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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Intro
Hello and thanks for visiting my Super Newb 10G thread. This thread will contain the documentation for what I hope turns out top be a successful 10G low tech planted tank build.

I had a few nice freshwater aquariums years ago but did not have the time to care for them so I sold all the equipment. A year ago my wife and I decided to buy an aquarium for cichlids. A year later I have 3 cichlid tanks and a fourth 10G that was given to me for free that will be the home for the fauna in this build.

I have a general love of science which is what draws me to aquariums. I enjoy the technical side of aquariums and I struggle with the aesthetics piece of the puzzle so we will see how this turns out. I have 0 artistic ability and that's what planted tanks are really is works of art.

I like to re-purpose things so I am always open to diy ideas. One example is I have two dead hob filters, they died in less than 6 months. I am filling one with lava rock and plumbing my canister output to the hob and running the water through lava rock for additional bio filtration. The lava rock is rock I have recycled from a landscape and boiled until the water boiled clean.

I plan to convert my 55G that currently holds Labidochromis sp. "Hongis" into a planted tank for my Altolamprologus calvus. If anyone is interested I have one Red Top Hongi I would trade for plants.

Materials
20 x 10 x 12 10G aquarium
Dirt from a wooded are near Lake Shelbyville in Illinois.
Black Diamond for the cap
Bacto-Surge sponge filter (this is probably a little big for a 10G but I am going to try to incorporate it some how into the design or hide it behind some taller plans)
Clamp on light fixture
23 Watt 5000k daylight cfl
Dead wood from Lake Shelbyville area
Possible piece of granite - small
Home made 2x4 stand. I made on for my 55 that I am going to enclose and finish when I take it down for plant setup. Will do the same here but finish first. I may build on to the 55 stand since where it is being moved to I would have the room for both next to one another.
Our water is hard here. I am going to get a quality report this week. Its very hard I know. My established aquariums never drop below 8.5 ph and kh and gh hover around 200. I need to test the water after its been standing because I do have limestone rocks I gathered from a quarry in those tanks to buffer the numbers for my cichlids.

Zoological Fauna
Red Cherry Shrimp
Blue velvet shrimp
Snails?? Those burrowing snails that I need to look up the name for.

Botanical Flora
Java fern
Java moss
Anubias (Recommendations?)
Some type of grass for low tech (suggestions?)
Unknown plant that my buddy has that just grows like the dickens in gravel and standard cheap kit light should do well here. When I get some I will upload pics and maybe get an identification on them
I would like to incorporate some local aquatic plants. If anyone has suggestions for this and where (Illinois) I can harvest some that would be great.

I will be prepping my soil, substrate, and wood today. Pics will follow. Thanks for reading and suggestions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
@rragan Thanks for the reply. I am looking forward to getting this built. As I type this I have a pan of soil ready to bake and my dead wood is on the stove boiling. Hopefully this week I will start putting some plants in it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Update:
I am going to get the green plant behind the peace sign in the pic below. Can I get an i.d. on this plant?

 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hello all. Last night I got my substrate all setup. I have about 3/4 inch of good clay yard soil and 3/4 inch of Black Diamond as a cap.

Here is the plant list I would like to use:

Dwarf sagittaria
Vesuvius sword
Ludwigia repens
Staurogyne repens
Bacopa caroliniana
Needle Leaf Java Fern
Christmas moss
Peacock moss
Subwassertang
Hygrophila Pinatifida
Anubias Nana Petite
Italian Val
Java moss
Unidentified plant from the pic above

Crystal Red shrimp
Blue Velvet shrimp
Crystal Red shrimp
Malaysian Trumpet snails
Other fish as suggested
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I have my 10G up and going! I bought a little java fern, java moss and an anubias from the lfs. I have more plants coming which should be here monday. Looking forward to members opinions on the scape and what else I should do. I still need an i.d. on the plant above if anyone can help with that. This was fun and educational. Thanks all who have answered questions.

I seeded the sponge filter by setting it in an established tank for a few hours. I used aquarium water from the same established setup. One thing I noticed and found odd. After putting the water in the 10G the ph went up a half point to 9 and the ammonia went up to .25. I expected there to be ammonia present as the dirt for a few days with water in the tank. I expected the organics in the soil would start breaking down but I didn't expect the ph to go up. I will be testing again today. Nitrates were at 40ppm and nitrite was 0.



I think I have the wife convinced that I need to plant our 55 and move our calvus over to it and stock it with some dithering fish. I am thinking non-jumbo cyps but the lfs (which isnt so local as I have to drive 2 hours) guy is recommending zebra danios which are a lot cheaper.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I added more plants today. We will see what happens. We will see how this goes. Opinions please.

 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Alternanthera reineckii "rosaefolia". Its a cool looking plant. We will see how it will do in this rig.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
@alphabeta I'm going to get a different light for it and fixture. And a timer I think.
 

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Some people will hang that light from a bookshelf bracket on the wall behind the tank.
With just the cord wrapped around the bracket and the clamp removed.
Also seen them spray paint it black on the outside. But the least amount of algae is had
by using the 13W bulbs.
The Alternanthera reineckii does better if it's placed in an established tank. Someone
gave a link on here a while back of a study which showed that some plants give off a chemical which inhibits algae growth. But the Alternanthera reineckii wasn't on the list
given of those tested. Mine quickly got it's leaves covered/w GSA. I had no faster growing type plants established in that tank at the time.
Not all that good of a picture to work from, but I think your mystery plant is a wisteria.
If so it's one of the faster growing plants that will require more potassium than other plants. Fish food/waste and regular large(50% or more)water changes per week can/will
provide nutrients for a low number of plants, but mostly if those are all in the slower growing type. IF that's a Wisteria likely it will bump you out of that category of not
needing to add ferts. BTW half a dozen stems of floating Anacharis will help out/w algae.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
@Raymond Thanks for the tips, much appreciated. I like the bookshelf idea. I think the mystery plant is out anyway, not much room left.

Bump: Now the fun begins to see if I can get this tank thriving.
 

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If you're not going to be in shock at my unorthodox tank "style" I'll give you links to various stages of the main tank's growth from beginning to now.
There are 14 kinds of plants in there now. 10g tank/w EI ferts/Excel/one T5HO bulb.
Start up:
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/picture.php?albumid=14289&pictureid=43385
Way too much light phase/Cladophora on everything.
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/picture.php?albumid=14289&pictureid=47129
Still trying to make it work/w too much light.
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/picture.php?albumid=14289&pictureid=60930
Just got rid of the excess light.
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/picture.php?albumid=14289&pictureid=73618
Things finally starting to work out better.
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/picture.php?albumid=14289&pictureid=81193
Last month.
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/images/pGallery/pg_12001e.jpg
 

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5000K CFLs are terrific plant bulbs, Im running a few myself going on a couple years now. The only reason to change would be if you prefer the slightly cooler look of a 6500K.

You may want to consider going to a lower wattage though. A 23W in a dome reflector is incredibly high par, especially if you have it clamped onto the side rather than suspended up a good bit.
 

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@burr740 good to know that 5000K a still terrific for plants.


Someone please correct me if I am wrong.


If I am not mistaken, the Kelvin of the bulb is just the color hue us humans see/perceive and doesn't have anything to do with how "good"/strong (PAR, color spectrum/wavelengths, photons) the lighting is. For instance one bulb with the same Kelvin unit could be stronger than another bulb with the same Kelvin.


4000K is usually more yellow tinted, what's known as warm white, while 6500K is usually more blueish tinted, what's known as cool white, so I think 5000K would be a midground between the two, pretty much being just white (but the color graph shows it might possibly have a green tinge, although not sure if our eyes perceive that much)

So pretty much it has no effect on growth, it's just color of the light we see and it's personal preference what we color we like to shine upon our plants. Most people don't like warm white because it makes the tank look rather bland and washed out, not as vibrant/crisp looking a cool white.
 

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@WaterLife
it is more complicated than that, and Kelvin and Par have to do with each other.
saying simple, too low Kelvin, or too high Kelvin makes the light to be out of the range of useful light for plants, and PAR will get lower. The optimal is somewhere around 6000K.
This is why, in particular, when you build an LED light you want to cover the whole spectrum, with more intensity around 6000K.
It is also true that if you do not change the kelvin thing for the light, and just increase its intensity (higher watts), then PAR will increase.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photosynthetically_active_radiation

hope i did not create too much confusion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Interesting discussion. In regard to light right now I am turning on the lights from 7am to noon and then the tank gets diffuse light from windows. Does that sound reasonable? So now I have a few questions.

1) Nitrate levels. Mine are off the charts. Like 180. I am thinking the soil is causing the high levels. Is this something to be alarmed about at this stage with no zoological livestock? The level is like 160 or so.

2) Ferts. With nitrates as high as they are I am sure that I need to avoid adding any type of nitrogen but does Flourish Excel contain nitrogen and is it something I should consider using at this time?

3) What type of water test kit are you using?

Other than those questions i think all is well. I didnt have time to test ammonia this morning but I did test ph-8.7 or so,gh-180,kh-240, no2- between .5 & 1 and no3-160. When I added the new plants I did a 30% water change with aquarium water that itself had just prior undergone a 20% water change. I was using aquarium water for the added nitrates but it looks like it doesnt need them. Here in a bit my wife is going to run a test for me and I will have some current readings.
 

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180ppm for nitrate is high, and toxic for fish. For plants+fish a good level is about 30ppm. I am not sure about the exact number, but high nitrates are toxic for plants too. Probably it comes from the dirt, so a heavy water change regime will dilute it.

hold on with ferts for now :) you have enough of them. Excel does not contain nitrates, so you can use it. start slowly 1ml/day for 10 gl, and then you can go to 2ml, per day.

API test, but make sure they are not expired.

What are the parameters (PH, dKH, dGH) of the tap water, not from aquarium? Do you mix it? PH is kind of high, and needs to be compared with that straight from the faucet.
Are you sure about gh,kh? how do you measure it?
 
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