I have been lurking, recently posting, learning and finding the work of other members on this sight to be very inspirational. Caveat: I am solely responsible for any and all mistakes I've made.
This 21 gallon tank began with the my desire for a peaceful community tank. I determined that I would have a variety of small tetras and started with Pristellas and added neons. Once the tank was 'established' I added Rummies which I like alot. Each of these fish, as you well know, have different characteristics. What I especially appreciate are the differing body shapes. I wanted a long fish [Rummies] 'flat' fish [Pristellas] and something in between.
What has not worked for me are Otos. I like them but they don't do so well. Perhaps its the lack of algae, yes I have algae but it has to compete with the plants and at this point the plants have the edge.
Or is it the flourish excel.
I've have greater like with my Cory's and I have a healthy school of 7 Pygmeaus. I wanted something for the bottom, the Pygmeaus penchant for mid tank is not a problem for me even if that areas can, at times seem a little crowded.
Crowded? Well I could not resist 10 green neon tetras that came into my LFS. The tank is 'understocked' in part because it is 'overplanted.'
My jungle of vals are present for a few reasons. The plant gets to the top of the water column and to the light of my approx 2 watt per gallon lighting well. The vals offer surface cover which softens the light in the water column. I like that effect and while I could darked the tank with a darker substrate I wanted a light coloured one for this tank. A the time my 5 gallon betta tank had dark substrate with darkly pigmented anubias and I wanted a different esthetic for this one. I also wanted to 'recreate' what I envisioned as the languid grassy edge of a amazon stream. A counter point to the sometimes busyness of my home and our frigid winters.
Giant hair grass was added as well and it has done well with little intervention on my part. I had micro sword which did well but did not achieve the desired effect. It came out after getting thin and weedy in competition with baby tears that I had in the foreground at one point. The baby's tears got bushy, I don't know how else to describe it, without trimming. I was not trimming the tank this summer, I was outside during our brief and glorious respite from winter.
I have thought about adding colour and texture other than the grasses. I've had ludwigia do well in a low tech set-up and have also thought about, brace yourselves for a remarkable deviation, Saggitaria subulata.
I enjoy puzzling over the many ways wood and rock can be placed and love watching the puzzles members solve here.
At any rate my tank had become overgrown and dark. The wood which created a cave used by the timid Pristellas when the tank had little plant growth was now ignored and had become formless by the Jave Moss which had been added to strip algae feeding nutrients from the water.
I may still add plants but for now I have reconfigured my wood to open up more space and the feeling of more space while maintaining plenty of hiding spaces for the fish. One the right side of the tank I have 'broken' the foreground rule and allowed the vals to grow against the the glass. I like the veiling effect and coupled with the wood behind the val, val before next piece of wood I am giving greater visual depth.
Forgive me, I have time to go on and on it's -41 outside and I'm not going anywhere soon.
It's not clear to me how to caption my photos. But I hope that my written description will make the before and after clear.
Let me know what you think.