I've been reading posts here, posted a few of my own for ahwile now as I was preparing to get into the hobby. The information here has been very helpful and I appreciate all of the replies and information that I;ve received from so many. It's clear that many of you genuinely take time to provide thoughtful thorough answers.
It's been two weeks now so I thought I'd put up a tank journal and really join the community.
I had been looking for an aquarium/furniture combination that we liked for quite a while. Selections in store has been thin. While I'd been searching I also started checking eBay and Craigslist to see if I'd get lucky.
A few weeks ago I stumbled into a Fluval Osaka 320L (84 Gallons) near home. It was 6 months old, in great shape and had a few upgrades such as a Rena XP3. It was for sale for half of its retail cost. It was in great condition and an attractive tank that I hadn't seen before, so I decided to just go for it.
The only donwside of that was that I wasn't prepared to pull the trigger - meaning that I hadn't decided on substrate choices, what kind of plants to plant, how to aquascape, etc... Since I've been traveling a lot lately (you've probably seen me post that ad nauseum) I couldn't get things ready in time for pickup day. so I just went with what the previous owner had.
Yes, I could have just dumped everything, cleaned the tank and waited, but the owner was generally concerned for his fish, my daughter\t fell in love with a pair of gold/silver veil angels and the die was cast.
The tank and furniture are pristine. Very fortunate and I really like the look. We have a transitional-style home, my study, where the tank is located, is full of cherry cabinetry with hardwood floors (gulp) and finding a cabinet that looked at home wasn't easy. The Osaka, being modern and simple in design, compliments without looking like a poor match. So the starting point was all great.
Parts that weren't great:
The CO2 system included is a low-end paintball CO2 system with a tiny diffuser that looks like it hasn't been cleaned in 6 years, let alone 6 months. Still it was a throw in, but its clear that it isn't adding much CO2.
The substrate, well, that may be the worst part because its the most difficult component to upgrade. It is Flora Max. The grain is large and very coarse. Rosette plants seat fine, but stem plants w/o roots are a challenge. For any it is less than ideal. I don't like the color either. Well, actually that isn't fair. It isn't bad - typical flourite red with gray - like flourite red on steroids. But the color isn't what I wanted - I wanted dark/or black. Having had it up and running I think the fish certainly would look better against a dark substrate. And of course the coarse grain, workable or not, isn't ideal and I'm sure will not grow some plants.
The fish. An uneven collection, but mostly nice fish. 2 large angels, 4 Cardinals, 3 Rummynose, 2 Otos, 5 Gold Barbs and 4 Harlequin rasboras. All nice fish. They don't mix well though I don't think. I intended to do an asian tank with Rainbows and a few others, but that's out the window for now until I get my daughter her onw tank for this angels. They look the most out of place, but they are really pretty fish. So, you see what I mean. Nice fish, school sizes not quite in balance, but what's a dad to do (get his daughter a tank !)
The plants were very well thick, but..I didn't like them.
A very large bunch of wisteria wasn't bad, but it dominated the tank. An 84G tank! There are a couple of Vals that are nice and tall, but full of algae. There is one lotus and one coffee plant, two bronze crypts. Except for the Wisteria, not bad again. There was a large bunch of something else and some baby tears. The something else was not good so I discarded it. The Wisteria I trimmed back to 10% of its size. The baby tears just didn't go back into the substrate so I gave up. Everything that I kept is doing well.
Here's the tank with things in place and saved original water in:
Tank topped off and the XP3 working on the full, cloudy tank. Unhappy fish and plants in place at about 2AM:
Next morning the water was clear and fish were happy:
One week later, all's well, no deaths, fish and kids happy, water parameters all good, we went to the store to add some plants and a few fish:
Few days after that I brought a new piece of driftwood home from DC and in it went, replacing one of the original pieces that I just didn't like.
So, we're out of the gates. Here is what we added last week:
5 large Swords, 2 Crypts - Florida Sunset.
3 Rummynose to bring the total to 6. ( really have taken to these. They cruise low in the tank, like stealth fighters over driftwood, around stems. Their colors have brigthened and I really llike watching them most of all of the fish so far.
1 beta (daughter again)
7 Threadfin Rainbows. I know, a risky choice at this stage, but I wanted small bio-mass rainbows in my "supposed-to-be" rainbow tank. They're doing fine actually with males displaying away (bought 4 males, 3 females)
So today at 15 days, the crypts are melting a bit, but no surprise. A little bit of diatom algae is appearing. Everything that's been added is doing well. One of the new Oto's died next day, so we have 5 total. Others are busy as beavers.
In the coming week I'm making these changes:
-A new Sumo Regulator is due for arrival early in the week.
-A Red Sea 500 Reactor is ready to go. I also have a 2" ADA-style diffuser coming. I may try that as well.
-Drop Checker on the way
-Master Test Kit on the way (been using strips)
- I want to add a lot of plant mass, but local selections are pretty week both on selection and size, so it looks like I'll be callng mail-order houses on Monday.
- 5 Chain Loaches are on the way from Invertz...I think for FRiday delivery.
We've had plenty of snails from the original owner's setup and they have really exploded in the last week. We may be over feeding, doesn;t seem so, but we're dialing back a bit to see. The chain loaches are coming to be partof the cleanup crew and will hopefully thin the snails a bit. I did watch a Cardinal swoop in and suck a baby snail off the glass the other day, but clearly that isn't happening enough.
When the chains arrive, we will have a bout 50 (when adult) inches of fish in the tank. It should be able to hold a lot more, but I won;t be adding any fish beyond the chains until I get the aquascape more advanced and things seem stable.
By then I may weed some of the fish out - like the Gold Barbs and Cardinals....and Rasboras... We'll see. Ther eare some Dwarf Neons and Connieae out there wiht my name on them.
Figure out what and how to fert.
Get the new CO2 system up
and find some darned plants to add
I'm going to have a busy Friday this week.
Updates to follow.