I started up my first planted tank in May of this year - a 32 gallon, medium light, CO2 injected set-up. A few months ago I came across a good deal on Fluval Spec Vs and bought two of them, so MTS has begun.
With this pair of 5 gallon tanks I figured I'd go toward the other end of the spectrum and try to learn about low tech methods. Besides keeping these tanks low tech, another goal is to keep them relatively low budget by using as many leftover and inexpensive materials as possible. I'll be using this journal to document my experiences.
One of the tanks (Tank 1) has been up and running for about a month, the other (Tank 2) for about two weeks. I'm now in the process of adding flora and fauna.
For the substrate in this tank I'm using a mixture of leftover Aquasoil and pebbles that I collected from a creek. The hardscape is minimal - just a few leftover branches of manzanita. The lighting is a desk lamp with a 26 watt compact fluorescent bulb, raised at a distance above the surface so as to achieve (roughly) an average of 40 PAR at the substrate.
So far, all of the flora in the tank have come from trimmings of the 32 gallon, with the exception of some java moss that came with the shrimp that I ordered. Over time I will likely swap out the current plants for new species to try.
The fauna include about 12 fire red cherry shrimp, a few nerite snails, and two assassin snails, in addition to some nuisance pond and mini-ramshorn snails. I am undecided as to whether I'll add any fish.
This tank will have a different look than Tank 1, but it is not as far along yet, so no FTS. The substrate is pool filter sand, and the hardscape consists of some largish rocks - I believe some type of quartzite (I know very little about geology) - collected from a creek. I'm going to try getting by with the Spec V stock light (for now).
The only plants currently in the tank are a few squares of stainless steel mesh covered in java moss. I'm considering making this a moss only tank. The fauna include a few nerite snails and some unwanted worms (nematodes maybe) that mysteriously appeared within the last few days and which I'm hoping I can find a way to eliminate. I haven't decided on fauna yet. Black diamond shrimp, ember tetras, pygmy corydoras, and micro rasboras are the ones I'm interested in - one of these will likely end up in here.
Tiny snake-like swimmers in the water column. Nematodes?