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Re: Small planted tank.
My first serious attempt at a planted tank was in a 5.5-gallon, and I have
to say, it's been a lot of fun. The great thing is how the All-Glass
Aquarium light strip for this tank holds a 14W fluorescent tube, giving you
a little over 2.5 wpg. With this level of lighting, you have the option of
using DIY CO2 or an alternative source of carbon, like Flourish Excel. It's
also enough to keep all but the most light-demanding plants, giving you
A year after starting this obsession, I think the main on-going challenge
is in finding size-appropriate plants. Right now, I have Bacopa monnieri,
Heteranthera zosterifolia, Echinodorus parviflorus var. 'Tropica', E.
tenellus, E. peruensis, Lobelia cardinalis (I think dwarf form), Rotala
indica (aka R. rotundifolia), Cryptocoryne wendtii, C. wendtii var.
'Tropica', one small Microsorum pteropus, and a Hygrophila corymbosa
'compacta'. Yes, it seems like a LOT of plants, but most of them are still
small and I've been using Excel instead of CO2. Before, when I was using
DIY CO2, things got WAY out of hand and I couldn't keep up with
maintenance, so I ended up with a BGA attack, forcing me to start over again.
Among the plants I have, I would highly recommend the B. monnieri, both
crypts, L. cardinalis, and R. indica for the "fast-grower." These will do
fine even without CO2 injection. I haven't had much luck with the H.
zosterifolia; all but the very tips get spotted and eventually corrode
away. All the swords seem to fare better with CO2 injection. They're fine
in my 2.5-gallon tanks in which I inject CO2. The ones in the 5.5-gallon
don't look well at all. On the other hand, it could be the stronger
lighting in the 2.5-gallon. The Java fern and H. corymbosa are fairly new
so I can't say much about them, yet. I've noticed that the Java fern is
degenerating, but the Hygrophila is growing new, healthy leaves. I've heard
that Java fern can sometimes go into shock, which it may be experiencing.
Before the BGA, I also had H. micranthemoides, Vallisneria torta, Anubias
barteri v. nana and some sort of Marsilea, all of which grew well with CO2.
The vals and anubias got covered with BBA, though. I transferred the
anubias to a different tank in which I kept Helisoma trivolvis ("red"
ramshorn snails), and they ate away every bit of the BBA.
To answer your question about filters, I'd recommend at least something to
provide current. I do have a 2.5-gallon tank with no mechanical current,
but in a tank this size, I'd think heat convection and the movement of fish
would be enough. I have an AquaClear MINI on the 5.5-gallon tank and I
think the plants like the current. It's a little strong, but I'm planning
to put a piece of foam over the intake, and it should be perfect. Aside
from the current, it's always nice to have a little mechanical filtration
to polish the water on a continual basis. Are you sure you don't want a few
small, hardy fish to help with keeping the tank clean? I originally wasn't
going to add fish to the plant tank, but I started seeing those creepy
little worms all over the glass and I freaked out. I threw in maybe three
small guppies, and an hour later, no more worms, and fat, happy little
Okay, I know... TOO MUCH INFORMATION... Enjoy your new little tank!