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redchigh 02-25-2010 02:20 PM

questions about starting up a 5g
I just repaired a little 5-gallon tank...

It's too small for any fish, but I was thinking about just planting it heavily, with maybe a shrimp or thai micrro crab colony.

Most of the plants require a temp around 70-75 degrees, and the same for the shrimp/crabs.

Would I be able to get by with not using a filter or a heater?
Note, I'd have about 25 plant stems, an emersed amazon sword, and a corkscrew val or two. (would place the ones that got too big into one of my other tanks, or sell them on aquabid)

Also, I read on another site that you can use a mixture of "loamy" soil and vermiculite as a substrate, covered in a shallow layer of sand. Anyone ever tried this?
Should I just use sand, or sand/vermiculite? (the sand is "pool filter sand" so it won't compact and will allow water movement between each grain.
I'm more than willing to experiment since it's only a 5G, and easy enough to break down and start over if need be. (the plants would only be about $16 from sweet aquatics)

As far as lighting, what would you reccomend as a starting point? I'm leaning towards just placing it in window, but I could probably find a 6w CFL. (I think its the smallest you can get!)
If the consenus is that I would need a filter, it will probably be an air-driven sponge filter.

I may break down and place a single male guppy into the tank too, but I'm not sure.

Any ideas/reccomendations?

Here is a list of plants that I'm considering:

Would a PH of about 6-7 be okay?

(I'm anxious to start this!)

Byron 02-25-2010 05:29 PM

First for fish, there are some possibilities which would make the 5g more interesting depending how you look at that. One is the Ember Tetra, here's a link to the Profile I added only yesterday:

With a half dozen of these, you could also include a half dozen of one of the dwarf cory species, Corydoras habrosus, C. pygmaeus or C. hastatus.

As for substrates, if you go with soil it should be plain garden soil, absolutely no fertilizers included; terrestrial plant fertilizers are quite different from aquatic plant needs, and you could have quite a mess if any of those are mixed in. Diana Walstad has written extensively on soil substrates, if you're interested I can track down a link as she has some articles online as well as her wonderful book. And she did an article in the November 2009 issue of TFH on this topic.

Daylight can work if it is strong enough. Rhonda Wilson who writes articles on planted aquaria in TFH monthly has frequently written of (and included photos of) her window tanks, and they are stunning. Direct sunlight is tricky to control, but if you have bright diffused daylight, or blinds, on a south or west facing window, this is a distinct and inexpensive lighting source.

For what I've outlined above, regular soil (with a layer of small gravel over it), a dozen fish, and well-planted, a filter would be optional. A heater would be good, unless you are in a warm climate, as these fish and most of the aquatic plants should not be below 75F. And shrimp would still be possible with these small fish.


Angel079 02-25-2010 06:03 PM

When I set my no-tech up I used organic topsoil (washed/ soaked a few times) then put a piece window screen in and play sand over top. I did however not go as far as direct sunlight (case my windows are so low I KNOW my dog would go after that tank for drinking purpose) so I added a 7w bulb in a hood.

Shrimp would really enjoy a set up like you're trying to go for there; if I can be of any shrimp-help please let me know (I don't wanna re-direct you or post pages on end if your not interested lol).

redchigh 02-26-2010 03:59 PM

Well I'm thinking of maybe a couple ottos, but I think shrimp are interesting... I've never even tried a super heavy planted tank.

One of my main reasons for not wanting a filter is that 1, I don't have one :) and 2, I want the baby shrimps to be okay.

would a couple ramshorn snails be okay, or do you think they would eat the plants?

and would MTS end up mixing the soil and sand together, creating a mess?
would the soil even get mixed up into the water column? I'm thinking that with little water movement, it might not be a problem if the soil didn't diffuse and turn all the water brown.

Oh, and angel, if you have any info on shrimp breeding, that would be great. I'm under the general impression that they are kind of like some other easy fish in that no real breeding setup is required- just provide good conditions and let nature do what it does best.

I found out that your favourite aquatic plant web site will give me some ramshorns or MTS free with an order... but don't tell anyone... at least until I have mine. :)

redchigh 02-26-2010 05:25 PM

Cabomba Caroliniana (Cabomba, Green)
Echinodorus Bleheri (Amazon Sword)
Hornwort (Ceratophyllum Demersum)
Sagittaria Subulata (Dwarf)
Shinnersia Rivularis
Vallisneria Asiatica Var. Biwaensis (Corkscrew Val)
Water Wisteria (Hygrophila Difformis)

Would these do well in the setup I'm describing? (I hope so since I just ordered it! lol)
I'd really like anacharis, but it's banned in my state :(

Byron 02-26-2010 06:44 PM


Originally Posted by redchigh (Post 333209)
Cabomba Caroliniana (Cabomba, Green)
Echinodorus Bleheri (Amazon Sword)
Hornwort (Ceratophyllum Demersum)
Sagittaria Subulata (Dwarf)
Shinnersia Rivularis
Vallisneria Asiatica Var. Biwaensis (Corkscrew Val)
Water Wisteria (Hygrophila Difformis)

Would these do well in the setup I'm describing? (I hope so since I just ordered it! lol)
I'd really like anacharis, but it's banned in my state :(

As you've ordered, my comments are a bit late, but if you have other tanks you can always use the excess plants there, so it is not a loss.

In a small tank like a 5g I would tend to avoid stem plants especially Wisteria which grows very fast and will choke out everything in a few days in such a small space. Mine has taken over my 70g, although I rather let it because that was what I wanted. Cabomba is more controllable and can be floated as a good cover plant. So can Hornwort, and of the two I would stick with Cabomba, a much nicer plant in this setup. Hornwort can become something of a weed.

Corkscrew Vall is good, a smaller plant; it will soon send out runners and many, many daughter plants, so be prepared--the little plant you first get may not seem like much, but in such conditions (soil) it will flourish. Same with the Sagittaria, another good choice that will soon multiply.

I would try to get an Echinodorus amazonicus rather than E. bleheri; they are almost identical in appearance, except the E. amazonicus is smaller and better suited to a 5g. E. bleheri will be the only plant in that tank, or be large enough to create that appearance. Look at the two E. bleheri at the back of my 115g just right of centre, or the back corner ones in my 90g. E. amazonicus would be perfect in your setup.

redchigh 02-26-2010 07:23 PM

well, I was purposefully picking plants that would grow rampantly so they would use up all the nutrients.

I can always transplant, sell, give away, or compost the surplus.
Frequent pruning would give me something to "fiddle" with. I like doing things almost as much as I like sitting aand watching.

Although I'm sure it'll be a pain to dig out the surplus shrimp/crabs/fish...

Will the echinodorus b. grow emersed?

Byron 02-26-2010 08:18 PM


Will the echinodorus b. grow emersed?
Yes, have a look at the plant profile in our Fish Profiles section, here's a direct link.

Good thing you like pruning, you'll have sufficient I expect:-). Byron.

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