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Hi alls,

I need some advice on my 10 gallon tank setup. This will be my third attempt at a tank(the first one was an enthusiast's dream:spell disaster, the second one right beside the first), and also my second attempt at a naturally planted tank as well. My theme is low maintenance, as I'm setting this tank up for my brother, who has little time. From the many threads I've read, my intended setup is as follows. I would like some advice and any pointers if there are any mistakes.

substrate: (from bottom to top)thanks to DWalstad, Aaron T, and rs79 for their threads/posts and quite a few others whose names were purposely written to escape me :peep:
1.1/4" laterite
2.1" topsoil/potting soil with no fertilizers mixed in with red clay;potting soil moistened and aerated
3.decayed leaves(dry and crunchy) and crushed shells
4.1" fine sand, or small black gravel
I would like to add iron and lock the substrate in, but realize that future planting efforts may be impeded by disturbing the then required thick substrate, so I've decided on an unlocked substrate without the iron, as the plants can only use it when broken down anaerobically.

water column: (freshwater)
Tap water treated for chlorine and chloramines. I will not be using water column ferts however, I find that I may have to dose potassium for plant growth if I recall correctly, and some electrolyte like calcium for fishbody osmosis. 25% water changes weekly at tank startup. I'm also thinking(daring) to add an extremely small amount of aquarium salt, iirc the recommended dose was per 5 gallons, I'm thinking of doing it per ten gallons. I know it may be harmful to plants, but would also like to provide a healthy aqua for fish/shrimp, hence the lowered dose.

plants: (all were chosen only for their aesthetics) Please forgive the copy and paste from my wordpad "research" document.
1.Java Moss (Vesicularia Dubyana);low light
2.Riccia Fluitans;bright(at least 2 watts per gallon)
3.Glossostigma (Glossostigma elatinoides);bright,h:3-4 cm
4.Dwarf Baby Tears (Hemianthus callitrichoides);bright(2 watts per gallon),low grower
5.Heteranthera Stargrass (Heteranthera zosterfolia);bright,h:20"
6.Anacharis (Egeria najas);hard/medium,h:80 cm
7.Sagittaria, Dwarf (Sagittaria subulata)bright,h:8-16"(6-8" average)
8.Wisteria (Hygrophila difformis);1.5 watts per gallon,h:20-50 cm,w:15-25 cm
9.Giant Crypt Wendtii, Red (Cryptocoryne wendtii);medium to bright(2 watts per gallon), h:14-16"
My tank will be densely planted.

inhabitants:
betta splendins
red cherry shrimp
cardinal tetras
All will be fed spirulina 20%

filtration:
uv sterilizer linked to powerhead via sponge filter. I'm still trying to figure this one out, I'm so used to a powerhead HOB filter.

lighting:
t-2 lamps. Also new to this, I'm used to the manufacturer bought hood and light, which I've read is about as useful as a spork. I suppose I'll have to buy the hood fitted to my aquarium dimensions. I've absolutely no idea how this all is going to fit in with the filtration.

Thanks to all.
 

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First - don't use aquarium salt. It isn't good except for a very few species of fish.
Second - weekly water changes in a tank without CO2 injection or Excel is a good way to get algae to start growing. You can get around this by "aging" the water in another container for a couple of days before adding it to the tank. Otherwise you are adding some CO2, which soon disappears, but the spike in CO2 triggers algae growth.
Third - I assume by T2, you meant T12. If so, T8 would be a better choice and probably more available. I suggest at least 30 watts of T8 assuming no real reflector is being used. Ten gallon tanks need more watts per gallon than bigger tanks.
Fourth - I suggest using Marsilea minuta for the carpet plant instead of glosso and HC. It grows much better at low light levels.
Last - The el natural forum is probably the best place to get advice for setting up that type of tank.
 

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A couple points that i'd add to Hoppy's list:
Only use the UV Sterilizer for a few hours a week. These things are great at nuking all those nasty algae spores and toxins in your tank, keeping it super clean. However, they are indiscriminate in their methods, so they'll nuke all of your benificial bacteria and nutrients as well. Use sparingly.
Also, will spirulina be the only thing you feed your inhabitants? I'd suggest something a little more varied, from pellets to flake, to bloodworms and the spirulina...
 
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