The Planted Tank Forum banner

New/Beginner to Planted Tanks

4529 Views 17 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  viodea
Hi there, I'm new to the hobby. I was wondering if there was any suggestions for starting my tank? I'd love this tank to be self-sustaining. Is that possible with a five-gallon freshwater?

My tank: Marineland ML90609 Portrait Aquarium Kit, 5-Gallon
1 - 4 of 4 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
1,414 Posts
Ok. Here's the thing. Self-sustaining tanks are only self-sustaining if they have a MASSIVE water volume, much larger than what you have now. Why? Because in order for it to self sustain, you have to have enough nutrients to fuel the phytoplankton and primary producers (algae, microalgae) growth. Then, you need to have enough of those to fuel micro-plankton like daphnia and copepods. Only after that is done, can you add the secondary predators like fish or micropredators (think small nano fish like chili rasboras, etc.), and if they breed, you need a few predators to take care of those. Again, larger than what you have now.

That being said, if you only plan to have shrimp, then your current plan is a good one. Make sure that you look into freshwater DSB's, your tank has the height for it, it seems synergistic with the Walstadt method but may need modification, and coincides with your plan to add planarians and other snails: Deep Sand Beds

Unfortunately, you WILL need to do maintenance on the tank. At some point, you'll need to get rid of non-measured organic wastes, and add in vital minerals, best done through a water change. You'll also need to feed your organisms (I prefer gel vacation blocks for my shrimp, of which you might want to consider leaves (think oak, beech, indian almond, etc.) which you can read about here: All the leaves are brown? ? Seriously Fish

Not many creatures eat hair algae nor blue-green algae/cyanobacteria, and if you get that, then have fun :(. Nerite snails are good at removing "hard" algaes like green spot, and shrimp (Neocaridina and Caridina species) will also eat softer algaes (diatoms, green film algae, etc.). Daphnia will take care of most bacterial blooms and micro algae (green water) blooms too. Copepods can get in hard to reach places and eat most algaes too. Just know that you will eventually have to do some sort of cleaning in order to keep your tank aesthetically pleasing.

Oh, a few things for the future: for fish, that type of tank (portrait style, etc.) is not good. You really want a tank with a larger surface area (i.e. the configuration where length x width is the greatest). It also helps light penetrate through for plants (less depth for light to escape from the sides of the tank. Don't bother with some of the older versions of denitrification filters: they essentially move water really, really slowly through a canister, to the point where water just gets deoxygenated, forcing bacteria to use NO3-, and release N2 gas (which, you shouldn't need due to having plants that'll take care of the nitrates anyways...).

Aside from organisms, what plants were you considering adding into your tank? Note that carpet plants might not do too well in your tank, but more stem-y plants will like it.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,414 Posts
Yeah, I realized I limited myself with this tank after ordering, but figured I could work with it since I'm planning a shrimp based tank, like you mentioned. I'm just looking for it to be pretty hardy so I won't have to constantly be checking on it. The vacation cubes for feeding the shrimp sounds perfect. If it can become fairly self-sufficient and only need limited maintanence from me (water changes/scrubbing algae every now and then) that'd be perfect. I'm just hesistant when I hear that I'll need to do water changes every week (some websites even suggest every day for a 5-gallon??) I understand I'll need to put aside more time for it at the start, but after 2-3 months it should require less attention?

I'm out of the house most of the day, and am concerned with the lights, in your experience does it get hot at all? Is it safe to leave them on for prolonged periods of time unsupervised? Will it kill my plants to leave the lights on for too long? What's the best way to set up lights?
Uhhhh, yeah, you definitely need to be doing water changes on at least a weekly basis (no experience with Walstadt method, but from most other POV's). You NEED to do water changes. Most of those recommendations come from people with fish in their tanks, but shrimp also need new water otherwise they go ka-put. And while yes you may need to put in more effort in the beginning, you still have to put effort in on a constant basis.

Most lights shouldn't get too hot unless they're metal halides, but fixtures like those come with built in fans usually. It's safe to leave them on for a couple of hours yes. It won't kill your plants to leave the lights on, but too much light will just encourage algal growth. BAD algal growth. Literally just grab a timer from walmart or another store, set it for 4-6 hours (at first), and plug it in with the light.

I really love how this tank came out. I'm considering basing my tank off some of the plants used in this video, since I really love the color and coziness of it. So peaceful.

I might place one of those small store-bought rock caves in the back left of the tank, build a little slope around it with sand/sediment/soil/???, and cover with a hairgrass carpet. Add some stem plants in the back right. Maybe if I can find a nice small piece of driftwood, place that in a good spot, plant around it. I absolutely love the ceiling plants on the surface of the water in the video mentioned above, but I'm not sure what they are?

I've considered dwarf hairgrass, dwarf baby tears, java moss, marsilea minuta, pogostemon helferi, water milfoil, driftwood, etc. Again, I really loved the look of the tank from the video mentioned above, I'll probably base my tank's plantlife off that and work from there. Seeing what I find in local owned stores, just adding and editing as it progresses.
The floating plants are duckweed, and can become a pest if you let it. It grows well with carpet plants, since it absorbs the nutrients they can't.

A lot of those plants are known as carpet plants. They often require carbon dioxide injection in most tanks.

Question: what exactly are you looking for? A room decoration? A distractor?
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,414 Posts
I never mentioned this, but I also stumbled across Foo the Flowerhorn, and I actually really like the channel and their setups too; I'm planning to do something similar once I have enough money haha!

I just wanted to make sure that you weren't somebody who wanted to do it just for the entertainment value. Example: I've known people who were willing to buy a mandarin dragonet or seahorse(saltwater) or stingrays or other special needs fish and not do the research and UGH. It's frustrating and cruel to the creatures involved.

As long as you're prioritizing animal satisfaction over looks and such, I see no problem with minimizing water changes. However, I'm not sure you would want a fish at this point, since Foo's betta was preying on shrimplets, and I knew few fish that are solitary and suitable for a nano that are shrimp safe.

As for snails, there are a couple of varieties to avoid: mystery snails are a giant no no, mostly because I'm pretty sure they're illegal here? But you might want to weight the pros and cons of malaysian trumpet snails, which are good at redistributing detritus. Nerites don't breed in freshwater and can leave egg cases all over the tank, but they're some of the best algae eaters in the nano world. You'll also likely stumble upon some of the Sulawesi snails, but those get a bit too big for the tank you're planning (unless you get a rock structure and a rock-specific snail).
 
1 - 4 of 4 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top