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Old 01-26-2013, 05:19 PM   #1
ashkallen
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Starting a Planted Tank


Hi folks!
I've been into aquariums for a while now. I currently have a 5 gallon bow-front aquarium with an aqueon filter and a hood with a 15W light bulb that came with it. The water is heated to 78 degrees, is fully cycled, and is home to one male betta and three ADF. It has a sand substrate, a couple of small terra cotta pots and many silk and plastic plants. Since I'm in college I can't go any bigger, but I wanted to "grow" my tank by turning it into a natural landscape. I would like if it were moderately planted but without completely breaking the bank. I got those bulbs from the pet store a while back and currently have one small Aponogeton plant. Suggestions on how to start this project would be greatly appreciated.

What plants to get and where?
Do I need additional lighting, nutrients, CO2, etc?

Thank you!
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Old 01-26-2013, 05:58 PM   #2
Diana
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Can you describe better the light?
Fluorescent? Incandescent?
If it is fluorescent, what size is it? T-8? T-5? Other?

I would add a slow release fertilizer tablet near the plants that are currently growing, as deep under the sand as you can.

Then research a few ideas:

Substrate: Sand does not hold nutrients the way better substrates do. Cationic Exchange Capacity (CEC) is the key here. Substrates with finer particles can hold onto many of the minerals that plants use to grow, so that it acts as a reservoir, and makes growing the plants easier.

Lighting: PAR is the photosynthetic activity of the light. What color light energy plants use to photosynthesize. Plants mostly use certain wavelengths of red and blue, not so much yellow or green. Our eyes see yellows and greens better. Light designed for our eyes will be high in the yellows and greens, not so rich in the reds or blues.
I set up tanks with one of each: A plant specific bulb that has plenty of the reds and blues, but looks sort of dim and purplish to me, and a 'daylight' sort of bulb that has a more complete range of wavelengths. Makes things look natural in the tank.

CO2: The easiest source could be one of 2 methods:
There are liquid carbon sources that most plants can use. Seachem Excel is one.
You could go pressurized with a paintball system. It is small, easy to fit into a dorm, and a reasonable supply for a small tank.

Fertilizers: The simplest way is to continue with the substrate tablets. They can be a bit expensive, but for a 5 gallon tank it is not much.
The cheaper way might take a little set up. I would buy a small bottle of each nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) and a trace mineral supplement such as Seachem Comprehensive (trace). Use the liquids, and get a feel for how much your tank needs. (Seachem is not the only company that makes fertilizers, I have used them and am more familiar with them)
Then buy the dry powders and refill the bottles as needed. When you refill you can mix the N, P and K sources in the ratio you have found your tank needs, and have one bottle for these macro nutrients, and one bottle for trace nutrients. Do not mix macros and traces. This will ultimately be cheaper than substrate tablets, but the initial cost will be a bit more.
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Old 01-26-2013, 07:11 PM   #3
ashkallen
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Thank you Diana!

I believe the lighting is a 25 watt incandescent bulb - I will definitely look into getting a blue/red light.

Are the liquid CO2 and fertilizers something that can be found in a common pet sotre?
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Old 01-26-2013, 07:34 PM   #4
drewsuf82
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Yes the liquids can be found easily I def rec the flourish line

As for plants there's many great options for a loo tech small tank...have you looked at mosses? I've got mosses in my ten gallons check my journals below

Btw welcome
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