it's my first time... and I'm kind of lost...


Junior Poster
Jun 20, 2010
First off, hello everyone :)

Sorry, my post a couple days ago wasn't the best. Things have been rough around here this week, unrelated to aquaria... Apologies.

I'm planting standard 10gal for the firs time. I have never planted a tank... frankly, I'm doing well to keep the hostas on my balcony alive - I am no green thumb. I'm a bit overwhelmed by all the information I'm coming across.

My question is - can someone just look over what I've got going on here, and point out anything that looks like a big mistake / weak point / needs improvement? And secondly - I don't know how to calculate bioload of my plants, or to tell how heavy/light to plant based on what I want and need. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

My goals are:
-simple, low-tech
-no CO2
-low light
-healthy for one male Betta, and maybe some cory cats or otos once it gets going

What I have:
-10 gal tank
-hood with florescent tube light (15 watt, 6500K)
-Tetra Whisper 10i filter
-Eco Complete substrate
-light timer
-one impatient Betta

What I need:

I'm thinking of getting some Anubias nana, I like marimo moss balls and wanted to try unrolling them for a carpet, I've heard that works and is easy. Also Java moss? I have a list of plants to try, but there is NOTHING in town aside from the moss balls, so I'll likely be buying online. Like I said, I don't really understand how to calculate my bioload, nor do I know how heavily to plant for my needs. I don't really know what is heavy and what is not... :/

The tank will be viewable from all sides - not against a wall. I have a driftwood burl to anchor the composition, and will be using some smooth river rocks and such to make some caves and structure things.

Anyway, thank you so much to anyone who can take the time to look this over. I don't have a lot of access to help here in town, no societies or clubs, and after a while info on the internet starts to blur together....

Thanks :)
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Guru Class Expert
Oct 18, 2009
10 gal is too small for Cory's

the plant choice seems reasonable, I do not know anything about unrolling marimo moss.

As long as it does not get too warm everything should work. Be patient, let the tank adjust.


Junior Poster
Apr 19, 2010
Here are a couple of pics of my 10 gal shrimp tank. Sorry for the poor quality (cell phone). Eco complete substrate, java moss on wood and rock, 3 crypt undulatas, all I add to this tank is about 1 ml of excel a day. The crypts are small pieces from larger ones in my Co2 injected tanks (they get really big with Co2 and EI dosing) but they grow very slowly in this tank. I have about 30 cherry shrimp and 1 otto in this tank. The cherries breed like crazy and I trade em in to my LFS for plants when I get too many. Overall its a very easy tank to take care of and plants do ok, some crypt melt from time to time, largest leaf I have grown on a crypt in this tank was about 10 inches before it melted. I am thinking of seeing how a couple of my crypt parvas will do in here. No algae problems at all with all of the shrimp. I feed zuchini once a week to keep the otto happy and healthy, and pellets for the shrimp daily. I have two 15 watt T8 bulbs over the glass hood (they hang over the sides on top, there in fixtures for a 20gal tank) but you can probably figure out a neater 30ish watt option. Hope this helps give you some ideas to get started.




Prolific Poster
Oct 17, 2009
Nice tank, I like the low light tank and like DaBub I think it is a nice selection of plants, I like the crypt parvas idea, really well proportioned for a 10 gal tank. Also they do not seem to "melt."

Anubias nana are super for smaller low light low tech tanks.

With all those beautiful shrimp I definitely would not add Corys.

Maybe some floating plants or something that grows up to make the betta more comfortable.

We keep a number of low light, no light, we do have high ambient light here. We run a number with only a small circulation pump.



Junior Poster
Jun 20, 2010
Thanks for the replies! I'm sorry I've neglected to check up on this post because I've been so busy, apologies.

I found plants in town and decided to wing it with that selection:

1 anubias africa
1 echinodorus amazonicus - amazon sword
1 echinodorus osiris - melon sword
2 echinodorus paniculatus
2 bacopa caroliniana
2 anubias nana (small) on java rocks
2 marimo moss balls
1 cryptocoryne

I also had a driftwood burl in the tank, and it began to grow a clearish-white fungus. I removed it and replaced it with some glass pieces - nothing pretty, but they will make good hides, especially when the plants grow up around them. I'm more concerned about the plants actually growing than the layout, for now, so I'll boil my pretty driftwood burl some more and see what I can do to make it usable again.

When I took the driftwood out, I rearranged and had to trim down a lot of the swords, as they were starting to look thin/clearish. I also tossed the bacopa caroliniana - it was falling apart, and I didn't know at the time that I could trim off the healthy new growth and replant it :/ so I ended up tossing it. I thought they looked dead, they nearly fell apart at my gentle handling... :(

The deteriorating swords in the old setup:



Moss balls are currently NOT unrolled, I have plans for future tanks so I'll probably just hang on to them in here until I can move them out.

I'm using a 15watt, 6500K florescent tube light, it came with the hood I bought but I did do a little reasearch/ask around about what type of light to get, and this choice was repeatedly approved - hopefully I'm in the right direction with this.

I was advised to add some Seachem Flourish to the tank, so I picked up tabs (not liquid, as per my LFS advice). I added one - the directions said "1 per 6in radius," but was later advised to add one under each large plant, since my swords were looking so thin. I did that, and have had no issues since. My crypt seems to be growing like a madman, and a couple of the swords show some new little leaves now.

The setup is looking like this right now:



Sparse, not going to win any awards, and I barely know what I'm doing. I'm really just trying to focus on the plants right now, trying to get the basics down. This is a really new process to me, so please pardon me if I'm doing things wrong - it's a lot to learn all of a sudden for my fine arts major / scatterbrained personality. I am enjoying it though, believe it or not... :)

Any feedback / tips would be so much appreciated, and I will be checking this regularly from now now to see what this site can teach me. Thanks so much!

ETA: no longer going with ANY cories at all in this tank. Only one male betta will live here, not planning on tank mates. No shrimp at my house either, just to clarify.

Also, if you want a good laugh, I blog about my bettas and my fumbling with this tank here --->
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Plant Guru Team
Lifetime Member
Sep 23, 2007
South Florida

A few things to note that may help.

Plants are like all living things. They need food (carbon, macro nutrients (N, P, K), iron, zinc, etc) to survive and some are more robust than others. Keep these two things in mind...

The next thing to remember is that light is what drives plant growth and the subsequent DEMAND for food.

Since you want a low maintenance tank you want to use less light and plants that do not grow as quickly...

So, sword plants in general are bigger more robust plants and will need more 'food' than smaller plants or mosses for instance. Anubias can get large but not nearly at the same speed.

I will vastly oversimplify things and say that the swords are 'hogging' most of the food and leaving little for the others such as the bacopa.

That is why folks inject c02 and fertilize the tank with macro and micro nutrients so that there is enough for everyone..

Some plants are used to growing under lower light and thus naturally need less food.

So, using the seachem products (which are mostly water) will help.

The other things I would suggest are:

1. Replace the swords with something smaller:) They will eventually overrun your tank, trust me.
2. Ensure the anubias all have the rhizomes (the tube) above the ground. You can bury some of the roots, but they will attach to anything soon.
3. Get some water wisteria (hygrophila), rotala, ludwigia species. They are easy to care for and easy to get usually.
4. Get at least 8-12 stems of each type of plant. Plant each stem SEPARATELY in the gravel but close to the next one. Allow space for it to grow. Keep the different species in their own little groups.

So you may want 6 stems of wisteria, 6-8 stems of a rotala, 6-8 of ludwigia, etc. Get some more anubias and crypts as they are slow growers and should do well with little maintenance.

You may want to investigate using excel as a carbon substitute to help the plants grow.

There are many great threads where folks have asked the same type of questions. Look around if you have some time to read...Many folks have the same goals as yourself and their experience will prove valuable.

Mikes' post and tank above are an excellent example for you....

Have patience and good luck!

I hope some of this helps.
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Junior Poster
Jun 20, 2010
Wow thank you so much! I'll definitely check around and see what other people have done. I was thinking of ditching the swords :) I was given a 20gal long tank recently, no plans to work on it any time soon but I'd hate to just toss them if I can eventually move them over there. I'll try to find some of those plants you listed - there's very little in my area, so I'll probably be looking online.

One thing I didn't mention, I'm leaving the light on (the "photoperiod," I gather) for 6 hours a day. Should I stick with that for now?

I wish there were more people in my area to talk with, it really helps me to get feedback from live human beings :) So thank you, your info does help. Really I appreciate it so much. If/when this tank stops looking so pitiful, I'll post some updates :)