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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-26-2013, 05:43 PM Thread Starter
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Red face Utter & Complete Newbie

So I have no idea how I ended up being obsessed with starting a freshwater planted tank but I have. I have never kept a tank in my life. I have been researching a bit for the past month or so but on a lot of the forums, the newbies are usually not as newbie as me haha. So before I go out and buy a bunch of stuff and have it die, I wanted to get as much info as humanly possible out of you guys.

I am thinking about setting up a low-light planted 12g or so. Probably will have a few ghost shrimp ( not sure how many i should have) and tetras and/or guppies? I have no idea how many of each either or if there is a better combo. Im open to any and all suggestions

So starting with substrate... am I just using something like flourite plant substrate or do i need potting soil as well or something completely different?

Then with cycling... is it best to cycle for a month or so with just water and gravel or should I do that only for a few weeks and then add plants and let that cycle for a few more weeks or should I just plant right away and let it cycle that way. What are some of your guys' suggested cycle methods ie fish food, liquid drops, ive heard of adding a raw shrimp?

As for plants, it wasnt too hard to find some good suggestions for low-light plants, but if you guys have some good places to order plants or if you have any of your own specific suggestions for plant types for a beginner, like me, let me know.

Okay next, how do I go about adding fish/shrimp? Im assuming I shouldnt be adding a bunch at one time but I am not really sure at all.

Also, any tips for lighting, filters, etc. would be helpful

And lastly, how to maintain the tank and make sure nothing dies! How often and what amount of water changes? I obviously havent bought anything yet though so i cant give specifics on filters and lighting.

Thanksss
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-26-2013, 05:44 PM Thread Starter
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P.S. Places to buy some awesome drift wood (as I live in a city), cool rocks, etc, would also be great
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-26-2013, 06:05 PM
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i'm from atlanta as well and also kind of new to the hobby. i'm sure more knowledgeable members can chime in on some of your questions, but for the area:

i really like petland in dunwoody. premier aquatics also has a nice store.

i haven't really used them but check out: http://www.atlantaaquarium.com
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-26-2013, 06:15 PM
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Take a look at red cherry shrimp. ghost are brackish, so i'm not sure how long they live in freshwater. I'm 99% sure they won't successfully reproduce.

flourite plant will be just fine. don't worry about soil right now. I'd think it'd be best to start out as easy as possible.

you can cycle with the tank full of plants. I tossed a guppy in my 55 along with the load of plants. guppy survived just fine... but i know most people prefer a fishless cycle. I just let the tank go, some people take a bit more care in cycling their tank.

for lights, i'd suggest a t8 fixture (your typical aquarium store light), or a cheaper LED unit. most of those cheaper ones, from ikea even, arent going to provide high light, so are perfect for a low light/slow growth tank.

maintenance is subjective. some people work on their tank daily, others weekly, monthly... or yearly! My 55g ended up just getting top offs. but if your tank is showing lots of algae then you should definitely be doing more water changes.

with a 12g I'd probably change out a couple gallons here and there.

welcome to the forum, good luck, and lets see that tattoo https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...390&highlight=
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-26-2013, 06:39 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by LucentDoom View Post
i'm from atlanta as well and also kind of new to the hobby. i'm sure more knowledgeable members can chime in on some of your questions, but for the area:

i really like petland in dunwoody. premier aquatics also has a nice store.

i haven't really used them but check out: http://www.atlantaaquarium.com
Thanks for the advice! Actually, a customer at my job also suggested premier aquatics so I will get to checking out this places for sure!
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-26-2013, 06:41 PM Thread Starter
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welcome to the forum, good luck, and lets see that tattoo https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...390&highlight=
Thank you!!!! that was very very helpful! Im sure I will have more questions after I start purchasing

And thank you for directing me to that thread! I had no idea about it. Im excited about this forum now haha
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-26-2013, 06:54 PM
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Thank you!!!! that was very very helpful! Im sure I will have more questions after I start purchasing

And thank you for directing me to that thread! I had no idea about it. Im excited about this forum now haha
no problem. this place is fantastic for information, make sure you take a look through the stickies in each section as well. Unfortunately though, the more you learn the more you have questions.

The tattoo thread isnt nearly active enough.


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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-26-2013, 07:27 PM
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Ghost shrimp do perfecty well in freshwater--though most sold to the trade require brakish water for successful breeding. A plus, in some cases, as not all of us want shrimp breeding us out of house and home.

Substrate choice is up to the individual--fluorite is readily available, not too expensive, inert so you don't have to worry about any break-in period and easy to plant in.

Your light levels are going to dictate what plants will work best--and vice versa if you work it from the other direction. A low to moderate light tank will give you a nice range of plants to choose from and low maintanence.

Cycling can be done fishless--or, set up the tank, get the substrate in and filter running smoothly and the water cleared up a bit--then start introducing plants. They'll carry some beneficial bacteria in with them (but not much) and then, if you choose to do a fish-in cycle--start by adding VERY low bioloads VERY gradually. Get a decent test kit so you can monitor water quality and be prepared to do water changes as needed as you cycle your tank. There are quite a few good threads out there on how to cycle a tank--do some reading and figure out what direction you want to take, but BUY A TEST KIT.

It's tempting to shove a tank full of fish when you're starting out, but you'll be better off adding only a small number of fish (and preferably only 1-2 types) at first. Once you've got the tank stable and healthy with a low bioload, you'll be ready to look at what else you might like to keep.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-26-2013, 10:24 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Knotyoureality View Post

It's tempting to shove a tank full of fish when you're starting out, but you'll be better off adding only a small number of fish (and preferably only 1-2 types) at first. Once you've got the tank stable and healthy with a low bioload, you'll be ready to look at what else you might like to keep.
Thank you for the advice! i really appreciate any and all help!!
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-26-2013, 10:46 PM
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IME I did a fishless cycle for 4 weeks (and I am NOT a patient person, my skin was crawling the whole time) and have had zero problems with my tank. I added plants about 3 weeks in as well as substrate (3 weeks cycle without substrate is not suggested, I just couldn't afford it at the time) and within a week water quality was perfect. As previously stated, there are many ways to cycle a tank but IMO fishless cycle is a tried and true method for the several tanks I've cycled.

As for plants, many plants can dwell in low to moderate lighting. If you want low maintenance (most low-moderate light plants are slow growing and not a hassle) be sure to pay attention to how large a plant can get, as constant trimming is tedious to some.

Add fish slow, weekly or biweekly. This will give the beneficial bacteria you've established time to 'catch up' to the newly introduced amounts of fish waste your fish will be producing.

As for maintenance, it will depend on what your bioload is in your tank, but most do anywhere from 30-50% weekly or biweekly water changes. Again, there are many cases where people go several months or a year without a single water change. These are usually very established aquariums and more used as 'exception to the rule' examples. Not a suggested method for a newbie The more water changes you do, usually the more your fish and plants will thank you.

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Last edited by Ashnic05; 02-26-2013 at 10:47 PM. Reason: .
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 06:43 AM
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I would start with reading this thread head to toe:

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=168992

P.S. I like your ink! Well done by the artist.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 03:58 PM Thread Starter
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Again, thank you. I really think this will help get me started. I will definitely be asking much more soon. I'm moving tomorrow but I am going to start looking and ordering and such right after
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