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Help out a newbie…please

915 Views 6 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  flight50

I'm setting up a 10g tank for a community of tropical fish, I'm gonna start with some neon tetras and go from there, but I want to have live plants. This is my first aquarium, so I need some advice.

I got some Windelov Java Fern and Anubias Nana which I plan to tie to a driftwood (when I find it.) Will both types of plants work well on the same driftwood? or should I get a rock for the one of them?

What do I need to do to the driftwood to make it ready for fish?

What other plants will go well for in the background and as a short front plant or carpeting plant? Would a moss ball work?

I bought plain gravel, but I'm thinking of switching it out for the nutrient enriched gravel with some sand on top. How does that work? Is that easy to maintain?

Also I know I need to get upgraded lights. I bought the substrate tabs, but I'll return them if I switch out my gravel. What other plant support equipment/food/chemicals do I need to get to add to the tank when I plant them?

This forum has been very helpful for me. If there's a good list of plants and where to plant them that I missed, please direct me there. Thanks for any help or advice.

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292 Posts
Both will work totally fine together! No problems there.

Not much, really. If you dont prefer the look of Blackwater/Tannins (Google for pic) then, soak it in a bucket of water until the water runs clear. Or just leave it be. It actually helps fish a bit. You can also use carbon in your filter to extract it out.

You say background plant, as a carpet plant. Not sure what you mean. Tall background plants that are easy are:

Amazon Sword
Water Sprite and Wisteria

Carpeting plants that are short and easy/lowlight are:
Dwarf Sag
Java Moss (Not carpeting but you can make one with tiles. Ask for more info, and I'll provide.)

It depends. If you plan on doing a low tech/lower maintenance tank, you can stick with gravel. If you do so, by all means go for it. You will be limited with your plant choice however. If you go with gravel, use the same fertilizers as the below paragraph.

I recommend, if you choose to go the next step, to buy ecocomplete. It is a planted tank substrate. Along with it, buy Osmocote + Root tabs. I sell some, starting at 120/ $10. Use these every 3-5 square inches. These are stuck in the substrate, 2-3 inches deep. As deep as possible is the point. It provides more nutrients for the plants. If you use these tabs then you should go the whole mile and get lots of rooted plants. Also buy Seachem Flourish and Seachem Flourish Excel. These provide more nutrients and C02 that all plants use. Be careful dosing; be exact. Last buy API Leaf Zone as the last fertilizer. That is my arsenal.

^^ If you want, you dont have to use the root tabs if you go with a better substrate. Its recommended, though.

For lights, a florescent t5 light fixture will be great. 12/24" is good for me. However, regular florescent lights also work for me in my low light tanks. 1-1.5 watts of CFL per gallon is good for a low light tank. As for chemicals, ^^^. Neons are good fish. If you want something unique then maybe go with shrimp. Its all up to you. What type of fish/animal do you think appeals to you? Puffer, frog, shrimp, snails, bettas? Its all really up to you. Food goes after you decide the fish. Down the line there are more advanced tools and chemicals you can buy. But your not there yet and its not necessary yet.

Any other questions, Im here to help!!

For you; a short list of awesome low light plants that are pretty much indestructible:

-Najas Grass/Guppy Grass
-Java Moss
-Christmas Moss
-Weeping Moss
-Java Fern


· Registered
1,402 Posts
I would recommend doing a fishless cycle and spare the neon first off. Secondly there really is no such thing a nutrient rich gravel. All gravel is inert. I would visit the Substrate section for there is a great sticky that will give you the run down on substrates. Choose the best fit for your budget.

The driftwood can be iffy. Locally found will definitely have to be cured, cleaned, possibly soaked for weeks to water log it. For a 10g, you can visit a lfs or shop online to get a decent piece. You can probably skip alot of the prep type work to make it tank ready when found at a fish related place.

Be careful with upgrading your lights. If the lights are too strong, its highly advised to run co2. Whether your up for it or not, high or even sometimes medium lighting without co2 will be inviting algae issues.

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12,433 Posts
I do not buy wood when I can find it with a small effort. One way to avoid many of the problems mentioned is easy if you know what to look for in wood. Choose totally dry wood that has weathered long enough for tannins to be removed by nature. Don't worry about the type or species of wood as it is not relevant when the wood is totally dry. Take a small folding saw along when looking for wood in nature. When you feel you have found one that appeals to you and looks dry, do a small test.
Cutting the end off will give you a look at how it has dried. Wood will dry from the outside inward.
This is cedar but totally dry all the way through and safe to use.

The uniform color tells you that it has finished drying. That usually means all tannin is gone. A simple overnight soak in bleach water will sanitize it to kill any oil, pesticide, fungus or bugs. Let it dry and it is good to go.

But then searching for wood may not require a long walk in the woods. Keep your eyes open and there are many spots.
This is a Craigslist ad which has wood which may work quite well.

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1,402 Posts
The uniform color tells you that it has finished drying. That usually means all tannin is gone. A simple overnight soak in bleach water will sanitize it to kill any oil, pesticide, fungus or bugs. Let it dry and it is good to go.
Depending on the wood, all tannins may not completely leech out. If the water is more on the acidic side, things will always remain in a state of being dissolving things. I have some driftwood that I purchased from an online aquarium place that is now 13 years old and I still get a slight yellow tint to my water. It has lessened over the years but its still there. I actually like it and its more natural.

As far as the bleaching, the wood would need to be thoroughly dried for sure. To be on the safe side, most people do the bleach soak for 24hr, change the water with fresh water and do a soak in prime for 24 hrs or longer. Prime will neutralize any remaining bleach if you plan to use the driftwood right away. Then you will be good to go.
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