Please Help! New and confused... - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 03:54 AM Thread Starter
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Please Help! New and confused...

Hi my name is Sam and I'm not new to fish keeping but very new to planted tanks. Ive had tanks all my life but just got rid of all my cichlids that I had in my 75gal with a custom 3d background because I recently had a baby and I just don't have the time or $ to properly care for it (my diy filter took a crap on me and I can't afford a canister for it or a proper stand). The same day I met with someone from my FB fish group to give him my oscar and jaguar cichlid I stopped at petco to grab filter cartridges for my friends tank and ended up coming home with a baby double tail betta. I've got him(well hopefully he's a boy) set up in a 2gal jar and would really like to get some live plants in their for him too but I'm so very confused about how to go about it. There's so many substrates out there that I have no clue which to choose. I'm on a very tight budget so maybe you guys could give me some good recommendations. Also my friend just set up a beautiful 15g tall tank for her daughters fair winning goldfish and she really wants some live plants but I'm not sure how to go about adding substrate and plants to a tank that's already set up and cycling (she's new to fish so it's more or less my tank but at her house lol). Any helpful recommendations and tips you guys could send my way would be greatly appreciated! TIA!
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 06:07 AM
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Well if cheap is the main thing you might want to get either Safe-T-Sorb floor dry
or Black diamond sand either of which can be found at Tractor Supply.
Either will require some nutrients to be added to the tank but since both are low volume
they won't use anything like large amounts of those. Petsmountain has good prices on those ferts(store bought liquids) which you likely will also need a Pipette in one or three ml which are cheap on e-bay. I would get the 1 ml type which you may need to look harder for as the three ml type are common. I use the 1 ml type in both my 10g tanks. And a 2g jar will only need a couple of drops of those ferts.
This is if you have plants. Actually like floating Hortwort can be grown without ferts
in either tank or jar. Fish food/waste does supply some nutrients and if there are few plants it may be enough. BTW Goldfish will usually eat lots of the types of common aquarium plants and a 15g tank will eventually become too small for it

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 12:22 PM
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Well, if you're looking to go really cheap and you're not too concerned about the look of the plant, there's always simply just java fern. It's known as a beginner's plant because its pretty hard to kill. You just throw it into the tank and it sort of grows. Nothing necessary. Just don't bury that green root (rhizome) into the gravel. Goldfish usually ignore it and they fertilize it with their massive amounts of waste. It even grew in a bucket for me for a long while. Now "how" it grows, is dependent on what you do as your budget increases. Also, if you get some super healthy co2 enriched java fern from your supplier and plop it into your plain no fertilizer, no co2 tank, there'll be a lot of leaf drop and look like it's massively dying, but as long as that rhizome is healthy, it'll regenerate. It might take a long while because you're now somewhat starving it, but it'll come around.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 01:43 PM Thread Starter
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Cheap and availability are two of the main things I def need. After reading reading and more reading I'm thinking I might try and find some MGOPM. I have lots and lots of gravel from my 75g that has lots of good bacteria in it so I was thinking of capping it with that. I see everyone usually does cap it with sand though. Will it work or should I just go get some sand? Am I correct in assuming black diamond blasting sand is the kind made for sand blasting? The hubby and father in law are motor heads and might actually have some in the garage but I don't think it's that brand because it isn't black. I feel like if I use MGOPM and gravel or sand to cap I should mix in something that's a good CEC to help hold some of those nutrients. Yesterday I had picked up an aquatic combo from petco and some leaf zone. I'm taking the plants back today having found out that they really aren't aquatic plants and was wondering if I should return the leaf zone as well and see what other ferts they have instead. Is there a decent fertilizer found at either petco pet smart or walmart?

As for the 15g tank we highly doubt the golds will survive long seeing as they are fair winnings. She wants to do a small community tank. Her budget isn't as tight as mine so I'm not really sure what shed like to do with hers. I know she loves the look of her gravel so maybe do the same thing I'm gonna try for the 2g jar. What are your guys thoughts on this.

Bump: Sidenote I also already have lots of 1 mL medicine syringes from CVS. And I noticed looking at pics of everyone's tanks that nobody seems to have air pumps running. Is there a reason for that?
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 03:25 PM
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There are many ways to go on this trip. Some insist on planting the whole tank to avoid algae. But then do we really know any novice (or expert) who totally avoids algae?
I go for the simple route in your case and don't sweat the algae question!!
With that in mind and the budget, I would choose a spot in the yard where there is unlikely to be any pesticides, etc. and fill a few cups with DIRT. This may sound radical but dirt is about as cheap as you can get and it is also what most plants grow in so it has lots of things going for it. Some even use it for the whole tank but that gets more complex while you need simple. I find it works to fill some container ( bathroom cup, cutoff soda bottle, etc.) with dirt and stick an easy plant like anacharis in it. Give it some light and some time and you may be quite happy. Hide the pots behind something?
This was my first test of the idea. No ferts, no CO2 and no special lights.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 03:29 PM
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I just got into plants on my 55g, I used the MGOPS (should have got the mix) and couldn't be happier with it. Mine is capped with small pea size gravel. They've been growing 5-6 weeks now and I haven't added any ferts, they are very green and it actually looks like I know what I'm doing. I don't expect I will need ferts. If you go the soil route take your ferts back and save the money. Since you have gravel you can be growing under $10.

The downside to soil in my experience is lots of tannins, some ammonia leaks for first 3-4 weeks in my case, however I used soil not the mix which is known to release more ammonia. Apparently both can be avoided if you mineralize the soil but that sounded like a how lot of trouble to me.

For the air pump, apparently it removes the co2 from the water which the plants require and is already limited. Its to bad as the fish prefer the bubbles, is my understanding.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 06:06 PM Thread Starter
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I feel like I'm on a wild goose chase to find MGOPM... So far neither Lowe's or Walmart has the organic one :-/
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 07:36 PM
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I do not know if the organic choice is available. I see it at the miracle gro web site, but I have not seen it in local stores for several months.

Air pump.
CO2 dissolves in water, but only a certain amount.
Gases in the air above the water will dissolve in the water, but only in the top few molecules of the water.
Gases in the water can leave the water, but only when they are at the surface of the water.
If the water has too little CO2, (because the plants used it all) then the water at the surface will take in more CO2.
If the water has too much CO2 (fish respiration, or decomposing matter, or adding CO2 from pressurized or DIY system) then the water at the surface will release CO2.
Note, I keep specifying that this exchange of gases happens only at the surface.

Lets circulate the water.

Option 1) Tank water is low in CO2. Circulation will bring the enriched water from the surface to the lower areas, and bring the deficient water to the surface where it will gain CO2. Good to add air pump.
Option 2) Tank water that is rich in CO2. Circulation will bring the deficient water from the surface to the lower areas, and bring the CO2 rich water to the surface where it will lose CO2. Bad to add air pump.

Now the tricky part: Which is your tank?
If you are adding CO2 (Pressurized or DIY) then do not add an air pump.
If you are not adding CO2 (or if you use Excel) then the air pump MIGHT actually help bring more CO2 into the tank water by increasing the water circulation.

Here is a general guide:
In both sorts of tanks there is a lot of benefit to having a gentle ripple at the surface, and not much benefit with more water movement or less. Start with a gentle ripple.
Watch surface scum, plant growth and fish behavior to decide on more or less water movement.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 09:13 PM Thread Starter
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Well I finally found MGOPM at Home Depot but they only had the big bag. Not that it was expensive but I have no use for that much potting mix. Home Depot has a store brand organic potting mix and the ingredients are the same so I went with that. I also picked up some kitty litter from the dollar store so that I'll have some high CEC in their. When I got home pulled my baby betta out of the jar and dumped all the water and gravel in a bucket. I really liked the look of my gravel and had lots more that was in my 75g(with lots of good bacteria in it) so I used that to cap the tank. Had to strain out some of the larger gravel that was mixed in though. I lined the outer edge of the jar in gravel for a uniform look and put a small layer of litter on the bottom. I made a mix of the potting mix and litter prob about 60% mix to 40% littler and moistened it with the semi cycled jar water till it was a wet clay consistency and put a thick layer of that in. I then added some gravel to the mix and did about a 1/2" layer of that and topped it all off with gravel. Before adding water I dug some holes to put in the 3 plants I picked up from petco this morning when I returned the aquatic trio and API leaf zone. Today I got mondo grass, cryptocoryne and and unlabed small tiny thing. I'm sure you guys could ID it for me. Then I added a few decorative rocks put it my tiny filter and heater and filled her up with water treated with Jungle start right. After acclimating him my baby betta looks quite happy! So for being a newb how'd I do? Once I figure out how to add pics I will!
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 09:57 PM Thread Starter
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I don't know why I can only seem to add 1 pic at a time or why it's sideways but oh well here's the finished product!
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-22-2014, 10:16 PM
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Very nice!
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-23-2014, 01:09 AM Thread Starter
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So mondo grass isn't aquatic?!? Seriously FU petco. Should I return it or just leave it in there? Please tell me the other two are aquatic
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15 gallon, 2 gallon, betta

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