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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Getting back into the hobby after a 5 year hiatus with a bang!
Like all great decisions, I impulse bought this 40g breeder at the Petco $/gal sale. I had a low-tech tank back when I was a much more poor student but, with more space in my house and (this time) access to a car, I figured I’d go big. So this will be my first attempt at a high tech tank.

Hardscape: is a mix of rocks I bought from a local landscaper (brought a bottle of vinegar with me to test each one) and driftwood I collected from the rivers and creeks in my area. The wood was scrubbed clean, soaked in water, and then baked at 475F for >1 hour. My LFSs have very limited wood choices, all of them are very basic and boring, and they charge incredibly high prices for them. I figured I’d take the risk with scavenging.

Substrate/Plants: between the rocks is Fluorite Red. What a PITA it was to rinse! This is predominately for aesthetic reasons. I plan to have Anubias, Java fern, Java moss, and Buces on the hardscape.

Behind the rocks is a base of Fluorite (for height) which will be topped with ADA Aquasoil Ver. 2. I plan to have a number of stemmed plants here but haven’t decided which.

The foreground will be quartz sand. I may hide some ADA or Fluorite around the base of the hardscape for Cryptocoryne, etc.

Maybe it’s a waste, but I’m not crazy about having carpeting plant at this point. I do like the idea of a cascading Hydrocotyle tripartita, though

Lighting: Sansi 15w grow lights x2. I own the 36w version of these bulbs for my house plants and I love the light color and results I’ve gotten. Using the Rotala Butterfly calculator for PAR, I think these two 15w bulbs with a reflector should get me to 100+ PAR.

CO2: CO2Art kit with an inline atomizer + 5lbs CO2

Filter: Sun Sun 304b

Wood Lighting Tree Window Art


Stock:I don’t plan to stock this tank for many weeks after planting. Mainly, to make sure I’ve gotten a grip on water parameters and the CO2.

My must-have are Celestial Pearl Danios and Amano shrimp. It’s fairly open after that!

What does well in a tank this size? Give me suggestions!
 

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If cpds are a must and shrimp, gotta pick compatible options.

Why not do a shoal of 10-15 rosy loaches for the bottom level, a huge group of the cpds, the amano shrimp, and perhaps a trio of honey gourami?

Or, go totally hillstream and do the cpds and a nice group of hillstream loaches with the amano. (You'd need to keep a good flow and oxygen rate for these)
 

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75g, 33L, 2g and play tanks
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Since you have sand and not doing a carpet I was thinking some Corys. But I have a feeling quartz sand is more coarse so they may not appreciate as much. At the sametime I have had with gravel so I still say some Corys. There are a lot of types, so find the ones you like and not just whatever is at the LFS.

Otherwise a single or pair of BN plecos would take care of a bulk of you glass cleaning and any wood that is bare.

I have never had them, but I always wanted some Killifish too. They'll stay near the top, CPDs in the low/mid, amanos all over the hardscape, plants, and ground. Maybe get some Nerites to top it off. a bottom dweller is still needed. Kuhli loaches? ... corys.

Also, since you're waiting for the plants to kick in, sounds like you have some patience so you can wait another couple months after the first fish and when the tank starts to get a little rough with algae get a grip of Otocinclus, like a dozen.
 

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Or a betta sorority. lol But I haven't ever seen a sorority/community tank before. Soooo you should try it. lol.

No, I wouldn't, but it could work!?

PS, i like the Honey Gourami idea from @NoodleAquatics too. But I am kinda a sucker for Gourami. They got me into the hobby.

[Edit] I couldn't stop thinking about it. First google search.
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
If cpds are a must and shrimp, gotta pick compatible options.

Why not do a shoal of 10-15 rosy loaches for the bottom level, a huge group of the cpds, the amano shrimp, and perhaps a trio of honey gourami?

Or, go totally hillstream and do the cpds and a nice group of hillstream loaches with the amano. (You'd need to keep a good flow and oxygen rate for these)
I have never heard of rosy loaches but they seem wonderful! I love the idea of a South East Asian tank but I feel like I might give in and get Otos because they’re so damn cute.
Gourami’s are a great idea! My favorites are Chocolate Gourami which are fairly delicate and also not from the same region as CPDs…
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Since you have sand and not doing a carpet I was thinking some Corys. But I have a feeling quartz sand is more coarse so they may not appreciate as much. At the sametime I have had with gravel so I still say some Corys. There are a lot of types, so find the ones you like and not just whatever is at the LFS.

Otherwise a single or pair of BN plecos would take care of a bulk of you glass cleaning and any wood that is bare.

I have never had them, but I always wanted some Killifish too. They'll stay near the top, CPDs in the low/mid, amanos all over the hardscape, plants, and ground. Maybe get some Nerites to top it off. a bottom dweller is still needed. Kuhli loaches? ... corys.

Also, since you're waiting for the plants to kick in, sounds like you have some patience so you can wait another couple months after the first fish and when the tank starts to get a little rough with algae get a grip of Otocinclus, like a dozen.
Im really interested in killifish. Are they hard to keep? I think two BN Plecos would be great as bottom dweller centerpieces.
A betta sorority scares me! I’ve heard it can go really poorly! Sounds like you should consider it for yourself one day!
 

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A ton of guppies, mystery snails, japanese trapdoor snails, ghost shrimp, & tons of plants in a 10G.
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I wouldn't recommend getting nerite snails. They actually suck. Eggs everywhere when they just up and decide to. Mystery snails, just 1. Never anything more. I may be a little biased on this suggestion, but GUPPIES! They're my go-to when I make new tanks for people, and they're super colorful, and only need a few to have guppies for generations!
 

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In a 40g you could do both the rosy loaches AND otos.
Otos are super adorable, so by all means, enjoy them! Just be sure they have a good amount of biofilm before introducing them to the tank, so wait about 3-4 months after the tank is cycled to be sure the tank matures a bit.
 

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Im really interested in killifish. Are they hard to keep? I think two BN Plecos would be great as bottom dweller centerpieces.
A betta sorority scares me! I’ve heard it can go really poorly! Sounds like you should consider it for yourself one day!
I love plecos. They are power cleaners. Mostly the operate at night, so that's kind of a bummer. But it is cool to have some "sleep giants" in the tank. When they unexpectedly show their stuff to people they always get a reaction. There are a lot of variations. So I recommend looking around. Main ones you'll be able to see and common colored ones, the "super red" which are orangeish red and then albinos. There are some lemon ones as well, but I see these a little less. Then there are all four of those again but with the "longfin" variations. When little the longfins look like angels in the water. it's pretty cool. These fish are hardy, but I recommend getting ones that are at least 2 inches long. Or close to. Plus, you'll want to wait at least that long if you want to sex them. Males have the bristles on their head, females don't.

I do want to do the sorority one day. But that's gonna be complicated and will require some time and planning. Can't throw together a tank like I normally do for some cool fish. lol.

Again, never had them, but very much want to get some killifish myself.

Good luck to you! you're gonna have some happy fish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Flooded the tank to get it cycling! The piece of wood floating on the top-left refuses to sink and is literally ruining my life 😭😭😭
Added some unidentified Anubias sp. (probably Nana and Coffeifolia) that I found at the local Petco (due to a very limited selection of plants at my LFS which is quite poor, in my opinion).
The water is fairly cloudy. Not sure if it's from the sand I added or from the wood. I'm not convinced it's bacterial in nature as my water tests show 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrates, and 0 Nitrites.

Planning a trip to Chicago (nearest big city to me) to splurge on plants.
Ideas are:
  • more Anubias on the wood lower in the tank
  • variety of Cryptocoryne sp. in the foreground
  • a variety of Buce sp. on the spire of wood in the center-right
  • H. tripartita cascading down the grey stones on center-left
  • Hygrophila pinnatifida between the stones in the lower center, between the stones in the center above the Anubias
  • Hygrophila verticillata on the right most where flow is slow to fill some of that vertical space

In the background, I'm thinking Rotala HRA (if I can get my hands on some!!) behind the large pink stone in the center. Other types of stem plans on the left, such as Rotala, Ludwigia, and Bacopa. Longer trailing plants such as Val on the far-right.

I also plan to make hardscape changes:
  • On the left: brush the sand farther to the left and away from the rocks -- I plan to add ADA Aquasoil Ver. 2 here and between the hardscape to provide nutrients for plants.
  • Center: thin the layer of Flourite and add Aquasoil for some sort of carpet
  • Background: add Aquasoil to the 2 inches of Flourite already back there (for height)
  • Other: add more twig-like wood for variety

1032481


QUESTIONS:
What can I do in the far-left corner?! It's looking sort of empty and sad.
I'm considering ditching this curvy branch for some sort of "arching" wood that will arc from the back-left corner to the center. The rough idea is to add a variety of stem plants with some S. repens also.
Alternatively, some sort of semi-large plant, like an Echinodorus sp., with small rocks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Testing my water today had me worried with a pH of 7.4
The water here is HARD (~300 ppm)

Then I tested the tap water to see this...:
1032485


I'm happy that I've been able to bring it down with the tannins in the wood, thus far. I'm confident that the CO2 should bring it down some more. More on that next week!
 

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Really like this hardscape you've got going.

I'm not sure you really have to do anything with the back left corner. It looks good like it is and you've got the golden ratio going for you.

As far as the curvy branch goes, you could consider cutting it into a few different segments for re-use in the tank. That is - if you decide to make a change.

Keep in mind that CO2 injection won't impact water hardness or osmotic pressure. So the pH change isn't something that can be relied upon for livestock.
 
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