Are plants necessary and how to start? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 14 Old 02-05-2009, 01:07 PM Thread Starter
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Are plants necessary and how to start?

Hi, I introduced myself a little while ago as a newbie/novice to fishkeeping. I have had fish before but in a five gallon tank before. I have a 10 gallon aquarium now and I'll be the first to admit that I didn't do everything right with my smaller aquarium. In my defense i was a kid and i tried! lol

Anyway, I have my tank set up, water is in and that's in. No gravel or anything. I think i want to do live plants for the first time ever. Its' better for the fish isn't it? But I have no idea where to start. How to choose them. When to put them in etc. I have no intention of putting fish in here for at least a month. We aren't in a rush and I want to make sure that they have ideal conditions before I do.

Also, how would you stock a 10 gallon aquarium? I want a few fish that are bright (for my almost 2 yo daughter) and I definitely do not want to overcrowd.
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post #2 of 14 Old 02-05-2009, 01:14 PM
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plants are not nessessary
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post #3 of 14 Old 02-05-2009, 03:48 PM
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True, they are not nessessary but fish will appreciate them. A good substrate and lighting is all you need to grow the easier ones. Cabomba, anacharis, java fern & swords are all easy plants to start with. What type of lighting do you have on your tank? Have you picked a substrate yet? With decent lighting and a substrate like eco-complete you could have a tank that plants would do very nicely in.

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post #4 of 14 Old 02-05-2009, 04:50 PM Thread Starter
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Well I was kind of hoping to get away with black sand or gravel. I'm trying to do it on a budget and i heard that the eco-complete is a bit expensive?? I haven't even looked for it yet. I was going to go out today but my toddler is sick :(
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post #5 of 14 Old 02-05-2009, 05:07 PM
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Sorry your baby is sick, that is never any fun.
Eco-complete is a little pricey, anywhere from 19.99 to 23.99 a bag for 20 pounds.
The good news is that in a 10G one bag would be plenty.
I have plain white play sand in one of my 6gl and the plants grow just fine in it so I'm not really sure you'd need the Eco anyway. It all depends on the type of plants & lighting. I have easy to grow plants and a little CF light for the tank.

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post #6 of 14 Old 02-05-2009, 05:23 PM Thread Starter
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I really want easy to grow tanks. i was thinking about getting the substrate and then putting some of those plant bulbs and putting them in. I'm really not in a rush. hee hee.

Oh and for lighting... i'm really not sure what the wattage is. I bought a kit... It says it's full spectrum incandescent and not to put anything higher then 15 watts in.

Do those plants you listed grow in lower light?
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post #7 of 14 Old 02-05-2009, 05:41 PM
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Necessary? (Insert Rip Torn from Dodgeball here)
There are no fish I can think of that will survive in a 10 gallon tank that will not thrive with the correct plants. So I would say that yes, in your situation, plants are necessary to the fish's health. In larger tanks there are fish that will uproot and/or eat plants, but there's nothing like that you will be able to house in a 10.

You can get by without ecocomplete. Exactly what you can use in place of it depends on what fish you're planning on keeping.

If you're keeping dwarf shell dwelling cichlids, livebearers, cherry red shrimp, or dwarf puffers, spring for a small box of laterite and mix it with rinsed sand (all purpose sand from home despot will work fine so long as it doesn't smell funny, pool filter sand is ideal, and I really like black sand. 3-M color quartz for mixing with pool paint is excellent) and some crushed coral or seashell (oyster shells work fine, and you can crush your own in a burlap bag with a hammer), put that in the tank first, then top with an equal amount of the sand you used in the mix. This will make the water nice and hard and give your plants some iron for their roots.

If you're keeping white clouds, skip the oyster shells, and mix in some areas of good sized gravel or pebbles (like 1/2" to 2" ). Either wrap some of the pebbles in willow moss or simply don't plant those areas. This will give any eggs a decent chance of hatching and the fry a place to hide while they're really tiny.

If you're keeping tetras, a betta, croaking/sparking/honey gouramis, cories, ottos, kuhlis, killies, or badis badis, start with a layer of peat - the chopped, compressed stuff they sell for a couple of bucks a cubic foot - about a quarter of an inch - then half an inch of organic garden soil (the stuff for growing bonsais is ideal, but for that money you might as well get ecocomplete), then top with a dark sand or small gravel. (you could add laterite or not as you like.)

Franky, in a 10 gallon tank, you could get a package of root tablets, crush about 5 of them, and mix them into the bottom third of your substrate and that would work just fine.

Make sure you match our plants to the light you'll be putting over it. Start out with some fast growing stems (which you will have to trim every week until your smaller, slower plants get going. Then you can remove the stems. If there's an aquatic gardening club in your area, you can probably pick something up on the cheap that will work ideally.) You may want to keep it to Java Moss, Java Fern, and some small cryptocorynes if you've got the standard 18 watt strip light. Not to worry - they'll look fine. Or you can get a glass lid and two strips and grow just about anything. Vallisnera works really well for hardwater species, but get the corkscrew variety - straight and narrow will outgrow a 10 in a matter of days.

You're getting yourself in for lots of fun. Check out this page, the 2008 AGA aquascaping contestants. 10 gallons is 38 litres, so look at those tanks. You'll get an idea of what you can do with it.

Logic is only the beginning of wisdom
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post #8 of 14 Old 02-05-2009, 05:50 PM
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Great post, Tophat. Very informative and tons of useful info for me. Thanks!

PS. Dodgeball was a riot! It's in my DVD collection :)

If you don't stand up for something you'll fall for anything...
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post #9 of 14 Old 02-05-2009, 06:06 PM
Some fish (NOT ALL OF THEM TOGETHER that would be ok for a 10g! do some research on some of these)
~neon tetras
~dwarf puffer (hard to care for)
~mystery snail
~cherry shrimp
~ghost shrimp
~mosquito rasbora
~cory cats
~red tailed shark
~ shelldwellers
~white cloud
~sparklling gourami
~honey gouramis
~kulih loach
~NO GOLDFISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


All things bright an beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord, God made them all.

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post #10 of 14 Old 02-05-2009, 06:33 PM Thread Starter
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Great! Thanks for all the info. I'm thinking I might just get the eco complete. lol

I'm also loving the tanks on that list! Amazing what you can do with so little room (8L!!)

I kind of like the low light low tech idea so I'm going to look into that some more.
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