Waterloo's 20 Gallon

Waterloo

Member
Hey everyone,

Feel like all of my posts are all over the place so figured I'd tidy up and just make a thread for my 20 gallon tank.

Currently:
1 mystery snail
3 female dalmatian molly
1 male dalmatian molly
2 male fancy guppies

Java moss, crypts, moss balls, amazon swords

Equipment: Topfin 20 and Marine land 10 gal filter ( had an extra and thought why not...planning on getting an aquaclear 50 for the 20 gallon and then use my current 20 gallon on my future puffer tank)
Standard mercury thermometer - want to upgrade to a digital just havn't yet. Heater came with the kit so assuming its a TopFin but can't seem to find it online.

Current main goal for the tank: Learn more about planted tanks and revive my poor plants that are not doing too well thanks to uneducated mistakes...sorry plants...

To do list: Paint a background and purchase BDBS for substrate.

Most recent update to tank: Upgraded the lights from the stock TopFin 20 gallon starter kit to a NiCrew light - I bought the 20" - 26" and it fits PERFECTLY on my tank. This happened yesterday (10/14/18) so really don't have much to say as far as review goes but I am sure I will have some words in the future. Have a picture below.


Thank you for visiting and you are welcome to follow along with me
 

stella1979

Member
My own 20 gallon planted has seen its ups and downs and it's certainly a learning process.

If I may, I'd highly recommend PlastiDip spray for background painting... Though it may be too late for this one unless you're planning on emptying it. Anyhow, for reference, this stuff is great because it sprays on easy, stays nice over time, but isn't too hard to remove should you ever want to.
 
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Waterloo

Member
stella1979 yeah, I will probably use plastidip for the other tanks. REALLY don't want to drain the water if I don't have to. Pretty familiar with platstidip from helping to paint my boyfriend's motorcycle (aka my bike by extension lol)
 

PonzLL

Member
Wow plastidip is a great idea I'll have to remember that.

following this thread!
 
  • Thread Starter

Waterloo

Member
PonzLL said:
Wow plastidip is a great idea I'll have to remember that.

following this thread!
Its super awesome. Lots of colors, pretty much use like any other spray paint and removing usually fairly easy to moderate effort
 

DarkOne

Member
PlastiDip also comes in liquid so you can paint it on. I have both but I used water resistant acrylic paint for my tanks. I did use non-water resistant acrylic on my 75 gallon and it peeled a bit when it got wet though. Still need to touch it up but it's small and not very noticeable.
 
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Waterloo

Member
So after a stressful day at work and being stuck in traffic could not wait to get home and mess around with some fish!


First on today’s list. Paint the background. So thanks to the kiddo’s art supplies I had some black acrylic paint (.50 at Walmart) and borrowed a brush.

Here is a before.


And an after.


Umm hello! I love it.

It did take me three coats and then a 4th kinda dabbing at some of the light spots still shining. Not perfect but up against the wall and I really have no intention of removing it so it’s perfect.

But. Wasn’t done there yet. This weekend I will be looking at getting some BDBS hopefully. But I do know I don’t want to keep the substrate I have. So to help minimize stress I figured I would start removing some of the substrate now. Let everything kinda resettle and see how everyone is doing after a day or two and then repeat until I’m comfortable with it.



This is just taking out a few small cups. One thing I HATE about this rock is it’s super super dirty. Cleaned it really well when I first got it back in March and with weekly water changes and gravel cleaning you would think it would be a tad bit cleaner.

Nope *Facepalm*

Not to worry though with both filters going it really doesn’t take to long to clear up.

This is about 15 minutes later.



So far everyone is doing well. Probably won’t do too much for the remainder of the night. Really not too worried about the plants. Getting mixed signals if the new light is helping. One one hand things seem brighter but impossible to compare the tank to Sunday’s photo thanks to me moving stuff all over the place. I have noticed a difference in the frog bit coloration and have already noticed new baby runners. Yay!!!

As always excited to see how this tank evolves over the next couple of weeks on its “new” planted journey.
 

DarkOne

Member
Tank looks great!

The 50¢ paint isn't waterproof or resistant. I usually bought Simply Acrylic by Daler-Rowney but they were out so I just bought the 50¢ paint for my 75g. Looks good but when it gets wet, it doesn't dry the same color like Simply Acrylic and it will peel off so if you get it wet, don't wipe it and just let it dry. It's not as bad as peeled paint.

I also notice you have a mag-float. You should look at the scraper attachment. You get 2 in the package and it's definitely worth it.
 

PonzLL

Member
The back background looks great nice choice!
 

Pescado_Verde

Member
I kinda liked the gravel, looks fairly coarse but natural.
 
  • Thread Starter

Waterloo

Member
DarkOne said:
Tank looks great!

The 50¢ paint isn't waterproof or resistant. I usually bought Simply Acrylic by Daler-Rowney but they were out so I just bought the 50¢ paint for my 75g. Looks good but when it gets wet, it doesn't dry the same color like Simply Acrylic and it will peel off so if you get it wet, don't wipe it and just let it dry. It's not as bad as peeled paint.

I also notice you have a mag-float. You should look at the scraper attachment. You get 2 in the package and it's definitely worth it.
I’ll have to remember that about not wiping it. Definitely can tell I’ll have to do touch up as it gets older. And that’s awesome about the mag float. I didn’t know there was an attachment like that. Always wondered why the sides looked weird lol

PonzLL said:
The back background looks great nice choice!
Thank you!

Pescado_Verde said:
I kinda liked the gravel, looks fairly coarse but natural.
Same here! I loved the look but it’s so dusty and I think that’s what’s causing the plants to look kinda muddled. After yesterday’s endeavor they are looking even worse
 
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Waterloo

Member
Alright. Another day and another slow progress on removing the substrate.

This is what it looked like after yesterday’s fiasco.



Things are very murky today and removed maybe half of what was left from yesterday.

My snail was out today. And is huge! With him up against the glass I measured the foot at 3 inches and the antenna adding another inch. ( is it even called antennae on snails?!)



After closely watching everyone and the water starts to get a bit more just noticed there are these long swaying strings?



Never seen it before and certainly wasn’t before I started moving stuff around. I’m guessing I should remove it but kinda curious what caused it. It kind of reminds me what coral would do in my dad’s Saltwater when it got really hot in the summer and they got kinda stressed out. Do plants do that to? Or do I just have Saltwater on the brain lol
 
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Waterloo

Member
Finally got my hands on some BDBS. Had to drive out a total of 40 miles yesterday to get some.



Here is a before of everything. All the plants are just kinda floating since I removed the majority of the substrate.



Cleaning the sand was super easy. There was some black residue that other people have commented but it washed away very quickly. Easily the easiest substrate I have ever cleaned to date.

Once again the tank is a mess and murky. Hopefully this will be the last for awhile.... everyone was moved to buckets with a heater and the small 10 gal hob fit over the bucket as well so fish seemed good.



Here is today!



Love the sand and plants went in ridiculously easy. Pretty happy with everything except one thing...

I am missing a molly.

I definitely had everyone this morning at an early feeding. Left for most of the day and came back and I am missing one of my little females.

First thought was with an open lid maybe she jumped. Have looked everywhere around the tank, floor, walls etc and can not find her anywhere. The one mystery snail couldn’t have possibly cleaned up that quickly and no where in the filters or anything.

I have lost fish before but none that just up and disappeared. Very strange

I guess next steps is working on the plant growth.

I have seen new growth on the sword since the new light which I am loving


All of those lovely green leaves are new growth. The roots on this plant are crazy long and have been gently trying to push them down with a qtip but they keep seeing to uproot again. Any tips with that would be awesome.
 

DarkOne

Member
Your plants are going to need root tabs.

Push the roots deeper than they need to be and then pull up to where they should be and the roots should stay in place.
 
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Waterloo

Member
First WC since putting in BDBS. Cleaning seemed easier then I thought it would be. Was really worried with how fine the sand is that I would end up sucking it all up. Just hovered and “tapped” at dirtier places but didn’t suck up any sand.

Water cleared really quickly. Mollies are being over dramatic with the water change and pouting. Them seek to do this every 4 WCs or so. Not really sure why. Guppies have never had issues after WC day and seem to swim around my silly molly laying down.

Have a few errands and may go look at adding a plant to the tank. Have a growing list of different ones I want and the tank seems so empty.
 
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Waterloo

Member
So left for a bit. Came back with flourish tabs but no new plants.

Mollies are not doing good. In particular my black male. Tested water and pH is 7.2. Ammonia is .5 ppm nitrites .5 ppm and nitrates are 20ppm.

Skipped a few weeks of WC so that’s why I’m figuring the nitrates are high and ammonia and nitrites I don’t know if this is a positive from API stress treatment and dechlorination treatment. Temp is at 78... really worried about the male. Guppies are good and the big female and little female are still laying down but are not breathing heavy or anything. Not sure what to do...
 
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Waterloo

Member
Added 10 ml of Aqueon conditioner and now been an hour. Two female molly are okay. Kinda swimming slowly on the bottom of the tank. My black male is now floating belly up. Gills are moving but that’s really the only sign of life and looks like some scales are dull or maybe even missing?

Heart is breaking and not really sure what I did wrong this water change
 
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Waterloo

Member
Well the little guy didn’t make it. Down one fish
 

BrandedUW

Member
So sorry! I don't know what happened but it sounded like you were doing everything you could. Very strange.
 
  • Thread Starter

Waterloo

Member
Been a frustrating couple of weeks...plants are doing very well since the new light, substrate and now root tabs. My amazon sword especially. I am still battling high nitrates and have been doing extra WCs...about a week or so ago I was testing

ammonia 0
nitrites 0
nitrates 40 (or beyond API is hard to read sometimes...needless to say it was RED)

been doing maybe 30% water changes every three days and have noticed a difference with the fish. They are bit more active and the guppies are brighter.

Last night. tested the water at

ammonia 0.5
nitrates 0.5
nitrates 10

much much better and was thinking maybe I can go back to doing a WC once per week....last night a couple hours after my mystery snail died. This was the first one I have ever owned so really not sure what may have caused the death. Water parameters seem fine but maybe with the added water changes I killed off algae and destroyed his food supply? which sucks to think about...This is now the second death in less then a month. With the loss of two animals and all the baby plants the tank is looking very empty. I have two female molly and two male guppies. I am not sure which species I should stock with. I am okay with breeding as I give them away to my LFS. So to avoid harassment...

I am thinking of getting either 1 male and 1 female molly to have 1 male 3 female ratio

or

2 female guppies to make 2 male and 2 female guppies ratio/

but then again with two deaths in such a short time frame I feel like I need to wait a little bit and make sure the tank is stable.
 

stella1979

Member
Yes, it's a good idea to be patient, and that is always true in this hobby. Also, waiting will give you more time to decide which species you'd like to stock.

As for the API nitrate test... hmm, I don't love it... at all. One thing you can do for a slightly more accurate result when nitrates are high is called a dilution test. This is where you mix tank water with nitrate free water, (distilled would be best to be sure, but I'd think most bottled brands would be nitrate free), and run the test normally, then multiply your result. Usually this is done at a 50/50 ratio and multiplied by 2, or, it can be done at a ratio of 1ml tank water to 4ml nitrate free water, then multiplied by 5.

The best thing to do for more accuracy on a nitrate test? Get a different brand. I'm happy with Salifert's.
 

clovervalley

Member
I would wait until your tank’s cycle settles down first before adding any more fish, you don’t want to shock it! That sucks about your fish and snail! Maybe it was removing the gravel with beneficial bacteria that messed with your cycle?
 
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Waterloo

Member
That's what I am thinking...I tried to keep as much intact as possible but still a big change so I suppose there was always that risk.

Definitely will wait for fish. I have always been really slow when it comes to building and buying fish.
 

12Cin12

Member
Waterloo said:
Been a frustrating couple of weeks...plants are doing very well since the new light, substrate and now root tabs. My amazon sword especially. I am still battling high nitrates and have been doing extra WCs...about a week or so ago I was testing

ammonia 0
nitrites 0
nitrates 40 (or beyond API is hard to read sometimes...needless to say it was RED)

been doing maybe 30% water changes every three days and have noticed a difference with the fish. They are bit more active and the guppies are brighter.

Last night. tested the water at

ammonia 0.5
nitrates 0.5
nitrates 10

much much better and was thinking maybe I can go back to doing a WC once per week....last night a couple hours after my mystery snail died. This was the first one I have ever owned so really not sure what may have caused the death. Water parameters seem fine but maybe with the added water changes I killed off algae and destroyed his food supply? which sucks to think about...This is now the second death in less then a month. With the loss of two animals and all the baby plants the tank is looking very empty. I have two female molly and two male guppies. I am not sure which species I should stock with. I am okay with breeding as I give them away to my LFS. So to avoid harassment...

I am thinking of getting either 1 male and 1 female molly to have 1 male 3 female ratio

or

2 female guppies to make 2 male and 2 female guppies ratio/

but then again with two deaths in such a short time frame I feel like I need to wait a little bit and make sure the tank is stable.
HI waterloo,
I'm sorry about all the trouble you're having. About the snail: In the future, you could try giving him algae tabs like the kind fed to Plecos. My snails are ravenous for them. Even when I had algae, the natural food didn't seem to keep up with their appetites. They eat A LOT!
 
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Waterloo

Member
12Cin12 said:
HI waterloo,
I'm sorry about all the trouble you're having. About the snail: In the future, you could try giving him algae tabs like the kind fed to Plecos. My snails are ravenous for them. Even when I had algae, the natural food didn't seem to keep up with their appetites. They eat A LOT!

I was dropping one in every other day. I still have a huge bag from my pleco that I rehomed
 

12Cin12

Member
Waterloo said:
I was dropping one in every other day. I still have a huge bag from my pleco that I rehomed
Very strange. I just lost my giant mystery snail- he was as big as yours (Gary 1). I was very sad - mystery snails have such engaging personalities. He took an excursion outside of the tank and cracked his shell. My daughter found him and put him back in. He was dead by the time I saw him. At the time, my ph was 6.4. I've wondered if he was trying to escape to more alkaline waters. Ph is now 7.2 and other snails (Gary2, Goldie, and Pearl) are much more active.
 

EMR

Member
Sorry to hear about the snail passing. That really bums me out. I read your thread starting at the beginning and was impressed by its size, then to learn of its passing.
 
  • Thread Starter

Waterloo

Member
EMR said:
Sorry to hear about the snail passing. That really bums me out. I read your thread starting at the beginning and was impressed by its size, then to learn of its passing.
He was definitely a favorite of mine. It was "I think you're kinda gross" one second and then going from "Wow, you're really cool!" the next and then back to the first
 

BrandedUW

Member
Wondering how your tank is doing Waterloo. How are the rest of the fish and the nitrate issue?
 
  • Thread Starter

Waterloo

Member
Helllooooooo everyone! It has officially been 30 days since I finished my upgrades with the lights, fertilizers and new substrate and holy. Cannoli.

Did not expect such a difference!

Life has been crazy. Working 9-10 hour days plus 2 hour commute and keeping up with my daughter’s holiday school events and goings have left me pretty quiet on the forums but I am still here and still working on the tank.

I could tell my amazon sword has done so much better but when I put together my before and after shots I really didn’t realize how much stuff has changed! Nor how much light was being blocked by the frog bit! I am beyond in love with the tank. Parameters have finally stabilized again and every one is happy and healthy. I’m now thinking of adding more plants next and really filling out some of the empty spaces. As for fish, I’m kinda leaning more guppies but probably won’t get anything for awhile. I have always been really strict with not ordering fish during the winter when it’s so cold out and with me being at work so much I don’t want anything left outside

So if I ever get time off to go to the LFS and see some females I absolutely have to go home with then the stocking is really not going to change much.

Anyway. Enough jabbering. Take a look at some of these photos. I’m in love. If you have any suggestions or whatever let me know!










So green. Much wow.
 

BrandedUW

Member
Looks great. Your frog bit has definitely taken off. Are you going to thin it out so your other plants still get light? Or if you want to make sure your Amazon sword gets enough, you can always block that portion of the tank. Not saying you need to, just ideas in case that's an issue for you. I used minI suction cups and some super thin clear sewing floss (like tiny fishing line) to block off the corner where my filter is so the floating plants don't end up underwater.

As for suggestions, maybe more hard scape, like driftwood or rocks? One thing I really like about that is the option to attach plants to the hardscape. Anubias and Java Fern are a couple I've had good luck with.

Glad all your fishies are doing good. Excited to see what you do with the tank over time.
 
  • Thread Starter

Waterloo

Member
I definitely want to add some more hardscape. When I go out hiking I search for different things but haven’t found anything that just seems “right”

For the frogbit it tends to ball up to the left side of the tank in a Gaint mass lol I just spread it out for the photo. I’m not really sure about thinking it out. I have put so much effort in waterchanges and what not that I tried to throw some of it away and found myself ridiculously attached to it!

It will most certainly overgrow the tank out so I have no idea what I’m going to do with it. Part of me wishs you could at least eat it or something lol
 

BrandedUW

Member
Haha. Maybe post some to trade on a local aquarium group or something. Ya, it seems a shame, but at some point it won't all fit.
 
  • Thread Starter

Waterloo

Member
Next Saturday I’ll be moving..kinda. Renting out the entire basement instead of just a room in the house I’m currently living in. Will hopefully be the last time I have to move the tank in a little bit. After that will monitor the tank for a few weeks to a month just to make sure the fish are okay and not to stressed. They have have been through a bit with all the changes in the last few months. Assuming all goes well after their monitoring period I’ll start filling in with plants and will add some female guppies into the group. Kinda falling in love with the Cory fish but I know they like schools and don’t think I have adequate space in my tank with the size and current stocking.
 

DarkOne

Member
Cories are awesome! You can get one of the smaller species or even dwarf cories but they act more like a fish than a corydora.
 
  • Thread Starter

Waterloo

Member
Moving in less then 12 hours. Everyone is in a bucket with heater and filter. Tank is drained except for enough water for the plants. Ready for everything to be settled again
 

DarkOne

Member
Waterloo said:
Moving in less then 12 hours. Everyone is in a bucket with heater and filter. Tank is drained except for enough water for the plants. Ready for everything to be settled again
Good luck!!!
 

stella1979

Member
You got this!
 
  • Thread Starter

Waterloo

Member
Everyone survived the night in my bucket setup. No one is pale and nothing about their swimming behavior looks like stress. We will see how that changes when I pick them up and move down multiple flights of stairs!
 
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Waterloo

Member
Officially moved and everyone back in the tank. Water is a little murky but should clear soon. Going to give everyone a chance to settled in and then smooth out the substrate and clear out some of the broken frog bit and leaves.

But thankfully everyone is alive so far!!!!
 
  • Thread Starter

Waterloo

Member
So a couple week’s ago added 5 female baby guppies to the tank. They didn’t have color yet and now the girls have exploded in vibrancy.

Just look at this girl! She has a mix or purples and orange. Yellow and orange are the more prominent. One of the guppies is very pregnant and most likely was before being introduced to my males. So unsure what the colorations will be. Excited to see these guys breed.
 

Bryangar

Member
Waterloo said:
So a couple week’s ago added 5 female baby guppies to the tank. They didn’t have color yet and now the girls have exploded in vibrancy.

Just look at this girl! She has a mix or purples and orange. Yellow and orange are the more prominent. One of the guppies is very pregnant and most likely was before being introduced to my males. So unsure what the colorations will be. Excited to see these guys breed.
That’s looks like a male.. good looking colors.
 
  • Thread Starter

Waterloo

Member
Yes. That one is. They are moving too fast to get a good photo and I settled on this one. The others look pretty similar in color spectrum
 

PonzLL

Member
That's a nice looking guppy!
 
  • Thread Starter

Waterloo

Member
So. Day 100. Feels like I have gone backwards photo wise. So biggest change is rehousing everyone from a 20 gallon to a 28 gallon bow front. I decided to ditch the driftwood. So much plant matter was getting stuck underneath making a “dead spot” for growth and was just getting annoying moving around and repositioning. Added females to my males. Grabbed 5 mystery babies and ended up with two mosaic cobra females. One male mosaic cobra. A female golden common guppy and a male endler. Ended up with roughly 25 babies that will be a week old tomorrow. A few have passed and then found a few still in the main tank so not sure the final number yet. Got rid of the fern that was covering. Just wasn’t happy with how the plant grew. Creates runners at the tips of the leaves and had to manually “rip” them up which just tore the main adult leaves and just seemed cruddy looking. Added a white ribbon to the HOB (filter) it’s a semI aquatic and two out of three branches are doing well so far. Algae has bloomed a bit with the added baby fish and lack of plants. Will start adding a few more plants that I like in the next week or so. Lastly for the plants, got rid of a bit of frog bit at the top. It grows very fast and will over run the tank very soon so should see a decrease in algae once that starts taking off again.
 
  • Thread Starter

Waterloo

Member
Water change day and babies are one week old.
 

Pescado_Verde

Member
What's the plans for the babies? You know with livebearers there's going to be more. And more. And more.

Since I started with Platies and Mollies I had quite a few fry at first but after adding Gouramis and other fish I don't see too many babies now. Guess they're all fish food. That and as much as I've been messing with my tank moving stuff around it's probably hard for them to not just die from shock.
 
  • Thread Starter

Waterloo

Member
They are being sold
 

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