The Planted Tank Forum banner

Xcom's 10 Gallon Tank Journal w/ Pics (56k Warning)

4250 Views 12 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Xcomx5
Hello everyone, I figured its about time I setup a planted tank journal with a little bit of background history with this tank specifically. This is my second attempt at doing a planted aquarium, my first attempt was with a 30 gallon that ended in disaster over 2-3 years ago. I purchased this 10 gallon from my neighbor for 5 dollars and decided to try again.

1st Stage (September 2008):

Contained 2x African Cichlids
Lighting: 2x 15w Incandescent bulbs
Substrate: Crushed coral
Plants: Amazon sword and two others I haven't ID'd yet
Filtration: Aqueon HOB
Fertilization: None

This setup failed horribly (and I'm sure many of you already know why). Terrible lighting, substrate and rocks created very hard very alkaline water. The cichlids became way too big and territorial for my small 10g (gave one away to a friend, it's living happily and healthy in his 55gallon cichlid tank. The other I gave to petco for "adoption") The plants slowly withered away into nothing...
See less See more
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
October 2008:

I added a few pieces of driftwood that I bought at my LFS, I love the one with the Anubias, it flourished surprisingly well in this tank setup, but the tank still failed. I added a power head to this tank too...which I know is not necessary and could be considered overkill and ugly, but I repositioned it several times to hide it decently well. The box cutter will soon be used to end my sorrows for this poorly designed tank setup, lol, this setup was remodeled several times before I gave up on it due to the cichlids getting too big, and the plants slowly dying...
See less See more
2nd Stage (March 2009):

Contained 7x Cardinal Tetras; 2x Ghost Shrimp
Lighting: 1x 10w 50/50 Coralife CF; 1x 10w Marineland 5100K CF
Substrate: Onyx Sand
Plants: Amazon swords still, anubias in the drift wood, don't know the ID of the others...
Filtration: Aqueon HOB
Fertilization: None

This setup was definitely a step in the right direction (after a lot of research) Although their are noticable faults of course (bad light spectrum still) The Amazon swords (and some of the other plants) recovered well from the change to this new setup, but eventually started decaying... The cardinal tetras were added back when the tank still had crushed coral (even im not sure how they liked living in those conditions, but I assume it was terrible for them). I changed the tank to this new design with the fish still in the tank, it was a slow, all day, process. The fish came through unharmed, they are the most hardy fish I have ever had. At this point I was still using tap water for the water changes, which here in phoenix made the water still very hard and alkaline...
See less See more
Stage 3 (September 2009):

Contains: 6x Cardinal Tetras; 1x Ghost Shrimp; 1x Otocinclus
Lighting: 1x 15w Coralife Trichromatic 6500k T8 Florescent bulb
Substrate: Onyx Sand
Plants: 2x Amazon Swords, 2x Anubias, Dwarf Hairgrass, Marsilea minuta, narrow leaf java fern, Narrow Leaf Giant Hygro, don't know the ID of the others...
Filtration: Aquaclear 20 HOB
Fertilization: Flourish Excel, Phosphorus, and Potassium; Pfertz Nitrogen

I feel very comfortable with the way the tank currently is setup. The light, although low, is a better spectrum than all other attempts. I've made the switch to using only RO/DI water from my LFS which has dropped the tank's parameters down to a suitable level. I've made several attempts at DIY C02, with the last attempt being successful, I've decided to keep this tank excel dosed for now instead of DIY C02. I still need to get a trace element mix for my fertilizer dosing, and once my flourish fertilizers are used up, I plan to switch to dry ferts. I maintain the tank with 50 water changes weekly, and dosing of the different fertilizers throughout the week. My Swords use to be very large, (stage 1) but are now small little plants in the corners now, I'm hoping they will bounce back with time.

I've experienced a bad case of BGA, which when I look back has been with me ever since the tank was at stage 2, it just never took off till the current setup. The BGA has been fully removed due to the added fertilizer/excel dosing, and a 3 day blackout. I've been BGA free for around 2 weeks now...

Future plans:

I plan to make this current tank setup into a successful aquascape, but I'm afraid its current design is too symetrical. I want to create more of an imbalance so I may move the large stem plants in the back corners around to create a more asymmetrical design, as well as adding a few more fast growing plants to fill in the background. I am also currently trying to grow a carpeted foreground with the plant I picked up today (bottom right pic) along with the dwarf hairgrass that's slowly growing in the center, I don't know what its called but Ill look up its name (along with all the other names of the plants I don't have an ID on. I do know this will be difficult with low light, if not impossible. If that is the case, I'll probably upgrade to higher light and C02 in the future.
See less See more
The new carpet plant you bought is Marsilea minuta. It's a fairly hardy plant that will tolerate low light and is generally undemanding in most tanks. I don't think your hairgrass stands a chance though, under 15 watts of light in a 10 gallon tank.

You can make this work with low light plants, though. The anubias, narrow leaf java fern, and marsilea minuta are great pics. I'd throw in some crypts, windelov java, dwarf sag, and some mosses. I really like how you attached the anubias to your driftwood, but if you just turn your driftwood a little, you'll throw off the entire symetry aspect which you say you don't like. It'll make the tank look a lot less structured. I would also group the hygros that you have (and trim the leaf-less stem portions of them) into one corner of the tank.

Looks good though. And nice journal. :)
See less See more
Thanks frosty for the input. I actually love the center area (and I love the anubias on the driftwood too! I bought it inside the drift wood like that, and it eventually spread out and covered the driftwood), It makes a great focal point for the tank IMO, I just want to fill in the empty space with different items to make it a little unbalanced. Just like how you said I should move the hydros to one side, thats the kind of changes I want to make to change its current style.

When you say I should trim them, do you mean just snip out the center areas and replant the top and bottom portions(areas with leaves)?
As for the driftwood, if I did change it, I'm not sure how I should change it...I was thinking of just covering the right piece in moss to make it look alittle different, any suggestions? I mainly like the way its positioned because it shows off my larger anubias as being the focal point of the tank, but im open to other suggestions :D

The dwarf hair grass has actually been in the tank for a long time now, it shows no signs spreading, but its alive.

Also, I came home from work today to find one of my ghost shrimp eating the other...I'm not sure what could have happened to cause one of them to die...
See less See more
You can cut the hygro right in half, and the bottom half should grow new leaves, and the top half will reroot wherever you put it in the substrate. The condition of your hygro, though, makes me think that something is a little off in the tank, either too little light or not enough nutrients.

Regarding the ghost shrimp, they'll almost always wild caught, so it could have had some kind of illness or parasite. They ARE usually bought as feeders after all. Amano shrimp are much hardier and better algae eaters in my experience, if you can get your hands on a couple of those.

Also, have you tried a black background on this tank? Your neon tetras would really pop against it.
I tried using a dark blue background but hated it, I will consider a black one though.

I actually talked to a guy I've been getting information from at my LFS, I pointed out that my hygros looked nothing like the ones in their tank, that it didn't have any leaves like theirs... and when I was telling him about how I was using RO/DI water, he suspected it might be due to little C02 in my water, and that I don't use any KH buffer in my RO/DI water, could this be the case? Also, I'm not dosing micro nutrients, which I'm sure is effecting all of my plants.

While I was there I picked up a cherry shrimp:

I'll probably pick up one more cherry shrimp, and maybe one amano shrimp, but I hear amano shrimp get pretty large, so Im kinda worried about getting too many of them.

Also, a pic of my oto for no reason :p
See less See more
Your onyx sand substrate provides some micronutrients to your plants and sort of counteracts the fact that you're using RO water. Why are you using RO water anyway? Are you mixing it with tap water or using it straight? However, its very possible that all of those nutrients are trapped in the sand and are not making it into the water column.
I'm using straight RO/DI water. Before I used tap, but here in phoenix the tap water was very hard and I wasn't having much luck with tap water. I think I might consider adding a small amount of tap water to level it off alittle bit, before the high mineral content of the tap water was really causing me issues, but I think with a small amount added to my current setup might benefit me a little, but this is just a theory
Mini Update:

I trimmed my hygro and also learned that for some people, this narrow leaf hygro tends to have issues of growing lower leaves in the same conditions that I have (low tech, low light, etc.) I'm hoping that after this trim it will start growing more leaves towards the top, then eventually shed its lower leaves, and turn into the same way it looked before (like a palm tree) Does this sound like a reasonable assumption?

Also found my ghost shrimp eating the larger leaves of this plant, which might explain why some of the leaves look a little deformed. I also moved them all to the right corner.

My oto really likes to get in all my pictures lol
See less See more
The anubias at the middle looks like it's rhizome is burried under the substrate.I'd pop it up and tie it down to a driftwood.
Final Update

I was at my local aquarium shop a few weeks ago and found a cheap 14 gallon Bio-cube. This tank has been torn down and rebuilt inside that bio-cube. Conclusion of this tank and overall thoughts: This tank was definitely a refresh into keeping aquariums. This tank has been through many changes but I believe I did a much better job maintaining this tank when compared to the 40 gallon tank that I had over 3 years ago. I do believe I had issues with this tank including attempted c02 injection and several algae issues including bga and hair algae. Overall it was a great learning experience. Here are a few pictures of the final tank before It was torn down:
See less See more
1 - 13 of 13 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.