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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm about to set up a lightly planted nano as my first foray into the planted tank world. For now, my budget limits me from going too crazy with the setup, so no CO2 and I want to do something simple but elegant with one or two low profile plant types.

I plan to do a fishless cycle but need help figuring out exactly what I need in the tank while it's running for whatever number of weeks it takes. I'm studying an excellent Fishless Cycling Guide here: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/1960804-post3.html

This is my setup so far:

Tank: ADA Mini M (approx:14"x8.5"x10"; 5.5 gal)

Light: Mingdak LED panel fixture w/30 white/6 blue LEDs

Filtration: Zoo Med 501

Misc: Heater, test kit, etc.

Beyond what the Fishless Cycling Guide has taught me, here are my questions:

1. The one thing the Fishless Cycling Guide doesn't seem it touch on is substrate. What's a good substrate to start out with? As I said above, I'm not initially planning on having a fully planted tank. Just something simple but elegant with one or two low profile plant types. If possible, one idea I've had is having mostly sand and then a cordoned off area with substrate and one or two low profile plant types.

2. What is a simple one or two plant types to start out with? I'm thinking something low profile/short (i.e. small grasses) in order to keep things simple for maintenance, at least as I'm getting started and learning.

3. Are there specific hardscapes (i.e. types of wood or rock) to stay away from?
 

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If you light coloured substrate pool filter sand is good, for dark substrates blasting sand is good, these are both inert though. You can go dirted as well and use these as your caps, which will mean your substrate will have nutrients as well. There are some good videos and threads on using dirt as a substrate, so if you just have a quick google you can have a look. If you don't mind spending a bit of money you can go with ADA Aquasoil, it comes in 3 colours as well.
Good plants to start with are Java Fern, Java Moss and Anubias species. For stems stuff like Rotala rotundifolia, Hemianthus micranthemoides and Ludwigia repens are easy starters. A lot of the short foreground carpeting plants sometimes are a bit harder to get going in low-tech, but some suggestions are Staurogyne repens, Dwarf saggitaria and Eleocharis parvula.
Really use any hardscape you want that's commercially available, if you pick up stuff from nature there's some preparations you need to do make sure they're safe to use though.


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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Opare - thank you for the information.

I may be interested in the ADA Aquasoil (Malaya - Powder 3L) for my application. I know that may have seemed like a simple question, but it's hard starting from scratch, so any starting point is better than nothing.

From the plants you suggested, java moss seems to fit the idea I had in my head. Then I researched and found other similar plant species that peaked my interest - dwarf riccia, coral moss, flame moss, phoenix moss, pearl moss, and dwarf baby tears. With my tank, I think I'd be happy with two of those and some type of hardscape like a dark rock as a contrast piece. Ironically, the foreground carpeting plants you mentioned I see more as a background. I guess it's all relative. With this nano 5.5 gal tank, my frame of reference is quite small, so I could possibly see doing staurogyne repens somewhere more as as a background or offset to the side.

For inspiration, here's an example of what I'd like to achieve (some day).


Source: Unknown (Fish-etc. | Aquarium Specialist Shop |Tropical Fish, African Cichlids and Koi)


Source: Unknown (blog.redcherryshrimp.net)


Source: Jack Dempsey (AlbertaAquatica)


Source: Watchara Chaipaet (AquaScaping World Forum)
 

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Small tanks are not easy to keep.

1. I would stay away from dirt substrate, especially in a small starter tank
2. I would stay away from more then one substrate - really, really hard to kept them separated
3. ADA Amazonia is a good substrate for a planted tank and you will not need much of it. Look for the "sand" granule size
4. Most of the plant recommendations above are a) too big for your tank b) slow growers.When starting a tank there is nothing wrong with going with plants that you will remove later - start with fast growing plants of many virieties. Litterally stuff the tank with plants, you can trim / replace them once the tank is stable. Check out RAOK section of this forum as many folks give away plants for the price of shipping. If the asked-for shipping is > $8, move on.

For your tank size, I would recommend Dwarf Hair Grass, Regular Baby Tears, Blyxa japonica, small Water Sprite, Limnophila aquatica or indica. Do add some floating plants like Frog Bit, Water Lettuce, Salvinia. Do stay away from Duck Weed.

Have fun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Opare / all - I appreciate the advise. I submitted a detailed reply to you last night but got some notice that the admins would have to approve. Not sure what that's about. Maybe it'll show up later. However, I think you've answered all my questions.
 

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By the way forgot to mention if you use ADA Aquasoil it will leech Ammonia and therefore allow the tank to cycle. So don't put critters in for a while. To be honest I recommend waiting a while anyway till the tank has matured before adding livestock maybe 3 weeks at the minimum if Ammonia levels hit 0 by then (a bit long but I think it's worth it).


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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
By the way forgot to mention if you use ADA Aquasoil it will leech Ammonia and therefore allow the tank to cycle. So don't put critters in for a while. To be honest I recommend waiting a while anyway till the tank has matured before adding livestock maybe 3 weeks at the minimum if Ammonia levels hit 0 by then (a bit long but I think it's worth it).


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Do you know if this completely replaces Ammonia supplements during the fishless cycle, or if not, what is the consensus on the reduced supplement amounts?
 

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Do you know if this completely replaces Ammonia supplements during the fishless cycle, or if not, what is the consensus on the reduced supplement amounts?
If you use ADA Aquasoil you won't need to manually add Ammonia if that's what you mean. You can just use the Aquasoil to supply Ammonia for a fishless cycle.


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1. The one thing the Fishless Cycling Guide doesn't seem it touch on is substrate. What's a good substrate to start out with? As I said above, I'm not initially planning on having a fully planted tank. Just something simple but elegant with one or two low profile plant types. If possible, one idea I've had is having mostly sand and then a cordoned off area with substrate and one or two low profile plant types.

2. What is a simple one or two plant types to start out with? I'm thinking something low profile/short (i.e. small grasses) in order to keep things simple for maintenance, at least as I'm getting started and learning.

3. Are there specific hardscapes (i.e. types of wood or rock) to stay away from?
1. Both pool filter sand and blaster sand are popular substrates that are inert and will work great for your tank. I personally enjoy black blasting sand and have used it in all my tanks as substrate. At worst, you can add root tabs to the tank to promote growth.


2. Java fern is a personal favorite plant that is easy to grow and has a low profile. You may also like crypt wendtii or anubias nana. They both require low light and minimal care like a java fern and will survive quite fine. Most grasses are high light or CO2 dependent so I don't like suggesting them. Dwarf sag may work for you if you don't mind 'mowing the yard' from time to time since it can grow to be 6" tall.


3. I would stay away from lime rock or anything that will alter the tank conditions. Neutral/inert rock is your best bet. Stay away from soft wood, green wood (not dried) or anything with bark. You can remove the bark and use the wood, but don't put bark in the tank. It will rot away.
 

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You have lots of plant options with a low tech tank. Java fern has already been mentioned, and comes in a variety of leaf types (narrow, needle, trident). Anubias, crypts, and even buces are other choices to try and have many options within each family for plant variety. I tried ADA Aquasoil for my first tank, and didn't care for the constant layer of brown dust it leaves on everything for a while. So, for subsequent tanks I've had really good luck using U.P. Aqua Shrimp Sand. I do add root tabs under my lilies and crypts, and dose additional ferts occasionally.
 
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