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Pre-planning for a complete newbie

828 Views 11 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Marakesh
Hi, I'm totally new to planted tanks and wanted to see if I could get a good pre-start before I actually start.

-I'm hoping to go low-tech because I don't have the time/money/energy for much more. I haven't got any lights yet but I was going to see what my possible plants would need before I ran out and bought them.
-So, I bought an acrylic flat-back Hex tank at the local Goodwill and want to see if I can manage to shape it up into a decent planted. I think it's roughly 6 or 7 gallons but I'm not really sure, but it's only an inch or two shorter than my 10gal reptile tank (need to hunt out the tape measure again). My substrate will be simple ole' oil-dri, I'll just put some root tabs in for the root feeders. It seems to be doing ok for my lucky bamboo so far, only one of three stalks turned yellow and I think that's because the roots got hurt in the transplanting.
-I did buy a penguin 100 bio-wheel power filter a few weeks ago, but after doing my homework started to wonder if I made a bad choice. From what I've been reading it seems that the bio-wheel will just outgas whatever CO2 I have in the tank :( . So, in that case, will I be better off returning it back to the store (hopefully Pet-smart takes returns without a receipt) and getting something else, or would it be ok since I'm not injecting any CO2 and might just dose some excel if I get festive.
So perspective plants so far:
-Marsilea Minuta- for a small foreground
-Micro Sword- edges of the foreground going into midground
-Anubia var. nana petite- I can attach to my driftwood (I got a piece just for this purpose)
Then it kinda breaks down from there. I think some crypt wendtii would be nice but as soon as I hit the background area I've not really been able to get a good idea of what I might want. Preferably something semi-low maintenance that won't grow out of the tank.
Then perspective
Zebra danio- unkillable from what I hear
Neon Tetra- die at the drop of a hat from what I hear
sesarma bidens- red claw crab- not a fish but just look so darned awesome, but I have not been able to find anywhere I might get one.
Any thoughts,ideas,concerns or all around chicanery is wholly welcome. I just want to start things off right before I run around spending all my money and killing all the fish and plants in a Tri-state area :icon_mrgr .
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Welcome to the site :)

I've gotten store credit from Petsmart before when I returned items without a receipt. Petsmart will price-match their online prices in the store, so when you go to get a new filter (Aquaclear!), just print out the price of it online and bring it into the store. Another good filter choice would be the Zoo Med 501, a tiny canister filter also found at Petsmart (online price is $39.99).

I never thought cherry shrimp would be fun, but they're worth a look, just set up a 3 gallon with some, and they're great to watch :) Here's a link to some good nano-tank fish:

Neon tetras can be delicate, I've had better luck with cardinals personally.

Regarding plants, sounds like some good choices and try some mosses, they would look nice tied to your driftwood.

Good luck, and post pics!
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Welcome to the site! A couple of things:

You may find that neon tetras are hardier than you think. It just depends on the stock and the conditions they were kept in. Try to find a real store, not just a petco/petsmart. Likewise, while danios are hard to kill, they may die under poor conditions like any other fish. Try to keep your fishload relatively low, as a 6 or 7 gallon tank won't support that many fish. You might find that root tabs will get messy, so you may want to try another option.

With regard to the HOB filter, that information is mostly relevant to those with some kind of CO2 supplement. If you are not doing any CO2, you will probably be ok with the bio-wheel.

Be careful with what crab you get, because if you get the wrong one, you will probably be feeding it very expensive food (your other fish). Also, most freshwater crabs, including the crab you mentioned, need to be out of the water for some time, and you need to give them away to climb out of the water while keeping them in the tank. I recommend you try spypet's moss ladders.
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I think I may just check out that Zoomed 501, I like the look of the little canister more than the monstrous HOB. But I saw alot of neutral to unsatisfied reviews for it, but they didn't really say much about for a full blown aquarium. Also, thank you for the link to the NanoFish list, I had forget where I had seen it before. I'll also try to get a picture of my driftwood,tank,and how the oil-dri looks with my bamboo. It'll be this evening before I have a chance to get to them though. And jiminy, I had completely forgot about moss.

I saw spypet's moss rope ladder a few weeks ago and that's what gave me urge to get one of the little guys/gals. I'll be sure to keep my load small, from what I've heard it's roughly one inch of fish per gallon

Thank you very much for the pleasent welcome, I'll take a look at some of the stuff you guys mentioned and make some more educated guesses.
I got some pictures of my tank and stuff, and now I have dimensions. Yea for tape measures! It is 16"L x 8 1/2" W x 10" D but only 9 " to the fill line marked on the outside of the tank. It has a tight fitting lid for the lights that were once on it (they were long gone before I bought it). I realized if I want to use the HOB bio-filter I'll have to do some "constructive" alteration to the cover. I may just DIY a flat cover from some plexi-glass so the indentions on the cover don't interfere with the lighting.

The drift wood has a much lighter side on the back but I'm not that fond of it really. But I think the way the driftwood bends over itself will make a great little hidey spot for fish/shrimp/crab. :smile:

I've thought about the fish some more and wondered about getting some little cleaner buddies. None really come to mind at the moment though. Since I found out that neons only get to be around 1" long I might be able to keep some of those if I get a good batch that don't like keeling over all the time .

New revised fish plans:
roughly 5 neon tetra
some kinda bottom dweller/algae eater-either or, I just want to have some activity on the bottom too.
a single red claw crab- thought that I may get some acrylic rod and discs and make a moss ladder that runs up to a dry perch. I could silicone on some sand or some such, honestly not really sure.

I welcome any advice :)


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Marakesh, I'm glad you like those hard to find little red crabs,
but consider the following with such a small first planted tank;

- If like me, you desire a non-fish animal in your tank, instead of the crab,
consider getting a single dwarf crayfish, dwarf African frog, or a
fan feeding shrimp. any one of them are fun to have, and may be a lot
less headache to accommodate than those little red crabs.

- If you want to do a moss rope regardless, keep in mind that once they
grow out, the growth diameter of moss is a good 4"-5" along the entire
length of the rope, so a little tank like that may simply not have the room.
the only narrow rope diameter moss I'd recommend would be flame moss,
which grown vertically up a rope will only require 2"-3" of space.

as this tank is so small, try to focus on 2-3 animal choices,
and 2-3 design elements, or your tank will look too busy.
for example, I started my second 30gal tank, simply because
I tried to incorporate too many things into my first 30gal tank.
now my 2 tanks are more specialized, and each look a lot better.
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Thank you spypet, I had completely over looked just how much volume of a tank a moss rope takes up. With that in mind I think I will wait until later to get a crab. That and each inch I give to the crabs for dry space is a vital inch of tank that I would be losing.

But the dwarf cray sounds like It should be just as good. I was seeing rather mixed reviews for them though, they were either very aggressive or lovable little pincer monsters.But they may have been talking about full sized crayfish though, so
I'm probably just getting mixed information.

So I think I'll just try for some neons, a cray, and some kind of bottom feeder. I'm still not sure whether I should go for shrimp,a cory, or something like a pleco if there is some kind of dwarf variety. I don't think the Oil-Dri is really sharp or pointy so I doubt it would hurt the cory, but I may have a different definition of sharp.

Now I just need to begin considering moss for my driftwood, a stumpy background plant, and what kind of lighting to put over this thing.

I've almost convinced myself that I'd be better off getting the ZooMed 501, so I'll probably be making a run to pet-smart and doing some swapping.

Thank so much for all the help so far, and if anyone has any thought on a nice "small" bottom level fish let me know. That and the equipment are all I really need to get figured out...well that and the background most of it's still up in the air :)
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Orange dwarf crays are more aggressive.
Oh, and make sure you acclimate everything slowly. And by slowly, I mean float your bag for a while, and then drip acclimate.
Otocinclus are good small algae eaters and adorable to boot. Not really bottom feeders though...
I noticed you were thinking of getting a crab, and that you've already gotten some good advice. Thought I'd mention that I tried another kind of crab you can find in the LFS (as pictured). He was great to have, and seemed happy, but he did want to get out (at about the time I found out you need more than just water for him) Didn't think he could get out, but must have because he disappeared. I'm sure Rangoon found some great place to swim after leaving the tank.....

A picture of sharky while I'm at it.
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Cool little crab crashtest, awesome name too. I'm sure he found a nice black sand beach and a pinacolada or two. But would you happen to know what kind of crab that is, becuase I'm totaly unfamiliar with most crabs and my LFS doesn't carry anything but hemit crabs or saltwater species.

I like the look of the Oto a whole bunch and think I'll hunt one of those down. This way with some neons and the crab beneath I'll have some movement all around the tank.

As far as the oto goes what I've read so far seems to indicate that they like having other oto's around. Is that a necessity or just a recommened kinda thing. I'm trying to make sure that the fish won't be stressed out by a large fish load.

So would ~7 gal be alright with full grown:
4 neons
a cajun dwarf crayfish
and one or two oto's

And thanks again for all the help with this, I should have a nice planted and well stocked tank by years end with all the support. :)
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