Improving a 35 gal hex - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-03-2020, 04:17 PM Thread Starter
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Improving a 35 gal hex

First time on this forums, so please be patient with me if I'm asking any stupid stuff :-). I have a 35 gallon hex tank that I'd like to ... improve :-). Let me tell you what is what I want, what I have, and where I want to go. I'd like advice in how to get where I want to go and if where I want to go is a good/bad idea.

What I want is a very low maintenance (ideally zero :-) tank that is at much as possible a complete eco-system that thrives and keeps its inhabitants (both animal and plants) happy.

What I have for now is a tank with a very low load - in 35 gallons I have about 10-20 guppies (in-bread for at least 10 years) + one neon + 1 frog. As far as a clean-up crew I have 1-2 types of snails that eat any algae on the glass as well as anything that dies + excess food (if any). In terms of plants I have mostly Vallisneria (the large kind - I think gigantea), some java moss, and some pest mat at the bottom that seems very similar to java moss but which is much finer. I also have a few pieces of wood that have been there for 15+ years.

What I'd like is to improve ... everything :-).

1) regarding the complete, thriving eco-system I'd like to add a few "elements". The first that I'd like to add are detritus worms. My reasons for adding them is to clear some of the muck on the bottom of the tank (as it is I have to do it), as well as provide food to the fish (from time to time); furthermore, they seem to be a good idea for a complete eco-system - there is nobody else to do their job in the sand. I know that some people try hard to get rid of them, but I'd like to introduce them.

2) I'd like to improve the plant situation. First, I'd like to get rid of the pest at the bottom which makes a thick mat (which I can remove, but some is always left behind). That seems to outcompete (and possibly wage chemical war) with all other plants I used to have (I used to have Echinodorus and for a brief time elodea). Second, I'd like to add some other plants, especially low in the tank. Unfortunately a 35 gallon hex is very tall and necessarily with low lighting, especially on the bottom. If you have suggestions on what you think would survive do share.

3) I'd like to improve the fish situation. As I mentioned so far a single neon and a bunch of guppies (and a frog) are living happily (the guppies have lots of babies, the frog may be eating some). I used to have angelfish which were quite aggressive toward everything else so I had to remove them (back to the store they went after living for 1+ years in my tank). Other fish that didn't last (not sure why, perhaps out-competed) were plecos, gourami, corys. They were fine for a few months at a time, but I think that their lifespans should be years not months. I'd like to avoid goldfish (although quite hardy). I'm not sure about a pair of betas - I think they may fight even if of opposite sex.

4) I'm thinking to add other "creatures", for example ghost shrimps. Anything else?

5) I'd like to continue to have the low load, as I have practically no filtration (at all!) other than what the plants provide. I also want to not provide additional supplements to the tank - mostly because I'd like to be a complete eco-system, but also because I'd like to avoid screwing it up.

6) Maybe a bit of upgrades on the wood/rock (no rocks yet) situation: my pieces of wood have been taken from the backyard and boiled - worked OK from safety perspective, but the looks ... are a bit lacking :-). Suggestions are appreciated.

Thanks a lot for the suggestions,
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-08-2020, 10:14 PM
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IMHO, it’s basically impossible to have a ‘complete eco-system’ in a aquarium, especially a small one. Think about it, as the plants grow they are extracting chemicals from the water to grow. Eventually the tank will become depleted and then your troubles begin or get worse.

What do plants need....light, co2, nutrients N, P, K, Ca, Mg, Fe, micronutrients. Without these things in abundance, your plants begin to suffer or least slow way down. That’s when algae starts to get a hold.

The problem with relying on fish food and poop to fertilize your tank , is you get a build up of other dissolved organics that can have negative effects on fish and plants, but often benefit algae.

Co2 can be depleted in a small tank quite quickly each day. Again putting plants at a Competitive disadvantage to algae. That’s why some people do siestas for their tanks each day.

There is a balance of all these things that you are trying to achieve and that is the ‘art’ of keeping an aquarium.

Walsted has shown that it is possible to have similar aquaria as you are referring too, but these types of aquaria are limited in the types of plants that can be kept and aren’t usually considered as true display Aquaria.

Just some thoughts,


Last edited by doug105!; 07-08-2020 at 10:18 PM. Reason: Fix
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-14-2020, 10:50 PM Thread Starter
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thank you so much for helping. I agree with you that the chances that the right amount of N,P, K, etc. just happen to show up from food are next to nil. Now, I guess that the right question is: "What is the fix that gets me in a better place without radically changing the way I maintain the tank?". I'd like if possible to avoid high maintenance (CO2, daily tests, micro-dosing, etc.). If there is a miracle juice that would provide the nutrients (even if less than ideal) that the plants would enjoy, please do share. I can do a siesta if you think it would help (how long?).

Thank you for the advice,
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-23-2020, 12:41 PM
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Thank you for the advice,
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