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This is a discussion on Planted Aquarium... within the Beginner Planted Aquarium forums, part of the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium category; --> How densely planted does a 20g tank need to be in order to cycle the tank fairly quick? How many plants are needed? I ...

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Old 07-24-2010, 10:02 PM   #1
 
Planted Aquarium...

How densely planted does a 20g tank need to be in order to cycle the tank fairly quick? How many plants are needed?

I want to plant my aquarium before I started putting any fish in it.
Also.. Should I put more hardy fish in at first to make sure that everything is tip top shape, or can I put what I want in right away?

Any other advice is also welcomed.
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Old 07-24-2010, 11:10 PM   #2
 
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Lots of plants, and those that grow fast (like stem plants, floating plants) are slightly better because they use more nutrients (ammonia/ammonium) to grow faster. But generally speaking, if you want a "planted tank" buy all the plants you want and plant it. More in a moment.

As for fish, with a planted tank only buy the fish you want in the aquarium. I always recommend a few at first until you are experienced with this process. Depending what you intend in the tank, one group to start with is best. And not a particularly sensitive species. Some fish do not adjust to "new" tanks not because of the nitrogen cycle (ammonia/nitrite) but because the new tank is not biologically stable and there may (will) be fluctuations in water parameters, conditions, etc. Some fish are less immune to this than others. If you mention the fish you want, I will advise.

And now back to the plants, the plants have to be sufficient for the fish; at one extreme, 2-3 little crypts in a 20g with 8 medium-sized tetras will not cut it. I always plant more than I know will eventually be in the tank, and as they grow I cull them out. Stem plants are ideal for this as they grow quick and you don't lose money culling plants down the road because you will still have more than enough. However, I do recommend some rooted plants in the substrate, swords are ideal, vallisneria, sagittaria, Aponogeton, crypts--the reason being that these get the bacteria cycles in the substrate established and this is a major factor in a biologically established tank. And by bacteria cycles in the substrate again I am not referring to the nitrogen group, but a host of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria that live in a healthy substrate breaking down waste into organics for the plant roots to absorb, and receiving oxygen from the plant roots to live. Quite a complex community down there out of sight.

Byron.
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doppsterjr (07-25-2010)
Old 07-25-2010, 12:25 AM   #3
 
The fish I have been looking at are bolivian rams and gouramis, but I know those are kinda picky guys.
I have also been looking at rummynoses, ember tetras, and dwarf (pea) puffers.
I was also going to but around 3 otocinclus in the tank as well. I love those little guys. I have 1 now.
I doubt I will get all of them, but they are just some fish I'm looking at.

For plants I was looking at anubias, java ferns, and crypts. Obviously I will probably find some more different ones that I like as well, but these are the ones that I am getting off the top of my head.

I lost a lot of fish because of mistakes and having new tank syndrome in my first tank. I don't want to go through that again, so I'm asking as many questions as I can in order to not lose fish again.
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Old 07-25-2010, 01:08 AM   #4
 
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A very sensible course of action.

I doubt one could find a list of fish less suited to a new tank that yours. But of those, the Bolivian Ram and gourami (depending upon which species, certainly not the more delicate like chocolates, croaking, sparkling, etc) are probably the best to put in first from that standpoint.

Rummynose tetras should absolutely never go into anything other than a well established aquarium. The Ember tetra is a bit less finicky but as it is likely to be wild caught (same as the Brilliant Rummynose Tetra which is the more widely seen species now) care must be paid to the water stability. "Established" means more than just cycled which is the first stage; after cycling, the biology of the tank takes a bit of time to stabilize, and the state called the biological equilibrium is eventually reached. This can occur within just a couple of months especially in planted tanks. Otos also should only go into established aquaria, and only if sufficient common green or brown algae is present; without algae at first they frequently starve.

You should be careful about gourami in with such small fish as the Embers; while I am less certain on the Ram, I personally would not mix Embers with either fish. The mouth on both the Ram and the larger gourami species is large enough to easily swallow an Ember.

The pea puffer is not a community fish; in fact, none of the puffers are, they deserve their own unique habitat to be at their best. The dwarf pea puffer is very nippy, and would easily consume the Embers plus chomp on the fins on the other fish. They are capable of killing much larger fish just by their relentless nipping.

On the plants, Anubias, Java Fern and Cryptocoryne are all slow-growing plants. If you are going with any of the afore-mentioned fish (aside from puffers here) I would add something like swords, the pygmy chain sword Echinodorus tenellus is ideal as foreground plants, or the slightly larger species like Echinodorus parviflorus "Tropica" [Dwarf Sword] and maybe a single Echinodorus bleherae as a centrepiece [but not in the centre of course]. And floating plants would shade the light, as these fish do not like bright tanks. I have a group of 13 of the rummys Hemigrammus bleheri in my 115g and I rarely see them except at feeding time; they prefer the "darkness" of the plants, along with the cardinals with whom they are usually swimming.

Byron.

Last edited by Byron; 07-25-2010 at 01:10 AM..
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Old 07-25-2010, 02:45 AM   #5
 
Haha.. Yea. I'm a difficult one. Of course pretty much all of the fish I have become to like (that are not livebearers) are sensitive. Would you suggest any fish to put in after I have planted the tank and have it set up and everything? I like fish with fairly bright colors, as you can see. Maybe some species of barb? Cherry, tiger, rosy? Just throwing things out there...

So let's see.. Ember Tetras are out then. Seeings how the fish that I want most of all are the Bolivian Rams and the Gouramis.

I'll have to keep my eye out for those plants at my pet stores. Most of the local ones are also fairly good about special ordering things for people in the area. Are there any other plants that are recommended?

If I use Flourish tabs in the substrate, should I still use Flourish Comprehensive? Or is that too much?
I was planning on putting black sand on the bottom of the tank and then putting a more natural river rock looking gravel on top of that.

Once again.. All advice is greatly appreciated.
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Old 07-25-2010, 04:21 PM   #6
 
I looked and read the Cherry Barb profile here on this site. I also looked at some other ones and most of them said they are pretty tough fish. The profile on here even said they could be used for the cycling process. I'm thinking these guys are my best bet for fish to put in after the tank is planted. Plus, I think they are cute little guys that I overlooked in the beginning.

Would these little guys be okay to put in right after? I would definitely plan on keeping them. And I was thinking of getting 4-6 of them, so they'll be comfortable. Would this be okay?
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Old 07-25-2010, 04:55 PM   #7
 
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Generally speaking, barbs and danios are hardy fish, and in a planted tank (where there is or should be no true "cycling" issue becvause of the plants) they will be good first fish. It is the "established" bit that bothers the more sensitive fish.

Shoaling fish should be in groups of at least six, this applies to the barbs, danio, rasbora, tetra, corys, etc. So whenever considering any of these fish, remember there needs to be 6 or more of each.

Flourish Comprehensive (liquid) is almost essential and will be adequate. Substrate plants like swords are heavy feeders and substrate fertilizer (tabs or sticks) provide additional nutrients, but this is not essential if you use Flourish. Obviously non-substrate rooted plants derive no benefit from nutrients in the substrate.

I would not use sand as an underlying substrate with gravel on top. It is not the best rooting medium for plants. If you want gravel on top, then make it gravel throughout, a small-grain gravel on the bottom with larger pebble or pea gravel on top is fine if that is what you want. The two should be similar in colour, as they will mix.
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doppsterjr (07-25-2010)
Old 07-25-2010, 05:50 PM   #8
 
When do you know when a tank is "established"? When it starts growing algae? What signs should I look for?

Instead of having a school of Cherry Barbs and a school of Rummynoses, I was thinking of just having a larger school of the barbs. And also 2 Bolivian Rams, 2 Honey Gouramis, and a few Otocinclus.
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Old 07-25-2010, 07:01 PM   #9
 
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Not sure about adding 2 Gourami and Rams in a 20 gallon due to territorial behavior. That might be asking for trouble. To date, my Tiger Barbs have not been an issue with the Gourami but I have heard they can be. So far, my school keeps their picking to themselves so that might be alright. Also, I have heard you are not supposed to put Oto's in with some of these larger fish as they might end up food. So far, I have not had that issue either.
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Old 07-25-2010, 07:43 PM   #10
 
Well.. I would definitely count on everyones experience, but this is what the Bolivian Ram profile on this website said about their temperment... "Peaceful, an excellent cichlid for a community tank of characins, smaller catfish species, rasbora, small loaches, gourami"
I've been kinda going off of the fish profiles on here for water parameters and things like that for a stocking list.
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