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It's a plant globe! lol

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So I've been thinking for the past few days as I sit and watch my Desk buddy Morpheus "Wouldnt it be nice to give you a cute little planted tank? Oh but I'd need to find a place where I could change out that bulb in my lamp for a plant light"

Well I just pulled it out to see what size the globe was, turns out its a compact fluorescent 11w 6400k, near perfect range for plants unless I'm mistaken :) or at the very least acceptable. Sadly however I suspect that its past its use by date and I should get it a new bulb anywho, Anyone in Melbourne know where to pick up a good plant light?

The tank is bare bottomed atm with just some floating stem plants (maybe ludwig? Leaves seem to small) and a heater, no filter and because its a betta tank I don't really want to put one in. I think its about 20L

I want the tank to have a green carpet, some driftwood java fern, maybe some crypts so my first question

1. What substrate should I get? Is eco-complete any good?

2. What should I used for the carpet? I understand they're all high light? I've never done Co2 before but I'll give it a go!

Edited by Akythara
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Your 11w tube should be ok for low light plants. The place where you bought the lamp would normally sell replacement tubes. I suggest taking the old tube with you and check that it's the same fitting.

I'm not sure about eco-complete. I know a lot of people use it with a lot of success. But I find the grain size too large. If you can afford ADA soil go for that. Shouldn't need a lot. A 3 kg bag should be tons. Or you could DIY the substrate using a layer of worm castings capped off by a layer of 3mm gravel.

You might not be able to get a low carpet effect under that light. Even mosses need high light to achieve the compact growth for a carpet look. You could give java moss a try. Tie to pieces of slate or glass. I doubt HC or riccia will work under that light.

What about dwarf chain swords? They cope with low light and will actually grow a bit smaller. It won't look exactly like a carpet in a small tank. But it makes a nice ground cover.

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Mum bought the lamp I'm afraid, I guess I'll just have to take it on a tour of Melbourne and see what I come up with!

Worm castings are safe for fish tanks? :cheer: I'd have never guessed! I can't really justify spending the money on ADA substrates for this tank. I'm planning a 4ft planted tank soon so most of my funds need to go on that :) ALSO seeing as most of the plants won't care about the substrate... :D Silly java ferns!

I might try the dwarf chain swords! They're cute, I also need to get some floating plants, do you think riccia would get enough light if it was left to float? (The betta in the tank LOVEs his floating plant pieces, spends all day swimming over and around them)

So how about this:

Substrate: Dark 3mm gravel with worm castings and a fertilizer tab.


Background: 2 Java ferns, 1 low light crypt

Midground: 1 anubias nana on driftwood (yay tannins)

Forground: Dwarf chain sword, java moss

Floating: Hornwort

Light: 11w 6400k compact florescent.

Fertilizers: ?? lol

I wanted to get some sort of stem plant also to hide the heater - not elodea lol. I might use the driftwood to hide it but having some stem plants in that 'far' corner would look good all the same

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What you've outlined there sounds pretty good. You could probably even get away with not using the worm castings. I've grown crypts in plastic containers with a thin layer of peat, a little bit of native plant Osmocote, then just plain gravel on top. The riccia should have plenty of light if it's floating. Just make sure you stay on top of the floating plants. They'll block the light to plants below so you want to make sure that they don't take up too much of the surface. I would try not to have any more than 25% of the surface being covered by floating plants. And make sure you remove any duckweed that appears.

For stem plants try Mayaca. It's a light green feathery plant with smaller, shorter leaves. Good proportions for a small tank. And easy to grow as well. I've had it grow very well under an 11w compact fluoro. You will need to trim it every week otherwise it will trail across the surface and block the light to everything else.

Have a look in Officeworks for a replacement tube. I got my desk lamp from there which has an 11w 6400K tube and they sold the replacement tubes for it. Bunnings sells compact fluoro tubes as well but definitely take the old tube with you. I'm not sure if the fittings are standard.

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http://www.natives.net.au/images/OSM_PLUS_NativeGdns500g.jpg is the stuff?

Mayaca is nice! I wonder if I can buy it locally, do you know of anywhere? Gosh I wish I had a car so I could race out and buy everything right away! >_< then again it might be cheaper to pay shipping from a website then to buy plants locally where they're all $6-$15...

Ah well if I'm not still sick tomorrow then I know what I'll be up too!

Thanks for your help! I'll get pictures together as soon as I have something to photograph!

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Yeah that's the stuff. For tanks that are already set up you can put some Osmocote in a little ball of clay and stick it in your substrate close to plant roots. Or even just wrap it in a bit of paper towel and shove it in.

Subscape Aquarium in Richmond is a great place for plants and they have some amazing planted tank displays. You are more likely to find the rarer plants there. Not that mayaca is particularly rare. It's on all the wholesaler lists. It's just that the average LFS only ever orders anubias, hygro and cabomba.

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and Elodea!

I just discovered subscape aquariums in Richmond the other day, stunning display tanks! Can't wait to go back :alright:

Do you think that globe will be enough light for Mayaca or should I go the Ludwigia option instead?

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Both? BOTH! Why this will be a full little tank!

Thats a nice set up you linked, you've used the driftwood just like I'd planned too! Did you get an update on it yet? also where did you end up getting your plants from? I'd love to get some of that swirly java fern but can't justify the $20 price tag.

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If you put in a fish order with someone, I'd check with her for the Crested Java (windlov is it's other name) She has plants, but also sells a bunch of the leaves which are quick to get new plants and roots. Either way it was much less than $20. I love the stuff, but I'm never going to have tones of it because I keep giving it away, silly me!

Mike, when you say clay, can it be the white stuff, or does it need to be the red?

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Wet, unfired clay. You just wet it enough so that it's pliable and then mold it around the Osmocote. I've used white clay because I've got tons of it lying around from my short sojourn into the world of pottery. If I was buying fresh clay I'd get red stuff and ask them what was added to it or if it's natural red clay. Something high in iron is good. I've heard some people just use clay soil from their garden.

No, I haven't been back to see how the tank is doing but mutual friends that have seen it recently said that it's looking good and is well maintained, which is well and good but I'd really like to see it for myself. I'm trying to organise a time when I can get in there after dark so that I can take pictures without window reflections.

I got the plants from all over the place. Mostly from hobbyists but I paid a lot more than $20 for the crested java fern. The mayaca I got for free at an EDAS plant study group meeting. Members often bring their trimmings to share at meetings. All in all I spent a couple of hundred dollars just on the plants. The mosses, anubias and java fern are all slow growing and much more expensive than stem plants.

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i bought my stuff! lol setting it up now, will post pics in a min.

I changed the fish I'm putting in the tank so instead of having driftwood I'm using his cave - he loves his cave :) So its now a planted up rock scape with a little bit of white sand making a path into his cave. :D my arms are covered in duckweed.

Update: The dust hasnt settled enough for me to take a photo yet, I rinsed all of the gravel aside from one TINY handful :P second I added that handful BAM couldnt see a thing!

The tanks looking pretty good though, MAYBE a bit over crowded but I wanted it to look like an over grown gnome hole rather then an ADA championship tank ;) Won't know for sure hope it looks though until it clears up.

The total for the plants, rocks and gravel was $45 (reguallars seem to get a discount there, It would have been over $50)

I ended up getting


1.5kg of an iron rich very dark substrate

2kg of a dark red gravel

500grams of grey sand

500grams of white sand

I used 80% of the substrates but only a handful of white sand - Plenty left for another tank!


2 Chain swords $2 ea

2 Java Ferns $10 - just normal and not very large

1 Anubias nana $10 (they have a HUGE mother plant there)

Ludwigia $6

Mayaca free because its dying - I haven't used it in the tank but will once its healthy again

Hornwort $6 - only added 1 piece of it to the small tank the rest has gone into me...SPAWNING TANK!

The Tank

TURNS OUT that my tank is only about 15L so it's much smaller then I thought it was but maybe thats why it looks a little over crowded. Either way I'm happy with how its looking so far AND I had lots of left over ludwigia and hornwort stems to put into my spawning tank :D

Edited by Akythara
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