First Try With Plants - 16 Gallon

  • #1

I just picked and setup a 16 gallon Fluval Spec from LFS to try my hand with my first more “natural” looking tank. I have a bit of java moss, dwarf sword and dwarf hairgrass. I do not have a co2 rig, and have been dosing with Flourish to get started.

I choose Eco Complete for my substrate because I was concerned about the aqua soils that lowered PH. My tap is ~7.8 and I wasn’t sure if doing 33% water changes in a 16 gallon would cause stress when the tank water was a full 1 PH lower. The sand is the Petco brand, I liked that it was a bigger grain.

Seeded with the BioMax pack from my other tank, and started cycling with pure ammonium hydroxide from the grocery store. Day 2 I am already reading 1ppm nitrite!

I plan to add probably 3 dwarf puffers and maybe 5 amano shrimp. I was considering the ghost shrimp because I have had them and think they are cool to watch, but amano probably have more utility in a planted tank. It’s possible these guys just end up an expensive meal for the puffers, but I’m hoping they can do exist.

The first pic is from Sunday right after setup. The second is this morning, about 30 hours later now that I am reading nitrite!


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  • #2
Very nice looking tank I hope it does good for you!!

  • #3
Tank looks good
  • #4
Lovely setup! Can't wait to see what happens!
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  • #5

I’m hoping the light that comes with the Spec will grow these plants. I’m not sure I will continue with the Flourish once I add the animals. Gotta do a bit more homework on that. I was really excited to see the elevated Nitrite this morning, I thought I was a few days away.

I was torn at first between dwarf puffers and a figure 8, but once the scape was done I thought 100% dwarf puffers since a bunch of the hiding spots look too small for the larger F8. Plus the salt may have smoked my plants looks like they could have taken low end brackish but maybe not.
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  • #6
One week in and the tank is fully cycled. I couldn’t find the dwarf puffers I wanted this weekend so it still sits empty (unless you count the diatoms forming on the glass!) I checked with 8 LFS within an hour drive in two states plus stopped at 2 Petco and a PetSmart and all were out! I originally wanted to add the shrimp first, but it’s probably best that I didn’t so that I can continue to feed the BB with the pure ammonia. I doubt the shrimp would create enough to keep a large enough colony of BB going until I got fish.

I can’t tell if my plants are doing well or not. Anything specific to look for? I definitely have some grass that has turned clear-ish and wilted, but after searching some forums it seems like that still might be ok? Most of it is still green and standing but no noticeable growth (I wouldn’t expect a ton in a week, but could be wrong?). I have used flourish and just started some flourish excel. Light has been on pretty much 14 hours a day, not surprisingly I am starting to see some algee.

Not having the fish in yet will give me a chance to give the tank a good deep clean and make sure I’m happy with the setup, so I guess there’s a bright side even if patience isn’t a strength

  • #7
Looks good!
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  • #8
So, we have fish! I went to 4 different smaller independent stores on Friday, finally finding them at the Petco closest to my house

I bought 4 teeny tiny puffers, 4 red cherry shrimp and 2 nerite snails. Everyone acclimated well, and looked energetic.

Now for the problems. The puffers will not eat anything that is dead. No frozen bloodworms even if I wiggle them with tweezers. They will examine, take a nibble then go away. I was able to get a bunch of live brine shrimp and they smashed those over the weekend, all had big plump belly’s. I am thinking of ordering like 40 snails from amazon and seeing if I can keep a group of them going. Should I go pond/bladder snails or MTS? Which is easier to keep breeding and for the puffers to eat?

The other issue is the Fluval Spec filter. I can’t keep one of the puffers out of there , and the shrimp are in there non stop. Three shrimp have been dead in the filter (one maybe my fault with the net). I stuffed the chamber behind the intake with a sponge and a pile of filter floss and it doesn’t even keep the one puffer out for an hour. I’m concerned he is going to die from the stress of being constantly scooped out of the heater/pump chamber.

As for the plants....meh?...I don’t notice any growth, but two weeks in I don’t notice any significant extra melting either. Here’s hoping it works out!

This week I plan to treat the tank with PraziPro since the puffers are wild caught. I want to get them fully acclimated to their new home and eating before I start the preventive deworming.


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  • #9
Just about 3 months in with the puffers. I started with 4 and believe I have two now who are doing well. One looked sickly from the start and I could never get it to eat, the last time I saw it it was extremely skinny and looked in bad shape. The third I am not sure on. It always looked healthy and active,I just stopped seeing it one day. It’s possibly it is staying hidden, but it has been at least a week or two since I have seen more than the healthy two.

My pea puffers do not seem to be nearly as aggressive as advertised. I have a couple other fish/shrimp mixed in and the puffers don’t seem to take an interest in them at all. In fact I am now over run with snails....trumpet, pond, rams horn of all sizes, that I added as cleaners and an available food source but as far as I can tell they haven’t been touched, even the babies. One of the puffers readily eats frozen brine and bloodworms, but the other seems to only really like live brine.

As for my plants, everything is still green but only the java moss really seems to be is everywhere now. Not the exact look I was going for, but it’s fine and everyone in the tank seems to like it. A nice bonus has been almost 0 nitrate even if I get lazy with my water changes. The downside is the water changes are a pain....sucking up plants and totally disturbing everything.


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  • #10
Weird that the puffers haven't eaten the shrimp or the snails. Must be very well fed keep me updated

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