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Thread: Newbie questions from a beginner

  1. #1

    Default Newbie questions from a beginner

    Hi all,
    totally new to this hobby but have been interested in it for a while and have finally got a spare 4ft tank and some nice Dragon stones to start my first planted tank!

    I've already spent hours reading from this site trying to sift through what is useful for what I want to do and I'm loving the amount of expertise and knowledge on this forum but it feels like for every new concept I learn, a door is opened to more intricacies that need to be considered as well!

    The basics of what I intend to do are: LED lighting (waiting on the latest MML release for 4ft tanks), heater, external filter and 4ft tank with the objective of creating a really lush forest of plants on a steeply sloped terrain which will start low at the front.

    I find shrimp fascinating and am contemplating trying out keeping these with an aqua soil substrate like Amazonia.
    I've read through a lot of the substrate and shrimp forum and might be overthinking things a little but want to check if something like ADA Amazonia will be a viable option as long as I plant heavily and carry out a lot of water changes before I introduce any fish as recommended.

    I haven't gotten as far with reading through the plants section much yet but am considering christmas moss, crystal wort and rotala green and am in the process of finding a nice grass and ferns style plants.

    Would I need co2 if I have a crapload of plants?
    Will an exsposed aquasoil work ok ? I intend to plant it heavily with grass etc

    Any constructive criticism /suggestions welcome.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Edgecliff, NSW
    Posts
    163

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    Hi El Pedro,

    Firstly welcome to the start of your planted tank journey.

    Have you thought about your hardscape (wood and stone), as this forms the basis of all aquascapes and will determine how good your 'scape' will look once the plants are added and have time to mature. The hardscape will also stabilise your aquasoil, particularly if you are planning to have a really steep bank, as it will collapse down on itself over time otherwise. There is nothing wrong with exposed aquasoil, it's just a matter of personal preference - however some fish do feel more secure and will colour up better with a darker substrate.

    ADA (with or without plants) is a viable aquasoil for shrimp.and fish, however with a fresh tank and uncycled filter you are looking at 4 to 6 weeks (possibly longer) to cycle. It would be worth checking with your local store if they will stick some filter media in one of their tanks/sumps to establish while you are still researching and setting things up. If you want to do the heavy planting and water change method you can, however cycling the tank first get getting fewer plants also works and saves you some cash.

    Have a look at some of the Anubias, Java Ferns and Bolbitis, conbined with a mix of different mosses and fissidens to suit a jungle look. I would recommend you pick something other than crystal wort as it is a painful plant for beginners and experts alike as it tends to fragment and spread out all over the tank - something like mini pellia also looks great without the pain. Are there any grasses that you are keen on at this stage?

    CO2 is always good as your plants will grow faster with it, but no it is not a necessity.
    Tucker

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    ACT
    Posts
    13,969

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    Hiya Welcome.

    Do you have an example photo of what you are trying to achieve?

    1. Exposed aquasoil is excellent. You can plant directly into it. Sloped terrain is good and will create nice perspective.
    2. 4 foot tank is a little large for a beginner when planting heavy; mainly due to costs of everything including maintenance (time cost), etc and lights. I would suggest a 2 foot tank to start off.

  4. #4

    Wink

    Thanks Tucker for the warm welcome and reply, you too Rebel.

    Here's a pic of the beginnings of what I intend to do with my hardscape, it's just a rough placement so you can visualize my intentions.

    I'm planning on finding a piece of driftwood that will sit in the middle, a semi circle of hollowed log placed so that it will look like a cave. The low part at the front of the tank will be grasses (no idea which yet) and then basically a graduating wall of taller plants between the two rocks to create the forest look.

    I'm thinking some randomly placed pieces of driftwood also with Anubias or likewise growing off them, I've seen what some of the people on the forums have done like this and it looks awesome I think.

    Glad to hear I'm roughly on the right track with the substrate, am thinking of ADA Amazonia to pour over the bags of stone I'm using to build up my hardscape, do you think it's worth putting some charcoal in the bags?
    When Tucker mentioned that adding CO2 will speed up plant growth I thought, GREAT for establishing the plants, but once I achieve the look I want I'm wondering if reducing or removing the CO2 will help slow growth to help turn the tank into a low maintenance feature?

    Tucker: My wife has a tropical fish tank, so luckily I can steal some media off her to get the tank started.
    Also duly noted regarding cycling the water, found the Sticky at the top of this forum, awesome amounts of knowledge here and thanks for the heads up there.
    I love the look of the Bolbitis, will definitely use some of that. Was looking at fissidens and mini pellia....very exciting in terms of the ideas it's giving me.
    I'm hoping to find plants that look as miniature/bonsai as possible to make the dragon stone look more epic and scale better.....so with the shrimp.....I'm going for a large nanoscape kind of look if that makes sense.

    Rebel:Thanks for the advice, I'm stuck with the 4ft tank unfortunately, cost isn't a problem when it comes to decking it out as I'm a Sparky luckily(ps: if anyone needs free electrical advice feel free to hit me up lol). So I'm going all out on this, I'm waiting on the delivery of an MML 120cm triple row full spectrum led panel with all the bells and whistles and in the meantime am just refining my plan of attack in terms of plants and sourcing nice peices of driftwood. I hoping I'm not biting off more than I can chew with the large tank as I'm 100% a newbie.

    Thanks again for the advice, please anyone feel free to criticize or add useful knowledge.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Sydney, NSW
    Posts
    46

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    Have a look at moving the stones to the 1/3 mark and the 2/3 mark of the tank, rather then the very ends. It may look more visually pleasing. And perhaps try having one up high, say the one closer to the wall, built up high on your rock bags and one down low on the glass base which would be the one closer to the open end. You can even play with the depth of the stones. Try to set one on the front 1/3 line and one on the 2/3 line looking from above. It may make it look a little less staged and symmetrical. But they look like nice pieces of stone.

    What stand is that? It looks like a set of drawers perhaps. Just want to check that it can withstand some heavy weight. The tank may be over 200kg when complete. So keep that in mind. You don't want it to bow or twist.

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by lastlineofdefence View Post
    Have a look at moving the stones to the 1/3 mark and the 2/3 mark of the tank, rather then the very ends. It may look more visually pleasing. And perhaps try having one up high, say the one closer to the wall, built up high on your rock bags and one down low on the glass base which would be the one closer to the open end. You can even play with the depth of the stones. Try to set one on the front 1/3 line and one on the 2/3 line looking from above. It may make it look a little less staged and symmetrical. But they look like nice pieces of stone.

    What stand is that? It looks like a set of drawers perhaps. Just want to check that it can withstand some heavy weight. The tank may be over 200kg when complete. So keep that in mind. You don't want it to bow or twist.
    Thanks for the input, I reckon you're right about the rocks, I'm a bit OCD with symmetry and going for something more asymmetrical will make it look more naturally formed. I'm trying to imagine the plants and how they will fill the negative space between the rocks, but being a newbie I keep changing my mind...argh!

    The stand which is an old set of drawers had an Oscar in the tank for about 3 years and regularly had water splash on it, so I'm fairly sure that it will stand the test of time, it is antique so made of hardwood.... just not sure what. I have thought about the stand a lot and have checked it's internals for warping since you posted, there will be a lot more weight on it once I get everything in place so now I'm second guessing! I'm going to tidy up the foam base which has been there since we euthanased our Oscar after he got popeye and we couldn't improve his quality of life.

    I'm so happy with finding those pieces of stone, plenty of little craters to place soil and grow mosses/grasses out of eventually!

    Still excited/overwhelmed.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Campbelltown NSW 2560
    Posts
    432

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    Hey El Pedro.

    When do you plan on setting this tank up and when does the light get delivered?

    Since you are new to this do you plan on doing a low tech tank? You don't really need CO2 if you go low tech as it will also make maintenance a lot easier. A lot less things to check. You can always add CO2 to a tank to help plant growth later down the track.

    Already been mentioned the usual staple of plants for low tech are good to start off with. Anubias, java fern varieties, mosses, vallisneria etc. These are all great easy plants to grow. However they can be slow growing.

    With regards to the stand. From the photos it looks pretty sturdy to me. Try and stand and jump on it lol. If it doesn't bow or look under stress then maybe it will be fine. Just remember though once the tank is full of water and substrate and probably rocks then it will be a pain in the backside to try and drain the tank and fix the stand.

    Good luck!

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