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Old 02-07-2017, 06:29 PM   #1
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For Life on Dorm & at Home: 5.5 Gallon Set-Up

Hi everyone, thanks for taking some time to look at this thread.

Currently, I am in the midst of preparing a 5.5 Gallon (8in wide, 10in high, 16in length wise). I aim to keep this a relatively simple set-up because I am currently living on dorm and will have to move the aquarium between home and dorm life as needed. Haven't done to much with it, though I have only had the tank for a couple days.

In terms of equipment, I have a few small bits and ends all together and haven't got everything just yet. Currently, I have small filter (Tetra Whisper 3i In-Tank Filter) that I am hoping to make use of, possibly alongside another small filter or not depending on how my funds are. The air pump to the filter is currently helping me bubble the water in the tank so that I can figure out what the end result of my pH levels are going to be. I also got a stainless steel thermometer sitting in the tank at the moment, I didn't want to get another plastic one only to have it break on me again. The tank came with a hood and a light, though no bulb as of yet (got it at a steal of 34.99, taxes included). No heater as of yet either, but that is more because I want to test the heater I have for my Betta fish, Buck, to see if that would work or if I should get something more expensive.

Decoration wise, I have a small cichlid cave, several small plastic plants, a fake branch tunnel with plastic moss/grass, and a large fake plant all sitting inside it at the moment on a diminished bed of white gravel. Outside the tank, I got less than a pound of mopani wood (one chunk and a branch) soaking away in a bucket to help get as many tannins as I can out. Since I only got one bucket, the wood pieces are soaking separately. This is my first time using driftwood, but every thread and site I found (ghosted) advised that readers at least do the soaking if unable to boil. I'm kinda in the last group since I am currently on dorm, don't own any pots or anything for boiling. (-_-; )

Water Conditions: 24hrs after Set-up
Testing with the normal pH:+7.4
Testing with the High pH: 8-8.2? (I can't figure out which colour it is, as a guy I already tend to suck at differentiating colours of close shades but my bad eyes make this a pain in the butt. Help is greatly appreciated )
Testing for Ammonia: 0.0ppm
Testing for Nitrites: 0.0ppm
Testing for Nitrates: 0.0ppm

The results are as to be expected of a freshly set-up aquarium, so no major disappointments as of yet. I was surprised by how high the pH levels were, but then I haven't ever really taken the time to investigate how high the pH levels of the water in my area can get when left to sit for a couple days. I'm planning a fishless cycle for the most part. I'm going to be getting the bacteria and ammonia from Buck's dirty water (which shouldn't be too hard since I change his water every 2-3 days). I am leaving the water levels at about 60-75% full in the 5.5 gallon at the moment so that when I need to, I can more easily facilitate water changes.

My current stocking plan for the 5.5 is pretty flexible for the moment:
Mystery Snails (1-2)
AND/OR
Red Cherry Shrimp (5-7)
AND/OR
Ghost Shrimp (5-7)
AND/OR
African Dwarf Frogs (4-5)

I'm aiming for the aquarium to be mostly a little oddball tank, with Buck possibly moving in when I feel like it. I also may or may not add some really easy to care for plants. I'm still doing my research on that so I am unsure so far.

I'll post pictures some time tomorrow, so stay tuned. Any input you have on what I am doing is appreciated, honest. I don't bite.
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Old 02-07-2017, 08:31 PM   #2
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This sounds so cool! Good luck with it, I can't wait to see the tank when it is done. (Personally, I love ADFs, so I would recommend those, but RCS are adorable too. Whatever you pick, it'll be awesome!)
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Old 02-08-2017, 01:14 AM   #3
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Out of that stock I'd say you may be better off with the adfs in terms of not getting eaten by buck, but also they're adorable lol.

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Old 02-08-2017, 01:23 AM   #4
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For Life on Dorm & at Home: 5.5 Gallon Set-Up

I would not recommend African dwarf frogs, in my opinion I think buck, and mystery snails would look great.
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Old 02-08-2017, 01:24 AM   #5
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For Life on Dorm & at Home: 5.5 Gallon Set-Up

Btw if buck is a jerk, he would kill the shrimp, and the African frogs don't do good with most bettas.
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Old 02-08-2017, 01:32 AM   #6
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The only thing you can really do in the 5.5 would be the betta alone. Bettas don't really enjoy sharing their tanks so anything you put in there needs to be able to withstand being attacked. A big snail is probably your safest bet. ADF require 5g alone for a single so you just don't have enough room with the 5.5, maybe when you are done with college and can get a bigger tank. Good luck!
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Old 02-08-2017, 01:46 AM   #7
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It depends on the betta tbh, the only way to know is to try and have a back up plan if he's a jerk.

Adfs are usually suggested as 1g-2g per frog as they have smaller bioloads.

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Old 02-08-2017, 08:26 PM   #8
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Day 2

Okay, I'm back from my busy day. I finished setting up the Whisper Filter 3i today, it's in the back clipped onto one of the plastic plants. I am going to move it around a bit to see where I think it works best later in the weekend. The heater, while good enough for now, is going to be replaced with another that has more wattage later on before I put in the oddballs I aim for. Buck has settled in, enough so to make a big bubble nest on the back right side plastic plant, and is helping out by adding to the ammonia levels.

I went out to a couple of the local fish stores around me today to examine stock. The PetSmart about 15 min drive from the dorm has the cheapest plants available so far. Lots of meh quality, some just beginning to melt and others looking nipped at and such. Only plant that I'm interested in from that location is Moneywort, but I am still unsure on that one. The other location I visited today is one of the several Big Al's in the GTA area, one of the better ones IMO too. They had real nice quality plants, and some of them were cheaper than I thought they would be. Doing some research on the ones I really liked, the Banana Plant (going to call it a Banana Lily from now on, just such a cool name ), the Bacopa plant, and MAYBE a Corkscrew Val. I'm most sure about the Banana Lily since; it's only 4.99 a plant (no big investment), looks unique and pleasant, as well as how it is supposed to be an easy plant for beginners such as myself. I'm less sure about the Bacopa and the Corkscrew, mostly because I worry way too much about how much I will be capable of. Worrywart tendencies never die, no matter how much I wish they did.

I also scouted out additional substrate, since I am pretty sure that I need to supplement my current amount with some more. I want to try out a mix of sand and gravel, and since I already have gravel I went looking at sand. Found a couple bags that were relatively well priced I think (is 8.99 for 5lbs a good price?) and wanted to know your guys opinion on National Geographic's and Caribsea Super Natural's sand substrate. Is one better than the other, or are they equal, or am I just being a worrywart again? I've also seen Hermit Crab Calcium sand in 2lb bags for 4.99-6.99 (depending on colour), is that safe for an aquarium? I've heard of some people making use of it in tanks but I'm not sold on how safe that is. I'm pretty sure I am not going to use the Hermit Crab sand but this question has been bugging me so much that I want an answer.

Oh, I also found a gH and a kH kit while I was out. Grabbed it for 14.99 altogether, I think that is a good deal. Not sure, let me know. Scouted out Flourish tabs, found a ten pack for 14.99. Didn't grab it, cause I'm still unsure on plants and don't want to grab things too early.

Water Conditions: 48hrs after Set-up
Testing with the normal pH:+7.4
Testing with the High pH: 8 (can definitely tell the colour this time)
Testing for Ammonia: 0.0ppm
Testing for Nitrites: 0.0ppm
Testing for Nitrates: 0.0ppm
Testing for Carbonate: 6 drops
Testing for General Hardness: 3/4 drops (couldn't quite tell, one drop was oddly shaped due to a sneeze)

Thanks for the input you guys have given me so far. No worries, I have been listening. Going to go through and reply to all your comments now in the order you replied in. :P

DreaminginBlue and Toad, I agree with you on the African Dwarf Frogs. I've had a couple of them in the past, about a decade back when I had a 50 gallon going. Stopped when I did highschool so I could focus on my education. Only had one frog that had lived through my 'childish' frivolity for 3-4 years, he managed to dodge every attempt at capture and survive everything that got put into the tank. If I'm remembering this right, that would include a 1 foot Plecostomus [inherited from friends when he was little, eventually named Goliath and given to LFS for better quality of life] a mixed African Cichlid tank [bad decision/LFS guy information lead to a massacre of all but two fish within a year], Angels, Gouramis, Barbs, and such. Thought he had died several times over, but never did. Got to a nice size too for a critter that literally couldn't be found in the aquarium for months on end, if I remember right...and yes he stayed African Dwarf Frog size, he was no African Clawed Frog If I do get African Dwarf Frogs, I'm naming one of them Lazarus in that little guy's honour.

freash.water and nkoyko, thanks for your input on African Dwarf Frogs, Bettas, and Mystery Snails. I agree that Mystery Snails would look nice in the tank, and that is partly why they're on my list. I do have a back-up plan for if Buck gets too aggressive, it's life-time detention in his 1 gallon. He enjoyed it before, pretty sure he'll enjoy it again if I need him to.

nkoyko, I haven't found any sources that share your opinion on 5 gallons per single African Dwarf Frog yet. Could you maybe share a link to where you got that info? Most/all of my sources tend to lay in line with Toad's post on stock limits.

Thanks again for your comments and input. They are greatly appreciated! I'll attempt to post again tomorrow, but might not be able to. Busy night tomorrow.
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Old 02-08-2017, 08:28 PM   #9
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Oh, forgot to add the photo of the tank. Here it is.
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Old 02-08-2017, 09:43 PM   #10
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I like what you've got going on! I've never kept most of these species so I'm no help there. But I bought flourish root tabs on amazon at less than $8 for a 10 pack last week. Just thought I'd share that tidbit. I'll be following!
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Old 02-12-2017, 09:14 PM   #11
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Hey all, sorry about lack of posting these last four days. Things are busy on dorm right now, I have an mid-term and 4 projects due this week, then Reading Week next week, and finally another mid-term after that. I'm kind of dreading the last mid-term because it focus on my one weakness...MATH.

Anyways, I went out and scoped the closest LFS to my dorm for supplies yesterday. There were some nice Cascade Canister filters available for about 15 bucks, but I've never had one of those before and I think that the Whisper 3i is working fine for now. I'm still looking around for a heater, might go to Walmart or a PetSmart, because the only ones available at the spot I went to yesterday night were either 35 bucks for an adjustable heater (which I would like) or 22 bucks for an unadjustable aqueon heater (which I don't feel comfortable with, sounds too risky to me). I also browsed the light bulbs available and I think I am going to grab a Reef-Sun 10w bulb next time I drop by. I didn't grab one on my last run because there is condensation in the hood of my tank and I want to solve that first before plugging in anything. I'm going to either grab a condensation tray from somewhere, or I am going to grab some saran-wrap and modify a strip of that for temporary use.

I also scoped out the stock at the closest LFS to my dorm room, and found everything that was on my list (and a few interesting fish I'm keeping in mind for when I don't have to suffer dorm limits anymore ). At the LFS closest to me there are a lot of Mystery Snails, and all of them seem to be pretty healthy from what I understand. I didn't see a cracked shell anywhere, or any bodies. Some were just resting on the bottom, while others were making their way across the aquarium, and a few were hitching rides. I spotted one or two colour morphs I really liked, mostly black-footed, orange freckled snails with a darker coloured shell. They had the Mystery Snails all in one tank so I am pretty sure that there are both males and females available in that aquarium, so I'll have to be careful about that. They also had a some small snails, that were obviously still growing in comparison to the larger snails in there.

I also spotted African Dwarf Frogs, who were pretty adorable all huddling around in groups. I think they were of the Hymenochirus Boettgeri subgrouping from what I could see of their size and body shape. I already have a few ideas on how I can rearrange my decor in the aquarium to suit them if I go ahead with them instead.

I don't think I am going to end up doing Cherry Shrimps, more because I feel like it wouldn't work out if I attempted to go with them at this time. Maybe later on in my life when I have more confidence in my abilities. The gravel in the tank is a white/grey and I've heard that, that colouration of substrate tends to take away from their colouration.

I was looking at the plants available at the store as well and ended up grabbing myself a duo of Marimo Moss Balls. They were the cheapest I had seen them at, and I couldn't resist. I mean, usually in my area they are about 10 bucks but I managed to get them at 6.99 so I feel like it was good deal. Since I don't have lights for the tank just yet, I've opened the blinds which I normally leave closed so that the Marimos can enjoy the indirect sunlight. Beyond that, I think I have decided on getting some Java Moss to try and grow on my Mopani wood when I have a light, alongside a Bacopa plant and a Banana Lily. I feel like that is a good enough stocking of plants for a first time planter. Am I right in that, or am I just fooling myself? Input on plants and such is something I kind of crave at the moment because I haven't ever used them before.

Water Conditions: 6 Days after Set-Up
Normal pH: 7.6
High pH: 7.8
Ammonia: 0.25ppm
Nitrites: 0.0ppm
Nitrates: 0.00ppm
Carbonate: 7 drops
General Hardness: 5 drops

So far so good, Ammonia is starting build-up. The moss balls came from an established aquarium with some water from it, so they brought in some of the 'good stuff' (beneficial bacteria) with them. Hopefully the tank will finish cycling before I am finished with my mid-terms.

I'll try to take pictures of my Mopani wood, which I think is about halfway finished soaking, for the next update post. Feel free to advise and comment. I'm still really unsure if I should go with adding sand to the tank or if I should just go for more gravel akin to what I already got, so input on this and my other questions are really appreciated.

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Old 02-16-2017, 09:11 PM   #12
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Quick update, made a quick trip to a LFS not more than a 20 minute drive from my dorm location. I'll admit to caving and making a few purchases, mainly because I haven't seen prices that cheap for what I wanted in a while. Got some Bacopa, which I learned today is also known as Moneywort (derp on me), for 3.99 and a Banana Lily for 4.99, which I think is good pricing. Up to this point, all the Bacopa I've found has been either 6.99 or 12.99 depending on source/provider. With the plant purchases I kinda caved and got myself the Super Natural brand of white sand that was in stock. Also got a half pound more of small Mopani wood bits for 2 bucks, cause I'm thinking of trying to attach some java moss or something to them later.

I checked the store's stock of critters to see if I would like what I was looking for. I don't think I am going to be getting ADFs from that location anytime soon. While one tank of them was just fine, another...wasn't. That is all I'm going to say, nope nothing more. The mystery snails the place had weren't nearly as various as the one closer to me so I don't think I'm getting any more living things from that location. I did manage to see some Jumbo Apple Snails, they were the size of tennis balls. It was kind of surprising to see, since I hadn't been expecting to see something that big.

Anyways, did a 5-10% water change on the 5.5 gallon because I added the white sand to the tank right when I got back. It looks alright, but it still has stuff settling down. I didn't know if I should make use of the bio-magnet clarifier that came with it so I haven't put that in the tank. After putting the white sand in, I put back in the white gravel, which I took out for putting the sand in, and moved it mostly to the right half of the tank so that it 'gradually' goes from sand to gravel. I think the affect looks nice, but I'll try to put a picture up on Monday night (I'm pretty busy this weekend visiting family). I've also put in the first chunk of Mopani wood that I bought alongside with the tank over a week ago.

I have a bunch to do while I'm at home this weekend. One of the most important things, involving my fish keeping hobby, is to visit the LFS's there to see what they are like (and by that I mean see how they have changed in the decade I have been out of the hobby). Another important thing for me to do while at home is to take a water sample from my tap there and bring back to the dorm to test the parameters. I don't want to be surprised by anything. Third thing is to make sure that I have something available at home to help me transport all of the established tank water home on moving day, as well as something to take my aquarium stuffs/equipment. I like to plan these things out ahead of time, finals aren't even till April and I'm already thinking about what I need to do. I did some scoping out of prices online and found that a heater I like and some Flourish tabs are cheaper at the Walmart near my home so I'm going to do a quick purchase snipe while I'm there.

Water Conditions: 10 Days after Set-Up
Normal pH: 7.6
High pH: 7.8
Ammonia: 0.25ppm
Nitrites: 0.0ppm
Nitrates: 0.00ppm
Carbonate: 7 drops
General Hardness: 5 drops

No changes in water condition thus far, so I'm not sure if that is good or bad news. Here's hoping that things keeping going well.
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Old 02-21-2017, 05:31 PM   #13
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Day 14

Hey all, just got back on dorm from Family Day weekend, yeah there is a day for celebrating time with family in Canada. I did the checking out I wanted to do, was impressed with some of the stores and not so much with others. Didn't grab what I wanted to, decided to grab Flourish Comprehensive Supplement instead since most, if not all, of my plants currently could just be superglued to a rock or something.

I stopped by the LFS by the dorm on the way back and grabbed a 10 watt ReefSun light and what I think is java moss. It's got some green tips, but is yellow by the roots. I've wrapped it around the driftwood I have in the tank at the moment. From what I've read on the web that means it just needs trimming, but I am not sure and wanted some input from you guys. I'll put a picture of it in a secondary post.

I haven't had time to test my conditions yet, but I'll do so after supper and post what they are then. However, I did take a couple moments to go over my plants and see how they are doing. The Banana Lily is doing the best out of them all, having sprouted a full lily leaf, lengthened it's primary and secondary lily leaves, and started on yet another lily leaf. I think I spotted an offshoot starting to grow but I'm not entirely sure. The bacopa is doing meh. Some of them unrooted themselves and were floating when I got back. The ones that didn't I looked over and saw some white rootlets starting to grow out. One or two of the floaters didn't have any roots at all though. Replanted most of them, one refused to stay in the sand though, going so far as to break off the part I was planting so I left it floating.
Why won't it stay in!!

First picture is just an overview of the aquarium is at the moment. Second picture is a close-up of the Banana Lily. If you look at the tendril heading towards the cave you can see what I think is the offshoot.
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Old 02-21-2017, 07:01 PM   #14
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Water Conditions: 14 Days after Set-Up
Ammonia: 1.0 ppm
Nitrites: 0.0ppm
Nitrates: 0.00ppm

So far, so good. Looks like the Nitrogen Cycle is continuing. I look forward to seeing Nitrites starting to show in the next bit, along with Nitrates. Here's to having this cycle finished sooner rather than later.

Home Water Conditions: Brought to Dorm via Plastic Water Bottle
Normal pH: 7.6
High pH: 8
Carbonate: 9 drops
General Hardness: 7 drops

Here's the picture of the moss I bought. I'm keeping it close to the front of the tank for now, incase I need to trim it or something. The bit I ripped & tied to the driftwood is held by one of the ties I have hanging around the room...I have a magpie tendency to keep random junk lying around. (-_-; )
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Old 02-21-2017, 07:56 PM   #15
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Lol, I do too, it usually comes in handy at some point

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Old 02-22-2017, 08:20 AM   #16
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Yeah
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toad View Post
Lol, I do too, it usually comes in handy at some point

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Yeah, that is the primary reason why I haven't nipped it in the bud yet. Does mean I use up more space then I should need to though.
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Old 02-24-2017, 07:55 PM   #17
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Day 17

Went out to two of the LFS in my area today. I went out with the purpose of taking a break from studying and to take a look at the stock currently available. While I was at the LFS in the Scarborough area I was kind of intrigued by the Tire Track and Zebra snails that were in stock. I liked the patterns they had, so I looked up what exactly they were. Turns out they are a nerite snail. I'm thinking of maybe putting one or two of them into the 5.5 gallon for algae cleaning purposes, and to test out how aggressive Buck is to anything that he shares a tank with.

I thought that my tank was looking a little empty plant-wise so I might of purchased two Anubias Nana ($10 bucks all together) and a Java Fern ($7.99). I decided to make use of the driftwood I have been soaking for the past while and have zip-tied the anubias to them and placed them into the tank. I think I can say that I feel comfortable with my plant stocking in the tank now.

I made use of the planting time to examine all of my current plants for roots. All but two of my bacopa have white roots now (one or two of them have roots getting about half a pinky nail in length). One of the 'trouble-maker' doesn't have roots yet, while the other is one of my planted guys. No clue what is up with that, do you guys? I am not too concerned though, since all of the bacopa are growing nice little green leaves at the tops of their stems. I'm getting a trimmer this weekend so I can clip off the growing tip and hopefully encourage side-stems to start growing.

Meanwhile, my banana lily has started growing roots from it's tubers. The little stem I thought was an offshoot hasn't done anything since I noticed it on Tuesday. However, the banana lily has already shot another stem to the surface of the tank since I last posted (actually turns out you can just see it in the picture I posted on Tuesday, don't know how I missed it). I am thinking of trimming off the lily it had when I bought it though, since that thing has kind of just continued to stretch itself out...it's kind of bugging me. I'm going to leave it be for now though since I want to see what the plant is aiming for. Maybe I'll see if I can't get another banana lily from it if I do trim it off.

While I was planting everything, I kind of ended up mixing the sand and gravel all together in the tank to the point where it's all muddled together. I don't think it looks bad enough to try and fix somehow, but I'll know for sure when the water settles down again. I'll post a picture sometime tomorrow.

Water Conditions: 17 Days after Set-Up
Ammonia: 1 ppm
Nitrites: 0.0 ppm
Nitrates: 0.0 ppm

Come on Nitrites, start popping up soon. So excruciating just waiting for them to show. I'm almost tempted to just go out and get a nitrifying pack from a LFS to have this done and over with...ALMOST.
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Old 02-26-2017, 02:32 PM   #18
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Java Growth / Diatoms

So, good news first then bad news and questions. The good news is that the Java Moss I got earlier this past week is recovering. I am seeing some green growth and it's doing and looking much better than it did earlier. Got some advice from the planted section of the FW forum here and did research on other forums. The people here advised I clip off the yellow portions, regrow from the green strands I could tease out, and have it positioned by a window so it was catching some real sun. I went ahead and did that. They also said there were rumours it grew better in cold water so I removed it from the 5.5 gallon and have it chilling in the 1 gallon on it's own.

The bad news is that I have been dealing with a 'small' outbreak of diatoms in the tank. It isn't covering the glass or anything, it's just floating on my plants/decoration/substrate. This is part of the reason I was looking at nerites the other day. Having done some more research online I found that, like most algae, it can result from an excess of either light or nutrients. Since I have been seeing spots of diatoms since before I got the bulb for my tank hood I figured that it was probably just a new tank thing, since that was also pointed out as a possible cause in my findings. However, since I started dosing with Flourish Comprehensive and added the bulb I've found that the algae kind of became more than it was before. I figure that it must be something I have done to cause this latest bloom, since the only thing I have changed is adding more good plant stuffs.

With that knowledge, I went looking over my supplies and stuff. As I was digging through the boxes for my supplies I noticed there was a label on the box that my tank bulb came in. Apparently I am actually using a 6500K, 10 watt UltraSun bulb and didn't know it. I have apparently been misremembering the name of the light I've been using. [-_-;] Typical mistake on my part, its a joke in my family that I have the memory of a stereotype goldfish.

Anyways, armed with that knowledge I think that what might be happening is that I am not providing enough carbon for my plants to make the most out of the nutrients I am providing them (adding a single drop of the Flourish Comprehensive a day [1 mL per 11 gallons per weekly use means a hecka ton of reduction for me]). Do you guys think that this is the cause of my diatoms or am I just blowing things out of proportion and fussing over something that happens in every new tank? Below are pictures of the full tank, and two pictures displaying the worst of the diatom presence.
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Old 02-26-2017, 04:13 PM   #19
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Diatoms are not usually something get overly concerned with. I typically do not change my photo period or dose schedule. The pictures are in no way what I would call bad.
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Old 02-26-2017, 04:45 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flchamp89 View Post
Diatoms are not usually something get overly concerned with. I typically do not change my photo period or dose schedule. The pictures are in no way what I would call bad.
Okay, so I am just being a worrywart?
...
...
That sounds about par for me. I am just one of those people that'll fuss over nothing till the end of time. It is practically in my nature to do so. I'll just keep researching on the necessity of finding a carbon source though. Nothing wrong with too much information, I like me this sort of power.
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