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Hello planty people. I am in the process of setting up a new scape and honestly I feel like there’s something lurking in the future of my tank. Call me anxious but I’m inexperienced and I want to know if there’s going to be a train wreck later. I’d love to get some advice on what to look out for, or problems you could see me having down the road.

A little about my tank. It’s 9.6 gallons, and will house one betta and a handful of shrimp. They are all currently living happily in my 10 gal starter. I wanted something prettier and I had a diatom bloom that’s sucking my soul out so I thought I’d just tear that one down. I was planning on using the same heater and filter (cleaned of the diatoms but hopefully not the bacteria) so I should have a quick cycle.

I am currently dry starting a carpet from seeds (risky, I know). There was a comment on amazon claiming the seeds were for hygrophilia polysperma. So I have that in the area to the left and then the foreground on the right. I have java moss for the spiderwood and some Anubis nana petit to fill in some gaps there and down the middle. The area between the rocks will be a sand river. For the back right, I have one sword and hygrophilia corymbosa. Also a random clump of pearl weed I might put in the back left.

I have floaters, but since the diatoms are covering their roots I just can’t see myself using them until it clears up. For those concerned, I do have some phosguard going in the filter now that should take care of it. Also, I do use excel for fert and algae control.

Thoughts? Opinions? Advice? Premonitions of disaster? I’m up for anything.
 

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Welcome to the forum! Lots of good folks here with an amazing array of experience.

Your hardscape is nice, I especially like you wood choice, provides a nice sense of flow.

That branch laying down in the front right will definitely disappear if your carpet grows in though, its just too low to the ground. At this point since its already planted I'd leave it in place and you can decide before you flood if you want to keep it or move it.

My biggest advice though is patience. Algae is a thing that happens, not really something that is avoided. Once it does happen you deal with it through some combination of removal, control, and animal cleaning. Diatoms is an algae that some people are more prone to then others. Mostly its seen in new tanks and goes away on its own. /Shrug either way I'd not get too wrapped in algae. If you put in a bit of time each week to look at the tank and clean it you can handle any issue. Since you are using aquasoil though, once your tank is flooded you should be prepared to do big water changes frequently in the first month. For the first week 50% every day, for the second week its every other day, 3 times in the third week and twice in the fourth week. After that once per month. This will control the initial flood of nutrients the soil releases. Good luck!
 

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Thanks for the advice. I’ve not heard of doing big water changes due to the substrate but that makes a lot of sense. As for the branches, I may move them into the sand later. It was more of a soil barrier at the moment!
 

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An aquascaping update! My carpet worked out pretty well! Things are looking lush. I added in some pearl weed as well to try to eat up some nutrients. I have foil on the back currently to help keep heat in as this room is cold. But I think I’ll add a black background when I feel the motivation 😅
 

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Some people belive Excel harms shrimp and crypts/vals/ other plants. Other people don't. I noticed a big improvement in my vals once I stopped using excel.
Just something to be aware of if you're still using it in your new tank and notice any problems.
 
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