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Old 12-26-2003, 12:12 AM   #1
Nikki D
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Well, I just got a 4 gallon tank for Christmas, it's 24" long by 8" high by 6" wide.
Now for the questions.... I'm new to posting on this forum, and would appreciate any advice given.
#1 Would it be a good idea to cycle this little tank with plants in it? Or wait until it's cycled before putting plants into it?
#2 It came with a 14" 15Watt daylight balanced flourescent light on it, because it is such a long, and not very high tank, would I need to upgrade the light?
#3 What kind of plants should I be putting into it? It isn't very tall so I was looking at a few of the dwarf plants on the profile page, does anyone have any suggestions?
#4 We're thinking of putting dwarf fish into it, pygmy cats, an otto or two or some dwarf gouramis (forgive my spelling). The tank doesn't have a heater at the moment, but it seems to be managing at about 72 degrees so far, and has a HOB filter. If there are any dwarf fish that anyone could reccomend it would be appreciated...
Last but not least... How long would you cycle a 55 gallon tank? A friend's daughter works at a petstore and is just setting up her tank. She wants to have fish in it by New Years and I cringed, she would be setting it up today and letting it run without ammonia or a starter fish. She also wants live plants in it...

Oops, almost forgot, I already have a cycled 10 gallon with 7 platies and two pl*cos in it, we were thinking of using it as a breeding tank.

Nikki
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Old 12-26-2003, 01:13 AM   #2
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Hi Nikki, welcome to the Tank!

A 4 gallon tank is difficult to maintain stable... but here it goes:

#1 Make plants part of your cycling. With plants the cycle time is shorter. Here is a great article and explanation: http://www.csd.net/~cgadd/aqua/art_plant_newtank.htm

#2 A 14" bulb over a 24" tank isn't a good match. Try to find a fixture that covers most of the length. You won't need a lot of wattage, a single fluorescent bulb will give plenty of light for a shallow tank like that.

#3 Some small cryptocorynes, Echinodorus tenellus, Pearlgrass, Javamoss, Ludwigias, Diandra... anything that grows not too fast, with not too large leafs, and not too difficult requirements... Many many more are available.

#4 A small tank volume will fluctuate a lot in temperature and water conditions. I would not put a Dwarf Gourami in a 4 gallon tank, although I am sure there is probably someone who has had success with that. A Betta splendens and two Otos might be a good fit...

To put fish in a brand new tank after a week is a good way to kill them, especially if you don't use any aged material or filter media from another established tank. Adding live plants is always a good idea... even in a brand new tank.
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Old 12-26-2003, 04:47 AM   #3
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My thoughts on the light are this. What plants are you thinking of growing? There is a certain amount of light energy that plants need to survive. It might be possible to grow some plants with a 2' bulb but I doubt it as the amount of light energy that any given plant is going to receive is very low.
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Old 12-27-2003, 05:31 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rex Grigg
My thoughts on the light are this. What plants are you thinking of growing? There is a certain amount of light energy that plants need to survive. It might be possible to grow some plants with a 2' bulb but I doubt it as the amount of light energy that any given plant is going to receive is very low.
Rex,
Can you elaborate a little further on this? I would think that in such a shallow tank, she can grow pretty much anything (provided there are nutrients and CO2) with a 20W bulb.
Nikki, do you know where I can get a tank this size? I would very much like to get my hands on one.
Thanks,
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Old 12-27-2003, 01:28 PM   #5
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make your own ,maybe?
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Old 12-27-2003, 01:31 PM   #6
Rex Grigg
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Ok Magnus since you asked. I'm sure you are familiar with the watts per gallon rule. Take a high light plant like Hydrotrichne hottoniiflora that needs a minimum of 3-4 wpg to survive in a 55 gallon tank. Take a stem of that plant and put it in a one gallon container with a 4 watt bulb. You are still giving the plant 4 watts per gallon but the plant is going to die because it's not getting enough light.

Think about this tank for a minute. It's 24" long. If you put a 24" NO fluorescent bulb over it you will have a total light of 20 watts or 5 wpg. But then when you think about a normal stem plant you will find that the plant is actually only receiving at most .5 watt per gallon due to the surface area of the plant being so small in relation to the size of the tank and the length of the bulb.

The watt per gallon rule is a very crude rule of thumb that breaks down on small, under 20 gallon, and large, over 90 gallon, tanks. Also it doesn't do well on odd shaped tanks. And this four gallon tank we are talking about is a odd shaped tank and a small tank.
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Old 12-27-2003, 05:29 PM   #7
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Yea i understand that. It makes since. Maybe you should get a retrofit or something? Use compact Flor.? does Metal Hidlights work on planted tanks? I have heard of people using them for planted tanks caz it was left over after they got done wit saltys but they are so expensive. I was just wondering.
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Old 12-27-2003, 11:18 PM   #8
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Thank you Rex for your explanation. The reason I asked is because I've seen 5G tanks do very well with a 13W bulb. So I thought a shallow tank with 20W is even better. But I guess the coverage of surface area over the tank is more important.
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Old 12-27-2003, 11:53 PM   #9
fishyboy
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i really think 20 watts would do it in this tank .... but if you really wanted to you could add a 55 watt CF bulb[it would fit] but that would be crazy... it would be lit up like a chirstmas tree
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Old 12-28-2003, 12:37 AM   #10
Nikki D
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Hi everybody, I'm sorry that I didn't get on here earlier to answer your questions. I'm looking for easy plants to start out with, unfortunately none of our monster houseplants would take to being downsized even though I wish I had kept the pennywort. I wanted easier ones to start out with, and when the 35gallon comes in, I was thinking of transferring some to the bigger tank. The tank is sitting on my desk, but my patio door faces east, so we get alot of sun but the tank isn't in the brightest area. We had the light on the other day and it's a really brilliant light.
Thanks again, but I have to go for now....

Nikki
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Old 02-18-2004, 04:33 AM   #11
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Where did you get that tank?
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Old 02-18-2004, 01:44 PM   #12
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Well since everyone seems to be looking at the most light. I think the Coral life 28 watt light PC would be the best bet. I have one over a 5 gal but I think the fixture is designed for a 10 gal size top. I personally believe in stands, since most lights sitting on a tank seems to not allow enough air flow.
As far as flucations goes, it depends on where the tank is. I have a 3 gal at work and 2 5gal nano reefs at home. All 3 are in rooms that are temperature controlled and I have had no issues with flucuations.
As far as wpg goes, well I have the original 8 watt fixture in my 3 gal eclipse. So that comes up to a little bit more that 2.6 watts per gallon. I am growing a sword, wisteria, red cacomba, java fern, and hornwort. They are all clippings from my larger tanks. They seem to thrive well but grow a bit slower (my 20 gal has 4X36watts, but a leftover reef light jbl style, but I used my old 10K bulbs). This is something I prefer since I wanted my nano planted tank at work to be as less maintaince as possible.
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Old 02-18-2004, 10:50 PM   #13
Nikki D
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I discovered something about that tank... turning the lights on made the fish run away as fast as they could. We took that hood off and don't use the light for much anymore. Instead of the light, we moved it closer to the patio door and everything seems to be doing good, and the fish are not freaking out. The platy fry seem to like surfing the current and the cories seem to like playing in the bubbles, so everyone is happy without that hood light which I think we could convert to use ontop of the new 35gallon when we do get it.

Nikki

Oh yes, if you go to www.petcetera.ca, that tank setup is in their online flyer.
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Old 02-19-2004, 05:44 AM   #14
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On my 20g long, the 55w PC light was too much for the fish when it first came on, eyes couldn't take that much light after being dark...

I put a 20w light on thats diffused with a somewhat opaque white cover. It comes on half hour before the main 55w and it's more of a gradual light shift, and it doesn't bother the fish anymore.
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Old 02-20-2004, 07:07 AM   #15
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I would just make your own 2-3 bulb retro with a couple of extension cords and some curly-q PC's from Home Depot.

As a side note, I HATE the watts-per-gallon rule. Coming from the reefkeeping hobby, nothing kills photosynthetic livestock (corals, etc.) more than the WPG rule. INTENSITY and PAR play a much greater role in this issue than a watt/gallon ratio.

"The reason I asked is because I've seen 5G tanks do very well with a 13W bulb. So I thought a shallow tank with 20W is even better."

If the 13W bulb was a PC and the 20W was just an NO, I would still be inclined to put my money on the PC. Again, it's not just about watts, but intensity of light. Stop with the "rules of thumb." More often than not, IMO, they don't even work. They are misleading for newbies to the hobby, and the experienced hobbyists know enough to know better. It's pointless.

Rant over.
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