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DJC - New Tank Journal

4425 Views 44 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Mach5
A bit of background on my fish tank experience. As a kid we always had some kind of tank growing up. Mostly 5-20 gal. Generally cycled and cleaned out the tanks every few months, didn't keep live plants, and most of the time the fish lasted less than a year.

As an adult, my kid got a comet goldfish at a state fair. We were visiting from out of state and I never thought the fish would live (it was in a tiny plastic carrier). When it survived a week, we got a bowl and put him in there. Eventually I got tired of changing his water every few days, so I bought a 10 gal aquarium and put him in that. I eventually got an Anubias Nana and something else because I liked the idea of natural plants in an aquarium. That fish lived about 3 years until my daughter insisted on buying him a "friend" and we put a pleco in the tank and within a week both were dead. After that I cleaned and reset the tank and put neons in there, but they died, too. After a few other attempts I decided the tank was cursed and I wouldn't buy any more fish for it. But, then my older daughter and I got the idea to "fish" some mosquito fish out of a local culvert drain. We brought home about 30 and I put some java moss and a new Anubias plant in there and we were "off to the races." Those fish slowly died off over the first year or so until I got down to about 4, then eventually 3 of the remaining 4 died off until I was left with one. That fish seemed to do fine in the tank even after the java moss was removed. I have kept that fish and tank pretty much under control (save the constant battle against algae) for 3 years (unfortunately the last fish passed last night).

That 10 gal just had a single fluorescent light, was kept on a dark shelf, and had a timer to cycle the light so that it got daylight for about 8-ish hours. The Anubias has survived but hasn't grown much. When I last pulled it out I discovered it had a huge long root. The guy as the LFS says that means it was nitrogen-starved. The substrate was just cheap fish-store small blue gravel and I didn't change water or clean the bottom often so there was significant malm.

About 8 years ago we adopted a bearded dragon that came in a 55 gal aquarium. It was really too small for him, so I built him a home out of an old TV cabinet. That left me with a 55 gal aquarium just begging for me to do something with it. So I started researching and checked out books from the library on aquariums. That's when I discovered that Walstad method. I started reading up on the internet about it and learned bits and pieces. I decided that when I did my aquarium I was going to go for the low tech route. It seemed both less expensive and less involved than the CO2, heavy lighting route (though the latter do make for some amazingly beautiful set-ups).

About a year or so ago I got a new top frame for the 55 gal (heat lamp damaged the old one) and put it in the back yard on the cement slab and filled it. I let it run for a week or so and it seemed to hold water. But then it got an algae bloom so I drained it and put it back in the garage, as I didn't have time to start the project then.
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Discussion Starter · #41 ·
I found what worked with pennywort is not to bury the stems in the earth. It likes to float and really likes to be at the surface. Tends to be like Water Lilly. I have mine wrapped through holes in a tank decoration "rock" just to kind of tie it in place. It is by far the fastest growing and most aggressive plant in my aquarium.

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I think I waited over a month before adding shrimp. If you read through the thread and note the dates you'll see when I added. I started with plants right away and kept adding over time. Some will burn or die so you need to keep adding until you get a good balance. At least that's what I did. I didn't plant as heavily as some others on this forum have. I added the shrimp and then waited another month to add more fish. Also I got all the fish from the same lfs. That isn't a requirement but this particular store quarantines their fish before putting them on the floor, so presumably they're healthy and unstressed when bought. So far I've only lost one fish bought from there (a Danio).

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Perfect. Maybe a couple more water changes and I'll be right there ready to introduce the shrimp.


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Discussion Starter · #43 ·
Update: A long time has passed. The shrimp have continued to do well (I think two have passed but they hide pretty well so I could be wrong). I find the other fish I put in there do not seem to last more than a few months. I haven't done a water test in forever, but then thus was supposed to be a low maintenance aquarium. I have had two persistent problems. The first us algae. I think some algae is just a fact of life. My Java Moss almost completely took over the tank (I have a one gallon bag in the fridge that I pulled from the aquarium, if anyone is interested). Even still I get algae attacking the broad leaf annubias and fogging the glass. The latter I just scrape down with a scrubbing sponge.

The other is snails. Lots of little tiny snails. I discovered the best way to deal with these. I finally broke down and put a comet goldfish in the aquarium. This guy is about 3" long and he loves tiny snails. One day after putting him in and none were in the glass any longer.

My larger sword plant seems to be burning. After about 3 years I am wondering if my soil base is depleted if nutrients. Speakinh of Algae, the Marimo balls have about doubled in size since I got them a year or so ago. They look to be about 5" in diameter now.

The other sword plant melted way back then put out a bunch of purple leaves close to the ground and has pretty much stayed that way. The annubias hasn't grown much, but it seems to be staying alive despite the algae growth that I cannot get to detach from the leaves.

Otherwise it hums along. We have hard water here and I use tap to keep the aquarium full. I have an open top and it is pretty dry here in AZ so I end up adding water every week or so to keep the level up. My powerhead has calcium all over it. It also has gotten fairly noisy. Kind of rattly.

That's the news of the moment. I will post a couple picks and video in a bit.

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Discussion Starter · #45 ·
More update: This aquarium has been going strong for six years now. I have yet to change the substrate. I have added more Amano, a ghost shrimp, some guppies and female betas. Right now the shrimp and one of the guppies and one of the betas appear to be all I have left. Except that after the move I discovered that one of my killer snails is still alive. I hadn't seen one in the tank in a couple of years and then after refilling the tank following the move, one appeared on the aquarium wall.

As for plants, the most successful has been the java moss. My oldest plant is an Anubius, which wasn't doing so well until I pretty much covered it with the java moss, and since then it has started growing back. I have added a bunch of rock and other "decoration" though everything still is basically organic. My sword plant has gone through phases where it didn't seem to be doing well but currently is fine.

In September, I had to move to a new house. I ended up draining the tank pretty much completely to move it. I put the shrimp and fish into 1 gallon ziplocks for the move and put those in a 5 gallon bucket to move them. I also took about 7 gallons of the original water so that I could have the same ecology. It took a couple hours to get everything moved and set up and add the rest of the water, five gallons at a time. For a while the water actually got clearer than it has been in a while. Everything seems ok other than I think I lost a beta and a guppy after the move. That or they've been really good a hiding.

I had the tank on a kitchen island for five years and never needed a stand. Now that we're in the new house, I have yet to acquire or build a stand, and the tank is sitting on the floor. At some point I need to fix this...
 
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