Hey everyone, this is my first time posting here, so sorry if I ask things that have been discussed to death.. I tried to look around and get a feel for this forum before posting.
This is my first venture back into fish (aside from my Betta) in 5-6 years. I started off with a 12 gallon tank that was kind of planted and bred guppies and sold them to the local pet store. I later broke that tank down and got a ~65 gallon acrylic tank that I wanted to plant but the dimensions were ridiculously frustrating and I was extremely discouraged. It was much taller than it was long and the top only had about an 18"x18" opening for me to get into to plant the tank. So, that combined with tougher high school classes and now college made me break that tank down too. During this time I kept various small planted nano type tanks and kept Bettas in them.
Now that I'm on my own in an apartment now, I have been itching to start another planted nano. The only space I had to work with though is about a 1ftx 1ft plant stand, so I ended up with a Marineland 5g hex. It's definitely not ideal because of the small footprint, but that's okay.
The substrate in the tank is API pure laterite mixed with pea gravel and then some straight pea gravel on top. I got some Bacopa for the back of the tank (its currently pretty small right now though), dwarf hairgrass and crypts for the front of the tank and a java fern to balance out my massive driftwood. There is also a moss ball in there that is hidden by the driftwood and some riccia attached to a rock.
As far as lighting goes, I replaced the incandescent bulb that comes with the tank with a 10w, 5100K compact fluorescent one. Before I replaced the bulb though, I got two incandescent grow light bulbs (60w Spotgrow) that I have aimed at the tank. My plants (especially the riccia and the bacopa) are growing like crazy. I leave the lights on for 9-10 hours/day. No sign of algae at all.
I have just given my first dose of flourish today (approx. 0.25-0.5 mL)
I took out the activated carbon cartridge that came with the filter and put in some white filter media (kind of remind me of cotton only its synthetic... think lots of strings).
The day after I set up the tank I got a reading of 1ppm of ammonia, so I just left it alone and checked it every day until that started to go down. When I got the driftwood, it was already submerged in one of the tanks at the LFS (really nice place and the people are really knowledgeable...its called Bermuda Triangle and it's in Chattanooga, Tn). I was pretty happy about this because of the beneficial bacteria that would hopefully be living on the driftwood.
There is currently no fauna in the tank. I plan to have some shrimp, not sure about the kind yet though.
The water stats (as of today) are 7.4-7.6pH, 0ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrIte, 10-20ppm nitrAte. Between 0-30 GH and between 0-40KH (I hate my current test kit for GH and KH... I have 0 trust in these results...they are test strips).
My first question I have is about hydra and other little "bugs." Currently, I have a ton of hydra and some white wormy things and some white dots that zip up and down the sides of the tank. I have been using the fenbendazole method and have had to repeat the dosage because the hydra keep multiplying. I have not tried to scrape any off of the walls because I have heard that they will grow from any broken pieces and the sides of this aquarium are very soft and easily scratched. How long does this method take? I was expecting it to take a few days but it has been 4 and there are more hydra now then there were before I started.
My next question deals with what can go in this tank. I'm okay with just shrimp, but would love to have a little fish or 2-3 of them to populate the top section of the tank, but like I said, I'm okay with just shrimp.
Lastly, are there any changes you would make to my current set up (be it plant placement, lighting, filtration, whatever)? I'm open to trying anything if it will make my aquarium healthier and more appealing.
Thanks in advance for any tips/comments you might have
Pics were taken today (11-20-11)