Just about a year ago, I started on my first tank since I was a kid (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth). Because I've always been a gardener, it's planted. It was actually my husband's idea, but it's definitely wound up being my tank.
I planted the tank and fed it fish food until it cycled, which took nearly a month. Then we added fish - 3 Platy's and 2 swordtails - from Petco. Two of the Platy's died in pretty short order. We went to an actual fish store for our next fish - Cardinal and Lemon Tetras.
This is how the tank looked in March:
At that point I was using Excel (about 10x recommended) and fertilizing with Seachem liquids.
Then in April we bought a house. We moved the tank with the help of the owner of our LFS (it was so heavily planted that catching the inhabitants was beyond me). At that point we had two Swordtails, one Platy (and many, many fry), 5 salt and pepper Cories (and one juvenile), 7 Cardinals and 6 Lemons. Evan took what turned out to be all but three of the livebearers and their fry back to his store, and we were good to go.
What I hadn't counted on is that our new house is very bright. That's a good thing, but having a fish tank in an east facing room where the entire back wall is glass facing the water (i.e. no trees) meant the light level in the tank went waaay up. My so far six month long battle with algae began. I had every kind of algae possible - BBA, GHA, GSA, you name it. When we moved, I set up the CO2 system that I purchased in March but never set up. even with huge amounts of CO2, the algae persisted. I scraped, pulled, wiped and scrubbed algae off my wood, rocks, plants and gravel, but it was unstoppable. I added Amano's and promptly gassed most of them to death.
Added Amano's again, lost quite a few, but now have had 8-10 of them for maybe two months, so I think I've got the CO2 figured out. Switched from Seachem to dry dosing (and wondering why I hadn't done that earlier) Two weeks ago, I put a piece of 95% UV film on the side of the tank that faces the window. Finally, the algae at least seems to not be increasing. I had to rip out all of the baby tears, hairgrass, and 90% of the glosso. I was able to save enough algae free glosso to replant, at least.
That jungle Val in the back was very invasive and an algae magnet, so Monday, I went over to the city to Aqua Forest and bought a bunch of new plants. This is the result.
Lights: 30" Finnex Planted+ and 24" Finnex Monster Ray, on from 7:00 - 10:00 and 5:00 - 9:30
Filtration: Eheim 2215
Substrate: regular Petco aquarium gravel
CO2: injected inline through an atomizer at 5bps
Ferts: EI dry from GLA
Inhabitants: 6x Salt and Pepper Cory
7x Cardinal Tetra
6x Lemon Tetra
8-10x Amano shrimp
Plants: Rotala H'ra
Tiger Lily (and a second, very small version of a tiger lily that sprouted from one of the leaves of the big one. It's about 10 months old - in the lower left of the tank)
A very fine-leafed plant that I've forgotten the name of despite having just purchased it (back left)
My long term plan is to set up a 125 (72x18x22) in the only part of the living room that receives no direct sunlight.
For the new tank I'm going to have a plumbing line run to the tank - it's bad enough changing out 15 gallons with buckets - I can't imagine doing four times that much. Our contractor has spec'd copper, but I'm thinking that might not be so great for the fish. But that's a question for another thread.