Need More Advice for 5 Gal. Portrait Tank - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-30-2020, 05:53 PM Thread Starter
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Need More Advice for 5 Gal. Portrait Tank

Hey guys. I just started using this website and I am fairly new to tank-keeping as well. I purchased a Marineland 5 gallon portrait tank about 6 months ago, and have went through phases with fake plants and live plants, but am sure i want to stick with a planted tank for good. The tank has a divider that separates the filter cartridge, bio sponge, and submerged pump from the rest of the tank. I want to turn it into a heavily planted tank with low maintenance/tech but don't quite know where to start. I had the idea of doing a heavily planted tank with no CO2 or filter because I have seen many successful planted tanks like that, but just don't know where to start, or what plants/snails/fish/shrimp/wood/rocks would be best. Being only a sophomore in high school, I don't have the biggest budget, but would like to improve in my skills and knowledge in tank keeping. I would greatly appreciate help and advice from someone a little more knowledgable and experienced.

Last edited by timelord03; 04-30-2020 at 10:42 PM. Reason: changing title
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-30-2020, 06:08 PM
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Welcome to the hobby!

Those heavily planted tanks with no CO2 or filters that you've seen are most likely Walstad tanks. You should be able to replicate that by following her techniques - there a several guides online, or you can read her (Diana Walstad's) book "Ecology of the Planted Aquarium".

I haven't set one up myself so can't provide comment on that, but the basic principle is having a soil underlayer to the substrate which feeds the plants. For a Walstad tank with no filter, you should keep the stocking on the lower side, so in a 5 gallon stick with maybe 1 betta (would need a heater) and some snails, or shrimp. Small fish like guppies or endlers would also do well - just males ideally so you aren't overrun by babies.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-30-2020, 06:14 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, thank you. I will for sure check out her material. Currently I have one neon tetra, two black skirt tetras, and a chinese algae eater, but my friend has offered to adopt my fish when I think about redoing my tank so that I can completely start over when redoing my tank, so I will look into stocking ideas for that type of tank. Again, thanks for your response, I really appreciate it

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Originally Posted by germanblueramlover View Post
Welcome to the hobby!

Those heavily planted tanks with no CO2 or filters that you've seen are most likely Walstad tanks. You should be able to replicate that by following her techniques - there a several guides online, or you can read her (Diana Walstad's) book "Ecology of the Planted Aquarium".

I haven't set one up myself so can't provide comment on that, but the basic principle is having a soil underlayer to the substrate which feeds the plants. For a Walstad tank with no filter, you should keep the stocking on the lower side, so in a 5 gallon stick with maybe 1 betta (would need a heater) and some snails, or shrimp. Small fish like guppies or endlers would also do well - just males ideally so you aren't overrun by babies.
Ok, thank you. I will for sure check out her material. Currently I have one neon tetra, two black skirt tetras, and a chinese algae eater, but my friend has offered to adopt my fish when I think about redoing my tank so that I can completely start over when redoing my tank, so I will look into stocking ideas for that type of tank. Again, thanks for your response, I really appreciate it
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-03-2020, 12:33 AM
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I'm pretty new to the hobby myself. I have done quite a bit of research on the hobby and I'm just curious, if the tank you have has a built in filter, why wouldn't you use it? I've looked at the Marineland tank myself and ALMOST bought it! I am building a Fluval Spec V right now. Since your tank has a built in filter, all you have to do is research filter media and the proper layers and it will help you out a lot. If you want to do a legit no filter tank, look into buying a rimless nano tank like from ADA. Those tanks don't have built in filters and I'm sure would look much nicer.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-04-2020, 12:39 AM
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Low budget low tech - love it. I agree with the above, you might as well use the filter if youíve got it. But that doesnít mean you canít incorporate some Walstad elements. Dirt is cheap - on a budget just dig some up from an area you know isnít fertilized or mucked up with farm run off. Or just buy a cheap organic topsoil mix. Cap that with cheap sand (like pool filter).

As far as plants go, youíll hear about java fern and moss, as well as any anubias being low tech bulletproof from literally everyone. Duckweed is an indestructible plant that aids in water quality.

Dwarf sag will explode in dirt, almost to the point of annoyance. Green, brown, bronze, wendtii, undulata, etc crypts are also heavy root feeders that would love dirt and thrive in low tech tanks. Red dwarf lilies are a personal favorite of mine - easy plant to get red without extra iron, theyíll love dirt. You can pretty much abuse these plants as long as they have dirt or a root tab underneath.

People will also suggest wisteria, stems like hornwort/anacharis, or guppy grass. For whatever reason, these have always just melted on me until recently. Probably because Iíve started using liquid ferts on top of a good substrate. Maybe not. Idk, I donít care enough to test nutrient levels or get into the science of it all.

Stocking... youíll hear mixed opinions. Whatís ethical, whatís not, how happy the fish will be, etc. a lot of people only suggest a beta, nerite snails, or shrimp in a 5. Personally, I think that if youíve got ample filtration and heavy planting, thereís plenty of cooler options. 5 gallons of a nice planted tank would make many different kinds fish way happier than whatever boring, overcrowded tank they came from. But obviously there are better choices than others - not all smaller sized fish are ideal for nano tanks. A small school of ember tetras, any of the boraras, celestial pearl danios, or Pygmy cories would work. Sparkling gouramis, endlers, or a dwarf puffer are all other options. An emphasis on ample filtration and heavy planting though - plus weekly 30-50% water changes.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-04-2020, 05:43 PM
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I have a Marineland portrait too, and over the years I've upgraded the light, removed the built-in filter housing, and removed the black adhesive backing to where it's now just a bare bones rimless tank with an external filter and light. For a long time I used an active substrate (Fluval stratum) and had pretty good success creating a jungle scape for a betta with no CO2, but I did have a hob filter. The plants I've had the best long term success with are pearlweed, anubias nana petite, and Bacopa caroliniana. Rotala indica did really well too, as did Java fern until the snails ate it to pieces. I'm a beginner so I'm constantly trying new plants and eventually some stick around and do well. I'm trying out dwarf sag and Bolbitis mini in the mix at the moment. Good luck!
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