Newbie with a Topfin 5.5 and questions - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-17-2017, 04:24 AM Thread Starter
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Newbie with a Topfin 5.5 and questions

Hey there, so I'm just starting out, and after researching and reading a ton over the last few weeks I'm going to get into fish keeping soon with a betta. Before that happens I want to get my tank setup and cycled and wanted to seek out some direction on a few things I was trying to figure out.

Due to space constraints in the apartment I share with my family, I'm going with a low tech planted nano tank. I've picked up a used Topfin 5.5 kit through OfferUp. It was cheap and in good condition, it does have the recalled filter but I have the contact information to request a replacement from Topfin so I'm not too worried about it. I'll be getting the heater, thermometer, chemicals, testing kit, etc. over the next few weeks as well as a piece of driftwood and possibly a rock or two for the plants.

What I am concerned about are the LEDs it came with. There's three little LED bulbs affixed to the hood and I strongly doubt they will be enough to support even low light plants, so I'm looking for ideas on a couple things:
- replacement LED lights that aren't terribly expensive but will work with low light plants
- low light plant options for a small tank (so far, I'm thinking java moss, some type of anubias, and java fern.) I'm leaning more towards things which don't need to be planted in the substrate so I can avoid digging up and replanting if possible, and sand or small gravel for the substrate.

Any ideas or advice would be welcome!

Thanks,

Lauren

edit: somehow this posted in general instead of planted nano. oops.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-19-2017, 05:22 PM Thread Starter
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Could a mod please move this to planted nano?
Thank you
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-19-2017, 06:31 PM
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Cheap and practical can all be had but with some luck and compromise. For lights, I can find lots of really cheap(free? ) bulbs that do fine. The CFL twisty bulbs in the right rating are plenty good. The best are those which are rated 5000 to 6500K (kelvin) >kelvin referred to what type/color of light. higher numbers being more blue, lower being more red. Screwed into a lamp that holds the light over the tank, they are plenty for smallish tanks. Goodwill may be a goldmine for this stuff?
I like pool filter sand for the bottom as it is a bit more selective in what's in the bag. Not play sand or all purpose. Too cheap when pool sand is around $10 for 50 pounds. Just use plenty as it is cheap.
For plants, I would not shy away from planting in the sand. Uprooting and moving them is not that much if done slowly as the sand is not terribly dirty. Some gets moved around but settles very quickly. Lots more options for plants that way.
I'm a low budget guy by nature but I do feel free to try a few plants and not worry if they don't work out. I've never tried a hobby that I didn't have some expense of some sort. Depending on lights and other sources of heat, there may not be too much needed ?
Golf balls cost lots more than plants so I gave up golf! At least I can find my plants.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-19-2017, 11:06 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the ideas! I hadn't thought of checking goodwill but there are several in my area so I'll check them out right away.

Nice idea on the sand, and I'm betting I can also use it for some scaping as I have an idea of what I want the tank to look like, if not all the exact details. Plus it'll probably let me put in some taller plants at the back.

Given that my mom once got hit in the head with a golf club when the person next to her had been trying something different with their swing, I think you've taken up a far safer hobby!
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-20-2017, 12:30 AM
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Given that my mom once got hit in the head with a golf club when the person next to her had been trying something different with their swing, I think you've taken up a far safer hobby![/QUOTE]

I should never mention my bowling then! They may still be looking for me.
Seems I was once just standing easy with my ball held under my arm when I decided to shift position and let my arm and ball swing down. All very normal except there was a lady behind who choice that exact time to lean over to get her shoes from under her seat. Let's just say it ruined her night but I did miss her nose and got her in the forehead?
Have I mentioned that I feel it's okay if I kill a few plants along the way?
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-20-2017, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by blackbirds View Post
Could a mod please move this to planted nano?
Thank you
Done!

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-20-2017, 08:57 PM Thread Starter
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I should never mention my bowling then! They may still be looking for me.
Seems I was once just standing easy with my ball held under my arm when I decided to shift position and let my arm and ball swing down. All very normal except there was a lady behind who choice that exact time to lean over to get her shoes from under her seat. Let's just say it ruined her night but I did miss her nose and got her in the forehead?
Have I mentioned that I feel it's okay if I kill a few plants along the way?
Yikes. Although now I'm wondering if it's possible to get a little bowling ball ornament for a tank. Somebody, somewhere, has gotta make 'em. About the plants though, are there any that really stand out as hard to kill for you? I ask because my gardening history leaves much to be desired. I can keep succulents alive and that's about it, generally. I don't mind playing around to see what works either though, so once I get the tank setup and cycled maybe I'll just start testing and see what manages to survive me

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Done!
Thanks!


Just got good news! I talked to TopFin and my filter wasn't part of the recall, it has the little silvery dot on the plug.

newbie | 5.5g planted | 10g planted
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-20-2017, 09:51 PM
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I would have to say, Java fern would be my favorite for an all around versatile plant. I have to choose plants starting with how they will work with the fish that will go with it and that often leaves me wanting one that I can place up and away from digging cichlids. Java fern seems really easy to plant whether it is on the bottom where I super glue it to a small rock that I bury, or on wood to get it up higher. I don't like to deal with replanting things that get pulled up so the stone works nice for me to keep things down until they really get rooted well.
When I want to hide a big old pile of rocks that I need for hiding for the African cichlids, Java fern is great for a cheap quick one that I can get a tub full glued on to grow and hide the rocks.
I'm primarily a fish keeper who uses plants to make the fish look or operate better so I never go too far looking for great plants as there are so many common that serve my purpose.
For cute, tiny and easy, Java moss is my kind of plant. Not good where fish will eat it but great for fry tanks or other fish who are not rough. I like to do covers for any equipment and it works well on wood or the plastic mesh used for craft projects. Just a cute little plant that grows and can be shaped to most anything.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-21-2017, 09:11 PM Thread Starter
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I would have to say, Java fern would be my favorite for an all around versatile plant. I have to choose plants starting with how they will work with the fish that will go with it and that often leaves me wanting one that I can place up and away from digging cichlids. Java fern seems really easy to plant whether it is on the bottom where I super glue it to a small rock that I bury, or on wood to get it up higher. I don't like to deal with replanting things that get pulled up so the stone works nice for me to keep things down until they really get rooted well.
When I want to hide a big old pile of rocks that I need for hiding for the African cichlids, Java fern is great for a cheap quick one that I can get a tub full glued on to grow and hide the rocks.
I'm primarily a fish keeper who uses plants to make the fish look or operate better so I never go too far looking for great plants as there are so many common that serve my purpose.
For cute, tiny and easy, Java moss is my kind of plant. Not good where fish will eat it but great for fry tanks or other fish who are not rough. I like to do covers for any equipment and it works well on wood or the plastic mesh used for craft projects. Just a cute little plant that grows and can be shaped to most anything.
Good to know. Thanks for taking the time to tell me! Those were both plants I was looking into, but this practical everyday stuff about them really helps!

newbie | 5.5g planted | 10g planted
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-21-2017, 10:46 PM
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Super glue is one of my handy items for planting as I do have trouble keeping things down with my fish. It is really handy stuff and doesn't take much time at all to set so I just let it go for a bit while I do other things and then after a few minutes, I feel free to put it in the tank.
One word of warning for the super glue? It turns white, so use as little as needed or figure on a white spot that shows like a spotlight! Plants od grow and cover but that lets it show for a while.
I hope the info is a help.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-25-2017, 07:57 PM
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Newbie with a Topfin 5.5 and questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by blackbirds View Post
What I am concerned about are the LEDs it came with.
Cory at Aquarium Co-op just did a review of this tank since they were doing a little $100 challenge anyways. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miXC9KuwH14

The light that comes with it has about a 35 par rating at substrate when filled with water. This puts it right into medium lighting which will pretty much grow any aquatic plant you could find at a Petco or Petsmart, and a good majority of non-carpeting plants. Medium/tall plants could be getting quite a bit of light being closer to the source.

The problem is that the power for the lighting is combined with the filter pump hence you cannot put it on a timer so easily. Your best option is to get another light anyways so you can put it on a timer.

The aquarium comes with a glass lid. You could rest a light on it.
https://smile.amazon.com/5-5-Inch-Re.../dp/B01M0R9F71

I use one of these, but the beam angle is only 60 degrees so to cover an entire tank would require raising the lamp further. So look for a 6000k or higher color bulb with at least 9 watts.
https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NPVOSK4

Don't ask for advice. Ask for information, gather lots of information from different reliable sources. Then use the information to make your own advice.

Last edited by FishRFriendz; 09-26-2017 at 04:40 AM. Reason: links
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-26-2017, 04:43 AM
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Hmm, it just occurred to me you likely didn't get the one Cory reviewed. So yeah, probably a good idea to replace that light lol.

Most kits are really not worth it if you gotta replace a part. A standard tank is like $18, sponge filter $3.50, Whisper air pump $7.

Don't ask for advice. Ask for information, gather lots of information from different reliable sources. Then use the information to make your own advice.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-26-2017, 04:26 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by FishRFriendz View Post
Cory at Aquarium Co-op just did a review of this tank since they were doing a little $100 challenge anyways. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miXC9KuwH14

The light that comes with it has about a 35 par rating at substrate when filled with water. This puts it right into medium lighting which will pretty much grow any aquatic plant you could find at a Petco or Petsmart, and a good majority of non-carpeting plants. Medium/tall plants could be getting quite a bit of light being closer to the source.

The problem is that the power for the lighting is combined with the filter pump hence you cannot put it on a timer so easily. Your best option is to get another light anyways so you can put it on a timer.

The aquarium comes with a glass lid. You could rest a light on it.
https://smile.amazon.com/5-5-Inch-Re.../dp/B01M0R9F71

I use one of these, but the beam angle is only 60 degrees so to cover an entire tank would require raising the lamp further. So look for a 6000k or higher color bulb with at least 9 watts.
https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NPVOSK4
Quote:
Originally Posted by FishRFriendz View Post
Hmm, it just occurred to me you likely didn't get the one Cory reviewed. So yeah, probably a good idea to replace that light lol.

Most kits are really not worth it if you gotta replace a part. A standard tank is like $18, sponge filter $3.50, Whisper air pump $7.
I only spent $15 on this kit and it came with everything so it wasn't a bad deal except that there are literally just 3 little LED nodes affixed to the inside of the roof.

I do actually have a lead on getting the rimless version for the same price if I can ever get the seller to meet up with me, lol. If I get that, then I'll probably setup that tank and keep this one as a backup or quarantine tank. But in the mean time I've ordered a glass cover for it and an overhead light. Good to know about the combination issue with the integrated tank, though.

newbie | 5.5g planted | 10g planted
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-26-2017, 04:34 PM
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I only spent $15 on this kit and it came with everything so it wasn't a bad deal except that there are literally just 3 little LED nodes affixed to the inside of the roof.

I do actually have a lead on getting the rimless version for the same price if I can ever get the seller to meet up with me, lol. If I get that, then I'll probably setup that tank and keep this one as a backup or quarantine tank. But in the mean time I've ordered a glass cover for it and an overhead light. Good to know about the combination issue with the integrated tank, though.
That is a good deal. I'd be loading up on those at that price even if all I do is toss the hood and the filter lol.
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