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Marineland portrait or top fin fascinate

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Hi everyone! I'm getting back into the aquarium life anfter being out for almost 10 years while going back to school and starting a new career. I kept saltwater tanks for about 15 years and will eventually get back inot that but for now, I'm just looking to setup a small tank. I'm trying to keep it small because I will be moving into a new house by the end of the year (hopefully). I like the small footprint of the two tanks I mentioned. The portrait is 5 gallons while the fascinate is 10 for roughly the same price. I'm just wondering if the included lights on the fascinate would be enough for some low light plants? It is the one i'm leaning toward at the moment. I was thinking about some anubias and amazon swords or whatever else someone might suggest. I would like to get a few shrimp and a snail or two and a fish. I'm really open to anything that might be suggested. I have not done a fresh water tank in forever and even then I never had a planted tank. Any advice/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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If you can manage it, I do believe a 20L tank is a good starting spot and what I would consider a small aquarium.  It's not nano by any means, but it's small enough to have versatility with placement.  It's also big enough to give you enough room to work day to day and plants don't have vertical height issues.

The main thing, regardless of tank, is to get things setup and to get your substrate set, plants going, hardscape, etc.  Some of that can change based on what you're keeping, but for the most part it may not.  You may end up adding something like a piece of wood for cover.  I would recommend getting some method of testing your water and going from there.  This might indicate a need for crushed coral, buffering in some other way, or may lean towards species that make sense (inverts and fish).

Tetra test strips, the ACO test strips, or API liquid tests would be a good place to start.  You can also take water from your tap down to a fish shop and they can test it for you.

To start, here is the basis of what I was talking about above.

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Thanks for that link. I was planning on picking up the API master test kit already, so I'll the GH and KH kit to the order. As for substrate, I was planning on Fluval Stratum. It claims to be good for plants and shrimp. Would that suffice or is there something out there that would be more beneficial to the tank? 

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On 4/22/2023 at 10:58 PM, txguy1013 said:

Would that suffice or is there something out there that would be more beneficial to the tank? 

Just depends on what you plan to keep. Neos you might want an inert substrate. It's all depending on what that tap test comes back as. (Unless you're planning to go RO).

There is a million ways to do it, but it's sort of hard to say "do this" without knowing specifically where the finish line is. Your goal is an easy tank with plants, stratum should do just fine and you can keep a variety of species that will fit that range of PH.  The soil will buffer down and absorb certain ions, resulting in a lower PH and hardness at first.

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