The Planted Tank Forum banner

New to the hobby & Fluval Spec 5 gal

29545 Views 21 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  DRED805
Hi everyone!

I'm very new to this hobby and I'm interested in starting my first planted tank ever. I have been researching and absorbing everything I can before I start. I wanted to start on a small scale - definitely low tech.

The tank I am interested in (planning to purchase this weekend) is the Fluval spec 5 gallon. I've read all the reviews about the tank I could find and I am getting a lot of conflicting information - especially about the 7500k LED light. Does anyone currently own the tank that could give me some feedback on their thoughts about the tank/light.

I wanted to do a run down of my plans and would greatly appreciate guidance with this project.

The substrate I will be using is the Fluval Stratum (the ones for shrimps).

Fauna (not sure if this is overkill for a 5 gallon but...) 2 cherry shrimps, a school of neon tetras or (male) guppies.

The hardscape will be driftwood (I'm currently soaking to get rid of some of the tannins) and zebra rocks.

Flora I am interested in (have not yet purchased) are low-light ferns, java moss, anubias. I was also interested in some floaters (I'm not sure what types yet -- recommendations welcome!). In addition, I was hoping to establish some type of carpet but I am worried that the light will not be sufficient since I read most carpets require high light levels.

With that size tank, I'm not sure if it's necessary to dose/fertilize...I am not interested in using CO2 supplementation. I have already bought the heater/thermometer, and water test kit. I do plan on doing a fishless cycle.

Very very new with all this but very excited to get into it. Thank you in advance for any input/advice :)
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
You are going to want to start off with at least 10 cherry shrimp. Also because fire shrimp are so cheap now you might want to start off with those instead. They are just as hardy and better looking IMO. Neon tetras might not be best with the shrimp. I have had neons and cardinals with shrimps and once they were removed from the tank the shrimp came out a lot more. You might want to look into some small nano fish: Dario Dario, CPD, Chili Rasboras. A school of neon tetras would be a bit much for such a small tank.
Thanks Dubels! Going to do some research on the species you recommended. I am starting to lean away from shrimps from everything I have researched about them. Admittedly I am getting rather fond of the dwarf gourami (thinking one in a five gal wouldn't be so bad). Will get pics up when I get the tank set up and cycled.
We bought the tank earlier than expected!

Here is the flora we chose:
- Java fern
- Anubias nana
- Cryptocoryne wendtii
- Heianthus (feeling bold!) for an attempted carpet

Hardscape is just a piece of rock. I still have the drift wood soaking but I liked the way the rock looked so it stays.

No fauna yet. I'm still thinking about it and I keep changing my mind. It will be nano fish of some type ...

Here is the tank set up (will take better photos when the bubbles clear).

Substrate is just fluval stratum.

I love how neat the fluval spec is! All the hard ware is tucked in at the back. The filter is VERY quiet.

I was hoping the stock lights were a bit brighter...but they will be replaced sometime in the future (not any time soon)

QUESTION: Given that the stock light is a LED 7500k which will be left on for 6 hours a day - is that sufficient to keep the plants alive? I currently do not have a CO2 system - possibly will pick one up down the road. Would you recommend me dosing flourish Excel?

Any other recommendations? Suggestions?
See less See more
I've updated this thread with photos yesterday but the post is not showing up?
Update on the tank, can see it better now that most of the bubbles are gone.

See less See more
At this point I feel like I'm talking to myself here :icon_eek: ..

Anyways, since I can't get much response/suggestions, I've been googling and reading reviews. The info gets overwhelming at times...this being my first planted tank (my first tank at all actually). I do realize I need some CO2 into the tank to keep the carpet alive. I've been reading up on various forms of carbon ...liquid, tablets, and pressurized. From what I've read, I'm leaning towards the fluval CO2 20 kit, it should be sufficient since my tank is only 5 gallons? I figured I could get the hang of using CO2 first then I would be more comfortable with the DIY CO2. I've also read good reviews about Flourish Excel and I'm not sure if I should stick with that instead of the Fluval CO2...
Don't go with the Fluval CO2 kit - it gets expensive in the long run. I guess you could do excel, but I've heard that although it works, it doesn't come close to actual CO2. It also might be dangerous for shrimp if you overdose it. I'd do DIY CO2 (unless you want to go paintball or pressurized). Trust me; the info might seem overwhelming at times, but it's very very easy to pull off. You're going to need a stronger light to grow the HC though, definitely. Otherwise, looks good!
Dosing CO2 depends on what fauna you want to keep in the tank. In smaller tanks CO2 with shrimp can be dangerous because you need to monitor the PH levels and should not have big CO2 swings. Excel can be more dangerous because its very easy to overdose with shrimp. But if you are going with nano fish (Dario Dario, Chili Rasbora, CPD) you should be good with either option. Check out this forums DIY section for DIY CO2. I have two DIY CO2 setups running and they seem adeqaute.
I really like the layout on your tank So far . Yea the stock lighting on these nano kits aren't quite strong enough to grow anything except low to medium light plants. I had to change my 2 gallon tank's light out with a desk lamp and a spiral fluorescent bulb.
I want one... it will be interesting to see what this light can and can't grow.
Thanks everyone for the feed back :)

I had time to assimilate everyone's response before I ran off to Big Al's this morning. I by-passed the fluval CO2 kit and bought flourish excel as recommended. I also picked up the flourish root tabs -- I have to ask though, is it overkill if I use the root tabs since I have the fluval stratum?

I thought I would try my luck out. If the HC dies, then I'll venture to either the fluval CO2 or DIY CO2.

Went ahead and gave the first 'shock' dose of fluval excel just a few minutes ago.

The tank is looking good so far. Updated photo:

One concern I had is that I noticed the rock was 'crumbling' ...I went back to my receipt and found out it was a travatine tufa and the majority of the information I found about the rock was that it was more popular in reefs/salt water but it was also perfectly safe to use in freshwater - can some one confirm? In any case, I read that it was just calcium carbonate that was crumbling and would affect pH of tank

I have a water test kit - will use it sometime tonight and give parameter readings. Still no fauna...still undecided.
See less See more
I think the only problem with the rock might end up being water hardness issues. Depends on your tap water, if you have pretty soft tap water then it should work out. I would test Gh and Kh and see where your at.

Otherwise it looks nice, I like the fluva spec dimensions. Makes for a nice display tank. Not a huge fan of the fixture but an led swap might be an interesting mod.
Spec V Par Data

Buying a Spec V tomorrow. Does anyone have any par data on the stock light?
I dont know the par data but I had great success growing a lot of things in my spec v with the stock LED lighting.
The light sucks ime. But it's good for low light plants.
Here's mine that's been setup about 2 months (probably about the same yours has been setup now). Stock light, no ferts, recently switched from caribsea sand to ecocomplete. Swords are doing fantastic. The roots were about 6 inches long when I pulled them out and the total size of each plant has doubled since planting. The microswords are growing quite slowly but still look great. Java moss on the driftwood is a more recent addition and seems to be growing. Only snails, copepods, and scuds inhabiting at the moment.

How is yours doing?

Sent from my Transformer Prime TF201 using Tapatalk 2
See less See more
I just set my Spec up last night so the water is still cloudy in the picture. I have added 2 ecoxotic 8k stunner strips to the standard stock lighting in case I want to grow higher light plants. I currently have no idea what livestock or plants I plan on putting in the tank!


See less See more
Like your set up and plant variety. Lets see some updates. I too am curious about the amount of growth with stock lights. I put up an older aquatic life but its quite an eyesore as I bought the tank for its sleekness
1 - 20 of 22 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.