My First Tank (5g Betta/shrimp)

Discussion in 'Freshwater Aquarium Builds' started by BloonStuff, May 22, 2018.

  1. BloonStuff

    BloonStuffValued MemberMember

    So I figured I would start one of these threads to track my first tank build. Just so I can see my progress or how it changes over time. Also if anyone has any suggestions or advice, I’d appreciate that too.

    I’m currently running a fishless cycle in a Fluval Spec V which is 19l or 5g.

    I plan to house one betta and two ghost shrimp. Does that stocking sound okay?

    I set it up on the 12th of May. I added pet store brand small black gravel and a plastic aquarium log/hide.

    I didn’t add an ammonia source until the next day, which was fish food. I also added some java moss and salvinia. I also added a sponge to the outflow so everything wouldn't be churned around.


    Over the next couple of days I ordered some more plants/decorations. I got some shrimp hides with marimo on them. And then a small piece of bogwood with anubias nana, java moss and java fern on it. Lastly, I got some frogbit.


    The salvinia and frogbit have grown loads. One cup of tropica java moss that I got seemed to be doing well but the other cup (seen to the left of the hide) seems to be dying. I think though there -might- have been some mould on it before I put it in so maybe I shouldn't have.

    Anyway, when I noticed it seemed like it wasn't doing well, I did some research and realised it might do better if it had something better to latch on to. So I got some plastic canvas and cut to the shape I wanted, took out the java moss and after drying it off some on a tissue, I super glued it to the plastic canvas. Honestly, it wasn't a great plan because I didn't think about the fact it would float. I was able to weigh it down with the gravel but to be honest some of it has started coming away from the plastic. I'm going to leave it though and see how it does. If it fails then I'll get more and attach it to stones around the base of the hide instead.

    Something that did go a little better though, I had bought another pot of java fern by tropica and attached it to the hide. It took really well and I really like how it looks.


    Today I scooped out a bunch of the salvinia because wow, does that sucker grow! It felt like a waste to throw it away but needs must. You can see some of the glue on the java moss but I hope over time that will be less noticeable. Another little modification I've done is make a little grating for the intake using plastic canvas and mesh, to make it more shrimp friendly. I just slotted it into place for now. There's another intake further down and I made a grating for it too but I haven't put it in yet.

    As for my cycle, it's still super early days. I started of with fish food as an ammonia source, as I said but I switched to liquid ammonia instead. Then I had a big mishap in which the ammonia levels skyrocketed over 8ppm and the water turned black in the test tube. I did a big water change and got it back under control. Since then the ammonia levels have been fluctuating between 1ppm and 0.25ppm. No nitrites or nitrates yet.

    I added some more liquid ammonia today and again, added more than I really wanted to but the ammonia level is now between 4ppm and 8ppm. Last time I kind of freaked out it might kill my plants but this time I'm going to sit tight and see what happens.

    I also got some aquascape fertiliser for the plants, so hopefully they benefit from that as well.

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    Last edited: May 22, 2018
  2. Discus-Tang

    Discus-TangWell Known MemberMember

    I love it! I'm sure bettas and ghost shrimp will love it too! Just make sure that you only put in one shrimp at first to see how your future betta reacts.
  3. OP

    BloonStuffValued MemberMember

    Thank you! It's not looking too pretty at the moment as the algae has started to bloom but I'm pretty proud of it so far. :')

    Oh, I read that I might have better luck if I introduce the shrimp first and then the betta later because the betta won't have established the tank as their territory and may be less aggressive towards them in that case. Should I reconsider that?

  4. OP

    BloonStuffValued MemberMember

    So a tiny bit of an update. I got two moss balls from Ebay. I wanted them to sit beside each other on the floor of the tank. Well, one ended up way to big to look good in my tank. The other, smaller one, had obviously recently been propogated as it wasn’t holding its shape. I ended up splitting the smaller one in two and they were a much better size for my little 5g. I tied them up with string so they’d keep their shape. I’ll remove it eventually.


    Also checked my levels today and my ammonia had dropped back down to 2ppm but still no sign of nitrites or nitrates.

    I’ve also noticed that I think there’s some kinda something coating/growing on some of the plants. Kinda looks like grey fuzzy stuff. Fungus maybe?



    It’s especially noticeable on the little marimo on the shrimp hides and the Java moss on the bogwood. I’m thinking maybe it’s from the rotten food I was using for to cycle the tank.

    I’ve also noticed that my java fern has some dark patches on it and some of my frogbit is browning.
  5. OP

    BloonStuffValued MemberMember

    So we had a casualty today. Seems like one of the leaves melted off my Anubias Nana. The leaf looks kinda black but feels okay but the stalk was mush. The stalk is the smallest thing pictured below.


    The other two leaves are from my frogbit which has browned even more since yesterday. It’s probably not surprising with the high levels of ammonia during the cycle.

    Here’s a look at the worst looking frogbit.


    I brushed off some of what I assume is fungus from the mini moss balls attached to the shrimp hides and from the java moss on the bog wood and they are looking a bit better, even if the water does not. I imagine vacuuming would improve that but I’ve read you could lose your BB by vacuuming during your fishless cycle, so I haven’t so far.


    The java moss I stick to plastic canvas is doing surprisingly well. I even think the one that I thought was dying is coming back a bit so far. It’s still a bit brown but I can definitely see growth. So we’ll see if that continues!

  6. OP

    BloonStuffValued MemberMember

    Update time!

    So last week I discovered I have bladder snails. Only two so far but I anticipate more. I haven’t killed them because I don’t teally have the heart to so I’m going to see how things go. Tho the snails may change my decision to get any shrimp.


    The day after I discovered the snails I decided to clean up my tank because at this point it was basically a bladder snail paradise as it was overrun with algae and some of my plants weren’t doing great. I cleaned the algae as best I could, cleaned some fungus off the bogwood and checked for egg clutches but found none. I vacuumed the gravel and did a 50% water change.

    At this point I was still not registering any nitrites or nitrates and I was worried that any potential BB would be destroyed or removed during this clean up and I would stall my cycle even longer but I did none the less.

    So that was on Friday and then when I checked my levels on Sunday, to my surprise I FINALLY had nitrites!


    My pH was a little low and I couldn’t tell if there was any nitrates but I was ecstatic to finally have confirmation that my cycle was going somewhere. It especially felt good since my family had been making fun of me for doing a fishless cycle and having an ‘empty’ tank for so long.

    I then dosed my ammonia back up. I only wanted it like 3/4ppm but I think it went up to about 6ppm. I was worried it might stall my cycle but I left it and just thought I’d wait and see.


    That was yesterday and I checked today and my ammonia had dropped back down to 0.50ppm, my nitrites has risen to 0.50ppm and my nitrates were definitely 5ppm. I’m so happy that my patience is finally paying off.

    One other thing I’ve noticed is that I have some little floaty white bugs. They’re microscopic and some look like they are running over the glass but others look like they are swimming through the water. They kinda look like tiny white versions of the ‘sea monksys’ I had as a kid. I’m assuming they’re also probably something that came in on one of the plants.
  7. Varalidaine

    VaralidaineValued MemberMember

    Glad your cycle is finally going! I would just recommend not dosing too terribly high ammonia, I don't think you'd want it over 4ppm, especially in such a small tank. Your one little Betta and two shrimps won't be making that much ammonia anyway. The tank itself looks great, though! I think it's a really well done and clever scape. I've had this same tank before and it can be difficult to make a small space look so nice. And as for which to put first, in theory allowing the shrimp to be there first could help the betta's mindset that it isn't "his" territory but because shrimp are potential food for them, he may just see them as food regardless. I would probably do shrimp first and allow them to find hiding spots and such before doing the betta. I imagine releasing the shrimp into the tank with the betta already in there would just look like you dropped in food and the shrimp wouldn't know which places to hide.
  8. OP

    BloonStuffValued MemberMember

    Thank you! It’s honestly a relief because even though I know these things take time, I kept thinking maybe I was messing it up some how. But yeah, I for sure know I shouldn’t dose it up that high. It’s just the dropper on my ammonia bottle is kind of big and even when I tried to use a syringe it still dosed it too much. I’ll probably only master dosing a little and it’ll be time to get my fish. Lol.

    As for the shrimp, I’m not sure if I should still get them with already having the bladder snails as it’s just a 5g. I dunno how many bladder snails and shrimp a 5g can handle with a betta.

    Edit: Also thank you for the scape compliment! It was obvs my first time scaping and I honestly didn’t expect to like it so fast. I’ve since scrapped the java moss on the last canvas as it wasn’t working. Instead I’ve tried glueing it to the bottom of the log hide, so we’m See how that goes. :)
  9. Varalidaine

    VaralidaineValued MemberMember

    Getting a 1ml Syringe might help (I'm not sure what size you're using). That's what I used to dose my beneficial bacteria for such a small tank.

    As for the shrimp, I think you'd be fine getting them. Shrimp don't make much waste ( I know people keep 5-10 red cherry shrimp in a 1-2 gallon micro tank) and unless you're planning on growing out your bladder snail community, you'll be fine. If you want to get rid of the snails (you could always keep 1-2 for algae cleanup) you can list them on craigslist. People feed them to their puffers. I used to work at a pet store and would get people in all the time looking for snails to feed their puffers and I would give them our pest snails for free. They're much smaller (therefore producing less waste) than a nerite snail, so having 1-2 baby bladder snails with the shrimp would be fine and you can give away any extras for free.

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