First time aquascaping and setting up a planted tank. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-16-2016, 02:09 AM Thread Starter
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First time aquascaping and setting up a planted tank.

Hello so im setting up my first planted tank so im using a 5.5 gallon aqueon tank i used this tank when i had my betta the tank had a hood but i broke it so since its a planted tank im looking for good lighting for plants etc.... also what co2 system do u guys recommend me?? Also any equipment i need for the aquascaping of it and cheap stones i can use for now since im new to this u know to give it a try, also any tips u got for me and is my tank small or ok?? Thank you
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-16-2016, 02:34 AM
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Your tank is small but that doesn't mean you can't do anything with it; you can still grow plants in a small tank, it's appropriate for a betta (do make sure to heat and cycle it though for any fish!) or a few "nano fish." You could also keep shrimp. For rocks, I would recommend going to a local rock yard, you can get them very cheap there, and there won't be as much danger of contamination as you'd have with plucking rocks from outside (that's not to say you can't do the other thing, though). Make sure to pick only inert rocks, that is, (usually metamorphic) rocks that won't leach calcium or metals into your water. If your rocks are going to cause a problem with metal deposits, you'll usually be able to tell by a metallic sheen/rusty color (iron)/bluish color (copper, especially important to avoid) on the outside. Whatever you get, rinse them with hot water and scrub any dirt off, then put them in a bucket of water for a few days and test the parameters of the water (pH for sure, KH, GH, metals if you have those tests) before and after to see if they change, or if the water color changes (in which case you probably shouldn't use them; it's possible to have rocks that change your parameters for a specific effect, but that's something more advanced that I wouldn't try myself or recommend for a newbie). Of course you'll also need some sort of substrate.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-16-2016, 04:28 AM Thread Starter
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Wow thanks man ill have to keep that in mind all the time.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-16-2016, 04:33 AM Thread Starter
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Any tips on equipment needed also i have never used actually live plants so do i add the plants after the tank is cycled,during or after ?? Also do i need a co2? cuz i heard co2 is important for the plants.any idea for an app that has to do with plants info and rock ??
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-16-2016, 05:13 AM
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Any tips on equipment needed also i have never used actually live plants so do i add the plants after the tank is cycled,during or after ?? Also do i need a co2? cuz i heard co2 is important for the plants
Necessities:
  • Substrate (ideally something with a high CEC--that can hold a lot of nutrients)
  • Light (I recommend reading around in the lighting forum for an idea of what kind of light you should get. Desk lamps with daylight bulbs are a good way to light smaller tanks.)
  • Heater (50 watts is plenty for a 5 gallon)
  • Thermometer
  • Filter
  • Maybe fertilizer depending on what plants you decide on and your substrate.
  • EDIT: you also need some way of testing your parameters (pH, ammonia, nitrogen, nitrate especially) to monitor your cycle and then make sure your tank stays healthy, if you don't already have something. I like API's freshwater master test kit.

I would recommend going low-tech for your first planted tank--that is, low light, no CO2 (that is, no additional CO2 injection - your plants will get CO2 from the fish, air circulation and rotting organic matter like dead plant bits or soil if you use it) and plants that can exist under those conditions (java fern, anubias, many cryptocoryne species, and bacopa are some examples). But that's not to say you can't do it the other way, just do your research. Again, read through the forums; this site is full of useful information.

Add plants before you cycle, right before filling the tank (or when you're partially filled can work too).
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Last edited by geisterwald; 08-16-2016 at 05:30 AM. Reason: Added point
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-16-2016, 07:34 AM
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Any tips on equipment needed also i have never used actually live plants so do i add the plants after the tank is cycled,during or after ?? Also do i need a co2? cuz i heard co2 is important for the plants.any idea for an app that has to do with plants info and rock ??
You can use Ikea lamps with CFL bulbs for small tanks like this. If you choose certain plants you can do without CO2, and like mentioned above I recommend you start with that. Once you become confident with that you can move up to high-tech (with CO2 tanks). You could of course go all the way but it can be a bit challenging for beginners.
Tropica has a pretty decent plant guide. It's not perfect but is good for beginners.
For rocks I would suggest Lava Rock which you can get from Barbecue shops and stuff like that. Totally inert and pretty cheap.
Add the plants before you fill up the tank is what most people do. So plant before you cycle. Some people cycle substrates like ADA Aquasoils before planting, but don't worry about that.


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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-16-2016, 03:35 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the help guys i really appreciate it
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-16-2016, 07:53 PM Thread Starter
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Around how many lbs of rock would i need ?? Or just go by what the eye can see??
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-16-2016, 11:30 PM
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Around how many lbs of rock would i need ?? Or just go by what the eye can see??
I'd personally consider the dimensions of the rock over the weight, any rock small enough to fit in your tank is probably not going to be too heavy--if you're concerned, though, you can put some egg crate plastic under to hold it up. Just go with your gut about what will look best. IMO go for pieces with dramatic angles (big rocks can go a long way in making a tiny tank look large, but small can work too) and variation in height, that mesh well together. An odd number will generally look better than an even number (2 big rocks and a smaller third is a typical strategy). You can look through peoples' tank journals or the aquascaping forum for inspiration.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-17-2016, 01:27 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks again
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-17-2016, 01:51 AM
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Thanks again
No prob
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