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Hey Anyone and Everyone,

I created my first planted aquascape tank a few months ago. I was floating the Guadeloupe River in Texas, and was so inspired by the beauty there that I decided to try to create an underwater version of this small slice of Paradise inside Central Texas. So far, it is going far better than I ever expected. I used to set up aquariums as a kid but never took it serious, especially not to the point of attempting to create an underwater ecosystem and aquascape. Ever since I set it up I have become addicted to the hobby. The cycle of my first tank hadn't even finished before I had gone to Home Depot to buy some glass and silicone to D-I-Y my own nano "quarantine/hospital tank".

The main tank, is a 20 gal long. If I could post a photo, you guys would love it! But besides the amazing look and water clarity and quality, I am concerned with how it is doing, and could use any advice or any tips from anyone more experienced! Here's how I set it up:

For the Substrate and Hardscape, I took Organic Garden Soil (Not Organic Potting Soil), sifted it through a colander to get rid of all the sticks and bark, leaving a very nice dirt behind. I wet the dirt, and put it in the bottom of the tank about 1.5 inches. Then covered with a thin layer of aquarium gravel in areas and sand in others, then wet everything. I placed in some large rocks, a nice sized piece of driftwood that provides a lot of shade, cover, and interesting swim dynamics, I have a hut that kind of looks like Yoda's house, and the fish love swimming in and out of there. I threw in 2 anubias, 1 micro anubias, 2 amazon swords, 6 jungle vals, 5 bunches of hornwort (Planted), 1 crypt, 3 bunches of dwarf chain sword. I have some plants growing out of the back including several pothos, a wandering jew, and English ivy. What do you guys think about that setup, did I do it right?

For the tech, I have a 40 Gal HOB aqueon filter with a sponge intake, an airstone that bubbles in the yoda hut, and an airstrip that bubbles along the back wall. I have a VivaGrow 24 Hr White Red Green Blue LED 24/7 Cylcle light. I was running the light a decent bit at the beginning, maybe 8-10 hours straight. As soon as I saw some algae appearing, I cut the lights to a 3 hours on, 3 hours off cycle. The algae growth has totally been better since, but I still have some algae growing on my plants. I really don't mind algae growth, I just don't want it on my glass or to out compete my plants. Any suggestions on Algae control besides light schedule would be very helpful.

The Tech is pretty low, considering I'm not injecting co2, but I am hoping the 3 hour on 3 hour off light schedule will hopefully produce enough natural co2. The tank has been set for 1.5 month and the plant growth is noticeable, but nothing spectacular. I am kind of bummed, I see a lot of posts on facebook boasting massive plant growth in 3-4 weeks. Do you guys have suggestions on plant growth, or should I just stay the course and be patient bc my tank is low-tech?

For stocking, my tank had cycled by 4 weeks, I had 3 shrimp in there while it was cycling. Once cycled I added 3 guppies, waited a few days then added 6 neon tetras, then waited and added 3 otocinclus, waited and added 5 more tetras, waited, and added 2 bolivian rams. I had the rams for 1 week, there was some bullying amongst them, but they left the other fish alone. Then, suddenly one of them died. I went to the fish store to get another one to replace, and the replacement died within a couple days. I feel so bad, I do not want to lose another one. I keep the tank at 71 degrees, I tested the water and there was no ammonia or nitrates showing. I am trying to figure out what I am doing wrong and why I lost the Ram... I really don't think the tank is overstocked, the setup allows for a lot of space, but also a lot of hiding areas and shade. After reading all of this, does anyone have any ideas on how I might be going wrong, or anything that I have done right?

Thanks for any and all input you guys have. I am going to try and include the URL to my instagram for my aquascape journey, you can view pics there to get a better idea of what I have going on. https://www.instagram.com/p/CDHKjm1AGR3/
 
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