I have had an aquarium on and off since I was a child. Always smaller tanks and never with plants until about 5 years ago where I technically had my first planted tank. Just a couple of plants in a 29 gallon bowfront. I ran that tank for a couple of years and then got rid of it when I moved. My wife and I moved again into our current place back in October of 2018. Shortly after I started watching some videos on youtube and heard the term "aquascape" for the first time. I became fascinated by it and decided it was time to get another tank.
I am currently renting and the wife is not super excited about aquariums. So the tank needed to be pretty small. This would really be my first planted tank where I actually did more then just add 2 plants and walk away. It has gone through a LOT of changes and frankly I did not document all of them. In fact I had no intention of writing a journal whatsoever. But after being on this site for a while I decided to go ahead and start documenting this tank while the wife and I hunt for our next house to buy. After we buy that house I will get my next real tank which will be substantially bigger.
In the meantime, enter the Spec V.
So yea... a lot of mistakes were made with this tank starting with the fact that I bought the saltwater version instead of the freshwater. They are absolutely identical except that the saltwater version comes with a 10k light which makes everything look a bit washed out. I didn't realize how much I would hate this when I bought it. I just wanted a light strong enough to grow plants and I figured the saltwater version would do that. But yea.. definitely not a good way to go.
I don't have many pictures of the tank after the initial setup but I did manage to find two:
This one is the best FTS I had of its initial setup. The substrate is eco-complete which I really do not like. The hardscape is 3 rocks. The large rock on the left is huge but I really liked how the sword plant next to it looked and left it in for most of the tanks life up to current. This rock would determine much of the rest of the aquascape. The moss balls.. yea I bought a bunch online for pretty cheap and decided I wanted to use them all...... so not the best decision.
Here you can see the tank and where it is located. Its very visible from 3 sides which mean all the aquascape needs to be in the middle row of the tank and I can't just lean everything up against the back. This makes aquascaping pretty challenging.
Stocking for the tank was a betta named Umami, various neo shrimp, and at one point a orange dwarf crayfish. Here is the next iteration I have record of:
I wanted to provide hiding places for the shrimp so I used a piece of manzinita wood and attached java moss to it. The java moss kinda took over. It provided hiding places but blocked out the rest of everything a bit too effectively.
I removed the wood eventually and glued the java moss directly to the rocks. Over the next few months things grew in pretty well until I added too much excel or flourish or both during a water change and managed to kill a few shrimp and my poor crayfish who could not climb the walls to get out of the danger zone.
Here are some pictures from this time period.
You can see some Ludwigia and some cabomba in these pictures. At some point I tried growing stems. They did ok but at the time I was unaware folks would cut the tops off these plants after they establish themselves and replant them getting rid of the bottoms. This would definitely have been helpful information to me since I ultimately got rid of the stems because the tops looked great but the bottoms looked terrible. I thought they were just dying. They might have been... but they also might have just been adjusting to submersed growth. So yea.. mistakes.
Regarding the stocking, even at the start of the aquarium I noted that Umami was not a great swimmer and preferred to move as little as possible. I have had bettas like this before but Umami was especially unmotivated. After a few months I noticed he was essentially only moving when food was offered. The rest of the time he would hang out against the skimmer part of the filter and not move. The current was not too strong for him since I had muffled it by this point. He just didn't like to move. I rescaped the tank a couple of times to see if I could interest him but nothing worked. Sometime in early spring I decided it was time for Umami to go back to the fish store and to get some endlers which would be more active and interesting fish.
What I was not prepared for was my 2 year old daughter having bonded quite thoroughly to Umami. She pretty much lost it when she saw me bagging him up. Thereafter whenever she was upset about something she would start asking about Umami. She cared not at all for the endlers which I frankly thought were pretty neat.
After a couple of months of of this with no sign of her losing interest in the departed Umami I decided it was time for Umami to come back. This time though I would be more careful with my betta selection.
Umami being a very modern fish had gone through a bit of a transformation while he was away. He looked quite a bit different and also had a sex change. She was now a koi style plakat betta. My daughter did not sweat the differences and once more was happy and fascinated with the aquarium.
In preparation for the new Umami I did another rescape (my 5th or 6th by this point). I finally removed the big rock to the left which really freed up some space. Here are some pictures of the tank as it is today:
The big brown leaf is a mini catappa leaf.
The current setup is still settling in with some melt on the crypts but overall I am quite happy. This post has been crazy long so I will end it here and update more on the tank as things happen.