10 Gal planted dirted work tank
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Old 10-09-2013, 05:26 PM   #1
rininger85
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10 Gal planted dirted work tank


I decided to start a new tank that I can bring to work and have at my desk. I've been talking about bringing in fish for a while and my co-workers that sit near me liked the idea, so I decided to go ahead and do it... I was going to a few months ago, but when I changed my 55 gal tank substrate from the old stones to eco-complete I ended up crashing the tank, and my plan was to populate the work tank with fry from my home tank. So my plans were put on hold for a while...

My home tank is finally starting to get the population of molly/guppy fry up, as well as I have 20-30 cory cat fry that I've hatched out that I'm waiting for them to get a bit bigger to turn loose in my tank... so my breeding stock is getting up where it needs to be to be able to start my work tank, so I went and bought another 10 gallon tank yesterday.

I decided that since it is a work tank it will be a pain in the butt to do regular water changes, so I want to do a planted tank again... but I'm still not sold on the benefits of the eco-complete in my tank at home... my plants are growing now that I upgraded my lights, but I wanted to try something different with this tank...

I set the tank up last night and put a gallon of water in it, then decided to use some miracle-grow potting soil that I had at the house to make a 1 1/2 - 2" thick bottom layer, which I then covered with about 12-13lbs of small gravel that I had left over at home from a previous tank to hold the potting soil in place.

I'll let the tank cycle for a few weeks (or move my filter floss from my 55 over to it) before I bring it to work (that way by the time I set it up at work I can put fish in it, so people don't pick on me for having an empty fish tank at my desk, and I can have it all set up before any management realizes it - I barely ever see my boss, so I think I can get away with keeping the tank at my desk, but there's only one way to find out!).

I had a nice piece of driftwood that I cut a little shorter so it would fit in the 10 gallon tank as a center piece that gives it some dimension... then I'll add some low light low tech plants over the next few weeks before I bring it to work.

I'm currently planning on using my stock hood from my other 10 gallon tank that I've removed now that I upgraded my lights on my SW tank, so right now I have two spiral CFL 50/50 10000K/actinic bulbs in the hood right now. These are only 13W bulbs, so I will probably upgrade them to something a little stronger - but I want to stick with the stock hood to help keep stuff out of the tank. Does anyone have any suggestions on bulbs that will fit a stock hood like the CFL bulbs that would work good for a 10 gal planted tank?

Any suggestions on plants I could keep that wouldn't need a lot of maintenance? In my tank at home I have DHG which seems to be doing OK, but hasn't spread any yet, plus dwarf baby tears (HC), water wisteria, java fern, a couple of other unimpressive plants and a lot of algae!

Any tips on using potting soil / gravel combination? Am I doomed? Will the miracle-grow cause a problem for the fish in the water?

Looking forward to advice / help! Will post some pics as soon as I can!
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Old 10-10-2013, 05:25 AM   #2
maux
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I don't have anything revolutionary to add as far as plants. Amazon sword and nana are pretty widely recommended low light plants. A ludwigia repens might be good and grow up into the water column along with the amazon sword.

I have heard of people using miracle-grow with shrimp which I would generally suppose means it would be safe for fish. My only thought would be that 3" - 3.5" of substrate is a bit much. How much do you have total after the gravel is in there?
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Old 10-10-2013, 11:55 AM   #3
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its probably only about 3" total, but I figured the potting soil might compress some with the gravel on top of it...

Do I need to wait until my tank cycles to add plants? Plants will consume ammonia won't they? So it should be safe to plant it now...? I didn't test last night, but I want to wait until I see ammonia in the tank, then I was going to move my filter floss from my other tank over there to hopefully help speed up the cycle, but wanted to make sure I saw ammonia first so I would know when it was safe to put fish in it...
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Old 10-13-2013, 11:18 PM   #4
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Here is a pic of the tank. Nothing spectacular yet, other than my driftwood that I put in the tank. I'm not 100% set on how the driftwood sits yet, I might have to cut the limb going towards the top a little shorter to be able to rotated it so that limb is in the front right bottom of the tank... the way it is here it has a lot of the front of the tank blocked.

I put in my second order with Planted Aquariums Central to pick up some plants for this tank as well as a couple more for my 55 planted tank. I was mostly trying to stick with low light plants because my plan is to use the stock hood with two spiral CFL 13 or 14w bulbs in it based on some reading I've been doing with these two bulbs horizontally mounted in the hood it should be adequate for low light plants without kicking me in to higher lighting...

I ordered Vallisneria Spiralis, Dwarf Onion Plant, Hygrophila corymbosa, Eleocharis parvula (dwarf hairgrass), Cryptocoryne undulate, and also CABOMBA PALAEFORMIS that will go in my 55 gal to add a little different color.

I'm debating how to aquascape the tank to make it look good with these plants... I have DHG in my 55 that hasn't been spreading much, I broke what I had purchased previously apart in to small chunks and planted them a few inches apart hoping they will spread to fill in, but so far no real noticeable growth there. Should I do the same with this tank, split them in to small chunks and try spreading them across the front of the tank to start a lawn? The Val and dwarf onion plant will of course be at the back, but I don't know how big do they get / will they reproduce to fill in if I leave space, or should I put both plants somewhat close together to make a taller planted area of the tank in the back left / center?

Then with the crypt and the hygrophila I'm thinking on the LH and RH mid space of the tanks (and of course plant the DHG last so I can fill in the front after I figure out how much space the others take)...

Any suggestions? I want a really lush tank that fills in with lots of plants and will most likely just move some guppies/mollies/corys from my home tank to work, with maybe some amanos if I can find them, otherwise will probably just add some ghost shrimp since I haven't been able to find anything local other than ghost shrimp...

I'm open to dosing flourish / excel if I need to, but don't want CO2 and don't want a lot of maintenance for water changes / trimmings.

Looking forward to any advice I can get...
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Old 10-14-2013, 06:23 PM   #5
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I've been looking at some nice scapes and realized I'm just BLAH, so I've been trying to rethink this to add a little more dimension to the tank. I think I'm going to get rid of the driftwood that I have in the tank currently, will drain the tank and remove the gravel, then use the potting soil to build up a little more of an aquascape, then put the gravel back on top again to hold the potting soil in place. I've sketched up my thoughts in the attached pic.

To start I'll have the soil start taller in the back then slant down to the front, and I'll also do the same from the back left corner towards the center of the tank to give it a bigger hill in the back. I'm going to use a smaller piece of driftwood and a couple rocks as the center pieces then fill in my plants around them... I'm thinking the vals / onions will be in the back RH corner since they are taller they should hopefully help hide the filter pipe and heater in that corner. I'm debating about building a little box around the filter inlet to keep plants from getting sucked back to the filter inlet, I have a few scrap pieces of Plexiglas from a different project that I could silicone in place, keeping it up off the bottom so it will still suck water below and above, but keep a barrier to keep plants away.

The other plants like the crypto and hygro I think I'll plant on the hill in the LH side of the tank, then the DHG will be planted in the front of the tank and leave a little stone walkway going through the middle of it (once it eventually fills in)...

Will DHG spread faster if I plant individual stems slightly apart from each other, or in larger bunches? I really want the DHG to fill in but doubt I have enough to cover much area with the order that I placed yesterday... maybe I'll keep it all to the left front and place another order for something else that will make a carpet for the RH front... idk I need help!
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Old 10-14-2013, 10:42 PM   #6
dasmall1
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The lighting is going to be pretty tough for the dwarf hairgrass, but not impossible! It is going to grow very slowly under the lights. Like at a very frustrating pace. You might consider planting them in bunches near your stem plants and getting some dwarf sag to do more of the groundcover in the front. That will also give you a little more depth. Dwarf hairgrass is rather tall to be right up front.

Also, if you're looking to do fewer trimmings, check out some anubias species for your wood.
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Old 10-14-2013, 11:53 PM   #7
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I rearranged my tank a little bit. I took the gravel out then put a couple of rocks down in the back then put the dirt over them to build a little bigger hills in the back. Then put the gravel back on... I changed the driftwood out to a little smaller piece, but its still not my favorite look yet, this piece ended up being bigger than I thought it was so takes up more room than I was thinking... I've got it tied to the rocks right now because it is dry so floats, once it sinks I will probably take the rocks back out because they seem to take up a lot of room, not a lot of room left now for plants... there is a little hill in the back left corner, that I think will still be good to plant something like the cryptos on.

I can use the DHG to help fill in some more on my 55 if you don't think it will work in here... I'll look in to the dwarf sag instead.
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Old 10-15-2013, 09:12 PM   #8
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woohoo I have ammonia! =) I turned back to old faithful though and tossed a piece of frozen shrimp in to kick off the cycle...

I also decided that I didn't like the looks of the 2nd piece of driftwood either, so I've removed the driftwood and going to try and go for more of an iwagami look. I pulled some rocks from the river a while ago that I decided to use instead... this makes it look less cluttered. Then I put some red gravel down between the rocks so it kind of looks like a road and will try to plant all around and up to the road... I like the looks of this a lot better, but hoping it will look even better once I get my plants in a few days =)

I might put the DHG that I bought in to my 55 gal and pull the HC out of the 55 and put it in the 10 gal instead to have a lower carpet plant... then go with 2x23W CFL's instead to give the HC enough light...

I'll post pics of the update once the water clears, I stirred it up a bit and also a bit cloudy I think from the bacteria bloom kicking in... so once the dirt clears up I'll update pics of the new setup...
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Old 10-16-2013, 01:45 AM   #9
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Nice desk tank! I have my Mini-M on my desk too at work, the journal is in my sig detailing everything from Day 1. You may find some inspiration there. I also used MGOPS and capped it with eco complete. My shrimp population is thriving right now.

Water changes are not too bad, having a gallon jug and 1/4" tubing is handy. What filter will you be using?
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Old 10-16-2013, 12:56 PM   #10
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I forget what brand name the filter is, I just went and picked up the package starter kit that had the filter and heater included with the kit - its one of the small ones, I think probably like a whisper pf10 HOB... not sure what that's rated at, I'd assume its in the 100gph ballpark but can't find anything on it... if its rated lower than that I can swap it with the one I use for my SW tank because all I use it for on the SW tank is polishing the water after water changes... I know the one on that tank is rated at 110gph...

here is an updated picture... I think this looks a lot less cluttered, and once its planted I think it'll look nicer than having the driftwood block half the tank...

my plan is to do minimal water changes/maintenance... maybe suck out some detritus every once in a while if it looks dirty, but I think it'll actually look cleaner than my 55 at home because the 55 with eco-complete seems like there is more detritus sitting on top of the eco-complete (actually considering adding something else on top of the eco-complete to cap it), with the gravel and potting soil I think the detritus will get down out of sight easier to convert to plant food.

I have RO water at work (city tap water is terrible) so I'll just top off with RO water that is left over every day that I don't drink since currently I dump it every morning to get fresh cold water again for each day... should not be an issue (I know many people caution against using RO water since the minerals are all removed, but I use RO/DI in my 55 at home and everything has been OK... eventually I may pick up some equilibrium or something to add minerals back in, but right now its not needed)
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Old 10-16-2013, 09:22 PM   #11
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awesome find today! I had looked at Wal-Mart for spiral CFL bulbs but the closest I had found to 6700K light that I was aiming for was I think 5000K or 5500K, so I hadn't bought any... today I stopped at Meijer (for those not from the Michigan/Ohio/Indiana, maybe a couple other nearby states region - another large store chain, not quite as big as Wal-mart, but still pretty popular around here) on my way home and went to check on lights. They have 6500K bulbs available and they were on sale 75% off, apparently due to some consumers energy deal going on right now... so I picked up (2) 13W bulbs for $0.99 each, I picked up (2) 18W bulbs for $1.24 each, and I picked up (2) 23W bulbs for $1.24 each... so I will work my way up from the (2) 10W 50/50 10000K/actinics that I have in there now up to the 23W if need be... I did see on here where someone was using (2) 23W spirals horizontally mounted on a 10gal and growing HC carpet very nicely without CO2... so will work my way up to that slowly so I hopefully don't cause an algae outbreak... =)

Now the next thing I need to do is work on my reflectors for the hood of the tank... I think I have seen replacement stick on material that you can use to cover your exterior mirrors with on cars... I don't think it was very expensive so I might buy that and have mirror quality reflectors...
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Old 10-17-2013, 12:18 AM   #12
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well as of today I've hit 4.0ppm ammonia and 0.25ppm nitrite. Going to leave the shrimp in one more day then take it out and watch my levels start heading the other way...

I should hopefully have my plants that I ordered either tomorrow or Friday, so then it will be time to start planting the tank. I'm really excited for this tank... even though I have the big tank that I've been mostly unimpressed with my plants so far, I look forward to getting this tank planted and see how it grows...

I'm debating on cory cats being moved in there, I thought some of the fry I might move in, but my other cory cats have shredded my HC in my 55 gal, so I might not put cories in the tank... might go with a Chinese algae eater and a snail or two (good ones, not hitchhikers hopefully), and see if I can get someone on here to sell me some amanos maybe... I've never seen amanos locally so will probably have to get them online.

Then the other fish still thinking I'm going to stick with my guppy/molly fry for this tank now that they are starting to repopulate my 55... nothing fancy for fish, but really excited to try and get the carpet growing without having any bottom feeders that will tear the plants up in the tank...
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Old 10-18-2013, 07:13 PM   #13
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Your off to a really cool start on your desk top tank! I'll be tagging along to see your progress.
Was this the tank you were thinking of changing the light guard on?
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Old 10-18-2013, 09:19 PM   #14
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yes annyann this is the one I was talking about... after taking it apart and cleaning the light guard its not nearly as bad - it just had major salt creep from being on my 10 gal reef tank prior... so I cleaned it up and it looks OK now. I ended up lining the inside of the hood with aluminum foil, used silicone to glue it in place, hoping the silicone bonds to the plastic hood and the aluminum foil and holds it good, at least my initial thoughts are it seems to hold pretty good but we'll see once it dries and then has condensation on it for a bit... at least I've got a pretty much full tank size reflector...

I decided I needed to do this instead of just smaller reflectors in the hood because once I cleaned the light guard and went to put it back on with the 23W bulbs I realized the 23W bulbs are too wide to fit under the light guard and put it back together, so I dropped down to the 18W bulbs which still are a tight fit (will have to remove the light guard in order to replace the bulbs!), but at least the lights fit even though the bulbs are touching the aluminum foil and the plastic light guard... hopefully they don't run too warm and melt anything... so with a full hood reflector I should hopefully still be able to grow HC.

I moved a few HC plants that I had in my 55 in to the 10 gal, I'm still waiting for my other plants that were supposed to be delivered today... getting a little upset they aren't here yet! I'm going to meet my wife for dinner and a movie shortly and wanted to get my plants planted before I left... tomorrow we're headed away first thing in the morning for probably most of the weekend, so might be a late night planting if they actually show up today...
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Old 10-21-2013, 02:59 PM   #15
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I got my plants on Saturday, tossed them in the tank Saturday night then planted them sunday morning. I made a royal mess in my tank while planting them... really wish I had waited until after planted to add the gravel, especially my red gravel because I made a mess of it and have red all over now instead of a nice neat path like I had originally... so now I'm considering capping it with sand to make it look a little better and kind of regretting using the gravel all together now since it is so hard to pull back, plant then put back in place without making a mess of the dirt... idk I guess its a learning experience... I am almost tempted to pull it all out and start over again, but my wife is already upset that I spend too much time working on my tanks so probably wouldn't be a good thing to start over again...
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