I got a new tank (20 Gallon); new to the hobby. Was going to have fish, but work rules have hit me and Iím not allowed, so just plants it is! Attached (should) be a picture of the few plants Iíve gotten: Dwarf Sagittaria (behind the rocks you canít see well yet); Moss Balls; Water Sprite; Banana plant; and another one which I forgot what it said it was thatís the green leaves in the back right.
The tank is in my corner office which has windows, but where I have it isnít exposed to any direct sunlight and the temperature is stable at 68-72 throughout the year, even during offhours/weekends. Have a few questions if you could help:
Since thereís no fish, I assume Iíll need fertilizer/plant food. Any suggestions on which/what to use and how often to use it? Can I get some ECO substrate stuff to spread out over the black sand I currently have? Currently I just have a Flourish Advance which I got with the plants at the store.
How often do I need to do water changes? I got a bottle of Seachem Prime concentrated conditioner I assume I would have to use on new water going in?
Any other plants youíd recommend? Maybe some moss or something over the large middle rock? Or some floating plants? Only went to 1 local fish store and they didnít have anything floaty or mossy. Thereís a few others in town I can look at, but is it even worth considering trying to find online?
Any recommendations as to where?
Iíve got a timer I can use for the light. 12 hours good? 8 hours? Something else? Any change winter/summer?
Iím slightly concerned about Algae. Since I canít have live animals I wonít have shrimp/snails to clean up. Any suggestions? I might get some shrimp and/or snails and see if no one ďcomplainsĒ or finds them to be a concern; any suggestions if I go that route?
Finally, what are some warning signs for the plants having trouble?
Flourish advance is decent, but also lacking many nutrients plants need. Look into an all in one for ease... Many on this forum use Thrive by nilcog, they also have another 2 bottle product where one bottle is macro nutrients and one is micro. Both are good products. I don't think I'd worry about different substrate, lots of people use black sand with success.
For plants, one of the best places to buy is on the buy/sell section of this forum. You'll probably be able to find anything you want. I've never really had to look anywhere else, and my local fish store doesn't have nearly the quality or selection.
You'll need to measure your nitrates and just monitor your tank for other stuff like excessive algae... That will clue you in as to how often you need to change your water. I currently do mine about every 10 days or so. If you don't have any livestock, the nitrates, TDS, GH, KH just aren't as big of an issue. If you get shrimp though, those things need to be monitored closely.
About your light... Since you don't have any livestock, and it doesn't sound like you're gonna use injected CO2... You're gonna have to really reduce your photoperiod. 5 hours is probably a good place to start. Algae will almost certainly be a big issue, at least at first. A good way to try and control it is through reduction of your photoperiod. Another good way to control it is to have your tank densely planted and thriving, essentially not leaving any excess nutrients for the algae to use. Unfortunately this is not the easiest task for a beginner, esp when not using CO2. So I suggest at least using seachem excel which is a liquid carbon supplement that can't really take the place of injected CO2 but can help.
If you can add snails and shrimp, they'll help with algae a lot. Just make sure your tank is fully cycled first, and make sure your water parameters are stable.
Lastly, you'll know when your plants are struggling. They'll be very slow to grow, they'll be pale or yellow, leaves will die off, etc. This is normal at first, but if they don't rebound within a week or two then there is probably something wrong with either fert, light, CO2 or water quality.
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