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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everybody. I'm almost ready to actually start my tank, so I figured I'd start my journal to document the pre-tank stuff. Partly just for myself and partly for others. So I finally got my 6500k cfl bulbs. They are 13w but are a "60w replacement" I really hope they are strong enough. I also just bought Mircacle Grow Organic Potting Soil for a sweet deal! Super excited to start my hardscape process!
 

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I ran those same bulbs on a 10 gallon and I'd say they were "high end of low light' .. I was able to grow some hygro, anubias, java fern, java moss etc. I couldn't grow micro swords though. I was trying to do it in gravel though. How many are you going to have over your tank? Are they going to be sideways or vertical (like in a lamp) ..?? sideways is lower par value than upside down (like a pendant lamp)

Edit: Oregon ... saweeeeeet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I ran those same bulbs on a 10 gallon and I'd say they were "high end of low light' .. I was able to grow some hygro, anubias, java fern, java moss etc. I couldn't grow micro swords though. I was trying to do it in gravel though. How many are you going to have over your tank? Are they going to be sideways or vertical (like in a lamp) ..?? sideways is lower par value than upside down (like a pendant lamp)

Edit: Oregon ... saweeeeeet.

I was planning on having 2 facing downward. The other option I had was a 60w ("100 watt equivalent") bulb.. So I erred on the side of caution. The ones I bought say they are a "60 watt equivalent" but now I'm not sure I'm keeping them.. Should I return them and get the 60w?

Edit: Go Oregon :D
 

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2 13 cfls on a 5g tank is just asking for disaster. That's an insane amount of light for such a small tank.You should be fine with a single 10w.

What plants are you planning on growing?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
2 13 cfls on a 5g tank is just asking for disaster. That's an insane amount of light for such a small tank.You should be fine with a single 10w.

What plants are you planning on growing?
To be honest I'm not very plant savvy yet. I have s list I wrote somewhere of some plants I liked when I saw them but... Let me get back to you on this soon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
2 13 cfls on a 5g tank is just asking for disaster. That's an insane amount of light for such a small tank.You should be fine with a single 10w.

What plants are you planning on growing?
Alright I checked and I'm really interested in growing glossostigma, anubias, and fissidens. I'm always open to ideas though!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
So! I bought the desk lamp I'll be using to light the tank, and I took some pics to show the general idea I have here. Please ignore the corners of my table... My puppy thought it was the funniest thing in the world to chew on it..

https://flic.kr/p/niaeXN


https://flic.kr/p/nkcF9n
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I sifted my MGOPS and it's as fluffy as down :D .. So I've been researching how to mineralize it and it looks like the DSM would be the best way for me to go. I'm still researching, trying to figure out how to do DSM because I can't find a sticky/guide for it. If anyone could point me towards a how-to I'd be grateful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Okay.. I set up my aquarium, all except for plants. I used my sifted MGOPS as the bottom layer, and capped and bordered it with play sand that I washed and did some sifting on. The only problem is I really think I have too thin of a layer of MGOPS under the sand.. The back slope has around one inch of MGOPS but towards the front it gets down to around 1/4" or 1/8".. Any feedback? I may be going to petco/petsmart today to get plants to plant but I'm still researching what I'll be putting in. Thanks for any replies.
 

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For such a small aquarium you really don't need that much in my opinion. I did a natural tank 5.5 too. I ended up ripping it all out because I used dwarf saggitaria and it exploded and the leaves were easily 6 inches long and it was everywhere. I couldn't pull the runners without a mess of potting soil everywhere. When I removed everything about 3 months after setting it up it smelled really bad. My soil had gone anerobic even though I always kept stabbing it and used malasian trumpet snails. I might try again, on a larger tank. Personally I think a small amt is all you need. You can always supplement with root tabs. On my small tank as it stands now I only do a water change every 2 weeks or so. I try to not disturb the sand too much. When I do, I do a water change because junk flies and it's unsightly and can cause an ammonia spike.

I don't mean to alarm you in any way. I had a bad experience but I've seen sooo many journals of "el natural" tanks that were sucesses. I chose a plant that was supposed to stay small but didn't. If I was to do it again I'd use hair grass or some other plant that people use for nanos.

Try petsmart for your plants. In the aquarium section you can find plants that are in the little gel packs on an end cap. They're about $5-8 and you get quite a bit for that price and the quality "can" be good depending on how long they have sat there. The petco's up here have bad quality plants. They're all covered in nasty caked on black algae and all of their tanks have BGA which means they don't do enough water changes. Closely examine the plants before you buy them. If your gut instinct says no, then don't get them. IMO it's worth spending a little on shipping to get it from a forum member.

As for the lights - on my 5.5 I've been running one of those t5 normal outputs. It does a really good job. No algae to speak of (other than the junk on the glass (dust)) but nothing I can't handle. I only put in some seachem comprehensive every once and a while (I've since upgraded to Nilcog's liquid ferts) and I have 2 of the daylight bulbs in the fixture. Granted it's 24" long on a 16" tank but that's the equivilent of about an 11w cfl straightened out (x2) over the tank. I have it raised up about an inch with some wooden blocks so it's not right against the glass (water) ..

(on the left)




^^and thats after ripping out about 15 plants of bylxa japonica. The light looks dim due to 100% coverage by floaters at all times (salvinia minima) and my 6500k bulb burned out so it's 1x6500k and 1 colormax (junk)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
For such a small aquarium you really don't need that much in my opinion. I did a natural tank 5.5 too. I ended up ripping it all out because I used dwarf saggitaria and it exploded and the leaves were easily 6 inches long and it was everywhere. I couldn't pull the runners without a mess of potting soil everywhere. When I removed everything about 3 months after setting it up it smelled really bad. My soil had gone anerobic even though I always kept stabbing it and used malasian trumpet snails. I might try again, on a larger tank. Personally I think a small amt is all you need. You can always supplement with root tabs. On my small tank as it stands now I only do a water change every 2 weeks or so. I try to not disturb the sand too much. When I do, I do a water change because junk flies and it's unsightly and can cause an ammonia spike.

I don't mean to alarm you in any way. I had a bad experience but I've seen sooo many journals of "el natural" tanks that were sucesses. I chose a plant that was supposed to stay small but didn't. If I was to do it again I'd use hair grass or some other plant that people use for nanos.

Try petsmart for your plants. In the aquarium section you can find plants that are in the little gel packs on an end cap. They're about $5-8 and you get quite a bit for that price and the quality "can" be good depending on how long they have sat there. The petco's up here have bad quality plants. They're all covered in nasty caked on black algae and all of their tanks have BGA which means they don't do enough water changes. Closely examine the plants before you buy them. If your gut instinct says no, then don't get them. IMO it's worth spending a little on shipping to get it from a forum member.

As for the lights - on my 5.5 I've been running one of those t5 normal outputs. It does a really good job. No algae to speak of (other than the junk on the glass (dust)) but nothing I can't handle. I only put in some seachem comprehensive every once and a while (I've since upgraded to Nilcog's liquid ferts) and I have 2 of the daylight bulbs in the fixture. Granted it's 24" long on a 16" tank but that's the equivilent of about an 11w cfl straightened out (x2) over the tank. I have it raised up about an inch with some wooden blocks so it's not right against the glass (water) ..

(on the left)




^^and thats after ripping out about 15 plants of bylxa japonica. The light looks dim due to 100% coverage by floaters at all times (salvinia minima) and my 6500k bulb burned out so it's 1x6500k and 1 colormax (junk)

Thanks for the strong post! I'm going to try my luck with how I did the substrate. I'll see what happens but I appreciate your honest info. You mention hairgrass- that happens to be my favorite plant. If I could have much 5g be just a big carpet of hairgrass I'd be incredibly happy :D Do you think I could grow it with my current setup?

Lighting- I went with the cfl because it was cheap. 4 bucks for a 3 pack of bulbs, and 5 bucks for a lamp at goodwill. I plan right now to DSM my plants with 1x 13w 6500k daylight cfl bulb. Is this a good plan?

Again thanks for the strong response! Looking forward to learning more about this with you.


Edit: Thought it would be worthwhile to note that I really want to add fish to this tank eventually- are there any types of plants I need for shrimp? I read it might be a good idea to have moss for them?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
5/5/2014 Update!!! I perused my local Petco and found some "Java Fern-Narrow Leaf" aka Microsorium pteropus I loved how it looked so I got it :) Got home, planted it, and this is the result. The reason I pulled the trigger is I remembered hearing about Java Fern being a really hardy and easy to grow plant. Here is the pic if I can manage to get it to work... I couldn't, so here is the link.. https://flic.kr/p/ne93XS
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Is the whole plant planted or just the roots?The rhizome will rot if buried.

youtube.com/watch?v=V1aGNTMxc4s
It WAS fully planted at the time I posted but I double checked and Googled how to plant them.. So I exposed the rhizome. I'm really hoping this works..
If these start to grow well I plan on adding some sort of stock to the tank.. Maybe shrimp, maybe fish. Unsure so far.
 

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2 13 cfls on a 5g tank is just asking for disaster. That's an insane amount of light for such a small tank.You should be fine with a single 10w.

What plants are you planning on growing?
What this guy said. Basically, 13 watts on a 5.5 gallon tank is almost 3 watts per gallon. That's almost high light, and without co2, you could easily grow algae. If you're using two, that's definitely more light than you'll ever need. Be careful there.

Also, all three plants that you described can grow easily in medium light, with glosso being the fastest grower. Anubias and Fissidens both grow pretty slowly. I have glosso in my high light, co2 injected tank and it grows like a weed...
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
What this guy said. Basically, 13 watts on a 5.5 gallon tank is almost 3 watts per gallon. That's almost high light, and without co2, you could easily grow algae. If you're using two, that's definitely more light than you'll ever need. Be careful there.

Also, all three plants that you described can grow easily in medium light, with glosso being the fastest grower. Anubias and Fissidens both grow pretty slowly. I have glosso in my high light, co2 injected tank and it grows like a weed...
I have 1 13w cfl on there right now.. I may end up putting some sort of cloth over the light so that it restricts some of the light..
Right now I have it set to do an 8 hour photoperiod.. Any thoughts on that?
 

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8-9 hrs is fine. If you start to see hints of algae, raise the light up an inch or 2. I was having algae issues in my planted 1.75g vase. Light was 6" above the waterline but when I raised it to 8", algae disappeared and has yet to return in 5+ months.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
8-9 hrs is fine. If you start to see hints of algae, raise the light up an inch or 2. I was having algae issues in my planted 1.75g vase. Light was 6" above the waterline but when I raised it to 8", algae disappeared and has yet to return in 5+ months.
Hah... My light is way closer to the waterline than that... I might need to change that.. It's about 3.5" to 4"..
 

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You don't necessarily need to add a cloth over the tank. A single raised 13w cfl will be fine. Just try to limit algae growth. If algae starts to grow, lower the photoperiod.
 
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