Tank Redesign Idea - Need Opinions/Help
What kind of substrate do I need to add to have the plants I want?
10g cycled tank
1 - Aqueon 8000K T8 15 watt aquarium lamp (says it on the bulb - I think it's fluorescent and not full spectrum - but I'm not sure)
1 Betta fish
one random hitch-hiking snail
5 beat up java ferns from PetCo (thus the snail)
large rounded gravel (slightly bigger than pea-sized)
1 large piece of Mopani driftwood
Using API Leaf Zone once a week for the ferns
Ammonia-0, Nitrites-0, Nitrates-0, PH - 6.8 to 7.2 (after the Mopani was added - 7.6-7.8 before)
Tank has been up and running since June 28th, 2010.
Right now I'm left with stop-gap items in my tank that I used to help reduce the stress on a fish while the tank cycled. Java ferns consume Ammonia and Nitrates and the wood reduced the high PH.
1) The java ferns don't look good. They are brown at the tips of the leaves and in some cases half of the biggest leaf ona plant is medium to dark brown. There are brown spots all over them and some see-through leaves. I think the light is too much on them.
2) My driftwood has a thin, fuzzy white carpet over it's main section (faces the light) and a thick white growth under one of the branches that is hidden from the light. I want to remove it and clean it, boil it, whatever I have to do to remove this stuff. I don't know what it is and it worries me. Looks like dandelion spores would in Spring.
3) I want to plant Dwarf Hair Grass and a higher level plant behind it - not sure what (ideas would be great). Gonna flip the wood (big, gnarled 'U' - shape) so the 'U' is upside-down against the back of the tank. Also need some floating plants to block some of the light, Water Sprite Ok or are there other cool looking plants to float?
4) I need to change my filter and remove surface agitation - any ideas on a replacement filter that won't break the bank?
5) Oh, and do I just use filter floss and remove the existing charcoal filter cartridge in my HOB filter? I thought I read that.
Any and all answers would be helpful. Thank you.
Forgot to mention - the existing java ferns are sprouting long, thin brown strands all around the roots and the roots have moved all over the driftwood I secured them to and have become entangled woth each other. Good sign I think.
Heard about/read about the Seachem Flourish Comprehensive as well as the "low-tech" approach Used by Byron the planted tank guru. Lookin to do it that way.
Sounds like you are already well on your way, I'll add a few comments;
Just some follow-up suggestions.
First the light; 8000K is high in the blue but low in the red. This may contribute more to algae than good plant growth, and is likely at least part of the problem with the Java Fern. I would go to a hardware store and find a T8 fluorescent tube [the "T" is a diameter number, T8 is the thinner but now more common tube, T12 were fatter:-)] the same length (measure your tube, the length minus the prongs is what you need to know) in a natural daylight with a kelvin rating around 6500K. Phillips, Sylvania and GE all make these, though the store may not carry all or every size; they call them "daylight" or something similar, the 6500K is what you want to look for. This is also full spectrum.
Leaf Zone will be OK for Java Fern but when it is gone I would get Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planted Aquarium. It is one of the best. You use very little, for a 10g it will be something like 1 ml or 1/4 tsp once a week.
The Mopani wood "fuzz" needs watching. I had this on a piece when I first put it in the tank, and the water clouded and the fish started respirating very heavily, esp the Corydoras. I pulled it out and scrubbed it and soaked it for a few weeks in a fish-less tank until it cleared up. I know of others who had fish die from this. I caught it soon enough and did a major water change. I've had it in my 33g for about 3 months now, and I noticed today it is getting a bit of this same white fuzz in a couple spots. I'm keeping a close eye on it and the fish. Just a caution.
Gravel is fine, as noted earlier by zof and many times by me.;-)
Thanks for all of the input, you guys rock. I was worried about the difficulty of planting Dwarf Hairgrass in larger gravel. Knowing I don't need different substrate is a relief. Bulb change will be easy. The driftwood - how long does the PH lowering-effects last? It'll look pretty cool if I can clean it up and get the hitch hiking snail to stop using it as a lavatory but I mainly got it to naturally soften the water.
Just wanted to know if you had a timeline on that so I could prep the next piece of wood. I'll probably have to re-attach the ferns to larger rocks while I clean the wood - I may not put them back on the wood as it stands. They would look good if healthy in the background though.
I don't mind the tannins in the water - heard they may even make the fish feel more at ease but he white fuzz has got to go. So boil it is, then soak.
I've attached a few pics of the snail (and one of the current tank, as is) because I can't find anything that looks like it online. It may be a Ramshorn beause of the shape but the coloring is crazy - like snakeskin on it's shell.
The pic of the bare spot of the driftwood is what the snail left behind. Am I going to have to immediately do a water change to remove this stuff (which I assume is waste) and get rid of the snail? I thought they had a low bio-load but this guy seems to be quick for a snail and have a high metabolism. Thanks for all the advice.
Forgot a pic of the tank.
Ok after looking at the pic the gravel might be a little to large for plants, someone else can expand or deny this. I assumed you had small pea size gravel.
The effect and lasting of the wood on your pH will vary on a large amount of issues (pH, hardness, amount of water changes, etc) you're just going to have to gauge on your own when you need to replace.You might instead look into peat moss pellets if you want to keep your pH lower, as they are cheaper and easier to change out.
I pretty sure what you are calling Java Ferns are infact some sort of crypt or sword plant, Java Fern roots are brown in color and kind of hairy. These will probably do better in the substrate.
Pretty sure that is a Ramshorn snail you got there.
Agree with zof - that's not java fern. It looks like a sword and needs to be in the substrate. Your substrate looks a little shallow at the moment - 2 inches would probably be bare minimum for swords, which have extensive root systems. A smaller size of gravel would also be better too
I agree that the gravel looks a bit too big for rooted plants. If you do like the look of the bigger rounded gravel, perhaps you could add 2" inches of the smaller gravel underneath to imped the plants and root tabs in, then cover with the bigger gravel.
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