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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So it has been about 20 years since I had an aquarium. My home office seemed like it needed a touch of life, and an aquarium seemed to fit the bill. Initially I had thought a 20 gallon would be about right, but ended up buying a 55 gallon. Also, I had initially thought about doing a riverscape with lots of smooth stones and botias. Funny how plans change!
I do wish I had found this website before making some of the purchases that I did -- the wealth of knowledge and information that the users here share is amazing.

Specs:
55 gallon Aqueon (bought as a complete kit, upgraded everything)
Filter: Eheim 2213
Powerhead: MJ 600
Substrate: Ecocomplete topped with another gravel
Lighting: 2 - 48" Elive LEDs (wish I had come here - LFS suggested these and I spent a fortune buying enough pods to get to the medium light level)
Ferts: DIY CO2 (citric acid and baking soda fed into the powerhead).
Seachem
API root tabs
Plants: Spiky moss
Anubias nana
Ludwegia repens
Bacopa caroliana
Cardamime lyrata
alternanthera reineckii
Hygrophila corymbosa
Hydrocotyle
Vallisneria
Crypts - wendtii green, red, undulatus
Java fern
bacopa caroliniana
Water sprite
Ambulia
Critters:
Growing colony of cherry shrimp
10 harlequin rasboras in QT, will go into this tank in April
4 otocinclus (originally had 7, have lost a few)
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I am going to start keeping track of the DIY CO2 in this thread. The current batch will be 2 weeks on Saturday and is still going quite strong.

The H rasboras have been in QT for three weeks now, so I think this weekend they will be ready to make the trip across the room into the big tank. Emailed back and forth with msjinkzd yesterday about some additional suitable fish. I'll make a decision next week.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ferts Thread
3/24/16 - Added more root tabs about the Alternanthera, the crypts and the Hygrophila corymbosa (HC). Noticed that the HC has a few raggedy small holes that almost look like something has been chewing on it. It's only on the older leaves, guessing snail damage? The new growth on the plant looks strong and damage free.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Moved the 10 harlequin rasboras into the tank from QT tonight. They seem very very happy with all the space, the plants, etc. I bought them at Petsmart, and remember the girl who helped me saying that there wasn't a lot of interest in that particular fish, so they had been left pretty much alone for a long time. So they spent their early days in a sparse pet shop tank, followed by a month in a small 10 gallon tank, and now have the run of the 55 gallon. Do fish feel happiness?

The shrimp, OTOH, seem a little grumpy about the new inhabitants. There's a big gathering of what appear to be the "elder" shrimp in one particular section near the top of the tank. I am guessing that the shrimplet population may see a decline if and when the rasboras figure out that there is a readily available source of live food.

Plants:
3/25/16 Had to stop by Petsmart today to pick up kitty litter and noticed that they had added some new aquarium plants, the kind grown in the gel. Picked up a Temple Compacta (hygrophila aocynbosa) and a crypt wendtii Tropica. I fully expect the crypt to melt away to nothing, but hopefully it will come back. It's a smallish plant with a pretty maroon color to the leaves. The Temple Hygro also has a lot of red color to the leaves. I put one stalk of it in the QT, and the rest in the big tank.
3/28/16 - The new hygrophila is showing some bright green growth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The rasboras have settled in nicely and are showing some gorgeous color --- bright orange and a glowing silvery blue. And the little bits of orange on their fins seem to glow against the plants. I think that little fish like these get overlooked at the pet stores because they are so stressed and colorless.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Tonight I tackled cleaning the Eheim filter for the first time. It's been running for 3 months now with no issues, but the flow has definitely been reduced. What I thought would take an hour ended up occupying most of my Friday night (exciting!). I had bought some new tubing since I felt that the intake tubing was a little on the short side, so there was some replumbing to be done.

When I opened the canister and took out the media, there were 4 little shrimp staring up at me. Who knows how long they have been living in the bottom of the filter? Set them free in the big tank.

Did a deep gravel vacuum on the end of the tank where the filter intake is, that seems to collect a lot of deitrus and I've seen little white worms and what are probably leeches hanging out. They need to go.

It took a long time to get all the air bubbles worked out of the tubing and the canister. Seems like I didn't have as much trouble when I first set it up. But it's done and there is all kinds of flow
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Trimmed back the water sprite, which had gotten crazy bushy, and some of the bacopa today. The tank looks a lot brighter and water movement is better. The pond snail population has declined drastically -- a good thing but I wonder what the cause is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Added 10 Brown Pencilfish yesterday that I ordered from msjinkzd. Very cool and somewhat mysterious little fish that hang just below the surface with their body at about a 45 degree angle. They are already setting up little territories.

On a side note -- I would say that in late January and February, there was an explosion of pond snails to the point where I was thinking it might be necessary to look into ways to cull the population. Tonight there is only one visible pond snail, and it's a very large snail. Other than that, no eggs, babies, nada. It could be so many things but I'm speculating that the shrimp population squeezed out their food source.
 

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That's interesting about the snails and shrimp. I find my snail population goes back and forth from invisible to ridiculous periodically, and have no idea why
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
That's interesting about the snails and shrimp. I find my snail population goes back and forth from invisible to ridiculous periodically, and have no idea why
Thanks for posting that. It's so strange, like they all disappeared over the course of a couple of days. I'm not even finding shells.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Started a new CO2 mix this morning. Probably could have let it go another day or so, but I'm encouraged that the last batch lasted over two weeks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Noticed that the java fern is pearling. This is the first time I have observed this in my tank, it was kind of cool once I realized what was happening.
Everything is growing like crazy, although the corner where the filter intake is located is kind of a dead zone. Not all bad, it leaves some open swimming area for the fish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I just realized that it's been a month since I set up the last batch of CO2 and it's still going. Must have gotten lucky with this batch. I'll probably set up a new mix tonight, I'm pushing my luck on this.

Noticed 2 dead shrimp in the tank last night. They were medium size, so it's not like they died of old age. One had been there a while and was pretty decomposed, the other looked pretty fresh and still had some red color to it. The shrimp population looks quite healthy and there are plenty of shrimplets, so I'm not really concerned, but still would be good to know. I have seen the pencilfish showing an interest in shrimplets when they are up on the hydrocotyl leaves, but doubt they would bother an adult shrimp.
 

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I loved reading this. I bet you'd get more replies with photos though, to be honest. But I liked the documentary style of reading what you have been doing. IT was neat. Anyway, a couple dead shrimp is nothing to fret about. I'd write it off as random acts of mother nature, like a lightning strike.

DIY CO2 on a 55g will likely cost you more in the long run, but glad to see you've managed to keep it going for quite some time.

My only real criticism is the otos. They need a very matured environment to survive. Aside from their normal hit or miss nature, they probably struggled to find enough food in a new tank. They are best added to a several month old tank. Anyway, your fish selection is awesome, they are great fish. I like your stocking levels, very low. Probably not 'impressive' to look at, but the fish will enjoy it and the maintenance will be lower than those who stock higher.

Definitely take some photos!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I loved reading this. I bet you'd get more replies with photos though, to be honest. But I liked the documentary style of reading what you have been doing. IT was neat. Anyway, a couple dead shrimp is nothing to fret about. I'd write it off as random acts of mother nature, like a lightning strike.

DIY CO2 on a 55g will likely cost you more in the long run, but glad to see you've managed to keep it going for quite some time.

My only real criticism is the otos. They need a very matured environment to survive. Aside from their normal hit or miss nature, they probably struggled to find enough food in a new tank. They are best added to a several month old tank. Anyway, your fish selection is awesome, they are great fish. I like your stocking levels, very low. Probably not 'impressive' to look at, but the fish will enjoy it and the maintenance will be lower than those who stock higher.

Definitely take some photos!
Thank you for stopping by and commenting! I am sure you are right about the photos, I know for myself, I tend to spend more time looking at the pictures than actually reading the journal entries. I'll get some pics up.
I wondered how the little otos would fare -- to be honest, I got them because it seemed like everyone with a planted tank had otos. When I added them to the tank, there was a massive outbreak of brown diatoms and they were probably already half starved, so they really gorged themselves. I'm down to 5 and although I don't see them very often, they look pretty fat, so they must be finding nourishment.
Thanks also for reassuring me about the shrimp deaths!

Bump: Swapped out the DIY CO2 tonight for a fresh batch. Last night I cut back a bunch of the hydrocotyle that had grown along the top of the water. That plant seems to like this tank very, very much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
First Pic is the tank as of today, it's turning into quite a jungle. I love sitting quietly and watching the goings-on in this small, self-contained world

Second pic - Here's a closeup of some of the fauna.

Bump: Pic of some of the shrimp having dinner. There are a couple of wild type that have appeared and I kind of like them. They seem to be a little more active than the red shrimp. I know that a lot of people would cull them, but I think I'll just let them be and see what happens.
 

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Excellent! I really like how it looks. Your shrimp have great color too. How do you like your choice of cholla wood? I think that is what it is called. If I am right, that stuff does deteriorate a lot faster than harder woods. Still good for a few years, nothing to worry about any time soon.
 

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Sitting and watching the tank is IMO, the best thing about keeping fish in a planted aquarium. You're right - it's a little self contained world. Your little world is looking good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Excellent! I really like how it looks. Your shrimp have great color too. How do you like your choice of cholla wood? I think that is what it is called. If I am right, that stuff does deteriorate a lot faster than harder woods. Still good for a few years, nothing to worry about any time soon.
Thank you! Having never had shrimp, I didn't know what to expect and was amazed at how hardy and prolific they are.
Yes, it's cholla wood --- I had a big piece of manzita (I think) driftwood in there and it just didn't work very well. The shrimp like crawling around in the holes --- I thought I read that it might last 2 years.

Bump:
Sitting and watching the tank is IMO, the best thing about keeping fish in a planted aquarium. You're right - it's a little self contained world. Your little world is looking good.
Thanks for stopping by, Jaye. I have read that people watching an aquarium can actually lower their blood pressure a little bit. Not a bad side effect to a hobby :smile2:
 
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