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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It has been along time since I first started coming on here. I had to put my dream of starting a planted aquarium on hold due to the fact that some unforeseen obstacles came up. Well due to the fact that my almost seven year old daughter (birthday is in Feb) wants me to start our 10 gallon aquarium back up, my dream has been revived. However, due to a lack of funds at the moment, I am only allowed to do a low tech 10 gallon. Over the weekend me and my daughter went to our local Petco and got one bag of Activ Flora's Flora core in black and a Marineland HOB power Filter to replace my old filter (it was the reason the aquarium got shut down the last time). The last time the aquarium was running I had experimented with live plants so I already have a 15 watt fluorescent bulb designed for live plants that I can use, but at the moment don't remember the details on it. I also have free access to an incandescent strip light at work that I could use if I need to go the compact route later. The only area that I am stuck on is what plants and other decorations that I want to use, but I do have a rough idea in my mind. At my local Petco, they had a carved coconut shell that had Java Moss on it and when placed in the aquarium it would provide a open cave like shelter that I was thinking about getting instead of using a piece of wood or rocks. If I got it I was thinking about placing it in the midground. For the Background I was thinking about getting either some Jungle Val or Corkscrew Val. I was thinking about getting some Microsword for the foreground or mid ground, but I am not sure if this would be the best choice or not. I do know that I want something that looks similar to grass.

Could you all please give me some advice and help guide me in the right direction?

P.S. Sorry for the long post!

Thanks,
Amanda
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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Vals will outgrow a 10gal tank VERY quickly, so I'd go with some plants that wouldn't get nearly as tall. Sagittaria, Crypts, or Echinodorus angustifolius would still give you a "grassy" background if that's the look you're shooting for.

Echinodorus tenellus 'narrow' or 'micro' would be good choices for a carpeting grass. They've always done well for me in low light.
 

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i would try echindorus tennelus, which is a bit easier to grow than micro sword(which my petco has funny enough)
also crypts are a great idea as they are very easy to grow
they were one of the first plants i grew succesfully
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the advice! I just looked up the Echinodorus angustfolius and the tenellus and they both have the look I am going for. What do you think about the coconut shell with Java moss attached to it?

I also wanted to mention that tonight I looked at the fluorescent bulb that is in my light fixture and discovered that It is not a bulb designed for plants like I thought. Instead it is a regular aquarium bulb. So now I have two options, one is to buy a 15 watt fluorescent bulb that is rated for planted aquariums and the other is to use the incandescent fixture that I can bring home from work and buy two 10 watt Cloromax U shaped compact fluorescent bulbs for it. The 10 watt bulbs are rated at 6700 K. Which option would be the best way to go?
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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Your "regular aquarium bulb" may be just fine... do you see a kelvin rating on it anywhere? Most bulbs rated 5000-10000 kelvins will work just fine, and also some bulbs outside that rating as well.

As long as you don't have a REALLY low kelvin or an actinic (blue) bulb in there, you're probably fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I couldn't find any rating on the bulb. I will go ahead and use it and if it doesn't work out I will probably go the incandescent with the compacts route as it woulfd give me about 2 watts per gallon of light. I am planning on getting the aquarium up and running with just the substrate in it this weekend so that I can get the cycling process going and make sure that everything is okay and I will also be looking into buying my plants ether this week or next week. I just have one more question for now, should I buy one or two of each of the Echinodorus?
 

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Thanks for the advice! I just looked up the Echinodorus angustfolius and the tenellus and they both have the look I am going for. What do you think about the coconut shell with Java moss attached to it?

I also wanted to mention that tonight I looked at the fluorescent bulb that is in my light fixture and discovered that It is not a bulb designed for plants like I thought. Instead it is a regular aquarium bulb. So now I have two options, one is to buy a 15 watt fluorescent bulb that is rated for planted aquariums and the other is to use the incandescent fixture that I can bring home from work and buy two 10 watt Cloromax U shaped compact fluorescent bulbs for it. The 10 watt bulbs are rated at 6700 K. Which option would be the best way to go?
I just added a 15 watt bulb to my stock 10 gal hood to use, and it worked wonderfully. I was able to grow some pretty nice plants. I personally love the Scarlet Temple (not sure why it was thriving in my 10 gal, but it was!) it has beautiful bright magenta color under the top leaves. I had little trouble with Crypt's, Not sure, But the Crypt Parva might be a good choice, for a foreground plant. It has a nice look to it, with light green leaves. I have had luck with Tiger lotus bulbs, and Amazon Swords, although they tend to get pretty big. Anacharis is always a good choice, although it grows very very quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Just found out yesterday that Anacharis is illegal here in Alabama. I greatly appreciate and welcome everyone's suggestions. I hope to decide on the plants this week so that I can get them within the next couple of weeks (the sooner the better). I know of several places you can order plants, including on here, but I would like to ask is there anybody that I should avoid when it comes to getting plants? If there is already a thread regarding the question, please direct me to it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for the input fish h20!

The only reason I was going to get the aquarium running was just to make sure that everything works, get the temperature stable, and to play around with the layout of the substrate first. I want to take my time with this and do it right. I also don't have a whole lot of money to spend on plants, so I want to look around before I buy to not only look for the best deal, but to make sure that what I pick is what I want. I tend to over do it when it comes to doing research, but it is in my blood to do it.
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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Check out the sticky at the top of this forum for some low light plant suggestions.

Do keep in mind that planted tanks are ALWAYS trial and error, though... but experimenting to figure out which plants grow best in YOUR tank with YOUR specific water/tank conditions is at least half the fun! :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I have looked at the list and I am going to print it out during lunch today so that I can look them up and mark off what I do not like.

I totally agree with you in that figuring what plants look right and will work through experimentation is fun. That is why I have a degree in Zoology and why I make a living as an environmental lab analyst! It is just that I would like to get as close to right as I can at the get go so that I can avoid wasting too much money.
 

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I recently bought a fluorescent hood for my 10g tank and the bulb it came with is also the "Aquarium light" bulb and so far my plants are growing really well! You may actually find that using the incandescent fixture with spiral CFLs in it will give you so much light that you'll need to start adding CO2 so your best bet will probably be to stick with the fluorescent for now. :proud:

As others have said, adding plants right away is actually really helpful, unless you plan on changing out the entire substrate many times in which case they would just get in the way :hihi:

I'm not sure how well coconut shells do underwater long term, it seems to me they might get soft over time, but i'm honestly not sure.

There will definitely be some trial and error on what plants work in YOUR tanks....for example, java ferns are one of the low light staples but for some reason I have trouble growing them, go figure! Most people do have success with them though, also anubias, crypts, and mosses tend to do well in low light. For stems (which are good at the beginning especially because they grow fast and help with the cycling) i've had luck with wisteria (hygro difformis), sunset hygro (hygro polysperma 'rosanervig'), Also "foxtail" tends to be a good one for low light. The stems are all more "bushy" than grassy though, so may not be the look you're going for long term.

Anyway, you're definitely in the right place for advice! :proud:
 

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^ excellent advice, definitely make use of the swap n shop (sns) on this forum, you should be able to find most if not all of what you're looking for and you'll get much larger portions of much healthier plants for a lot less $ than you would elsewhere. I know you said you are on a budget so make sure to keep your eye out for RAOK (random act of kindness) postings in the sns too, basically these are usually folks who have trimmed their tanks and would rather give the clippings to a fellow hobbyist than throw them out, but who aren't looking to make $ so usually they'll just ask you for a few $ to cover shipping :thumbsup: even non-RAOK prices tend to be very reasonable when you compare how much and what you're getting to what you could find online or in a store :proud:
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I think that I have finally made up my mind on what plants I want. I am looking at getting the following:
Note: I went ahead and added the scientific name just for convenience.

Background- Water Wisteria- Hygrophila difformis (thought it would be good to get something that doesn't have a grass-like appearance)

Mid-ground- Narrow Leaf Java Fern- Microsorum pteropus v. 'narrow leaf'
I will be attaching it to a piece of driftwood.
If I can't find then I will just get another Java Fern.

Foreground- Echinodorus tenellus or Micro Sword- Lilaeopsis braziliensis

What do you all think about my selections?
 

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IME E. tenellus does much better in low light w/out CO2 than L. brasilensis. Also, keep in mind that there are at least 4 different varieties of E. tenellus (apparently they're all being studied and scientifically reclassified, even...). "Narrow" and "micro" are the ones that stay 2-3" tall. The regular and "red" versions get 4-6" tall.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
When I inspected my Fl. bulb there was some darker rings on the ends and I cannot recall how old it is (it may be at least 2 years old). So, I decided that I will go ahead and get another bulb. Since I can get the incandescent strip light from work for free, I was thinking about just ordering two Colormax 10 watt u-shaped compact Fl. bulbs for ~ $8-9 each instead of getting a T-8 Flour bulb for my exiting fixture. What would you guys do?
 
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