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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey Everyone,

I've been stalking these and other forums for many months trying to gather as much information as I could before I took a plunge into the planted tank world. So here are some pics from my first attempt at a planted tank, along with a little bit of a step by step time line.

This tank is a 10 gallon Betta sorority tank which houses 6 betta girls and 3 otos. It is a little over stocked but the fish are doing great and the biological filtration is working well in keeping water parameters in check. Here are the basic stats on my tank.

10 gallon tank
Substrate: Flourite Black Sand substrate with 3/4" base of Diamond Black Leonardite
Lighting: 2x15 Watt CFL Spiral 6500K Bulbs (8 hours a day)
Filtration: Aquaclear 50 HOB with Purigen, Seachem Matrix and Filter floss
CO2: None, only Excel as a Carbon supplement
Ferts: Modified EI
1/16 teaspoon of KNO3, 2x a week
1/32 teaspoon of KH2PO4, 2x a week
2mls of CSM+B trace solution, 1x a week (1 tbsp or 3 tsp in 250ml)
SeaChem Equilibrium 1/16th once a week (Immediately after weekly water change)
50% weekly water change
Dose 1-1.5x the recommended dose for Excel​

Plants:
Anubias Nana
Anubias Coffeefolia
Philippine Java Fern
Dwarf Hairgrass
Bacopa Caroliniana
Rotala Rotundifolia
Ludwigia Arcuata

I started off by growing the hairgrass using the emersed growth technique as suggested by Tom Barr a while ago. I documented my progress over 1 month and a half in this thread:
http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/...50619-experiment-emersed-dwarf-hairgrass.html

After I was happy with the emersed growth I went ahead and ordered the plants for my tank. I had a lot of manzanita branches from a package I bought from Fishandturtlejunkie. Hardscaping was challenging but tonnes of fun. This is a pic of the tank after initial planting:



I was still awaiting my shipment of Philippine Java fern from AquaticMagic to help fill up the midground area. All the rotalas died on me due to the bleach dip that I used to clean/disinfect them. I ended up ordering some Bacopa Caroliniana, Ludwigia Arcuata and Rotala Rotundifolia. The shipment arrived in pretty bad shape so I had to salvage what I could (a few stems here and there) so the stems aren't doing too well and my background hasn't come out very nicely.

Here are a couple of recent pics of my tank after the Philippine Java fern came in (kudos to AquaticMagic for an awesome shipment).







The Java fern and Anubias are doing very well and sending out a lot of new leaves. The hairgrass responded extremely well to being submersed and sent out runners all over the place. It has grown very thick now, especially in areas receiving more light. The stems are growing pretty slowly. I'd put that down to less light in my tank (I plan on converting this to a non Excel-low tech tank once the plants grow out a little more).

Below are some pics of the betta girls in the tank. Some of their fins are a little frayed from the initial in-fighting when they are introduced into the tank. Now that a hierarchy has formed things are very peaceful and everyone seems to get along fine.

















I hope you'll like the tank. Any suggestions/constructive criticism is more than welcome. Do keep in mind that I plan to make this a completely low-tech setup, so DIY/pressurized CO2 along with more tricky plants are out of the equation as far as this tank is concerned.
 

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Another female Betta lover, I also keep girls... Your tank looks really nice. I Dwarf Hairgrass is really looking good & you grew it yourself, not too many people can say that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks a lot for the kind words guys. I'm glad you'll liked it. I'm really enjoying the tank although with grad school eating up a lot of my time I'm glad that I made the decision of going low-tech. As much as I enjoy having the tank, trimmings plus water changes can get to be pretty time consuming (I have to bucket the water around).

I love the hairgrass but trimming it is quite a bit of work...especially collecting all the cut blades of grass! For now I'm going to be lazy and gradually stop with the excel dosing and convert this to a completely low-tech tank with very rare water changes. I'll keep this thread updated with tank progress. I'd appreciate it if anyone has any suggestions for my background and what kind of stems might look good and in what arrangement (keep in mind, low-light tank).

Thanks a ton!!
 

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Hi, This tank looks so beautiful! I am new to planted aquaria and I am looking to make my 10g into something like this. I am interested in a low-tech setup, and I was wondering about the comment you made about stopping dosing with excel and then having to do very rare water changes.

Would you only need to do rare water changes because the plants are now well established and with that bioload there will be enough nutrients without having to fertilize and as such there is a balance that does not require water changes? Forgive me if I am showing my inexperience but I have never heard of such a thing, except for something I read about the Walstad method.

Thanks to all for any info and references. This tank is amazing!
 

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It's nice to see some one studied and got all aspects right. The substrate, dosing and light all a nice matched set. Nice light photo period too, how old is the tank?
 

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Absolutely beautiful tank. It looks very clean and crisp with all the green. Normally I'm not a java fern fan, but yours looks great.

Regarding your inquiry about possible background plants, what about going with vals? You're looking for something low-upkeep and won't need too much trimming, so vals fit that bill. Plus they don't need too much light (I've found most stem plants need more light than rosette plants)... and since you're planning on ditching the excel, you won't have to worry about melting in that respect.

But anywho, great tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Sorry for the late reply. I've been really busy moving to a new apartment and haven't had much time to get online. Thanks for the comments and compliments!

@bettamax
I think starting a low-tech tank with Excel is an excellent idea. The Excel helps in two ways which compliment each other. Firstly it acts as an algaecide and prevents algae from ruining things in your newly established tank and secondly it helps achieve better plant growth which is very important in the initial tank setup stages when you need your plant biomass to increase so as to maintain the water quality and keep algae away.

The idea of stopping with water changes with a Non CO2, Non Excel tank is to prevent algae blooms due to fluctuating CO2 levels in the water from the weekly water changes. This is something I picked up from Tom Barr's website, barrreport.com. I wrote up a nice little low-tech planted tank primer here: http://www.ultimatebettas.com/index.php?showtopic=24656 which would probably answer a lot of your questions.

@chagovatoloco
Thanks, I did spend a lot of time researching every aspect of planted tanks before I got into it. It turns out that even my current lighting with 2X15Watt CFL's is giving me a some GSA on my anubias, java ferns and some parts of the driftwood. I need to unpack my boxes to find my 2x10 Watt CFLs which will be my final lighting solution for my tank after I stop dosing Excel. The tank is a little over 2 months old, so its still pretty young.

@FrostyNYC
Great suggestion! I was actually very keen on going with vals but I couldn't since I was dosing Excel. I will definitely try them once the excel dosing ends. Btw are vals considered too big for a 10 gallon or will they be OK?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Time for an update! The tank is doing quite well. It's been moved twice now into my current apartment (I had a 2 week in-between leases situation) and has survived that! Over the last few weeks I backed off with dosing Excel since I was planning to make this a complete low-tech tank. So far that has gone very well and I am past week 2 of no water changes and the water quality is still great. I had had some green spot algae (GSA) on the leaves of unshaded anubias and java ferns a while ago which was remedied by slightly lowering my photoperiod and light intensity (I am using 2x10Watt of CFL now that I'm not dosing Excel) and adding a bit more of phosphates weekly.

The Philippine Java fern is growing like crazy and has tonnes of little leaflets coming out from the tips of leaves. The anubias are also doing quite well and sending out new leaves every now and then. The hairgrass has been behaving itself after the last haircut I gave it and isn't growing very tall anymore (which is nice since I hate trimming it). The stems have been growing very slowly...but still growing, so thats good. Since I'm anyways going low-tech I don't expect them to be growing too well/fast. My background is still a bit of a mess as I'm still trying to grow out as mmany stems as I can before I start pulling some out and scaping the background.

So here is a full tank shot and some close up macros of my betta girls





 

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Orion - read your article on the Ultimatebetta site and it's great! I've been moving toward converting to low tech, but haven't had the time to wade through the fert dosing methods. Thanks for doing all the hard work and presenting it in such a usable fashion. =D> Your tank looks fantastic!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks a lot :). I'm glad you found it useful. I spent a lot of time reading through this and many other forums trying to figure the whole planted tank thing (especially low-tech) out and I thought it would help both me and others who were starting out like me.
Good luck with going low-tech. I find it to work really well for me as I don't have too much time to spend on my tank. Things move slower, but you still get to enjoy a beautiful planted tank.
 

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Your tank is looking good and the betta girls look happy. I've found the slower growth in a low-tech tank is rather nice as I can spend more time enjoying the tank rather than maintaining it.
 

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Retire? All the money I should be saving is being used to support my aquarium habit! Guess I'll be working 'til I keel over. :-({|=
 
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