Newbie question getting started - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 03-24-2018, 04:39 PM Thread Starter
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Newbie question getting started

Looking for alittle help if somebody can push me in the right direction.
I just got put on a new schedule for work well I’ll be on/off for two months at a time. I’m home now and want to get this 55gal take I have setup for my kids. What would be a good quick start up where I can have everything moderately going before I leave. Goal for the tank is to be low tech with some beginner plants, shrimp and some fish. Mostly this will be my kids tank.
Any help would be much appreciated. This is my first freshwater tank but have had saltwater tanks so I’m really new to the start up procedures for a planted tank.

Thank you
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 03-24-2018, 06:37 PM
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Nothing really good comes out of a "quick" start up but dead fish and algae blooms. I'd focus on getting the tank cycled first and foremost. It's best to get as many plants in there as possible to speed this process. Fishless cycling is the best way to start. You can search it to learn more but here's the basic idea: You can use fish food pellets or pure "janitor grade" ammonia for this. Try to keep ammonia levels around 2 ppm for the first couple weeks. Then start testing for nitrites, then finally nitrates. This is the process in how nitrifying bacteria works. First order bacteria converts ammonia to nitrites and the second order bacteria will convert the nitrites into nitrates. Once you get 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite readings and at least some level of nitrates, your cycle will be finished. You'll need to get a API freshwater master kit to monitor all of this.

I'd recommend the typical low light beginner plants such as anubias, java ferns, crypts, swords and maybe some mosses to get you started. Maybe toss in a nice chunk of driftwood and some pH neutral stones for aesthetics too. You can (and should) do this while tank is cycling. Then after the cycling, you can decide what fish to stock.
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 03-25-2018, 01:54 PM
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Yes unfortunately the cycling will take it's time. I also have done fishless with pure ammonia. Getting a plant from a tank at the store is a good way to get the bacteria in there perhaps quicker but it still will take time for them to get established in the filter. The only shortcut would be using media from another tank. Be sure to follow a schedule with the ammonia to keep the bacteria fed.

I have had great luck with anubias, not so much with java fern/moss for some reason. My crypts are holding on but not doing all that much. Most of my plants I got on sale from petco, those "gel tubes" (which you wouldn't get for bacteria purposes, you want something that has been in a tank).

I'd keep the stocking light considering you will be away for periods of time. Also, as much as a pain as it is, you may want to set up a hospital/quarantine tank....I added some tetras a couple weeks back and now my tank has ich....I should have learned this lesson by now.

As far as shrimp, I have had success with amanos, still trying to get a small shrimp tank established....
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