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Thread: Starting a freshwater 10gal from scratch -advice?

  1. #1
    The Consuming Flame EdaxFlamma's Avatar
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    May 2007
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    Starting a freshwater 10gal from scratch -advice?

    Good afternoon all,

    I am looking to set up an old 10gal (20x12x10) primarily as a freshwater planted tank which I may add a few fish to later. My only problem is I am about as new to fishtanks as humanly possible. I have the tank, will end up storing the tank under my plant lights for now (4-4' tubes), one aerator and apart from that I have nothing else at the moment. I assume I will need a filter, probably a heater, some kind of suitable plant substrate and goodness knows what else.

    I have 2 crazy ideas of what I may want to do with the tank but I'm not sure how realistic they are. My first plan was to set up a tank with one mangrove off to the side, let the roots and canopy grow towards the other side of the tank, keep it pruned and toss in some other plants to mingle around the roots - maybe some pieces of "driftwood" with a nice "aquatic moss" draped over them. I have read that mangroves need (more) Mg and I can see that potentially being a problem but I'm not sure. My other idea was basically the same thing just without the mangrove focusing on a driftwood/moss aquascape with some fish to be added later on. Marimo are also a thought for both setups.

    That's the plan, but I don't quite know how to start if it is even possible. Assuming it is, I need to do some sort of cycling with my water I know that much. Not sure whether I need plants in there first or not. Can I cycle with just substrate and the filters? I have done some very basic research and know that I should probably find some kind of substrate other than the coated gravel if I want a planted tank. But again I am not sure what would be best.

    I'm going to keep researching and see what I can figure out but I figured some one here might have some quick advice for an aquarium newbie like myself.

    Thanks so much in advance!
    Trying to rebuild. Feel free to PM me with questions.

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  2. #2
    spdskr's Avatar
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    Congratulations on entering the world of planted aquariums. I came here after many years with planted tanks....I still have them.

    For starters with a 10 gallon, I would suggest a substrate for plants such as fractured clay (Seachem Flourite), Scott's pond substrate, or even well rinsed clay kitty litter. If you wish to use drift wood, look for Mopani wood, and it does not leach as many tanins into the water as traditionally used types and it will also sink immediately. A small hang on back filter should be sufficient to move water and remove suspended debris from the tank. Lighting for 10 gallon tanks is readily available...I suggest compact flourescent if possible. Heaters are not necessary for plants, but a cooler tank may limit the types of fish you add.

    There is no need to "cycle" your new tank as long as you start with enough plants. Most folks new to planted tanks start with too little plant mass and end up with a tank full of algae. If you do not have a local place to purchase the appropriate plants, send me a PM and possibly we can work out a trade.

    There are numerous websites dedicated to planted aquariums. Here is a link to my favorite:

    Best wishes for your new hobby.


  3. #3
    Tropical Fish Enthusiast jimscott's Avatar
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    Nov 2003
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    If it were me, I'd get all the equipment set up and let it run for a few days. Then but one, cheap fish, like a feeder guppy. Monitor the Ammonia, Nitrites, and Nitrates with a kit, and let it go through the cycle before buying what ya want. Add fish slowly.

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