Otto's 3 Gallon Planted Bowfront - Gonna need some help - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-19-2009, 07:35 PM Thread Starter
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Otto's 3 Gallon Planted Bowfront - Gonna need some help

Hey everyone. I'm looking to start a nano freshwater planted tank but I have absolutely no experience in freshwater so I am hoping you guys can walk me along in my build thread. I have been in saltwater for about 7 years and currently have a 120 gallon reef tank set up, but want to try something different so figured I would try a planted freshwater tank. I have been reading online a little bit but am still far away from understanding this side of the hobby.

So far all I have accomplished was order a tank. I just bought a Mr. Aqua 3 gallon bow front tank from Marine Depot and should arrive early next week. Here's a pic of the tank.


And that's about all I got accomplished so far. Now for a few questions I have.

Water - I have my own personal well so its not treated at all by the city. It does have a lot of iron in it and I also run a water softener with Rust Remover salt pellets. For my saltwater tank I have a RO/DI unit and it takes everything out of the water down to 0 TDS. The water after the softener has a TDS of about 450. I hear different things about which water to use so hopefully someone can help me out there.

Substrate - I still am unknown on substrate. I am leaning toward some black Flourite sand but I also kind of like the brownish look of the Flora Sand. I just need to find a small bag of it b/c all I see online cost more than my tank.

Lighting - For Lighting I plan on using a desk lamp with a spiral compact fluorescent bulb in the 6700k range. I am guessing something around 13 watts, should that be enough?

CO2 - Starting out I dont want to hook up an elaborate CO2 system but was hoping I can dose stuff like Excel and Flourish to keep the plants alive and then see if I want to spend the money on a CO2 setup. I figure with a 3 gallon, I shouldn't have to dose to much.

Livestock - I would like to keep some fish in there but have not researched that far yet. I am going to go over the nano fish list on this site and pick out stuff when my tank is ready.

Cycling - How do you jump start it after water, rocks, and substrate are in? In salt, I just threw a hunk of shrimp in and let it rot. Guessing that's not going to work here. I think I read you can pour some ammonia in the tank but still have to read up on that.

Filtration - I figured you need something to harbor the good bacteria so I was looking at the Azoo Palm hang on filter or maybe a small biowheel. Is there anything else I should be looking at?

Inspiration - I came across these tanks on the internet and would want my tank to look like these eventually.





Sorry for the long winded post. I know I got a lot more reading to do, but just wanted to throw my ideas out there and see what everyone thought. Thanks for looking.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-19-2009, 09:40 PM
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First, welcome to TPT! You tank's insparation looks cool, and you cant go wrong with some insparation!
To cycle a new tank, you add a source of ammonia, while the tank is up and running, over a period of time. Some good sources of ammonia are plant matter and fish food. As for lighting, it usually all depends on what plants you want to keep. For example, the I am pretty sure that the fourground plant in you second picture is HC, which requires high lighting. Unfourtunalty, if you have "high" lighting, (IE, a decent T5HO fixture) you will need a source of C02. If you have a good light with your size tank, DIY CO2, (CO2 created by a yeast and sugar mixture) would work, I think!
I am also new to the hobby, so bear with me!

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-19-2009, 11:14 PM
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Welcome to TPT!

Lighting- the general rule is 2.5wts/gallon. This being said, this is a general rule. It does not apply across the board. Certain plants require low light, and will succumb to different algaes if kept under highlight.
In turn, high lighting usually goes hand in hand with Co2, or a carbon source of some sort.
Nano tanks are that, Nano, and are usually planted with plants that don't grow too large. For this sake, alot of nano tanks are planted with Microsoreum (ferns), crypts, and anubias sp. These are all low- mid light plants (though, will do well with high light, given a carbon source). If you keep the above mentioned plants with high light and no Co2, then expect some BBA.

To cycle, toss a pinch of fish food in let it 'rot' per-se. Or, right now, if you already have the filter, run it on a bucket with some fish food in the bucket right now. Just leave it on the floor in the corner of your room while you wait on the tank and what not. This will help 'seed' the filter.

For substrate, alot of people have had issues with Flora Base (the Red-Sea brand that is brown in colour). Not that it's a bad plant substrate, but I've read/seen that it does cloud up alot.
Flourite sand, I have no experience in at all. I have used Flourite gravel, and have found that it was alright, but isnt the easiest to plant in for nano tanks.
For nano tanks, my favourite has been Ecoo-complete. I have read mixed reviews on its actually plant growth quality, but for ease of planting, and colour, it is my favourite. I do use root tabs and does the water column though, so that may be helping me.
Alot of people use ADA Aqua Soil. I am waiting on a bag to come to me, and will be using it in my next tank. Just be aware, there is a difference between AS I and ASII.

Fish options are going to be nill in a tank of that size, except maybe for some sort of live-bearer fry (guppy, for example). I know, we have a nano fish list on this site, but don't be fooled into it being the bible of fish lists, lol.

3gl's is the empty volume of water. Once you add some substrate, plants, rocks/wood, the open swimming areas is reduced to abut 1.5-2gls. Also, some fish that you might be interested in are shoalers/schoolers and need to be in groups, and are actually quite active.
For example, the Boraras sp of dwarf rasboras. These guys are really tiny, and are actually some of my favourite fish. But, they need to be in groups, and are actually quite active, swimming freely around and would be best in a 10gl with a group of around 7 or 8.
In a tank of your size, I would stick to small inverts, possibly snails and/or shrimp.


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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-20-2009, 12:39 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the help so far Jake and Searun. I am going to look into the substrates and livestock and I am sure I will be posting some more questions soon. Thanks again!
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-20-2009, 01:44 AM
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I just got the same tank for a quarantine/fry tank. It only holds 2.3 gallons of water.

I cycled using the ammonia method and it took 15 days. I'd rather use ammonia instead of nasty rotting shrimp but that's just me. This is the website I used for reference if you're intersted.

http://malawicichlids.com/mw01017.htm
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-20-2009, 04:33 AM Thread Starter
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That's kind of misleading. I thought it would hold 3 gallons. Oh well. Thanks for the link. Gonna give that a read this weekend.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-23-2009, 01:11 PM Thread Starter
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Alright, been doing a lot of reading this weekend and went to 5 local stores looking for equipment and scape stuff with no luck so looks like I have to buy online.

For substrate, I am not to sure what to get yet. I am leaning towards black Flourite sand or this Aqua Soil Amazonia stuff from ADA.
I cant really tell by the pics online how it really looks, but I want to get one that has a smaller grain. I figured with a small tank, it would make the tank seem bigger.

I couldn't find any good stone or driftwood around me either so I going to need to find a good place online to buy that too. Any suggestions?

Lastly, I was leaning towards the Azoo Palm hang on filter but really dont like how high it sits on the back of the tank. I am checking out the Toms Canister for Zoo Med 501 canister filter but wonder if thats to much flow for this tank.

That's about it for now. Thanks for all the help so far already!
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-24-2009, 12:30 AM
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I have some yamaya stone in the swap n shop section. There's also someone on there who sells manzanita wood but for driftwood you might try Aquabid.

I've heard of people griping about the Toms filter. The Zoo Med is probably the better choice but it costs more.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-24-2009, 02:34 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks huson for the offer on the rock, but I swung by a fish store in downtown Chicago that had some good stone so I picked some up yesterday. I believe it was called Ridge Stone. I will get some pictures of it later sitting in my new tank when it arrives. Still couldnt find any good substrate at the store, but I think I am going to buy some black Flourite sand somewhere online.

I think the manzanita wood might be what I want actually instead of driftwood. I was looking for something really thin and a lot of branches. I am going to wait and see how much space my rock takes up first before I order, there might not be enough room for both in this small tank.

For now, I decided to just get the Azoo Palm filter since its only $9. I have been known to take down takes shortly after setting them up and since this is my first freshwater tank, I will wait and see how it goes before I spend to much money on this set-up. I do like how those lily pipes look with a canister filter. Can't believe how much money they are though.

So right now I just need to order some substrate & a filter to get the tank going. I will post some pictures of the tank and rock later this week too. I have seen some people start a tank by growing the plants w/o water in the tank first. I believe its called emersed? I am going to read up on that to see if I want to do that too.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-26-2009, 04:47 AM Thread Starter
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Finally got my tank in today. Filter, substrate, heater, and a few other things should be in soon to. Here are some pics.





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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-28-2009, 03:22 AM Thread Starter
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Posted this in the general section and am posting this here too. I'm not sure which is the best water to use. I plan on having a carpet plant like glosso or HC and maybe some taller stuff in the back. Plan on using Flourite black sand for substrate and excel instead of CO2. Coming from a salt water background RO/DI is what you need to use but in fresh water it looks like that's not always the case. I tested water from 4 different sources and am wondering what would be the best to use. I have my own well and use a water softener with Rust Remover salt. Here are the results:

Straight from Well: TDS - 373 ppm
GH - 21 dkh
KH - 23 dkh
PH - 7.8

After water softener: TDS - 378 ppm
GH - 4 dkh
KH - 27 dkh
PH - 7.8

Reverse Osmosis: TDS - 27 ppm
GH - 3 dkh
KH - 3 dkh
PH - Less than 7.4 (more yellow than 7.4 on API)

RO/DI : TDS - 1 ppm
GH - 1 dkh
KH - 1 dkh
PH - Less than 7.4 again


I bought some Kent Marine Liquid R/O Right that makes RO/DI water better to use but not sure if that's the route to go. Also, since I am on my own well, I don't need to use anything like Prime do I? Thanks in advance for the help. Otto
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