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221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
It's been awhile since the last time it had been awhile, but here we are.

Welcome, one and all, to the return of my aquatic ramblings and mishaps. Today we are starting with the "10 Gallon Cap" tank. A setup that cannibalized pieces from the various projects I have undertaken over the years. Some documented here, others I completely forget about until I scroll through my phone at 12:34 on a Thursday night while I try to sleep.

Through all of this, I have been relatively open about my own health/mental/emotional struggles that impact my ability to care for my fish. I have downsized twice and have settled on two tanks. Two tanks that I can manage with 100% effort 100% of the time.

This 10 gallon is my first "upsize" in two years, moving up from the Spec iii (now to be an emergency hospital tank). The plants were being eaten by the ramshorns since I was underfeeding the tank and the aged betta denizen has passed on. Seize the day and the motivation! Time to add just a little bit more effort.

Dual Sponge Filter
Eheim Submersible Elite (for water flow)
50 watt heater
NICREW LED Light bar - 760 Lumens - 11 watt - 6500k

Vallisneria Spiralis
Anubias Petite
Helanthium Tenellum
Cryptocoryne Parva
Cryptocoryne Petchii
Ludwigia Palustris
Hygrophila Polysperma
Java Moss

**Forgot Lagenandra Meeboldii

Ramshorn Hitchhikers (leopard)
1 Hazelnut Mystery Snail

I took down my 20 gallon long last year, and rehomed my beloved Honey Gouramis and albino cories. I had spent quite awhile on building that setup and preparing the hardscape structure. I saved the substrate and the structure when I took down the tank.


I cut down the above structure and scavenged the plants from my Spec. I created a moss wall using a length of the eggcrate covered in landscaping mesh and a ziptie. I placed panels of craft mesh on either side of the wall where it didn't quite meet with the glass, to keep more curious denizens out of the area.

I am able to pass water through through the wall because it is just landscape fabric and eggcrate covered in moss. I have the submersible eheim elite pump to push water from the left side of the tank. The dual sponge filter is located on the right side. I also cut a hole in the wall and mesh, that snugly fits the output of the sponge filter to encourage some surface agitation.

This was where my hoarding tendencies really paid off in spades. I was able to set up this tank with only one tiny trip to the pet store. However, because I had saved the substrate, some of the aquasoil is above the pool filter sand cap. I will be undertaking the labourious task of sifting it out over time. (I did sift it prior to putting it in, these ones must have snuck in when I was distracted.)

Fishkeeping is not without danger:

I snagged some manzanita wood and a couple more filler plants for the tank from my LFS. I also snagged a hazelnut mystery snail I have named, Almond.

Knowing I am without much algae, I used plant weights to weigh down veggies with. This was made possible after I weaved my plastic hospital tank décor into the lid for the tank (as seen above).

I wired together the two pieces of manzanita wood I purchased and disguised the connection with some java moss.

Then we go about weighing down the thing with some dead weight.

Now, you may have noticed the fake ivy and such, I'm using some more craft mesh and a couple of suction cups to hide the rear compartment. Additionally I wove the aforementioned "plants" into the tank "lid" to help diffuse the light better and prevent unwanted algae growth in the back. Maybe it's a futile effort, but at least I tried?

Anyways, this is my current baby. I'm going to get it settled on a fert schedule and let the growth fill in before I think about adding any fish. In the meantime.


I welcome all stocking ideas/feedback and/or thoughts/tips for the tank.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by!



221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
So it's been 4 days since I planted the 10 Gallon Cap, and I'm already noticing a lot of positive growth. Almond the Hazelnut snail is temporarily housed in my Spec V with my plakat betta, Archibald.


Spec V

I'm going to focus on keeping the parameters for a few weeks before I subject Almond to their life long imprisonment in such an overcrowded and terrible environment. I tested my water yesterday and ammonia was nearly 1ppm, which is good for the tank, not so much for Almond. Did a 50% water change on both of my tanks and will test again tomorrow to see where we're at. The sponge media I scavenged from my Spec V is obviously not enough to "instant" cycle the tank.

So, now, we move on to what is arguably the hardest part of fishkeeping: waiting.

Everything has begun to perk up, the Rotala and Hygrophilia already sprouted new leaves.

Other than that, I am daily dosing Tropica micro nutrients in small amounts vs the big dose each week, as a sort of way to keep me looking at the details of the tank. If that makes sense.

Been awhile since I have been this enamoured with a tank. Let's see if we can keep it going.

221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Today's readings:

PH 6.8 - Pictured
Ammonia .5 ppm -| Prior to water change
Nitrites .25 PPM -|
Nitrate like 100 ppm - down to 5 ppm after a 70% water change

GH was about 60
KH about 40

(I use strips for the latter two readings).

I'm adding Equilibrium to the water (each water change) to make up for the soft glacier fed water that hydrates the Pacific Northwest. I also had ThriveC arrive yesterday and will be replacing the Tropica fertilizer with that.

I had also purchased two feeding tubes with dishes to put on the substrate to catch food and keep it from being swirled around. I'm pretty pleased with how well they work, but mostly, how "invisible" they are in the tank. (One for the 10 the other for the Spec)

I actually intended for the tank to be viewed this way on my desk, which was the only way I could put it. I then realized afterwards I had space in my office for my aquarium stand. Still, I will definitely remove the tube when things have grown in a bit for the full effect and take some pictures.

I was also lucky enough to arrange a future deal on some cull neocaridinas (red, blue, orange and off black, $20 for an indiscriminate scoop approx. 20). Essentially the guy said it's a large net scoop of culls and you get what you get. Which, for me, is fine. I will likely try and separate the shrimp after the 10 gallon has cycled and keep the preferred colour in there. Then whatever survives in the Spec V, survives.

I have some blue velvet in the Spec who have made their home in the moss wall, keeping out of reach and sight of Archibald. I have seen at least two of them that have escaped his attention.

So far.

While planting the s repens I purchased last night, I noticed my heater had some condensation in it. Which is always fun.

I had some points at the local pet store and purchased a series M fluval 50 watt heater and may or may not have also purchased a fluval aqua sky 2.0.

Being in a metro area, I got next day delivery and spent the afternoon splashing around in my tank. Waiting for more test strips to arrive on Sunday so I can resume testing my GH and KH.

I have the aqusky set on the following profile, per another similarly planted 10 gallon tank I found online.

Sunrise from 7 to 9 am. 9 am is RG at 50%, B at 10% and W at 75%. 7 pm sunset starts until 9pm. 9 pm to 10 is a moonlight setting with RG at 2%. B at 5% and 0% W.

I will take a closer picture of the growth tomorrow once everything has had a bit of time to adjust to the amount of torment and adjustments I made today.

Imma stop touching it now. Promise.

221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Been reading 0-0-10 for 3 days now. One of my blue velvet shrimp foolishly surfaced from its moss wall in my betta tank (I'm as surprised as you), so I snatched it up and dropped it in the 10 Gallon Cap. The Seiryu stone, filter media, chola wood, plants and about 1/3 of my substrate came from an established tank.

Paired with daily Seachem Stability, one large 70% water change, and then every other day 10% water changes, it seems we have achieved cycle. I snatched another blue velvet that surfaced and they have been happily grazing for 2 days. The guy with the culls has said he has oversold a bit, but will give me the 20 he promised, with a couple higher grade to make up the difference.

The lagenandra meedboldi in the top corner had some large green spots forming. I read that they are closely related to the crypt family and it was likely due to being replanted and the subsequent water parameter changes. So I clipped the affected leaves which revealed about 2 leaves for each one I clipped. Make way for the new growth!

Starting to look pretty good.


221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Picked up the cull shrimp from a very nice gentleman. There was a mix of red/orange/yellow/black and blue. He suggested to keep the blue and black together because blue was bred from black originally. I'm not too fussed on the quality, but it's something that I will keep an eye on.

Tested 0-0-10 again prior to a 10% water change again today. Added ferts this morning before I did the water change this evening. My head muscle thought that the plants would like the nutrients during the day. So. Yeah.


The orange/red/yellows went into the Spec with Archibald where they blend in with the sand and lower foliage relatively well. Archibald has mostly lost interest in shrimp unless they swim right in his current from the outflow.

Almond is practicing their wheelies:

I took out the feeding tube for the interim for a couple of reasons.
1. It was in the way
2. There are no fish to feed in the tank

Here are some new shoots from my helanthium. The s repens are also desperately trying to root, which is another sign of good things to come.

Anyways. Here is the angle of the tank that I envisioned the hardscape for:

That's it for now. Back to staring at it.

221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Almond does magnificent wheelies!! Commenting to follow thread because for some reason following normally gets no notifications but commenting does (?). Beautiful pics!!
Thank you for reading and for following and for the compliment! I'm happy someone else besides me is looking at these pictures. Spread the love!

Also, I'm considering getting Almond a helmet. Especially if they continue to pull such extreme stunts.

221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ever been so tired you fell asleep in your dinner? All those extreme stunts really took their toll on Almond.

Testing is stable, a bit higher after this water change for Gh (70 up from 60) and Ph (7.0 up from 6.8). I definitely attribute this to my addition of equilibrium. It's not so much that it raises concern, but I likely won't add any next water change to keep things within small increments. You know. Like we're supposed to.

In other news, Archibald has perfected his headstands.

For such common animals, I seem to have pretty extreme athletes. Best in Show-ing off.

Heh... No?

Finally, I spy with my little eye... A shrimplet!


221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Current full tank shot:

As per usual, life has been kind and gracious in providing me with more than my fair share of the pie. That is to say, there has been a bit of a journey between last post and this one.

The tank is my favourite tank I have ever put together. I stare at it for hours. After my last post, I happened upon a neat little fish named "sundadanio axelrodi" or Axelrodi Rasbora. They have recently been reclassified as a sundadanio, (within the last 10-15 years) but have not had their retail name catch up quite yet. They are like little slivers of sapphire. I saw them on my search for chili rasbora and made my decision when I realized there were no chili's to be had.

The axelrodi have a neat sexual dimorphism that results in the males making clicking noises when they slap their fins together during sparring or mating. A very shy yet precocious fish, they chase each other down with gusto and turn around just as fast. They are sensitive to changes in environment, don't appreciate being handled very much and are all wild caught as there has been little recorded success of breeding them in captivity.

They're endemic to Borneo and require a very specific and stable set of parameters in order to thrive. There is a growing amount of evidence that suggests the parameters are not AS narrow as originally thought, but the sentiment is clear: Soft, Acidic water.

A pH range of 4 to 6.8, temperature range 73 to 79, gH > 140, kH > 80, black water, and heavily planted.

Enter the heat wave.

I live in the Pacific Northwest where we don't have central air. I own a broken tower fan that doesn't oscillate, a USB powered desk fan, and a table fan I guess? I don't know. I skipped fan naming conventions in college.

When the heat wave hit, I was legitimately floating ice packs in the tank to bring the temperature down. I removed the lids for my two tanks, aimed the fans directly over the water and tried to keep the temperature swings to a minimum.

Sadly, I lost 5 of the 14 fish I had purchased in total. It's a terrible experience to be watching your pets suffer knowing there is nothing you can do aside from what you are already currently doing. As a result we purchased an AC window unit so when the next heat wave hits, I don't have to watch my fish sous-vide themselves.

As the tank is settling in, I'm getting small blooms of BBA. I typically have small amounts in my tank that I manage without it taking everything over. The threads are only on the driftwood nearest the light, so at water change this past week I used 3% hydrogen peroxide and a syringe lightly over the BBA.

Additionally, I had a fluval mini CO2 apparatus for nano tanks. As my water flow is adequate and the light is good for the rest of the tank, it's likely I can manage the small outbreak through attention and maintaining a somewhat steady level of CO2.

I have begun adding catappa leaves as leaf litter to the front empty space of the tank. I have also been removing the smaller dwarf water lettuce seedlings and nurturing a couple larger ones.

This shrimp is leafing town.

Probably because of my outdated and overused puns.

Been a lot of shrimp business going on in the tank.

I have opted for a feeding ring in the front corner and have made the switch to New life Spectrum Thera+ micro pellets as the little blue buggers are picky eaters. I was really hopeful with the tube, but it was mostly in anticipation of cories being in the tank

Anyways, I love this tank and everything about it. Another journey and more lessons. But that's what this hobby is all about :)

Unless you're Almond.


221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Nothing much to update aside from some wonderful growth. Everything is doing wonderfully, and the shrimp are just booming. The axelrodi aren't able to eat the shrimplets past a certain size, and while interested in them swimming by, they don't seem to make a dent in the population at all.

I have a few wild coloured in the tank that I will cull, but for now, everyone is living their happy little lives amongst the leaf litter and dwarf lettuce roots. The pictures are from a couple of weeks ago, but I think I will put together a small timelapse post for my next update.

Some wonderful red colouring coming in.

Berried blue shrimp, glamour shot.

The first shrimplet I had, all growed up!

Forward noble steed!

Nighttime front view

Nighttime sideview

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