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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm starting a 2.5gal planted tank and need soem guidance now that it's running.

The run down
--florite substrate with a decent dusting of sand for looks and better root hold at the surface
-- in-tank filter for a 10gal tank (gotta keep the tank water clean, current is mild)
--40w overhead grow light in a desk lamp fixture for now.
--small heater, water temps are around 80*F

Livestock:
one dwarf puffer
pond snails and a couple maylasian trumpet snails for the puffer to eat

Plants
I have some I'm not sure of and some I know:
-1 melon sword
-some java fern
-some crypts of some kind. They're small with very thin leaves and what look like runners shooting out
-some other broad leaf ground hugging plant
-one dieing "something"wort that was free. The stem is alive and green, but no leaves.
-one banana plant
-two fairly broad leaf, small plants.

with the exception of the melon sword, none of these plants are more than 3" tall. They were in the tank with a 4w light for 3 days and are looking pretty ragged. The smails also seem to be dining on one of the plants. Will they change to algae once I get some growing in the tank and leave the plants alone?

what should I do for a light cycle? I hear 12 hrs tossed around, but know it depends on the tank and light. I have a huge ammount of light for this little tank, but figure it will work for now, right?

basically, I'm keeping this cheap, trying to work with what I have and need to keep my puffer happy (i.e. keep the snails for food). What do I need to know about what I have? Also, I understand it's a bit of a PITA to recomend stuff for mystery plants, but I couldn't find them in the list w/pics on this site.

goals for the tank?
a cheap, good looking planted tank that's a happy home for my dwarf puffer (not a brackish fish, 100% fresh water). I woudl like some grassy or mossy 'carpet' cover eventually, but I think I need to let my taller plants take hold, correct?
 

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Welcome to PT cody!

Ok, let's take this one at a time :)

Snails eating plants:
Snails (and shrimp for that matter too) typically dine on decaying plant matter. If you plants are seriously suffering and on the road to dying, you snails will probably munch them. The best way to stop this is to get your plants healthy. What are you doing for ferts? What are you doing to supply carbon? DIY CO2? Flourish Excel? Get your plants back to healthy and at least your MTSs will stop eating them. The pond snails are another story. I've never kept them myself, but have heard they'll chew on healthy plants too. Get them some algae wafers or boil them some spinach in the meantime. It'll be an easier meal for them and they'll hopefully leave your plants alone until they can recover.

Photoperiod:
12 hours is WAY too long with that much light. I'm curious what exactly the grow bulb is. I assume it's a compact flourescent? I would look to drop that down to somewhere around 23w-27w. You can get a 23w 5600k-6700k bulb at Walmart for about $5. Even with the lower wattage bulb you'll want to stay around 8 hours. You can play with bumping it up to 10, but you'll likely see algae outbreaks. Start with 8 for now.

Mystery plants:
Post a pic if you can ;)

Moss and carpet:
There's no reason to wait until you other plants take off, but that's entirely up to you. If you've read about the "fast growing stem plants" that just to help your tank cycle. If you want to get started with the other plants now, go right ahead.

Good luck! :proud:
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Now that you mention it, the snail was on one of the leaves in poor shape and left the 'good half' alone.

the light isn't labled as a 'grow light' now that I think about it. It's a 'plant light' with some blue stuff sprayed on the front to filter the light. I'm betting it's just a color filter for asthetics. It's made by GE and mentions nothing about the color spectrum.

Ferts and Carbon:
I havent' added anything. I was told that the florite will be plenty for the plants for a while. As for CO2, I'm hoping the surface aggitation will aid in gas exchange. There is new water in contact with the air quite often so this should keep everything in a pretty happy equilibrium, right? I don't want to have to spend money on a CO2 system for such a small tank if I can avoid it.

as far as the moss goes, I've changed things a few times and don't want to have to worry about working in and around the ground cover. I think I'm settled now so maybe I'll have ground cover soon.
 

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Now that you mention it, the snail was on one of the leaves in poor shape and left the 'good half' alone.

the light isn't labled as a 'grow light' now that I think about it. It's a 'plant light' with some blue stuff sprayed on the front to filter the light. I'm betting it's just a color filter for asthetics. It's made by GE and mentions nothing about the color spectrum.

Ferts and Carbon:
I havent' added anything. I was told that the florite will be plenty for the plants for a while. As for CO2, I'm hoping the surface aggitation will aid in gas exchange. There is new water in contact with the air quite often so this should keep everything in a pretty happy equilibrium, right? I don't want to have to spend money on a CO2 system for such a small tank if I can avoid it.

as far as the moss goes, I've changed things a few times and don't want to have to worry about working in and around the ground cover. I think I'm settled now so maybe I'll have ground cover soon.
Flourite contains iron and some trace elements, but that's about it. The reason many people use it is because it has a high CEC, meaning it holds lots of nutrients for plants, but doesn't contains said nutrients like NPK. Whether or not your bioload will produce enough to support your plants I can't say though.

Surface agitation results in a lower CO2 content, because CO2 escapes water much faster than it dissolves in. The more surface area you have, the faster the CO2 dissipates. The water shouldn't be stagnant, but you don't want that waterfall effect that most HOB filters tend to cause.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I woudl think, based on my chem lessions, that co2 will stay more or less in eqilibrium with the atomosphere??? I know it wont' have extra, but it should replinish wha'ts used, right?
the fliter doesn't give a waterfall effect. It's an in-tank filter so I get a little 'bump' at the surface where the outlet flows and then the little bit of current up top. There isn't any bubbling or anything like that.

Would it be wise to dose the tank with some kind of fert? what should i use and how often? I'm betting it can't be too expensive for such a small tank. I can cut my bar intake down a drink a week to pay for it :wink: I'm assuming the bio-load will be fairly low since there is only one very small fish and a few snails in the tank.
 

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You're right that the tank will naturally acheive an equillibrium, but that doesn't mean that the amount of CO2 dissolved is enough for your plants. When you break it down to parts per million (ppm) you're average tank will probably hover somewhere around 3-5ppm. The ideal amount of CO2 for the plants to grow well is closer to 30-40ppm. I agree that a CO2 setup is not worth it for small tanks. You can acheive excellent results with Flourish Excel (get it here if you can't find it locally http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produ...Ntx=mode+matchallpartial&Np=1&pc=1&N=0&Nty=1). $5.00 worth will last you for close to a year with that small a tank. Also, with Excel, you're adding organic carbon in a liquid form so you have no concern about outgassing.

As far as your other ferts are concernced, see the link in my sig. ;)
 

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you want a more concentrate form of carbon for the plants, use flourish excel, it about $9 for a 250ml bottle

if you want to venture into a DIY co2 for a small tank be sure to watch it closely especially if you have fish and such

edit : ninja Solstice
 

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Discussion Starter #8
cool, I'll look into that thread and check out the carbon dosing products.

anything else stand out that I need to know? I'm pretty excited about this project.
 

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Plants
I have some I'm not sure of and some I know:
-1 melon sword
-some java fern
-some crypts of some kind. They're small with very thin leaves and what look like runners shooting out
-some other broad leaf ground hugging plant
-one dieing "something"wort that was free. The stem is alive and green, but no leaves.
-one banana plant
-two fairly broad leaf, small plants.
I'd say that you'll have some problems with some of these plants eventually. The Melon Sword will grow upto 20'' tall (or more), for example. Likewise, banana plant, some Java ferns and some crypts will grow rather big for a 2.5 gallon tank. Of course, it all depends on what effect you want to have with your aquarium but maybe you could try to find some smaller plants, too? Here's a list of small plants that I compiled some while ago:
Check out the. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I was worried about some of these plants.I figured the melon sword would be too big to last.

I don't really want a jungle look in the tank, but I know it's going to be hard to avoid w/o constant work in such a small tank. I want decent ground cover, some low plants in the front and a few taller ones scattered around. Basically I want it to look as close to a large planted tank as possible...just small.

The plants I bought were a quick fix and a cheap test bed for my plant keeping skills. I've never kept plants, only fish, so I didn't want to spend a bunch on stuff I may or may not kill. These were half off and some were free so I jumped on it. It helps making friends and spending way to much money at the local fish store sometimes. I'll run thorugh your pico plant list and pick some things out and see what I can do with it.
thanks for the help, keep the suggestions pouring.
 
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