Summer Project: 5.5 Gallon Planted Tank

BlackOsprey
  • #1
Decided to try this since I have a lot of free time at the moment. I'm trying to use soil with a cap of black gravel in a 5.5 gallon tank. Right now, all I got in there is some anacharis and bonsaI rotala with some really stunted growth. Not ideal but it's what was on my hands at the time.

The light I'm using is a 15 watt bulb. I'm sort of unsure if this will be enough to promote low-light to medium light plant growth. I'm currently waiting on a heater and I'll add more plants as I go along and get more money.

Any advice/suggestions would really be appreciated, especially in regards to the lighting!

Here's the tank currently. It doesn't have much water because I was busy planting, and I decided to let a few of them float for now.


DdHWXmHVwAARiog.jpg
 
danhutchins
  • #2
Decided to try this since I have a lot of free time at the moment. I'm trying to use soil with a cap of black gravel in a 5.5 gallon tank. Right now, all I got in there is some anacharis and bonsaI rotala with some really stunted growth. Not ideal but it's what was on my hands at the time.

The light I'm using is a 15 watt bulb. I'm sort of unsure if this will be enough to promote low-light to medium light plant growth. I'm currently waiting on a heater and I'll add more plants as I go along and get more money.

Any advice/suggestions would really be appreciated, especially in regards to the lighting!

Here's the tank currently. It doesn't have much water because I was busy planting, and I decided to let a few of them float for now.

View attachment 437989
Right now you are getting 2.7 watts/gallon. I would step it up to a 20 watt or 25 watt if its possible. That way you will be able to grow what ever you want and not have to worry. Just make sure it is the right spectrum.
 
BlackOsprey
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
Right now you are getting 2.7 watts/gallon. I would step it up to a 20 watt or 25 watt if its possible. That way you will be able to grow what ever you want and not have to worry. Just make sure it is the right spectrum.
How would I know what's the "right" spectrum?
 
danhutchins
  • #4
How would I know what's the "right" spectrum?
Look for something with a rating of 6500k or 7000k. That should be fine.
 
BlackOsprey
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Look for something with a rating of 6500k or 7000k. That should be fine.
Okay, got any bulbs you would recommend? The lamp I'm using limits me to 13 watts for any CFL bulbs.
 
danhutchins
  • #6
Okay, got any bulbs you would recommend? The lamp I'm using limits me to 13 watts for any CFL bulbs.
I would go with a nicrew fixture or a beamswork fixture, they are LEDs rated for aquarium plants and are very cheap on Amazon.
 
BlackOsprey
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
I would go with a nicrew fixture or a beamswork fixture, they are LEDs rated for aquarium plants and are very cheap on Amazon.
So these kinds of LEDs work even though their wattage is much lower than fluorescent?
 
ParrotCichlid
  • #8
Is this a 15w LED bulb? If it is then its more than enough light in a 5.5g tank imo.
 
aussieJJDude
  • #9
Wpg (watts per gallon) is highly overrated... and is a rule that should be avoided. PAR is a better system to use.

I personally think your light would be fine.

Colour spectrum can easily be found if unsure. Daylight bulbs are usually 6500K, redder bulbs are lower and bluer bulbs are higher.
 
danhutchins
  • #10
So these kinds of LEDs work even though their wattage is much lower than fluorescent?
Yes I have both but only use one on my 55 and can grow very demanding plants. Trust me if you go with one of these you will not be disappointed. And since they are so cheap why not. They are honestly better than a bulb 100000 times.
 
ParrotCichlid
  • #11
Yes I have both but only use one on my 55 and can grow very demanding plants. Trust me if you go with one of these you will not be disappointed. And since they are so cheap why not. They are honestly better than a bulb 100000 times.

Its a 5.5g tank, not a 55? lol.

I'm no plant expert but 25w of LED seems over kill on a 5.5 tank. People was suggesting that kind of wattage for coral growth in my nano reef tank! Could be wrong though
 
danhutchins
  • #12
Its a 5.5g tank, not a 55? lol.

I'm no plant expert but 25w of LED seems over kill on a 5.5 tank. People was suggesting that kind of wattage for coral growth in my nano reef tank! Could be wrong though
Was just going by personal experience with regular lights. That's also why I suggested an aquarium plant specific light.
 
bitseriously
  • #13
Let's break it down by power, and spectrum (temperature).
The best spectrum for freshwater planted tanks is said to be 6,500K. But there's sure to be some wiggle room around that. You can get a regular screw in bulb from the hardware, big box, or walmart in that temperature range (CFL or LED), and these will do the job, as long as they have enough power for your plants' needs. [But I don't know what those numbers would look like, sorry]
Power rating varies by the type of light. 10w of LED gives more light than 10W of CFL. [I think]
The reason watts per gallon is an incomplete metric for lighting is depth: 10W over a 10 gallon tank that is broad and shallow puts a much higher light level on the bottom level, because it's closer to the light. Conversely, the same light over a 10 gallon tank that is tall and skinny (like a hex) will yield a much lower light level at the substrate. Both are 1 WPG, but the light to the plants in different parts of the tank can be totally different.
But PAR is also difficult to work with, for beginners like me. Because different light types (LED, CFL, tubes) - and even different lights in the same type/wattage ranges - give off different amounts of light, you would need to know a) the needs of the specific plants you're trying to grow, and b) the PAR readings from a given light at the depth you are trying to grow the plants. For some lights those numbers are out there, but not for all.
But in reality, IMO, all that is overkill for this situation. ie 5.5 gal.
Your choices, as I see them, and IMHO, are:
A. normal CFL light in the right wattage/temerature range, in your existing lamp.
B. a plant-specific light, again for the fixture you already have (check this out, I have used them, and like them): (I've copied this amazon US link from canada, so sorry if any issues there).
C. Go to an LED light
A and B are easy, quick and fast solutions (so long as you're not trying to grow high-light requiring plants, which you shouldn't be unless you also plan on adding CO2). If you go to C, you have some more research and shopping to do.
Finally, you might look at a different lamp fixture to capture more of the light that you're losing, and direct it into the water (eg something with a better or larger reflector). More bang for you buck, basically. Or put a block under the fixture you have so it can be pointed directly down into your tank.
 
BlackOsprey
  • Thread Starter
  • #14
Alright, after some deliberation, I decided to go with an LED fixture meant for plants. I'll be returning the lamp I'm using now when it arrives.
Hopefully this works!
 
BlackOsprey
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
Alright, I think I'll try to keep tabs on this thing's progress from here on out. I guess this is... Day 10, maybe?
I can't really see any huge growth in the plants, but it hasn't been that long. I now have 2 rocks, a thermometer, and a heater that keeps everything at a steady 78 degrees.
I've also added a corkscrew val today, as well as two MTS's to help the cycle along or eat any dying plant stuff.


DdbSsxnVMAAu_vV.jpg
 
danhutchins
  • #16
Alright, I think I'll try to keep tabs on this thing's progress from here on out. I guess this is... Day 10, maybe?
I can't really see any huge growth in the plants, but it hasn't been that long. I now have 2 rocks, a thermometer, and a heater that keeps everything at a steady 78 degrees.
I've also added a corkscrew val today, as well as two MTS's to help the cycle along or eat any dying plant stuff.

View attachment 438947
At first it will seem like plants are doing nothing. Dont let this drag you down. They need time to "root" and adjust to your tank and water conditions. Could take up to a month or so to see any growth.
 
BlackOsprey
  • Thread Starter
  • #17
At first it will seem like plants are doing nothing. Dont let this drag you down. They need time to "root" and adjust to your tank and water conditions. Could take up to a month or so to see any growth.
That's alright, as long as they don't totally melt. I got all summer.
 
danhutchins
  • #18
That's alright, as long as they don't totally melt. I got all summer.
Once things start growing your vals are going to explode. I had some and it spread like wild fire. I was always cutting runners and planting the plantlets somewhere else. It's a very fast growing species. Very good for soaking up access nutrients. If you ever decide to try flourish excel it will kill your vals, just keep that in mind.
 
BlackOsprey
  • Thread Starter
  • #19
Once things start growing your vals are going to explode. I had some and it spread like wild fire. I was always cutting runners and planting the plantlets somewhere else. It's a very fast growing species. Very good for soaking up access nutrients. If you ever decide to try flourish excel it will kill your vals, just keep that in mind.
Oof. I already knew excel could kill fish but I didn't know about vals. All the more reason to not use it. Thanks for telling me!
 
danhutchins
  • #20
Oof. I already knew excel could kill fish but I didn't know about vals. All the more reason to not use it. Thanks for telling me!
No problem. If you need anything just let me know, I'm always glad to share what I know, and if I can't help I'm sure someone else can.
 
BlackOsprey
  • Thread Starter
  • #21
I'm looking at the corkscrew val I got the other day, and it seems to be releasing bubbles. Hopefully those are oxygen bubbles...

I also did a small water change to get rid of the biofilm. Somehow I didn't think about how slimy it could make the water changing cup...

I'm planning on getting some more plants tomorrow. I get the feeling that I need more than this to absorb enough light and nutrients to keep an algae explosion at bay.
 
psalm18.2
  • #22
What kind of light is that you have?
 
BlackOsprey
  • Thread Starter
  • #23
A 6 watt full spectrum LED. This one specifically.
 
psalm18.2
  • #24
danhutchins
  • #25
I'm looking at the corkscrew val I got the other day, and it seems to be releasing bubbles. Hopefully those are oxygen bubbles...

I also did a small water change to get rid of the biofilm. Somehow I didn't think about how slimy it could make the water changing cup...

I'm planning on getting some more plants tomorrow. I get the feeling that I need more than this to absorb enough light and nutrients to keep an algae explosion at bay.
Sorry if thI is a repeat question but are you using co2. It most likely is oxygen bubbles you are seeing but keep in mind that if there isn't enough co2 in the tank the plants could work in a reverse way, soak up oxygen and release co2, but I think if you have a low tech setup you should be fine.
 
BlackOsprey
  • Thread Starter
  • #26
Sorry if thI is a repeat question but are you using co2. It most likely is oxygen bubbles you are seeing but keep in mind that if there isn't enough co2 in the tank the plants could work in a reverse way, soak up oxygen and release co2, but I think if you have a low tech setup you should be fine.
That... that's possible?? I've honestly never heard of a plant doing the reverse, just that they'd melt and die without enough CO2. I'm not using CO2, but I'm sticking with plants that don't require injections to survive.
 
DutchAquarium
  • #27
What's the temp at. That heater might not be the best in a aquarium that small. All the plants you have in their are colder species and like a 72-75 degree tank.
 
BlackOsprey
  • Thread Starter
  • #28
What's the temp at. That heater might not be the best in a aquarium that small. All the plants you have in their are colder species and like a 72-75 degree tank.
78 degrees. What are some plants that are low maintenance but like higher temps?
 
BlackOsprey
  • Thread Starter
  • #29
... I looked these plants' temperature needs and most sites say they can grow just fine in temperatures even hotter than 78 degrees. I think they'll be fine...
 
danhutchins
  • #30
That... that's possible?? I've honestly never heard of a plant doing the reverse, just that they'd melt and die without enough CO2. I'm not using CO2, but I'm sticking with plants that don't require injections to survive.
Yes its possible. I don't think you have to worry though.
 
Gypsy13
  • #31
I’m back and forth on the Vals. Jungle vs corkscrew. How’d you make up your mind?
 
BlackOsprey
  • Thread Starter
  • #32
I’m back and forth on the Vals. Jungle vs corkscrew. How’d you make up your mind?
Quite simple really... the corkscrew vals were cheaper at my LFS.
 
aussieJJDude
  • #33
I’m back and forth on the Vals. Jungle vs corkscrew. How’d you make up your mind?
And corkscrews are a lot smaller!
 
aussieJJDude
  • #34
Sorry if thI is a repeat question but are you using co2. It most likely is oxygen bubbles you are seeing but keep in mind that if there isn't enough co2 in the tank the plants could work in a reverse way, soak up oxygen and release co2, but I think if you have a low tech setup you should be fine.
The only time they do that is when there's no light. If some light is present, they will photosynthesise at a much slower rate - aka no 'bubbling' present.
 
BlackOsprey
  • Thread Starter
  • #35
And corkscrews are a lot smaller!
Yeah, makes it convenient for a 5.5 gallon tank. At the time though, I was much more worried about price, ha.

The only time they do that is when there's no light. If some light is present, they will photosynthesise at a much slower rate - aka no 'bubbling' present.

Oh ok. The on;y time I've seen bubbles was when the light was on so it's probs fine.
 
DutchAquarium
  • #36
... I looked these plants' temperature needs and most sites say they can grow just fine in temperatures even hotter than 78 degrees. I think they'll be fine...

these plants will do fine at 78, but they won't be in top health. The only problems might be that leaves will deteriote faster and not be as full.
 
BlackOsprey
  • Thread Starter
  • #37
these plants will do fine at 78, but they won't be in top health. The only problems might be that leaves will deteriote faster and not be as full.
Oh well. I doubt they could be doing much worse than they were before.

A friend of mine helped me buy some more stuff today! We added a crypt, two more vals, and a lava rock. I think I might get more lava rocks, as a matter of fact. The orange is just stunning!


tumblr_messaging_p91sid4L431tjmhj3_1280.jpg
 
BlackOsprey
  • Thread Starter
  • #38
Ah right, there's some duckweed in there too. Not enough to be visible from this pic, but I'm sure it will multiply.
 
BlackOsprey
  • Thread Starter
  • #39
I think after this, I'm gonna let the plants get settles without messing with them too much. I have added a cup of repens plants as well as a water sprite in the right corner. I've brought the temperature down to about 70-72 degrees.


DeN6sNMV0AAbf9N.jpg
 
BlackOsprey
  • Thread Starter
  • #40
Went on a week-long vacation and algae grew quickly... yikes. It's coated the crypt's leaves and swallowed up a couple smaller plants.


tumblr_messaging_p9s1z5d7VB1tjmhj3_1280.jpg
 

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