Squishface's Tanks-in-progress

  • #1
My Tanks Today (April 2018):

10-gallon planted
Substrate: Fluval Stratum and ugly blue aquarium gravel
Filter: AquaClear 30 HOB
Plants: vallisneria, vallisneria spiralis, assorted anubias, anacharis, dwarf sagittaria
Critters: 7 neon tetras, 2 otocinclus catfish and 1 albino corydoras catfish

5-gallon planted - Fluval Spec V
Substrate: Fluval Stratum capped with some white aquarium sand
Filter: stock Spec sump filter
Lighting: stock Spec LED (new version; apparently the original light sucked)
Plants: assorted anubias, anacharis, anubias nanas, staurogyne repens, Christmas moss
Fauna: 1 male betta

1.8-gallon high-techish planted glass cube
Substrate: Fluval Stratum with some black sand mixed in for plant gripping power
Filter: dinky homemade sponge
Lighting: 1 FEIT A19 LED grow light lightbulb in a clip-on shop light
Plants: micranthemum monte carlo, staurogyne repens
CO2: Fluval MinI Pressurized 20g-CO2 Kit
Fauna: 1 CBS, 3 RCS...for now

Original thread-starting post:

Hiya! I accidentally became an aquarium hobbyist on Election Day 2017, when, in an effort to bribe my children into behaving at our polling place, I offered a visit to Petco on the way home. Months later, I am caring for the original 10 gallon, plus a 5 gallon Fluval Spec, and a .5 gallon planted bowl that houses a slum of unwanted snails. My kids are only marginally interested in the tanks, but I have become a full-blown Hobbyist.

The original 10-gallon:


Purchased as a beginner's kit. Lame LED lighting, cheap heater. I only just today upgraded the filter from a Tetra Whisper 10 to an Aquaclear 30. Currently overstocked with 2 mystery (or gold inca, depending where on the Internet you look) snails, 7 neon tetras, 1 lonely albino cory, and a burgeoning community of pond snails. Lightly planted with some anubias and vallisneria, intermittently dosed with liquid CO2 and Seachem Flourish.

The Fluval Spec V:


Splurged on this second tank in a panic when I suspected my young betta was murdering the neon tetras it initially had for tankmates. Substrate is some kind of aquatic soil covered by white sand, some rocks and a piece of driftwood. Planted with Amazon sword (which is much too big a plant for a Spec, it turns out), anubias, anubias nanas, anacharis (which is growing super fast but not as bushy as I'd like) and some variety of aponogeton, I think - it was sold in Petco as "betta bulbs." And I'm trying to get some Christmas moss to attach to a rock, but it's taking a looong time. RIP dwarf baby's tears, uprooted before they could root by Snaily (since relocated to the 10 gal).

The planted bowl is not particularly pretty, but I'll post a photo soon.

I need to figure out my stocking/reorganization strategy for the 10 gal. I have read that corys should not be kept alone, yet I don't have another tank to relocate mine to. I had bought it a companion, but the companion died for reasons unknown. I actually prefer a school of corys to a school of tetras in this tank, but I'm not sure how I would rehome seven neon tetras.

Then there's the issue of the snails... I am nearly sold on buying one assassin snail to decimate the pond snail population, but I am afraid it will kill my gold/mystery snails so I don't want them in the same tank at the same time. I am already sick of picking the pond snails out one by one, and I just found two unwelcome ramshorns in my 5gal betta tank. YEESH.


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  • #2
Welcome to fishlore! Love what you have done in the Spec.
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  • #3
0.5 gallon snail camp:


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  • #4
10-gallon makeover!
In trying to combat the pond snail situation I decided to give this tank a thorough cleaning during its weekly water change. Then I decided I should give my lonely cory some sandy substrate to forage on rather than the ugly blue gravel I bought because my 5-year-old son liked it. Then I thought about how nice it would be to conceal the wires hanging down from the back with some new plants.

Suddenly I found myself at Petco. Hours later I woke up to this:


I tried to keep as much original substrate as possible so I don't totally destroy the tank's equilibrium. I think the inhabitants look MUCH better on the black, as the bright blue gravel kind of competed with the blue of the tetras, and of course white and yellow both pop against black.

Added some anacharis clippings toward the back, in the hope that they'll grow quickly to conceal some of those wires. Added some varied medium-sized anubias to sort of conceal the filter intake without getting too in the way. And tucked an asian water fern (could that name be any more generic?) in front of the fake rock formation to the left to liven it up a bit. Left the struggling vallisneria as is in the back corner near the heater.

I don't love the way the large anubias sort of juts out of the sand with no anchor but I'm not sure what I could use to hide it. I stuck a random river stone in front of the other one, which sort of clashes with the unnatural color scheme I've got going. (This tank is in the kids' room so I didn't want it to be toooo serious about itself.)

The loneliest catfish seems to dig it so far, and I love watching it & the snails tidy up after the tetras!

  • #5
So pretty! Corys are too cute!
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  • #6
So pretty! Corys are too cute!
Yes, to my surprise the cory is my favorite of the lot! If only I could justify another tank I'd raise an army of 'em...
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  • #7
We're moving house this year, so I'm controlling my usual spring seed-starting behavior. But since the tanks will come with, no harm in a little March aquascaping!

I had a very good experience with Han Aquatics. They sent me some dwarf sag, staurogyne repen, and corkscrew val - all in great condition at a very reasonable price.

10 gallon:

Filled in the dwindling val corner with the new corkscrew val, moved some anubias around, and added some dwarf sag around the submarine. Hoping the snails don't completely destroy it tonight.

This scape needs some existential retinkering, but at least I'm building up the flora for the fishies. I envy folks who can envision a masterpiece, plan it out and execute it. Me, I can't design a thing without first building it badly and then iterating 800 times. (The pleasure is in the iterations, though, isn't it?)

[pics to come - tank is sleeping at the moment]

Fluval Spec V:

Tucked some staurogyne repens into the sand in the foreground. If I don't kill it all it could potentially make a nice carpet someday. I don't know if I should keep the anubias nana on the dark chunk of driftwood to the right. It's a beautiful wee piece but it doesn't really fit in this tiny scape.

I've been having issues in this tank with brown dust type algae or sediment. The Internet was no help at all - apparently others have the same problem but there is no consensus on a solution. I happened to have an extra Tetra Whisper 10 HOB filter lying around, so I took the top & light off and ran the HOB for about an hour while occasionally agitating the brown stuff with a turkey baster. It was so satisfying watching it suck up all the gunk! My betta did not appreciate the extra suction and water current, but the tank looks 1000% better.

This Spec is a really nice tank, but the sump filtration leaves much to be desired.


Snail Camp (0.5 gallon):

I honestly hate this bowl. It's full of snails I don't want, never wanted, do not want to pack up and move with me. And yet... it exists. In my care. I do try to meet the snails' needs - a 20% water change every time I clean my bigger tanks, 10 hours a day under an LED grow light. But it gives me little in return.

So today I got serious about the idea of adding a small number of red cherry shrimp, to make it feel more like a tank and less like a chore. Did lots of research and am still considering where to source them, but in the meanwhile I have swapped out the weird red grow light for a CFL I used to use to start seedlings.

I was shocked to see the snails in regular white light - their shells are covered in white spots that don't look great. I actually fed them for the first time in forever and will top up the water a bit before adding any other critters. Hoping I can hand this bowl off to someone else rather than move it to my new city.

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  • #9
Goodbye snail bowl! Found a schoolteacher on Craigslist who agreed to take the whole kit off my hands. It will be her “class pet.”

But...oops. Last weekend I was in a LFS that had some lovely CRS and CBS and I seized the moment. Picked up two reds and one black.


They spent a happy week eating algae among the snails but I just scooped them out and stuck them in a Tupperware container with some moss while I prepare their new home:


It’s an 8x8x8” handmade cube I picked up yesterday at my new favorite LFS, Tropical Showcase in Hicksville, NY. It’s only 1.8G & much less than that with this giant rock in it, but it will be an improvement for my 3 shrimp. Slightly more elbow room, a sponge filter, and no snails to compete with (unless I plunk in one of the mystery snails from my overstocked 10G).

I’m thinking IwagumI style is best to show off the fauna. It will be a low tech setup though so I’ve got my work cut out for me researching appropriate plants.

::Rubs hands together::
  • #10
Wow! Pretty. These shrimp are going to have a good little home.
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  • #11
My cup of micranthemum monte carlo finally arrived!

  • #12
I'm subbing, this looks good!
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  • #13
After a whole 24 hours of dry start method, I decided against it altogether. I just knew I was going to grow something nasty in that boggy mess, and I thought I’d skip the mold problems and move directly onto the algae problems.

I flooded VERY SLOWLY and floated about 40% of my plantlets. No worries; they were probably planted too densely anyway... I left several to float (backup reserves!) and weighted a bunch down with spare aquarium gravel.

Then I added some diluted Flourish and some Excel and left the tank sitting under my seed starting light - a T5 fluorescent setup - for the afternoon. I’ve never actually seen pearling before - it’s gorgeous!

Tonight I (very carefully) moved the tank to its final home, on a wee corner table in my living room under a shop light.


Still to do:

- Buy a new light bulb (existing is janky)
- Install diy sponge filter
- Attempt to set up CO2 system (I am a total noob; I sort of impulse bought a cheap Fluval MinI starter kit today because I really feel this minimalist scape needs a carpet to work)
- Rehome the three crystal shrimp, who have been bearing their temporary situation with grace and dignity, even if also apparently on a hunger strike.

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  • #14
Diy sponge filter installed and working (I think?), tank topped up and seeded with Tetra Safestart. I’d put the shrimpies in but my CO2 setup doesn’t arrive until tomorrow, and I’d like to test it sans fauna so I don’t end up accidentally gassing them. I am so into this tank.

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  • #15
Finally upgraded the light on my 10 gal; I can’t believe my plants even survived for so long with the dinky stock hood LEDs. I bought a $30 19” Nicrew LED fixture from Amazon on the recommendation of someone on this or the plantedtank forum.

And then of course I had to buy a glass canopy as the Nicrew is not waterproof. (And the tank without its old cover was pretty pungent.)

I can see new growth already!

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  • #16
Went to the lfs for some more crystal shrimp; brought home their last surviving CRS and (unexpectedly) two RCS. They’re all lovely, exploring their new environments.

I drip acclimated the CRS to the temporary container my other CRS/ CBS are living in, and acclimated the RCS to the new cube because I figured a hardier shrimp would be good first residents.


I set up my minI CO2 system two days ago and am still getting used to turning it on and off in concert with the light. I picked up the Fluval MinI CO2 20 kit because 1) I have zero experience with CO2 injection; 2) it was cheap; and 3) I figure at only a few bubbles per minute, only a few hours a day, the tiny cartridges will last long enough.

But we shall see. I’m still impatiently waiting for my Monte Carlo carpet to really root. I don’t think I did the best job planting it, but it’s so tiny and I was planting it awkwardly with tweezers in quite a small space. Still, I’m not seeing any yellowing or die off, so I guess that’s good news!
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  • #17
One week later... I've lost two shrimp and uprooted half of the Monte Carlo! This is definitely one of those learning tanks... it's my first experience with something so small, my first experience with shrimp, my first experience with an Iwagumi-style carpet and my first experience with Co2.

I'm not sure what went down with the shrimp...they'd seem fine and then one morning I would wake up to find the other scrimps feasting on a corpse. :yuck: I've been doing one 10-20% midweek water change and one 40% with vac each weekend, dosing two drops of Flourish after the big water change. My params have been great and I think(?) the shrimp have plenty of oxygen (between an airstone and my consistently turning the Co2 off before the lights go out). They don't eat any of the food I occasionally put into the tank, but I read that such a small population doesn't need anything beyond the biofilm in the tank. Maybe shrimp just die? I should start a thread.

The Monte Carlo uprooting makes sense... I had planted it in large clumps rather than single stems, simply because I had a ton of it for such a small tank. But that situation gave each plant no incentive to root down into the substrate. I've removed my gravel weights and replanted half of the floor, much more sparsely. In order to keep the plants from floating away I actually buried quite a few leaves under the substrate. Hope that wasn't a huge mistake!
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  • #18
End-of-April update!

10gal: Had some fauna turnover this month. The tank was looking pretty grody with so many creatures in it (including the two mystery snail poop machines) and a persistent algae/ diatoms problem. So I took steps.

1) Gave away the two snails to someone with room in their 55 gallon tank.

2) Purchased two ottos — who together cleaned up every spot of brown or green in the tank inside of three days. Incredible creatures! Now I'm just worried about supplementing their diet as there's not a whole lot of algae left to graze on. I've been tossing them each a minI algae wafer a day.

Tank is looking a whole lot better, though I'm still not seeing vigorous plant growth. I buried some Seachem Flourish tabs under my dwarf sag and struggling vallisneria, but they haven't taken off yet. Maybe lack of Co2? I dose Excel every other day as I've read it can make vals melt.

1.8gal: This really is a learning tank! So I'd already lost two shrimp IN the tank (one CRS and one RCS). After that I lost two OUTSIDE the tank. The horror! I found them both, a few days apart, curled up on the floor like little Japanese shrimp snacks.

I googled furiously, and as far as I can tell either I had the water level too high or/and my Co2 setup didn't agree with them. Specifically, it was either reducing the amount of oxygen in the water or causing the Ph to fluctuate too wildly as I turned it on & off with the lights.

I've dialed down the Co2 injection a bit (my drop checker is now blue-green rather than leaf green) and replaced the wood airstone they seemed to love when I had it in there initially. And of course lowered the water level a bit.

In between all that death, I picked up a few more RCS - two berried females and a male - and they seem to be doing okay. I can see little black eyeballs in one of the females' eggs, so I guess it's just a matter of time now.

Oh, I also popped 3-4 Flourish tabs in this substrate, and the Monte carlo carpet responded really well!

April 10 (the day I buried the flourish tabs):


April 24 (ten days later):


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