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Plants for the Tiny Tank


  1. Tiny plant tank
    by krandall/ (Mon, 01 Sep 1997)

Tiny plant tank

by krandall/
Date: Mon, 01 Sep 1997

>I hope I'm sending this to the right place:). I'm new to the list and
>have a question (or five) for all you plant-y people. I'm thinking of
>using an old 5 gallon tank I have as an office tank. I'd like to put my
>3 danios and an algae eater in there with some plants, but as my only
>experience w/plants is on my 25 gallon goldfish tank, I have numerous
>questions about this setup!

Tiny tanks are fun!  Yours is actually twice the size of the two I've had.
The first was auctioned off at a weekend workshop, and I missed it so much
I set up another.  There is a larger-than-life photo of the first with my
article in the 1998 issue of Aquarium USA.

>1. The "hood" holds two incandescent bulbs. I've seen those pink "full
>spectrum" incans in my local hardware store. Would those be any good?
>What does everyone think I should try using? The tank is so short, no
>flourescent would work over it unless it were suspended and as our
>office has 30 foot ceilings...

As others have said, the incandescent bulbs are pretty useless.  You could
probably still grow Java Moss, Java Fern, Anubias and possibly some Crypts.
 The easy solution I chose was to sit a swing arm type compact fluorescent
desk lamp beside the tank and extend the arm over the top.  I keep a glass
cover on the tank, and the lamp rests just above it.

The one I found at Walmart uses a 13W bulb.  The original bulb was, if I
remember correctly, only 2700K.  The plants grew fine, but it gave the tank
a slightly yellowish hue.  More recently, I found a 5000K bulb that would
fit.  The plants haven't changed much, but the color rendition in the tank
is nicer.

>2. Small plants? I like annubias, but they're so expensive around where
>I there somewhere I could mail-order a few specimens? I can't
>do the bulk ordering required by some catalogs. 

The mailing costs from most sources will make up the difference in cost
between that and buying locally when you only need a small number of
plants.  Anubias may seem expensive, but once you have one, you have it
forever, and you'll be able to propagate more yourself.

>How about that stuff
>that looks exactly like grass? I don't know what it's's not
>pygmy chain sword...but I know it likes bright lighting, so is that a

You mentioned in a later post that the plant was Lillaeopsis.  It's a very
nice plant... one of my favorite ground covers.  But it does need bright
light to do its thing.  If you go with the CF desk lamp, you should have

>Any short plants out there?

There are lots of plants that stay small enough.  Some of the plants I've
used in tiny tanks are A.b. var. nana, Java Moss, Java Fern, (narrow leaf
and 'Windelov') Rotala wallachii, R. macrandra, Micranthemum, Glossostigma,
Cryptocoryne wendtii, C. affinis, Echinodorus tenellus, E. quadricostatus,
Riccia, Didiplis diandra and Mayaca fluviatilis.  I'm sure when I set up
another tiny tank I'll find other interesting little plants to work with!

>3. Should I fertilize the substrate?

Absolutely!  It's needs are no different than a larger tank.

> It is a very small tank, so I don't
>want to overload it with anything. I can easily get Tetra Initial and
>their liquid and root tablets. Should I use any of those?

What ever supplements work well for you in your larger tanks should be fine
in the smaller tank as well.  Just be very careful not to overdose.  I
prefer a soil substrate in my little tanks so that I don't have to mess too
much with liquid supplements.

>4. Filtration: I was thinking about a Penguin Mini w/biowheel. Anyone
>know anything good or bad about them? I've heard they are about
>dollhouse size :), which would be perfect. I have an Aquaclear mini on
>my ten gallon, but it seems awefully large in comparison to this tank.

I have used Aquaclear minis on both my 2 1/2G tanks.  The nice thing is
that the flow is adjustable.  You can turn it down to a trickle.  The
people who have commented that you don't need filtration on a tank of this
size are correct from a filtration standpoint.  But plants clearly do
better in the presence of some water movement.  Since powerheads are pretty
much out of the question for a tank this size, I like to use a small
filter.  The Aquaclear mini fits the bill nicely.  Besides, where else
would you inject your CO2? ;-)

>Any other small filer ideas?  I have a little Duetto internal power filter
that I am very happy with in a small paludarium we set up for tadpoles.  I
a 5G tank it would probably be fine, but it's too large for my 2 1/2's.
The only problem with the Duetto is that it has a very small sponge and a
_tiny_ carbon basket.  Since I don't use carbon anyway, I discarded the
media containers and replaced the sponge with a larger one (actually an
Aquaclear mini sponge)cut to fit.

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