callisto9's 6-gallon Petco tank - low tech, nano and first planted tank!
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Old 08-27-2012, 07:16 PM   #1
callisto9
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callisto9's 6-gallon Petco tank - low tech, nano and first planted tank!


Hello! This will be my 2nd aquarium and I'm only about two weeks into the hobby. After doing almost everything backwards and rushed (didn't cycle tank, plastic plants, etc) I now want to do a proper, but small, tank. I currently have a 4-gallon Marineland aquarium from PetSmart with two fancy guppies and one mystery snail. Regular HOB filter, no heater, just water changes at this point. I have the API test kit and water's looking decent.

I feel in love with that little 6 gallon tank from Petco after seeing SaltyNC's thread here. I have the perfect spot for it. I went to purchase it today, only to find out it's no longer stocked my Petco. So, I ordered it off of amazon.com and it should be here this week.

I've been giving myself a crash course in aquarium-keeping and have been reading almost non-stop for days now. I still have a lot of newbie questions, but I've also come to know what I want/don't want.

I've read all the way through the low-tech stuff and a lot of the planted nano stuff. I don't know all the acronyms yet, but I'm getting there.

Want: Simple. Low-tech. Small. I don't want to spend $100s of dollars on a setup. Though I have the money, I don't have the space or desire. I want happy, comfortable fish and a nice-looking aquarium. I want to grow things, and I want to watch my fish enjoy their space (is that even possible?).

Do not want: Co2. Fancy, expensive fish. Huge tank. Lots of money tied up in additives or ferts. If possible, I want as few things put into the tank as possible, additive-wise.

So, with the tank on the way and plenty of time to do further research, here are a few of my questions.

1) Is it possible to do a planted tank substrate with just something like flourite or do I *have* to use something underneath like Aquasoil?

2) Can you do a planted tank without dosing ferts?

I have no decent local options for aquatic plants, so I'm off to see if someone here can build me a plant package. Any recommendations for low-light, easy-to-maintain plants would be great. I currently have a water wisteria, nana and narrow-leaf java something.

Thanks for reading. I'll update soon! Pic below of currently setup.
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Old 08-27-2012, 07:18 PM   #2
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This is the tank I have on the way...
http://www.amazon.com/Petco-Bookshel...petcp+aquarium
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Old 08-27-2012, 08:54 PM   #3
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Plants on their way (pending payment):

2 amazon swords
2-3 Marimo moss balls
Narrow leaf java fern

More coming soon...details when I get them. Thanks to the nicer users on this forum for the quick response.
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Old 08-27-2012, 09:17 PM   #4
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1) Is it possible to do a planted tank substrate with just something like flourite or do I *have* to use something underneath like Aquasoil?

You don't have to use something like aquasoil no. You can even use regular gravel or sand. Cheaper options to look at are cat litter or soil.

2) Can you do a planted tank without dosing ferts?

Yes. The lower the light the less demand for nutrients and carbon. Fish waste and water changes should provide everything your plants need if the light is low. The water changes will replenish co2.

This hobby can be super cheap if you want it that way.

The amazon swords might grow too large for a 6 gallon btw!
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Old 08-27-2012, 09:33 PM   #5
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Phew! I'm glad to hear it can be done cheap(er). I don't mind spending some money, but when I read all these threads, it's just way over my head.

If the amazon swords get too big, I'll gift them to someone. A kind member is offering me free plants, so if they don't work out, I'll pay it forward as she did.

I'm reading and reading and reading about substrates and not sure what I want to go with. I'm leaning towards flourite.
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Old 08-27-2012, 10:08 PM   #6
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Flourite will be fine. High CEC basically means it will retain nutrients.

I'm giving kitty litter a try for the first time. Basically the same deal but needs a really good wash before use!
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Old 08-27-2012, 10:22 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by callisto9 View Post
Phew! I'm glad to hear it can be done cheap(er). I don't mind spending some money, but when I read all these threads, it's just way over my head.

If the amazon swords get too big, I'll gift them to someone. A kind member is offering me free plants, so if they don't work out, I'll pay it forward as she did.

I'm reading and reading and reading about substrates and not sure what I want to go with. I'm leaning towards flourite.
You can also bully amazons to a certain extent. I've several that I keep reasonably small by keeping them pruned back hard.

Any mature leaf that gets too big gets snipped off at the base, forcing the plant to put out new leaves, and I uproot the plant every 3-4 months, trim the roots back by about 3/4 (removing some of the larger leaves at the same time) and then replant. Easier in gravel than a fine substrate, but you can also root prune without pulling up the whole plant if necessary.
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Old 08-27-2012, 11:10 PM   #8
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Flourite will be fine. High CEC basically means it will retain nutrients.

I'm giving kitty litter a try for the first time. Basically the same deal but needs a really good wash before use!
Used litter?

Kidding.

I have no issues with pruning. We'll see how it all goes. I'm really excited. I took out the fake plastic stuff in my 4 gallon tonight (except the pagoda). How on Earth do people replant anything with a tank full of water? My java fern uprooted itself when I was moving stuff around and I had to use two wooden spoons to get it back in!
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Old 08-27-2012, 11:58 PM   #9
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I really like using dirt. I love the bright greens you can produce with co2 and high tech, but I have to say I'm really happy with what I've been able to produce with a layer of mud capped with pool sand. IMO it's a lot better to use than litter, which can vary from batch to batch. Potting soil is just potting soil, and capped with silica sand, it's very safe and you get absolutely amazing growth with just a cfl. I've used soil/sand, litter, flourite, turface, aquasoil, akadama, and regular old gravel, and sand and soil ranks in the top three. I did a very low tech tank for my sister's goldie with sand and soil, I went on a trip for two weeks, left it with a cheap cfl light on a timer and that was the only tank that actually did better than I left it. The tank only cost me about 30$ to set up.
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Old 08-28-2012, 12:11 AM   #10
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Callisto,

What style tank do you want to do? There are iwagumi styles similar to the one I did, there are dutch style tanks full of plant life, and there are tanks that have driftwood and appear like something you might see if you looked under the water along a river's edge, and many more styles.

I think one of the keys to success is to try to get as much plant mass in the tank at one time as possible, so they out-compete algae. Low light tanks have less algae, anyway, but they aren't immune. Do you plan to do a dry start or a wet start?
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Old 08-28-2012, 01:44 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by aweeby View Post
I really like using dirt. I love the bright greens you can produce with co2 and high tech, but I have to say I'm really happy with what I've been able to produce with a layer of mud capped with pool sand. IMO it's a lot better to use than litter, which can vary from batch to batch. Potting soil is just potting soil, and capped with silica sand, it's very safe and you get absolutely amazing growth with just a cfl. I've used soil/sand, litter, flourite, turface, aquasoil, akadama, and regular old gravel, and sand and soil ranks in the top three. I did a very low tech tank for my sister's goldie with sand and soil, I went on a trip for two weeks, left it with a cheap cfl light on a timer and that was the only tank that actually did better than I left it. The tank only cost me about 30$ to set up.
At this point I'm nearly $200 in, which amazes me. However, I don't care for my first tank, but I rushed the whole thing. I bought drops and potions and plastic plants and now here I am, wanting to go a totally different direction.

I want to do this simply and I want to stop spending so much money!

Thanks for weighing in! Much appreciated.
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Old 08-28-2012, 01:54 AM   #12
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Callisto,

What style tank do you want to do? There are iwagumi styles similar to the one I did, there are dutch style tanks full of plant life, and there are tanks that have driftwood and appear like something you might see if you looked under the water along a river's edge, and many more styles.

I think one of the keys to success is to try to get as much plant mass in the tank at one time as possible, so they out-compete algae. Low light tanks have less algae, anyway, but they aren't immune. Do you plan to do a dry start or a wet start?
See, that's where I'm stumped. I just learned today what iwagumi is. I'm currently looking through all the tanks on the tanks part of the site, fave-ing the ones I like. I'm really not sure how I want to do this. I want to do this right and I don't want to be re-doing it in two weeks

I like the driftwood, a lot. And I like the rocks, too. I like the full of plants look, but don't know that's the route I want to go. There are a lot of setups I like, but I have yet to come upon one that I want to replicate. There are many elements of many tanks I like. I need to keep looking...

What are the benefits to a dry start? That's what you did, right?

Ok, this is a tank I kind-of like: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/yo...reshwater_Matt

And this. In fact, I like this one A LOT: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/yo...7&n=izabella87
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Old 08-28-2012, 03:05 AM   #13
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Used litter?

Kidding.

I have no issues with pruning. We'll see how it all goes. I'm really excited. I took out the fake plastic stuff in my 4 gallon tonight (except the pagoda). How on Earth do people replant anything with a tank full of water? My java fern uprooted itself when I was moving stuff around and I had to use two wooden spoons to get it back in!
You can tie your java fern to rocks, wood or decorations, not sure about planting them in gravel but generally you don't want to Bury the rhizome.



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Old 08-28-2012, 03:12 AM   #14
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You can tie your java fern to rocks, wood or decorations, not sure about planting them in gravel but generally you don't want to Bury the rhizome.
Ah, didn't know that. The container it came in said to cover the roots with gravel.
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Old 08-28-2012, 03:24 AM   #15
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What are the benefits to a dry start? That's what you did, right?

And this. In fact, I like this one A LOT: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/yo...7&n=izabella87
If you are planning a carpet, dry starts can be a good way to go. The plants grow faster because they receive more light and air, and you don't have to worry about algae. It does require patience, which I'm normally not so good about. There are cons, too. Some plants will melt or die back after the transition to being underwater, and it usually requires either Excel or CO2 to be added immediately after flooding.

The look of the tank you like a lot could be replicated in a low tech tank. On the back of my tank, I have a black vinyl background. It's actually reversible. The reverse side is a bright blue similar to the tank you like. The actual background used on the tank you like is from a company called Seaview. A vinyl background will also hide your HOB filter. The only thing visible will be your intake tube. I like that -- one less thing in the tank. You could use sand for your substrate like they did. To get a slope like that to stay, I think you would probably need to create a form to hold it in place, even more so since it is sand. A lot of people buy plastic light grates from Home Depot or Lowes and cut them into rectangles that they then stack. When filled with sand, it holds everything together.

For the base of the driftwood, you could use some lilaeopsis brasiliensis (microsword) and for the back corners, you could use java fern. The java fern will eventually need to be trimmed, but in a low tech tank, it will take a good while to get large. Then you just need some moss to go around the driftwood and some possibly attached to the driftwood. If you want a multi-leaved stem plant like they have near the driftwood, there are a number of options that would give that same scale in your tank. I used hemianthus glomeratus, and I know it will grow in low tech, but I understand it grows extremely slowly. My son has bacopa caroliniana in his low light, low tech tank, and it would work for that same effect. It's thicker than HG.

For your driftwood, you would need to find some really small pieces that are about 7" to 8" tall. You might have to borrow a truck to get that massive driftwood home!
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