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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks! I've lurked off and on for a while, mostly just drooling at all of the gorgeous planted tanks. My brain doesn't do well with math/science things, which means I've been intimidated by all of the lighting and chemistry and other complicated stuff involved in planted tanks. But I figured if I ask nicely, maybe I can get some help. I'd be very grateful!

I currently have a betta in a 5-gallon Eclipse hex, and I've managed to keep a handful of plants alive in it but am not impressed overall. I suspect (hope) that some of my problem is the tank -- the light is pretty high above the water, and with the way the filter is situated I'm not sure it has good coverage, plus the tank is tall for a 5-gallon (24"). I'm also frustrated with the difficulty of actually getting my hands into the tank for any sort of maintenance, so I'm looking at getting the betta a new tank, staying in the 5-10 gallon range, but going with a standard rectangle shape. I have some money for it and can save more, but I'd like to spend as little as reasonably possible so I decided to post here rather than the nano tank subforum. :smile:

I'm currently evaluating my options as far as the tank and lighting, and would greatly appreciate any feedback. I'd kind of prefer to stick with the 5-gallon size (it's on my desk), but am considering 10G because they're much more common on Craigslist and not really that much bigger. Where I really get stuck, though, is the lighting. One thing I was looking at is a hood at Petsmart that would fit a 16" tank (5-5.5G) and take a 15- or 25-watt tubular bulb. Would that be a good solution or would I wind up right back where I am now? I'm also open to the desk lamp route, but would that work with a glass cover? I haven't seen my betta jump, but I hear it happens. If I did go with a desk lamp, what specific things would I need to look for as far as what kind of bulb it would take? Am I missing some better options?

I'm thinking I want to avoid CO2 because, well, it intimidates me. So I understand that I need to keep the lighting below a certain level to avoid problems caused by a lack of CO2. What would that level be for a 5- to 10-gallon tank?

In the current tank the substrate is a layer of flourite covered with a very fine gravel. I'm assuming in the removal process that would turn into flourite mixed with gravel. Would it still be usable? I'm sure I'd have to buy more flourite due to the larger footprint, but wasn't sure if I'd have to start all over again or if I could use what I already have and just add more. Or would there be something better than flourite?

And finally, what would I need to do as far as fertilizers in a 5- to 10-gallon tank with no CO2 and whatever lighting level and substrate is best?

Plantwise, I'm not exactly certain where I'd like to go since I'm not sure what's achievable. I've always liked the small, fine foreground plants (dwarf hairgrass, riccia, etc.), and I'd want to shift toward a taller, denser background. Red ludwigia is one that's caught my eye, and anubias, and maybe something with bigger leaves to contrast more with the smaller foreground and midground stuff. I'm really not sure... I've been trying to research and I feel like I keep going in circles, so I finally decided just to ask for some help. I'm not completely certain what the plants I have in the tank currently are, but looking through the plant profiles the closest picture I saw was dwarf sagittaria -- but I really don't know. I got them free when my LFS was cleaning out tanks and about to throw them out with the tankwater. I'm certainly open to keeping those if they'll do well, but they just don't seem to have grown much since I've had them and it's been a few months.

Again, I'm very grateful for any advice, and sorry to come across so clueless. I just figured I'd better ask now before I start the tank renovation process, rather than later and wish I'd done things differently.
 

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You can get a standard Aqueon 10 gallon hood with 2 incandescent sockets and then plug 2 20 watt spiral compact fluorescent bulbs into it. That's 40 watts total so it should be plenty of light plus it will be fairly inexpensive.

You can get the spiral compact bulb in 65K as well.

http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=3792
http://www.bulborama.com/store/cart.php?m=product_detail&p=1010

This would be a setup that could grow lots of different kinds of plants given the right fertilization.

You can use the substrate you have and just add more flourite. As far as fine foreground plants, most require some kind of carbon supplementation. You can just use Seachem Excel which is a liquid carbon supplementation. You could do the hairgrass or my personal favorite for lower-tech foreground is Hemianthus Micranthemoides. I have this growing in my 26 which is a fairly low light setup (1.5 watts of T5 lighting). Red Ludwigia (Ludwigia Repens) and Anubias would grow fine in that setup. I would also try a plant called myriophyllum mattogrossense for midground texture.

You can do it! When you get it set up, make sure to post a picture!
 

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The more light you have the more need you have for fertilizers and CO2. By keeping the light in the low range and staying away from CO2, you probably won't need too many fertilizers. You could try using Seachem Flourish and Flourish Excel (as a source of carbon), this is pretty low tech but might give you better results than no ferts and no CO2. I've not tried this myself, so see what others have to say.

In terms of the substrate, I would just add some more flourite to the current MIX that you have. I don't think there will be any problem. People use lots of weird mixes for substrates, so as long as there is nothing harmful in the mix, I think you'll be ok.

You asked quite a few questions in a very long post. If you don't get all the answers you are looking for, try asking the questions one at a time. Also, use the search feature in this forum, you can find the answer to most questions by searching old posts.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the suggestions! I'll definitely look at that hood if I go the 10-gallon route. I also really appreciate the plant help.

Glad to know I can reuse my substrate, and that flourite is a good option. I know I've read about people mixing things with with their plant-friendly substrates, but I wasn't sure if there were drawbacks to that approach and thought I'd rather ask now than have to replace the substrate after it's in the tank. Been there, done that!

Sorry for the length of the post, and for the basic questions. I think the only question I'm still not sure on is whether or not the hood I mentioned would be a good option for a 5-gallon tank. It says it'd take a 15- or 25-watt tubular bulb. Would that be any good or should I keep looking?
 

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Hood

That hood should be fine for the 5 gallon. I would go with the higher wattage as the watts per gallon rule seems to under estimate the needs of smaller tanks (10 gallon and under). For example, in our store we run an 18 watt light on a 3 gallon nano planted aquarium and we have no problems with algae dosing excel according to the bottle.

Should be much better than your elipse hex because it is a much more powerful light. I believe the eclipse hex has only a 10 watt light and then you have to deal with the height of the tank.
 

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I'm a little confused what "tubular" bulb means- does the hood take an incandescent or flourescent bulb? If you can put a flourescent bulb in there, then you're probably fine.

As far as reaching into the bottom of the tank for planting/maintenance, a good set of long planting tools would really help you out there, and IMO are just overall great things to have for planted tanks. This is the set I have: http://cgi.ebay.com/Aquarium-Live-P...emQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item19b71595c3
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well, I feel a little better -- I wasn't sure what "tubular" meant either and thought I was missing something really obvious. However, from looking at the supposedly compatible bulbs, tubular means those little incandescent bulbs you see at PetsMart, etc. It seems like fixtures meant to take those bulbs can take CFLs, based on the fact that my Eclipse hex takes one of the tube bulbs and just this evening I saw a CFL replacement marketed by Marineland and it says on the box that it can go in the specific tank I have.

Laura -- I'm bookmarking the link to the planting tools for when I have a little spare cash or a birthday coming up! Too bad it's a little late to suggest it to my husband for Christmas. ;) Thanks for the recommendation. I've thought a few times that it would be handy to have some tools but haven't been sure what the best ones for the job would be. My 30-gallon tank is also a hex (darn limited floor space) so the extra inches of reach would be really helpful for the few plants I can keep alive in there as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Sorry not to have responded more quickly, but I just wanted to say real quick that I've really appreciated all the suggestions and feedback. I kind of put things on hold till after Christmas, and I'm glad I did because my sweet husband got me store credit at my favorite LFS as part of my present. Aww. Planning to get things started tomorrow -- I think I've found a 5-gallon tank kit with a hood that will allow me to put in a CFL to up the lighting. I haven't been able to look in person due to toddler crankiness while I was out running errands earlier this week, but I'll be able to go tomorrow. Hooray!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
*sigh* They sold out the 5G kits I wanted before Christmas, so I had to ask them to order one for me. Should be in by next Friday at the latest, so I guess that just gives me more time to plan. On the plus side, I was able to verify with an employee that the light fixture on the 5G is the type that takes a screw-in bulb, so I can do a CFL. The light on the betta's current tank died, so I went ahead and got a 10-watt, 6500K mini-CFL bulb. Sure brightens things up!
 
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