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Starter Tank

1384 Views 17 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  miklb
I used to have both a 29gallon and 55gallon community tank, with just a basic biowheel filter and standard fluorescent lighting. I'd try to keep live plants, but it was a loosing battle. I eventually got rid of both tanks, and have been out of the hobby for several years. Someone I knew was getting rid of a 55 gallon tank, but after I looked at it, I realized it wasn't worth the money for the condition of the equipment, so, I remembered I had a 10 gallon tank in my garage, and decided to get back into the hobby slowly.

I'd always wanted to do live plants, so I set off to my LFS to get started. That's where this forum and community might be of some help. I'd like to know perhaps where I've gone wrong, or gotten wrong info before getting too far into the tank and process.

I purchased a 40 watt "Satellite" lighting system, a Penn-Plax Cascade 100 (100g.p.h) and 15lb of Flourite (red). I had some old rocks and driftwood from the previous tanks.

Anyone see any issues with the filtration or lighting for a 10 gallon tank?

How about the amount of substrate or lack of any other substrate material?

Finally, the salesperson at the LFS said I shouldn't plant right away, maybe a few potted plants, however, I'm reading different information. Can I, or should I plant right away?

Is there such a thing as too much plants? I've read suggestions of heavily planting, then removing the more fast growing plants as the desired plants grow in. I'm really looking for a dense, lush tank, with just a minimal amount of fish (I do have basic understanding of how many I can have, so I realize that it's not going to be chuck full of fish ever).

Thank you in advance for any suggestions or tips, this looks like a fantastic community, I've already learned quite a bit in the time I've spent reading through older threads.
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I have the same lighting, and I love it. I've found that I absolutely need CO2 and ferts in the tank, though, or I get all sorts of algaes. Since the lighting is on the cusp of moderate/high, you need to make sure everything is in balance.

Your filtration is fine, but make sure the tank is topped off io limit gas-exchange at the surface. You don't want splashing.

Flourite red is fine if you like what it looks like. I think flourite black makes the plants pop more. Note that I've used flourite, eco-complete, and ADA aquasoil. Flourite provided the slowest plant growth of the three.

You should absolutely plant right away. Too many plants? Only if they're crowding each other and blocking light from reaching the bottom. Also, too many plants might mean that they're using up all the nutrients in the water column very quickly, and you have to make sure that you're dosing appropriately.

BTW - Id be very very careful buying plants at the LFS that gave you that advice. Make sure you know what's truly aquatic, and what will outgrow your tank.

PS - We like pics. Post pics. ;)
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You can and should plant heavily when you start the tank as it helps the tank cycle faster (two weeks vs four weeks).

Three inches of the Flourite will work well for substrate with nothing else needed other than fertilizer. There are two methods you can do, name brand liquid ferts or dry ferts you buy in powder form.

Liquid fert examples are the Seachem line or from (I like them better) but you need to get the full range of products (Micro and Macro ferts) for example you would need the N, P, K, and M bottles (there "High-Tech Solution" package) and dose with ether the PPS-Pro or EI charts.

The dry ferts would be from or and you would need KNO3, KH2PO4, K2SO4, GH Booster and CSM+B (I prefere's "M" bottle for Micro's over CSM+B).

The dry fertz are going to be cheaper but the bottled liquids can be easier its up to you which method you like better.

- Brad
Thanks for the quick replies! I was aware of the concern of surface agitation, and will be sure to keep things topped off. I didn't think I'd need to worry about C02 in a small aquarium, thanks for the heads up, I'll start looking at some low-budget systems.

The LFS that I got the equipment from isn't bad, I just might have gotten someone who's more marine oriented than freshwater. I'll be sure to search out the "plant guy" next time I go there.

@bradac56 - As far as ferts, I have an 8oz bottle of "Sera Florena" plant developer I had picked up back when I had the other tanks, but never used. It says it has iron and trace elements. Is that something I should even bother using up? Guess I have some more studying to do :D

@FrostyNYC As far as pics, unless you want to see a tank of cloudy water, I don't think I have much to post yet (though I did rinse the Flourite, I guess not quite enough. Still reading tips, not sure if I should turn off the filter over night and try and let it settle, or run the filter. I do have it turned to "low"). Certainly would love to share once it clears and I start getting some plants in.

Thanks again for the replies, sounds like I do have the right foundation, just need to look at the finer points for having a healthy planted tank. I'm really looking forward to nailing this one so I can move onto a bigger one in the living room. I took this one for my home office :p
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PS - We like pics. Post pics. ;)
Had to drain the tank, and do a better job of rinsing the Flourite, at least if I wanted to get any plants in this weekend. Wish I had found this forum prior to initially setting it up. Hit the LFS for some stem plants, got about 9 bunches, a few bunches of Anacharis, some Red Ludwigia, a couple different Hygrophila's, some bacopa, a small bunch of Wisteria (at least I think that's what I've got, still can't see everything I've planted, did a poor job of taking notes when picking out the plants).

Hopefully the water will clear over the next couple of days and I can do a better job of documenting what I've got, and how everything is placed. Impatience got the better of me after reading through the forums last night. Thanks again to everyone in the community, the site has been invaluable and quite enjoyable reading.

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Did some moving around of the plants, and another 80% water change. Getting ready to start DIY co2, hope to introduce some fish next week.

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That is very nicely laid out. Good luck with your tank. What fish do you intend to get?
That is very nicely laid out. Good luck with your tank. What fish do you intend to get?
I haven't decided yet, though I'm leaning towards starting with White Cloud Mountain Minnow and a few obligatory otos.

I should probably do some research on what I want ultimately.
It looks great! I've used that Sera Florena before, and it did all right. I don't remember what all is in it, but I don't think it is a complete fertilizer in itself.

After only a week of DIY CO2. Need to read up on trimming, and the hygro in the back left corner has some curling leaves, so obviously time to get some ferts going. Still trying to figure out what the best option is for dosing. Lots of info out there.
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Its looking really good. Plants all appear really healthy.

As far as dosing goes, just pick something that will be easy and simply for YOU. And then stick with a specific dosing regimen. As long as your plants are getting some form of ferts every week you will be ok. You only have a 10 gallon tank and you've already filled it up. The ferts will help with plant deficiencies but don't get too carried away or you will be trimming every 2 days.
It looks like you're off to a great start! Dry ferts are definitely the cheapest way to go. I think most people start off dosing with liquid ferts and eventually realizes that it adds up really quickly. If you buy dry ferts by the pound, they'll last forever on a 10 gallon tank.
I lost a fish overnight, and my water quality looks fine, if anything, my Nitrates need to be boosted, it's almost zero, but I wouldn't think that would kill a fish?

My concern is that my CO2 level might be high, at least during the night when the lights are off. I'm doing DIY, should I remove the CO2 in the evening? I didn't notice any gasping before I went to bed by any of the fish, but 8hrs later, one of my White Clouds were dead floating in the micro sword.

Thoughts? Suggestions on boosting Nitrates?

The fish have been in the tank about a week, just 3 WC and 2 Otos in a 10 gallon. You can see from the pics it's fairly heavily planted.

I should add that I began dosing a liquid fert, Florinmulti, by Brightwell Aquatics. I started with 5ml, and have been doing about 3 drops a day since (4th day).
I always recommend running an airstone at night on CO2-injected tanks to help keep the O2 from bottoming out.

Low nitrates are good for fish, so that definitely was not your problem.
I always recommend running an airstone at night on CO2-injected tanks to help keep the O2 from bottoming out.

Low nitrates are good for fish, so that definitely was not your problem.
+1 to that idea.

- Brad
Sounds like a plan. Thanks for the info.
Things are starting to come together. A bit of a algae problem, but I've reduced the lighting period, and begun dosing with some liquid ferts.

I had added 3 White Cloud's last week, these really are beautiful fish in a planted tank. I lost one last night, and today, looking to get a few more, I found some long fin ones.

I had a couple of Otos already, and the LFS had these in, and got one to join the other otos

(If this should be moved to journals, just let me know, or if a mod wants to move it…)

I think I'm going to move the Rotala to the back left corner, and try to scape it and get a nice big bunch going, hopefully to open up the Red Ludwigia better. Still learning the art of pruning. I think I'm going to try and trim the micro sword as well, to promote a little spreading.

Any input welcomed!
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Got a better shot of the Zebra Oto, man these guys are really cool.
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