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Just a note. I would really advice against a angelfish in a 16 gallon. They get huge! And they are known to eat tetras when they get to that size.
For stocking you can use Aquadvisor. google it cause I am not being able to paste the link. It lets you put your intended fish and then will say how much filtration, water changes, if they are compatible to your tank size... It is a really good tool to start with. You should really try it IMO.
Remember that the size you buy the fish is not their final size. Some grow a lot!
A more size compatible "center piece" fish for a 16g would be like for example a honey gourami. And would do well with any school of tetras or rasboras.
Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #22
The largest fish I would consider for this tank would be a single male betta, and if I go that route he'll probably be the only fish in there. Alternatively considering a group of small schooling fish. Waiting to see what my water is really like once I get the driftwood, rocks, and plants in for a while. I will match my fish to my water conditions. For example if I end up with harder water, I will go for the betta, if somehow the driftwood softens up my water, I will go for the schooling fish like maybe some tetras.

I am also loving some of the guppy varieties, but think I will hold off on owning guppies because of the reproduction aspect. I'd want to have a much bigger tank for them since their numbers will likely increase.

Still have not figured out what kind of light to get. I think I want to do LED but as far as brand and style (spot lights vs one that runs the length of the tank) I am not getting any answers. Started a separate thread on this in hopes of getting advice.

Today's anxiety is concerning rock sourcing. I have such a fear of putting anything in the tank that will be harmful. I saw some simple slate rocks on Etsy that I would love to use for attaching moss, but is it crazy to trust rocks from Etsy?? The listing says they are slate rocks from Lake Erie and reviewers show them in their aquariums..

Thanks again for all the awesome info!
 

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Soil sounds scary to me personally - I worry about a soupy mess full of algae! But people are successful with it - but I think they are using it more for hi-tech tanks - people should correct me about that if I am wrong.
*corrects you about that* ;)

There are some dirted high tech people now, but classically it is a low-tech approach. I run my tanks just dirt and light and I very rarely experience any algae problems.
 

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I'm another low-tech dirt person, and I don't have algae problems either.

I do 50% water changes every week however, so I'm sure that affects it.

It is honestly very easy to overthink it; I know because I did! My advice would be to just get started and see where it goes. There sure are a lot of choices though, aren't there :wink2:.

Regarding the rock question: While I certainly don't guarantee that the rock will be fine, I think it would be. I use rocks I collect myself in my tanks with no ill effects. You could a test with vinegar to see if it fizzes or, better yet, get a small container and fill it with water, test water parameters, put the rock in and wait a few days and test parameters again to see if it affects it.

Bottom line: Stock plants heavily. Stock fish lightly. Do large water changes often. Have fun!

Just my $0.02 :icon_smil.
 

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*corrects you about that* ;)

There are some dirted high tech people now, but classically it is a low-tech approach. I run my tanks just dirt and light and I very rarely experience any algae problems.
Teach me your ways!!
I don't mean to hijack this thread, but I started my dirted tank a little over a week ago and I'm starting to regret it. Most of the plants have melted pretty badly and are dying off. I thought I did well in my research but I think I'm in a bit over my head...
 

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Discussion Starter #26
The HOB filter that comes with my tank is supposed to be pretty weak (according to reviews). Maybe that's fine? Can I additionally run a sponge filter in the tank? Does anyone know about planting a plant in a HOB filter? Are there some fish that are bothered by sponge filters or water flow in general caused by filters?
 

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I'm another low-tech dirt person, and I don't have algae problems either.

Bottom line: Stock plants heavily. Stock fish lightly. Do large water changes often. Have fun!

Just my $0.02 :icon_smil.
So even if my plants aren't doing so well would adding more to "heavily" stock the tank help? I'm thinking maybe my tank isn't stocked enough for a dirted tank at the moment despite having a dirted tank. :/
 

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I personally have sponge prefilters on the HOB filters in the smaller aquariums. I think they work great. You see the flow slowing down > you rinse the prefilter, easy enough. Most people love sponge filters. I think they make noise and I don't know if they are clogged or not (I have all the fish tanks in my small living room, in my small apartment - low noise is very important). Some tanks are overstocked so I they get 2 HOBs with sponge prefilters! But really, every person has a different opinion on this.

You can put your filter brand and intended stock in Aquadvisor and it will tell you if is enough. Overfiltration is always better.
 

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Now I am trying to figure out if a sponge filter or a sponge pre-filter is better.
Unless you need/want a chemical filter (such as Purigen) a sponge filter on a pump is all you need. Of course, that takes up valuable space in a tank. I prefer a canister or HOB just because it's outside the tank.

Once you have a healthy tank established, with plenty of plants, it is even possible to remove your bio-media altogether and just rely upon the mechanical filtration. The plants and substrate will step in to act as the bio-filter.
 

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Discussion Starter #31
I'm very frustrated. The first tank I ordered arrived with a chip in the glass. So I ordered a replacement. And it arrived with a hairline scratch. In both cases the damage is on the outside edge.
 

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Sorry to hear about the tank damage. A little 4g tank I had shipped was damaged, and so was the next. On a good note, I now have three of these after a bit of repair work. I had a store order me a 40B that took a while, 'cause it came in broken twice (but still $40).

As for the slate: typical Ohio slate is neutral, as long as it is actually slate. You may be able to pick up lots of it at a mulch/landscape bulk store pretty darn cheap.

Instead of vinegar for the alkalinity check, I recommend muriatic acid. It's cheaper, and stronger, and available at most hardware/home stores. Vinegar may not yield a noticeable fizz on some rocks while muriatic acid sounds like rice krispies in milk. You can take a little bottle of it with you to the landscape store to try before you buy.
 

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Discussion Starter #33
Yep the only good thing about these slightly damaged tanks is that I get to keep them and I get my money refunded, so eventually I may take them both apart and combine them to create one un-damaged tank. Have been watching videos on how to take apart and reassemble glass tanks. I ordered another replacement tank and if it comes damaged again I will have to figure out another way. It's hard to be patient when I am so excited to buy my plants and get started!

Thanks for that info about slate rocks and testing with muriatic acid.
 

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If you're still trying to decide about fish, you could think about a solo 'giant' betta. I've seen a few- they're nearly twice as large as a regular betta. I keep normal size betta by itself in a ten-gallon, so I think a 'giant' would be ok in 16 gal.

You could also consider a paradise fish, or a gourami. I think the have similar temperaments to bettas- although each is an individual of course.
 

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Discussion Starter #35
I bought slate rocks from Etsy. Love the look of them. Tested with both white vinegar and muriatic acid. No reaction whatsoever. Then I took a knife and scratched into the surface of a couple rocks. It was very easy to scratch into them and the material I scratched off turned to mush when I rubbed it between my finger and thumb. When I put a scratched up rock in a container of white vinegar it created a film on the surface of the vinegar. One of the heavier rocks broke right in half when I dropped it. These rocks are also incredibly filthy, I have scrubbed and scrubbed and there is still dirty looking stuff coming off of them when I rinse. So does it seem like these are not suitable for an aquarium?
 

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You've received some fantastic advice thus far. Ive done dirt and would never do it again. You are going to want to rearrange plants and that will stir everything up and its just a pain. I like black sand. For plants I would do water wisteria, bacopa coroliniana, and some of the common crypts as well as anubias and moss. Those are the most resilient and least demanding. Even java fern and those failed to thrive in my low tech tanks. Now they are all high tech. I would also just go with a 20 gallon long if at all possible. You will be happy you did in so may ways. Also get a gallon of metricide on Amazon. $26 and it will make your life so much easier with better plant growth and suppression of algae. Find a nice piece of driftwood. From there plant it and figure out where you will get your used filter media. Youll move the plants and everything around for several weeks.
You keep mentioning Neons... there is a reason for that. They are gorgeous and can normally be found for $1 a piece. As someone who lost a good number of fish I would tell you that you need to simply treat the tank. If there are no fish in there who are you quarantining from? A treatment of General Cure or what I used is Paraguard. I would start with a group of maybe 4 Cories (I love pandas) and if you have enough media or can borrow a second filter I would add 10 neons and treat the whole tank.
That's an exact step by step. It will ensure the least room for issues. If you can only get a small portion of filter I would probably do the Neons since they are probably the most likely to have something. Make sure there is 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite. Follow this and your plants will grow quickly and you will skip right past most of the bumps. I wish I had known. Metricide is an absolute necessity for my Low tech tanks. I even dose it occasionally in my high tech tanks to spot treat algae. A gallon would probably last a year.

Bump:
I bought slate rocks from Etsy. Love the look of them. Tested with both white vinegar and muriatic acid. No reaction whatsoever. Then I took a knife and scratched into the surface of a couple rocks. It was very easy to scratch into them and the material I scratched off turned to mush when I rubbed it between my finger and thumb. When I put a scratched up rock in a container of white vinegar it created a film on the surface of the vinegar. One of the heavier rocks broke right in half when I dropped it. These rocks are also incredibly filthy, I have scrubbed and scrubbed and there is still dirty looking stuff coming off of them when I rinse. So does it seem like these are not suitable for an aquarium?
I wouldn't use them. Imagine the filth after they have been sitting in a tank of water for a month. Driftwood is the way I would go. Ive also used obsidian (black volcanic rock) and chunks of granite. Driftwood may have a very sublte effect on the pH. Fish just like it. In a 20 long you could easily to 20 Neons and 5 or 6 panda cories. It would be a joy of a tank
 

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Discussion Starter #37
I just tried scratching the rocks with my fingernail and it was easy. So I guess I wasted money buying them, I won't be able to use them in the tank and the seller doesn't do returns or refunds.

I'm waiting for my driftwood to arrive, maybe I will just use the wood and no rocks.

The design I have in mind now will be bacopa caroliniana and rotala indica for background and sides, moss and several anubias on the driftwood (coffeefolia, nana petite, barteri), a dwarf lily wherever it looks best, some pennywort floating, and possibly crypt parva in foreground.
 

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Just a note. I would really advice against a angelfish in a 16 gallon. They get huge! And they are known to eat tetras when they get to that size.
For stocking you can use Aquadvisor. google it cause I am not being able to paste the link. It lets you put your intended fish and then will say how much filtration, water changes, if they are compatible to your tank size... It is a really good tool to start with. You should really try it IMO.
Remember that the size you buy the fish is not their final size. Some grow a lot!
A more size compatible "center piece" fish for a 16g would be like for example a honey gourami. And would do well with any school of tetras or rasboras.
Good luck!
Angelfishes are strictly 30g+. Usually they will grow to the size the tank allows; mine in my 30g are only 5 inches tall, and they dont grow much bigger than that in a 30g. If you were to keep them in a 90g like my grandmother did, they grow into huge discs, max. 6 inches LONG. 16g is waaay too small, 30g+ ONLY.
 

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Discussion Starter #39
Yes I was never considering angel fish for this tank. Will decide on fish once my plants are established and I test the water several times. One thing I am thinking about a lot though, is the open top idea. I really don't want a hood, but am reading all these stories of fish jumping out, and that's obviously concerning to me. The thing is in plenty of these cases there was a hood on the tank but fish still found a place to jump out. It seems like there are certain species notorious for jumping, but are there other species that it would be almost unheard of for them to fly out of the tank?
 

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Discussion Starter #40
The 3rd aquarium arrived today. Thought it was ok but just went over it again and found a small scratch / crack on the glass inside. Similar to the scratch in the picture I posted before but smaller and this time instead of outside edge it's lower down on the inside of tank. I have been ordering these tanks on Amazon. Even as poorly as they're packed I actually suspect they are being shipped already damaged as opposed to getting damaged in transit. I think the seller just has a bunch of damaged / returned aquariums and I bet some people buying them are actually using them not realizing their tank has a chip or crack. I did read that a small crack on the inside of tank is better than on the outside, but of course I can't chance it.

It's not going well so far!
 
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