36g Tank Redesign

Discussion in 'Freshwater Aquarium Builds' started by sleow, Apr 19, 2018.

  1. sleow

    sleowValued MemberMember

    I recently upgraded from a small 5g betta tank to a beautiful 36g bow front tank. I bought the tank used, so I had to check it for leaks and to make sure all of the equipment that came with it still worked. Luckily for me, everything was in perfect working order! It also came with enough gravel to have a good 2-3 inch bed, which I thought was awesome since I planned on having a planted aquarium. I got it up and running, let the new filter medium hang out in my already cycled 5g for a while, added Prime and Stability, decorated, and planted the low light, easy maintenance plants I bought and thought I was totally happy with it! So much so that after letting it cycle for a few days, I transferred some of my guppies into the tank and put in a small school of ember tetras.


    A week or so passes, all levels are holding stead with small, daily water changes, so I added in four panda corys. They are just too cute and immediately stole my heart. But after watching them for a few days, I realized they were not totally happy with the gravel in the tank, as their sinking pellets would get lodged in between the gravel pieces. After a few days of watching them eat by digging through the gravel, I decided I needed to switch to sand. *face palm* So I started reading... and reading and reading. Thanks to everyone on Fishlore that's gone through the same thing in the past! The threads on here were super helpful in deciding which sand to go with and how to introduce it to the tank. I landed on pool filter sand and doing it all in one go. *gulp* It took about two hours total to remove some water, remove the gravel, wash the sand, put the sand in, redo the landscape, decor, and plants, and finally replace the water.

    But I AM SO HAPPY I DID IT! My corys settled in IMMEDIATELY. Before, they would swim along the bottom to feed and then "pace" from the top to the bottom of the aquarium, as though they couldn't get comfortable. Now they are scooting along the bottom, happy as can be. I am hoping to add some kuhli loaches to the tank soon now that I have the appropriate substrate! I've already added some more Stability and plant to do minimal feeds until I am sure all the water levels are holding steady.

    Not too much more to say, I was just so pleased I had to share :happy:


    A happy panda :)
    Last edited: May 26, 2018
  2. Goldfishfreak

    GoldfishfreakValued MemberMember

    I'm glad it worked out for you!!

    I know how hard it is to change substrate or add sand... Ive done it... It's very time consuming..

    The tank looks great and the pandas look great!! Have fun. I love upgrading aswell
  3. OP

    sleowValued MemberMember

    Bit of a tank update.

    I got more plants. A whole bunch more plants. :emoji_heart_eyes: All of them are low light and relatively easy. I've been adding Flourish twice a week and Excel and Iron three times a week. I may increase my Excel dosage to every other day, as I'm starting to see a bit of algae build up.


    I was also finally able to make this into the betta sorority that I wanted it to be from the start. I removed the three guppies that I used to kickstart the cycle and put them back into their old tank. I started the sorority with two young crowntail gals from the same spawn and one bigger plakat. They were already in the same tank at my LFS, so they didn't require an introduction to each other, just acclimation to the tank with a few territory disputes. I then decided to move my red veiltail, Sansa, that I already had in a 5g into the sorority. Sansa lived with fancy guppies before and got along well with them, but I was still a bit nervous when I introduced her to the others. I used a floating breeder/isolation tank with clear walls so they were able to see each other and get their flares in without the possibility of fights. Once everyone calmed down, I released Sansa and she quickly established herself as the queen.

    It was just the four of them for a while until I was able to find some other female bettas that I liked the coloring of. My LFS went about a month with only sickly looking females, so I waited patiently. Finally last week they got a good order of females in and I found three that I liked and was able to complete my sorority!

    The timing worked out nicely because I wanted to rescape the aquarium a bit, so I used a spare bucket and put my original four in the bucket while I rescaped and acclimated the new three. One of them was clearly very submissive, so I released her before all of the others so she could get comfortable and find a hiding spot for when the others joined her. The other two I put in the floating isolation tank with a clear barrier between them so I could observe how they reacted to each other. They were both pretty feisty, so I kept them in the isolation tank while I added my original four back into the tank. I went in reverse pecking order, since I knew their personalities, and put them back into the tank starting with the lowest on the totem pole. There was lots of flaring, from both new and old bettas! It was fun to watch. They've all been together for about 1 week now and I find myself watching them instead of whatever is on the TV right next to my tank! They all come up to the glass whenever I walk by, hoping I'll drop in some tasty snacks for them :emoji_smile:


    I also added kuhli loaches to the tank! My LFS only had four when I went into buy them and they haven't had any more in since. So for the first couple of weeks, it was an absolute treat to catch a glimpse of them, as they were hiding under the decor and sand. But about 5 days ago a local fish fanatic offered me 8 of his kuhlis because he was tearing down his community tank! So now the whole gang of kuhlis are very happy and I can usually see one or two hiding in the plants at any point in the day. They are also so fun to watch swim around and have gotten along great with my betta gals!


    In sadder news, I lost one of my panda corys for no apparent reason. So now I only have three, which is not ideal. I have been searching for them but my LFS has been completely out of them for weeks :emoji_disappointed: I'm hoping some will come in soon, as I'd like to have at least 6 total.

    Currently my total tank stock is:
    7 female bettas
    7 ember tetras
    12 kuhli loaches
    3 panda corys

    If you made it this far, thanks for reading! :emoji_slight_smile:
  4. Neutral-Waterinos

    Neutral-WaterinosValued MemberMember

    Yes natural plants are the best type of plants! And I would like to add what a cute Cory that is lol
  5. OP

    sleowValued MemberMember

    So I may have made a stupid decision and picked up 5 more ember tetras because I felt the top of my tank was missing some action. The ones at my LFS were just little babies so I was really worried that my bettas would beat up on them, but once I released them, my older ember school did a great job of taking them into the school. I was watching them closely to make sure they settled in okay and started laughing because it was almost as if the older embers were giving the new guys a tour of the tank. :emoji_smile:

    The little guys colored up nicely after settling in. I did lose one after 3 days in the tank. :emoji_slight_frown: I have no idea what happened to it, as I never found the body, but one day I had 12 and the next I only had 11.

    I was also able to complete my school of pandas! I got three from Aquatic Arts and was able to pick them up since they're based locally, so my fishes didn't need to suffer any shipping time. They are so itty bitty compared to my other three!
    The little cory kittens have been super active. They forage more than my older ones, constantly swimming along the plants and decor looking for extra food. My older cats are lazy, waiting at the bottom until I toss their shrimp pellets in. The marimo balls are also a new addition, also from Aquatic Arts.

    Only other update is I lost my big blue-green betta, Indy, last night. :emoji_weary: She hadn't been as active lately and looked totally normal until yesterday. She bloated out of now where and passed quickly. SIP betta girl.

    Current total tank stock:
    6 female bettas
    11 ember tetras
    12 kuhli loaches
    6 panda corys
    Last edited: May 26, 2018
  6. Hunter1

    Hunter1Well Known MemberMember

    I have the same tank with large, smooth gravel and my pepper corys do great in it. Huge now after 8 months.

    Did you consider just covering the gravel with sand?

    But with that said, I have 5 tanks with sand and agree corys like it.

    I’m ignorant of ember tetras but it seem you are fully stocked.

    Your sword looks great!
  7. OP

    sleowValued MemberMember

    I did consider it but I had so much gravel in there (around three inches) that I would need to remove some anyway to fit the sand at the bottom, so I just went ahead and took it all out while I was at it. I didn't want 4-5 inches of substrate to deal with cleaning!

    I really do love the corys. My largest panda is still only about 1.5 inches and my others are even smaller. It'll be fun watching them grow up!

    I agree, I am well and fully stocked now! I'm sure my LFS will be relieved that I'm not in there every day they get a new shipment, scouting out new fish. Now I can just sit back and enjoy!
  8. OP

    sleowValued MemberMember

    My favorite nightly routine is watching my fish eat their dinner. I only feed them once a day, pretty late at night, since most of my fish are nocturnal bottom feeders. The bettas don't really care when they get fed and will eat any time there's food in the tank. Once my tank light goes off (it's on a timer), it's time for dinner! I usually leave a light on in the room so I'm still able to see them while the tank is dark.
  9. OP

    sleowValued MemberMember

    Some pictures from tonight's feeding! I did it a bit earlier than usual because I added another betta into the tank tonight and the food helped distract the others from her entrance. :emoji_upside_down:

    I've found that my bettas are the most consistent photo bombers. It is hard to get a picture without one in it.

    Baby kuhli Polly is the smartest and hid in the moss balls to enjoy her shrimp pellet :happy: When I first got her she was about the size of a toothpick. I didn't see her for a good 2-3 weeks and was worried she died, but now she's one of the boldest in the tank!

    Super special picture because my big boy Keith is in it (front left)! He is my shiest kuhli. If I move even a little bit while he is out eating, he zooms back to his cave. But he has the prettiest coloring, his stripes are much brighter than the others.

    Two Keith pictures!! This is an awesome size comparison between Keith, one of my biggest kuhlis, and Polly, the baby. So tiny!! :emoji_heart_eyes:

    My perpetually eggy crowntail, Opal. She gets fasted regularly because otherwise she fills up with eggs!

    Opal's sister, Arya. They came from the same spawn and were the first two in this sorority!

    Queen bee Gwendolyn.

    And the picture that started the whole photo shoot in the first place...
    I couldn't stop laughing when I noticed two of my kuhlis popping their heads out to say hey. :emoji_joy:
  10. OP

    sleowValued MemberMember

    More pictures of the tank because I received some new plants from @Dave125g today! I am absolutely loving the corkscrew vals. So is my baby panda :happy:

    My ember school is having lots of fun playing in the Italian val. I hope these vals will take over the right side of my tank!

    I added these plants during a water change today and also realized how much my hornwort has grown. I watched four of my bettas swim out of the floating hornwort bunch today when I came up to the tank.
    It's hard to tell how dense it is until you look from the side...
    I guess I'll have to start trimming the hornwort!
  11. Dave125g

    Dave125gFishlore LegendMember

    Looking good. Givevit a couple of months and those vals will take over and look like this. 0411181242-1.jpg
  12. Hunter1

    Hunter1Well Known MemberMember

    What do you do to keep your hornwort green and growing throughout? Type of ferts and light?

    I have bunches of hornwort that size in several tanks. Usually the bottom, away from the light turns brown and melts while the tops are brilliant green, bushy and green.

    I move my hornwort weekly, turning it over to mix up the light, and also from one side of the tank to the other weekly so the plants on the bottom get one week of direct light, then one week of light filtered through the hornwort.

    Just want to know your secret.

    Your tank looks great.
  13. OP

    sleowValued MemberMember

    I dose with flourish twice a week and with excel and seachem iron three times a week. I use the excel sparingly because I’ve heard it can cause some plants, like vals, to melt. Mine have been doing fine though.

    The hornwort does move a lot because I usually do two 5g water changes a week, instead of one big 10g one. I also usually have them right under my filter output to help soften the flow, so they move almost constantly. I used to have some bunches weighed down and those ones were unbearable with how many needles they dropped and the stems turned brown. Once I let them all float they’ve done WAY better. And my bettas love them so it’s a win win win situation!
  14. Hunter1

    Hunter1Well Known MemberMember

    I let mine float too and still have the brown and leaves falling off.

    My dosing was almost the same once I got Val, light Excel and Flourish but no iron. I will have to try that.

    I now use Thrive in a few tanks which has iron and those tanks have some brown on the hornwort.

    I’ll keep messing with it.
  15. OP

    sleowValued MemberMember

    It's been a rough couple weeks for the tank.

    A couple days before I left for a week long vacation, two of my bettas took turns for the worse and ended up passing. They exhibited totally different symptoms though. One was lethargic and didn't move or eat for the day leading up to her death. The other was perfectly fine until right as I was doing my nightly feeding she started spasming, doing flips through the water, and almost looked like she was having seizures. I pulled them both from the tank and put them into quarantine but both passed overnight. :(

    Since that put my sorority down to 4, I moved my wild type betta from her 2.5g into the sorority and was pleasantly surprised when she joined into the group with minimal flaring or chasing. Her name is Cruella because she was an absolute brat to her previous tank mates. Also her spots. :emoji_laughing: She is not the most photogenic fish, but in the right light she has streaks of blue in her fins. The blue changes from dark blue to teal, depending on the light and (in my opinion) her mood. :emoji_smile:

    I set up an automatic feeder for the 10 days I was gone and it fed the fish every night, but when I got home, three of my bottom feeders had died. It looked as though they didn't get enough food because they were super skinny when I removed them from the tank. They couldn't have been dead for too long because my water parameters weren't messed up and my other fish are doing fine. I think the issue was that the feeder dropped all of the food in the same spot, whereas I usually spread it throughout the tank for everyone to find. The feeder probably made it too easy for my bettas to swoop in and steal the sinking pellets. :emoji_face_palm: I also came home to find one of my bettas, Pinky, beat up on. Poor girl. She is the smallest in the group and she's currently the lowest in the pecking order, so I'm not surprised she got nipped, especially of the others were hangry. She is enjoying some alone time in an isolation net with a bunch of hornwort until I can tell she's healing well.

    In happier news, I found two new lovely, young ladies at my LFS today to help restock my sorority. I'm super excited about Celeste, who is white and light blue. I have been looking for a betta with a white body and finally found one! I'm thinking she will completely change color on me within a couple weeks, so I'm loving her coloration while I can.
    The other one is Magnolia. She is still showing her stress lines, so I'm looking forward to seeing her true color in a few days.
    The two are getting along well and have been doing a great job of not messing with the queen bee, Gwendolyn. :emoji_sweat_smile:

    Some extra pictures of the tank from tonight. First up, Arya and Gwen.
    Resident food hog and perpetually eggy Opal. She probably went and devoured that pellet right after this picture...
    My original pandas are really growing up! I have two that are about 2 inches now and the other two are still about an inch.
    Obviously had to end with kuhli cuddles. :emoji_heart_eyes:
  16. OP

    sleowValued MemberMember

    Fish pics!

    Pandas first today. After losing a couple of my baby pandas while I was on vacation, I was able to find four super healthy, good sized pandas at my LFS this week! They are all doing great and my original pandas seem much much happier now that their school is a decent size again.

    Bettas next. No surprise that Opal is once again bloated and eggy. The chubby gal eats everything she can get her fins on. Magnolia colored up beautifully after I got her a couple weeks ago! She changes between hot pink and purple iridescent.
    Cruella posed for a couple better pics last night. She has started to develop a growth on her nose. It almost looks like a pimple. I'm not quite sure what to do about it, but I don't want to do any mediation if I can help it. So I am keeping an eye on the growth and keeping the water clean.
    Celeste is also coloring up nicely. She got into a bit of a scuffle last week and her analfin was ripped, but it has healed nicely with some nice clear fin growth in the middle.
    Pinky, who had her caudal fin nipped while I was on vacation, is also healing nicely. You can't really see the new growth in this pic, but it almost looks like a normal fin now!
    Queen Gwen is doing as well as always. No one messes with her. :hilarious:
    Finally the kuhlis. They have been particularly shy recently. Spotted this one poking up through the sand last night. :happy:

    Short video from feeding time!
  17. Goldfishfreak

    GoldfishfreakValued MemberMember

    I'm so glad it's going well now!
    The tank looks great and so do your bettas. I'm not sure what that growth is but I'm sure someone can help with that

    Best if luck in the future!
  18. OP

    sleowValued MemberMember

    The fish and I had to make a big move last week. We had a 9 hour drive to a new state and they had to be in a temporary holding container for a total of about 48 hours. I was able to save my BB by putting all of my filter media in a ziplock bag with old tank water. Thank goodness for YouTube for the idea! My boyfriend was very worried about them, but I assured him they're tough little guys.
    I was expecting a few losses and was pleasantly surprised with how well they handled the trip. The embers and bettas were practically colorless when we got to the new house, but they colored back up quickly once I got them into the tank. No losses with the embers, bettas, or kuhlis!

    I lost one panda en route and another one after I got them back in the tank in the new house. :( These pandas are going to be the death of me... So now their shoal is back down to 5 and I need to start looking to bring them up to a happy 7-8. I'm giving the tank a few weeks to settle in again though before adding anything new.

    I ended up leaving the plants in the substrate in the tank for the move and leaving a bit of water in there for them. They took a toll because of the heat wave during the move, but they generally seem to be bouncing back. I was also able to add some cholla driftwood in the tank and the kuhlis are loving having a new hiding place.
    Still have some work to do to get the scape the way I want, but getting the fish back in the tank was my top priority!
  19. Goldfishfreak

    GoldfishfreakValued MemberMember

    I love how concerned your boyfriend looks in that picture! He's full flat on the floor staring at them!
  20. OP

    sleowValued MemberMember

    He absolutely loves the kuhlis and was so worried since they didn't have all of their hiding spots for the trip. :rolleyes: