Advice for Starting a Planted Tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 11:35 PM Thread Starter
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Advice for Starting a Planted Tank

I currently have a 10 gal tank with 6 bloodfin tetras and a nerite snail. Unfortunately, current housing limitations prevent me from upgrading my tank size right now, but I want to make the most of what I have. I have several plants already in my tank (some Java ferns and a type of Anubias, I believe), but I want to add a full carpet in my tank. Does anyone have any experience with this? I'm wondering what type of plant would be best; I think I want something more grass-like in appearance, although I also like the look of something like Dwarf Baby Tears. I definitely want something that will be semi-low maintenance (I don't mind trimming it back as necessary) that won't take too much work to persuade to cover the entire bottom of the tank. There's so much out there that I'm overwhelmed and not sure what I should actually go with.

Additionally, what sort of substrate should I use? Currently, I have gravel but I'm not sure if there's something that's better suited for a planted base, such as fertilized substrate, and if so what kind I should go with. How do you clean a planted tank without uprooting the plants? I use vacuum filtration to clean the substrate now and usually stir up the gravel pretty well to suck out all the food and waste. I'm careful not to uproot the few plants I have in the gravel, but for the most part, the base is just gravel as most of my plants are growing on decor. I'm not sure if just vacuuming at the top of the planted base is sufficient to remove waste or not.

Finally, would it be easier for me to just hold off on a planted carpet until I am starting over with a tank? I.e. until I am able to get a new tank or until the current residents of my tank pass away. Not sure if this would help ensure the plants can get properly rooted without being constantly disturbed by the movement of the fish, water changes, etc.

On a completely unrelated note, I am thinking of adding a different species of fish to the tank; is this a good idea? I was thinking of maybe adding 2-3 guppies or a few ghost shrimp, but I want to be sure everyone will have plenty of space!
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-16-2019, 01:02 AM
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To carpet a tank you really need a co2 system of some kind. You can definitely carpet using gravel but you will want smaller size of gravel. About 1-3 mm per piece of gravel would be ideal. Additionally you will want to make sure your light is up to the task, and you are providing some level of fertilizer. A plant specific soil is helpful but not required. It depends on what look you want plus how much you want to spend.

You don't gravel vac the same way a carpet. Basically run the vac just above the top of the plants.

There is no reason you can't do this in your existing tank. You might need to move your fish out for an hour or so while you do the rescape.

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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-16-2019, 12:44 PM
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Dwarf baby tears make a pretty nice carpet as does dwarf hairgrass. Both of these look nice in a smaller tank.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 11:58 AM
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Dwarf Baby Tears is one of the toughest plant to grow. If you are wondering what is a good substrate to use for planted tank, I recommend staying away from DBT. I suggest start with something easy.
Now, if you really want to get a nice lush carpet, you are going to either work hard for it, or go expensive. I say that because gravel is not really that helpful for growing plants. Its possible, but you say you want something low maintenance.
So, here are your options. You can get expensive substrate that are great for plants, like Aquasoil or bunch of other stuff to choose from. If you want a great substrate, but cheap at the same time, then you will have to work for it initially. That is, get dirt, like organic potting mix, then cap it with either gravel, or sand, your choice.
Finally, if you dont want to do either, then you can get root tab. Just stick them in the gravel, that way, they will provide everything plants need. I say all these because you will need that for carpeting plants.
Now, for the plants part. Plant like 4 or 5 Dwarf Sagittaria. It is a very easy going, low maintenance carpeting plant. You plant them, and they will shoot runners. So really, you wont have to do anything. They will spread themselves. And then there is Monte Carlo. Also shoot runners. Another great option is S. Repens. But this one wont shoot runners. It will grow, you will have to cut it, and then replant the cut part. So you will have to spread them.
For Dwarf Sag and S. Repens, you can just buy them and then plant them in your existing tank. But for plants like DBT or Monte Carlo, its best to start Dry Start Method because they are so small that they need time to get hold on the base. And if you plant them in a tank with water or fish in it already, its tough for them and they will float.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 04:35 PM
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If as you say you want to make the most of what you have - a 10 gallon, then you can certainly create a nice lush planted tank with a nice carpet but you will need to spend money in order to acheive it.
You'll want a CO2 system, if you cant afford a full sized setup you can look at a paintball system which can come under $100. Aquasoil or other dirt based substrate will give best results, a sufficiently powerful light which there are many options to choose from, i know chihiros make powerful cheap lights suitable for smaller tanks. This will be the ideal setup to grow DBT.

If on the other hand you don't want to invest in the hardware then you'll need to compromise on plant choice, opting for less demanding species. It all depends on what you want to achieve and setting realistic expectations based on the hardware at your disposal.

To answer the question regarding gravel vacuuming, in an ideal tank where plant growth is abundant and well rooted you don't really have to do deeping substrate cleaning, you can simply vacuum the area above the substrate that collects loose detritus, swirling it around and siphoning it out.

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