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Old 03-30-2005, 05:36 PM   #1
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5 gal planted

I have been interested in planting my tanks for quite some time. The only problem has been that we have mostly african cichlids that like to eat like crazy on plants. But, now that my 5 gal is going great, I was thinking of adding a couple plants to the tank. Kind of like experimenting with it before doing it in my 55 gal. My current stock is ivory snails, ghost shrimp, and a betta. It is a 5 gal hex that sits right in front of a window. It is an eclipse tank with the filter in the hood. The light is not the "stock" light but it is similar. The white one blew out a couple months ago so I put in a red 25 Watt bulb. It really makes the tank look good when the lights in the house are off. The bubbles look really cool when they float to the top. Anyways. I don't have a problem switching bulbs if that is necessary. I am not too sure how the colored bulb will effect the plants. I'm not too sure about my current stock and plants. Will the snails, ghost shrimp, or betta eat the plants? What would you guys recommend? I am a complete newbie to this so any and all opinions are greatly appreciated. I have heard of CO2 injection but I am not sure what that is. Is that something I need to worry about? I have a gravel bed of about 2 1/2 inches. It's those really lightly weighted rocks, they kick around pretty easily when you move them around. Will this cause a problem?
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Old 03-30-2005, 06:14 PM   #2
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Snails eating plants may be an issue. Ghost shrimp and betta will likely appreciate plants. You don't need to worry about CO2 unless/untill you go high/med light. If you keep it simple, substrate and ferts won't be an issue given regular pwc. Might be best to get low wattage screw-in cfl (<10 watts) and just experiment with undemanding plants (java fern/moss, anubias, crypt, etc). If algae becomes an issue or you want to experiment, can always add Flourish Excel (CO2 source) to promote plant growth. When you're ready for high light, tank can grow with you.
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Old 03-30-2005, 06:17 PM   #3
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Start with some java fern or java moss and see how it does. Is the tank getting direct sunlight?
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Old 03-30-2005, 06:18 PM   #4
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Yes it gets direct sunlight. Well, it can anyways. I leave the blinds shut and sheers closed because I am having an algae issue. Too much green algae and the snails aren't eating it.
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Old 03-30-2005, 08:53 PM   #5
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I have the Eclipse 5 gallon hex tank with a betta. Currently, the plants I have in there are Cryptocoryne lutea, dwarf saggitaria, one stem of Rotala just to see how it does, and java moss for the betta bed.

I took out the 10 watt CF light that the tank came with. It seemed to bother the betta because it was too bright. I am waiting for some other bulbs to come; they should come this week! I ordered this 7-watt bulb. I asked customer service and they said the light would be ok in the hood since it had ventilation, but its ballast can't be used with a timer. That's no big deal for me -- the tanks in the other room don't have light timers either.

Right now, there is no bulb in the hood. The room light is bright enough, and the sun comes in from about 3-5 pm. It shines on the bottom half of the tank, and if the betta wants to get away from the sun, he goes up in his moss bed. When I get the new bulb in there, it will shine on his moss bed (the moss bed is up near the hood) but hopefully he'll be ok with the 7 watt bulb.

I don't have CO2 in this tank. I don't think CO2 is necessary until you have 2 WPG of light or greater. I just have a regular Estes gravel substrate, with some Flourish root tabs in the gravel. I use Flourish Excel, Flourish Comprehensive Supplement, and Flourish Nitrogen once or twice a week.

I think java fern or java moss or an anubias plant would be good starting plants that will do well in there. You could try a crypt too. IME they are very sensitive to having their roots stressed, so don't gravel vac around the crypts. In my tanks with just a betta, the betta doesn't make that much waste, so just gravel vaccing part of the tank is ok.
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Old 03-30-2005, 09:53 PM   #6
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So the snails are going to devour the plants? I put them in there to help with the algae but it doesn't appear that they are doing anything except cruising around the tank.
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Old 04-02-2005, 01:48 PM   #7
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I made an alteration to my tank yesterday. I know, I broke the Cardinal rule of fish keeping. I tore down my tank, emptied the gravel, water, decor, plants, everything. I cleaned the gravel, soaked the decor and plants in vinegar water (loaded with algae), and moved the fish around. I put the ghost shrimp and snails in my 10 gal and kept my betta in the 5 gal. I scrubbed the walls (algae COVERING them) and set the tank back up. It looked so gross. I am assuming that it's because I left all last week and James left the blinds open, causing direct sunlight to the tank. The tank had sunlight for about 9 hours a day. I didn't let the tank cycle before putting the Betta back in but I figure since it's such a light bio-load that it won't be a problem. PLUS, I plan on adding plants today. I moved the tank to the kitchen counter. It receives no sunlight. I'm going to get a smaller bulb (currently using a 25 Watt). I think I might start out with something really easy. I am new to this so I need something as easy as possible. You both mentioned Java Moss and Java Ferns. I think I'll go that route to start. Maybe getting a crypt also. Onto my question: Do I just put them in the gravel and let them go or do I need to add something else? I could just ask the people at the lfs but I take their advice with a grain of salt. I will also try and get the stuff that you listed An t-iasg.
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Old 04-03-2005, 04:46 AM   #8
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It sounds like that algae was pretty bad and you had no choice but to tear down and clean. Watch the parameters (you know that ) The bio-wheel should still have its bacteria colonies if you didn't rinse it in tap water.

In my post above, I linked you to the 7-watt bulb at bulbs.com. I just got that order yesterday. That 7-watt bulb is too wide for the Eclipse hood. It wouldn't fit in there. I also got this bulb in my order and I like it for now, although it's a bit yellowish:
4 watt compact fluorescent bulb

For the java moss, you can just let it rest on the gravel. I put mine in a soap dish with suction cups (new and never used with soap, of course!) and attached the dish near the top of the tank. My betta is always in there! I'll have to get a pic. He lets his pelvic fins hang over the edge. It's so cute!

For the java fern, if you put its roots in the gravel, they will latch onto a huge ball of gravel eventually. It's best to tie the roots to driftwood or a rock, or other decoration. I used black cotton sewing thread to tie a java fern to a rock.

The java fern and moss will benefit from the liquid Seachem ferts. I use 1/8 of a teaspoon of each one, once or twice a week. I use the carbon (Excel) and the comprehensive supplement once a week. I use the nitrogen twice a week.

For the crypts, they would benefit from a root tab. They are also sensitive to being disturbed or moved, so make sure you like where you put them! Don't gravel vac around them. You could very lightly move the vac around their base but don't dig into the gravel with the vac.
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Old 04-03-2005, 09:19 AM   #9
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I have an Eclipse Hex 5 that is planted and it has been set up for about two years now. I have had algae problems in the past but not in the last six or nine months. When I first set it up I replaced the incandescent bulb that came with tank with a 10W 6,500K mini compact bulb from All-Glass Aquarium. This bulb provides plenty of light for the plants.

The tank is occupied by three Cherry barbs, three rasboras and a few small ramshorn snails. The snails rarely seem to bother the plants and do a good job of cleaning the aquarium. It is planted with Cryptocoryne wendtii and Hygrophilia in a sand substrate at the momemt although I've also had Rotala in there. I fertilize the tank with Flourish for general nutrients twice a week and Flourish Excel for carbon four times a week. I've attached a picture of the tank to this message so you can see what it looks like.
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Old 04-03-2005, 01:28 PM   #10
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This is too funny. I have the exact same aquarium in the exact same spot that you do. On the counter in the corner under the cabinet.

I went to the lfs yesterday and the smallest bulb they had that would fit my tank was a 10 Watt. It said that it is specifically for Plant Growth. It has a blue tint to the bulb but the light looks white. Will this work?

I was looking at some pics online and I saw someone that had plants covering the bottom of their tank, like carpet. Is this difficult to do? Is there a benefit to doing this over having taller plants?

The tank now has no direct sunlight. I hope that doesn't cause problems.

Before I take the plunge and buy plants I am going to search for the stuff that you guys said: Flourish root tabs, excel, comprehensive suppliment, and nitrogen. I don't want to buy the plants just to find out that noone around here carries that stuff.

Also, is there an advantage to buying plants that are alreading growing from the lfs over buying just the bulbs?
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Old 04-03-2005, 06:53 PM   #11
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Gene, that's a beautiful tank! I'm not posting pics of mine yet

My Eclipse 5 gallon hex came with the 10 watt, compact fluorescent bulb, with a color temperature of 5100K. It's very white and bright. I thought it was too bright for the betta, so that's why I switched to the 4 watt bulb. This bulb probably won't let me keep the plants I want, so I need to find a bulb that will be good for the plants and for the betta. (One of the plants I am trying is a Rotala. I have one three-inch tall stem in there now.) Other fish, like the barbs and rasporas that you have, Gene, are not as affected by the light as the betta.

Fishyfanatic, if the bulb will fit into the hood then it should work. The bluish light probably means that its color temperature is about 9000K (or at least over 6700K). My 15-watt NO fluorescent over my other tanks is bluish and it's very pretty. The crypts, anubias, and java moss do very well with that light. Now to get the bulb for the hex tank worked out!

These plants respond wonderfully to the Seachem ferts also. They are available online if your lfs doesn't have them and you don't mind getting them online. For just your hex tank, you won't go through them very fast. I got bottles last summer and they are still about half full, and I still have 3 or 4 root tabs. (I have three 5 gallon planted tanks.) I fertilize the other tanks every day, except for water change day. When my hex tank gets a little more planted, I'll use the same fertillizer schedule with it too.
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Old 04-03-2005, 07:00 PM   #12
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I plan on experimenting with my 5 gal first. I'd rather get it down pat in a small tank before planting my 55 gal. Is there an advantage to buying plants that are already grown from the lfs over buying the bulbs?
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Old 04-03-2005, 07:11 PM   #13
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The only advantage I can think of is that you get to see the plant first and what kind of light it is in. One member here got some plant bulbs from Wal-Mart and they turned out to be aponogeton plants, which were too hard or had rough edges and tore his betta's fins. The plants I have all work well with bettas. I haven't heard of any plant hurting a betta's fins, though, except the Aponogeton. Some bulbs may be labeled, and others may be "mystery" bulbs.
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Old 04-03-2005, 07:19 PM   #14
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Thanks! I was looking at some pics online and I saw someone that had plants covering the bottom of their tank, like carpet. Is this difficult to do? Is there a benefit to doing this over having taller plants?
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Old 04-03-2005, 07:20 PM   #15
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Oh, I almost forgot! I have dwarf sag, or narrow leaf sag, in my hex tank. It is only three individual pieces right now. Here's a good picture of it from Plant Geek.net. This plant may give the "carpet" effect that you like:

http://www.plantgeek.net/images/plantpics/sagcarpet.jpg

Plus there are other "carpet" effect plants. Look at Travis Simonson's gallery; he has a carpet effect.
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Old 04-03-2005, 07:23 PM   #16
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That is EXACTLY what I would like to have. I believe that was on the list of plants recommended. I will DEFINATELY be checking that out. Thanks a bunch An t-iasg!
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Old 04-03-2005, 07:27 PM   #17
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You're welcome! Post pics when your hex tank is all planted!
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Old 04-03-2005, 11:27 PM   #18
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It will be a little while before I do that. I want to be completly prepared before buying any plants. I want to have all the stuff that was mentioned before even LOOKING at a plant. I know how frustrating it is when you need something for the fish in the tank AFTER you need it. Because I know the lfs around here and if I need something, chances are they won't have it and I will have to order it and two weeks later it will come after my plants have died. I am bookmarking this thread for future use.

Mark my word, there will be LOTS of more questions on the way. Then again, I like giving out Kudo's. Makes me feel special to give them to people who deserve it.
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