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Setting up new 20g and would love any advice

jeremy25

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Hello!

I currently have a 5g (20L) with a male betta. I've just bought a 20g (60x30x40cm) and I intend to make a low tech planted tank, but I have some questions about the stocking and cycling, would really appreciate some advice!

First of all, this is what I have for the 20g:
- Filter: Hang-on 600L/H from a national brand (Maxxi HF800)
- Light: 15w LED strip light
- Substrate: basalt gravel 1-2mm
- As for the heater I don't really need one right now as I live in a tropical country and it is summer. But when winter arrives I will get a 100w one.
P.S. my water parameters are pH 7.5 and temperature 25-26°C, KH and GH I don't know yet but will be getting a test kit when I can

The plants I'm planning on buying all the low tech ones I can find in my town, I'm thinking of starting with as many different species as I can and see wich ones thrive (saw this tip in a youtube video).

Now for the questions:

1. Is it easier to cycle without the plants? I read some articles about it and it seem kinda tricky to cycle with all the plants. I will add some cycled media from my betta tank and some bio starter I have here, but I still want to cycle for a month or two to get it really mature and stabilished. I just don't know what's the most fool-proof method, what would you guys do?

2. For the stocking: initially my plan was to add some otocinclus (like 6 or 7) when there's algae, wait a few weeks, add my betta and then watch closely for any signs of stress from any of them. But I've been reading some threads here and saw a lot of people advising strongly against putting betta with other fish so I'm not sure anymore, I really don't want to stress any fish. Is it better to keep just the betta? And if so, what can I do to control the algae? Snails and shrimp are not really an option, I've had snails before and couldn't deal with the eggs. The only shrimp I can find easily where I live are neocaridina and I think the betta would eat them.

3. For the low tech plants, what is the best fertilizer? All-in-one or NPK?

I believe this is it for now!
 
I cycle with plants, but I’m a cheater. I get a new tank set up and cycled as fast as I can. I stuff the new filter with as much dirty used floss from an existing mature aquarium’s filter. I add gravel from an established aquarium. I move plants over from an established aquarium, sometimes adding newly purchased plants too. If for shrimp, I also sprinkle Bacter AE on the gravel before filling the tank to put some biofilm in the tank from the start. I use beneficial bacteria and add a few ml of Ammonia. I keep testing and I usually have added my new tank’s inhabitants after a week. I used this method when adding 9 caridina mariae to a 3 gal aquarium and 2 months later, no deaths and 2 berried females. For low tech plants I would go with a general all-in-one liquid fertilizer like Easy Green from Aquarium Co-Op. Some people like Flourish.
 
I cycle with plants, but I’m a cheater. I get a new tank set up and cycled as fast as I can. I stuff the new filter with as much dirty used floss from an existing mature aquarium’s filter. I add gravel from an established aquarium. I move plants over from an established aquarium, sometimes adding newly purchased plants too. If for shrimp, I also sprinkle Bacter AE on the gravel before filling the tank to put some biofilm in the tank from the start. I use beneficial bacteria and add a few ml of Ammonia. I keep testing and I usually have added my new tank’s inhabitants after a week. I used this method when adding 9 caridina mariae to a 3 gal aquarium and 2 months later, no deaths and 2 berried females. For low tech plants I would go with a general all-in-one liquid fertilizer like Easy Green from Aquarium Co-Op. Some people like Flourish.
I can only use seachem stability and a few filter media from my mature tank (the 5g HOB is quite small and already doesn't hold a lot of media so I don't want to take too much). I'm worried that won't be enough to get a good bacteria colony stabilished and I know the plants suck up the ammonia, so in this case would putting the plants from the start interfere with the cycling? Or do you think the plants would help the process? I'm not in any rush and wouldn't mind waiting a couple months for the cycling, just wanna make sure I do this the easiest way I can! Also thanks for the fertilizer tip, will be buying the Flourish, the co-op one isn't available in my country :confused:
 
I honestly can not say from experience about the difference in cycling with or without plants. My first aquarium was over 30 years ago and since then I’ve always taken some from my existing aquarium to set up my new aquarium. Used filter floss, used substrate, plants from established tanks, etc. I’ve never done it the slow and patient way. I guess that says something about me. :rolleyes: That is what works for me.
 

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