Small Tropical Planted Tank Plans...

silvarbullet1
  • #1
HI Folks,
Here goes with my first post, on my first tank... Well, my son's tank, but he's primary school age so it's up to Daddy to do all the leg-work (which I'm quite happy with actually...!!)

I've bought a book, done some googling, visited a pet shop (sorry, yes, UK chain store Pets at Home, it's close to my home and a lot easier to take my son than local fish shop) and bought a tank & basics. I'll let you know below what's done, what's half done, and what I think needs to be done... Then the wise-guys can tell me everything I could have done better and what not to do next. Then I'll respond with why I already decided against the better wisdom of the internet XD

DONE
Aqua One Platform 37L Tank Kit (inc 3-stage filter [seems to be carbon +foam/gauzex2], pump, lighting, setup as per included instructions)
- Spare filter purchased (although not sure why it seems to come with one ceramic filter and one carbon? plus the foam/gauze stuff)

50W heater added (not in the tank's built-in filter box as the space isn't long enough and the heater says do not position vertically, so it's suckered to the back glass instead)
- Spare heater purchased in case first one explodes
Glass Thermometer suckered inside tank (opposite side to heater)
- Medium gravel added
- Some shop-bought ornaments
Added one "Tropica 1.2.Grow!" pack of Heteranthera and separated into ~10 stems, embedded into gravel across width of tank ~1" from rear glass
- Added one live plant that came shop-grown attached to decorative wood, unfortunately can't remember the name. Looks like this plant, ~15cm tall, attached to a ~20cm wide piece of wood.
- Added water
- Added TapSafe (LoveFish)
- Added FilterBoost (LoveFish)
- Switched everything on

DOING...
- Keeping temperature log
- Keeping general notes
28/12 - 22:00 25degC / 10:00 25degC- still cloudy/hazy
27/12 - 22:00 25degC / 10:00 24degC - bubbles from glass all gone, tank water has become noticeably cloudy, with a milky white tinge
26/12 - 00:00 22degC / 22:20 20degC / 20:00 16degC / 18:45 12degC / 18:00 Switched everything on - lots of bubbles on glass after a few hours running
25/12 - Christmas, gravel cleaning, tank prep...

NEXT...
- I'd quite like 3 varying size moss balls across the front of the tank, not sure if crowding the substrate with plants and ornaments is a problem?
- FISH PLANS/HOPES
My boy loves Tetra. He's excited about Cardinals, I am veering towards Neons.
We've also decided that some guppies would probably be a good mix.
The kids have also spotted a beautiful Dragon Scale Betta but I'm not sure about this. Maybe in the long term?
- Not sure how many fish to introduce at once and which order? Guppies first? 2 or 3?
- Not sure about the whole chemical/nitrogen cycle in terms of how to fix things if they go wrong.
- I've ordered API quickstart and Some 6-in-1 test strips
-TESTING
I plan on taking a water sample to the store and see what they say
I want to figure out my own testing routine but not sure what's best
I wondered about getting Seachem ALERT (ph/ammonia), as my son can see them and feel involved in the "care" process
I need to figure out how soon we introduce the first fish so that I can create realistic expectations with my son


FINALLY...
- Final tank, I'm imagining 10 or so Neons, 4 Guppies and maybe a "show" fish like the Dragon Scale Betta?
- I'm aware the plants could go big and need lots of trimming

OK I think that's pretty much everything...
Have to dash now, comments (and extensive commentary) welcome!!!
Cheers

Daniel
 
DylanM
  • #2
Addressing stocking:
Many people on here will tell you a 10 gallon is too small for neons, I've seen it work well but you would be pushing it to get a 1.5 inch schooling fish in a 10 gallon, these are living creatures so I usually err on the side of caution when deciding whether a tank is big enough; cardinals are a definite no for a tank that size. If you want to look at some schooling fish that are universally acceptable to be kept in 10 gallon look at ember tetras, chilI rasboras, harlequin rasboras, and celestial pearl danios. In addition, tetras/rasboras can do well with guppies, and the tetras/rasboras can do well with a betta ONLY IF the tank is HEAVILY planted, however guppies with a betta is a big no-no. Almost guaranteed to lead to dead fish. Personally, my 10 gallon is stocked with a koi plakat betta and 6 ember tetras, but this only works with no aggression because the tank litterally looks like a jungle, filled with hygrophila, java fern, and amazon swords.

Addressing cycling:
A lot of people on this forum will also be adamantly against introducing any fish before a tank is cycled. I've cycled all my tanks with fish in them, doing daily 50% water changes for 2-3 weeks and have never ran into a problem cycling, and have never noticed any adverse effects on the fish. You could introduce a small amount of guppies immediately if you want, just make sure they are all males unless you want to deal with a ton of baby fish. Once they are in the tank use an API master test kit (get a liquid kit, the strips can be inaccurate by a substantial amount) once a day to check whether the ammonia ppm is > 1.0 ppm. You will also want to pick up a bottle of seachem prime, it's very important you get this specific water conditioner. If the ammonia ppm is > 1.0, do a 50% water change and condition the water with seachem prime. If the ammonia is < 1.0 ppm, give the tank a full dose of seachem prime, it will detoxify small amounts of ammonia for 24-48 hours. Also make sure to test for nitrites, once your cycle gets to the point where you see > 0 ppm nitrites do large water changes every day no matter what, nitrites are really poisonous to fish. Once you see 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites, your cycle is done.
Or you could just do a fishless cycle, which is easier, but you won't get to add fish for 2-3 weeks.
API quickstart should make the whole process faster.

After the tank is cycled it's good to test before every weekly water change, to make sure there's no problems.

Addressing environment:
Please, crowd the tank with plants, guppies and tetras will love it. I recommend water wysteria, java fern, java moss, and anubias for beginner plants.

Good luck to you and your son with this tank!
 
ProudPapa
  • #3
I pretty much agree with everything DylanM said above. If your son is insistent on a betta, I'd strongly suggest getting a female. They're less likely to be hostile toward the other fish, and there are some beautiful ones out there.

You might consider adding some floating plants like water lettuce or red root floaters.
 
Lauryn
  • #4
Pets at home is also my closest pet store, and I don't think they stock some of the fish DylanM stated but you can get them from Maidenhead aquatics. Also I know Pets at home sell female Bettas in pairs but this would result in fighting so only one.
If you are getting male and female guppys they will have babies every month so you'll need to think what you'll do with the fry (babies).
I'm not good with stocking numbers so I'll leave that to the experts.

If you are going to do a fish in cycle get a bottle of seachem prime from Amazon.
 
silvarbullet1
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Thanks for the advice folks! That all seems to make sense to me.

Regarding the Neons/Cardinals, can I ask why they're not so suitable for a tank that size, when several of the other breeds seem similar? I will have a look around at the other breeds you mention and see what is available nearby Seems like a Betta might be risky, but the one we saw in store was indeed very beautiful! Anyway that was the one his sister liked so I think we'll go for some community/schooling fish to start with and see how we get on... Fancy fish can wait!

--- Overall then, what quantity of fish might be sensible for this size tank? If we

Regarding planting, I like the idea of some more greenery! A couple of people I spoke to said not to worry about special plant soil/growth substrates, and that the small gravel would be fine for most plants to take hold. I decided to go with that advice... But is it a good idea to get some nutrients or something? I see a variety of products out there to spend £££ on... CO2 solutions look pricey and un-environmental (aerosols, disposable containers etc) and there are liquid & solid nutrient feeds... Don't want to just burn ££ if it's not important.

I had another look and I think the plant on wood I have is a Java Fern. I'd like another but not sure if there is space, unless I tie it to the decorative wood that is already in there. I might go for something that spreads on the floor and some moss balls, and see how the other shoots get going in the background (it's supposed to grow near tank height in a month so we'll see).


--- When I get the test Kit, will that give me an idea why my water is cloudy? It doesn't seem to be more cloudy today, but it's certainly quite noticeably cloudy compared to the first 8 hours or so.

--- Considering everything, would it be worth just doing a 90% water change at this stage, adding some more greenery, adding the seachem Prime and API Quickstart then giving it a couple days to do some readings and see if it settles down enough to do as you've suggested above (daily tests and water changes) allowing for a couple of first fish in a few days, adding more as my confidence grows that I'm not just going to kill them all?





Fish Tank 1.jpeg

NB. Plant life looks sparse as most of the Heteranthera is across the back and hidden. Hoping it will take hold and provide a big sheet of green backdrop.
NB. I've also rearranged since the pics and pushed everything out towards the edges, so there is a good deal more space at the front and centre, for more plants and moss balls.



Fish Tank 2.jpeg
Thanks again DylanM JettsPapa Lauryn
 
silvarbullet1
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
Ah, I've remembered another couple of questions I had...

I was thinking also of getting some kind of cleaner animals to help with algae... Snails, shrimp or the shop had Otocinclus which looked nice. The shop seemed to suggest that in terms of overall stock levels, a few snails would not reduce the amount of space for fish, however other options obviously would. Therefore I was leaning towards snails. Any thoughts?

Also... I'm pretty sure we've aquired some wildlife with the Java Fern from the shop... There was at least one tiny snail on the leaves. Do you think this will be OK? I can try and take a pic but it's pretty tricky. The plant came from a tank that indicated it had Yellow Rabbit Snails, so maybe it's one of these? I presume that would be fine if it is? Perhaps even a free bonus!
 
Goldmoon
  • #7
Everything that everyone has said on this thread so far is great advice. I’m gonna throw in my two cents and just mention the fact that some betta types are known to have health issues that are because of genetical flaws.
Dragon scale betta scales are known to grow over their eyes. Eventually, the fish will become blind and you’ll have to be creative about finding ways to feed them. Just something to think about. (I have a dragon scale betta and he is beautiful, but he is going blind and it is much harder for him to find food.)
 
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ProudPapa
  • #8
I wouldn't recommend otos, especially in a new tank. They're notoriously difficult to get acclimated, and have often sustained irreparable damage to their digestive systems before they get to the store.

If you want neons, you'd probably be okay with 8 or so. Just be aware that many of them have health problems that are less likely to affect other tetras.

Pest snails coming in on plants is common. That's how I got mine. They'll probably stay small and not present a problem. You can pick them out and dispose of them if you want, but you may never get all of them. Some people will introduce assassin snails to remove them, but I don't have any experience with those.

If you have algae show up (and you almost certainly will), nerite snails are a good option. You'd only need one.
 
DylanM
  • #9
Thanks for the advice folks! That all seems to make sense to me.

Regarding the Neons/Cardinals, can I ask why they're not so suitable for a tank that size, when several of the other breeds seem similar? I will have a look around at the other breeds you mention and see what is available nearby Seems like a Betta might be risky, but the one we saw in store was indeed very beautiful! Anyway that was the one his sister liked so I think we'll go for some community/schooling fish to start with and see how we get on... Fancy fish can wait!

--- Overall then, what quantity of fish might be sensible for this size tank? If we

Regarding planting, I like the idea of some more greenery! A couple of people I spoke to said not to worry about special plant soil/growth substrates, and that the small gravel would be fine for most plants to take hold. I decided to go with that advice... But is it a good idea to get some nutrients or something? I see a variety of products out there to spend £££ on... CO2 solutions look pricey and un-environmental (aerosols, disposable containers etc) and there are liquid & solid nutrient feeds... Don't want to just burn ££ if it's not important.

I had another look and I think the plant on wood I have is a Java Fern. I'd like another but not sure if there is space, unless I tie it to the decorative wood that is already in there. I might go for something that spreads on the floor and some moss balls, and see how the other shoots get going in the background (it's supposed to grow near tank height in a month so we'll see).


--- When I get the test Kit, will that give me an idea why my water is cloudy? It doesn't seem to be more cloudy today, but it's certainly quite noticeably cloudy compared to the first 8 hours or so.

--- Considering everything, would it be worth just doing a 90% water change at this stage, adding some more greenery, adding the seachem Prime and API Quickstart then giving it a couple days to do some readings and see if it settles down enough to do as you've suggested above (daily tests and water changes) allowing for a couple of first fish in a few days, adding more as my confidence grows that I'm not just going to kill them all?




View attachment 647350

NB. Plant life looks sparse as most of the Heteranthera is across the back and hidden. Hoping it will take hold and provide a big sheet of green backdrop.
NB. I've also rearranged since the pics and pushed everything out towards the edges, so there is a good deal more space at the front and centre, for more plants and moss balls.


View attachment 647351
Thanks again DylanM JettsPapa Lauryn
Cardinals aren't suitable for a 10 gallon because they are a large species of tetra, and very active. For neons, there's more of a debate on whether they are suitable for a 10 gallon, they are smaller than cardinals and many people keep them in a 10 gallon and they look healthy.

CO2 injection is definitely not necessary for the plants you have, and not super helpful unless you also have a higher end grow light and dose fertilizers. It would improve the growth in your tank, but you would have to balance increased CO2 with increased light and fertilizer for the plants, and honestly it's not worth it for java fern. The plants on the left and in the substrate look more like micro sword or crypto parva though, what are those? CO2 injection for anything less than a monster tank shouldn't have any effect on the environment, you probably produce more CO2 by breathing than is released by a small diffuser.

Your water is cloudy because it's a new tank with a lot of free-floating particles and possibly bacteria, it will clear up over time with water changes and an established cycle.

To be clear, in order to establish a nitrogen cycle in your aquarium you need an ammonia source. Whether than be fish, or bottled ammonia. Adding API quickstart without an ammonia source will be a waste of the bottled bacteria, as they will die with no food source.

JettsPapa mentioned nerite snails, which are awesome for keeping the glass of your tank cleaner, but algae will grow on everything, maybe also pick up a couple algae-eating amano shrimp for cleaning your wood and plants.
 
silvarbullet1
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
I wouldn't recommend otos, especially in a new tank. They're notoriously difficult to get acclimated, and have often sustained irreparable damage to their digestive systems before they get to the store.

If you want neons, you'd probably be okay with 8 or so. Just be aware that many of them have health problems that are less likely to affect other tetras.

Pest snails coming in on plants is common. That's how I got mine. They'll probably stay small and not present a problem. You can pick them out and dispose of them if you want, but you may never get all of them. Some people will introduce assassin snails to remove them, but I don't have any experience with those.

If you have algae show up (and you almost certainly will), nerite snails are a good option. You'd only need one.
Thanks for the advice Are pest snails a pain? Do they breed much? As I haven't introduced any fish yet, I could attempt to clean them out, unless as I say they are actually a cleaner snail!

Cardinals aren't suitable for a 10 gallon because they are a large species of tetra, and very active. For neons, there's more of a debate on whether they are suitable for a 10 gallon, they are smaller than cardinals and many people keep them in a 10 gallon and they look healthy.

CO2 injection is definitely not necessary for the plants you have, and not super helpful unless you also have a higher end grow light and dose fertilizers. It would improve the growth in your tank, but you would have to balance increased CO2 with increased light and fertilizer for the plants, and honestly it's not worth it for java fern. The plants on the left and in the substrate look more like micro sword or crypto parva though, what are those? CO2 injection for anything less than a monster tank shouldn't have any effect on the environment, you probably produce more CO2 by breathing than is released by a small diffuser.

Your water is cloudy because it's a new tank with a lot of free-floating particles and possibly bacteria, it will clear up over time with water changes and an established cycle.

To be clear, in order to establish a nitrogen cycle in your aquarium you need an ammonia source. Whether than be fish, or bottled ammonia. Adding API quickstart without an ammonia source will be a waste of the bottled bacteria, as they will die with no food source.

JettsPapa mentioned nerite snails, which are awesome for keeping the glass of your tank cleaner, but algae will grow on everything, maybe also pick up a couple algae-eating amano shrimp for cleaning your wood and plants.
Thanks for the plant advice, all the plants you csn see are the Tropica 1.2.Grow!" pack of Heteranthera and separated into ~10 stems, embedded.
And the java fern on the right.
I'm going to the shop today so may come back with some more greenery

I will look at snails and shrimp as I think variety is great for the kids and visitors to the house. If they're compatible with whatever other stock we choose and not going to take up much additional space then seems like a good plan for a couple of shrimp.

--- Could we introduce the snail and shrimp first, with some fish food and the API quickstart?

I'm nervous about adding the other stock first as I'm a beginner and don't want my son's first experience to be killing off his favourite first choices of pet... I want a few days to practice using the test kit and watching the levels change without fearing for the stock... Then we can go back to the shop and he can choose the neons or other options and they'll all live happily ever after
 
ProudPapa
  • #11
  1. Are pest snails a pain? That depends on how you define "pain." As far as I know they don't hurt anything, but some people don't like to see them in the tank.
  2. Do they breed much? As I haven't introduced any fish yet, I could attempt to clean them out,... Yes, given a food source they will reproduce. I can probably see a dozen or so in my 40 gallon tank at any one time, so there are probably twice that many I can't see. I tried picking them out for a while, then decided they don't really bother me, and I wasn't going to get them all anyway, so I quit trying. However, when I set up a new 10 gallon tank I moved a couple plants into it from the big tank, and a couple showed up. I think I got all those picked out. So if you think you don't want them, your best chance of eliminating them is to start picking them out right away, and every time you see one. Even then there's no guarantee.
  3. ...unless as I say they are actually a cleaner snail! They are, but the amount they clean up is probably insignificant.

silvarbullet1,

I just ran across this video about pest snails and thought you might get some good information from it:
 
silvarbullet1
  • Thread Starter
  • #12
Question:
Does the SeaChem Prime affect the test results for the Nitrites?

I.e. Will the levels decrease when I do a test (I am using the API master freshwater test kit), or does it just neutralise them and the test results still look bad? At the moment, Ammonia is >0 but just scratching the first colour marker (0.25). However Nitrites are at around 1-2 so not good. Just about to test Nitrates... pH is a bit high too at 7.8, so thinking I need to add some API pH/KH minus.

CURRENTLY: Added some more greenery and the API QuickStart yesterday, as well as 50% water change, SeaChem Prime and added some filterboost today.
 
Lauryn
  • #13
I believe seachem prime will not alter the test kit results, it detoxifies ammonia nitrites.
 
angel_scout
  • #14
I don't know how to quite what I am replying to on my phone. But I would wait until your tank is completely cycled to add shrimp of any kind. I have never had shrimp but have heard they can be sensitive to water parameters.

I don't know how to quite what I am replying to on my phone. But I would wait until your tank is completely cycled to add shrimp of any kind. I have never had shrimp but have heard they can be sensitive to water parameters.
I meant quote not quite
 
DylanM
  • #15
Question:
Does the SeaChem Prime affect the test results for the Nitrites?

I.e. Will the levels decrease when I do a test (I am using the API master freshwater test kit), or does it just neutralise them and the test results still look bad? At the moment, Ammonia is >0 but just scratching the first colour marker (0.25). However Nitrites are at around 1-2 so not good. Just about to test Nitrates... pH is a bit high too at 7.8, so thinking I need to add some API pH/KH minus.

CURRENTLY: Added some more greenery and the API QuickStart yesterday, as well as 50% water change, SeaChem Prime and added some filterboost today.

If you are seeing nitrites already your cycle is going well! Are you doing a fish less cycle?
pH additives should only be used with RO water, if you are using tap water, as long as your pH is stable, you can keep pretty much any domesticated fish.
 

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