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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, first things first. I am not good at this whole planted tank thing, but I really want to be some day. My wife and I decided to get some fish for a 10 gallon tank that we had for our son. It has stayed in the den so it's not just a childs fish tank, but the familys tank. We first had mollies and a pleco. I had swords and some dwarf hairgrass that I bought from Petsmart in there and all of the grass died, the other plants are still hanging on, and we first got the tank started about 7-8 months ago. Once all of the mollies died, the alpha male killed the other male and eventually the females then he died himself, we got some goldfish. I added a substrate additive to the tank to try and get more dwarf hairgrass to grow but the goldfish started pulling it up so we got rid of them. So I wanted to focus on just getting the plants situated first so I got some of those pill like additives that you put under the substrate, a diy CO2 setup, some sand, and some plant fert that you add into the water every month. I also got some driftwood that I boiled to get all of the dye out of and some java moss. I am sure that I only got 1 bag of java moss since 1 bag was nice and green and the other 2 bags are a dark green and brown even though they look the same, might be christmas moss. Anyway, I also upgraded my light source from just a Petsmart set on your tank led light setup to a 6500k 26w bulb that is positioned about 6-8 inches over my tank.

So, about 2-3 days ago I started to get a buildup of algae on my hairgrass and though, oh crap. Well now I have algae coming out of my tetra whisper filter, I have algae clumped on my hairgrass and it is now starting to make its way to my swords that have survived almost everything my inexperience could throw at them. So I figured I would get some of those small sucking loaches from walmart just to stem the tide of algae and they haven't even begun to eat.


Whew!!!!

Ok, hit me people. I want answers, what the dily-o am I doing wrong, well....what am I doing right. I have a feeling that my light is too much and oh, I guess you aren't supposed to wash the spongy thing inside of your filter because it gets rid of all of the good bacteria so every time I changed my filter I was it out in tapwater so my tank has had a rough 6-8 months of trying to finish its cycle.

Is there an easy way to fix this or should I do what I think I should do and pull everything out of the tank and start all over by getting a good substrate from my lfs, planting individual strands of dwarf hairgrass evenly and only in a little bit of water or just hitting it with a squirt bottle and just not putting any kind of fish in there until my tank gets to where it needs to be?

I want to hear what you have, throw it at me, Im new at this whole planted tank thing.


Thank you,
Ray
 

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This is my first tank, from ages ago. I had a similar issue jumping into planted tanks, and now I work at a LFS as the resident planted freshwater guy (Everyone else focuses saltwater for more money :icon_roll ).

Dwarf hairgrass is a high intensity light plant. It won't grow well (or at all) without a high powered t5 bulb (or lots of LEDs).

Lemmie hit ya here. What's wrong:
Tons of plant food, no plants to eat it (and if they were around to eat it, not enough light for them to eat it). Result: Algae eats the food. Om nom nom.
Washing the sponge media: Destroys 100% of your bacteria colony (biological filtration). Death the tank, endless "cycling".

What I'd recommend:
Take a step back. Think if you really like the planted tank look. Realize that planted tanks cost more money and require more knowledge than a fish-only tank. If you decide you're ready for it, then tear down and start correctly.

Do you want to go on? lol


 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
This is going to sound bad but I have my light on from about 6am to around 8-9pm. And as for the ferts I am using:

API Root Tabs
API Leaf Zone plant food.

I also added:

API FIRST LAYER PURE LATERITE to my existing substrate but I cannot remember what my original substrate was.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Lol, I work as a contracted mechanic on a military installation so I have plenty of money to do this right, just don't tell my wife I said that, lol, and I want to add another hobby on top of golfing, hunting, and working on my early 80's Porsche. I was thinking that I should just start over but I wanted to get more advice. But please people keep the information coming.
 

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Like Exie said, take a step back. Take it slow.

I suggest starting out with easy plants such as wisteria, crypts, bacopa, anubias or java fern.

Also, reconsider your stocking for a 10 gallon. I cringed when I read mollies, pleco and a few goldfish, the tank is really not suitable for those fish.

With your whisper filter, you can toss the foam pad, just don't rinse or clean the frame - that's where your beneficial bacteria resides.
 

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This is going to sound bad but I have my light on from about 6am to around 8-9pm. And as for the ferts I am using:

API Root Tabs
API Leaf Zone plant food.

I also added:

API FIRST LAYER PURE LATERITE to my existing substrate but I cannot remember what my original substrate was.
Your lighting period is definitely one of the causes for your algae, drop it down to 8-9 hours. You can get a timer so you don't have to worry about it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
But to anyone who reads this, I will take all of the information that you have, all of your experiences and everything. Eventually I wanted to incorporate an aquarium inside of one of our walls in our house and I wanted it to be planted so I will take anything you can give me. I have the basics down but I think I just rushed into setting up this aquarium and then started learning about everything along the way when I should have learned about everything beforehand and then applied it.

If you have an sites that you are really pleased with in the way of plants and fish, let me know.

Thank You again to all who read this, please put your 2 cents in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yeah I thought about the light, ok I will get a timer tomorrow and get it situated, now for the algae, when it runs out of its food source will it die on it's own or should I remove it? I was planning on cleaning my filtration system out and the woman at my LFS said to wash my media in a bowl of tank water so that it retains some bacteria. Oh, I also have bacteria forming inside of my filter housing along with algae, that is why I am just going to remove the whole thing and wash it out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Like Exie said, take a step back. Take it slow.

I suggest starting out with easy plants such as wisteria, crypts, bacopa, anubias or java fern.

Also, reconsider your stocking for a 10 gallon. I cringed when I read mollies, pleco and a few goldfish, the tank is really not suitable for those fish.

With your whisper filter, you can toss the foam pad, just don't rinse or clean the frame - that's where your beneficial bacteria resides.

Sorry, just saw this about the filter, let me get a picture for you real quick so you can see what I am working with in regards to the filter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Ok these 2 pictures show you my filter housing, I have bacteria growing in the back part behind the charcoal filter and in my filter media which is between the charc filter and the exit point. In the other picture you can see the algae growing on the filter media and then stringing into my water.

What needs to be done about this?
 

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Ok.

1) Tank, Stand, Placement
Pick a good size tank. Ten is small, the slightest imbalance will kill your fish. 29's are nice, and still cheap. Larger gets more labor intensive for maintenance, more money for larger lighters, more expensive for more plants and fish, etc. http://alysta.com/books/fishtank.htm <- Pick one with a nicely sized footprint to build in. Deep for aquascaping? Shallow for showcasing? Tall for tiered display? Long for fish to race? Small, large, short, fat, long, circular, square, corner-cut! So many. Plenty of work and decisions here.

2) Light, Lighting
You want plants. Especially shorter plants require bright light; more light can never hurt (assuming you have enough CO2 and nutrients, we'll get to there). More choices: Metal halide - somewhat pricy, big impact on electric bill, produce lots of heat. t5 florescent - more pricy, big impact on electric bill, not as much heat. LED - HUGE upfront cost, zero impact on electric bill, no heat (Most LEDs pay themselves off after roughly 9 years, depending on your electric Kw/H price). Go fake shopping, check prices. You need powerful stuff for most plants. Personally, I use some 10k lights that you'd find in a workshop; they clamp on my tank and use a bulb you'd see used outside as a floodlight. Cost was negligible from home depot, but have a decent electricity cost.

3) Substrate, including Soil Media
Too many to pick from! Ah! http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/showthread.php?t=153412 Start here. Also, this is a time to start considering looks - the color and composition of your substrate can have a huge impact on your tank's final look! Consider looks, cost, maintenance, nutritional value, ease of plant growth, etc.

4) Filtration and Circulation
Hang on the back? A sump? Canister? In-tank filter? This comes down to personal choice. I like a sump set-up, as you can throw your extra equipment into it, it increases the total water volume of the tank (more water = better. Always), and it skims the top of the water for me. It's also hidden from view. Do some light reading about the options here, and then come back with questions.

5) Heating
As with all biological systems, live plants have minimal, maximal and ideal temperature ranges. There are cool, cold, warm and very warm tropical plants and of course you should research and select thermally compatible species to go together. "most" plants sold in aquarium stores are tropical, but do some research on each strain. Some are from S.E. Asia, some are from africa, south america, etc. All will have different wants from their heat and water qualities.

6) Water: preparation, treating, testing
Water, as they say, is a lot more than just H-2-O; and even if you could get "pure water" your plants and fishes couldn't live in it. Both need dissolved gases, minerals and other matter to survive and grow. You need to consider the source of the water. From your tap - cheap, easy, probably has ammonia, definitely has chlorine/chloramines, TDS (Total dissolved solids) is probably quite high. From the local fish store - perfect; r/o removes almost all TDS, no chemicals, and buffered to your pH/kH needs (but costs a lot more!).

Testing. Learn about the ammonia cycle http://www.thetropicaltank.co.uk/cycling2.htm, then buy an API test kit or prepare to make frequent trips to your LFS for them to test for you. Also, consider the fishless, pure ammonia cycle. It's more humane, and gives you more control.
http://www.csupomona.edu/~jskoga/Aquariums/Ammonia.html

7) Nutrients, including Carbon Dioxide
Ho Lee Sheets, now we get complicated. You need to start worrying about more than one thing here! Minerals will be added from your substrate, trace from your tap water (if you go that route), fish poop, and dosages from a bottle. Good luck learning this stuff (start off easy -trace minerals and extra iron) http://www.yamatogreen.com/plantnutrients101.htm

You also need CO2. You can go with a reactor system, which is messy, cheap (up front) and expensive (monthly) or a pressurized system which is clean, expensive (up front) and cheap (monthly). The pressurized CO2 system becomes cheaper than a reactor after about 6 months, depending on the cost of CO2 refills in your area. Also, the pressurized system can explode and horribly mutilate everything the room if you mess up. But hey, thats why you're taking it slow and reading about how to not mess up :) http://www.plantedtank.net/articles/Pressurized-CO2/19/

8) Plants
Finally, something we care about! Ideally you've planned, known all along which plant species you intended from the get go, all the way back to your tank purchase. If not, check out some common plants, google "asian aquarium plants" or any geographical answer and click around for awhile. Make sure your final mix of plants will all agree on temperature, light, chemical compatibility, water hardness, who is tall, who is short, who floats, etc. This will largely be personal prefference. There's no problem at all in posting a picture saying, "This looks awesome. what is it and what else can I grow with it?"

9) Planting, aquascaping
Real pros go so far as to prepare schematics detailing top and front layout views of what decor items and plants are to be placed where. Or not. There's a ton of advice available on thegreenmachine (a UK company) that details all the thought that goes into aquascaping. But be warned - even though this step is almost the last one, its the first to consider. If you mess this up - you don't like how this piece of wood looks, or this rock is too tall, or anything else, its VERY hard to re-do after you've moved on. Check out the green machine for some inspiration and lecturing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZDexLMZFrU&feature=plcp

10) Maintenance
Ongoing care of your aquarium garden should be a breeze by design. A few minutes a day to check on the temperature and CO2 bubbling, filter function, and sparse feeding of fishes. Weekly routines might include partial water changes, nutrient checking and adjustment, perhaps some clipping, snipping of plant over-growth. Longer term maintenance entails lighting lamp replacement, re-enrichment or replacement of substrate additives', to the yearly (or longer) total re-do.







WHAT YOU NEED TO DO TODAY
Keep your fish alive, and get rid of them when possible via selling or trading (assuming you don't want them in your final setup). Do not add stuff to the tank, at all.

To clean your filter media, do a partial water change of your tank, gently squeeze/rub the filter into the old tank water (the part you just drained) and then add it back into the filter.

I have that same filter. The media cartridge is balls and falls apart - replace it if you haven't in the last month (only if you still have fish).

Second, write a budget. Decide total cost you're willing to throw down initially, and how much you're willing to spend on your monthly maintenance bill. Wait 4 days. Look at the numbers, see if they are still reasonable. Wait 4 days. Show them to someone important to you, get their opinion. Wait 4 days. Look at them again, see if they are still reasonable. Repeat this process as needed until you are 100% sure of your budget. Then come back to us and share your monetary restrictions, your visions of tank-ness, and we'll work with you on what corners to cut (or if you're rich, what awesome swag to buy)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Holy crap, that was a lot of info, lol.

Well I really appreciate it and I thank you for including the hyperlinks so that I can see what is being mentioned. I will probably just toss the 2 fish since they are 2 sucking loaches and I was hoping that they would clean up the algae mess. But I will refer back to your post when in the process of rebuilding. I eventually want either a 50 gallon or a 60 gallon tank but figured it would be better to start off with a 10 gallon. Didn't know that it would be harder to do everything that I wanted to do with a 10 gallon.

As for the lighting, I do have a clamp light above my tank. The tank in on our desk in the den and had plenty of clamp points so I figured it would be best to use one of those.

Now for the plants.

If I was to grow dwarf hairgrass, which I really love the look of, could I just put enough water in the tank to submerge the substrate and let the grass grow that way, then when it carpets submerge the whole tank, or would it be better to fill the tank, then place the plants. I have heard both ways are "the best" but figured that if a plant got used to growing with air, it would have a hard time developing to submersion, and that if I didn't submerse it, I couldn't administer CO2.

What are your thoughts?

As far as the fish are concerned, I could care less about getting anymore fish anytime soon. I want my plants to have a good grasp and be on their way before adding fauna.

As for the other topics, I will do more research.

Oh yeah, the Green Machine rocks. I love their island.

Thank you for the mega-post and I will bookmark it so that I can go back to it for reference.
 

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The best advice I have for you is to copy a tank you really like, and is relatively easy to replicate, and make sure it is more of a beginner tank. DHG can be grown and carpeted in medium light and no CO2 (a lot slower than with). I find that It would be easier for a beginner to start off submerged from the start. The filtration system you have, I would replace because planted tanks benefit a lot from a good amount of current. I have a AC50 on my tank (which is a 10 as well) and have it about half to three fourths powered. Have easy plants, like moss, and see what you really like. I would think about the livestock you want to have as well so you can start to decide what you might want to change. My main advice to you is just to just read up on all the threads and make sure you understand par. If you want a new lighting fixture, then I would recommend you get the Finnex Fugeray and have that. It is relatively inexpensive and won't kill the electric bill.
 

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[/quote] [QUOTE="deathdealerdelta, post: 2069067, member: 57620"]

Holy crap, that was a lot of info, lol.

Well I really appreciate it and I thank you for including the hyperlinks so that I can see what is being mentioned. I will probably just toss the 2 fish since they are 2 sucking loaches and I was hoping that they would clean up the algae mess.
Give them to a local fish store (lfs), they might give you a buck or two store credit. Don't just kill them.
But I will refer back to your post when in the process of rebuilding. I eventually want either a 50 gallon or a 60 gallon tank but figured it would be better to start off with a 10 gallon. Didn't know that it would be harder to do everything that I wanted to do with a 10 gallon.
Well if you have a single fish die and don't notice for 5-6 hours, it will release some ammonia. If its in a 5 gallon tank, that "some" is a large portion of the overall volume of your tank. If its a 100 gallon tank, the "some" is almost invisible. smaller tanks are neat, and I want a 4 gallon cube for my desk, but the smallest mistake can crash the whole thing. You have to go super slow and understand everything you're going to do in a smaller tank; they are much less forgiving.
As for the lighting, I do have a clamp light above my tank. The tank in on our desk in the den and had plenty of clamp points so I figured it would be best to use one of those.
Figure out its PAR. http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/showthread.php?t=184368 Lots of reading, but important to know.
Now for the plants.

If I was to grow dwarf hairgrass, which I really love the look of, could I just put enough water in the tank to submerge the substrate and let the grass grow that way, then when it carpets submerge the whole tank, or would it be better to fill the tank, then place the plants.
The two ways of doing plants are submerged, and emerged. Below or above water. It's more advanced to do it above water, you have to seal your tank, keep it at appropriate humidity, etc. And if you mess up at all, you're not going any faster than the normal way. But if you do go submerged, fill the tank up. It will help the ammonia cycle and seed your filter.
I have heard both ways are "the best" but figured that if a plant got used to growing with air, it would have a hard time developing to submersion, and that if I didn't submerse it, I couldn't administer CO2.

What are your thoughts?

As far as the fish are concerned, I could care less about getting anymore fish anytime soon. I want my plants to have a good grasp and be on their way before adding fauna.
Good. There are two ways to proceed from where you are:
1) Spend a LOT of time
2) Spending a LOT of money

and option 2 is still not nearly as smart, even if you are rich. Patience is something this hobby forces you to have, no questions.
As for the other topics, I will do more research.

Oh yeah, the Green Machine rocks. I love their island.

Thank you for the mega-post and I will bookmark it so that I can go back to it for reference.
Good luck :)

Also, off of what Smitty said, post pictures/links of a tank you really like and we can ID the plants, and what intensity of lighting, etc you would need to achieve that look. Try some google searches for "dutch" "jungle" and "iwagumi" aquariums to start out.
 

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Ok these 2 pictures show you my filter housing, I have bacteria growing in the back part behind the charcoal filter and in my filter media which is between the charc filter and the exit point. In the other picture you can see the algae growing on the filter media and then stringing into my water.

What needs to be done about this?
From what I can see, it is directly under your light and like you mentioned earlier, your lighting period is long. I believe that filter has a cover and that should help algae from growing in your filter.

You can use a brush to clean out the filter using tank water and get all that algae out.

btw, great write up Exie!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Hey I appreciate all of the help with this. I have decided to start over and do it right. I have been wanting to get a new filter setup for awhile, I just don't like the way it just hangs there and doesn't move a lot of water.

I also plan on actually thinking about how I want the setup instead of what I did when I started the tank and threw everything in there.

Again, I really appreciate the time and effort you all have put in to helping me out, thank you.
 
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