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CrissyFishie 06-12-2010 06:11 PM

Beginner in Maui - Need some suggestions plz!
Hello everyone, My name is Criss and I'm from the island of Maui. I'm a beginner in this aquarium hobby, and would like some suggestions from you guys.

My tank:

5 gal Hooded
pH is around 6.8
Avg temp is 78-80 degree F.
10w florescent tube in hood
filter came with kit
no c02 (considering DIY, but not sure.)

I've got a layer of plant substrate, and on top black gravel. There are only 2 plants in there atm, no fishes right now, but I'm thinking of putting a Betta or Neon Tetras. I'm definitely putting some kind of algae eater in there too. I'm waiting for 8 pots of Micro Swords and Yamato Green fertilizer to come in the mail soon.

Here are some questions that I have...

Would I need c02 for this setup, and is a DIY c02 system worth doing?
What kind of fish and how many would love this environment?

I'm open to all of your suggestions and comments...Thank you :D

mats808 06-16-2010 12:21 PM

Re: Beginner in Maui - Need some suggestions plz!
Hi Crissy,

For the co2 question it's really up to you and what you plan on doing with the tank. I'll try to share with you things that I think you should know and consider.

In my experience, all things being equal co2 will pretty much make everything grow better. There are also some plants that simply won't do well w/o the addition of co2. The use of co2 will open up doors as far as the plants that you'll be able to grow and will also help most plants grow faster. However, if you are willing to choose from a smaller selection there are many plants that can be grown w/o co2 and low to moderate lighting.

Currently all of my tanks are either breeding tanks or grow out tanks for fry. They're all barebottomed tanks with sponge filters and none of them have co2. All of them have plants though. I just choose things that I know will do well in those conditions. Typically that ends up being plants that like to grow on driftwood or rocks......ferns like Bolbitis and the various cultivars/clones/species of Microsorum, as well as different species of Anubias and moss. I also have a few potted plants here and there, mostly various Cryptocoryne species. There are a lot less plants to choose from but I actually really like all the plants I'm keeping and would still keep them if I were using co2.

So to answer your question I think it comes down to deciding if faster growth and a bigger selection of plants you can grow is worth the extra costs of co2. Keep in mind that if you do choose to purchase co2 you might also want to upgrade your lighting to make full use of all that co2 your aquarium will suddently have. You'll also probably want to fertilize more which is also an additional cost albeit a small one.

As far as DIY co2 that's also really up to you. I've tried it and found it to work relatively well. There was enough of a difference in growth that it prompted me to purchase a pressurized system. This was back in 2000ish and I no longer have the system but I just purchased a regulator and will be setting one up again. My suggestion is if you enjoy DIY stuff like that then definitely give it a try. After a month or so I got tired of maintaining it so I bought the pressurized system.

As far as the fish that's totally up to you. Here's some things to consider. Sometimes small fish are good for planted tanks because they don't bolt around the tank uprooting plants and knocking things over. You also might not want fish that tend to dig a lot. Personally I like to keep only a few fish in my planted tanks. I feel like this along with frequent water changes really helps to keep algae down and grow nice plants. The tank I grew the cleanest plants in was a 40 breeder that only had 3 Otocinclus and 1 flying fox but that's probably boring for most people. My advice would be to go with less fish if you can. As far as species go, are there any fish that you really like?


CrissyFishie 06-16-2010 05:27 PM

Re: Beginner in Maui - Need some suggestions plz!
Thank you for your reply Aaron. I have seen Otocinclus' before, and I think that's the kind of fish that id definitely like to have in my 5 gal because they are cute, and active algae eaters :D As far as having fish in my aquarium, the practicality is going to go first, before the fishes looks. I was thinking about those red crystal shrimp, but I'm pretty sure they aren't legal in Hawaii. Then I looked at the Hawaiian Red Shrimps, considered it for a little, but read that they're small enough to become a meal to bigger fishes. So I crossed that one off. In conclusion I'm going to go with 2 Oto's and maybe 3 male guppies. I wouldn't want a betta possibly uprooting my plants D: since they are pretty strong.

Well I went to my local river, and found some pretty nice rocks to put into my tank... here's a picture.
I scrubbed the rocks in warm water before placing them in.
I've just completed my first week in cycling my tank, and the results are great. The light is on about 10-12 hours a day (Which will be reduced to about 8 hours from now on) I've ordered a light timer for this purpose XD which will be coming in a few weeks hopefully. My Yamato Green fertilizer came in, but my Micro Swords are still "Processing". I think they might be back stocked on that, because I paid for priority shipping...(Can't wait argh...) Any suggestions on which fish I should add first?

mats808 06-17-2010 12:36 AM

Re: Beginner in Maui - Need some suggestions plz!
3 guppies and a couple of Otocinclus would be a great choice for your tank. You can add whichever fish you want first. Honestly I would tend to just buy all 5 of them and put them in at the same time. Just make sure that you do weekly 50% water changes for the first few weeks. If patience is your friend it might be better to buy either the guppies or the Otocinclus first. Then wait a couple of weeks and add the other fish.

As for the rocks it can be fun looking for just the right ones. Some rocks will affect your water chemistry though. The wrong types of rock can cause your pH to rise as well as increase your general hardness. The good news is that you can easily test for this. All you need is some kind of a strong acid. Hydrochloric acid works. Just place a drop of it on the rock you want to test and if there's no reaction (bubbling) then you're all good.

You're right, Crystal Red Shrimps aren't legal in Hawaii. The Hawaiian ones that you mentioned actually appreciate some salt in their water so they aren't the best for a planted tank. The regular feeder shrimps will work. Not as pretty though. :( I would guess that there are definitely hobbyists on Maui keeping and breeding CRS. I'm not sure if there's a fish club on Maui so it might be a little hard to meet other hobbyists there but try asking around at the different pet shops and you might eventually be able to find someone who has some.

Good Luck. If you have more questions you can PM me if you want. I don't tend to check the Hawaii section of the forum too often.


CrissyFishie 07-31-2010 03:18 AM

Re: Beginner in Maui - Need some suggestions plz!
Hey it's been a while since I got my tank :D Just wanted to post a lil vid of my tank here...I think I got the hang of it. I want a 29 gal now LOL I'm thinking about getting some Kuhli loaches and moving my 2 Otos and Betta in there. So excited.

nokturnalkid 08-02-2010 01:07 PM

Re: Beginner in Maui - Need some suggestions plz!
Loos like its filling in just fine. You might want to break up the micro sword more. Break it up into 1 or 2 runners and it will spread a lot faster.

CrissyFishie 10-07-2010 02:47 AM

Re: Beginner in Maui - Need some suggestions plz!
Thanks Nokturnalkid, I'm really happy how it turned out. I wish though that I had used sand instead of black gravel, because the Micro Sword would have anchored down easier and made better runners for sure. Oh the joys of being a plant noob :D

Seattle_Aquarist 10-07-2010 06:56 AM

Re: Beginner in Maui - Need some suggestions plz!
Hi CrissyFishie,

Very nice first effort! You plants look nice and healthy, as does your Betta!

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