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thesawguy 04-06-2012 03:53 PM

my first planted tank 20 gallon
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I've been lurking on this board for a few months and have learned a lot and been very impressed with all the inginuity and knowledge on display here, so I've decided to get more involved and post my first tank jounal retroactively.

The original idea with this tank was to make it a divided tank to house two bettas I've had in bowls for a couple of years and add a lot of plants and some new friends. I told my LFS what I wanted and since I had a little cart that thought would make a good stand I chose a twenty gallon that would fit it. I quickly decided I didn't like looking at a divided tank and now after some time elsewhere one betta resides in the twenty again, I've bought another super delta betta and the two remaining have their own five gallon planted tanks.

The day I walked into the fish store to get started I would have bought anything they told me I needed having watched some inspiring videos on youtube like this: But all they sold me aside from their basic aquarium kit was as flourite clay substrate (which I mixed with cumberland pebbles) and a floraglo 15w bulb. This is what the tank looked like shortly after removing the divider. You can see how the plant choices and layout were initially influenced by the separate halves.
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The two big pieces of wood are from the same root of a Kentucky Coffee tree I had in my backyard which I screwed into some rocks. The plants are Amazon Sword, Filligree Frill, Rottala Wallichii, Christmas Moss, Anubius Broadleaf (I think) and it's hard to see but there is some Dwarf Babytears. And impossible to see are three diamond tetras, three hatchetfish and two Ambrocius Cory Cats.

After doing some reading online about lighting I realized I didn't have enough to do what I wanted so I built my own two 15 watt bulb fixture. It was still not enough to do what I wanted as I would find out but not before I bought and killed more plants. This picture is a screen shot from a video I made at this time so it is a little blurry.
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Since then the puffers died and so did the four leaf clover and dwarf hairgrass and baby tears. I bought more hairgrass, some watersprite, other plants I don't remember and rearranged things to look like this:
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Then both swords died and so did the Rottala Walichi so a drastic rearranging was in order. The LFS had a good deal on microsword so I thought I'd give it a try. I decided that the two stumps were still dividing the tank creating two focal points so I brought them together to create a little oasis on one side and lot's of swimming space on the other. Here I also tried to add Hygrophia kompakt and narrow leaf chain sword. All of it died quickly but it looked cool while it lasted:
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At this point I had set up two five gallon betta tanks and one of them just wasn't doing it for me so I temporarily dismantled it moving the betta, java fern, a lilly, and an ozelot sword over to this tank. It looked like this:
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This is the last photo from the coffee tree era. I have since found a cool piece of of arched malaysian drift wood to replace the two sticks. In my next post I'll show you the tank as it is now with a complete list of fish and plants. Thanks for looking.

thesawguy 04-06-2012 06:36 PM

How it is currently
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So I found some batteries and took some shots of the tank how it is today.
Here's what's in it:

Amano Shrimp
Male Betta
Cory Catfish Panda 2
Cory Catfish Ambriocus 2
Kyathit Danio
Lampeyed killifish 3
Longfin Leapord Danio
Longfin Blue Danio
Silver Hatchetfish 5

African Onion Plant Crinum calamistratum
Anubius Barteri v. ‘Roundleaf’
Anubiaus Nana
Brazilian Pennywort Hydrocotyle leucocephala
Contortion Val Plant
Crypt Plant v. Green Wendti
Crypt Plant v. Bronze Wendti
Crypt Plant v. Red Wendti
Cryptocoryne Lutea
Cryptocoryne Parva
Java Moss
Green Ozelot Echinodorus ‘Ozelot Green’
Ludwigia Red
Oriental Sword Echinodorus ‘Oriental’
Water Sprite Ceratopteris thalictroides
Attachment 45164
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The tank is still leaving me wanting more, more lushness and more contrast. Do you have any suggestions for what might work. I was thinking maybe some big crypts behind the wood under the filter. They seem to do well in here. This oriental sword isn't so old but it doesn't seem to be doing well. The new leaves are shrivelled. I dose with flourish once a week. Should I be adding iron or anything else. Would CO2 help this tank or are the two 15 watt fluorescents too dim to add CO2 with?

In a few months I may be getting a used 40 gallon, at that time I'm not sure if I will continue this tank or dismantle and move the fish and plants into that. And make that 40 a higher light tank with CO2. It seems like this is a hard size to work with. Part of the reason I chose this piece of wood is for it's arch. I have another arched piece of driftwood in this 5 gallon tank with an old betta with a big tumor:
Attachment 45168
I was thinking that when that betta dies (currently he loves his wood as it gives him two caves to rest in) that the two of these pieces of wood and maybe another arched piece of moss covered wood would all work together well in a 40.

Should I keep trying new things with this tank, maybe buying a better light, DIY CO2, or save my money and time for the 40?

GMYukonon24s 04-06-2012 07:39 PM

I like how the moss is growing on the wood.

If your thinking DIY CO2 I won't and just save your money for a real CO2 setup if that's what you want.

thesawguy 04-06-2012 09:06 PM

What exactly is all involved in a real CO2 setup? Is there an off the shelf all included system you can point me to? Where do people buy and refill canisters? Thanks.

Hilde 04-07-2012 04:21 PM


Originally Posted by thesawguy (Post 1807473)
The tank is still leaving me wanting more, more lushness
I was thinking maybe some big crypts behind the wood

The problem is your substrate. Crypts need rich substrate. Cheapest good substrate is Scott's top soil topped with river sand ($3 at landscapers). Then put API root tabs under the plants. More info on this here and at El Natural section of APC forum

thesawguy 04-08-2012 03:18 PM

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Thanks for the input about root tabs. All my crypts are doing well but I may try them under the sword. Since my crypts are doing well I decided to get more. Also had a conversation with my wife about whether to keep this tank or not when we get the forty gallon, she wants to keep it. But I think I'll keep the light and substrate as it is, it is very low maintenance. So I bought Crypt undulata, balansae, green gecko, cilata, and bronze wendti.

thesawguy 04-14-2012 04:07 PM

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Added Root tabs under everything and threw in a cardinal plant for some more color.

thesawguy 04-17-2012 12:18 AM

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Rearranged, added crypt spiralis that was outgrowing one of my 5 gallon tanks and added some cabomba, rotalla indica, and myaca cuttings from my 30 gallon tank. Thinking about a background now.
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Relativistic 04-17-2012 03:22 AM

Maybe something dark, like a black back to contrast the green better?

What kind of betta is that?

LB79 04-17-2012 03:34 AM

Definitely dark. I like dark brown the best, but any dark color works.

thesawguy 04-19-2012 11:37 AM


Originally Posted by Relativistic (Post 1822865)
Maybe something dark, like a black back to contrast the green better?

What kind of betta is that?

Just finished painting a piece of wood for the background, while I like the idea of black or brown, I'm first trying a light blue, since I have the paint left over from painting my bedroom.

I don't know what kind of betta it is, my wife bought it a couple of years ago and I just asked her and she say's, "it's a blue one." I guess the tag just said male betta.

Hilde 04-19-2012 04:33 PM


Originally Posted by thesawguy (Post 1826459)
I'm first trying a light blue, since I have the paint left over from painting my bedroom.

You could use silk fabric. Find taping it on cardboard and the cardboard onto the tank with gorilla or duck tape works. I like it for there's more variety and it's so easy to change.

thesawguy 04-19-2012 05:05 PM

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Did a water change and added the background. I'm not in love with it but I can see my lantern eyed killifish a lot better (I wish my camera could).

Hilde 04-20-2012 02:31 PM

Love the improvements :proud:. I have saved pic of your tank in my flickr account.

thesawguy 04-20-2012 02:50 PM


Originally Posted by Hilde (Post 1828030)
Love the improvements :proud:. I have saved pic of your tank in my flickr account.

Thanks for all the encouragement Hilde!

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