My "Am I doing this right?" tank-5 gal - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-07-2008, 05:05 AM Thread Starter
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My "Am I doing this right?" tank-5 gal

*WARNING! If you are the type who are sensitive to crappy pics I advise you to exit this thread now. Although I know what a camera is and how to hold one that is the extent of my photographic expertise. You have been warned!*

After being asked by a family member to set up an aquarium for her I got bitten by the bug. So I decided to give it a go. I had a 5 gallon purple minibow that I had laying around and an old heater and some other junk from when it was a QT tank. I first decided to do away with the purple with some krylon black spaypaint for the outer hood, trim, and back of the tank. I painted the inside white for better light reflection.
Cellphone pic


I also gutted the inside of the hood to expose the hidden socket so that I could add two bulbs. Once I was done with that it was time to hardscape. I went to the orange box store and picked up some high desert playsand(sugarfine) and some schultz aquasoil. After that I went rock hunting. For those who collect their own, do you realize how nutty you must look scouring the ground for the "right" rocks? Smiling to yourself when you've found one and giddily tossing it in your hunting bag. I didn't until I was spotted doing just that......but I digress. After taking all that and mixing them up this is what I got.
Cell pic #2


After filling it with water I should've been happy. I wasn't. It was a disaster! The sand clouded up the tank if you looked at it too hard it would get sucked into the filter and start to sound like a cement mixer. The SAS was a lot lighter than it seemed and blinking would make it jump across the slate border to the sand. Couldn't pay them to stay apart. In the end it was a big mushy mess!
OK time for a redo! I picked up some eco-complete, grabbed my bag'o'treasure and went to work again. After all that and a couple of visits to the S&S here I ended up with this:
Camera pic, I know it's hard to tell the difference but I warned you!
Front


Right side

Left

So hopefully this design will work out.
Tank: 5 gal minibow
Lighting: 2 14w daylight screw-in pc bulbs
Filter: aquaclear mini
Substrate: eco-complete
Plants: anubias nana & nana petite, amazon sword, mini philippine java fern, blyxa, dwarf hairgrass, lutea, mixed moss, and something else(haven't got a clue, told ya I'm new to this)
Inhabitants: none, but I set it up for some cherry shrimp, 2 ottos, and a betta.
For all those who read my ranting, I thank you. For those who looked at the pics I'm sorry.
But any advise or comments you may have for a rookie are welcome.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-07-2008, 02:51 PM
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Looks like a good start. And you will not get any "aquascaping" comments from me. I am more into growing plants and algae prevention than aquascaping. I have a similiar tank with only one bulb socket in the canopy instead of 2. Lol, don't know if I will ever set it up, given lack of space.

Anyway, the only thing that I would suggest is: (1) more heavily plant your tank to prevent algae from getting a foothold. Algae can be a nigtmare to get rid of once you get it so best to try and prevent or minimize it. Look at some floating plants, not too many as you don't want to block out too much light. Fast growing stem plants(rotala) are good and you can always thin them and trim them as your tank matures. (2) look at replacing the 2 14 daylight bulbs with 2 10 watt or lower 6500K ones. The reason is that most of the plants you identify with the possible exception of dwarf hairgrass will not need the amount of light you identify and if anything you could be opening a doorway to algae. If you don't want to change them, consider starting at 6 hours only to prevent algae, then I would place on timers with a split photo period, 4 hours, one to two hours off, and 4 hours on again. Just to give you an idea this is a 5 gallon hex tank that I set up using only 14 watt 6500K pC bulb in the canopy. It is continuing to do well. No algae, no fish or shrim deaths. It has an otocat, recently added assasin snail, some unwelcomed snails, and two Amano Shrimp.

When I first set up.


The tank now but it has been majorly trimmed since that picture.




(3) Consider doing Seachem Excel for Carbon as plants also need this, it helps prevent algae and plants do better with it IME(just don't go crazy as too much is bad). You could set up DIY C02. It is cheaper than Seachem Excel but in my experience did not prove to be better. And there is the hassle of getting a good diffuser and changing the yeast and sugar 2-3 weeks just to keep c02 production stable so co2 levels in the tank do not fluctuate.

As far as you inhabitants: Otos are great. You will likely end up with some diatom algae. Just about all new setups, planted and unplanted, but the otos will clean it up in a day or two. Bettas have differing personalities. There is no guarantee that he will get along with the cherry shrimp and otos. He may pick on them and harass them and could try and eat the cherry shrimp, so keep your eyes out. You may end up returning the Betta. Also, and again in my experience, Amano Shrimp tend to be hardier and better algae eaters than Cherry Shrimp so you may want to consider Amano Shrimp. lol, I have about 5 Amano Shrimp in a 10 gallon where nothing else will survive and they are doing excellent and have tripled in size. Go figure.

Good luck and hope that helps whatever you decide.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-08-2008, 03:29 AM Thread Starter
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An extreme thank you for taking the time to post here Homer. Everthing that you suggested will be made apart of my plans for this setup. I do have more plants that I could add to this tank. I was wondering if I over did it with the lighting, just wanted to be sure that I was able to accomodate any plant that I may want to add in the future. Not opposed to removing a bulb or swapping down in wattage.
Your tank is beautiful. Everthing looks so lush and healthy, which is exactly what I'm looking for with my plants. I've been keeping fish for about 7 years but live plants are a whole new world to me. The water is coming from an RO/DI unit so I was hoping that would cut down on the nusiance algae. But is this the best for plants? I thought that I read somewhere that it might be devoid of micro-nutrients that the plants utilize.
I actually have picked up some excel and was wondering if I should start dosing immediately or give the plants a few days to settle in. The tank is only 2 days old at this point.
I know that otos cool with shrimp and was planning to give them about a month or so before I added the betta hoping that any territorial behavior would be lessend. But if the betta doesn't behave I have a 6.6 gal that I'm also converting to freshwater that would be his home and I'll keep the 5 shrimp only.
Thanks again for your advice, and feel free to give more. Like the title of the post says I really am wondering if I'm going about things the right way.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-08-2008, 04:33 AM
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Thumbs up

Thanks for the compliment and you are most welcome. My goal in setting up my tank was to always try and create a better home for my fish/shrimp. Truth be told, I am not much of an aquascaper(lol, sadly all my tanks reflect that), but as long as I have healthy algae free plant growth(short term and long term) I am happy.

Everything I suggested I learned helped me achieve my goal of having healthy algae free tanks. As you already planned for this, you thought things out well and that is a really good thing. When I first started, I did not, and I paid for it by having to start over and in other cases clean up huge messes.

As for using Seachem Excel, you cannot go wrong using it right away and I would suggest it to give your plants a head start. Some people have posted killing fish and causing some plants by overdosing on Excel in their attempts to kill off algae. I use it as a algae preventative not algae killer. On that 5 gallon hex tank, I am able to dose 1 ml of excel without any ill effects to plants, amano or otocat. When I started the tank I was able to dose 1.5 ml daily without any problems. Just to be safe I tapered off to 1 ml.

I have heard the same thing about using DI/RO water. It is allegedly devoid of micronutrients and I have even heard that it can radically drop PH. Some folks who use DI/RO water get around this by using Seachem Equilibrium which is supposed to replenish those micronutients/trace elements.
http://www.seachem.com/Products/prod...uilibrium.html

I am not entirely convinced that algae is due to excess nutrients. There are only two types of algae that are alleged to caused by excess nutrients and these include: hair algae and string algae. I even question that. Lack of nitrates are one contributing factor(though not only one) to the development of Blue Green Algae. I was lucky that I was able to kill this stuff with Erythromycin treatment, but I have read horror stories of others who were unable to kill it even with Erythromycin treatment and blackouts.

I would be more inclined to believe that algae breakouts could be caused by excess light, lack of c02 where you have intense light(duration and length) without sufficient c02 and ferts, very lightly planted tanks, and a build up of excess organics from decaying matter(exccess fish food from overfeeding, dead fish or too much decaying plant matter) which triggers ammonia spikes which allegedly ignite algae spores and hence algae. A heavily planted tank will pretty much prevent a residual build up of excess nutrients in the water and help keep ammonia spikes in check. Ammonia may not be good if you want to prevent algae, but with a heavily planted tank, any ammonia spikes will be kept in check. I like the low tech approach as I find it less trouble(keeping the balance) and about the only trouble free way to have a 99% algae free tank. I have come to the conclusion that some algae may be unavoidable, but I don't mind so much now as long as it does not get out of hand. It serves as a food source for my Amano Shrimp, Bristlenose Pleco and Siamese Algae Eater.

You have a good plan with the Betta. When I finally get around to setting up the 5 gallon Bow tank that I have(similar to yours), I was going to make it home to a Betta and dwarf african frog(s)/Amano shrimp. To avoid any possible aggression from the Betta, I was going to use a tank divider(needlepoint mat) and turn it into a java moss wall so it would not look like too much of an eyesore. The frog(s)/shrimp would have its own quarters as would the betta. That way the frog(s) will not be outcompeted by the Betta for food and attack or be attacked by the Betta. The only issue with the divider is that it could create a dead spot for the lighting and the moss wall may end up blocking out too much light at one end of the tank. Hopefully, not too much off an issue as I planned to supplement with room lighting and mostly plant crypts(green and red), anubias nana, java ferns and some low light stem plants like sunset hygro (a really beautiful stem plant but one that is hard to come by). Possibly some duckweed to help quickly cycle the tank(carefully thinning it out to prevent it from choking the surface and blocking out too much light).

Also check out this thread. This is an excellent method to quickly start a tank and prevent algae issues.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/ge...lgae-free.html
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-08-2008, 05:01 AM
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Homer gives great advice. I would definitely add more plants. Stem plants grow fast and will help to out compete any algae. Your eco complete will probably raise your mineral content of your water. At least that is the reputation it has. RO water doesn't have minerals. People use RO water to bring their mineral content down. You might want to test for a while. Some plants really can't take hard water, others do fine with it. The plant finder has info about each plant. You could check there.

Great start. I'm impressed with your DIY lighting!

Just keeping on keeping on....


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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-08-2008, 12:22 PM
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Homer gives great advice...
Thanks for the compliment Tex Gal

And Leviathan_XE, you cannot go wrong with what Tex Gal tells you. She really knows her stuff and the proof is her tanks. She has tanks to die for. She puts my tanks to shame and I drool evertime I see her tanks I am so jealous. I forgot to mention Leviathan_XE, you can pretty much expect the following algae when you set up and as the tank matures, it should subside.
Diatom algae: As mentioned a couple of otocats or even one will take care of it in a hurry.
Green Dust Algae: Let it go through its life cycle. Your tank will look like hell for a month or two but this is an algae that needs to run its lifecycle. If you try and scrape it, it will keep coming back and I would not recommend scraping with a plastic tank or your tank will get totally scratched up.
Green Spot Algae: Don't be surprised to see this on plant leaves closest to the light and you may get some on plastic(if your light is excessive or you get too much light from another source hitting a particular part of your tank) which you don't want to scrape off if your tank is plastic. There are many theories and proposed solutions as to why it occurs and what to do to get rid of it. The only thing that I found worked, to at least keep it off the plastic, is a reduced photoperiod. For me 8 hours a day keeps it off my tank sides. That is why I won't go over 8 hours. Some of my tanks, like the one you have are plastic so I cannot scrape it off without scratching up the plastic.
Blue green algae in my experience is one of those 50% chance algaes. Erythromycin treatment and or blackouts should get rid off it but not guaranteed.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-08-2008, 03:38 PM
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Homer - you are too nice! Thank you very much! I blush!

Just keeping on keeping on....


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