5.5 Dorm Nano -- Advice Needed - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-25-2015, 01:51 AM Thread Starter
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5.5 Dorm Nano -- Advice Needed

Just started a couple days ago. I admit, I went into this quickly with only about a week of research and now with the tank running, I realize how much I don't know. I am going for a low-tech, simple setup for my dorm. I am not sure on future stocking, but am thinking cherry shrimp and some rasboras or killifish.

Tank: Standard 5.5 gal
Light: Cheap AGA hood with 13w 6500k cfl
Heater: 25w Hydor Theo - Temp 78F
Filter: Aquaclear 20

Substrate: ~1in Miracle Gro capped with Floramax

Flora:
Anacharis (naja)
Anubia (of some sort)
Micro Sword
Ludwigia (again, of some sort)
"Phoenix Fern" from Petco... Apparently not meant to be submerged?

So the tank is cycling and I have a few questions:

1) Will this hood be sufficient for low-med lighting? I'm considering replacing it with a desk lamp with the same bulb because it seems to be inefficient at light distribution. I do like the clean look of the hood, though, which keeps the landlord off my back.

2) I have a piece of mopani driftwood. I boiled it for about 3 hours, pouring off the water about every 20 minutes. The wood (maybe in addition to the substrate) is still leeching tannins quickly. I have read that Purigen is very effective in controlling this, but I'm thinking I should wait until after my cycle?

3) Should I pull out the fern?

4) My tank is full of what looks like microbubbles. They were there from the moment I set up the tank. In my filter I am running poly-fill, foam, and biomedia. Any way to cut down on this?

5) My current lighting cycle is 7:30-9:30am then 4:00-10:30pm. Will this schedule, with a long siesta, be detrimental to plant health?

6) Any random advice? If this was you tank, what would you do? Scaping, plant ideas, stocking, etc.


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Thank you!
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-25-2015, 02:24 AM
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Hi, and welcome! I'll see what I can do about answering your questions. First and foremost, I think you're off to a good start and you've come to the right place to ask questions. I don't have much information about light, but it sounds like what you have might be enough to do some low light plants. Take that with a grain of salt though. I have anubias and L. Repens in my tank. I love the different varieties, they're hardy as all heck but slow growers which makes them more susceptible to algae problems (at least in my tank). L. Repens is an awesome plant, fast growing for me, but gets tall so you'll probably need to do some frequent trimming in a tank that size.

The tannins you're seeing are normal and boiling it is a good way to get rid of them. I'm surprised a 3 hour boil for a piece that size didn't get rid of most of them. Alternative solutions are running it through your dishwasher. Though they might be unsightly I believe they're mostly harmless. Purigen will get rid of what's in the water, but your driftwood will keep on leeching them. It's also expensive. I might wait until the end of your cycle, and continue doing water changes as normal before putting in purigen. Let the driftwood do its thing or just boil the crap out of it some more. (Running it through a dishwasher also worked for me). If you really don't like it, I've read that Purigen won't disrupt the cycle so feel free to use it.

I haven't heard of Phoenix fern, but if it's truly terrestrial it will die out under water. A lot of plants have different shaped leaves and go through changes when grown under water vs out of the water, but I'm not sure if that's one of them.

A lot of people have two on cycles like this for their tanks and it seems to work fine. I have no experience.

Random advice? Read, read some more, and then ask some questions! Welcome!
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-25-2015, 03:35 AM
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if you don't want an algae outbreak
>>get outlet timer for $5
>>set timer to 4-5 hours
>>allow plants to adjust to new conditions for about 2-3 weeks
>>increase photoperiod by an hour/week after the 2-3 weeks of adjustment
else
algae
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-25-2015, 04:55 PM
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I think rasboras might go better with shrimp
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-25-2015, 08:24 PM
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I started out with a similar tank and I still use it today. First things first. I would not suggest killifish with the shrimp. They would probably eat the shrimp. Check out a smaller fish like some sort or Rasbora or Danio. Very peaceful and you could probably have 4 or 5 without a problem. Check out Celestial Pearl Danios. They are one of my favorite fish. Also, Emerald Rasbora.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtiten View Post
So the tank is cycling and I have a few questions:

1) Will this hood be sufficient for low-med lighting? I'm considering replacing it with a desk lamp with the same bulb because it seems to be inefficient at light distribution. I do like the clean look of the hood, though, which keeps the landlord off my back.This should be sufficient for low light plants. It looks like its not dispersed very well but you can upgrade later if you find that you need more light.

2) I have a piece of mopani driftwood. I boiled it for about 3 hours, pouring off the water about every 20 minutes. The wood (maybe in addition to the substrate) is still leeching tannins quickly. I have read that Purigen is very effective in controlling this, but I'm thinking I should wait until after my cycle? With a dirted tank, this is to be expected. Its possible that the Driftwood is not the culprit of the tannins. I would not worry to much about it. Just do you water changes regularly. The tannins might even help you get into a schedule and remind you to do the water change.

3) Should I pull out the fern?If I were you, I would pull out the fern and try it in the HOB filter. You said you had and aqua clear correct. Those are perfect for planting in.

4) My tank is full of what looks like microbubbles. They were there from the moment I set up the tank. In my filter I am running poly-fill, foam, and biomedia. Any way to cut down on this?This is normal although they normally clear after a day or so with the filter running. Make sure the filter is not pulling in any air. You can run a fish net or even your finger along the glass and they will rise to the top.

5) My current lighting cycle is 7:30-9:30am then 4:00-10:30pm. Will this schedule, with a long siesta, be detrimental to plant health?This is similar to the cycle on most of my tanks, but it varies depending on light. Keep an eye out for algae and if you see some, take an hour off the light cycle.

6) Any random advice? If this was you tank, what would you do? Scaping, plant ideas, stocking, etc. I think your off to a good start.Just take it slow, and with the tank being dirted, make sure you wait a good 4 - 6 weeks to make sure its cycled before adding fish. Dirt can gas a tank pretty easy. If you have tongs or something similar(chopsticks) just poke the substrate to let any air pocket that are forming out. If one forms and pops after you add fish it could be bad.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-26-2015, 01:25 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the helpful replies.

I have my lighting set for a total of 5 hours right now to avoid algae. I've been poking the substrate to release gas buildup.

Good advice on fish. I will look into rasboras and danios. I remember harlequin rasboras at my LFS were striking, but not sure if they would grow too large?

Here's a slightly better picture of the tank. My water is distinctly tea-colored, but I'll worry about that later. Maybe this weekend I can find time to boil/dishwash my wood some more.



I'm seeing growth in both the ancharis and ludwigia. I know anubias are slow growers and I assume the same for the micro sword. Here's to hoping they survive. And good advice to put the fern in the HOB--I'll try that out.

Here is a picture of the hood for reference. You can see the cfl bulb is behind a frosted protector.




I still can't figure out the microbubble issue. It could very well just be tiny particles that appear white in the light that won't settle/my filter isn't pulling out. The intake tube on my filter doesn't have any air, so I'm lost on this one.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-26-2015, 03:41 AM
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Check out espei/lambchop rasboras, mosquito rasboras (boraras brigittae), dwarf rasbora (b. maculatus), or celestial pearl danios.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-27-2015, 02:26 AM Thread Starter
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I went by the LFS today and they're selling a used Finnex Fugeray 18" for about $25. Would this light be overkill for my tank? I want to stay away from CO2 and heavy dosing in the future.

I'm also open to simply putting a cfl in a better reflector (desk lamp) or DIY led setup. Thoughts?
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-06-2015, 05:54 PM Thread Starter
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I think I'm set on either celestial pearl danios or chili rasboras. I'll wait and see what my lfs carries first.

I removed the frosted lens that covered the bulb and that alone has brightened up the tank. Tannins continue to leech heavily, but I'll wait to run Purigen until later. For now water changes keep it presentable.

I added anubias nana and some glosso. I understand that my tank probably won't provide what the glosso needs to thrive, but it was only a few dollars at the LFS so I thought I might as well try. The glosso is sending up branching leaves but the anubias on the other hand is dying. Almost all of the leaves seem to be browning and withering. My larger anubia has been slowly crinkling/curling since over the past week. Should I just assume this is all typical adjustment to a new tank?

Last edited by jtiten; 03-06-2015 at 05:55 PM. Reason: -
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-06-2015, 08:47 PM
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If they were recently added they could be adapting to your water parameters. Plants create their leaves based on the water parameters in which they live. If the water parameters are changed (like when changing the plant to a different tank) a lot of the times the old leaves might melt/decompose because they are not working at their maximum potential and are therefore discarded by the plant and new leaves that are better adapted emerge. That might be the issue... I would give it more time and see what happens.


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