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I'm thinking of setting up a 20g long to be a low tech, planted tank. And 80% of the time, there wouldn't be anyone in there. But if I made a new fish purchase, or someone needed to recover, then I'd have a place they could go. I hadn't been using a tank like that before, but after battling ick, I'm now a believer. :p

Although it's a short duration stay in the tank, I'm guessing that I would need some type of filter, right? Would it need to be a 20g filter though since it would always be very understocked? Earlier this year I had gotten a Zoo Med 501 for my daughter's 10g tank and I've been happy with it. Cheap, effective, and quiet.

Also, if there's no one in the tank, would I need to do water changes? Or is topping it off acceptable?
 

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What I do for my QT (which is a 10 gal) is to take a sponge filter or filter pad from my HOB filter in my 29 gallon established tank and use that for BB and transfer it to the QT tank. I add a heater and an air stone. I also leave the bottom bare to aid in vacuuming debris a couple times a week.
 

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I would say a cheap hang on the back filter would serve the purpose, as for going less than 20 for the filter, you probably could, but the HOB's are so cheap why not just do it right, and then you get more surface area for BBs


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I have a 10 gallon planted hospital / grow out tank, and I have a fluval C4 as the filter, its a overkill but it keeps the water crystal clear and it has an adjustable flow so you can set it to your liking. You can buy one on amazon for a decent price. You can also go with an Aqua Clear, but they are pretty much the same thing, fluval is just a little cheaper. Another benefit to this style filter is you can adjust the media to how you like it similar to a canister filter, you do not have to buy those pre-made filter cartridges or foam pads. I have been making all my aquarium filters out of quilting batting from the big box stores for years and it works great, $13 for a huge roll lasts at least a year for all my aquariums.

So this isn't the best photo, but you can see the filter there on the back ( it is actually the side ) it doesn't take up too much space, I have this tank sitting on a bathroom counter in my apartment, I just recently moved a fish out of there, and did the "One-Two Punch" on it and rearranged all the equipment, I will take a photo when I get home this evening, everything is more centralized in one location. I have also swapped out that 10 watt LED with a 26 watt CFL.

 

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I have a 10 gallon planted hospital / grow out tank, and I have a fluval C4 as the filter, its a overkill but it keeps the water crystal clear and it has an adjustable flow so you can set it to your liking.

I was actually going to recommend the fluval C series...one of the best if not the best HOB power filter as far as bang for your buck goes IMO


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On a tangent, love the pothos (?) you have training up that mounted 'trellis' on the wall
 

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Just one battle with ick or some other disease does make you a believer, doesn't it? Lol. It does that.

A hospital tank is different than a Hospital tank, which is also different from a planted tank. Each has it's own purpose and use, and you can't mix them.

A hospital tank is used to nurse a sick fish back to health. You set it up when it's needed. Don't bother keeping it up and running in anticipation of a sick fish. If you need to use antibiotics or other medications, you'll likely kill whatever beneficial bacteria you had there. Then once the fish recovers, you will need to dismantle it and sterilize it anyway.

A quarantine tank has to be cycled ahead of time(fishless so it's not contaminated from the main display tank). Then once the 3 month quarantine is over, you also should dismantle it and sterilize it for the next time you quarantine a new purchase.

Both of those should also be bare bottom plantless tanks to keep things simple.
 

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On a tangent, love the pothos (?) you have training up that mounted 'trellis' on the wall
Thanks! Not sure what that plant is but I got tired of watering it so I stuck it in my aquarium, the roots have grown quite a bit and when they reach the bottom I burry them. Here is an updated picture of what is looks like. After the "one-two" punch, and after I rearranged all the equipment to be more compact. On the "back" glass I have my UV sterilizer, my HOB C4 and my diffuser, I would have my heater there too but I couldn't fit it so it is on the "side" glass panel.



 
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