Hi all, I'm moving this tank to this subforum to track progress in the right place. This is actually a joint tank with my 9 year old son, we picked up the tank from Petco last week during the dollar a gallon sale, but seeing as how our mutual knowledge of this hobby is a tie, I'm going to read up and help him out. My previous two experiences were horrendous pre-internet affairs, knowing nothing and pretty much sprinting the fish to fish heaven when I was a teen.
So the subtrate is one bag of Fluval Shrimp Stratum and a bag of eco-complete. I had another bag of eco-complete that I guess is trade bait now, since I didn't need it - the stratum is the bottom substrate, and the eco complete tops it light in the front and slopes up higher to the back a few inches. Just some sand-colored gravel in the front right corner as a decorative psuedo-pond look too.
A Tetra HT30 was supposed to keep the water at 78 but never got there, so i swapped in a fluval with adjustable temp and the digital therm has the water at 77.8, nice. I may lower this to 77 to keep tetra happy, and Platys should be ok with that. Fishless cycling, so the fluval 30 is cranked at full speed - after cycling i guess i'll just keep it there unless the fish are swimming backwards, haha. Didn't use the carbon bag, just the filter and biomass. Actually just added a second filter in middle after cycling was done, the original filter left on the bottomost tier, biomass on top.
Speaking of biomass, I used Dr. Tim's One and Only, dropped Dr. Tim's ammonia in there (about 23 drops) and left everything to settle for 3 days. Before the ammonia the tap water after being treated with Prime was zeros across the board for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. Believe it or not, when I got back home after those 3 days the API tests read 0 ammonia, 0 nitrates and 20ppm nitrates! sheesh, quick cycle! I dropped some more ammonia in there last night to keep the bacteria fed while i went plant shopping after work today. (got back home, ammonia dropped from 2.0 to .5 in 8 hours, not bad) I did a 50% water change to get rid of the nitrates and lower the water level to plant plants, and filled it back up with tap w/prime once planting was done.
The foreground is dwarf baby tears with some crypt and bits of moss, and the middle ground is up in the air right now - maybe some anubis around the petrified wood that should be coming from eBay later in the week.
The background is Cabomba, half are red which I fenced that lighter gravel area with. Incoming C02 tester from eBay too, and I have Flourish here and some liquid C02 booster - just put a thread and a half of booster in this morning, and the weekly flourish after the water change.
So far so good, but told my son we needed to take it slow, ten emperor tetra in there now and schooling fine, some of the plants came with green and black algae, so I was thinking of picking up some shrimp - my son wants red ones!
Any suggestions for something I missed? I'm going low-light on the plants since the Aqueon hood has a 18W full range spectrum bulb for 20 gal. I have a gravel vacuum but probably won't use it for a while since I don't want to disturb the bacteria on the gravel, and there's not much in the way of fish detrius yet (plus when there's a nice amount of plants in there I don't want to disturb them!). Using the vacuum just to suck water out for water changes at the moment.
Here's the tank - didn't have time to take a pre-planted shot since I actually swung by Win in Chinatown on the way home and got a deal on a bag of freshwater plants, and 10 emperor tetra. So here they are! Did a 50 percent water change first with prime, took all the obvious black algae laden leaves off, and left room for the petrified wood coming later this week (the pagoda was a compromise with my son, we're keeping it on the hill in the back to hide the heater). All ten tetra survived the ordeal, and should be enough to school i think.
Edit: That is the below, following is the after, as of 12/7/13! Amazing, but since I upped the CO2, lowered the amount of light, upped filtration to a Fluval C4, and loaded it with Seachem Matrix - NO BLACK ALGAE. No joke, my bane is finally gone! And no fish deaths - nitrate has stayed nice and low! I have to keep getting in there and pruning stuff - this is after a recent pruning, already it's getting stuffed in there again
Following the pic is a video of our five new Lambchop Rasbora shoaling with the Galaxy Rasbora (Celestial Pearl Danio).