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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have a 10 gallon tank that hasn't established yet. it's currently cycling with 7 feeder guppies and 1 crab. i recently discovered this art of planted tanks & i realize how sheltered i've been! anyways, i currently have plain ol aquarium gravel at the bottom & 2 15w bulbs. i use hard tap water, so my PH is super high. i've ordered a piece of sinking driftwood. so my basic questions are:
should i wait until my tank is cycled before attempting to plant?
could the driftwood help lower my PH?
are my bulbs bright enough?
and FINALLY... how the heck should i go about switching the ghetto gravel for substrate and sand?

ugh.. i hate being a newbie at things, but any help is greatly appreciated!!
 

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No need to wait for the tank to cycle before planting. Planting with a good amount of rapidly growing plants should help temper the ammonia and nitrite spikes associated with the cycle as the plants tend to favor using both to grow.

Lighting should be adequate.

Driftwood may help lower the pH. I wouldn't worry so much about the pH, just plant the tank with plants and focus on keeping the plants healthy and they will take care of the fish.

I would consider dosing Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive and Seachem's Excel for the plants.

As far as the substrate, I would just yank out all the decorations and the gravel but keep the filter running and replace the gravel with a planted tank substrate like Seachem's Flourite or Eco Complete.

Glad you are considering doing a planted tank. I think you will find it is a wonderfully satisfying way to participate in the hobby.

You are asking all the right questions, so keep it up.

Good Luck!

-Evan
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
thanks for the quick response! ok, i'll look into getting those supplements. thinking of starting with java fern, java moss, and amazon sword. these seem to be the majority favorite for beginner plants.

i am planning on getting eco-complete, i also came across this http://www.aquariumplants.com/Freshwater_Aquarium_Plant_Substrate_p/ss.htm
i think i want a smoother look than the eco-complete or whatever, so i can just add some black sand on top right?

i've read about black flourite, seems to look a bit smoother- but have heard it's actually more grey?
 

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You should change you lighting since that would just heat up your tank, and not make plants grow. You could buy those clip on lamps from walmart or something, and buy spiral compact fluorescent bulbs that has at least 6500k temperature. That's the more economic way for lighting.
No comment on the substrate choice, since I've never used any plant substrate except for ADA AS Amazonia. It's on the expensive side, but it's worth it.
 

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the cycling of the water has less to do with the water itself and more to do with the bacteria developing through the tank/filter's surfaces. the sooner you can suck most of the water out and change your substrate, the sooner you'll be set to add some plants. you can however grow plants with gravel (would be much harder) or get some plants and float them on the surface.
 

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Depends on what you have for a crab. Many need access to land. If not, they'll wipe out or find a way to climb out of your tank! On top of fertilizers, new lighting, and new substrate, look into getting a water softener... Because if your water is super hard plants may not appreciate it, but test for actual hardness and alkalinity first. Sometimes people will use half distilled water, half tap in order to reduce hardness.

Also, if you want your gupps to survive at all, do a couple hefty water changes over the next few days, in order to alleviate high ammonia during the tank cycling process.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
haha- yea he does look stranded in the picture!! i found out that he needs to get out of the water sometimes, hence the skillfully crafted tupperware under the house! he goes up there alot, but also ventures through all areas of the tank. he's a great crab, doesn't pick on the guppies.

according to some test strips i have, my total hardness is around 150. alkalinity about 180. using some distilled water during water changes my help this?

and im guessing ALL the water has to come out, lay down the substrate, then put the water back? dumping that substrate in would prob leave me with black water...
 

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Rinsing the substrate out in a bucket first will help alleviate some of the cloudiness, but yes, you will likely have cloudy water for a few days. Just do some water changes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
ok, all rocks and ghetto decorations out :) guppies and crab are in a 2 gallon temp. draining tank now and getting set up tomorrow. here we go..

thanks everyone for your help! u guys rock
 

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also, you may want 1-3" of substrate depending on the root structure of the plants you use. perhaps the container under that pegadoa could become hidden.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
ok, so i went out this morning & got some things...
put in about 1.5 inches flourite w/ black marina sand on top just cause i like the black :)
1/8 capful flourish ( & aquasafe for the chlorine of course)
2 mermaid plants & 2 italian val. reluctantly i have to keep the stairway house in there to give the crab something to get out of the water on once in a while. planning on covering the stand w/ moss eventually & i have a driftwood piece in the mail which will also get "java mossed" . would also like dwarf hairgrass as ground cover. does this do well in low-tech? i have 3 wpg but they are 2 incadescent "PG" screw in light.
the guppies seem ecstatic already weaving in & out of the sparse plants. i already have 2 snails that popped up tho :/
 

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I'm not too fond of the contrasting layers in the gravel, but if you like that, then that's what counts.

The mermaid plant is really nice looking. I've seen it before, and that's the only name it ever has, no scientific name. Anyone know what it really is?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
yea, i don't really like the two-tone affect right now, but im sure they will mix with the addition of more plants. the flourite alone was too light for my taste and i couldn't find black eco-complete for less than 36$/20 pound bag. thanks for the tip about the pearl grass, i'll def look into it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I'm not too fond of the contrasting layers in the gravel, but if you like that, then that's what counts.

The mermaid plant is really nice looking. I've seen it before, and that's the only name it ever has, no scientific name. Anyone know what it really is?

i found the name proserpinaca palustris
 

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just grow some dwarf sword and see how quickly it carpets in. i tried to grow more complex carpets my first time around and i ended up losing money and time because it kept getting owned by algaes. see how well you do with hearty plants and then transition to the more delicate ones. also, you may want to add a power head in the back corner blowing on those plants. i think they need a strong root structure or they'll float once they grow in. although they are already about ready for trimming.
 
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