Total newbie question - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 12:54 AM Thread Starter
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Total newbie question

Hi all! I've been spending the last couple weeks browsing this forum, and am in awe of all I've seen! But I'm also totally overwhelmed and I'm starting to completely overthink my original simple plan.

I currently have a little 3.5g tank that houses guppy fry and a new apple snail. It was set up in a bit of a hurry, and is super ugly. Its been running about 6wks now. It has an air pump, and I'm planning on getting a sponge filter this weekend, and I just added a mini heater. There are fake plants floating on top and a rock/fake plant thing. The bottom is a mix of larger gravel and glass beads. Oh and there is a rigged light on the top that gives off a bit of heat, not sure on the wattage.

I'd like to remove the fake plants and fake rock/plant thingy and have real plants for the guppy fry to hide in and hopefully find some nutrition too (and I've been learning that a sponge filter will also provide them with some healthy bacteria to eat). Right now the water is a tad dingy too, hopefully some plants will help?

In looking around, Java moss and Java fern keep popping up. They seem to be fairly hardy, low light tolerant and apparently guppy fry like them. Can I just remove the fake stuff, and pop these in? To have a few little plants like this do I need to worry about CO2 and ferts and substrate etc? Ideally I'd love to totally remove the fry, and change out the ugly bead/gravel for some sand and add in some old snail shells I have.

Should I just pop the fish in a bucket with all the water, clean out the tank, put in all the new stuff and add the water/fish back?

I also have another 3.5g tank that houses three adult guppies with a similar situation, ugly fake plants, but they're in more of a 'proper' set up with a canopy light, and undergravel filter. I'd also love to trade out the fake plants there with just a couple of live ones.

How simple can this be? What's the best way to do this? Am I overly concerned about the more techy stuff with something as simple as a couple Java plants?

Thank you all so much!
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 01:56 AM
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I guess it all depends on what kind of light you have and how far you want to run with it.

I'd say that you're looking at a low maintenance, low tech tank.
If you have about 10-15 watts over the tank, that should be good for java fern and moss. You won't need CO2 or ferts really for that and the guppie fry love moss.

Also you might want to run up to Pisces, just off of Mcknight Blvd.
They usually have a $5.99 grab bag that has various trimmings, stems and mosses in it.
It's a great deal, and it's usually low light stuff in there.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 02:49 AM
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I was just there last night and they were all out of java moss Was hoping to pick up another cupful. They sell the moss for $5 a cup.

With only a few plants in a low-light set-up, I don't know if you'd be OK to clear out the whole tank and put all new substrate and plants in, especially since you don't have an established filter to seed the tank with. You might end up with a nitrite spike and do harm to the fish. I'd get a sponge filter ASAP and pop that in the tank and let it run for a while to seed the newly setup tank with bacteria. Keep some of the tank water too to jumpstart things. As for plants, yes, you can just pop them in the tank and they will be fine. Java fern and moss are very hardy. As for substrate, you can use whatever you want for those plants because you tie them onto a rock or wood, etc. rather than planting them in the gravel. I have both in my stock 20 gallon with 15 watts of light and they are flourishing. I have oodles of plantlets coming off my ferns and the moss has easily quadrupled in size in a few months. I have anubias in there as well and they are tough as nails. I dose with a bit of ferts as well and they algae has been kept at bay so far.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 03:16 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks! I was actually at Pisces the other day, the guy was telling me the Java Moss shipment was arriving this weekend. The grab bag sounds interesting too! I don't know what wattage I have (I can't read it on the lightbulb), so I think 'low light' is a safe guess, lol! If I keep and reuse the same tank water, is it safe to change out the gravel to sand? I just think it will look so much nicer!

Its my youngest sons 2nd birthday tomorrow, so the weekend is full of bday gatherings. Hopefully they (Pisces) have some moss left next week, that's sounding like a good start!

Thank you!
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 07:35 PM
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Yes, you can change out the gravel for sand without too much trouble. A trick that a lot of people use is to keep a bunch of the old gravel in a fine mesh bag or pantyhose and keep it in the tank to keep the good bacteria going. I'd definitely get a small filter as well as on a small tank water quality can go downhill pretty quickly. With a small tank, also pay close attention to the amount of time you keep the light on. Low light plants with the bulb so close to them won't need to have the lights on for a 12 hour day for example. Keeping the lights on too long will quickly lead to an algae issue. I've had to balance light period and fertilizer regime in my 20 gallon to keep the algae at bay but it seems to have found a balance after a few months. Initially, when the plants were still small, I did have a lot of algae forming on the glass and some on my moss. Now that things are growing well, the algae doesn't get much chance to form. Will be a fun little set up for you and I think with java moss and ferns, you won't have any issues. You probably won't even need fertilizers.
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