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New to planted tanks....

3195 Views 17 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  MikeRichards
Hello all! I am new to planted tanks and I just have a few questions. I have been into reef tanks for almost 5 yrs but I am losing interest and am planning on starting a planted tank.
Here is what I have:
12g Nano-Cube
27W 7000K bulb
2" of Flora Base Substrate

I am planning on Neon's with plants. What would be a good plant selection for this tank and how many neons would be appropriate considering that I am not using CO2? This is just a trial to learn and see how I like the hobby of planted tanks.

If this tank is successful and as I read and learn more I will get a larger tank, probably a 65.

TIA, Mike
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That would be a great setup for crypts, anubias, java fern, java moss. I think the dark colors on most of these plants would contrast nicely with the neons. Just be sure to plant heavily from the beginning. These plants are slower growing, which is perfect for non co2 tanks like yours.
Thank you! I will look into those plants. What are good vitamins and trace elements I should dose the water with? How long after I add the water and substrate should I wait to add fish and plants?

I put the water in the other night and let it run for a day to check for leaks, I put the new bulb in last night along with the substrate and a bag of carbon to remove chlorines and stuff in my tap water.

Also, any ideas of how many tetras would make for an ideal stocking density?

Thanx again!
Make sure you use a water conditioner, such as Tetras Aquasafe to remove all chlorines and chloramines in your water before adding fish. Add your plants as soon as you want, but be sure to add fish slowly in order to get your tank cycling. I have used Bio-Spira with great success. It contains the bacteria needed to get your tank cycled and you can add all your fish the same day. You could probably start with 12 or so neons and see if it looks crowded or not. Im not too sure on a final stocking density though. You can probably get by with just a few ferts. Try reading this article for dosing ideas in a non co2 tank. Make sure you take the carbon out after the water clears.

First of all, welcome to the forum!

I think a number between 12-18 cardinals would be perfect for that tank. Of course, any number below that would be good too.

I wouldn't worry about adding fertilizers if you're not going to use CO2. The nutrients coming into the tank via your feedings should be sufficient to support plant growth. If for some reason down the line the plants begin to show signs of a deficiency, then you would add something. Also, you want to avoid doing water changes.

Other plant species that would probably do well:

Hemianthus micranthemoides
Micranthemum umbrosum
Rotala rotundifolia (indica)
Echinodorus tenellus
Hygrophila difformis
Vallisneria spp.
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Thanx! Actually I decided to used CO2 and I just ordered my Milwaukee regulator from (one of our sponsors). Today or tomorrow I will go and get my tank of CO2. Plus I am picking up the following:
CO2 glass diffuser
LaMotte CO2 test kit
GH Test Kit
Plant Nutrient

Later I may get:

Once I get this going, if all does well I will get a 65 with a canister filter and inline reactor. I will also run 2-96W 88K pc, if that is enough light.

Any information you can give me about this hobby the better. I am constantly reading but sometimes it takes a lot of time to come across very important info that you can get from other hobbiest just by asking.

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If you're going to use CO2, it would be a good idea to find sources for macro and micronutrients. The uptake of these in a tank with a lot of free carbon will be more than it would be without it.

Personally, I got mine here.
Cool! Actually that is where I was going to get my KNO3 & KN2PO4. Which nutrients do you recommend?

KNO3 is a must have. I would also suggest getting a KH test kit for testing co2 levels if you don't already have one (I noticed you mentioned you were getting a GH test kit).

EDIT: Never mind, I saw you were getting a Lamotte co2 kit after re-reading.. :)

You can get KNO3, KH2PO4, K2SO4, Plantex CSM+B all cheaply from

Most people like to maintain KNO3=10ppm, PO4=1ppm, K=20ppm, Fe (from plantex)=0.1ppm. N, P are easy to test for, but K and Fe are not so don't bother with those test kits.

NOTE: since this is a new tank, pack it full of fast growers for the first month or so. THis helps with keeping the initial algae bloom down.
Cool, so does it appear that I am on the right track?

Any suggestions.
Great! I will probably order those 4 right away.

I wouldn't spend the money on the co2 kit. With A KH kit and a pH kit you can use a chart to find the co2 in the water. Most of us do it that way.

Steve Pituch
No, I will get the CO2 kit since it is only $20.

Well the Milwaukee regulator will be here tomorrow. I will have the CO2 tank today or tomorrow and then I have to get all of the stuff to hook it up today.

Tank should be ready for plants by Sunday.

Personally I think the Kh/pH method is more reliable and cheaper. Each kit only costs about 5-6 dollars each and they both last much longer.

Just my opinion:)

BTW, welcome aboard. I am glad you have found a liking in this hobby.

Luck to you.
Okay, question. If I am running CO2 with a pH controller, what test kits will I need? What is a good pH for planted tanks?

You will need a Kh test kit and a pH test kit. Measure both of these based on the directions of the test kit and reference them to a CO2 chart. THere are many of them out there. I use the one from Chuck Gadd's site. You can also do a search on the net and find many other. The correct pH is sort of an oxymoron. Your pH will drop with your addition of CO2. How far it drops is limited by your kH. A lower kH will cause greater drop than a hight Kh. None of this matters really. What you want is a CO2 concentration of 20-30 ppm. I have seen beautiful plants grown in 8`pH all the way down to 5`pH.
Well my pH meter is reading 7 and I have the diffuser in the water and I received my regulator, just have to go pick up my CO2 bottle. I am going to keep my pH between 6.8 and 6.95.

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