20 Gallon Tank Craigslist Find: Is It Worth It?

St4rving_4rtist

Hey guys, I recently found someone selling a 20 gallon planted tank on craigslist (See attached Picture), which comes with, and I quote, "20G Aquarium with 1/10HP Chiller, 2x 300w Heaters, Fluval 206 Canister Filter and a Light." He says the tank has around 40 cherry shrimp, and its been one of my dreams to do a large planted shrimp aquarium - however, my previous shrimp excursions have ended sadly, and I haven't attempted it since. The seller is asking $200, and honestly I feel that's a pretty fair price. Would this be a worthwhile investment? I've never had a canister filter, so is the upkeep hard with one? Thanks for any advice!
 

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Jojo205

Following
How would you transport this? I’ve seen similar
listings on craigslist in my area
 
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St4rving_4rtist

Sorry for late reply, fell asleep
I'm messaging about how exactly I'd move it, but the way I've seen large tanks done is where you put all the fish plus the plants into a 5-gallon lidded bucket, then just transport the tank with the substrate and decorations still inside.
 
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St4rving_4rtist

Hey again, for the one person still watching this (shoutout to you Jojo205), I decided to go ahead and take the plunge! I messaged him and will be picking it up probably Sunday. Hopefully this tank is a dream come true and not an expensive nightmare. If your still watching, ill update with pics soon!
 
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Bettybrown922

Wow, congratulations on such a cool find!! Keep us updated, please.
 
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FishGirl115

Nice looking tank. I personally think it's pretty expensive, but it depends on area. Here I got one 10g with filter free from a friend, another 10g (full setup) for $15 from FB market, and a 29g with filter and heater for free from my grandparents. So, I've never spent that much money on used aquariums. I think I spent like $100 total on my 29 gallon yet (fish, plants, decorations, etc.)
 
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St4rving_4rtist

Yikes, I hope I'm not getting scammed. Ive done a little research and the Chiller looks to be pretty pricy and the filter is a $110 filter, so those alone kinda covered the cost. I don't really need the chiller though, so mabey I'll try to talk him down by. Thanks for the support!
 
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Andy S

Yikes, I hope I'm not getting scammed. Ive done a little research and the Chiller looks to be pretty pricy and the filter is a $110 filter, so those alone kinda covered the cost. I don't really need the chiller though, so mabey I'll try to talk him down by. Thanks for the support!
You may not need the chiller but you can almost guarantee that somebody out there does. If you don't need it just relist it on Craigslist to get some of your costs back.
 
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RayClem

There are some aspects about the system that I question.

1. Do you live in an area where a chiller is required? If you live in a hot climate and do not have air conditioning, it might be. I have never had a need to use one.

2. For a 20 gallon aquarium, the normally recommended heater size is between 50 watts and 150 watts depending upon the temperature rise between the room temperature during the coldest time of year and the desired tank temperature. The problem with using a 300 watt heater is that if the thermostat sticks closed, the temperature in the tank will increase so rapidly that you might kill everything in the tank before you realize it unless the chiller is set to keep the tank from getting too hot. Thus, I would be reluctant to leave those heaters in a tank that small. In case one of the heaters fails to turn on, having two in a tank is always a good idea unless they are both too big as they are in this case.

I guess if you were planning on installing the tank in a garage with no air conditioning and no heating, the chiller and heaters might be needed, but they are overkill for an aquarium inside most homes.

It looks like the light is an older type, either incandescent or fluorescent. Most folks go with LED these days to reduce operating costs and heat output.

The Fluval canister finisher is a nice touch, although they are more difficult to maintain than most HOB filter. If you are planning to put the aquarium in the living area of your home where a water leak might cause significant damage, you might want to consider another type of filter. You might want to view some of the videos on cleaning and maintaining a canister filter before making your decision.
 
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St4rving_4rtist

Thank you so much RayClem! I do live in a very humid/hot climate, and as I was messaging him I found he's been keeping it on his outdoor patio, meaning that the chiller was probably for our summers (which reach around 100 degrees F) and the heaters were for the winter. I was unaware about the canister filter upkeep, as I never had one, and was previously planning to store it above a bookshelf, which I now realize will be a bad Idea. Im certain I won't need either of the chiller or the Heaters, so I may try to take both those out of the deal. Again, thanks so much for the useful information!
 
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RayClem

Thank you so much RayClem! I do live in a very humid/hot climate, and as I was messaging him I found he's been keeping it on his outdoor patio, meaning that the chiller was probably for our summers (which reach around 100 degrees F) and the heaters were for the winter. I was unaware about the canister filter upkeep, as I never had one, and was previously planning to store it above a bookshelf, which I now realize will be a bad Idea. Im certain I won't need either of the chiller or the Heaters, so I may try to take both those out of the deal. Again, thanks so much for the useful information!

That explains it. If he was keeping his tank outside where the temperature can fluctuate significantly, the large heaters and cooler would have be necessities. Inside, they are unnecessary.

I have been keeping fish for decades. In that time, I have had only one cannister filter. Every time I tried taking it apart, for maintenance I would spill water on the floor. Fortunately, mine was in the basement, where it was no big deal.

The expensive Fluval FX models are different than most canister filters and probably can be maintained without spillage, but most canisters are designed in a manner similar to the Fluval 206. It is difficult to disconnect the hoses and remove the top without at least some spillage. If the O-ring does not seal properly, you will lose quite a bit of water when the unit is restarted. I know from experience. The original owner was using the canister filter outside where spillage would not be an issue. In a living space, I would far prefer to use a HOB filter with a 20 gallon tank.

Even if you plan to ditch the cooler and get a new heater, filter and lighting, the system might still be worth the asking price. The 40 shrimp, plants, substrate, and tank would cost you nearly $200 if purchased new. If the current owner is willing to negotiate, you might still be able to make a good deal.
 
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St4rving_4rtist

Thanks again, since i'm going to be doing all the transporting and I won't need the chiller or heaters, Im hoping to get him down to around 100 or at least 150. Kinda off topic - If I was to get an HOB filter for it, does anyone have a recommendation for one that would fit a 20 gallon and be shrimp-safe?
 
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RayClem

Thanks again, since i'm going to be doing all the transporting and I won't need the chiller or heaters, Im hoping to get him down to around 100 or at least 150. Kinda off topic - If I was to get an HOB filter for it, does anyone have a recommendation for one that would fit a 20 gallon and be shrimp-safe?

Before purchasing a HOB filter, I want to present you with another option that is ideal for a shrimp tank;it is the Matten Filter. This is a piece of thick filter foam that blocks off one end of your tank leaving enough space behind it to fit a small submersible pump. You then connect a hose from the pump discharge and run it back into the aquarium. You might need to put a diffuser on the end of the hose to keep the discharge flow from being too strong. Some people put their submersible heater in the space behind the foam, but other say the water flow is not sufficient to keep the entire tank at a uniform temperature and can spell disaster if the pump fails.

Before purchasing a HOB filter, I suggest that you search for YouTube videos related to "Matten filter." Although it is not easy to clean if it gets dirty, in a shrimp tank, the bioload is pretty low, so it might be quite a while before it needs cleaning. You might just decide that the Matten filter is ideal for your setup.

If you do decide to go with a HOB filter, the general consensus is that the Aquaclear filter, now sold by either Hagen or Fluval depending upon where you live, is one of the best HOB filters available. It is a vintage design that still stands the test of time, I had one that lasted me for over 20 years. I have used a lot of other HOB filters, but none have proven as reliable as the Aquaclear. It works and it works well.

There are a few newer designs, such as the Tidal filter made by Seachem/Sicce and the Fluval C that may be as good or even better than the Aquaclear. However, they have not been around long enough to know if they will be as reliable over the long haul. You might want to look at them as well.

Normally, I recommend purchasing HOB filters that are oversized for the tank. I recently purchased an Aquaclear 50 filter for a 20 gallon aquarium and I would normally use an Aquaclear 75 in a 29-40 gallon aquarium However, if for a shrimp tank, you do not need or want an oversized filter. A filter rated for a 20 gallon tank would be plenty big. However, you also do not want shrimp, especially fry to be sucked into the intake of the filter. To prevent this from happening, you can use a sponge prefilter or even nylon mesh like pantyhjose to fit snugly over the intake tube. You will have to remove the prefilter periodically and rinse it out in old aquarium water to removed trapped debris, but it will save your shrimp.

Whatever you decide, I wish you well!
 
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St4rving_4rtist

Another question for someone who knows more about fish compatibility than me - he says the tank comes with a red tail shark, but I thought those were aggressive and would eat the shrimp? should i move him to a different tank?
 
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RayClem

A red tail shark can live for about 8 years and reach a size of about six inches. Thus, it is better suited to a larger tank. It can be aggressive to members of its own species as well as smaller fish. A red tail shark is not a shark, but a member of the carp family. As such they are not fussy about their menu. I suspect it would eat most anything that will fit into its mouth, including small shrimp.
 
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St4rving_4rtist

Hello everybody! I'm here after a rollercoaster of a day to explain how the situation, TL;DR at the bottom.

So, for one - the pictures provided were EXTREMLY misleading - the the Craigslist picture must have been a VERY old picture of the tank - not only did he completely change the substrate to large, round river rocks (which was definently a downgrade) the tank itself was a mess. It looked like it had not seen any maintenance or been cleaned in months, and it turned from more of a tank transfer to a rescue mission. It was encrusted in algae, and had a few more problems I will talk about later. In the end, we ended up having to remove each rock carefully to make sure no shrimp were crushed and, then separated. At the moment, I have around 100 shrimp in a 5 gallon bucket with some java moss and an airstone, while the tank I completely scrubbed down (without soap). I ended up having to go to my LFS immediately afterwards for help, and they helped me get some shrimp-specialized and fertilized substrate, some ceramic filter medium, and some driftwood and Dragonstone (see the pictures attached). I have a bit of an aquascape going using the plants I could save that were not totally encrusted in thick algae.

Along with the tank came an EXTREME infestation of these clear, small worm-like things that were infesting the tank. I tried to keep them out, but they made their way into the shrimp bucket and even into the cleaned 20 gallon (through the filter or plants I guess). The guy at my LFS said that there were most likely harmless, and would disappear eventually as long as I didn't overload the tank with food.

The red-tailed shark is pretty big, almost 5-6in large. At the advice of the LFS dude, he is currently in my 10g Danio tank, and for the moment he seems to be fine. Im honestly not really sure what to do with him, but he is WAY to large for the 10g so he'll have to move eventually.

Anyway, the LFS advised that I cycle the tank for about a week to get some bacterial culture going, as I already have the Fluval 206 canister providing some established bacteria. I'm really getting worried about the shrimp - how long can they last in the 5-gallon bucket with just an airstone?

TL;DR: Tank was a mess, replaced substrate and cleaned tank, cycling it for around a week (?) while 100 shrimp vibe in 5-gallon bucket.
 

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smee82

Hello everybody! I'm here after a rollercoaster of a day to explain how the situation, TL;DR at the bottom.

So, for one - the pictures provided were EXTREMLY misleading - the the Craigslist picture must have been a VERY old picture of the tank - not only did he completely change the substrate to large, round river rocks (which was definently a downgrade) the tank itself was a mess. It looked like it had not seen any maintenance or been cleaned in months, and it turned from more of a tank transfer to a rescue mission. It was encrusted in algae, and had a few more problems I will talk about later. In the end, we ended up having to remove each rock carefully to make sure no shrimp were crushed and, then separated. At the moment, I have around 100 shrimp in a 5 gallon bucket with some java moss and an airstone, while the tank I completely scrubbed down (without soap). I ended up having to go to my LFS immediately afterwards for help, and they helped me get some shrimp-specialized and fertilized substrate, some ceramic filter medium, and some driftwood and Dragonstone (see the pictures attached). I have a bit of an aquascape going using the plants I could save that were not totally encrusted in thick algae.

Along with the tank came an EXTREME infestation of these clear, small worm-like things that were infesting the tank. I tried to keep them out, but they made their way into the shrimp bucket and even into the cleaned 20 gallon (through the filter or plants I guess). The guy at my LFS said that there were most likely harmless, and would disappear eventually as long as I didn't overload the tank with food.

The red-tailed shark is pretty big, almost 5-6in large. At the advice of the LFS dude, he is currently in my 10g Danio tank, and for the moment he seems to be fine. Im honestly not really sure what to do with him, but he is WAY to large for the 10g so he'll have to move eventually.

Anyway, the LFS advised that I cycle the tank for about a week to get some bacterial culture going, as I already have the Fluval 206 canister providing some established bacteria. I'm really getting worried about the shrimp - how long can they last in the 5-gallon bucket with just an airstone?

TL;DR: Tank was a mess, replaced substrate and cleaned tank, cycling it for around a week (?) while 100 shrimp vibe in 5-gallon bucket.
Buying 2nd hand is always like that, its never how they say it is. If the filter was running its already cycled and i wouldn't keep the shrimp in the buckets. How much did you end up paying for everything
 
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St4rving_4rtist

I couldn't talk him down, so I ended up paying the $200 plus supplies at the LFS ended up being $140, so around $340
 
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Fisch

That explains it. If he was keeping his tank outside where the temperature can fluctuate significantly, the large heaters and cooler would have be necessities. Inside, they are unnecessary.

I have been keeping fish for decades. In that time, I have had only one cannister filter. Every time I tried taking it apart, for maintenance I would spill water on the floor. Fortunately, mine was in the basement, where it was no big deal.

The expensive Fluval FX models are different than most canister filters and probably can be maintained without spillage, but most canisters are designed in a manner similar to the Fluval 206. It is difficult to disconnect the hoses and remove the top without at least some spillage. If the O-ring does not seal properly, you will lose quite a bit of water when the unit is restarted. I know from experience. The original owner was using the canister filter outside where spillage would not be an issue. In a living space, I would far prefer to use a HOB filter with a 20 gallon tank.

Even if you plan to ditch the cooler and get a new heater, filter and lighting, the system might still be worth the asking price. The 40 shrimp, plants, substrate, and tank would cost you nearly $200 if purchased new. If the current owner is willing to negotiate, you might still be able to make a good deal.
I have to disagree on the Fluval canister maintenance. There is no spillage when disconnecting the hoses, the cover is easy to open, the filter itself is easy to clean with the basket system. I just would make sure to have the seller running it when you are there to ensure the impeller and motor is okay. Have no fear!!!
 
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RayClem

I guess I am not surprised by the condition of the tank. If the tank is located outside where temperatures vary from hot to cold throughout the year, it is not going to get the same attention as a tank located in your family room. Out of sight, out of mind kind of thing.

Anyone thinking of selling a tank normally does so because they are either unable or unwilling to take care of it any more. It looks like that was the case.,

The nice thing is that you have to ton of shrimp. If they survive, you might be able to sell some to recover some of your investment.
 
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St4rving_4rtist

Im hoping! My LFD buys cherrys for 2.50 each (store credit), which If they breed like Im hoping they will, might allow me to upgrade their tank and my other tanks further! I put a few into the tank just to test the waters and see how they do, but the majority are still in the 5g. Im kinda getting worried, though, as the water gets dirty in the bucket fairly quickly. The ones I put in the tank seem to be doing well, so after I test my water I might split the colony half-and-half between the tank and bucket
 
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RayClem

Im hoping! My LFD buys cherrys for 2.50 each (store credit), which If they breed like Im hoping they will, might allow me to upgrade their tank and my other tanks further! I put a few into the tank just to test the waters and see how they do, but the majority are still in the 5g. Im kinda getting worried, though, as the water gets dirty in the bucket fairly quickly. The ones I put in the tank seem to be doing well, so after I test my water I might split the colony half-and-half between the tank and bucket

Just keep an eye on the water parameters. Shrimp do not pose a huge bioload, so hopefully you won't get an ammonia spike. Be sure you have Seachem Prime or something like that on hand in case you need detoxify the ammonia. Make sure you do water changes often enough to keep the water from getting too dirty.
 
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Sanderguy777

Did you end up taking all of the equipment?
Maybe you could sell the chiller and heaters if you don't need them or plan on adding a larger tank to your repertoire.

As for the 20g, I would get a light and a timer (the timer is about $16 at home depot and is digital so it has all kinds of cool settings you can play with if you want to).
That will help the lighting be short enough maybe the algae will die off.

As for those worm things, I'd go back to your LFS and ask if there is some sort of shrimp safe fish that will eat those things. Maybe a loach...

As for the shrimp in the bucket, I'd put them back in the tank. Unless you cleaned out the canister filter with bleach or tap water (maybe) the bacteria in it is just fine. Having it run without anything in the tank, or only 10% of the bioload it will eventually have, will allow the bacteria colony to shrink and then it won't handle the bioload you plan to put into it. Remember, the filter may be recycling, but that 5g bucket was never cycled to begin with...
 
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johnbolden

heeters are probably 50 apece and 40 shrimp is about like 120 and the tank like 50 but the canister filter is 100 so if you trust him go for it. and pick it up and before you confirm the sale check that every thing works adn all is there.
 
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St4rving_4rtist

Im getting my water tested this afternoon at the fish store (I don't have a testing kit) and if the water is safe, I'll probably put half of them in and keep half in the bucket for the moment. the algae problem is gone, i only added the plants I could salvage that wern't coated, and I was able to scrub the tank clean. I did not even bother washing the filter to preserve the colonies, all I did was take out one of the two trays of filter/sponge medium and replace it with ceramic medium. I have some Imagitarium Ammonia Remover, will this work in case of ammonia spike? Thanks!
 
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RayClem

Im getting my water tested this afternoon at the fish store (I don't have a testing kit) and if the water is safe, I'll probably put half of them in and keep half in the bucket for the moment. the algae problem is gone, i only added the plants I could salvage that wern't coated, and I was able to scrub the tank clean. I did not even bother washing the filter to preserve the colonies, all I did was take out one of the two trays of filter/sponge medium and replace it with ceramic medium. I have some Imagitarium Ammonia Remover, will this work in case of ammonia spike? Thanks!

The algae growth in the tank may be the reason there were so many shrimp. The shrimp feast on algae and bio film that grows on the substrate, glass, plants, etc. Obviously, you do not want it to grow so thick you cannot see inside the tank, but you do not want to get rid of all of it or your shrimp may starve.
 
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St4rving_4rtist

I did realize that when cleaning it out, so I tried to leave a thin layer on the back, but in retrospect there probably is not enough. I am supplementing them with Algae wafers at the moment, and some of the plants still have fairly high algae growth on them, and I am seeing some new algae growth on the glass. After testing the water, everything was fin except for pH, which was at around 6.0. I bought some pH increaser and am now re-testing the pH. If I can raise it, I will likely move more shrimp.
 
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Sanderguy777

I did realize that when cleaning it out, so I tried to leave a thin layer on the back, but in retrospect there probably is not enough. I am supplementing them with Algae wafers at the moment, and some of the plants still have fairly high algae growth on them, and I am seeing some new algae growth on the glass. After testing the water, everything was fin except for pH, which was at around 6.0. I bought some pH increaser and am now re-testing the pH. If I can raise it, I will likely move more shrimp.
Leave the ph alone IF you have the same ph as the seller. Otherwise you might shock the shrimp. If you need to raise the ph, then use the raiser once and then get a bit of crushed coral in the canister filter to slowly raise it over time
 
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St4rving_4rtist

Just checked the water I have left over from their old tank, and their pH before was also super low, so I guess i don't need to worry too much.
 
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Sanderguy777

Just checked the water I have left over from their old tank, and their pH before was also super low, so I guess i don't need to worry too much.
What kind of shrimp are they?
 
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AcornTheBetta

IMO the tank is definitely worth it.
 
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St4rving_4rtist

They are a mixed grade of cherry shrimp, most of them are only weeks old, but there are a good amount of some larger males and females. All of them were from the old tank. Pics of the current setup attached
 

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St4rving_4rtist

Also, if anyone knows aquarium plants, I'd love some help identifying what I have in here!
 
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Sanderguy777

Also, if anyone knows aquarium plants, I'd love some help identifying what I have in here!
The one on the bottom right looks like a java fern...
That driftwood will help lower the ph, so even if it isnt perfect now, it should drop a bit over time.
 
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St4rving_4rtist

Update: This is the current water parameters on the 20g - pH: 6.4, Ammonia: 0.25ppm, Nitrite: 0ppm, Nitrate: 10ppm. Is this safe for the cherry shrimp? Should i wait longer? I have added a few already, and they all seem to be doing fine, but I haven't gone all in.
 
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jkkgron2

Maybe do a small water change to remove the ammonia and then you should be good.
 
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Sanderguy777

Maybe do a small water change to remove the ammonia and then you should be good.
I second that.
 
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St4rving_4rtist

will do!
 
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RayClem

If you don't have a test kit, I highly recommend you get one. About the cheapest price I have seen for an API Master Test Kit is $23.22 on Amazon, but you might want to support your LFS.

Unfortunately, the test kit does not include GH and KH, but you can purchase those separately for another $12.75. If you tap water is usable and reasonably consistent through the year, you might not need the later. I make up my aquarium water from RO water and add back minerals, so testing GH and KH is important for me, but not for everyone.
 
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