My Aquascaping Journey! - and improvement :)


I’m planning on going into full detail so I’ll be surprised if anyone wants to read this whole thing, but i’m proud of myself and wanted to show someone who shares the same interest.
I first got into the hobby a little less than a year ago when my dad said he’d let me get a fish tank, he said fish were easy and inexpensive. I later discovered that he was totally wrong and that fish are one of the most complicated pets I’ve ever had, I’d say the knowledge you’d need to be a successful hobbyist is equal to the knowledge you’d need to be a dog trainer.
Anyways I started my first 15 gallon tall tank and took petcos advice about cycling, I brought home a petco brand filter with way too strong of an output, a heater, and a bottle of bacteria. I was planning to cycle for three days and then add a betta. The substrate was blue, neon, and black gravel btw, and it was decorated with tons fake plants and plastic figurines. I wish I had a pic but I was too ashamed to keep the picture and I deleted it, I hate those kind of people that impulsively buy a pet without knowing a single thing about how to care for it and I was embarrassed that I almost was one of those people.
Within those three days that it was cycling I did tons of research and realized that I was doing everything wrong, so I got a 33 gallon tank off of craiglist for $15 (what a great find) and started my fish less cycle in there. All the while I was doing research.
After the six weeks were up I bought some Java fern and moss balls, I found a piece of wood and anchored them with string (after the string fell of the still weren’t attached so I used rubber bands) I bought new substrate and gradually stocked the tank with 4 green corydoras, 4 peppered corydoras, and 1 betta.

A couple of weeks later i was very unsatisfied with how it looked and I wanted to attemp a natural aquascape like the beautiful ones that you see on YouTube. I continued my research and later went hunting for some hardscape. I am SO lucky that I found this beautiful twisty piece of driftwood by a river, it has swirls of purple on it. I also bought some more plastic plants and i put the ones from my first tank back in to give all of the fish more places to hide and feel comfortable. I took some clippings of pothos and let them float at the top. I couldn't find much info about pothos being fully submerged under water so this was an experiment. Keep reading to the end to hear the results This is what it looked like then.

This is also when I make the horrible decision to put some of the barf gravel in with the white sand. The tank stayed like this while is was still researching and planning an affordable aquascape.
The pothos seemed to be surviving and I hated the look of plastic plants so I replaced most of them with more clippings of pothos, and I glued the floating Java fern to the new centerpiece wood after it finally sank. I also started painting a black background with acrylic, the stick on backgrounds were too expensive and I couldn’t find the right size for my odd shaped tank. This is what it looked like.

It stayed like this for a long long time. I ordered a sponge filter because the output of the petco filter was so strong that the betta could only explore half of the tank, if he ventured to the other side he would be wooshed all over the place. I live in the middle of nowhere, so I couldn’t just go to a local fish store to get live plants and winter came too quickly for me to order live plants. I had to wait until my family visited my grandparents who live in a city by a beach, while we were there I bought dwarf water lettuce, anubias broadleaf, and anubias coffeefolia. The water lettuce came with some duckweed that I don’t want in my tank and now I’m not sure what to do with. While on the beach I collected some beautiful green-ish rocks and a piece of redwood bark that looks like a sunset. I recieved some clippings of papyrus reed which is a semi aquatic plant and once it’s grown it will look amazing in my tank. Yesterday I brought everything home and today I’m nearly finished with the aquascape!! I’m so so exited for all of the plants to grow out, recently I actually posted an unidentified plant on here and was told it was Java moss! I have absolutely no idea how it got there but it’s here and growing super fast. I’m really glad it popped up because I think it would look great on that piece of the wood sticking up in the middle. I cut the wood, it was very hard to do because it was so beautiful but my tank wasn’t long even for it to look good in. I would have given it to someone with a longer tank so the wood can be better centered, but I don’t think I’d be able to find a root that beats this one. This is my tank very close to the finished product, sorry if it’s hard to see.

The only things that annoy me now are the bits of barf gravel that I can’t get out, and the big empty space in the middle. I think i’ll take out 5 pieces of gravel every day and eventually they’ll be gone. As for the empty space, I’m hoping that the water lettuce will grow long enough roots to cover it but if that plan fails I’ll wait for the Java moss to grow super long and I’ll glue that to the branch sticking up, the papyrus reed will also occupy some of that space. Oh and I also need to finish the background lol.
I know it’s not perfect now but it’s so much better than when I started, and I’ve learned so much. When the Java fern propagates I’ll make two more bushes and put one in place of the redwood bark and one in the front right corner. It will also look better when the water lettuce grows out.
Once I’m 100% satisfied with the aquascape I’ll finish off the stocking with some kind of tetra or maybe some chili rasboras. I’m so exited!! I’m 13 by the way, I don’t know if that makes any difference at all but I thought I’d mention it because I’m very proud with how much I’ve improved.

I also had a question for anyone still reading this, the sponge filter is pressed against the glass and there are rocks covering the other sides. Will the rocks affect the water intake at all?

For anyone curious about the pothos, the roots grow super fast and continued growing throughout the whole time they were in there. Brown algae started covering their leaves after a bit so that made them a gross looking color. They did start to rot after about a month, the edges of some leaves would turn brown and the brown would slowly take over until the whole leaf was gone. However, for every leaf that completely decayed there were at least one or two new shoots that would pop up and they were very healthy. As long as I removed the decaying parts that fell off of the leaf it had no effect of my fish or the water parameters. So in short, it grew underwater a bit slower than it would have out of water, but still survived.


I don’t know, I think the filter should alone in the corner. It’s amazing that you were about to grow apotheosis under water. Your scapes are cool. Next time take your wood and drown in water for a week. Quicker way can be washed in the dishwasher by itself. Helps with the density. I love that first wood piece very unique. Keep up the great work and remember this hobby is so addicting. I started out the same way you did. Three or four tanks later still here learning about other things. Such as culturing black blood worms. This hobby/ passion can never go dull.

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