New to nano tanks--questions - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-22-2015, 05:43 AM Thread Starter
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New to nano tanks--questions

Hello, I've recently been looking into creating a nano tank. I'm going for a low-tech setup, probably five gallons. I've got a ten gallon tank that I could use but I'd rather start off with something small. This will be my first time attempting a planted tank and I just have a few questions. (I apologize for the length in advance, but I've got a lot of questions.)

1.) Is five gallons large enough for any type of fish? I figure maybe some guppies or tetras. If I do stock the tank with fish, it will be no more than two. However, I would like to add one or two shrimp to the tank, mostly for cleaning purposes. I considered snails but I've actually read that they create a decent amount of waste, not sure how true this is.

2.) Is a filtration system absolutely necessary for a nano tank? I know the general consensus is that aquarium's require a filter, but as I stated before I plan on this being a planted tank and also stocking it with some shrimp that would hopefully help with any algae/debris. I also intend on sticking some sort of pump in the tank to supply the water with at least a little bit of movement. I plan on stocking the tank pretty heavily with plants so I was thinking the plants could act as a biological filter. If a filter is necessary, I have a 30 gal HOB I could use, my only concern with this is that it might be too strong for a five gal tank?

3.) What's the ideal substrate? I've read various things; fluorite, aquasoil, soil capped with gravel. I considered aquasoil but I'm going for a low-tech setup and I read that aquasoil may pose a problem in this kind of tank due to ammonia spikes. Basically, what would be the ideal substrate for this kind of setup?

4.) Is a standard CFL bulb okay for this setup? I'd like to be as economical as possible when it comes to my lighting, and I've read that CFL bulbs are the way to go. However, I've also read that they can be somewhat inefficient. Should I go with a standard fluorescent setup, T5s, or will CFLs be fine? Like I said, I'm really not trying to break the bank with lighting and I'd like to keep it to a maximum of $25.00. (at least for now on such a small tank)

5.) Lastly, what kind of plants should I use in this tank? I'm looking for plants that can do well in low lighting. I've read that java fern, crypts, dwarf sagittaria, pearl weed and various mosses all can do well. I would also like to start a carpet of dwarf hairgrass or java moss, if possible.

Okay, I apologize for this insanely long post, and any responses are appreciated. Like I said, I'm new to nano tanks and aquariums in general, but I'm trying to gather as much information as possible. Are there any important questions I didn't ask that I should be asking?
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-22-2015, 08:04 AM
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Hello dhill and welcome to TPT! Believe it or, not - starting with a 10g is better than a smaller volume tank!! In larger volumes if water the toxins that plants break down into nutrients are more easily diluted giving plants a chance to use them before algae.

1) A larger volume tank will allow you to have more stocking of either fish or, shrimp. And we'll provide more stable conditions for your livestock at the same time.

2)YES, filtration is necessary! I think what you are actually asking is do you need a filter. In short, yes, and you CAN use the 30g HOB in a 10g no problem!!

3) Substrate is up to you. What you like to use, what you like to look at. If you are wanting to do substrate on a budget use play sand or, pool filter sand - the kind you get from Wal-Mart in a 20lb bag for $6. Then add root tabs to the substrate for plants like swords and cryptocorynes(you will add root tabs to all type of substrates). You can also search the substrate forum for more info on substrate types.

4) YES, a single 15w t8 will sufficiently light a 10g growing low light plants like cryptocoryne, mosses, anubias and, ferns. You could look into using spiral CFLs and clamp lamps for a much more efficient means of lighting that will allow you to grow more interesting plants than the ones you and I have mentioned. You can get a lamp and bulbs just about anywhere for around $15 to sufficiently light a 10g Then there is also LED lighting. A little too a lot more expensive upfront but in the long run a much more economical route for lighting. Check out the lighting forum for more info on lighting.

5) Plants are up to you based on what you are providing them in a given set-up. All plants need water, light, nutrients, and CO2. For a cheap first time set up you have several options. Again, basically what you and our have mentioned. And, if you do upgrade your lighting a bit you can add more options to that list! Check out this list of plants for low light options:

Bump: I apologize I kind of skimmed over the very end of your post.
Regarding things to ask about and know/understand BEFORE you jump in...
Read about:
-water chemistry/parameters; pH, Gh, Kh, and TDS(total dissolved solids)
-the Nitrogen Cycle in aquariums, cycling an aquarium
-nutrients for aquatic plants - both macro nutrients and micro nutrients

It may seem like a lot to take in but if you under stand these three things you will be leaps and bounds ahead of where many of us started and avoid many of the mistakes beginners make. The number one thing to remember is be patient she have fun with it! And, always feel free to ask questions!

Stock lightly and carry a big filter. - I don't have aquariums. I have ecosystems in a glass box. - Hygrophilaholic and hoarder of Anubias.
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-22-2015, 05:25 PM
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1. You can keep some nano fish species in a 5g, but most pet stores do not sell these.. the most common fish you can place in a 5g is a betta splendid (crowntail, veiltail, halfmoon, plakat, elephant ear, etc etc), it is a tropical fish and needs a heater, its also much happier and healthier with a filter (with weak flow or a sponge filter). Do not buy a giant or king betta and put it in a 5g tank, they need a 10g or larger as they are big bettas with short fins that need a lot of swim room.
Contact msjinkzd (forum member name and website name) to ask about nano fish species for a 5g. She sells a lot of them and is very helpful. Be specific about pH, temp, filtration, and plant density/speed of growth (lightly planted with slow growers for example) of the tank you want to put the fish in so she can narrow the list of possibilities to fish that can live in that environment.
Bettas and shrimp are an iffy combination, some bettas will eat the dwarf species (Cherry), and even killing the larger ones (amano and ghost). Any fish that can open its mouth wide enough will eat dwarf shrimp, if it can't eat the adults it will eat the babies (shrimplets). I would not recommend shrimp for a newly set up tank, they need a filtered, cycled and well ages (2-4 months after cycled and planted before adding) tank to ensure the growth of microfauna that they forage for constantly. If you are an expert at keeping shrimp and nano tanks shrimp can be added sooner (especially if transitioning moss/other plants from a tank you have already aged and cycled). But its not recommended for someone new.

2. If you're not proficient in keeping aquatic plants then yes filter is a strongly recommended addition. If you are good with plants look into the Walstad method, it uses soil based tanks and large fast growing plant mass to absorb ammonia. Do not set up a sparingly planted tank with slow growers and no filter and expect ammonia generated by waste/leftover food/plant decomp to be absorbed to make readings 0ppm. If you want a filter-less tank a larger tank is better to dilute ammonia more (under stock fish and over stock plant).

3. No experience with enriched substrates like aquasoil, ada maazonia, and the like nor have i tried fluorite. I use either Black Diamond "sand" (tractor supply co 20/40 or -60 grit-$8 for a 50 lb bag) dosed with liquid Seachem ferts, or with osmocote+ root tabs placed deep in the sand (1 per every 3" square area with root feeders like crypts, vals, swords, bulb plants.. NOT or under hardscape/decor-add new tab once every 6-9 months). OR I sue Miraclegro Organic Potting Mix (MGOPM) capped with black diamond (Walstad method) with no other ferts used (except maybe Seachem Excel). The ideal substrate depends on what plants you intend to use. I personally only think the enriched substrate like auqasoil are good for short rooted growers like dwarf baby tears(hc). If you want to plant and add fish immediately I would not use soil or enriched substrates as they can leech ammonia for a while (2-6+ weeks depending on amount used and plant mass/speed of growth).

4. Not every light works for plants, if you want to use a cfl try to get a 9-13 watt 6500k (kelvin) ideally. But anything from 6200-6700k works well. Use a lamp with a reflector. I think a t5 might be a bit expensive for a short tank, would recommend for 3'-4'+ long tanks. If you want cheap lighting: home depot 4 pack 6500k 13 watt cfl[click], clamp on lamp reflector[click] less than $15. 1 lamp should work of the tank. You can clamp to a shelf above the tank or get some cheap chain to hang it.-I did this with my 7g, 6g, and 20g long.

5. Anubias, anacharis, hornwort, and riccia also work in low light tanks. Anubias and ferns are rhizome based plants, the rhizome if the horizontal part that both roots and leaves grow from DO NOT BURY THE RHIZOME in the substrate, ever! It will kill the plant. Instead die anubias/fern to decor/wood/rock or a lead free plant weight (or even glass bead).

Due to photobuckets new bs cost for use of images on forums I have deleted all photobucket accounts. I apologize if you enjoyed or found my photos helpful.

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