Evolution of My First Aquarium, 29g (photo heavy)
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Old 05-10-2013, 05:53 AM   #1
Miras
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Evolution of My First Aquarium, 29g (photo heavy)


Iím writing this post to chronicle the evolution of my first (and only) aquarium. It has been over three and a half years since I began. Before buying anything, I did my best to research what I would need to get started. Later I would realize that the articles I read were quite a bit dated, but I came home with this basic setup.

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As you can see, I had all the basics, including two methods of filtration (under gravel and HOB). The tank itself is 29 gallons. I bought a few plastic decorations to start, but from the beginning I knew that I wanted to grow plants.


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The day after everything was set up and working, I went out and bought my first fish. 5 golden white clouds. I had read that they were hardy and a good fish to cycle your tank with (remember what I said about dated information? Iím sorry white clouds! I didnít know better.) I also bought a few java ferns and some hornwort, as I heard they were easy low-light plants.


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Hereís some context for the aquarium in my bedroom.


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It wasnít long before I realized my setup was inadequate for growing plants. My first upgrade was my light, upgrading to a Coralife 65 watt power compact. I experimented with adding more plants. You can even see a house plant in the front right of this photo, before I knew any better. I also added a school of Harlequin rasboras.


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With better lighting came some algae problemsÖ


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But overall things were really starting to shape up. I slowly began adding some new livestock to the tank.


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Hornwort became a favorite, since it was so easy to grow and provided good cover for my fish. You can also see that Iíve added a pair of platys and a school of neons.


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I added a few otos to help with my algae problems.


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And a few ghost shrimp as well, mostly for some variety.


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It didnít take long for my platies to have their first batch of babies. Only one fry survived. You can see him in the middle of this picture. His name was Sharky.


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Hereís a photo of my first pleco. At the time I did not realize that he would be totally unsuitable for my tank as he grew larger, but he passed away before that became a problem.


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Oto <3


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Here you can see Sharkyís parents, Momma and Red.

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I was excited to find more platy fry in the tank. Hereís a few close up photos I managed to capture. The excitement would not last long though, as they continued to breed.
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Old 05-10-2013, 06:04 AM   #2
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I was starting to get a handle on my plants, continuing to experiment with new additions like these Amazon swords.


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Oto <3.


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A pair of Julii corys became another favorite (technically three-lined cories I believe, but I still call them Julii).


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Things were growing pretty well. I moved my tank for the first time to a new apartment, losing only one fish in the process. I took the opportunity to remove my Under Gravel Filter, which I learned was not very good for growing plants. This is also the point where I became more serious about my plants. I did some research and set up a DIY CO2 system with a 2 liter soda bottle and a yeast-sugar water solution. I also bought an aquarium stand to help organize things. I had given up the hornwort by this time, moving on to another very fast growing plant, wisteria.


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One of my favorite pics of my Julii.


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Around this time I added a pair of Siamese algae eaters. In the top left of this photo you can also see my last remaining white cloud. She was very hardy indeed, enduring my tank through many ups and downs for over 2 years before passing away.


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Here you can see my first pregnant ghost shrimp. They never did successfully breed, and I would lose one every month or two. I loved them still and would replace them a few times before I eventually gave up on keeping them.


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Snails started to became an issue, particularly pond snails. I still think they are cute though.


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In this photo you can get a good idea of my inhabitants at the time. You can also see my plants continuing to fill out some. I added a second bottle to my DIY CO2 system to help the plants even more.


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I finally felt confident to try out some more demanding plants. In the center you can see some Rotala rotundifolia and some red ludwigia, both of which did very well and added some color besides green to my aquarium.


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Things were really looking nice.


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I added a few assassin snails to help keep my snail population in check. They completely eradicated my pond snails and put a serious dent in my Malaysian trumpet snails.


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Here you can see one of my algae eaters growing larger. They really did a great job keeping my BBA in check, which was becoming a bit of an issue at this point.


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I saw some Celestial Pearl Danios at my LFS and had to have some. I had high hopes of breeding them (I bought 7), but these little guys were very shy and not easy to care for. They slowly passed away over the course of a year or so.
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Old 05-10-2013, 06:23 AM   #3
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I began adding dry ferts, and my plants really took off.


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I think this photo might be the pinnacle of my tank. At this point maintenance was becoming pretty demanding. I had to constantly change out the solution in my CO2 bottles, give away the never-ending platy fry, and prune all these fast growing plants.


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But I was getting by.


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Hereís one of my favorite photos of my ghost shrimp from this time period.


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A photo of some platy fry in my Java fern. I really liked the java fern because it provided lots of good hiding places for my fish.


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I also bought a bristlenose pleco. She was very shy and would not often make her presence known. This is the only photo I have of her. Unlike my other pleco though, she did very well and survived through several years of some tough times, up until the storm.


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Hereís some more context of the aquarium in the corner of my living room.


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A friend of mine gave me a dozen or so red cherry shrimp. They really took to my tank and began to breed. I think they liked all the java fern and good hiding places I had. (side note: this is also around the time I got a new camera).


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For the second time, I moved my aquarium. I took the opportunity to replace my gravel (which I always thought looked rather ugly) with some pool filter sand. Oh my how milky white it was back thenÖ I also upgraded to an Eheim 2213 canister filter and a pressurized CO2 system to make my life easier.


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A year or so went by without much changing. The plants got a little overgrown at times and I began having trouble giving away all my platy fry, but for the most part my aquarium did okay, until the storm hit.

While I was out of the country on vacation, a large snowstorm struck our area and knocked out the power at our cabin for several days. With no heat in the house and no electricity for the tank heater, the temperature in the tank dropped drastically.

Out of all of my fish, only two were able to be rescued. Two young platies. They were joined by my colony of red cherry shrimp, who continued to thrive.

The ballast in my light also went bad, and it took me a good three weeks to get a replacement. The plants that survived the cold had to endure three weeks of darkness.


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Hereís my aquarium after I got the light working again and cleaned out the tank. Population: 2 platies and about 50 red cherry shrimp. But all is not bad. Getting my tank back in order re-kindled my interest, and Iíve decided to use this tragedy as a chance to improve things and approach things from a fresh perspective.


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Once things had stabilized some, I went to the LFS and picked up some plants and fish to add. I added some Green Cabomba, Dwarf hairgrass, and some sort of ludwigia. I also picked up some more harlequin rasboras, julii cories, and a Siamese algae eater. This is roughly what my tank looks like today.

But itís not going to stay this way for long. Iíve decided I want to up my game a bit and rescape the whole tank. As much as I love the java fern, it takes up too much space and doesnít leave much room for other plants. I also want to replace the plastic rock with something thatísÖ real.

I want to develop a layout that has more depth to it and creates an illusion of a large landscape. I will accomplish this mainly by having some small, intricate driftwood pieces and using more plants that have smaller leaves. Iím also taking some steps to make maintenance easier so that doesn't become an issue again

I will post more details about my plans soon, including more photos. Iíve already bought two very nice pieces of driftwood, and I also collected some rocks from a nearby stream last week. I'll chronicle some of my recent issues with algae, some new equipment and the changes in my maintenance, and I'll post some potential layouts of the new scape. Thank you for reading.
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Old 05-18-2013, 07:09 AM   #4
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In my last post I mentioned I had already bought two new driftwood pieces for my upcoming rescape. Well, here they are.

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This last photo is a kind of a rough outline of the new scape I have in mind (note: these photos are taken with a spare 29 gallon tank). As I said before, my main goal is to create a hardscape with a lot of intricate details and depth, giving an illusion of a larger landscape. I plan to slope things pretty heavily towards the back corners where the driftwood will sit, like two little hills.

Iím very fond of planted aquariums that have a little sandy/rocky, unplanted path leading up towards the background. The rocks were placed to outline this concept, although they really need to be brought forward to make room for the hills and so I can actually grow some plants. Iím still not sure if the whole foreground will be unplanted sand, or if Iím just going to do a path. Iím rather limited on space here and Itís going to be difficult to get everything to fit like I want it. And yes, the path will probably be off-center if I can help it.

The driftwood pieces need to have some branches trimmed/broken to make them fit back into the corners a little better, but Iíve been waiting until I finalize my hardscape plans before I make changes I canít undo. Originally I was going to go for more of a tree stump concept (with lots of exposed roots to create hiding places for fish and shrimp), kind of like the piece on the right. But then I saw the piece on the left and it was so crazy that I just had to have it. So now I may be stuck with a kind of mishmash where one half is a ďstumpĒ and the other is a ďtree.Ē Theoretically the piece on the right can be turned upside down to create another tree, or the piece on the left can be turned to create a stump (with a huge root system), but I think they really work best how theyíre shown in the photo.

Here are a few photos of my rock haul, collected from a nearby stream.

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I plan on using them mostly to separate the hills from the path that will go through the middle. They will definitely be needed to help hold up the slope. I hope to refine my hardscape plan over the next few days and will probably be posting some more photos of that soon.

I have not done much research on what plants to select, so if anyone has any suggestions Iíd be happy to hear them. Iím mostly looking plants with smaller leaves, mostly stem plants Iím thinking. Rotala rotundifolia will definitely be in there. Iím not sure about a foreground plant. Iíd love to have a little carpet of glosso or HC that starts to creep along the edges of the rocks, but Iím not sure I have enough light for that to work. My dwarf hairgrass is currently doing pretty well, so thatís another option.

Iíve also been practicing my aquarium photography and have lots of new photos to share, but Iím going to save them for another post. Hereís a little teaser though, and an updated photo of my tank. Thanks for reading.

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Old 05-18-2013, 07:19 AM   #5
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Tanks look awesome and your photography skills are impressive! Nice work.
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Old 05-18-2013, 08:09 AM   #6
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I definitely agree with thelub. Nice looking tank and good photography.

Looking forward to hearing what direction you take it in and, of course, seeing the accompanying pictures! =)
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Old 05-18-2013, 08:20 AM   #7
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PS. Siamese algae eater <3!
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Old 05-18-2013, 05:06 PM   #8
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Those pics of the ghost shrimp are so fascinating to me lol
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Old 05-18-2013, 06:19 PM   #9
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the new driftwood is the business!
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Old 05-18-2013, 06:56 PM   #10
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Great timeline. I wish I had your stamina to keep a scape for so long. I can't help but rescape my tanks every few months.
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Old 05-23-2013, 08:26 PM   #11
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The tank looks great and the pictures are amazing!
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Old 05-23-2013, 09:23 PM   #12
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Great thread! I love the progress over time photos.
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Old 09-03-2013, 02:54 AM   #13
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I've enjoyed reading your journal. Are there any updates? I'm eager to see what you did with the driftwood. Cheers!
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