Updating my 20 gallon rack

MoshJosh

Wanting to update the 3 20 gallon long tanks in my racking system. Currently they sort of randomly planted with some river rocks and cichlid caves (for the cichlids I never ended up breeding).

Thoughts/questions:

Filtration: currently I use 2 sponge filters on both sides of the tanks but I am considering switching to a powered filter. My rack can just barely accommodate a Aquaclear 20 (5 inch width) on the side of the tanks in-between the 2X4s. Other than the advantage of less equipment in the tank, do you think this would be an upgrade in filtration???

Substrate: Currently a mix of Fluval fluorite, sand, and a "bioactive" gravel. . . I don't dislike this but was thinking about going with something more uniform, combination of fine gravel and coarse sand. I just worry that I may be missing out the "benefits" or biological filtration capacity of something like fluorite or crushed lava rock. . . does it really make a difference.

Background: Currently using a semi transparent film on the back of the tanks. It's a good look but I really WANT a 3D background. . . I am thinking I will "have to" go with universal rock. I have heard mixed things but there don't seem to be to many other options. I really love Back to Nature backgrounds but I don't know of any US sellers (think they are located in Europe, not sure). Thoughts/opinions?

Plants: will likely only have a single piece of drift wood in each tanks for hardscape, could do Java Ferns or anubius. . . but mine never seem to due well, they are better at growing algae than new leaves. want to keep planting simple and low maintenance. Thoughts/opinions?
 

BigManAquatics

Would probably be an upgrade in mechanical filtration, maybe a stepdown for biological. Really just depends what you want/have stocked, really. I don't like using powered filters under 29g myself. That's just my preferences though.
 

MoshJosh

I will likely be stocking rice fish, rainbow fish, and some sort of bottom dweller (mud fish in at least one tank.). . . also cherry shrimp probably.
 

BigManAquatics

I will likely be stocking rice fish, rainbow fish, and some sort of bottom dweller (mud fish in at least one tank.). . . also cherry shrimp probably.
If you plan on fry and shrimp i would stay with the sponges myself, just less hassle. Though we haven't had any fry slip past the intake sponge on our HOB yet... i think.
 

MoshJosh

Here’s a picture of the aqua clear 20, it’s almost as if it were made for this rack


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JavaMossMan

Hi MoshJosh,

I'm a fan of your work. Simple tanks with sponge filters. I'm going to be going this route as well. Have you tried any type of moss? I recently received h. japan from a fishlore member (RedOnion). I'm pleased with how this plant is doing. Took no time at all to start growing and it seems very versatile. I have some floating on top and some just hanging on the bottom of my tank. I think this plant will do well in your tanks.
 

MoshJosh

I have tried H. Japan, and it all melted and never came back ha ha. I’m starting to reassess why I’ve had some issues with plants though, I may try this plant again in the future because it is quite lovely

got my Universal Rocks background today. . . So far I am pleased, looks legit!!!


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BigManAquatics

I have tried H. Japan, and it all melted and never came back ha ha. I’m starting to reassess why I’ve had some issues with plants though, I may try this plant again in the future because it is quite lovely

got my Universal Rocks background today. . . So far I am pleased, looks legit!!!


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I have always thought they look pretty neat in tanks, don't know i have ever seen a pic of one not in water before!
 

MoshJosh

I ordered two more after seeing the first one!

I also ordered some driftwood on slate from manzanitadriftwood.com

thinking I’ll go with caribsea cichlid mix “Ivory Coast”, maybe mixed with a finer sad as well. I don’t need the ph buffer stuff, but I love the look.

Also not sure what I want to do about filtering the top tank. The Aquaclear 20s will work great for the middle and bottom tank as they will be mostly hidden by the upright beams of the rack (I will be doing the exact same this with some hang on breeder boxes on the other side of the rack, also hidden by the beams. . .). But the top tank is completely exposed and I feel it will look strange having a HOB hanging off the side. I was thinking one of the Dymax slim filters on the back would be mostly hidden by the background, but the filter is quite tall. . . and I am not sold on the actual filter capacity. . .

Also should I use sponge filters in conjunction with the HOB filters?
 

JavaMossMan

What brand of sponge filters do you guys recommend and is there a nano/tiny sponge filter on the market?
 

BigManAquatics

I ordered two more after seeing the first one!

I also ordered some driftwood on slate from manzanitadriftwood.com

thinking I’ll go with caribsea cichlid mix “Ivory Coast”, maybe mixed with a finer sad as well. I don’t need the ph buffer stuff, but I love the look.

Also not sure what I want to do about filtering the top tank. The Aquaclear 20s will work great for the middle and bottom tank as they will be mostly hidden by the upright beams of the rack (I will be doing the exact same this with some hang on breeder boxes on the other side of the rack, also hidden by the beams. . .). But the top tank is completely exposed and I feel it will look strange having a HOB hanging off the side. I was thinking one of the Dymax slim filters on the back would be mostly hidden by the background, but the filter is quite tall. . . and I am not sold on the actual filter capacity. . .

Also should I use sponge filters in conjunction with the HOB filters?
I use sponge filters in conjunction with HOBs on a couple tanks, mainly because i had the HOBs just sitting there, but also because i have had issues with HOBs failing in the past. And i like the extra flow/filtration.

What brand of sponge filters do you guys recommend and is there a nano/tiny sponge filter on the market?
Aquatop is what a lot of mine are, simply because that is what the LFSs in my area carry. And yes, there are some pretty small ones on the market.
 

SouthAmericanCichlids

Same with me, aquatop. But, tbh there really isn't a difference, besides the sizes of the whole, which many brands have different versions for. Upside of ones with smaller whole it sucks up finer debris, but that means you have to clean it out more often. With larger wholes, you don't have to clean it as often, yet it doesn't suck up as tiny pieces. But tbh, it really doesn't matter.
 

JavaMossMan

Thanks all I'll keep the aquatop brand in my mind when setting up my 5 gallon. There are just so many dubious looking chinese brands on amazon. Not sure if they are all of good quality.
 

SouthAmericanCichlids

Thanks all I'll keep the aquatop brand in my mind when setting up my 5 gallon. There are just so many dubious looking chinese brands on amazon. Not sure if they are all of good quality.
Well, with sponge filters, there is nothing really mechanical about it, that can break, and the plastic stuff isn't really probably of breakage as it won't be bumping into anything, the only thing that could be of poor quality is the sponge, it could deteriorate prematurely, but if it's made from the same materials (Which I believe most if not all sponges are), then they should be fine.

Now you'll want a good brand of air pump though.
 

JavaMossMan

Well, with sponge filters, there is nothing really mechanical about it, that can break, and the plastic stuff isn't really probably of breakage as it won't be bumping into anything, the only thing that could be of poor quality is the sponge, it could deteriorate prematurely, but if it's made from the same materials (Which I believe most if not all sponges are), then they should be fine.

Now you'll want a good brand of air pump though.
I have a tetra air pump I got not too long ago. Its running really well. Which one do you recommend?

Sorry if I've hijacked the thread a bit here.
 

SouthAmericanCichlids

I have a tetra air pump I got not too long ago. Its running really well. Which one do you recommend?

Sorry if I've hijacked the thread a bit here.
Oh, I thought this was your's, I'd asked for this to be moved to it's own thread, if you @ a mod, and ask, they can do it, I believe.

In answer to that, I believe I have a top fin and I have had it for almost 6 years and it hasn't broken with constant use (Except for ~3 months before I had a sponge filter and after my dragon who breathes bubbles killed 3 of my fish (One was a favorite).
 

MoshJosh

Ordered some plants, 5 pots of anubias (on sale) and 3 pots of Homalomena Sekadau (also on sale).

What brand of sponge filters do you guys recommend and is there a nano/tiny sponge filter on the market?
Currently all my sponge filters are Aquarium Co-op brand, I like them, and they do make a nano size

Have used aquatop in the past (also what my LFS carries) and they work just fine.

Currently I mainly use usb air pumps (Aquarium Co-op or generic ebay/amazon ones), I like them because they are small, quiet, and are designed to be hung from a carabineer. . . this is nice because they don't vibrate against anything as long as they are hung/mounted accordingly. I will say I have had a few of these pumps fail but that is out of like the 20 I've bought haha.

Have used some Tetra whisper pumps as well and they work great!
 

MoshJosh

Put the first background in today, just waiting for the silicone to cure. . .


357754CA-6862-4B25-BD15-6A1BD912804E.jpeg

also got some of the driftwood today, one was smaller than I expected so I did some zip tie surgery to make it more presentable.


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I have run into a bit of an issue, I want some rocks in the tank, but not really sure what will match the background or at least not be so dissimilar to look strange
 

JavaMossMan

You should get some fluorite black sand as substrate. Add some crypts if you have trouble with plants and then throw in some java moss and let it go crazy. If you want a super easy stem plant go with rotala rotundifolia.

Btw I checked out aquarium coops sponge filters and usb air pump. I'm sold. Just what I was looking for and good price as well.
 

MoshJosh

Found out that the hang on back filters don’t actually fit on the sides of my tanks, had to make a slight modification.


A5F9A544-FA4B-4304-85E2-AC6DB5E1BFB2.jpeg

Here is the sort of set up I’m thinking, at least for the middle and bottom tank, top tank will probably be sponge filters only just for a cleaner look.


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coralbandit

Put the first background in today, just waiting for the silicone to cure. . .


357754CA-6862-4B25-BD15-6A1BD912804E.jpeg



I have run into a bit of an issue, I want some rocks in the tank, but not really sure what will match the background or at least not be so dissimilar to look strange
The same company makes rubber /silicone rocks that match ..
Aquarium, Reptile Rock Products | Universal Rocks
 

MoshJosh

The same company makes rubber /silicone rocks that match ..
Aquarium, Reptile Rock Products | Universal Rocks
Good point, I didn’t even think of that haha. It’s a shame because their “stacking rocks“ would look great!!! But because I hadn’t though of that, I ended up ordering a easy planter from aquarium co-op. From the pictures it looks like it should match pretty closely, and it will give the added benefit of letting me put some aqua soil in the tank, the actual substrate will be exclusively coarse gravel.

but I find him not liking the planter, I’ll just order some from universal rocks.
 

MoshJosh

Sneak peak. . . Still need to make lids. . .


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BigManAquatics

Sneak peak. . . Still need to make lids. . .


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Looking pretty nice and dapper!
 

MoshJosh

So I’ve been lazy, and still haven’t made the lids, it’s one of my goals for my weekend. That said I did get most of the cords managed. . . Of course I forgot to add the on off switchs I planned on adding in line with the HOB filters (Guess I’ll be crawling on the floor to unplug them for the time being when I do water changes). Also, turns out I had some day off/more day off than I thought when treating my rice fish for worms. I didn’t have enough platinum ricefish to really fill out the top tank like I had planned. I ended up getting some long fin white clouds, and paradise fish.


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MoshJosh

My wife wanted a bookshelf to go next to the aquariums. For two days work I think it turned out OK. Due to my self-imposed deadline, the painting isn’t quite as nice as I could’ve made it, sort of rushed through it so there’s some drips and what not. Anyway here it is. I’ll put up another picture when it’s in place


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JustAFishServant

Wanting to update the 3 20 gallon long tanks in my racking system. Currently they sort of randomly planted with some river rocks and cichlid caves (for the cichlids I never ended up breeding).

Thoughts/questions:

Filtration: currently I use 2 sponge filters on both sides of the tanks but I am considering switching to a powered filter. My rack can just barely accommodate a Aquaclear 20 (5 inch width) on the side of the tanks in-between the 2X4s. Other than the advantage of less equipment in the tank, do you think this would be an upgrade in filtration???

Substrate: Currently a mix of Fluval fluorite, sand, and a "bioactive" gravel. . . I don't dislike this but was thinking about going with something more uniform, combination of fine gravel and coarse sand. I just worry that I may be missing out the "benefits" or biological filtration capacity of something like fluorite or crushed lava rock. . . does it really make a difference.

Background: Currently using a semi transparent film on the back of the tanks. It's a good look but I really WANT a 3D background. . . I am thinking I will "have to" go with universal rock. I have heard mixed things but there don't seem to be to many other options. I really love Back to Nature backgrounds but I don't know of any US sellers (think they are located in Europe, not sure). Thoughts/opinions?

Plants: will likely only have a single piece of drift wood in each tanks for hardscape, could do Java Ferns or anubius. . . but mine never seem to due well, they are better at growing algae than new leaves. want to keep planting simple and low maintenance. Thoughts/opinions?
Just a thought, if you have algae go for fast-growing plants - outcompeters, we can call them. Egeria, hornwort, even lillies grow so fast that algae sees them as poor hosts. Slow growers like anubias are just waiting for algae to "extend their stay", if you will.

I personally keep low light and blackwater tanks so algae is hardly an issue. However, my 200g is undecided when it comes to algae. The plants (anubias congensis, coffeefolia, gracilis, nana & nana 'petite', narrow leaf, windelov & normal java fern, dwarf tiger lily, egeria, dwarf sag, jungle val, chinese evergreen, peace lily, golden pothos and monstera) thrive. It has over 3000 gals worth of filtration and is stocked with 3 egg-bellied goldie girls, an old snail, guppy and gold weather loach. I raised them alongside plants so they generally avoid eating them - especially since I spoil them rotten with homemade gel food - but even if they nibble, these plants grow so fast that they grow back in no-time. I highly recommend you do the same, especially if you plan to keep herbivorous or plant-nibbling species ;)
 

MoshJosh

Well, I’d say it’s done. Thank you everyone for the recommendations and the advice. Unfortunately when it comes to plants I ended up just recycling what I had from other set ups/what was on sale at the time. We’ll see what grows and what doesn’t and go from there. For rocks I ended up just using the river stones I had laying around. I think they look fine in the tanks, though one of these days I might order some fake rocks from Universal. Anyway I’m happy overall, though I will probably add a few more fish, namely reticulated Hillstream loaches once I can find them in town.


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