5g Aquascape help - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-26-2017, 02:44 AM Thread Starter
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Question 5g Aquascape help

Hey guys, so long story short, I have zero skill with planting plants in good locations. My tank looks like something at a pet store where people pick their plants and take them home.

I just got a bunch of stem plants from a guy on kijiji, and I've never actually planted plants that don't already have a solid root system. I took the leaves off the bottoms and nicked a little of the stem itself in the hopes that will help it with new growth? Any advice on them is appreciated. I think the ones I have are water sprite (left), ludwigia (mid) and then something else on the right in front of my amazon sword. I have some anubias, several crypts, and then that other weird long-leaf plant in the front right.

Bottom line, I need serious advice on how to properly aquascape. If anyone has some ideas could they lay them on me? I want to make a nice tank for a betta, (because that's really all I can have in a tank this size, I believe. Though if ya'll have successfully kept anything else HAPPILY in a 5g, please let me know.)

I realize a lot of the roots are out of the substrate, I've only got about an inch of it in there. I've got more waiting to go in after I decide on permanent plant placement.

Also, and sorry if I'm asking a lot, I have a lot of stems left over and I wondered how I can care for them? I've got a bucket I could put them in, but I have no idea if the natural light coming in my window will be enough for them and I don't have another light. If there isn't a way to care for them I'll just give them away to someone who can, but ideally I'd like to grow them just in case, or to sell.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-26-2017, 01:20 PM
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A betta will do great in a well planted 5g. Other option would be shrimp of course, perhaps some nano fish like rice fish, etc., but I'd vote for betta. I never feel like I need more in my betta tanks, they're enough by themselves.

I'd just put all your plants in there - you've got space left.


I like this short article fir different scape styles, which could help your searching focus. http://www.theaquariumguide.com/arti...-for-aquariums


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I can only grow plants when they're completely under water. Everything else is doomed.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-26-2017, 01:31 PM
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Also this: http://tropica.com/en/inspiration/


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I can only grow plants when they're completely under water. Everything else is doomed.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-27-2017, 03:08 AM Thread Starter
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I'd just put all your plants in there - you've got space left.
I did so! Unfotunately I can't seem to get the water sprite to stay in the sand, so I only have two in there. The others are in a bucket of water under another light for now. I'm hoping they will root and be easier to plant. Unless someone has a good trick for getting plants to stay submerged?

Those links were super helpful! Thank you so much for those. I didn't realize how many aquascape types there were. I wish I had known the specifics of a biotope before I bought all my plants.

This is an updated picture. The right is heavier planted than the left right now. I've got a piece of driftwood soaking (it's a skinny spiderwood branch, about 12in) that I'm going to put across it diagonally. I have a super nice anubias I'm going to tie to it, but for now it'll just float. I've also got a mossball that unrolled? Could I put that on the driftwood as well?

Is my plant placement alright? I think it's much better, but now it looks a little barren. Also, I still haven't topped off the sand, so please forgive the lack of submerged roots.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-28-2017, 06:27 PM
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Empty space is important too, unless you're 100% packed in. You're not, so you have to use 'empty' as another object to place. You don't want it thinly spread around, but more strickingly placed in a spot. What you'll see in general for attractive tanks is a good use of elevation, balances within a chosen pattern or grid, key focus points, and as said - empty space.

I think your re-layout looks nicer. Mainly I'd suggest looking into elevation next. This uses rocks or wood to raise anubias up, with shorter plants in front and taller stem plants behind, for example.


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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-28-2017, 07:06 PM
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Basic tips that are always good. Substrate elevation at the back to create slope (depth perception). If it is a 5 gallon tank, stick with small plants, big plants will look disproportionate and weird. Also, as usual, carpet plants at the front, relatively middle sized plants in the midground, and the taller stems and stuff like that at the back. That way you can have a densely planted tank, and yet have it look uncluttered. I don't know what light you have, but from the pictures it seems like it is not a very strong light, meaning that your plants will grow slowly and not as compact, which is ok, but in that case I would maybe fill some empty spots with some hardscape like rocks or wood. One last thing, sometimes having too many varieties of plants makes it look less natural. I would stick with only a few different species, maybe 5 or 6 (less if they are big plants). That's my two cents.


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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-28-2017, 08:44 PM Thread Starter
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I hear you! I believe that's how I have it planted now, and I know my light is more for show than anything else. It's why I went low-tech instead of anything crazy. I can't find the specs for it actually, and will likely have to e-mail the makers. I don't plan on getting any more different types of plants, so the variety thing is alright for now. I learned about the sloping after I had put everything in. Except I also forgot to put the heater in before I planted, so I'll probably have to replant things further from the back anyway. I was going to wait for my stem plants to have a few roots before I pull them out to move. I'm also going to have a piece of driftwood in there, just a piece of spiderwood. I'd like to get a couple nice flat rocks, only I'm not clear on where to find them.

Thanks for your help! I'm not expecting anything beautiful from this aquarium compared to others. But to me it's already getting there.

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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-28-2017, 11:20 PM
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Number one place for aquarium rocks on the cheap: outside. Google a bit for cleaning and prep, and how to see if it is OK for pH levels (use muriatic acid, not vinegar). All easy stuff, and you get to be proud of your find. If you find a large (when scaled to your tank) rock, find smaller ones that match with it. A single piece with smaller ones around it looks better and more natural.

If you want something specific: garden centers, mulch/landscape stores have lots of stone, typically very (like 0.25 instead of 3.00 per pound) cheap in comparison to an aquarium store. Also much more volume.

If you just gotta have seiru or ohko etc., prepare to spend.


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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-29-2017, 12:17 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah to be honest I'll probably just head to my college. They have a really big garden there with a bunch of nice looking stones. I pay them a lot of money to get education, so I'm sure if I ask the desk they'll let me have a couple rocks. lol

My water sprite still won't stay in the sand. When it floats up it pulls up my bacopa too. I may find a few pebbles just to weigh them down, to be honest.

My light is just a regular hood. It's actually super cheap, but I figured low light plants will still be alright. I leave the light on for 6 hours. I'm going to contact the makers and see what the specs of it actually are. I'll have to look into what sort of light these plants /should/ be getting.

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-29-2017, 04:05 PM
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I think I mentioned my lighting on another thread with you: Fluval PCL-13, 13W fluorescent works great for the 5g size. I have 3 of those over separate tanks growing many kinds of low light plants very well.

A dab of glue to a rock could weigh them down. I'd otherwise suggest deeper substrate, but you are where you are, with that.


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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-29-2017, 04:51 PM Thread Starter
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Yes! I will be making the substrate deeper in the next week. I have your lights written down, I just meant more of a general rule. A low and high. I appreciate all your tips and the fact you're willing to share them with me!

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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-29-2017, 10:29 PM
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Just as my two cents:

I'll second the recommendation to build the substrate into a slope that is higher in the back. That's always a good idea.

I'll also second the idea of going to landscaping yards to get rocks. Just avoid any rocks with sparkly bits in them since that's probably some sort of metal that might be bad for your fish, and once you get home you should put a bit of white vinegar (or a stronger acid, preferably) on each of the rocks. Leave it there for up to 10 minutes. If it fizzes, then the rock likely has some sort of calcium or lime or some other component that's likely to seriously adjust the hardness of your water. If you're keeping cichlids then that's probably fine, but given that this is a planted tank, you'll probably want to get rid of those rocks. The vinegar test isn't foolproof, mind you, but it's a good idea. I've never actually had any problems from landscaping yard rocks, though, and they're dirt cheap. The last time I went, it was about $15-20 to get enough rocks to do rock-only scapes for 2 20-gallon tanks. Very worth your time if you can find a yard nearby.

Also, I'll add on that putting taller plants toward the back and shorter plants toward the front helps to increase the effect of sloping the substrate. The idea is to create the illusion of depth in the tank. If you don't want to move the plants later, then keep the maximum fully-grown height of the plants in mind when doing this.

As with any visual art, the Rule of Thirds can help guide your planting. It's pretty simple but it can really help make things look nice, especially when you're just starting out. This is a quick and handy guide to show you the basics: Marine Aquarium Aquascaping: The Rule of Thirds

If you're having a lot of issues with stem plants floating, you can use aquarium weights. There's some arguments about lead vs. not lead vs. metal issues, etc., but using standard aquarium weights hasn't seemed to kill any of my fish yet in 15 years in the hobby, so if they're an actual problem then it's probably mitigated by regular water changes. You can use them to hold, IMO, up to three stems together, but 1 stem per weight is probably best if you're like me and are super meticulous about plant placement. Just be sure not to damage the stems with the weights. You should be able to go to your local fish store and ask if you can have a couple weights, or they can be purchased reasonably cheaply online.

As for lights, I'll throw in the suggestion of one or two additional LED strips, such as the inexpensive Tingkam strips from Amazon. They're definitely not perfect, but in a tank as shallow as yours, their light penetration and spectrum is surprisingly sufficient for most low-light plants.

In sand substrate, a couple root tabs for the root feeders (I'm mostly looking at the crypts and the swords) might not go amiss.

There! Probably a bit more information than you were looking for, but oh well.
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-31-2017, 01:08 AM Thread Starter
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Just as my two cents:
Thank you so much for your reply! I will use all of this!

The company who made my light still hasn't got back to me on any specs. Ultimately I can assume that this light is a good decoration, I suppose. I'd like to have a better one but the pet stores around me don't carry very much that fit my aquarium, of the lights that they have. I'll head over to the lights forum and stalk some threads for a while and figure something out. In the mean time what I have will have to do. I looked up the Tingkam light and that'll likely be my go to. I wondered if I could wrap it around the top on three sides to get the extra light? My bacopa seems to be losing it's lower leaves steadily.

I found a landscaping yard I had no idea existed literally a block from me. So I'll be headed over there in the next few days to check out what they have as far as rocks go. They have shale, quartz, granite, river wash, and gull lake stone. I know the granite is safe, but it also says it is jagged. So I don't know what to think.

I washed more of my fluorite today. For a few hours. It's running pretty clear now, so I'll do it again tomorrow. I will take everything out of the tank and put the sand in, sloped, as suggested. At the same time it'll give me a moment to put in the heater I forgot to add. I'll do that when I have the rocks set up.

Question: my driftwood is still floaty. I had it in my aquarium to soak previously but a white fuzz started to grow on it. I read up and learned it was harmless bacteria eating anything live in the wood still. Anyone have experience with that and how long it takes to go away? Is there a way I can kill it faster? I'll leave it soak longer, but ideally after I add the sand and the stones, I can tuck a piece of the wood under a stone and it'll hold it down just fine.

As a side note, I've got a moss ball that fell apart. Anyone have experience with that? I was going to tie it to one of my rocks or my driftwood.

Also the only root tabs around that I can see are the API or Seachem. Seachem is the better of the two, from what I read.

Thanks so very much again. I will do a new rescape and post pictures in a few weeks when everything is all up and going proper.

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