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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, I am new to the planted world and have been researching how to get started the right way. I've been seeing where people set their tank up "emersed" for awhile and then fill it up. Is this the "norm" for setting up a planted tank? Is this to allow the plants to take root in the substrate? Should I set up my 10g with eco-complete(mixed with black gravel) and then plant and fill with an inch or two of water for a few days or weeks? I am thinking dwarf baby tears and dwarf hairgrass for my foreground and maybe some anacharis, anubias, and some swords in the bachground with a school of tetras of guppies(1 male 3 females)

Also, what is an average price for driftwood? My LFS sells "spider wood" but its a bit pricey, and do I have to pre-soak or worry about driftwood leaching, does it mess with pH?

Thanks!
 

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Some plants perform well emersed, and some will not. HC (dwarf baby tears), hairgrass, and anubias will all perform well emersed. Swords can grow emersed as well, but the leaves will change shape potentially dramatically. The anacharis can only be grown submersed. The purpose of starting emersed is to allow the plants to spread and root, without having to worry about algae, CO2, or the paintstaking difficulty of planting HC and hairgrass individually underwater. Expect to let these plants grow out for several weeks before filling with water. This is not for the impatient. :)
 

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Setting up an emmersed tank is alot of fun and cool to watch as it develops, but is not neccessary. It does help in the battle against algae though, to some extent as the plants are already developed and on their way, as opposed to setting up a new tank with plants and flicking the light on. As for pros/cons of emersed set up, I'll let other answer that part.

A mix of EC and Black gravel sounds find, but do realize though, that over time, the smaller of the two substrates will naturally end up on the bottom. If you have eco complete, I'd just use that straight up. One bag should be enough for a 10gl tank, and if not, then you could always put the smaller of the two on the bottom and cap with the larger substrate. You'll want about 2 inches or so in the front. Most people angle the substrate slightly up towards the back, as this helps to create a sense of depth. It also depends on the plant species being planted too. Vals, and other background plants tend to have dense root systems that require deeper substrate than say, a forground or Marsilea (though Marsilea's roots will go quite deep, I don't find them to be as long as Vals).

Your foreground ideas sound good, given you have sufficient lighting and Co2. Dwarf baby tears require high light to obtain that carpeting affect and to fill in horizontally. If grown under low light, I find that they are prone to melting/rotting way, and or growing up vertically towards the light, instead of spreading by runners sideways (horizontally).

For the background, Anacharis is an alright choice. I say alright cause I'm more than impartial in my distaste for it. I find it unsightly, haha. But to each their own, right.
The Sword may not be a good idea, depending on the species used. For a 10gl tank, I would suggest using E. bolivianus if you're substrate is sloped from back to front. It is a type of chain sword, spreading by runners that doesn't grow too big. Another idea would be to use either vals, or Lilaeopsis sp.

Anubias would be more of a midground plant, that will succombe to brush algae if not water parameters and lighting are not taken into account.
They are really easy slow growing plants, but because of this, they are prone to the algaes. Just keep an eye on it. You could probs make the anubias happy if you shaded it with something, or had it tucked under some Java fern or something similar.

Driftwood prices vary, depending on source, size and weight. I am lucky as I get amazing prices even at a store out here (theres a lady who sells it for super low in her store). But you can always do some self collecting.
Will it alter pH? Yes/No. It depends on how aged it is and how much, if any, has been soaked/leaked out already.
It will soften the water and lower pH as the tannins leach out. This is not a big deal, as its natural and happens in nature all the time. Just keep an eye on it. Over time, the tea colour of the water will go away, but expect it for a long while if its a brand new piece of wood.
Pre-soaked wood costs more usually, as the wieght has increased, along with shipping charges to the store.
I collect my own alot of times. Just make sure to scrub it good, and boil it or whatever (don't use chemicals...duh).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
thanks guys, Ive been a reef keeper for 5 years so I have developed patience, so a few weeks is not bad for me to waite. I will post pics when I get the tank soiled and planted, hopefully this afternoon.

Would the E. bolivianus, vals, or Lilaeopsis sp. be ok to be planted emersed or should I wait to fill the tank up?

Also, with going emersed, should there be any bubbles, heaters, or any other steps taken while the plants are rooting? Or do I just add substrate, plants, and an inch of water?

Do you guys recomend using fert. tabs under the eco-complete?

One more question, thanks for your patience guys; I have an ro/di unit for my reef tank water(0ppm) should I use this for the planted tank? I have a well for my source water, so no chlorine like city water.

Thanks very much guys! I am heading to the lfs to grab a #20 bag of black eco-complete, a piece of driftwood, and going to see if they have any dwarf hairgrass. I will post pics later!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Got 'er dun!
I got 2 pieces(one small, one medium) of driftwood soaking in a bucket for a day or two, then Ill be adding them to the scape.
I got a 20 lb. bag of eco-complete, corkscrews, banana plants, micro swords, and a red and a green wendeth, and another I forgot the name of. I decided not to do the emersed method, I just filled it up with ro/di water, I dont think I will get an algae bloom, but thats what snails are for, right?
Here are some pics:







I am going to be DIY'ing a light this evening, I intended to use 2 15w strip lights, but only 1 will fit because I have to use the hood it came with because the lights are too narrow. Without the stock hood the light wont fit, any tips?
I may have to just buy a new hood with two incandescent fixtures in it and use 2 23w CFL's. I will keep you all posted!
 

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I am new to the whole planted tank thing as well, and have been doing a TON of reading. One thing that seems to be a good rule of thumb is to plant 75% of the substrate immediate even though you will replace, or move most of the plants. This seems to be a good way to avoid Algae blooms. I have three Crypt Wendtii (red)'s in my tank, and even though I keep getting told they grow slow, mine are growing like weeds, even popping out new plants (two in the past couple weeks)
 

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First off you are off to a good start and made some good plant choices.

For layout ideas though, the microsword should probs be added to the front of the tank, as it will carpet out and make a nice foreground.
The Crypts will be a good midground plant and can be planted in front of/around/between the rocks/driftwood. These are lower light plants. Just keep an eye for brush algae (snails don't generally eat this). If you do start to notice it, reduce photoperiod, and ask around here for more ideas.
The bananas may be placed on the outer back edges, as they should create a nice 'frame'.

The stems and Vals will grow the tallest, so place at the back.
The stems, once grown to whatever hight you want, trim them back and replant the tops.

An algae 'bloom' usually refers to green water. Snails won't help you here. Snails are decent at diatomic algae, like GSA that you might start to get on your glass.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
thanks guys, I will post an updated pic when I add the driftwood, I was just worried about tannins leaching because it wasnt presoaked. I hosed the pieces off really well and scrubbed with a new toothbrush. I am going to keep it in a bucket of water overnight and add it to the tank in the morning.
Should the eco-complete and plants be enough to start the cycle, or should I throw in some fish food? I have some frozen mysis shrimp(from my SW fish food supply) I can put in the tank if needed. Should I run any activated carbon(for yellow water)?

Thanks for the tips guys!
Any comments on my lighting situation? Currently theres only 1 15w strip light, and it seems like there definately needs more light. I may have to just bite the bullet and buy a new incandescent hood from wally world...
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Today I got an incandescent hood with 2 20w CFL's(6500K)
Is this ample light for this 10g tank, I wont need co2 will I? When should I begin dosing Excel, and is there any other supplements(trace elements) I need. I plan on keeping a couple cherry shrimp.
 

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If you spread out your stems and the microsword they will fill in better. Keep your stems clumped up like that and they'll lose all their bottom leaves.

I suspect you're going to need CO2 to keep up with the lighting, though Excel may work... microsword definitely grows better with CO2 than without, though, as will most stem plants.
 

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the Hagen Elite Mini internal filter ($11) is a good diffuser- you just put the Co2 tubing into the airline intake and you've got a Co2 diffuser/powerhead/internal filter all-in-one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I was considering those, but I dont have a local petco(does petsmart sell them). I was trying to avoid the excess clutter in this small 10g tank. Im going to give the bamboo trick or wooden airstone and place it in front of my HOB intake and see how that goes, i will keep you posted.
 

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I agree with trying to keep your tank less cluttered with equiptment.
I just snagged two Hagen Elite's from Petco.com, and just like youve all ready read a bunch of times, this item works like a charm, quiet, efficient, and you can also count your Co2 bubbles easily.
Best twenty some odd dollars ive spent on my tanks yet. (well that and flourish)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Im going to give the bamboo a try, and if it failsI will track down a hagen elite. I am going to the store to buy yeast now, Ill post pics later.
PS Is there need to worry about overdosing co2 with a DIY setup?
 
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