My Early Success


Junior Poster
Dec 23, 2009
South Carolina near Charlotte, NC
I just wanted to post my early success (so far:p) and key learning to date for my system:
• Form follows function (i.e. goals)
• CO2 or non-CO2 decision (based on my lighting and other things like maintenance desire/need)
• Choose a system and learn it well
• Plant densely from the start
Here are my specs. Please take a look! Thank you all for such great threads/posts/knowledge. It has brought out a whole new interest in planted tanks. As I call them: Underwater Bonsai.

7-gallon nano: AG Mini-bow
Light: 11 hrs @ 100 PAR est. (number is based on CF chart Hoppy sent me)
12”Current fixture w Sunpaq CF 10K/6K with moon light
Hagen CO2/diffuser with DIY yeast changed every 2-3 weeks.: est-35-50 ppm, sometimes higher, but fish handle it
pH 6.5
kH: 4-5
EI Dosing:
NPK 3X week
Excel and Flourish 3X week
50% WC /Equilibrium 1X
Substrate: Play Sand with flourish tabs
AquaClear 20 HOB with Bio media
Temp: 27C

Cryptocoryne wendtii
Hemianthus micranthemoides
Hemianthus callitrichoides
Ludwigia arcuata
Rotala rotundifolia
Vesicularia dubyana
Microsorum pteropus
Heterandria formosa (Least Killifish)

My approach is one of incremental-ism: as I gain more knowledge and success I can expand to more/larger/complex/technical systems; but the nano is a quite a unique challenge in and of itself. I have had many complete failures (best with 7 gallon rather than 175). It is a fresh start. The right hand side should fill in with the Rotala and Ludwigia. I pruned them heavily. The Ludwigia was grown emersed, and just starting to show the underwater leaves. The Crypts and Java Moss and Java ferns were planted about 4 weeks ago, and the rest are only 1 week old. The moss wall is 1 week old, used to be a moss floor (changed my mind). The java moss is growing very slowly. Overall, the Crypt is the plant doing the best. And I am convinced the HC has good flavor: everything I have had tries to eat it with relentless picking. Small nano-foreground plant suggestions are welcome! I did have 12 Olive nerites but they died. I believe of starvation, since I do not see any visible algae. I am a bit bummed about that as I like them very much. They are great critters. I also lost 4 Amano shrimp when I first planted. I have not had too much success with shrimp in the past. I am trying to upload a few pics, hope the upload. Wow, I did not know how difficult it is to photograph a lit aquarium!

Tom Barr

Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
After awhile, you might consider Cherry shrimp, they would be well suited.
Look at different and better ways to add CO2.
Keep adding water to make sure the levels stays the same from the evaporation loss, this can change the CO2 and O2 in the tank dramatically over a week's time.

Tom Barr


Lifetime Charter Member
Lifetime Member
Jan 15, 2009
Photography can be surprisingly tough depending on the camera. What looks good to you is often blurry or has that one spec of algae obscuring everything. :)

The fact that all of your snails AND your shrimp died makes me wonder if you don't have something bad for inverts in your water. Do you know if maybe there's copper or something similar in there?



Junior Poster
Dec 23, 2009
South Carolina near Charlotte, NC
Early Success 2.0

@ Tom-thanks so much for looking this over, I do appreciate it and follow your posts with great interest. I have considered the Cherry before, certainly willing to try. I do like the inverts very much. Can you direct me toward some better CO2 options; perhaps DIY, or any other? Do you think a better reactor would also help? I have studied your Venturi design, and it makes a lot of sense. I would rather put it in a small sump though. I should be getting my pollen diffuser soon. Willing to experiment: it is the one variable I have difficulty trusting my readings. I should also be getting my drop checker too, as for now the charts and calculators will have to do. Interesting note on the evaporation loss too, as I do see a need to add maybe a cup a day (depending) with my dosing. I know it a challenge with only 7 gallons to achieve stability on any level: constant monitoring for large swings.
(update, my sister is going to give me her old CO2 regulator and tank to try. time for me to read and reread all the CO2 threads. Also motivating me to plan my wed/dry sump out of a 5 gallon bucket for the CO2 reactor and heating etc., but I am going to try the glass pollen diffuser first.)

@S-thanks as well... I am using well water. Never had it tested though. Probably a brilliant idea on many levels. I do know all our pipes are PVC, no copper I am aware of with the cold lines, BUT always worth a look. Thanks. I am now on a water quality mission, or maybe go with bottled or something of that nature. Please tell me you do not see algae in the pic!!! lol/ Yes, some photo experiments in the cards as well. The photos are not saying what I want them to say, but give you an idea anyway of the scape.
(update, going to try WC and evaporation with bottled water, it is only about 3 gallons a week: should I use distilled or just plain ol' generic spring water? I have the Nerites in quarantine, they are still alive, sluggish, but alive. I still think they are just starving though. What can I feed them with out the fish attacking it first? maybe the marine spirulia algae sheets I have seen?) Is starvation possible? The well water is measuring pH 6.0 and low kH at 2; aquarium is a 6.5/4 kH; regardless I want to have it thoroughly tested for my family. Something I never though of and you got me thinking...)
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