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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Everyone,

This is my first post on this forum. I'm relatively new to owning fish; I got my first real fish tank last 8 months ago. Unfortunately, all but one of my mollies have died from ammonia spikes from an improperly cycled tank :icon_cry:. The lone survivor of my terrible pet ownership is now living happily in my dad's aquarium.

I'm a student and summer break is just around the corner; I want to restock my empty 10 gallon tank. And this time, I'll do it the right way. My plan is to 'scape the tank with low light plants (like java fern, java moss, hornwort, duckweed, etc) to absorb some ammonia, nitrites, nitrates. Then I will add a lone male betta or several female betta (haven't decided yet).

So now, here come the questions:
1. Can someone please give me a step by step procedure for cycling the tank? I have access to my dad's tank and can borrow some fish or place some filter media in the established tank.
2. Any suggestions on lighting? I have a homemade plexiglass lid for my tank and I'm looking for some cheap alternatives to buying a hood or buying light fixtures. Will LED desk lamps do the job?

Thank you in advance for all suggestions and advice! :help:
 

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I have nothing to offer, except, how about frogbit instead of duckweed? I think it looks nicer and doesn't get caught on everything as much
 

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Stock lightly and use pre established bio media and you should be fine. As to lighting, buy/find some clip on lights and buy some 6500K Compact Spiral bulbs. You can move them up or down to control lighting. Avoid getting them too close to the plexiglass as it will melt.
 

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as mnemenoi recommended, a clip light with a daylight bulb is the cheapest option - you could get a bulb and holder for <$20 - I'm using the "Ecosmart 14 Watt Daylight" bulb with good success. One 14W fixture would get you to ~1.4W/gal (low light)...For ~$34 on Amazon, you could get a really nice 26W aquarium fixture:
"CL26BK: Finnex Aquarium Nano Refugium Cliplight"
This would get you to ~2.6W/gal....this lamp works great for me also...neither of these fluorescent fixtures gets hot enough to melt your plexiglass lid...LED's run cooler, but I have not had much success with non-aquarium-specific LED fixtures - not enough lumen/PAR output...
This may be heresy, but if you use a sponge filter, stock lightly with fish, and toss in a few plants with adequate lighting, you shouldn't have to worry about ammonia spikes - has worked for me in 3 out of 3 new setups recently...easy to grow plants in low-med light include Anacharis, Bacopa, and Water Sprite...
 

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I agree with using the CFLs.

A 10g is a little small for a betta sorority, and I could see them just destroying each other :/ I would personally not try it.

See if your LFS has any crypts (cryptocoryne species) They are low light, and I love em lol


Ill be on the look out for the cycling-guide that I used when I cycled my tanks....and yes, definitely use some filter material from your fathers tank, it will help jump-start your cycle. you can put all of that nasty mulm from his filter to good use :)
 

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I run 2 10G's both the walmart kits with stock hood and 2X9W 6500k CFL's. Seems to be just right for low-med light. I have 4 female bettas in a 6 gallon with no problems- I guess I am just lucky. I only had one that was super agressive, I floated her in a clear container for about a month, changing her water everyday. She eventually got tired of flaring at everyone and they get along fine now, but it took a while.

+1 for the frogbit
 

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http://www.rexgrigg.com/cycle.htm Is a excellent article about cycling a planted tank. I followed his method, and have had fish in an brand new (no filter squeezings or mulm) aquarium and I've not seen any ammonia at all. Since you can get some mulm from another tank, you're already most of the way there. The trick is to make sure you put lots of plants in, especially stem plants and floaters. I've found water wisteria to be an awesome plant. Mine's grown almost two inches in a week!

CFLs in clip lights will work fine. I ended up going in a different direction, but when I was considering using CFLs, I found this thread really helpful/inspiring. It's actually a really cool look http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/showthread.php?t=153195&highlight=cfl
 

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Do a search for fishless cycling. Threads pop up about it pretty frequently, and Diana has a pretty good guide that she posts to most of them.

basically, find a source of pure ammonia, add enough to bring the tank to ~3ppm. check everyday, add enough to bring back up to 3 ppm. check nitrites and nitrates as well. once it gets to the point where NH4 and NO2 are both zero ~24 hours after a 3ppm dose, you are probably cycled.

Another method I've heard of is people sticking a bunch of fry in a new tank, and letting them (and the biofilter) grow into the tank.

I'd second the compact flourescent bulb for lighting. My first planted tank was a 10 gallon with an incandescent hood, and I put in two (low wattage) CFL bulbs, and cat litter. worked pretty well.

I'm concerned the plexiglass will warp, every one I've seen before has warped. I've heard people claim it's the humidity, and not the lights, but I don't personally know.

What else do you need, do you have a heater, filter, substrate and hardscape from a previous set up?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for the amazing advice glutandpoop, thebuddha and Big Buddha. I'll check if my LFS has any of those plants. I'm allocating the majority of my budget towards plants :D. My roommate got me into aquascaping and showed me this forum, and now I'm hooked.

@ Big Buddha: my 10gal tank is from Walmart too, although mine didn't come with the hood since the friend that I inherited the tank from bought it many, many years ago

@ the buddha: I've read that female betta will fight and form a hierarchy, but I wasn't sure what size tank would be appropriate, thanks for clarifying, I will get a male betta

@ glutandpoop: thanks for telling me the name of the brand you use, this makes deciding between the many brands much easier, I'll pick some bulbs up next time I drop by the hardware store

Another question for everyone: What do you guys think about Tetra Safestart and Nutrafin Cycle? I've read some mixed opinions and I'd like to know yours. Are these products worth the money?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
@ lochaber: I have a filter and lots and lots of substrate, no heater (since I can keep the room temperature a steady 22-23C or 72-73F, I'm still debating whether or not to buy one), for hardscape I'll buy or find some driftwood. I'll read up more on fishless cycling and I'll be sure to keep a watch on my plexiglass lid. Thanks!

@ MamaFish: I have a water wisteria plant in my tank, it's still alive 3 months after I've taken my last fish out and turned off the filter. Water wisteria are tough!
 

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From what I've heard, SafeStart does work, but I don't think you need it. All it is is seed bacteria to start your tank cycle. You can get seed bacteria for free from your day's tank via filter squeezings and mulm ( the yucky stuff you vacuum out of a tank). Plus, if you plant heavily enough, your plants will use up any ammonia your fish give off, so you don't really need to worry about it. I planted my tank, waited a few days and then put fish in. I test daily and never see any ammonia. Ever.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
@ MamaFish: Nice, I'm glad I can cross out something else from my shopping list!

My dad is having some trouble with the brown algae that's really hard to scrub from the glass. Are there any products that are good for removing that type of algae? I've looked into ghost shrimp and red cherry shrimp and that is something I'm considering.
 

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@ lochaber: I have a filter and lots and lots of substrate, no heater (since I can keep the room temperature a steady 22-23C or 72-73F, I'm still debating whether or not to buy one), for hardscape I'll buy or find some driftwood. I'll read up more on fishless cycling and I'll be sure to keep a watch on my plexiglass lid. Thanks!
Sounds good, you may need to pay attention to which fish you get, and your tank may be a little slower to cycle, but that sounds like it's the right range for plenty of fish. If you do decide to get a heater, try to get one of the better ones (unfortunately, this will probably one of the more expensive aspects)

And as MamaFish said, plants will take up a lot of ammonia, and completely bypass the nitrogen cycle. Floaters are great for this, and you can thin them out/remove them as the rest of your plants grow in.

I'd try finding your own driftwood. Find a water body near you and go for a hike. I've had good luck using google maps to scan looking for areas with lots of driftwood. Just try to pick something that looks like it's been dead, exposed, and weathered for quite a while.

My dad is having some trouble with the brown algae that's really hard to scrub from the glass. Are there any products that are good for removing that type of algae? I've looked into ghost shrimp and red cherry shrimp and that is something I'm considering.
A lot of people talk about the Mr. Clean Eraser (original). I haven't used it on a tank yet, but I did pick up a pack. I think it's just a really fine melamine foam, and simply abrades stuff off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Sounds good, you may need to pay attention to which fish you get, and your tank may be a little slower to cycle, but that sounds like it's the right range for plenty of fish. If you do decide to get a heater, try to get one of the better ones (unfortunately, this will probably one of the more expensive aspects)

And as MamaFish said, plants will take up a lot of ammonia, and completely bypass the nitrogen cycle. Floaters are great for this, and you can thin them out/remove them as the rest of your plants grow in.

I'd try finding your own driftwood. Find a water body near you and go for a hike. I've had good luck using google maps to scan looking for areas with lots of driftwood. Just try to pick something that looks like it's been dead, exposed, and weathered for quite a while.



A lot of people talk about the Mr. Clean Eraser (original). I haven't used it on a tank yet, but I did pick up a pack. I think it's just a really fine melamine foam, and simply abrades stuff off.
My dad and I are going to swap tanks, since he has 5 fish in his 8gal and I was going to put 1 in my 10gal. Now I get to aquascape 2 tanks, JACKPOT!

Meanwhile I'll keep my eye on the water temperature as the seasons change to see if i'll need a heater.

I love the look of hornwort and frogbit and I'll definitely be getting some of those for my tanks. I have a couple ideas for where to find some driftwood, I just hope I don't care too carried away and bring home a log!

Please let me know if the Mr. Clean Erasers work; it's a much cheaper and more versatile alternative to the plastic scraper.

Thanks so much for the great advice!
 
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