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Old 09-04-2003, 06:52 PM   #1
don
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Hello,

I've been reading this forum for some time .. listening .. learning .. etc.

Anyway .. I had a couple of questions that I have never heard a good answer for that I thought I'd bounce off you all.

First, some background. I only have a single 10 gal. tank. From the books I've been reading .. they actually recommend starting out with a bigger tank since you have more room for error (temp and chemical balance changes aren't as drastic) but I only have room in my apartment for the 10 gal. I was running the tank with just a Whisper brand mechanical filter and no live plants but my few fish were taken out for a better home with a friend because I wasn't happy with the way the tank was going.

I've since cleaned the tank out and am starting a very slow cycling process while I read and learn. I am using the mechanical filter again but decided to use a UGF to help with the biofiltering of the tank.

The tank came as a package deal and the light hood had incandescent bulbs in it. I didn't like the dim yellow light it gave to the tank and found two small compact fluorescents which add a considerable amount of nice clean light to the tank. I think I'll probably find they heat up the tank less that the incandescent did as well. I haven't really been running them yet.

I've heard that UGF filters and plants donít mix well but I thought that since I wasn't using it as my primary form of filtration and since I was going to use just a couple of small plants in the tank .. I might be okay.

Here are a couple questions for the group though ...

1. I've read that even without a UGF ... I should be vacuuming my substrate while I do my water changes to help keep the gravel from building up too much garbage. I've also read that this is really important when using a UGF as not to clog it up. Do you feel that vacuuming the substrate is really important? .. and if so .. how do you vacuum it effectively when using carpet plants .. and any tips to help avoid sucking my small fish up in the vacuum?

2. My tank needs a background .. after looking at lots of pictures of tanks and comparing some side-by-side from the gallery, I think the black background will probably work out best for me. What color preferences do you have for a backdrop and why?

3. My UGF has two uplift tubes powered by air stones. Of the flow of bubbles coming out of the uplift tubes ... there are tiny tiny bubbles that are so small that they donít float to the surface .. they are small enough that they just float around the tank and it almost looks as if there were flecks of sand floating around the tank. Are these tiny bubbles a harm or benefit to my fish/plants? I'm not really concerned with them but thought I'd ask.

4. I love the look of the tiger barbs and tiger loaches but in a 10 gal. tank they really aren't an option. Any recommendations of really interesting fish that will do will in a 10 gal? Even if I only end up with 1 fish in the tank .. I wouldn't mind that too much.

I'm sure I have more but I have already babbled enough for now.
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Old 09-04-2003, 07:01 PM   #2
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Welcome to plantedtank!

First, your compact fluorescent bulbs will do fine. Particularly if they're a "daylight" variety (5000-6500K or higher). If they're standard "Cool White" fluorsecents, they'll still grow plants but algae will grow more prolifically than if the bulbs were "daylight".

As for the UGF, yes, you can grow some plants with an UGF, but in the long term I think you'll find it frustrating and will want to end up taking it out. So the time to do that is now. Plant roots will grow and clog up the gravel that is supposed to act as a biological filter.
Without an UGF, you won't need to worry as much about vacuuming the gravel to keep it sterile. Plant mulm, debris and fish waste will decompose and act as a food source for plants. An occasional cleaning just to keep things tidy is what most of us do.

Your small Whisper mechanical filter is most likely adequate for a 10g planted tank. Ammonia and nitrite buildup from fish waste isn't a significant problem in planted tanks since plants use Ammonia and Nitrite for food.

As for fish, Tiger Barbs look fantastic in a planted tank. A small school of 5 or 6 would look great. They like to nip at the fins of most other long-finned fishes so they might be your only inhabitants but it sounds as if that won't be an issue with you.
If you want just a few small interesting fish, ask your Local Fish Store about a few Dwarf South American Cichlids. A pair of hardy Apistogramma sp. or a few Kribnesis or Ramirez Cichlids would be a lot of fun to watch and work well with planted tanks. Although some dwarf cichlids can be a bit challenging to keep.

Background color - I've got blue and black backgrounds and I like them both. It depends on the color of the fish. With warm colored reddish-orange fish (Like my Sunset Angelfish), I love the blue background. With silver fish or cool colors (blue, green) I prefer a black background for contrast.
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Old 09-04-2003, 08:44 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by don
1. I've read that even without a UGF ... I should be vacuuming my substrate while I do my water changes to help keep the gravel from building up too much garbage. I've also read that this is really important when using a UGF as not to clog it up. Do you feel that vacuuming the substrate is really important? .. and if so .. how do you vacuum it effectively when using carpet plants .. and any tips to help avoid sucking my small fish up in the vacuum?
I vacuum my gravel while doing water changes. I don't have any problems with vacuuming the foreground. My lileaopsis hangs in there just fine. My gold barbs get a little curious around the vacuum, but I just keep moving it away from them. Never had a problem sucking up Neons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by don
2. My tank needs a background .. after looking at lots of pictures of tanks and comparing some side-by-side from the gallery, I think the black background will probably work out best for me. What color preferences do you have for a backdrop and why?
The back of my 10 gallon is painted black using spray paint. It looks pretty good. My 29 gallon has nothing at the moment, but I'll probably put a piece of black posterboard behind it. Dark blue might be another viable option for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by don
3. My UGF has two uplift tubes powered by air stones. Of the flow of bubbles coming out of the uplift tubes ... there are tiny tiny bubbles that are so small that they donít float to the surface .. they are small enough that they just float around the tank and it almost looks as if there were flecks of sand floating around the tank. Are these tiny bubbles a harm or benefit to my fish/plants? I'm not really concerned with them but thought I'd ask.
I wouldn't think they would cause any harm. The only harm would be asthetic value. Enough bubbles in a brightly lit tank can make it look cloudy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by don
4. I love the look of the tiger barbs and tiger loaches but in a 10 gal. tank they really aren't an option. Any recommendations of really interesting fish that will do will in a 10 gal? Even if I only end up with 1 fish in the tank .. I wouldn't mind that too much.
I have Neon Tetras and Gold Barbs in one of my 10 gallons. My daughter bought some nice small fish for another 10 gallon we have, but their names elude me. They are smaller than the neons, somewhat translucent, and have red tails. Very shy and like to hug the bottom of the tank.

I didn't think Tiger Barbs got that big though. Will they outgrow a 10 gallon?
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Old 09-04-2003, 09:39 PM   #4
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Tiger barbs will reach about 2.5 inches at full length and will be very crowded in a 10 Gallon tank. They really need room to move as a group and squabble amongst themselves. In a 10 Gallon you'll end up with some pretty harsh agressive behavior (I speak from experience).

I would probably go for Rasbora's (green eye'd or Harlequin are always good) and maybe soemthing with Character, like a pair or a trio of sparkling gourami's, or a croaking gourami.

Pencilfish are always interesting for smaller tanks... Although they arent for everyone.

I like Sam's idea about the Rams.. Always interesting little guys to watch.

Kuhli loaches are a good addition for bottom feeders, as are some of the smaller corries.
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Old 09-04-2003, 10:22 PM   #5
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I was thinking about a few Zebra Danios since they seem very hardy, are reasonably small and will keep the tank interesting.

I'd also like to get an algae eater of some sort. If I am going to get my feet wet with plants, I'll probably be battling algae along the way. Any good recommendations for small tank algae eaters?
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Old 09-05-2003, 12:26 AM   #6
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danios aint small, and they need a lot of swimming space. hehe. but they will work.
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Old 09-05-2003, 12:46 AM   #7
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Once your plants start growing and some algae appear, perhaps two Otocinclus ("Otos") would be good for that size tank to take care of most algae.

The best in battling algae are lots and lots of healthy growing plants, so when you start introducing plants, start with lots of them, and anything that makes them grow better will supress algae growth.

I love Nannostomus (Pencil Fish) for a small tank (like Gareth), but if you like Zebra Danios they might not be the right kind for you.

IMO the best background for a planted tank is a mirror. It adds a tremendous depth to it, offsetting the flat appearance once a tank is filled with water. Most fish are not affected by looking at their reflection, or get used to it after a few weeks.
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Old 09-05-2003, 01:54 PM   #8
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Don, one thing about backgrounds, If you choose to get one of those plastic backgrounds and you are wanting to go with solid colors. before you spend the money, (should be about 3 bucks I am guessing), I would go with a 25 cent piece of poster board. Try differnt colors, black, blue whatever, then decide what color scheme matches your tank and inhabitants the best. I am not sure if I am rare, but I am always having to stick my hands in,near, around tanks on a daily basis, whether it is to move rock around in my reef, water changes , or about 15 minutes ago, I decided I like my Java Fern facing a different side to the tank to open up swimming space. My wife thinks I just can't leave well enough alone.
Also one other idea about backgrounds, My son used crumpled up aluminum foil, and put the shiny side against the glass. Made some really gorgeous effects since his plants are mostly red. And he has a brilliant blue betta to offset the red, and a wee bit of green on the melon swords (he likes red plants). He uses an old Actinic bulb to give it an eerie effect at night (one of my old bulbs from the reef).
I only tackled one of your questions since the other folks seemed to do a good job with the others...

I hoped I helped, if not provided some reading..

Ray
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Old 09-05-2003, 02:24 PM   #9
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This is all great stuff. Thanks to all.

Last night I took out the UGF. I was playing around with trying to put a small airstone in the mechanical filter. The Whisper brand I have has the floss like baggie filled with carbon .. my thought process was that if I could get a small airstone in there with it ... it would be introducing a really good amount of air (oxygen) into the filter media which would help with my bio-filtering ... seemed like a good plan except for the fact that I could not find a way of doing it without it making quite a bit of noise.

I also cleaned up some rocks I had and got them in the tank to start playing around a bit with layout. If I get some time this weekend, I was going to hit my local petstore .. they just redid their fish keeping area of the store and just got their new shipment of plants. I will have to see what is available.

That is an interesting idea with the foil. I was going to get a couple of pieces of different colored posterboard from a craft store which is next to the petstore and try some different combinations.

I will also have to see if the store has any Otos .. I have heard them mentioned several times but have not yet looked them up.
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Old 09-05-2003, 04:14 PM   #10
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Regarding the filter medium, foam provides for both mechanical and -- if you are careful when cleaning it -- biological filtration. Carbon will start working as a biological medium after a while too, but other media like ceramic rings, lava rock, or, as mentioned, foam provide larger surface areas. Not sure what goes best with your filter.

The beauty of having plants is not only that they look good, but provide lots of oxygen. The more plants you have, the more oxygen. On the other hand, plants need CO2 to thrive, and the concentration of CO2 in water is usually too low. Lots of water movement will further gas out CO2, so you will find that air stones and bubble wands are not used in conjunction with planted tanks, and even the surface movement created by hang-on filters might be too much.

If you get more into this, you will want to consider even adding CO2 (which doesn't mean reducing O2). Do some search and reading if you are interested.
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