Fishstery's first dutch(ish) style tank!

  • #1
Hey guys it's been awhile :)

I decided I wanted to tear down my 45s pond style betta tank and convert it into a high tech dutch-ish style. I'm using dutch-ish because if you have ever read about dutch aquascapes, you'd know that there is tons and tons of rules for dutch scapes and they are thought out very seriously and breaking any of the rules automatically disqualifies it as dutch to the trained eye. So to avoid offending the people who have thoughtfully put together masterpiece scapes, I'm going to avoid calling my scape Dutch and instead refer it to more of a dutch inspired scape. I built a middle street of monte carlo that curves behind some reineckii mini so create some visual depth since the tank is so small.

Down to the details:
UNS 45s (5 gal shallow)
Aquatek paintball dual gauge co2 regulator with built in bubble counter
Aquario neo diffuser
20oz paintball tank set to 1 bubble every 2 seconds
Twinstar 450 EA light
UNS contrasoil
UNS delta 60 canister with double tap valves to adjust flow as needed

Stocking and plants
1 female betta (pic included because I haven't posted of her yet since I got her....and yes I'm sure she's a female even with those glorious fins!)
Monte carlo
Staurogyne repens
Pogostemon Helferi 'downoi'
Eriocaulon quinquangulare-RARE

Alternanthera Rosanervig 'Mini'
Alternanthera Reineckii 'Mini'
Tiger lotus
Rotala butterfly 'Mini'
Limnophila Mini Vietnam
Bucephalandra kedagang rainbow mini

Rotala sp green
Ludwigia 'white'-RARE
Bacopa salzmanni-RARE (purple)
Mayaca Fluviatilis
Rotala hra
Alternanthera Lilancia (purple)
Alternanthera Reineckii 'pink sunset'
Alternanthera Reineckii 'Variegated'
Ludwigia "Triple Red"
Bacopa caroliniana 'Yellow flame'

The tank is still cloudy, I literally planted and flooded it about 2 hours ago. I'm still fiddling with getting the co2 dialed in, tomorrow I will start dosing micros and iron. Once the contrasoil stops leeching ammonia in about 4 weeks I will start dosing nitrogen. I'm thinking I will start the photoperiod at 4 or 5 hours, I also bought a twinstar dimmer to cut the power of the light down 25% for the first few weeks as well to avoid algae since it's such a strong light and the tank is so shallow. It should produce some glorious red in the plants though! I'm so excited to see how this tank grows in, my first experience with co2 was amazing it won't be long until I convert my 29 gallon to high tech as well lol. Tons of progress pictures to come! It should age like fine wine like my 12 gal did :)

The tank before the rescape:


My betta (I haven't named her since I got her)


The new scape:


  • #2
OMG that scape is amazing!

At first when I saw the tank I thought it was at least 20 gallons but then I saw in the description that it was actually 5 gallons! The depth in that tank is crazy!

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  • #3
OMG that scape is amazing!

At first when I saw the tank I thought it was at least 20 gallons but then I saw in the description that it was actually 5 gallons! The depth in that tank is crazy!
Thanks! The footprint of the tank itself definitely helps (17 wide 11 deep 7 high) so it's wider than it is tall. It's a fun dimension of tank to keep and perfect for a betta :) it should have an even better look of visual depth once the alternanthera mini gets taller and the carpet fills in. This is my first scape that is 100% plants with no hardscape so it was definitely a bit different than what I'm used to but that just means more room to stuff as many plant species in as I could fit! I'll probably post weekly or bi weekly update pics on this thread for those who are interested in how it fills out. I love having progress photos with co2 injection it's sooo satisfying to compare week 1 to week 12.
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  • #4
Day 2 update (it was actually yesterday I'm just late posting) water cleared up nicely and I got the co2 dialed in. I'm running the drop checker yellowish green, a bit higher co2 concentration than my other tank but since the only stock is a betta o2 saturation isn't as important so I can push it a little higher. I was hoping to not have an ammonia spike, but i tested it about 14-16 hours after planting and it read .5ppm so my betta will have to chill in a netted breeder box in my 29 gal pea puffer tank for a few days to a week until the ammonia level drops. Since the tank was already cycled and mature I'm hoping after 3 days or so it should level out. I'll check again tonight when I get home from work. Some of the stems are already releasing oxygen pearls so that's good. I'll update again in a week :) ignore the heater btw, the display temperature isn't accurate. My thermometer says 78 when I set the heater to 86 lol!



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  • #5
Week one update! Did the first WC yesterday and did a bunch of trimming and replanting. Most of the plants have held up very well, but some of my alternanthera mini melted off and TC monte carlo. To keep the tank algae resistant I ordered non TC versions of both to replant the melted areas I removed. So far algae has been non existent, except for a dusting of very fine green hair algae on the glass and some on the buce. Hopefully it doesn't get worse! Anyways, here's a picture between day 1 and day 7, you can see a massive spurt of growth on the rotala h'ra.


Also here is a picture after the WC and trim, I cut a lot back and replanted the stems to get the background to get bushier and fill in more. I also acclimated my female betta back into the tank. I was worried there was too much flow and open space for her but she has figured out where the dead spots are and seems to be enjoying herself exploring around and chilling in the stem plants. Next step is to try out some caridina shrimp in this tank since my kh and gh seems fairly favorable for them!



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  • #6
Two week update: I've been battling BGA on the front panel of the tank and on most of my monte carlo. All the other plants are unaffected, I've always had monte carlo take its good old time getting established. I moved the diffuser down a bit thinking perhaps it's a lack of co2 dispersion, even though the drop checker is yellowish green the algae was more concentrated in the front left corner. I also bought a zerowater pitcher to start using strictly 'RO' water in this tank. The TDS was high at 300, and I'd like to try out some caridina so over the course of the next 2 water changes I'm going to slowly add to the saturation if RO to tap until eventually it will all be filtered water. This will also allow me to dose EI without worry of anything present in my tap adding excess for example phosphate. I have reminerlizer on the way but after using RO for my 50% WC tonight my kh is 1 and gh 6. TDS is still a bit high at 200 but another week of RO topoffs and 50% WC should bring them down again.

As for the plants, I added, moved, and removed some. I decided while the barcopa yellow added a nice difference in leaf texture, it just didn't look in place to me so I removed it and replaced it with my rotala hra trimmings. The hra grows like an absolute weed and I think it will do a better job of concealing the heater. Ive been doing some aggressive trimming on the stems from the beginning to get them to grow bushier. Great growth on everything but the monte carlo which is lagging behind. I got some more Alternanthera Reineckii mini to replace what melted away, and also got an ADA TC of hygrophila sp chai to try out which I'm excited about. Hopefully I can get rid of this BGA and tinker with the water parameters and get some taiwan bees and grow some beautiful pink chai :)


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  • #7
I'm almost to the end of week 3 with this scape. The BGA has gotten worse but thankfully still contained to just my monte carlo. It's definitely inhibiting the carpet growth though. I did a second dose of ultra life yesterday (usually it takes almost a week to see a change) so in a few more days I will find out whether or not this treatment was effective. In case it isn't, I have some APT fix I'd like to try on it and see if this stuff works well at all. As for fertilizer, I chatted with a handful of other hobbyists and found most practice nitrate limitation to get their rotala hra extremely red. The best I can get so far is slight pink when it gets closer to the light, but the rest is green. Unfortunately low or 0 nitrates can trigger BGA so for now I've decided I will continue dosing nitrogen until the scape has matured, and then revisit nitrate limitation. With that being said I noticed that nilocg's NPK fert wasn't as lean as I'd like so to avoid any worsening algae I'm going to try and switch to APT complete and see how that goes. As for the hygrophila chai, only a few small portions has melted off so far but 90% of it is still alive and well and the larger stems have already started pearling. This rare plant is notoriously hard to grow since it is such a new mutation. Only recently it was able to be cultivated via TC and only a few people have managed to keep it thriving and vibrantly pink so i can't claim victory with it until I hit 6mo-1yr with it. Here's my picture and that's it for tonight (it's already past my bedtime lol)
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  • #8
Quick update with pics-- did a massive maintenance session tonight, took about 3 hours total. I did a 100% water change to reset the tank to full RO, pulled up almost all the stem plants to cut the old bottoms off and replanted the healthy tops. Moved the rest of my rotala h'ra to the right side of the tank to make more room for my mayaca fluviatilis because I like it so much, and also to make room for my rotala yarabje (rare in the US) which will be planted in the open space I made in the middle. I meticulously picked off as much BGA off my montecarlo as I had patience for, with tweezers no less. Looks like some of it is melting though which is hopefully a sign the ultralife is doing the job.


Here's a cool pic of a small portion if my hygrophila 'chai' the coloration is quite interesting. Also a picture of my crazy Alternanthera Reineckii, no filter just under my twinstar light

  • #9
Wow that looks incredible! I was going to ask what the light things were in the tank, but then I realized it was a reflection...o_O:p
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  • #10
Wow that looks incredible! I was going to ask what the light things were in the tank, but then I realized it was a reflection...o_O:p
Thanks lol! Yeah I wish I could get a good top down shot without the light reflection in the way, but if i took the light off for a picture the colors of the plants wouldn't look nearly as vibrant *sigh*


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  • #11
This scape finally hit the one month mark. Like most high techs the first month it had its ups and downs, but mostly it has gone well so im pleased so far. The BGA breakout is all but dead however it triggered filamentous diatoms or brown thread algae to bloom during the BGA melt off. It's a pretty aggressive grower. I've been manually removing some daily and daily spot dosing APT fix but it hasn't gotten much better. I ordered 3 oto cats and 5 crystal red shrimp to live in here temporarily to see if they will help contain the new tank algae.

My hygrophila chai has been slowly melting off, but I still have about 5 strong pieces of it left, given at least one piece survives it will be OK. Time will tell but I went into this knowing this was a difficult plant. I got my hands on a rare rotala variant "yarabje" off another hobbyist, I'm hoping it will hang onto its purple/maroon coloring.

So far I've managed to keep the TDS at 140 when the tank is due for its weekly WC so I think it's a go for some more expensive caridinas once I get the algae under control. Kh is 1 and gh is 4 after my 70% WC I just did.

I switched over from EI to a more lean fert, APT complete. The plants definitely went through a sort of "shock" phase from me abruptly cutting back on macros but they are still growing well, just slower than before. The s. Repens will be due for its first cutback next week.

All in all it's looking well, like always here's a comparison photo from last week to this week and some extras showcasing the colors and growth for documentation!

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  • #12
So the tank is now 6 weeks old, it has kind of taken the back burner since I'm working on my paludarium, however the tank got hit with filamentous diatoms BAD. I haven't ran into the cotton candy forms of diatoms before but they are a formidable enemy. Nothing seems to help, messing with lights, ferts, temp. Not to mention manual removal is futile since it sends thousands of litte fibers into the watercolum and it grows back twice as fast as you can remove it. I had been manually removing it daily just so it wouldn't choke my plants out. My last Ditch effort were amanos, petco only had small juvinelles so I grabbed 3 of them. They were definitely eating it but were too small to put a serious dent in it. I found a 6 pack of large amanos online which just came today, and they have already cleaned up a good bit of it. A few more days and it will be all but gone. I'll keep the amanos in there for awhile to manage it as it grows back and eventually I'll move half of them to my 12 gallon. Here's a picture of a small portion of what they were able to do in 3 hours


I'm still trying to get my hra to get red, or even pink again. I did a massive water change and hacked back a good bit of the plants to get some bushy regrowth. Now that the amanos are present I can crank my lights back up to 100% which should definitely help my red plants. I'm still dosing apt complete but I think the rotala is still getting too much nitrogen which is why it's staying green. Once the contrasoil exhausts some I'm thinking I can get some better reds. The hygrophila chai is still in contact but is growing super slow. Time will tell if it will remain pink or not.
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  • #13
Another update,
No wonder why Takashi Amano introduced these guys into the hobby. In the past I have kept amanos just as a preventative cleanup crew and this is my first experience utilizing them during an active diatom/algae bloom and it's crazy! They have cleaned up all the monte carlo except for a small patch on the left side of the tank. This is a picture of what they did in 24 hours:


I also realize I didn't post a full tank shot in the last update so here it is, I'm still doing a lot of heavy trimming and replanting on the stems. Once I get everything bushy and filled in I will trim them into nice mound shapes which will make the dutch tank look more put together. Until then I'm just letting it do its thing and ensuring I keep filling them in.


Ignore the seran wrap. My glass lid doesn't cover the entire top and amanos can be jumpy when first introducing them to co2 injection. The seran wrap will stay on for a few weeks to prevent any losses.
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  • #14
Another update:
The tank is 7 weeks old now so it's just turning the corner at 2 months. My amano army has cleaned up this tank beautifully and there is no trace of the diatoms. Because of them I was able to up my light intensity to 100% and switch the twinstar legs to the shorter side which lowered the light closer to the tank by an inch and a half. Hoping I can pull some nicer reds now that I can blast the light. I'll keep all of them in here for another 2 weeks and then move half over to a bigger tank.

I just did a trim and WC today, still aggressively trimming and replanting the stems. This was also the first time trimming the monte carlo carpet which was exciting, and it seems to be pretty well rooted so I'm happy. I've never appreciated my shrimp so much in my life lol.



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  • #15
Im pretty happy to finally see some greens turning red since I was able to up the light intensity and drop them down closer! My yarabje is starting to turn bright red on the new leaves and stems which is good news because I bought it off another hobbyist and it was deep purple but turned green in my tank. I'm still struggling with my hra though, it's starting to turn slightly yellowish orange like rotala orange juice, so maybe I'm headed in the right direction. You can see my yarabje behind the bacopa salzmanii. It's might brighter in person.


I bought some trimmings from another hobbyist, some more bacopa salzmanii and rotala macandra mini butterfly since these are slow growing and its taking awhile to get a nice full bunch of them growing. I also managed to get 10 cuttings of rotala blood red which Dennis wong says doesn't need as strict nitrate limitation to get red as hra. I'll be shuffling some plant groupings around this weekend to accommodate the blood red. I'm having a hard time getting nitrate lower without stunting my Alternanthera species, which is starting to show some deficiencies after starting apt complete. I'm going to try upping the co2 ever so slightly since I'm running more light and dose a little extra potassium ontop of the apt complete to see if that helps.

I'm also thinking about selling my twinstar and buying a chihiros vivid mini. It's a more expensive light but I've been really intrigued by them since they first came out due to the unparalleled color rendition with green and red plants. Not to mention it's 100% customizable unlike my twinstar. I heard the fan can be kind of annoying on it, but I'm thinking a RGB instead of WRGB may be better to pull reds.
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  • #16
2 month update:

I think I have some spirogyra algae in here although I really hope that's not the case. It doesn't seem to be growing overly fast so I'm doing my best to remove affected leaves as I see them. I have the light running full intensity for 7 hours now, and upped the co2 to run the drop checker to yellow as I was seeing some co2 deficiencies since the plant mass is getting dense. I removed almost all the amanos because the little stinkers are devouring my AR mini and bucephalandra.

I'm finally starting to pull some really nice coloring. The bacopa salzmanii turned deep purple, rotala yarabje is bright red at the top (although it should be deep purple) ludwigia super red is, well, SUPER red lol. Hra is bright pink underneath but I'm still struggling to pull anything more than yellow from it yet. Hygrophila chai is still spawning some pink leaves. Macandra butterfly is also starting to show some intense red although is growing stunted in my tank.

I have a chihiros vivid mini coming next week. I'm extremely excited to play with this light and see if I can get any more red

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  • #17
9 week update:

The spirogyra was starting to get out of hand and I was getting a lot of hair algae as well. Spiro is a really hard algae to kill, like cladophora. So my only option is to use an algaecide unfortunately. I fished all my shrimp out and dosed api algaefix at slightly under the bottle dose for 5 gals (to account for displaced water). My betta seems to be doing just fine, I'll do another dose in 3 days and hopefully it will knock the algae out.

All the plants are doing good and my hra was starting to get super pink at the top finally! I had to trim all the pink parts off during the water change so hopefully it comes back even redder.

I got my chihiros vivid mini set up, and absolutely loved it. Unfortunately though mine seems to have a bunk bluetooth module because I haven't been able to reconnect it since the first time which sucks because it makes the light unusable. I'm going to contact the seller tomorrow and see about getting a replacement. This seems to be a super common issue with the chihiros which sucks because the light themselves are amazing. If I get another bunk light I'll cut my loss and keep the twinstar.

Here's a picture showing the difference between the twinstar and chihiros before the chihiros quit on me. You can see how nice the color rendition is on the chihiros
Which I had set at red 100% light blue 70% and dark blue 100%.


I also rented a PAR meter from my LFS which I wanted to use to tweak my chihiros but unfortunately I was only able to get a PAR reading for the stock settings (all colors 100%) before it died on me.

My twinstar PAR values taken at the substrate:
Center 180
Front corners 80
Front center 100
Middle sides 120

At the surface 290

On the dimmer settings:
-1/ 151
-2/ 145
-3/ 112
-5/ 72
-6/ 50
-7/ 28

The chihiros was 367 at the center substrate with the stock settings which is INSANE. Especially for the price point.

Currently I'm running 180 PAR at the substrate with my twinstar which is super high light. I may keep it on the first dimmer setting which would take me down to 151.

Not much else to report until I get the chihiros vivid straightened out.
  • #18
I think this tank looks very nice. It reminds me of the sort of tank that would be pictured in a book about planted tanks. I especially like the look of it at the 2 month update.


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  • #19
I think this tank looks very nice. It reminds me of the sort of tank that would be pictured in a book about planted tanks. I especially like the look of it at the 2 month update.
Thank you! It's definitely a lot different than my other high tech you followed, that was definitely a nature scape. It's super high maintenance but I really do like how it's progressing for my first shot at such an advanced setup.

Have you tried restarting your phone? Force quitting the app and restarting my phone has worked for me in the past when the Chihiros app acts up. I do wish they would invest a little in reliability though, it's a frustrating problem to have.

Honestly I kinda like the greens from the Twinstar more. It might be a white balance issue though.

I got the chihiros to work! I am so happy about it because the PAR meter has to go back tomorrow. I was able to get about 10 different PAR readings with different light settings. I honestly like the super purple color rendition, not quite natural but with the packed reds and pinks I have in this tank it's not really a nature scape anyways! I did take some PAR values with a more "green" rendition in case I change my mind later on. I was able to take readings for 180-120 PAR with the purple color and then 160-120 PAR with more green and wrote it all down so in the future I can either raise or lower my PAR as needed and pick whether I want super red/pink/purple or more green. My setting now does wash out the green a bit but at the moment I'm happy with it. I have it set to red 52%, light blue 33%, and dark blue 52% which takes my PAR to 150 at the substrate with my glass lid on which is perfect.

I feel like the twinstar has a more yellow tone to the greens, but it is a very natural color balance considering how many red and green diodes are in the light.

To get the chihiros to work I actually used my boyfriends "hunting phone", a prepaid Verizon phone he bought since his actual phone gets no service out where he hunts. My phone uses the latest android software, android 12 while his hunting phone is old and uses Android 9. It has to do with the phone software I think. After trying a few times to get connection it finally got it and didn't lose it once over the half hour I was messing with it and taking readings. I decided for ease of use to skip their timer settings on the app and run it on auto, and keep it plugged in to my old fashioned outlet timer to make sure it works as i want it. I'm so happy!


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  • #20
Update: major maintenance session today. The spiro and staghorn was getting out of hand still and in the absence of my amanos some green hair algae came with it. I did a good bit of manual removal, hacked back the monte carlo carpet, and added a 3rd dose of algaefix which seems to be slowly killing everything off.

I decided the Alternanthera cultivars are just too big for a tank this small, so I ripped them all out except for the Variegated. I moved the rotala blood red back to where the alternanthera was, and did a major uprooting and tossing the old bottoms of a lot of the plants. Made some more leg room for the stems and moved around the bacopa salzmanni up front a bit more so I can grow more rotala yarabje. I took a bunch of cuttings out to start up my 10 gal farm tank which I will set up tomorrow. Besides the algae the plants are looking beautiful. One week with the chihiros has changed a lot. The rotala hra in the back right is finally starting to get reddish pink on the tips and hopefully it just gets better from here. I had the lighting set at 7 hours but I think with the chihiros I will cut it back to 6 again.

The empty spot in the front right side is where my buce was. Buce does better in unheated tanks in my experience, so I took it out because the betta temp is just bot working with it. I have a flamingo crypt coming this week from another hobbyist that I will try in that midground spot instead.

Anyways here's some pictures!

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  • #21
I clipped together a little video of the tank since it's now at the 3 month mark. Don't forget to switch to 1080p :)

  • #22
Hello, please tell me what you call LFS? thank you
  • #23
Wow, I'm surprised I've only just discovered this thread! Your tank looks amazing, plants healthy and girl makes me even happier. Nothing better than a stunning betta girl to destroy the stigma!

Keep being an inspiration, friend ;)
  • #24
Hello, please tell me what you call LFS? thank you
LFS = Local fish store

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