Am I on the right track? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-05-2007, 09:41 AM Thread Starter
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Smile Am I on the right track?

I recently set up a new 10 gallon tank after a few years away from aquaria and am not interested in making it "hi-tech" (no retrofit kits for me right now).

Since I bought a standard 20" fluorescent hood (18" 15w bulb included) without knowing any better, this is what I have to work with. To supplement this light, I added an 18w compact via a desktop lamp. With 33w total and 3 wpg, I consider it a low-moderate light small tank and have covered almost 70% of the subtrate (leaving enough room between plants obviously) with java fern, christmas moss, a crypt wendtii, a banana plant, and 3 white mystery rocks (tested them with no noticeable reaction, but I suspect they're leaching something into the water since it's still cloudy after 1.5 weeks of being setup).

There are other "mystery" plants in there (two perhaps vallisneria spiralis and one looks to be an anubias of some sort) and some Mondo Grass (bleepin' pet store chain sold it as an aquatic plant with me only learning afterwards that it can't live submerged ), which I plan to replace and give away to someone who has a pond. It certainly won't be replaced with anacharis since the bunches I purchased before "melted" after being exposed to Flourish Excel.

My substrate is relatively small and medium-sized gravel with laterite mixed in underneath. Currently I add Excel daily or every other day, occasionally dose Tetra FloraPride for water-column fertilization, and conditioned the water using Seachem Prime. Do you think Flourite tablets would be an appropriate addition? At this time, the preference is to stick with Excel instead of adding some DIY co2 contraption.

For filtration, it's running a Marineland Penguin Bio-wheel 100. I've read that planted tanks ought not be filtered with carbon, so I intend to replace it with regular filter floss. Would that be all right or will it only complicate my cloudy water issue?

Recently, 3 danios were added to cycle the tank (more will be introduced over time). My pH is 7.0-7.2, ammonia is 0, nitrite is .05. Like I said, it's been running now 1.5 weeks with the compact light added just today.

Any suggestions, tips, pointers, or ideas? I'm relatively new at this (again) and hope to get off to a decent start creating a reasonably low-maintenance aquatic environment where the plants and fish are comfortable. I'm looking to do partial water changes every two weeks and top off when necessary. Is RO water best to do this or will distilled water work just as fine?

And how about ground covers? Does anyone know of a ground cover that would grow well under these conditions? My aim is to plant this tank densely and increase the bio-load with maybe 7 more small fish (probably all danios).

Thanks so much in advance! I've been reading this forum religiously for almost a week now, learning everything I can from its many knowledgeable members.

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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-05-2007, 10:06 AM Thread Starter
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Oh, and would adding Flourish Trace really make that big of a difference in my setup IYO? Would adding substrate tablets only be sufficient?

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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-05-2007, 02:05 PM
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Well first off.. Bravo! Well done with the research. You have been busy browsing the forums. You are indeed off to a great start.

The cloudy water will clear up on it's own, give it a few more days. It's just a bacteria bloom as your aquarium sorts itself out, harmless.

As for water changes, just go with tap. Unless your tap is remarkably hard and you are wanting to keep soft water species there is no need to deal with the hassle of RO. Danios are really hardy and can live in anything.

Tetra FloraPride, I'm not familiar with this product, but it claims to be "an iron intensive fertilizer with potassium and other minerals, does not contain phosphates". Well it seems simple and if it's working for you and continues to do so then thats fine. Learning very basic EI (estimative index dosing strategy) wouldn't hurt though. In the long run it's going to save you money and knowing the specifics of how your planted tank runs is a real benefit. Asking some of the EI vets about a stripped down EI plan for your tank would be a good idea.

Another option is dosing Seachem Flourish. It will give your plants the traces they need, and it does contain some nitrogen, phosphorous & potassium. I think you could achieve a balance with Flourish by adjusting your photoperiod as needed. As for the Trace, I haven't read anything proving the traces it contains specifically helps plants grow, but many people use it myself included. It's up to you again, surely wont hurt, perhaps help. Not crucial.

Carbon in the filter is debatable. It does absorb some of your ferts, but your plants are burning them up anyhow. On the pro side it does polish the water nicely. It's up to you really, I don't really see a use for it. Your cloudy water will persist for a bit with or without it.

Marsilea minuta is a really nice low light ground cover plant, happens to be one of my favorites. Theres actually a thread that recently started up in the low tech section regarding ground cover plants.

You substrate is fine. Many planted tanks, even high tech are grown very well in gravel/coarse sand. No need to tab it. Dosing the water column will suffice.

Stick with excel for the time being. If algae starts getting stubborn or you notice plants showing signs for CO2 deficiency ( stunted growth, gnarled malformed leaves et cetera) you could do a DIY CO2. It's a moderate pain changing the yeast but it's cheap, and CO2 is key to planted tanks. Shortening the photoperiod, perhaps just one of your lights most of the day, and a midday burst with both, and dosing excel, this should be avoidable.

Well thats all I have, I went the high tech route so I'm limited in the advice I can lend. I'm sure some low techies out there will chime in. Best of luck, but I don't think you'll be needing it! I was thinking you were after a low tech low hassle planted tank.. so hopefully I answered some of your questions without giving any erroneous information regarding your goals.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-06-2007, 02:57 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much LemonLime! Your advice helps out tremendously.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-11-2007, 03:39 AM Thread Starter
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The cloudiness has gone away too.
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