20 Gallon Planted Tank Build

Discussion in 'Freshwater Aquarium Builds' started by !poogs!, May 19, 2019.

  1. !poogs!

    !poogs!Valued MemberMember

    This will be the smallest display tank I have ever built. I’ve had this tank sitting around in storage in my basement for the last 6 months and decided it’s time for a new project. The cat was using it as a sleeping spot. My wife, not so impressed. Lol. Oh well. She complains, but when they are set up she spends time looking at them. How can she not, there is a display tank on every wall of the man cave.

    The plan for this tank is to use it as breeding tank and at times a grow out tank for fish I buy for other community tanks which are too small when I buy them from the local fish store to be introduced into any of the tanks I have.

    I have breeding pairs of angelfish, kribensis, firemouths, convicts, BN pleco, plus guppies, and platys that have breed in my various large planted community tanks, but there is just too much action and competition in these tanks for successful breeding. There isn’t any aggression in these tanks due to the size, but the fish end up eating their own eggs every time from the stress. Except for the BN plecos. I am overrun by plecos, they always have a couple survive the breeding that don’t become an opportunistic meal to other fish. I also need a tank to grow out neons large enough they don’t become a meal in a 125gallon.

    The tank came from a coworker whose child thought they wanted to be in the hobby. All of the equipment that came with the tank was a throw out due to quality. The heater, pink gravel, no-name HOB, lid and lights were all junk. The tank was dirty and had not been cleaned ever. Some elbow grease and it looks like it is new from the store.

    So back to the build:

    Used 20 gallon tall, 24x12 tank from unknown manufacturer that doesn’t leak.

    Marineland black wood stand. Same colour and style as all other tanks in the room.

    2 -15lbs bags of Flourite black sand. I have never used this product before. When I do sand tanks I like to use NAT GEO, but they don’t make it anymore. This Flourite sand is some dirty stuff. Probably among the worst I have seen. It’s not as bad as Caribsea, which I will never use ever again, but Flourite is some dirty stuff.

    Arriving this week:

    Aqueon glass lid, Eheim 75 watt heater, Fluval 206 canister filter, USA current led plus 24 inch full spectrum LED light bar.

    Plant Ideas:

    2 mid-background green ozelot swords.

    1 mid-ground anubias barteri caladiifolia

    4 foreground cyrptocorne wendtii brown.

    Pictures to follow. Fore some reason not letting me add photos at moment.
  2. OP

    !poogs!Valued MemberMember


    Tank just gathering dust.


    Flourite black sand....dirty dirty stuff.

    Took about 35 gallons of water per bag to get it clean. 2 bags and 70 gallons of water on the lawn.


    Tank on stand, gravelled, waiting for equipment to arrive this week.


    Will update post this week.
  3. Bama

    BamaValued MemberMember

    Looking forward to watching your progress. The cat in the tank made me laugh! :)
  4. OP

    !poogs!Valued MemberMember

    Tank was filled up with tap water when the sand was added on May 19. Nothing was added to it. The tap water in these parts is very hard and alkaline, very high in mineral contents. The ph also runs a bit on the high side.

    After sitting for a few days off gassing and acclimating, yesterday (May 21), I added a fluval 206. I tossed aside the activated carbon. I don’t use carbon in any of my tanks. The polishing pad has been dropped in the bottom tray with and above the course filter, and the other two trays have been filled to the top with Biomax. I started the first of a 7 day treatment of Seachem Stability and a single dose of prime. The water is sitting at about 70 F. Tomorrow I will start to warm the water to approximately 79F.

    Backdrop has also been added. My preference to a painted blue or black.

    I will start the process without fish or adding fish food for a few day to allow the bacteria to build up in the aquarium. I will then add fish with a small ammonia footprint to start the nitrogen cycle and let the bacteria run its course.



  5. Epicoz

    EpicozWell Known MemberMember

    Wow so amazing are those real plants might be dumb question
  6. OP

    !poogs!Valued MemberMember

    That’s just a picture, a back drop. Plants and rocks will be a couple weeks out yet.
  7. Epicoz

    EpicozWell Known MemberMember

    I’m blind it’s a very good backdrop very 3d
  8. OP

    !poogs!Valued MemberMember

    Dropped a heater in the tank yesterday on May 23. Tank is up to 79F. Dropped in 5 neon tetras to start the cycle in the tank.



    Glass lid and lighting will be here on a Monday.

    Plants ordered today.

    2 ozelot swords


    3 anubias


    9 cyrptocornes, I can use extras in other tanks.


    Plants should be here next week.

    I ordered a small piece of mopani wood. I have some windelov fern growing in one of my tanks I am thinking of propagating and attaching to the mopani if I have room, because I still may need room for a breeding cone. Here is an example from the other tank.

  9. AmStatic

    AmStaticValued MemberMember

    Nice canister filter.. big fan of them.. I have 2 of those 206s on my 55. I recommend you keep em in a Tupperware container.. I've had them drip-leak a few times when I've had to open them.

    Can't wait to see your progress!

    PS-- If the cat's name isn't Cory, you may want to consider it! #CoryCat
  10. OP

    !poogs!Valued MemberMember

    Okay I’m back,

    Light bar arrived on Monday.

    Plants arrived this Wednesday.

    Mopani arrived today, and windelov fern successfully attached from one of my other tanks.

    Slice of red rock as a breeding alternative.

    Aquarium had it’s first water change on Wednesday as well. The cycle appears to be complete.

    Plant dosing started today.

    My plan is to keep thing status quo for about two weeks and then move these neons to general population in one of my community tanks, and to move a mated pair of angles from one of my community tanks to this tank. I will post back in a few weeks when things start moving along again.

    I realize it’s a little much for a breeding tank, but I have to look at it, so it may as well be somewhat attractive.


  11. OP

    !poogs!Valued MemberMember

    So the update.

    After 2 weeks the tank is cycled. It was tank cleaning day here. The 5 neons did their job cycling the 20 gallon. They are large enough and they were moved to join the other 3 in the 120 gallon community.


    As luck would have it, one of my female angels from the 120 gallon dropped its ovipositor. She acquired a different male partner to want to spawn with this go around to my surprise. Inconvenient timing but I moved the pair to the 20 gallon breeder. It wouldn’t have been the male I would have taken based on previous spawns.


    Didn’t take long they spawned.


    Unfortunately I don’t think the male fertilized the eggs. He is the youngest male I have, and never spawned before. He will get it eventually. I’ll give him a few months and if he doesn’t I will swap him out with a the other male, who also never got the hang of it. ‍♂️

    Anyways, thanks for following along on my 20 gallon planted breeder project. Success!!!