Help: complete newcomer to planted tanks - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-19-2007, 07:18 AM Thread Starter
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Help: complete newcomer to planted tanks

Hello everyone!

I've been a goldfish keeper for several years and had a saltwater nano-reef for about a year (which unfortunately crashed, probably due to 95+ degree F [35 degrees C] temperature boiling the sensitive corals). For my next adventure, I'm interested in starting a nano planted tank.

However, I know next to nothing about keeping aquatic plants. Naturally, I have several questions, which I hope the experienced members of this forum can answer...

My goal is to start with a planted "low tech" nano tank containing about 1 gallon of water. I'd like to start with plants only and grow a lush and colorful aquatic garden, then later think about adding some small fish or invertebrates. Finally with this experience I'd like to see if I can spice up my plain goldfish tank with plants.

Regarding a low-tech plants-only 1 gallon nano tank, what do I need? I can think of:

Lighting: I have a 9 watt normal-output fluorescent lamp. How many hours per day?

Temperature: Ambient temperature swings are large in my apartment - now in the summertime, daytime can get up to 95 degrees F (35 degrees C) water temperature. In the evenings it's around 86 degrees F (30 degrees C). Can typical aquatic plants survive such high temperatures and temperature swings? In the winter I expect ambient and water temperatures to be much cooler, though I do have an aquarium heater.

Filtration: None needed?

Water circulation: None needed? Otherwise, would an airstone suffice?

Water oxygenation: None needed?

CO2 injection: None needed? Otherwise, a DIY CO2 reactor (yeast) in a half-liter coke bottle.

Nutrients: Without fish supplying waste, can the plants flourish? Or, do I need to add fertilizer and/or CO2?

Water changes: I've heard that low-tech nano-setups can go months without water changes. is this true?

Substrate: I have crushed coral from my former reef, but I guess that would not be suitable for freshwater plants? Can I use ordinary garden soil? Or, how about taking a scoop of mud from a local lake or river? Or, do I have to buy some special substrate?

Plants: What plants could grow well in a nano of this size? I'm interested in vibrant green and red colors with high plant density for a "lush" aquatic garden appearance.

My only previous experience with aquatic plants was to buy some long, thin plants with bushy leaves and no apparent roots. The shopkeeper told me those plants were easy to keep. I tossed them into my goldfish tank and a few days later they had turned yellow and died. I hope to do better next time...

Thanks for any advice; as you can see, I'm quite new to this "planted tank" thing!
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-20-2007, 04:41 PM
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First, low tech nanos are often harder than high techs.
filtration is a must for fishand inverts, unless you do waterchanges often.

also, evaporation is a big problem in nanos, so waterchanges and topoffs help that.

There are few low tech plants that are small enough to keep in a nano, one i can think of is Anubias nana petite.

Crushed coral will not work as it willr aise PH to undesirable levels. Garden soil and mud are more of a pain than you'll want to deal with.

I suggest using one of the premade aquatic plant subsrates, such as Flourite(red,black, normal, onyx sand, whichever one you like), or eco complete for the planted aquarium.

if you want to order it on the internet, ADA's aquasoil is a great substrate.

You're gonna have a hard time getting a lush look in a small, low light tank, as most of the reds need bright light, good fertilization and co2, and get rather large for your tank.

Co2 is not needed in a low tech tank, but in a high tech nano, flourish Excel is a great easy CO2 supplement. either that or a 2 liter bottle, anything less needs to be replaced too often.
Good luck.

Steve irwin- a father, a hero, a memory now. -We'll miss you mate
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-21-2007, 07:00 PM
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Hey, I'm kinda new to planted tanks, too. You could try the El Natural approach described at It looks like the tanks set up there are very low maintenance and low tech. Or you could try the low-tech part of this forum.

Hopefully it'll give you some ideas?

Good luck!
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-22-2007, 02:29 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies.

The El Natural approach sounds very interesting because I'm interested in a "simple" elegant nano look (instead of filters, tubing, pumps, CO2 diffusers, overflow, heaters, etc. cluttering up my tank and its surroundings).

Furthermore after some more reading on this forum I found out about Wabi Kusa, which sounds really elegant and minimalistic, though I do worry a bit about water change frequency in an unfiltered Wabi Kusa (but I'm starting plants-only, so I can worry about water changes/filtration later).

I'll post my questions about Wabi Kusa in another thread...
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