My first nano planted tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-09-2019, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
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My first nano planted tank

Hi All,

New to this forum, and have not had a tank in years. Previously had always had 40 gallon+ tanks with simple plants and lighting, stocked semi-randomly and impulsively.

Recently had a friend give me a Marineland Portrait 5 gallon aquarium, with the back filter section divider removed for more interior space. It has a small LED light that overhangs the top of the tank, but I'm not sure how effective it is. Here is a link to the set up.

My reason for posting here is I am looking to do my first planted nano tank. Given that it is such a small tank, I am curious what is the best method for filtration (small HOB, internal, sponge, etc) from other's experiences. Same question with lighting- I am not necessarily looking for low budget, but if anyone has a specific small LED they think would do well for medium-light plants in a tank like this, I'm all ears. As far as substrate, I know little about properly setting up planted tanks, but for this nano tank, if a dirt mix is ideal, please pass on suggestions. I would like to set this up correctly the first time around!

As far as stocking, I think I want to do just a pair or trio of (properly sexed) dwarf pea puffers.

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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-09-2019, 05:18 PM
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Sounds good.
I would personally go with a small hob. For substrate, I don't think you need to do anything special, just some dirt. You can use organic potting soil (no ferts!), if you don't want to spend the pretty penny on something like fluval stratum or ADA soul. It all really just depends on what you want.
If you've never kept small tanks before, forewarning, they are more maintenance than large tanks (imho).

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-09-2019, 05:21 PM
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I forgot to mention, but puffers will snack on a lot of different plants (at least mine did) and need harder water. If you have soft water, make sure you keep some crushed coral around. Have fun with your new little tank!

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-11-2019, 07:34 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks! I appreciate the help. I'll update in a few weeks.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-13-2019, 12:50 AM
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There’s two lights I can think of that are not cheap, and have great features: Fluval Plant Nano (not as expensive), and AI Prime HD (approaching Kessil price). Both will get you to the high light level but are adjustable, are packaged well for the cube-ish tank, and will look very nice. Desk lamps work, too, on the budget end.

Lots of folks succeed with capped dirt substrate, no doubt. Plants will have their fill from their roots. I would usually keep that suggestion for larger tanks, though, where the volume of substrate would be seriously pricey.
For me, in a small tank in particular, I’d use something like Fluorite Black. It won’t give you any unknown variables like what dirt can, and will help hold nutrients for plants. On the cheaper end, Black Diamond Blasting Sand (or any black aquarium sand if rinsing is too much) is a great looking inert substrate. It won’t hold nutrients, but also adds nothing that can cause you to battle with your tank.
Since size isn’t big, an aquasoil really won’t be killer cost, and can be a good way to get familiar with it.
As said above, small tanks can be more maintenance, with small intended/unintended changes having larger impacts. I love nanos, though, and really enjoy the tweaking, scaping, diy filtering, etc.

Enjoy! You may even want to open up a journal thread here on TPT.

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I can only grow plants when they're completely under water. Everything else is doomed.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-14-2019, 04:00 PM
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I have this same tank, though I didn't remove the wall & am using the stock filter, pretty much. I changed up the sponges a bit, for smarter filtering (I hope), and added a bag of ceramic rings. Since I am such a newb, I don't want to presume to give much advice, but for hardscape, I'd definitely look for something tall - I had great luck with a fake rock/cliff looking thing that was on the clearance rack at Petsmart, weeks before I had even decided what tank to buy! Then gluing/tying a couple easy plants to it made for some nice multi-level visuals. I hope you update with how everything goes, I would love to hear more about pea puffer fish. I have a dozen(ish) cherry shrimp, and 3 mystery snails in my tank right now, and I just don't think there is enough horizontal space for any fish, after I filled it with all the hardscape & plants. The HOB filter and the extra space without that divider will probably help a ton, though. As for substrate -- I'd go with the fanciest stuff you can afford, since the footprint is so small you won't need much at all. Then you can decide if it is worth it if/when you mess with going back to/add bigger tanks.

Have fun! Nano tanks are fun!
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nano, planted, puffer, substrate

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