New Starter - Reasonable Low Maintenance Setup Advice


Mostly New Member
Feb 5, 2014
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I want to try to achieve an low maintenance tropical aquarium carefully selecting what goes into the Fluval 46l tank based on members knowledge and experience (i have a young family and tend to work away during the week, but the wife can help out on the feeding). Below are my queries and thoughts so far before I start the fishless cycling process. 

Cycling Process
1. Can I add anything else to the filter to assist the cycling process?

Unipac Black Micro Aquarium Gravel (assuming in the edge its easier to clean than sand?). 

Do I need to have any Plant Substrate base?

Plants & Decor
java fern/Hornwort/Anacharis for low plants and for the offset middle tall plants something like Cyperus helferi and/or Vallisneria. Microsorum plant or something similar for the driftwood. OR should I mix in some artificial plants i.e. silk plants to make it easier for maintenance?

Driftwood and some pebbles. 

Recommendation on fish suitable for tank with low bio impact.

Algae/floor Cleaners
Nerites & Cherry shrimps (how many?)

Anything else I need to purchase????before I start the cycling process

Thanks very much in advance..



Fish Botherer
Dec 8, 2012
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The best thing you can add to the filter is a piece of mature media (sponge or ceramic rings) from someone else's tank. This would seed some bacteria. Failing that there are products you can buy which contain live bacteria - the best of these is Dr Tim's Live Nitrifying Bacteria. Tetra Safestart is more dubious and I wouldn't give tuppence for any other product on the market.

The only things you really need for a fishless cycle is a source of ammonia and a testing kit. Have you read the starter article

Sand is normally just as easy to clean as gravel but I've never owned an Edge. If the only problem is restricted access then there shouldn't be much difference between gravel or sand. The only difference is that you pump a gravel cleaner down into the gravel and wave it in circles above sand to create a vortex.

You could put some Tropica planting substrate under your sand/gravel to boost your plants if you like but it's not necessary.

Plants - hornwart and anacharis are both tall stems, not low plants. Consider a Cryptocoryne or Anubias nana tied to a pebble for low plants.
Java fern is the same thing as microsorum. In a tank your size you might consider getting one of the smaller varieties (e.g. microsorum mini). As you've already noted it needs to be tied to a piece of wood or rock.
Cyperus helferi is a bit more demanding and I don't recommend it as a starting plant.

You can use some artificial plants if you like but personally I find they're an algae trap and harder to clean. I prefer real plants but that's up to your personal choice.

edit: cos I missed the 'fishless cycle' part
Apr 24, 2012
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Hornwort often sheds, so for that reason I don't think of it as low maintenance as you end up trying to catch the little bits that are floating around.