my head, but it is important that it is full spectrum and ideally designed for freshwater aquariums. You can do this with a traditional screw hood, or even just a lamp with a screw in. A 10w CFL will be enough to grow a basic low-light nano.

Anyhow, I have to shove off, I'll let someone else pick up some of your other questions, or stop back by this evening.
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Old 09-09-2013, 06:18 PM   #3
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Substrate: You can give a dirted method a try and get organic potting soil and cap it with that caribsea sand you have; or get some ecocomplete. I am not a fan of flourite.

Lighting: You can go cheap and buy a walmart desklamp and a 10w 550 lumen mini spiral 6500K cfl bulb which will be about $15 at most(which could be high lighting depending on how close it is); or you can get something like the Finex Ray2 16" LED or Fugeray-R LED; which the ray2 i would consider for high light plants with co2 and the Fugeray-R for the middle with co2 or not.

co2: I wouldnt go co2 since its only 5.5 and just dose flourish excel which is organic carbon and will does great in nano tanks.

Plants: There is so many choices you just have to look at other peoples tanks. As far as my person favorite is Dwarf hairgrass for carpeting. Blyxa japonica or Staurogene repens(grown bushy) for midground. And for tall plants there is a lot of choices but if you want some red in there look at rotala macrandra. Also most of these plants high light and especially if you want some red plants they will most likely be highlight.

fertilizer: this is a hard question to answer; I think most people will do like one ml of flourish comprehensive every other day and you would need something with macros for the next day, not sure of a liquid method for macros other than each K P NO from seachem as well. I am still learning about correct dosing. this is assuming your tank has a large plant load.

these things I recommend may not be the best options but they are what have worked for me. Also It was all within keeping in mind trying to save money where you can.

Last edited by Jsquared; 09-09-2013 at 06:45 PM.. Reason: because
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Old 09-11-2013, 01:56 AM   #4
nikkifro8994
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Thanks for the help so far! I'm not entirely new to this. I've kept freshwater fish for 5 years and managed to keep some anubis and a microsword alive. I also have a 10 gallon saltwater tank that I have to be very diligent about monitoring.

I am assuming that the lighting is where I'm going to spend the most money. I'd like to have a fully covered tank. I'm going to add a betta fish once I get all of the plants established. I've had a betta jump before and I don't want to take that risk again. I'm thinking a glass canopy and some high quality lights would be my best choice.

If I have a very densely planted tank, do I need a filter too or will the plants be able to filter the water?
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Old 09-11-2013, 01:20 PM   #5
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You can do low tech route and use your plain old gravel. Plants will grow slow and will need help by way of fertilizers. Or like others have mentioned, go with dirt and cap with your gravel - no ferts needed as the soil will provide the nutrients. Start with low light plants such as your anubis and maybe some java fern and crypts. Plants you can get here cheap or check the ROAK section.

With you lighting, a desk lamp or clip on lamp with a cfl would work and also not too expensive.
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Old 09-11-2013, 04:48 PM   #6
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Dirt it with miracle grow organic potting soil and cap with that sand you have and get a desk lamp or clip on light from walmart and a bulb rated for 6500k or 6700k to screw in to the fixture all of that is a max 30 dollars. Then get plants from this forum often times these plants are the best, grown by people who know the in and outs of planted tanks and have successful tanks at that. I would get a filter and plant densely at first and once the tank is established you may be able to remove the filter later. For a filter I'd go with a finnex pf 5 it's nice and small and you can adjust the flow to how you would like. And get an appropriate watt heater. As for plants stick to the basics (moneywort hornwort java fern etc.).

-Kyle

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Old 09-11-2013, 06:57 PM   #7
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If you want color, and are going low-light/low tech, look into some of the colored crypts (ie:Wendtii - it's more brown than red, but it's not green) and ludwigia red. The leaves are green on top, red on the bottom and it grows in low light.
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