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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am experienced with aquariums but not planted tanks.

So after a lot of research, this is my evil plan:

20g Long (30*12*12)
Finnex Planted+
Activ-flora black substrate - w/ root tabs as necessary
AC30 filter

Fish:
Sparkling gouramis (6)
Celestial pearl danios (12-15?)
Habrosus dwarf cory (15?)
Likely a nerite snail or 2

The plan is to have a relatively warm tank (78-80) with fairly gentle water movement. This is for the sparkling gouramis. I have a glass cover so it should be humid.

Plants: This is where I need some assistance.
I really would like to do a ground cover, and a few types of mid-level plants in front of driftwood, then some taller/bushy plants behind.
I am open to ferts (PPS method) and/or Excel. But I am not going to do CO2.

Ground cover -
-Marsilea minuta/hirsuta (4 leaf clover). Is 78-80 too warm for this plant?
-Otherwise I'm open to suggestions - Glosso?

Midground -
1. Pogostemon helferi (Downoi)
2. Crypt parva
3. Sagittaria subulata (dwarf sag)? Or some sort of chain sword? Or Staurogyne repens?
4. Maybe something red?

Background -
-Not sure - Bacopa australis or carolina maybe?
-Heteranthera zosterifolia (Stargrass)

If I end up with too much light/algae, I'm open to floaters too.


Looking for any input or suggestions, especially in regards to the plants.

Thank you,
~Becky
 

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Sounds like a great plan! Nothing evil about it at all. If it were me, I'd go with an AC50 instead of a 30. I run 2x AC50's on my heavily planted 20g high, and I don't keep anywhere near as many fish as you're suggesting. 30-some fish might be pushing the limits of a 20g, no?

I've never tried Marsilea hirsuta, but in my experience, growing a lush ground cover (carpet) is one of the hardest challenges in the hobby. You might find it especially difficult without CO2.

Good luck! Let us know how things progress.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ok cool. I don't mind if the ground cover isn't super lush as that way I can watch the cories poking around through it. Just looking for some leaves down there.

I was planning to see how it goes with the AC30 and if needed I can add a second. But the cories and gouramis both prefer less water movement so I am trying to accommodate that.

Is Marsilea one that does well with DSM?
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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With the choice to not use CO2, I think you might have better luck with a few different plant selections. I'd go with M. minuta rather than M. hirsuta, I personally never had luck with Downoi or Stargrass without CO2, Rotala rotundifolia and some Crypts might be good choices for some reds.

Also, Crypt parva is teeny, so better in the foreground.

You might like Echinodorus 'vesuvius' as a midground plant instead? One of my own favorites, anyways.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I like the suggestion of Echinodorus 'vesuvius.' Cool looking plant. I could probably just swap that out for stargrass.

Exactly the kind of feedback I was hoping for.
 

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I learned the hard way with putting an AC 30 on my 20L. The water was always a little hazy and the sponges got dirty FAST. I just switched to a Marineland C-160 and the water is crystal clear. So if you plan on sticking with an AC, definitely go for the 50!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Alright, good to know. I already have the AC30 so I will probably just add another one to the opposite end of the tank.
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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Yikes, that is one heavy fish load for a 20G! You might want to think about reducing the number of fishes in there!
If the species in question weren't so tiny I'd probably agree with you... but in a heavily planted tank with regular water changes, I don't see any issues. :smile:
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
So the update...

Added the ActivFlora substrate - man that stuff is awesome! No rinsing at all and immediately running clear. 2 bags = perfect amount.

I did exchange the filter to the AC50. It definitely seems to be the right choice - thanks to everyone who recommended that.

Played around with my driftwood and ended up with this hardscape:


It's hard to see but there is part of the left piece of driftwood comes out to make an archway that reaches nearly to the front pane of the tank.


The background isn't quite that light in person. Also open to changes in the right hand driftwood arrangement (it is 2 pieces) if recommended. The left piece is pretty well stationed there as it doesn't have a lot of "wiggle room" so to speak.

Ended up with some changes to the plant selection - they are shipping now and should be here in a day or two.
-Marsilea minuta
-Ranunculus inundatus
-Hydrocotyle tripartita (Sp Japan)
-Lobelia cardinalis 'small form'
-Hemianthus glomeratus
-Bacopa australis
-Bacopa salzmannii
-Echinodorus angustifolia 'Vesuvius'


Keeping in mind I've really got no experience with these plants, my plans are as follows - please offer suggestions as to any thing that needs to be altered or what may work better.

-Marsilea minuta in the middle, between the driftwood pieces, probably leaving a "beach" area in the front middle for the dwarf cories to forage. Also maybe under that archway in front?
-Ranunculus inundatus on the right hand side, between the wood and the right glass (there's a doorway there so that side will also be a viewing pane).
-Hydrocotyle tripartita on the left side between the wood and glass. Also maybe under the archway instead of the M. minuta - and/or along the back behind the M. minuta. Suggestions?
-Lobelia cardinalis 'small form' against the right driftwood (in front of it / amongst it), also maybe along the back behind the M. minuta instead of the hydrocotyle?
-Hemianthus glomeratus behind the left driftwood in that corner, a nice big grouping of it as a good hiding spot (the least visible area anyways).
-Bacopa australis in the right rear corner / behind that driftwood.
-Bacopa salzmannii up against the base of the left driftwood.
-Echinodorus angustifolia 'Vesuvius' - not sure - maybe to the left of the left driftwood? Or right up against the vertical driftwood? Or poking up between the L. cardinalis & the right driftwood?

Should I have something tall growing up along the back middle, behind the driftwood? I was thinking it will give it a more "roomy" feel with just short stuff back there but maybe it will just look odd instead.


Thank you for any input.
 

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I see a very large problem with your light and it being at that height.

I have the same fixture for my 75g which is set to 21" above the substrate. At 17" I got a lot of algae and I was forced to raise it.

With you tank being even shorter I feel you will need to raise it up a fair bit or you will for sure face algae issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Would duckweed (or similar) fix that issue? Otherwise I can put some kind of screen over the glass top to shield it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
So ended up planting in the areas more or less indicated in the above post. Plants arrived looking very good - thanks Bartohog. Got it mostly planted late last night and then did the M. minuta this afternoon.





Looking at everything planted I can see it will need a bit more red/color going on. For the time being I'll just let stuff grow in a bit though. And probably grab some duckweed. Doing a split photo period until I add fish.

Question:
Ranunculus inundatus & Hydrocotyle tripartita both have roots and also little runner things connecting the plants. I don't know if the runners are akin to a rhizome and need to stay above the substrate or not. Should I separate the individual plants and ensure that the runners are above the substrate, or does it not matter?
 

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The tank is starting to look real good. Your driftwood has numerous places to attach Anubias, which would provide a deeper green color.
When the plants grow in some, and you see what space you have, you could consider getting 1 or 2 Red Tiger Lotuses (Nymphae) to give the tank that touch of red contrast you're looking for.
 

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I also considered Planted+ for my 20 long but I heard it's difficult to keep off the algae without CO2, so I got a weaker light and my plants are growing fine with it. Curious to see how yours turn out. It's looking good so far.
 
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