My Aquascaping Experience

JGaulard

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  • #1
I have been mulling the idea of setting up a fish tank for years. I used to be quite the aquarium enthusiast, but after I left my parents' house for college, all of that fell by the wayside. I actually owned a 75 gallon tank a few years after I graduated, but that was only for about 10 months. What I'd like to do now is set something up that's permanent. I don't want to have to deal with buying and selling tanks, changing things around all the time, moving the tank from one location to another, and all that comes with living in apartments and other types of rentals. I'm over all of that. What I'd like is to own an aquarium as an adult. If you've been in the fish hobby as a kid and now you're all grown up, you know what I'm talking about. The experience is completely different. What I'd really like to do is spend a little money on the good stuff. Instead of being in a rush the entire time, I'd like to read and do research and purchase high quality items. I want to do things right.

My initial idea was to buy a 55 gallon tank and set it up as a cold water environment. I was going to go outside and scavenge some natural looking (or just natural) gravel and rocks from a nearby stream. I'd still like to do that, but I've decided that a better tank is the 40 gallon breeder. That's got a 36"x18" base as opposed to the 55 gallon's 48"x12" base. I have seen 55 gallon tanks in the past and while they're very cool, I think I'd like something that's got more depth to it. But really, if the 55 is all the store had on hand when I went to buy, I'd get it. It actually doesn't even matter because I have a weird feeling I'll ultimately own more than one tank. Fish are just too much fun to stay limited to one tank.

With this setup, I was going to go the plastic plant route. But after reading around a bit and watching far too many videos, I think I'll go with live plants. What I'm looking for is a hobby that involves intellect and maintenance, not something that I can assemble and just watch. I would like to learn about the different types of plants that go with cold water and which ones are good for what. I would also like to learn about the various fish that would be good with cold water. There's a lot to learn. That's why I think I'm going to buy this book:

Aquascaping: A Step-by-Step Guide to Planting, Styling, and Maintaining Beautiful Aquariums by George Farmer.
https://amzn.to/3tE8Num

It's a good book that's very involved with all I want to know.

I'm at the point where I need to build myself a tank stand. I've got lots of ideas, but I think it's going to look somewhat like this one in the picture.

Frag-Tank-Stand-3.jpg

I'll sand mine and stain it when I'm finished. Then I'll clear coat it with some polyurethane. I've made DIY furniture in the past and it's come out pretty good.

After that, I'll head out to Petco or something like that to see if they have my tank in stock. If they do, I'll buy it and set it up on the stand. That's where the fun starts and that's where I'd like to start taking my time and learning. I'll need substrate, plants, fish, and decor. I'll also need a filter, lid, and light. I can picture myself sitting at my computer getting all excited because I've unearthed another seller of something or other.

What I'd like to do is use this thread to continually add my experiences to. Since I've yet to do anything other than think up a few ideas, I thought this was a good place to start.

If you aren't familiar with aquascaping, take a look at this video. It's such a beautiful hobby.

 

JGaulard

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  • #2
Two decisions I've had to recently make have had to do with what type of tank I'd like to buy as well as whether or not I'd like to buy a pre-made stand or make one myself. As for the stand, I've already mentioned that I'll be making it myself. The reasoning for this is two-fold. First, I've never liked the way those store bought stands look. I think they're pretty cheesy. Perhaps if there was an industrial looking metal stand, yes, I'd get that, but as far as those wood ones go, I'll pass. They're totally not worth the money, which brings me to my second fold of my two-fold reasoning.

Store bought fish tank stands are a rip off. If you've got any experience with a circular saw, you can totally make one yourself. If you don't, I'm sure some worker at Home Depot would be more than happy to help you out by cutting the wood. All it takes is 2x4s and a piece of plywood. You can even buy the plywood pre-cut. You'll usually need one that's 2'x4'. That's a great size to make the top of a stand because you can fit many different sized tanks on top of it.

If there was a third fold to my reasoning, it would be that I love building things like fish tank stands. I get to use my saws and screw guns and all that. I would never pass up an opportunity like this.

Regarding the fish tanks, I have the choice between glass and acrylic. I've always owned glass tanks. I'm not even sure the acrylic ones were invented back when I was into fish during a previous life. I do love the appearance of these new acrylic tanks though. They're super clear and can be compared to watching an HD TV versus a regular one. Obviously, glass would be the regular TV. That's not to say glass isn't awesome, because it is. It's just that those acrylic tanks have no moldings. Have you ever seen a glass tank? They've got that black trim around the top and the bottom. Some brands even have it on the corners. I don't like that and it's almost worth spending the extra cash to get the plastic tank. Acrylic tanks cost a lot more than the glass ones do though and they're even hard to find. Many of them need to be custom made. On top of that, they scratch much easier than glass does. I'm not sure I could live with a fish tank with a big scratch across the front of it. Especially at the price I'd surely pay for it.

They're light though. So if I were to be moving this tank into a hard to get to area, I'd have to take that into account. Overall, acrylic tanks are the best you can get. If you watched that video I posted above, you can see the plastic tanks in it. They look so damn good.

When it comes to glass, it's all just so easy. They're for sale everywhere and they're cheap. They're about twice the weight of acrylic, but for me, that doesn't matter. I'm not buying a 40 gallon, which I could probably move by myself. The good thing about glass tanks is that there are parts for the available everywhere as well. There is certainly no shortage of lids and light for these things.

It's for these reasons that I am choosing to build my own tank stand and buy a glass aquarium. Everyone does it this way, especially beginners like me. I'm comfortable with that.
 

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  • #3
For the past few weeks, I've been thinking about what kind of fish tank stand I'd like to make. And then I took a look at the price of lumber. Because of COVID, lumber prices are screaming high right now. A piece of 3/4" 4'x8' piece of plywood that used to cost $22, is now $56. The same is true for OSB. What used to cost $11 is now over $40. As for 2"x4"s, what used to cost around $1.50 is now around $6. It's crazy out there, so I thought better than to go waste some money on this overpriced nonsense. What I did do, however, was use a DIY table I made a few years ago as the top and then buy a 10' 4"x4" (cut into four 28" pieces) from Hammond Lumber in Farmington, Maine to use as legs. I also bought a 2"x4" to strengthen the sides a bit. Those two pieces of lumber cost me only $20. I put everything together this afternoon, stained it, and then applied some polyurethane it to add some gloss. Here it is. By the way, the 2"x4" was spruce and the 4"x4" was supposed to be hemlock, but they gave me cedar by accident. I didn't complain since the cedar was more expensive.

diy-fish-tank-stand.jpg

diy-table-top.jpg

just-stained-diy-fish-tank-stand.jpg


Basically, it's a garage workbench that's stained brown. It's very strong, but it's not done yet. I'm waiting for some shelving brackets to arrive on Wednesday. I bought them from Amazon. Check them out. I got the 12-pack for around $35. Each one can hold 125 pounds.

black-shelf-brackets.jpg

I bought these to strengthen the legs of the table. As they are right now, I don't think they'd hold the weight of a large fish tank that's full of water. Also, these brackets should straighten the legs out. They never screw on straight. After it's all together, this table should hold a lot of weight. I actually used to have a table just like this one, but with weaker shelving brackets, that held a 75 gallon tank for about a year. I have no idea how it did that. I may have gotten lucky. Anyway, I'll take some photos of the brackets after I install them.

Also, this is what I wanted to make. I'll have to wait for the price of lumber to fall somewhat. This work bench is eight feet long.


For the top and the shelf, I'll be using Advantech as opposed to plywood. I'm over plywood. The Advantech is sustainable and much stronger. I'll also use the corner braces that are in the video. In case you're interested, those are called Simpson RTC42 2x Rigid Tie Corner- Galvanized. They're about $7 each.
 

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  • #4
Okay, I received my LuckIn shelf brackets. Here they are. There are 12 of them.

luckin-shelf-bracket-12-pack.jpg

luckin-shelf-brackets.jpg


The brackets came with screws and plastic wall anchors. I used the screws to mount these things to my table, but I didn't use the wall anchors. I have to say that the brackets are fairly heavy duty. I was concerned about the welds, but they seem okay. I'm not concerned with them anymore. They're actually better than many that I've seen. If you're interested in ordering these brackets yourself, here's a link to them on Amazon:

https://amzn.to/3s8HCqh

As soon as I received these from UPS today, I screwed them to the table. Here are a few shots of the finished product.

55-75-gallon-diy-fish-tank-stand.jpg

diy-aquarium-stand-construction.jpg

diy-table-corner-brackets.jpg

fish-tank-stand-shelf-bracket.jpg

This really is the way to go. Obviously, to make the stand even stronger, I could attach some 2x4s to the bottom of the legs, but this is good. The corner brackets really hold the legs to the table. It's now very solid feeling. These are strong brackets, so I'm confident with putting a 29, 40 gallon breeder, 55, or a 75 gallon on top of this. My plan is to buy a 40 gallon breeder, so that'll probably be in my next post. As for right now, I'm just happy to get this table finished.

PS - I wanted to mention my two primary concerns while building this table. Because it'll be carrying so much weight (I'll show some weights below). The first thing I was concerned with was it bowing, meaning, I didn't want it to sag in the middle. I countered that potential sagging with additional 2x4s that ran below the outer edge. I think this will be fine because I've actually used an almost identical table, but without those additional 2x4s, to hold a 75 gallon tank and it was fine. I have no idea how I got away with that, but if the lighter version of this table could hold that, I'm certain the more substantial version can too.

Second, I was concerned with the legs spreading under the weight of a filled tank. Many others have dealt with this prospect by attaching boards down near the middle of the legs or even at the bottom. I didn't like that look, so I went with some beefy shelf brackets instead. I think these will work just fine. They'll keep the legs straight and will also hold the weight of the tank on the top of the table.

Aquarium Size, Dimensions, Empty Weight, Filled Weight

20 Gallon: (high) 24" x 12" x 16", 25 lbs., 225 lbs.
20 Gallon: (long) 30" x 12" x 12", 25 lbs., 225 lbs.
25 Gallon: 24" x 12" x 20", 32 lbs., 282 lbs.
29 Gallon: 30" x 12" x 18", 40 lbs., 330 lbs.
30 Gallon: (breeder) 36" x 18" x 12", 48 lbs., 348 lbs.
40 Gallon: (breeder) 36" x 18" x 16", 58 lbs., 458 lbs.
40 Gallon: (long) 48" x 12" x 16", 55 lbs., 455 lbs.
50 Gallon: 36" x 18" x 19", 100 lbs., 600 lbs.
55 Gallon: 48" x 13" x 21", 78 lbs., 625 lbs.
65 Gallon: 36" x 18" x 24", 126 lbs., 772 lbs.
75 Gallon: 48" x 18" x 21", 140 lbs., 850 lbs.
90 Gallon: 48" x 18" x 24", 160 lbs., 1050 lbs.
125 Gallon: 72" x 18" x 21", 206 lbs., 1400 lbs.
150 Gallon: 72" x 18" x 28", 308 lbs., 1800 lbs.
180 Gallon: 72" x 24" x 25", 338 lbs., 2100 lbs.
 

JGaulard

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  • #5
I've decided to purchase a 55 gallon tank. I was watching an aquascaping video last night that helped make up my mind. I really only want to buy one primary tank and I think a 75 gallon isn't worth the trouble. The only difference between a 55 and a 75 is that the 75 is five inches deeper, from front to back. I don't need that extra floor space. As for the 40 gallon breeder, I don't know. I think I'll grow out of that quickly because I've already owned larger tanks in my life. I get bored quickly. Plus, parts for the 55 are readily available, easy to find, and relatively inexpensive. Because it's such a popularly sized tank, parts are everywhere. Take a look at the video I was watching last night.

How To: Planted Aquarium Tutorial - 55 Gallon Aquascape With Discus

 

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  • #6
I recently decided to get my feet wet by setting up a small 10 gallon tank, just to see how things go. These things are called "nano tanks" on the streets. You can work magic in a small tank and it's an excellent way to see how all of this feels again. I haven't had a fish tank set up in over 15 years. I just want to make sure I still like it.

This morning, I was all gung-ho about buying a small tank from Walmart and then slowly purchasing the accessories, such as a light, hood, filter, substrate, live pants, and all that. Then, as the day wore on, I decided that I may go with artificial (plastic) plants in the beginning. I think the live plant route is just too much at the moment. I need to see water and fish in something before I go nuts, especially since I've never grown a live underwater plant in my life. It's actually quite the complex endeavor. I was looking up planted tank substrates this morning and there are dozens of types to choose from. I have a book I'd like to buy to learn all about what I need to do, but I'll get that done in a bit. Not yet.

Anyway, I did buy a 10 gallon tank today and it only cost me $15. Now, I've got to pick out an LED light, get some glass cut to use as a hood and work on getting a filter. I plan on slowly purchasing some artificial plants as well. And finally, I'm going to borrow some rocks and gravel from the steam next to my house to use as a hardscape. Now that I've got the tank, there's nothing stopping me. After all this is set up and I begin to get bored with it, I'll start thinking about my 55 gallon.
 

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  • #7
Boy, reading about and looking for the good stuff when it comes to setting up a tank consumes a lot of time. When I was a kid, I simply went to the store and bought whatever was on the shelf. Today, it's an entirely different ballgame. There's a lot more available and everyone's got an opinion. I didn't have the benefit of opinion back then. Well, maybe the guy's or gal's in the fish store. I guess that was good enough.

I just placed an order for an LED tank light, a hang on the back filter, and some gravel. This morning, I sifted some gravel from the stream next to my house. My intention was to use that as the substrate. I decided against it though. I think I'll limit its use to being an accent. I already have some large rocks for the hardscape, so I really don't want to go overboard with bigger stones. Plus, if the substrate is too large, fish dropping can collect and the nitrates in the water can rise to unsafe levels.

This is what I just bought:

Hygger Full Spectrum Aquarium Light
https://amzn.to/2QMG7Rf

Pisces Midnight Pearl Aquarium Gravel
https://amzn.to/3xdVd2F

Seachem Tidal Power Aquarium Filter
https://amzn.to/2QMYHss

I'm looking forward to setting these things up and getting some water in my little 10 gallon tank. Also, after shopping around a bit for artificial plants, I decided that I just can't do it. My initial intention with this hobby was to take my time and learn about aquascaping. I want to create something that's very nice. Fake plastic plants won't help my learn and they look just terrible. So I'm going to go with live plants instead. I'll start off with easy ones and then perhaps move into ones that are more involved when it comes to to growing and maintaining.
 

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  • #8
This is a very exciting day. I received some of the aquarium equipment yesterday that I'll be needing for my little 10 gallon starter tank. Today, I set it all up. As I mentioned in my previous post, I bought some gravel, a hang-on-the-back filter, and a light. Everything I ordered came up to about $80, which isn't terrible. The filter was the most expensive thing at around $34. It was worth it though because it's the best out there.

Since I finished adding water to the tank about an hour ago, it's still cloudy. I rinsed the gravel well, but I'm not sure anyone can set up an aquarium and not have some cloudiness. It's just the way it is. I wanted to show you what it looks like anyway. As you can see, there are still little air bubbles stuck to the glass. Those little bubbles bring back a lot of memories. I've been doing this stuff since I was a kid.

First, let me show you the hardscape I came up with. Setting these stones was more challenging than I thought it would be. It's important to get the rocks just right. I was going after a natural look. I pulled these rocks out of the stream on my property. I cleaned them with a scrub brush and then sat them in a bucket with bleach water for a few days. Then, I rinsed them and sat them in some regular water for a few more days. I'd say they're clean.

10-gallon-aquarium-hardscape.jpg

I think the tank is a 10-gallon Aqueon. I bought it from Walmart for $15. I believe this is the brand. If not, it's whatever Walmart sells. The gravel you're looking at is the Pisces Midnight Pearl Aquarium Gravel. Again, I bought this from Amazon for $20 and change.

Next, I'll show you the Seachem 35 Tidal Power Aquarium Filter I bought from Amazon. It's very nice. I still need to purchase some filter floss and some activated carbon. Those things are waiting for me in my Amazon cart right now. I'm debating on whether or not I need an air stone. The filter seems to add some air bubbles to the water, so I may not need any additional air.

seachem-35-tidal-power-aquarium-filter.jpg

The primary suction comes from down below a bit, but you can see the surface skimmer slots next to the water flowing out of the filter.

Finally, we've got the Hygger Full Spectrum Aquarium Light. This is the coolest item of all three. It's got five different brightness settings, different colors, and a timer. I've never had an LED light like this for a fish tank before. The ones I used to own required long light bulbs. LEDs are so much better and the wattage is very low. The light was also only around $20 or so. Very inexpensive for what you get. A nice feature is that it comes with adjustable brackets that attach to the tank, so if I had a tank that was smaller or larger, I could still use the same light.

hygger-full--spectrum--aquarium--light-leds.jpg

hygger-full--spectrum--aquarium--light-reflection-water.jpg

pisces--midnight--pearl--aquarium--gravel.jpg

It's so nice and bright. I think the live plants I buy will thrive in this light. First though, I need to finish up the filter stuff or the water will never clear up. Okay, until next time...
 

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  • #9
I am about to place an order for some nice plants to put in my tank. This will be the very first time I've ever tried to grow underwater plants, so my goal was to locate a few species that are beginner friendly. Also, I wanted to buy plants that will grow in cold water (room temperature), since that's the type of tank I plan on operating. I'll have a heater, but only to keep the water temperature at 65°. I'm not looking to go full tropical here.

I read through some websites to find the best beginner cold water plants and I found this one to be very informative:

https://aquariapassion.com/best-cold-water-aquarium-plants/

I decided on the Java Moss, Java Fern, and the Ludwigia Repens. The moss will go toward the front of the tank, the fern mid-way, and the ludwigia at the back. I think it'll be a nice combination of style and color. I'll be buying the plants from Dustin's Fishtanks. Dustin is a guy who's got lots of plants.

https://dustinsfishtanks.com/

There are also a few other items I need to buy. These will be from Amazon though. This is turning out to be more expensive than I thought and I haven't even gotten to the fish yet. Those are just a few bucks here and there, so I'm not concerned. Also, some of this stuff I can use in the other tank I get, so I won't need to keep buying the same thing over and over again. And as far as the plants go, they propagate by themselves, so I (hopefully) won't need to buy any more of them. As they spread in the 10 gallon, I'll plant them in the 29 gallon I buy. Yes, I've changed my mind again. I'm abandoning the idea of owning a 55 gallon and will be buying a 29 gallon. Overall expenses will be less with a smaller tank that's still large enough to enjoy.

The other items I'll be getting from Amazon are:

Aquarium Plant Root Fertilizer Tabs 40 Count

https://amzn.to/2QGgcuJ

FREESEA 25/50/100/200/300 Watt Aquarium Heater with Aquarium Submersible Thermometer

https://amzn.to/3gSRdPs

Marina Floating Thermometer with Suction Cup

https://amzn.to/3gMxKjl

MarineLand Diamond Media Premium Activated Carbon, Blacks & Grays, 40-Ounce (PA0373)

https://amzn.to/3vy82TN

Fairfield Poly Fil Premium Fiber Fill, 32-Ounce

https://amzn.to/3vAPe6J

The Ludwigia may need some fertilizer in the future, so I'm getting some root tabs now. The Poly-Fil and carbon are for the filter. I'll use that for the other tank as well. Okay, that's it for now!
 

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  • #10
I ordered my plants from Dustin's Fishtanks last night. The total for the plants came up to $28.85 and with $9.95 for shipping, I paid $38.80. That's kind of a lot for some plants, but I'm hopeful I can get them to propagate so I can use them in other tanks in the future. He says they ship on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday only, so the plants don't sit on some loading dock over the weekend. That makes sense.

Also, I took the temperature of my water last night and it measured 68°, which is well above what I need for these plants to survive. So from Amazon, I only ordered the fiber floss and carbon for the filter as well as a pair of cheap fish tank thermometers. I had to order two as that was the minimum. I'll use one in this small tank and the other in the larger tank when I get it. I'll wait on the heater and the root tabs. Maybe I'll grab them in a few weeks after I see how the plants like the tank.
 

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  • #11
I'm super excited right now. I've been working hard all week on new project and firewood, but I stopped to check out and plant the live aquarium plants I just received in the mail. Actually, they arrived via UPS, but were shipped Priority Mail. I have no idea how the USPS/UPS/FedEx work anymore. It seems like they're all doing each other's jobs.

As I wrote above, I bought Java fern, Java moss, and Ludwigia repens from Dustin's Fishtanks. The plants took a few days to arrive, but that's fine. They're in super good condition and they were plentiful. Dustin doesn't ship over the weekend, so that's why the shipment took a bit longer than it normally would.

You need to check out these photos. I'll first show you the plants in their raw states and then I'll show you the tank after I planted them.

Here are all three plants after I unboxed them.

shipped-aquarium-live-plants.jpg

And here they are after I took two of them out of their plastic bags.

dustins-fishtanks-shipped-plants.jpg

java-fern-ludwigia-repens.jpg

java-fern-ludwigia-repens-roots.jpg

You can see the roots and leaves somewhat well in the above photos. On the left is the Java fern, in the center is the Ludwigia repens, and on the right is the Java moss. The only plant to actually have its roots buried is the repens. The other two plants absorb all the nutrients they need straight from the water. The moss is fun because it clings to wood and rocks and begins spreading after a while. All three plants propagate well. That why I bought these specific species.

Here are some better root photos of the Java fern.

java-fern-moss.jpg

java-fern-roots.jpg

Here's a close up of the moss in the bag.

shipped-java-moss.jpg

It's pretty strange stuff.

It didn't take long to plant these at all. I used rubber bands to attach the Java fern to some small rocks and I used brown thread to attach the moss to some other rocks. As for the repens, I simply stuck that in the gravel at the bottom of the tank. I'll need to get some fertilizer root tabs to feed these guys soon.

Here are a few photos of the tank after planting. I just got the water crystal clear and then I went and got it all cloudy again. Oh well.

new-live-plants-aquarium.jpg

planted-10-gallon-fish-tank.jpg

rocks-java-fern-moss-ludwigia-repens-aquarium.jpg

rocks-jave-fern.jpg

How does that look? I'd say it's pretty good. Now I need to buy a fish net, a glass cleaning sponge thing, and some fish. I'll add to this thread as I get things.
 

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  • #12
Big day today! I was totally not planning on doing this, but I bought some fish for my 10 gallon tank. I also bought a very sweet 55 gallon tank. I was just messing around this morning and decided to stop by Petco.com, when I noticed that they were having a half-off sale for their aquariums. The 55 gallon tanks, which were normally priced at $150, were marked down to $75. I just had to go and grab one. Like my 10 gallon, I am in no rush to do anything with it, but it's good to have so I can nibble away at the process slowly.

Here's a photo of it in all its glory.

55-gallon-aquarium.jpg

This tank measures 48" wide, 13" deep, by 21" high. Filled, it weighs 625 pounds. That's a lot, but still less than the 75 gallon that I used to own earlier in my life. Like I said, I'll get to setting it up when I get to it. No rush.

I did want to get some fish though so today was the day. Augusta, Maine isn't too far from me, so I decided to go to the Petco down there. I've been doing a lot of video watching and reading about which fish are good for cold water tanks and narrowed them down to a list I wrote out to bring with me. Here's what I came up with:

- Zebra Danio
- Guppy
- Blood Fin Tetra
- Rosy Barb
- Sunset Variatus
- Celestial Pearl Danio
- Rainbow Shiner
- Hillstream Loach
- Cherry Shrimp
- White Cloud Minnow

Unfortunately, when I got to the store, I was informed that both the Cherry Shrimp and the White Cloud Minnow are illegal to import and sell in Maine. I guess there's a risk of them becoming an invasive species because they can handle freezing temperatures. That's understandable. After looking around, I decided to buy six Pearl Danios and four Platies. They were mixed, so I don't really know what kind they are. The Platy is a very similar fish to the Sunset Variatus and the Molly, just smaller and different. Whatever. They're really nice. The choosing was somewhat slim today.

I just took some photos of the new fish. They look great in the tank. The Danios are schooling and the Platies are kind of doing their own thing. It's strange having such action in a tank that's been so still for weeks.

Here are the photos:

I placed the bags of fish in the tank water for about 20 minutes to acclimate them to the temperature.

acclimating-fish-to-tank.jpg

Here they are after being released into the tank.

new-fish-in-tank.jpg

Here's a Platy and a Pearl Danio.

platy-celestial-danio.jpg

Here are four of the Pearl Danios schooling.

celestial-danios.jpg

Here's a series of the star of the show. It's not easy getting sharp shots in a dark fast moving environment. I did my best and these came out nicely. This is a Platy.

platy-java-fern.jpg

orange-black-tail-platy.jpg

platy-hardscape-planted-tank.jpg

orange-black-platy-java-fern-ludwigia-repens.jpg

platy-planted-10-gallon-tank.jpg

And that's pretty much it. I also grabbed some overpriced fish food and next I'll work on getting the substrate for the new tank. We may return to the store in a week or so to buy a 20 gallon long because we've got plans for something new. What an awesome hobby.
 

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  • #13
I'm starting to think about algae control in my small tank and my soon to be large tank. I don't have an algae problem right now, but from past experience, I know I'll need to eventually deal with it. so for the past few hours, I've been reading about the different cool water algae eating fish, also known as "algae eaters."

While there are dozens of different types of fish that eat algae and clean aquariums, in order to keep that fish alive, it's important to match it with the conditions of the tank its eventually going to live in. In my case, I'll have tanks that will be heated to approximately 70° and will have medium hard water. The Ph will also hover around 6.5 to 7.5, which is in the medium range. There's nothing strange going on in my house that will make anything lean one way or the other.

Some of the fish I've found are Mollies, Platies, and Guppies. These guys nibble on algae because they're live bearers, but don't really clean a tank like true algae eaters do. They do live quite well in cooler water though, so I'll be sure to stock up on them when the time is right. Also, they're cheap, which is nice.

As far as real algae eaters go, I've narrowed the long list down to two; the Hillstream loach and the Otocinclus catfish. The loach looks very promising, but it's expensive at about $20 per fish. The catfish is super cheap, but from what I hear, requires certain water parameters and can be sort of tricky to keep alive. Also, once all the algae has been eaten in a tank, it's important to continue feeding algae eaters special food, lest they starve to death. No one wants that to happen.

I'm going to keep looking around and I'll keep this thread updated with what I find. What I'd really like is some Cherry shrimp, but from what I hear, they're tough to get a hold of in Maine. We'll see.
 

JGaulard

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  • #14
My live plant fertilizer arrived via UPS yesterday. While the plants have been growing wonderfully (the Ludwegia repens and the Java moss are sprouting new growth), I have become concerned that they aren't getting the nutrients they need. I haven't had fish in the tank for a few weeks and I know that fish can supply some necessary plant nutrients. I have fish now, but I still wanted to supplement the plants.

I'm not sure if I told you what I ordered from Amazon in the way of fertilizer. I took some photos last night to show the packaging as well as the product.

I first began by ordering fairy generic Planted Aquarium Concepts fertilizer tabs. There are 40 in this pack and I haven't opened the bag yet. Here's a picture.

planted-aquarium-concepts-fertilizer-tabs.jpg

The reason I haven't opened the above bag yet is because I watched a video of the Seachem Flourish Tabs and got all jazzed up on them. They're more expensive, but I think these are the best out there. I saw a video where a guy did a test of some different tabs and the Seachem blew everything else away. So I bought them and placed three tabs in the substrate yesterday. I hope the repens takes well to them. The tabs are meant for rooted plants.

seachem-flourish-tabs.jpg

The tabs themselves are about the size of pieces of gum. Here's a close up pic.

seachem-flourish-tab-size.jpg

Because I also have plants that don't root into the substrate, I also needed liquid fertilizer that mixes with the water itself. They call this the "water column." After watching another video and getting all jazzed up again (that easily happens with this hobby), I added the Seachem Flourish liquid fertilizer to my Amazon order.

seachem-flourish-liquid-plant-fertilizer.jpg

And finally, I wanted to mention that Aqueon gave me a few samples of water conditioner and tropical fish food. This stuff came with my 55 gallon tank. I thought that was nice. Here's a photo.

aqueon-water-conditioner-tropical-flakes.jpg

It's not much, but it'll do. I think the water conditioner is meant for chlorinated water, so I won't need it, but the extra fish food is nice. As it stands, I bought some very expensive Sera Vipagran Staple food from Petco the other day. I couldn't find any cheap stuff, so I ended up paying $15 for a small container of this. Never again. I've seen more food for around $2, so I'll be getting that from here on out.
 

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  • #15

My Pearl Danio Jumped Out of the Tank!​


I have some bad news to report. As I was writing my last post (above), I decided to stop to go check out my new fish. They've been so happy and I wanted to see how they were doing.

As I was looking, I couldn't seem to find the sixth Pearl danio. I looked and looked and looked. I thought he died and was floating somewhere, so I checked up top, beneath the rocks, and in the Java moss. I even checked behind the tank to see if he jumped out of the water. It wasn't until I looked on the floor approximately three feet away did I find his dried up carcass. I guess he jumped some time yesterday or last night, because he was as stiff as a board.

What a shame. I don't know which one he was, but it's so sad to lose a fish like that. I wasn't going to get a glass top cut, but I guess I'll have to now. I wasn't aware these danios were jumpers. They certainly are fast while swimming around, I guess it was only a matter of time.

Apparently, this has happened before. Check out this post:

https://www.fishlore.com/aquariumfishforum/threads/celetial-pearl-danio-murder-suicide.118812/
 

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  • #16

Homemade Glass Aquarium Cover​


To cover the tank last night, I placed a mirror over as much of the top as I could. I needed something temporary so no more fish could jump out of the water. I was freaking out the entire evening, counting the fish every time I passed by the tank. It was terrible.

I had a plan in mind though. Years ago, someone left an old paned window on my property, way back in the woods. I have no idea why it was ever put there, but it was. My idea was to take some of the panes (that were already falling out of the wood frame), clean them up, and tape them together to use as a glass lid. I knew I would be extremely lucky to find panes that were the right fit for the tank, so I planned on taping them together with clear tape. I knew my contraption would be strong enough because the glass panes would overlap themselves quite a bit. It's not like I was going to tape them end-to-end.

I found the panes, washed them well, scraped any gunk off of them with a razor blade, measured them out, and taped them together. My idea proved to be a great one. Check out the photos.

glass-aquarium-cover.jpg

old-window-panes-aquarium-cover.jpg

taped-glass-fish-tank-lid.jpg

I've got a lot more glass panes out there in the woods, so I'm going to grab them tomorrow to do the same thing for my 55 gallon tank. Ideally, I'd have sized glass or plexiglass cut at a hardware store or a glass shop, but for now, this solution is easy and free.
 

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  • #17

More DIY Glass Fish Tank Lids​


I made some more aquarium lids today. During my morning walk, I stopped by the spot in the woods where there's an old broken down window. I snagged the rest of the panes, which were luckily 12 in number - exactly the number I needed. The lids I made today are for my 55 gallon tank. I'm slowly getting what I need ready to fill that beauty up. I now have the glass lids as well as some rocks I found in the stream yesterday morning. I'll have to scrub those clean before using them. Perhaps I'll get to them tomorrow.

For now, check out these homemade glass window pane aquarium lids. Pretty clever if I don't say so myself. Better than spending over $100 on these things.

glass-window-panes-fish-tank-lid.jpg

window-panes-55-gallon-aquarium-lid.jpg
 

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  • #18

Algae is Growing - The Fish Tank Has a Cycle​

A "cycled" fish tank means that it's got a cycle of good bacteria growing. That bacteria is beneficial for healthy fish and plants. Here's an official description of a cycled tank from Aqueon:

As ammonia is converted to nitrite and then nitrate, algae may begin to grow on the glass and other objects in the aquarium. This is normal and is an indication that the Nitrogen Cycle is established.

It took a few weeks for it to happen, but yesterday, as I was looking through the front glass of the tank, I noticed a sort of haze on the interior of that glass. As I inspected it this morning, I saw it for sure - hints of algae. I just took a few photos to show you. It's still light, but it's there. I'll need to make sure I keep it in check because the last thing I want is a bunch of algae in my tank.

cycle-aquarium-algae-on-rock.jpg

green-algae-on-hardscape.jpg

See the light green on the tops of the rocks? That'd be the algae. I've been looking for some algae eating fish, but haven't been having a lot of luck. None of them are hearty enough and some require warmer water than I plan on having. I'll have to keep reading.

Plants are Growing!​

I took a few more photos as well. This time, it was of the new growth I've got on the plants I put in the tank. The Ludwegia repens is sprouting new leaves all over the place and the Java moss, while some is turning brown, appears to be sprouting new green shoots. Everything looks good and I think the liquid and root tab fertilizer I've been putting in the tank seems to be doing its job. I read that Java moss is slow to acclimate to a new tank and some may turn brown, but once it settles in, it's hard to stop growing. I've been patient. I just enjoy watching things grow and swim around.

new-growth-ludwegia-repens.jpg

new-growth-java-moss.jpg

And that's about it for this update. Until next time.
 

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  • #19
Check this out. I just finished making my first tank video. I'd say it came out well. I was about one minute away from finishing my edits on the sound when Photoshop crashed. And then crashed again and again. I decided to go with just finishing it up the way it was.

 
My Aquascaping Experience was posted on 02-07-2021 by JGaulard in the Home Forum forum.

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