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Diving back into Aquariums!

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Diving back into Aquariums!

Post Number:#1  Unread postby Nymphadora » Mon Nov 05, 2018 3:14 pm


Sorry for the terrible pun! (or am I?) :lol:

So my husband recently suggested that I start an aquarium again… I really enjoyed the fantail goldfish I had back in South Carolina, and I’ve been wanting to set up a planted tank for a while. I never bothered with plants when I had the fantails since they tried to eat anything that entered their watery domain. Thermometers, plastic plants, fingers… it wasn’t deemed inedible until they’d failed at least 6 times. And they devoured spinach and pea treats with alarming speed. So live plants just weren’t going to work with my darlings. :oops:

This time around I planned a cute little aquascape with spider wood, mini Christmas moss (yes, I made a bonsai tree… yes, very cliché), some dwarf hair grass, anubias nana petite, and buce. I used live soil for the majority of the tank, with a white sand “river” cutting through a third of it, lined with stone. It was perhaps a little ambitious for my skill level, as I haven’t had a planted tank since before my goldfish, and this was going to be low-tech. :/

Aquascape.jpg
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I added a school of neon tetras and some nerite snails, but for some reason I was never able to get the tetras to thrive, and eventually the school dwindled to nothing. After that I noticed some tiny detritus worms, and possibly planaria… whelp, I am not a fan of those, so I decided to tear apart the tank (saving filter media, of course), and start over. I kept the bonsai tree, anubias, and buce, but tossed everything else (and gave everything a thorough rinse/peroxide dip). Changed the substrate from a complicated and manicured setup to black sand everywhere (I used this with the goldfish and always loved the striking contrast and easy maintenance). And finally added a few taller plants (Amazon sword and something that almost looks like Val).

Aquascape 2.0.jpg
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My nerite snails went right to work scooting around the sand and glass… I love those cute little snails! And I picked out a pretty betta male that I am hoping will like his new 20 gallon territory enough not to pester the snails to death (he’s managed to flip 2 onto their backs, but I caught them in time to right them and prevent death by maniac fish). I did everything I could to try and pick a relatively mellow betta, so maybe once he’s used to his new home he’ll calm down again. :x

So, for those that stuck through to the end of a non-rabbit related rambling… snail selfie! :D

Snail Selfie.jpg
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And a quick snap of the little terror I've unleashed upon this tank... he's pretty, but also kind of a jerk so far. We'll see if he ends up staying in this tank, or if I set up a separate 5-10 gallon for him. :roll:

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Re: Diving back into Aquariums!

Post Number:#2  Unread postby MaggieJ » Mon Nov 05, 2018 4:14 pm


Looks life fun, Nymph! Those snails actually are cute! :D And your Betta is beautiful.

Wouldn't duck weed work for fish like your goldfish that demolish their plants? That stuff multiplies faster than rabbits! :lol:
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Re: Diving back into Aquariums!

Post Number:#3  Unread postby Nymphadora » Mon Nov 05, 2018 5:22 pm


MaggieJ wrote:Wouldn't duck weed work for fish like your goldfish that demolish their plants? That stuff multiplies faster than rabbits! :lol:

If you let the duckweed get established first, yes, it will probably survive the goldfish... but to me a tank with just duckweed would be a little boring, as far as planted tanks go. :oops:

Might as well go all out if I'm claiming an entire (small) counter to display the tank. :P :twisted:

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Re: Diving back into Aquariums!

Post Number:#4  Unread postby MaggieJ » Mon Nov 05, 2018 7:00 pm


Nymphadora wrote: If you let the duckweed get established first, yes, it will probably survive the goldfish... but to me a tank with just duckweed would be a little boring, as far as planted tanks go. :oops:

Might as well go all out if I'm claiming an entire (small) counter to display the tank. :P :twisted:


Very true, just duckweed would be boring. I was thinking it might distract the goldfish from the other plants. Your new set-up is perfect for showcasing that gorgeous Betta.
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Re: Diving back into Aquariums!

Post Number:#5  Unread postby Nymphadora » Mon Nov 05, 2018 7:24 pm


MaggieJ wrote:Very true, just duckweed would be boring. I was thinking it might distract the goldfish from the other plants.

Goldfish generally like sifting through sand and silt, like their carp ancestors... so I'm sure if they ran into a rooted plant they'd have a blast yanking it out! But with fancier types like celestial bubble-eyes, or butterfly telescopes... maybe it could work! They're such delightful little derps, but sometimes have trouble finding their food because of their eye positions... :oops:

MaggieJ wrote:Your new set-up is perfect for showcasing that gorgeous Betta.

Thanks, Maggie! :grouphug2:

So far I think the Betta likes all the nooks and crannies in his territory (he'll swim under the tree's branches, through the stone bridge, under the heater, etc.). I love how his red fins pop against the green and black, too!

Eventually I'll have to come up with a name for him, too... but I think I'll wait until I get a better idea of his true temperament. :P

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Re: Diving back into Aquariums!

Post Number:#6  Unread postby akane » Wed Nov 07, 2018 10:49 pm


Did you cycle properly? Especially with the neons that are far too sensitive as the first fish in a tank. Bettas will survive a lack of a cycle far better than tetras and are often kept in such small tanks they can't maintain a nitrate cycle. Instead you just do water changes to cut the ammonia before it gets too high rather than letting it convert to safer nitrite and then nitrate. It's been forever since I modded the invert section of fishprofiles but while the forum has died the articles and profiles still stand. http://fishprofiles.com/articles/Cyclin ... t_Fish/31/ You can just use fish food or something like a raw shrimp to cycle but the breakdown results in the same as fish poop and requires substrate cleaning.

I'd never setup a tank without an ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate kit or maintain one ongoing without a nitrate test. Liquid test kits since strips are inaccurate to the point of being pretty much useless. You want a rise and drop in ammonia and nitrite with an ongoing rise in nitrate before adding fish or more fish. If you are still getting ammonia or nitrite don't stick in more fish and do water changes depending on levels and sensitivity of any existing fish. Nitrates should be under 40ppm and preferably 20ppm at all times or more water changes.

If you want a hardier schooling fish than neons try some of the small rainbowfish like dwarf neons or really tiny there are threadfins but long finned fish with bettas can result in no more fins on your other fish. http://fishprofiles.com/profiles/freshw ... inbowfish/ Most rainbows are more likely to survive a new setup and not bother inverts. Black neons are a good alternative to regular neons as well but a bit bigger. Still fine for an otherwise mostly empty 20gallon and could still be included with betta and snails if the tank is cycled.

The labyrinth fish that include bettas, gouramis, and paradise fish are frequently a problem with inverts but some of my favorites so I've attempted common and uncommon species many times. They tend to only get worse with boredom when they have gotten used to the tank. Most don't count on never finding their snails dead some day when they add them with bettas. Some of the more peaceful gouramis such as pearls, dwarf gourami, or sparkling/croaking (2 near identical species that get called the same names) are fairly hardy, mostly small to very small (a single pearl, a trio of dwarf gourami, or up to a dozen sparkling in a 20 gallon), far less likely to bother snails, and get along with community fish so you can have a school of something small with 1 or a few showy gouramis. Carefully mix with anything that has longer fins and avoid mixing labyrinth fish in most cases. I have done the somewhat more aggressive 3spot/blue gouramis with tiny "sparklers" and threadfins all combined but in a 90gallon heavily planted with co2 addition to speed up plant coverage. Also plenty of faster schoolers as dither fish. Basically targets the aggressive fish can't catch but spend their time trying rather than bothering things they can injure.
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Re: Diving back into Aquariums!

Post Number:#7  Unread postby Nymphadora » Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:42 am


akane wrote:Did you cycle properly?

Hi akane,

Yes, I did cycle correctly. I do a fishless cycle when setting up new tanks and test with a proper freshwater testing kit (liquid). Once it's cycled I add fish slowly (don't want to shock the bioload), and do regular maintenance checks with the water tests in addition to regular water changes with Prime conditioner. I understand the nitrogen cycle and have had more delicate fish in the past, this is just the first time I tried a fully planted aquascape-type setup. It's definitely been a change of pace, but I appreciate the tips!

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Re: Diving back into Aquariums!

Post Number:#8  Unread postby akane » Fri Nov 09, 2018 12:53 am


Some people do manage very complex tanks while being rather "old school" in the method and no knowledge of cycling so you never know. Neons also tend to be avoided by experienced aquarists these days. They are almost always rather sickly things and quite often die no matter what you do. It's best to ask when a store gets new fish shipments and wait a few days for the die off of whatever was too stressed in shipping. The for sale tanks tend to go down quite quickly by the end of the week and not from people buying them. They are just dirt cheap and beginners want them so many places don't care. Many of the more aquarium specific stores also don't bother trying to keep neons for sale. The larger local owned store near here nearly always has them marked under quarantine waiting until they see what is going to survive when they do get them and the smaller ones simply don't have them. I only see them at chain petstores that are hit or miss for healthy fish in the first place.
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Re: Diving back into Aquariums!

Post Number:#9  Unread postby Nymphadora » Fri Nov 09, 2018 12:04 pm


akane wrote:Neons also tend to be avoided by experienced aquarists these days. They are almost always rather sickly things and quite often die no matter what you do. It's best to ask when a store gets new fish shipments and wait a few days for the die off of whatever was too stressed in shipping.

This is actually a really interesting point! I waited forever for my favorite local(-ish) fish store to get neon (as opposed to cardinal, black, or ember) tetras in stock... go figure! :x :lol:

And I totally get what you mean about some folks still doing old-school setups with no regard for cycling... luckily my 7th grade biology teacher was super into fishkeeping and had several tanks in our classroom. I was always hanging around before class started, and he'd tell us about the different fish and their natural habitats, but also the crazy tiny little ecosystems that exist in a simple aquarium. I always thought it was so cool how bacteria and fish and plants and things interacted and depended on each other. :oops: That's such a long time ago now, but I have fond memories of my science classes (I seemed to luck out with great teachers through grades 6-12).

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