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Would like advice on how to successfully start and keep a 5 gallon planted tank

This is a discussion on Would like advice on how to successfully start and keep a 5 gallon planted tank within the Beginner Planted Aquarium forums, part of the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium category; --> Originally Posted by noenyu Thank you! I've been thinking about starting slow at first with a few plants first then adding more. Plants I'm ...

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Would like advice on how to successfully start and keep a 5 gallon planted tank
Old 08-12-2010, 06:15 PM   #11
 
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Thank you! I've been thinking about starting slow at first with a few plants first then adding more. Plants I'm thinking about are water sprite, anubias nana and tropica sword to begin with. For substrates I'm debating on Eco-Complete Planted or Super Natural Tahitian Moon. What would these plants need for fertilizers? Thanks again.
I still think the tropica sword is a bit large for a five gallon, but it's your call. These plants wouldn't need much in the way of fertilizers if your light levels aren't too high. If you have algae problems, you could try Flourish Excel, since it acts as an algaecide of sorts. I've never heard of Super Natural Tahitian Moon before, but I've heard good things about Eco-Complete, so I would suggest that one. However, after doing a bit of Googling, I've found that they're both from the same company, so I doubt it would matter much if you got one or the other. After several months, you might want to add a fertilizer root tab or two by the tropica sword if you get it.
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noenyu (08-13-2010)
Old 08-12-2010, 07:40 PM   #12
 
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Going back through the thread on this question of tropica sword, I'm thinking noenyu is probably thinking of Echinodorus parviflorus "Tropica" which is in our profiles under Dwarf Sword. If I'm correctly assuming this, it would be ideal in a 5g as a "centrepiece" with its very dark green hammered stiff leaves. I agree a large sword species would not work.

The pygmy chain sword, Echinodorus tenellus, would be a lovely contrast with its light green strap-like leaves.

On the substrate, in a 5g I would go with the Eco-complete. The higher cost of this product is an issue in large tanks but in a 5g this would be a nice substrate.
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Old 08-13-2010, 12:33 AM   #13
 
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I can't find any stores that sell good aquatic plants so I might have to wait a bit . Would one or two plants be enough to go without a filter? Thank you so much for all the help.
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Old 08-13-2010, 01:21 PM   #14
 
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You might as well wait it out until you can find some good plants. One or two plants is a bit iffy.
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Old 08-13-2010, 08:00 PM   #15
 
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Where in California are you? Not that I can advise on stores, but several members here are in California and some may be relatively near and able to suggest stores. The other option is ordering by mail, I know several have had good results with Sweet Aquatics.
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Old 08-14-2010, 12:28 PM   #16
 
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indeed, I second the sweet aquatics. Even with shipping it's cheaper than petsmart.

I still say soil works really nice in small tanks. Much cheaper than eco-complete, the same nutrients (more or less) and you get the bonus of added CO2 (produced by bacteria in the soil)
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Old 08-14-2010, 05:56 PM   #17
 
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Bay Area California. I did find some that are located in San Francisco but it'll be a while until I can go up there. I've checked out Sweet Aquatics and it looks good just shipping seem so high. Its understandable though seeing that these are live things and getting them quicker is key to keeping them alive. What would be the minimum number of plants needed to keep a 5 gallon tank filtered by plants alone? Thanks again for the help. Sometimes I think my tank is bigger then it actually is lol. At least it looks like it sometimes.
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Old 08-14-2010, 06:30 PM   #18
 
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Bay Area California. I did find some that are located in San Francisco but it'll be a while until I can go up there. I've checked out Sweet Aquatics and it looks good just shipping seem so high. Its understandable though seeing that these are live things and getting them quicker is key to keeping them alive. What would be the minimum number of plants needed to keep a 5 gallon tank filtered by plants alone? Thanks again for the help. Sometimes I think my tank is bigger then it actually is lol. At least it looks like it sometimes.
Depends what they are. Stem plants grow fast which means use nutrients fast so they are good at the beginning. Swords (pygmy chain sword or the dwarf sword for a 5g), one of each as the chain true to its name sends out runners once established and you'll be pulling it out eventually. Floating plants usually reproduce fast too.
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Old 08-15-2010, 01:26 PM   #19
 
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Bay Area California. I did find some that are located in San Francisco but it'll be a while until I can go up there. I've checked out Sweet Aquatics and it looks good just shipping seem so high. Its understandable though seeing that these are live things and getting them quicker is key to keeping them alive. What would be the minimum number of plants needed to keep a 5 gallon tank filtered by plants alone? Thanks again for the help. Sometimes I think my tank is bigger then it actually is lol. At least it looks like it sometimes.
I'm in the Bay Area (South Bay) as well. What stores are there in the area?

I'm still a bit confused about the substrate. Plain gravel from say PetSmart is okay, right? However, if I wanted to, I can put in soil? If I do this, then do I put gravel on top of it? Where can I get the soil?

Thanks for starting this thread. I really like the idea of putting in plants and then the fish right away. Beats having to cycle for a month.
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Old 08-15-2010, 02:21 PM   #20
 
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Plants will grow in any substrate, although the rate of growth can differ depending. It's up to you what you use. I always suggest plain aquarium gravel to those starting out with planted tanks because it is easier, there is less chance of trouble, and it does work. I'll mention the alternatives momentarily.

Regular aquarium gravel is inert (doesn't contain calcareous substances like limestone, dolomite, coral, marble that will raise hardness and pH). Get the smallest grain size you can, 1-2 mm is best. And in a dark colour. Black, dark brown, natural (the beige/black/brown mix) all work. This is important for two reasons; first, it calms the fish because it is "natural" and most fish we keep in planted tanks are used to something very dark below them. Second, the dark colour shows off the colours of the fish and plants. Fish will intensify their colouration over a dark substrate, Weitzman proved this. A 2-3 inch layer of gravel is fine; less at the front, more (deeper) at the back where the larger-rooted plants will be.

Now, you mentioned soil. A layer of pure clean soil such as you buy (not from the garden) with absolutely no additives like fertilizers which will cause problems. Over this a layer of gravel, same as what I suggested above. The problems with soil are 1) mess--if you are not careful you will have soil particles throughout the tank. Moving plants is tricky because this disturbs the soil and up it comes. If you have fish that dig they will be in the soil. 2) It takes a few months for the tank to establish itself with soil due to the release of CO2 and nutrients. During that time you can have issues with water parameters, conditions and algae. All this is in Diana Walstad's book, and her more recent article in TFH last year, so it is not my dreaming. She warns that soil has these drawbacks. But it works if you are prepared to deal with them.

For someone starting their first planted tank, I would rather you had good success than problems, so you don't get discouraged. Planted tanks are easy; I always say it is easier to handle plants than fish, and I believe it is. Keeping it simple means more chance of success. Once you have the easy approach mastered, you can move on to experiment with other substrates. Sort of like the very wise adage, you have to learn how to walk before you can run.

Byron.
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