taking a stab at planted...
I'm planning on taking a stab at a planted aquarium. It would only be 10 gallons and i am not planning on doing Co2. I was thinking miracle grow organic potting mix for substrate as I think i read that's ok? I would like to give the tank a nice depth with short/medium plants in the middle and taller plants in the back with a nice open area oval in the center of the tank and was wondering if someone could give me some pointers in the right direction. I'm also going to be doing this on a budget and over a period of time cause of $$$ issues so if there are cheaper solutions it would be nice. :)
Well, going 'natural' (aka no CO2) will certainly save you a lot of money =)
There are DIY options that don't cost much, but there is still an ongoing expense to it.
Do you have a local store that sells plants? If it's a Petsmart/Petco make sure you look up the plants online before you buy. They sell "Semi-Aquatic" plants that really are not aquatic at all, they'll die in ~month and start to rot... if your only option is to buy online, be aware you have to spend $7-$15 for shipping so buying one plant at a time can be very expensive, better to get several/all in one go.
A 10 gallon is a small tank, so a 'tall' plant is likely to be what would normally be considered a mid ground plant. A lot of the shorter 'foreground' plants require moderate to bright light. So the first thing everyone will need to know is what kind of a light do you have?
EDIT: Forgot to talk about your other question on substrate. I would not recommend using soil, the plants really don't need it and soil is probably the most difficult substrate to work with. Go with sand or fine gravel. The plants get their nutrients from the water, so the soil dosen't offer much of a benefit and you have to be very watchful when setting up that it dosen't screw with your water parameters. There is a four part guide stickied here that will give you tons of information. It seams overwhelming at first, but let it soak in and it will start to make sense. And of course ask questions ;)
Soil can be problematic if not done right. The soil you said is from my understanding the "best" to use from a bag. Though I have heard from others just using soil from their yard. Heavy root feeding plants can use some benefits from the soil. Though you might still have to use root tablets. Also you will have to use sand or a fine gravel to cap the soil to keep it in place. All these things will add cost to the starting cost. Its your tank soo you can do it how you want. I actually have that soil in my tanks capped with black sand. I also find that I had to have root tablets. From my readings the soil really just adds some Co2 from bacteria breaking down stuff in the soil. This will also happen in any substrate to a point.
If you go with soil best advice is set it up plant it and wait. Do water parameters test make sure that the soil doesn't leech any ammonia/nitrites/nitrates before adding fish. I did this for 2 weeks. It never did but my understanding and whatvi haven read if the parameters are going to shift it will do.so by day 10 (nit sure if this is true or not). Just something to keep in mind.
I'm planning on using a light that is strong enough for plants. To my knowledge thats t5 or t8 5,000k+ but i think im going to try for a 6,500k as i know my local petsmart has some. As far as plant selection goes, I have a Petco, Petsmart, Petsuppermarket, along with several LFS. Theres also ebay and even just found a local aquarium club. :) . I also already have a 50 lb bag of pool filter sand. Not the best looking i know but it works and is cheap. I was thinking the soil might eliminate root tabs for the beginning but if it doesn't i might just use the pool filter sound. Also would there be any nice background plants that would grow up and bend over as they reach the surface? I think i would prefer that to having floating plants but that would give the same effect for the fish wouldn't it?
Oh, if all you are doing is replacing the tubes, you can go to your local Home Depot or Lowe's (or any hardware store) and just get for example GE "Daylight" bulbs. I think these are 6500K or there about. They are a lot cheaper than ones in the pet store, and work just as well.
For plants at Petsmart/Petco just make sure you look them up online. Write their names down at the store, and do some research before buying. I know at Petsmart they put a "Semi-Aquatic" sticker on the top of ones that really can't be used in an aquarium like "Gold Ribbon Swords" and such. I find their prices on bunches to be reasonable because you get more than one plant in the tube (for example I got 3 Amazon Swords in one, and 6 Wisteria in another). For the single plant ones like Anubias and Java Fern they are not as great compared to online. But you don't have shipping costs locally either...
Some plants will grow up, then across the surface, others will break the surface and keep going up.
After I knew what I was going to be looking for then I would deff make sure I could ID it when I went to stores. My local petsuppermarket has java fern for 3-4 dollars a 6-8 inch plant. :thumbsup: Would something like Valis work or would that grow to fast for a small 10 gallon? Also open to suggestions on which plants and for what area of the tank as I am totally new to this.
Also this tank will probably be for 1-2 dwarf puffers and if there are any commonly available plants that would possibly be able to make this closer to a biotype for them that would be appreciated.
For someone starting their first planted tank, I would not recommend soil; I went into the issues in another thread a week or two back. I have had planted tanks for over 20 years, and have probably encountered every pitfall there is. I can guarantee you success in setting up a 10g planted tank with sand or fine gravel as the substrate. It is easy, and it works.:-)
Light is your most important feature. Over a 10g, my preferred choice would be an incandescent fixture with two screw-in bulbs. I have this over my 10g and 20g, and the plants are thriving. I have also used a single T8 fluorescent tube over a 10g with good results. But I now prefer incandescent; it is less expensive, and the compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) now available make this very good light. Two 10w daylight 6500K bulbs will suffice.
Plants. Corkscrew Vallisneria is ideal in a 10g. It will grow close to the surface for a nice back or side plant in groups. Pygmy chain sword is also ideal. Floating plants are in my view essential; in this small a tank, I have found Brazilian Pennywort to be best; Water Sprite, my absolute favourite floater, tends to grow too large very fast, though it is still an option. I am using it in my 10g presently, and I remove about half of it every week to keep it in check.
Here's a photo taken last week of the 10g so you can see what I'm talking about with all this. Playsand substrate (can't get any less expensive on substrate), incandescent light as discussed, some of the mentioned plants.
Something I totally spaced out on in chat phil is since your in Florida it would probably be pretty easy to find some stem plants in your local FW ponds and marshes. A few common aquarium plants are either natives their or invasive.
So pygmy chain sword in the foreground, maybe something slow growing like java fern in the middle and corkscrew vallisneria in the back with water sprite as a floating plant sound like a good idea?
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