Help Me Plan And Create My Dream Tank?

GuyWhoLovesBacon

Hey all,

BACKSTORY
(Can be skipped if it's too long): This is actually my 2nd account in this website but I kinda started to neglect my 1st account and now I can't remember anything about it haha. Anyways, although I have a little over 2 years worth of experience in the hobby, I still consider myself as a beginner because I never really did anything new, take risks or upgrade my equipment. That is going to change. I recently acquired a 95 gallon tank for free because my neighbours were moving away and the husband bought a 95 gallon project tank (it needed to be resealed) and never got around to it so they were just giving it away (I love living in Canada oh my Lord). They even gave me a free 100 Aqua Clear filter and granted it only came with the sponge and no intake tube, I kinda solved the issue by adding Seachem Purigen to the filter and covering up what's left of the intake tube in a way where fish can't get sucked up, water is still able to pass through and it blocks big debris such as left over fish food. At the time, the only running tank that I had was a 20 gallon tank with an Angelfish, a Rainbow Shark, and some Guppies (I didn't realize that the rainbow shark needed a lot more than 20 gallons in order to thrive at the time so my bad on that one).

MORE BACKSTORY (But is more important than the previous paragraph): So like I said, I never really did anything new from the time I got into this hobby (mostly because I didn't have a job at the time and my parents didn't want to spend money on my hobby which is fair) and I got into it with a decent amount of research being completed. However, I don't think that it was enough. Looking back, I find that a lot of the choices I made in terms of decorations were not the most aesthetically pleasing seeing how the look I want in a fish tank now no longer matches what I originally desired. So this is my attempt at getting it done right. I've already (temporarily) set the tank up for the winter. It's not what I wanted for the 95 but it's what I currently have on me and I do plan on slowly replacing everything so that the 95 will turn into the tank that I've always dreamed of (I will post a picture of the tank as it is right now).

Aquascaping:

SO, I have a theme in mind because I always wanted a fish tank that has a story behind it. I was at Petsmart looking for new fish but I saw a discount bin where everything was only $0.25 and one of the things that was there was this broken warrior's helmet. I didn't know what I'd do with it because I was going for a natural-looking tank but heck for $0.25, I didn't mind buying it. What I didn't realize is that when I got home and it was time to brainstorm ideas for the 95, the helmet would actually become a centre-piece for the tank. After struggling to create a theme for the tank, I decided to stare at the bag of goodies I bought from Petsmart and found myself looking at the helmet. After a couple of minutes, I figured it out.

The Theme/Story: A great (mythical) war rose between two nations with the intention to end the opposing side due to their conflicting views. One nation fought for their Gods and the freedom of all and the other fought for their tyrant king who punished those who oppose him with sorcery. The evil king initiated the war by defiling and destroying a sacred lake that was worshipped by the opposing side and shortly afterwards, they would meet by the very lake to settle it once and for all. As the war commences, one brave warrior fighting for the Gods was fighting hordes and hordes of enemies and after what seemed like victory, he was struck down by an enemy spear in the heart. As the mighty warrior gasped for his final breath, he fell into the lake, slowly falling down until he reaches the very bottom. As the war moves to another ground, scavengers searched around the lake and went into the water and found his body. They took his weapons and armour with the exception of his helmet because it was far too broken to care about. Overtime, the warrior's body started to decay but as his body disappeared, something else would come and take its place. Life started to form around the warrior's body, giving life to many plants and soon, became home to many fish. Life flourished around this warrior's body and before you know it, this once dead lake has returned to its former glory.

Side note: I now have a job so I can further invest into the hobby but I do want to keep costs at a minimum because I'm in university and I'm also a young driver so insurance is relatively high so if you have any suggestions, please try to give me the most cost-efficient ones unless the cheaper method would ultimately lead to an unsuccessful tank and will cause more pain than it will happiness. Thanks!

How I want it to look like: So, in case you didn't catch the point of the theme, I want to capture the warrior's resting place and display it on a tank. I am open to any ideas as to how you guys pictured this particular tank because I'm not that familiar with aquascaping but I have some ideas for what I want it to look like. So one thing to note is that I do plan on turning this into a planted tank so if you guys have any suggestions for substrate, please let me know. I've been talking to this specialist in Calgary and he recommends using clay but in my research, what I thought would be best was an under layer of soil and some not too small gravel on top. I figured that the substrate should resemble the warrior's body so it should slant upwards as it goes to the left of the tank and the helmet will be placed at the top of the slope. The spear is also an essential part of the tank because the way I pictured it is that there's a spear stuck perpendicular to the slope and there would be a tiny piece of cloth hanging at the very end of the spear. That detail is so important because as the water flows, the piece of cloth would also wave around in the water, adding to the effect of the tank. What I have't figured out though is what to put on the right side of the tank. Would you guys think spiderwood or a series of rocks or other types of driftwood? I do want this tank to be heavily planted and have lots of height especially on the right side of the tank because of the height on the left side of the tank so whatever you guys think will look good is totally acceptable. Just shout it out! The background I currently have for my tank is just the colour black and I like it because it tends to make other colours pop but if you guys think that there's a better alternative, do let me know please and thank you.

Stocking: Currently I am housing Cichlids, an Angelfish, a Common Pleco, Rainbow sharks and a single guppy (he's a weird guy, he was the only guppy I have left from my original batch because I gave/sold the rest away knowing how they're going to get bullied once I introduce the cichlids but the cichlids seem to ignore him and he's swimming pretty strong). I've done some research on planted tanks and majority of cichlid species tend to eat or uproot plants which means I'll have to get rid of my cichlids if I want to have a planted tank. That is a bit of a shame though because they were a gift from my friend's dad who breeds cichlids but I do have some plants in the tank right now and they don't seem to have suffered any damage from the cichlids so maybe I just have a strange group who don't eat plants (I do keep them well-fed).

Fish: What I would love in a tank is big fish! The majority of my fish were guppies and don't get me wrong, I love the little guys but I also like big fish because they just seem more "impressive" I guess? I'm not sure what the right word is but every time I look at a tank with big fish, it feels more exciting than looking at a tank with small fish. Ideally, I would like to have a school or have the majority of fish in my 95 to be big fish and have one (or two but ideally one) really big fish that just adds to the wow factor of the tank. This is why I bought a common Pleco. Although he won't be swimming around actively (yet my little pleco right now seems to swim around more than the many plecos I've ever owned or seen), I just want one extremely big fish that's bigger than the majority. With these types of fish in mind, do you guys know of any fish that are relatively big (at least 4 to 6 inches) that will work well in a planted tank? And as for the big fish, do you guys think a pleco would be more than enough or should I look into a different option? You guys can give me any combination you guys want but I feel like the more variation the better so I might have to switch my cichlids out for a series of fish of tropical fish.

Plants: I know pretty much nothing for live plants. The aforementioned specialist has given me plenty of tips and advice so I'm starting to know more and more but I'm still really lost. However, I do have an idea of what type of plants I'd like in a tank, I just don't know the specifics. I feel as if I'd want a carpeting plant so that the whole floor of the aquarium would be green. I just really like the look of those tanks. Some areas don't have to be carpeted if it works better that way aesthetically but I do want a carpeting plant in my tank. I don't know any good rooting plants which will match the theme that I'm going for so please let me know what you guys think would be good plants. I'm not too sure about this one because they might just outcompete the rest of the plants but I do kind of like the idea of having floating plants as well. At first I wanted something like duckweed because it would cover the top of the tank and make it look all pretty but after reading up on the issues some aquarists face after introducing duckweed to their tank, I no longer know how I feel about this plant. What are yo guys' thoughts on duckweed? I did look into water lettuce and frogbit and they do look enticing so I might go for those. What about hornwort? Do you guys think hornwort would be a good idea? Also, I've already considered lighting for these plants because the specialist recommended these LED fixture that is 48" long (the exact length of my fish tank) and claims that they are the way to go. As for CO2, the specialist has recommended ferts but if I can down some money for a CO2 system, he/she said to try and go for those instead.

I might be forgetting some other details but what do you guys think? I know it's a lot to read but any help would be amazing and there's no rush because It's only December and I plan on doing these changes slowly overtime or around summer time. In the meantime, I plan on practicing on learning how to maintain a planted tank. Currently, I have a 2 or 3 gallon fish bowl cycling with some soil and gravel and though I should have done it before adding the water, I plan on planting some sort of plant and maybe introducing 1, 2 or 3 feeder minnows to see if they'll be able to sustain themselves. Should I stop doing this or keep going to see how that goes? I do plan on setting up my old 13 gallon tank in the near future as a planted tank as a better way of practicing so if you guys have any tips for this beginner about substrates, types of plants and what type of fish to keep in a starter 13 gallon planted tank while keeping costs to a minimum, that would be lovely!


25435290_1686354428053783_1604080509_o.jpg
 

CraniumRex

Wish I could add something useful about your vision - wow, you have thought this out!!

I can only say that if you are planning a planted tank, stay far away from duckweed. By covering the top of the tank, it will severely limit the amount of light that will reach the bottom of your tank and will be next to impossible to control and/or eradicate if you change your mind. You have said you want carpeting, so personally I'd say keep the top of the tank relatively clear.

Hornwort is a good, reliable grower but it can get messy quickly - all those little bits, ugh.

I think your choice of plants depends on the amount of maintenance you want to do. Does the thought of trimming on a regular basis thrill you or would it be a chore (I'm in the latter camp, which is why I have zero grass on my front yard, the whole thing is a perennial garden). If you like to do it, go for fast growers and CO2. My planted tanks are all low-tech, and the best performers have been the anubias and java ferns. My crypts all melted but they are coming back - I actually put them in pots so I could keep them fertilized and move them if need be.

The one thing I wish I had done earlier is buy at least 3 of any type of plant and put them in groups. I should have known this from gardening.

Best of luck with your vision!
 

GuyWhoLovesBacon

Wish I could add something useful about your vision - wow, you have thought this out!!

I can only say that if you are planning a planted tank, stay far away from duckweed. By covering the top of the tank, it will severely limit the amount of light that will reach the bottom of your tank and will be next to impossible to control and/or eradicate if you change your mind. You have said you want carpeting, so personally I'd say keep the top of the tank relatively clear.

Hornwort is a good, reliable grower but it can get messy quickly - all those little bits, ugh.

I think your choice of plants depends on the amount of maintenance you want to do. Does the thought of trimming on a regular basis thrill you or would it be a chore (I'm in the latter camp, which is why I have zero grass on my front yard, the whole thing is a perennial garden). If you like to do it, go for fast growers and CO2. My planted tanks are all low-tech, and the best performers have been the anubias and java ferns. My crypts all melted but they are coming back - I actually put them in pots so I could keep them fertilized and move them if need be.

The one thing I wish I had done earlier is buy at least 3 of any type of plant and put them in groups. I should have known this from gardening.

Best of luck with your vision!

Yeah I've been thinking about it for over 2 months now haha. I see, that's what I was worried about because this one aquarist thought it'd be a good idea to buy duckweed but then when he changes his mind, he couldn't get rid of the duck weed which led him to taking down his whole tank so that he can start over from scratch. Would that look good tho? I mean, I've seen planted tanks without any floating plants but I kinda want something at the very top. I think it was water lettuce or frog bit that did this but if left alone, the roots would actually reach the bottom of the tank and anchor themselves so I liked the idea of that.

Yeah I tried growing some hornwort when I first started in the hobby. I asked this forum which plants to get because my lighting was so minimal and they recommended that because it's a plant that requires little light yet my tank wasn't able to sustain it so those little needle leaves die off and would constantly float around all over my tank. That was a painful experience. It's just that now that I have better lighting, it makes me wanna see if I can try growing some again.

I'm fine with the occasional trim but because of how deep my tank is (25 inches), I'm going to have to go for a swim to actually get the job done. So I should probably aI'm for some slow growers eh? Just so that I won't have to trim as much. I need to do more research on what type of plants to get to suit my needs....

Why's that? So that you can spread them out all over the tank? That does make sense. This Youtuber was showing how he plants his tanks and for his carpeting plant (I think it was Cuba), he cuts them up into little pieces and plants them all over the tank just to help them get around faster.

Thank you I appreciate the input. This was an old 2-minute sketch of what I had in mind when I first thought of this and I know it's extremely blurry and hard to understand but I hope you can get a sense of what I'm aiming for. I'll probably draw up a better sketch tomorrow once I have the time
 

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puffer boi

Yeah I've been thinking about it for over 2 months now haha. I see, that's what I was worried about because this one aquarist thought it'd be a good idea to buy duckweed but then when he changes his mind, he couldn't get rid of the duck weed which led him to taking down his whole tank so that he can start over from scratch. Would that look good tho? I mean, I've seen planted tanks without any floating plants but I kinda want something at the very top. I think it was water lettuce or frog bit that did this but if left alone, the roots would actually reach the bottom of the tank and anchor themselves so I liked the idea of that.

Yeah I tried growing some hornwort when I first started in the hobby. I asked this forum which plants to get because my lighting was so minimal and they recommended that because it's a plant that requires little light yet my tank wasn't able to sustain it so those little needle leaves die off and would constantly float around all over my tank. That was a painful experience. It's just that now that I have better lighting, it makes me wanna see if I can try growing some again.

I'm fine with the occasional trim but because of how deep my tank is (25 inches), I'm going to have to go for a swim to actually get the job done. So I should probably aI'm for some slow growers eh? Just so that I won't have to trim as much. I need to do more research on what type of plants to get to suit my needs....

Why's that? So that you can spread them out all over the tank? That does make sense. This Youtuber was showing how he plants his tanks and for his carpeting plant (I think it was Cuba), he cuts them up into little pieces and plants them all over the tank just to help them get around faster.

Thank you I appreciate the input. This was an old 2-minute sketch of what I had in mind when I first thought of this and I know it's extremely blurry and hard to understand but I hope you can get a sense of what I'm aiming for. I'll probably draw up a better sketch tomorrow once I have the time
wow you didnt need to write an essay about that. lol
 

GuyWhoLovesBacon

wow you didnt need to write an essay about that. lol

I always seem to write essays in this forum...it's weird....
 

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