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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Three weeks ago I set up a Fluval Spec 16 as a freshwater planted tank.

The hardscaping is a mix of Peace River Gravel (five pounds) and Red Flint Gravel (ten pounds), and a piece of spider-wood that spans the length of the tank. Both gravels are small.

I planted one bunch of water sprite, one bunch of water wisteria, one bunch of hygrophilia stricta, one bunch of java fern (which I broke apart and affixed to the roots of the spider-wood), two banana plants and one Penn-Plax Aqua-Floras moss mat. After three weeks the plants are visibly growing and the water sprite will soon be pruned (the clippings will be left in the tank as floaters).

I cycled the tank with four female cherry barbs (one of which arrived a bit “off” and died after two weeks). After three weeks the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels are zero. There never was a spike. I attribute this to the heavy planting and light fish load.

Initially, the only modifications that I made to the tank were to reduce the water flow by cutting two small holes in the pump hosing, and substitute the bag of activated charcoal for a bag of ceramic Biomax filter media.

A dusting of algae appeared on the glass a few days ago, so I reduced the lighting from twelve hours per day to eight. Yesterday, I added a clown pleco, two zebra nerites and three cherry shrimp to control the algae.

After reading up on and being inspired by the inTank Chamber One and Chamber Two media baskets for the Spec 16 that are apparently designed for marine applications, I made the following changes in the stock filter:
1. I closed the safety hole in Chamber Two with an inTank Chamber Plug. As a result, all of the water enters the filter through the top and bottom intake grates of Chamber One.
2. I added 300 grams (more than half a box) of Biomax to the lower portion of Chamber Two.
3. I added sixty one-inch bio-balls with foam interiors to Chamber One.
4. I placed a handful of old-fashioned filter floss in front of both the top and bottom intake grates to act as a mechanical pre-filter.

I am considering removing the foam block that comes with the tank and packing Chamber Two with additional ceramic bio-media.

My plan for stocking the tank:
1. Four or perhaps five cherry barbs (add one male and maybe one female to the three females I now have)
2. Five cardinal tetras
3. Three panda corydoras
4. One clown pleco (added yesterday)
5. Two nerites (added yesterday)
6. A colony of cherry shrimp (will add three more to augment the three I just added and hope they reproduce with some surviving).

I am aware that the tank will be over stocked based on the one-inch per gallon rule, but believe that with all of the bio-media that I added the tank can handle the load, with 25% weekly water changes. I am also aware that at least six of each type of schooling fish is recommended, but believe that in a smaller tank a smaller population of each should be fine.

Any comments or suggestions concerning my filtration plan or my stocking plan would be greatly appreciated.

3,910 Posts
The stock media is fine for growing bacteria. What you did is also fine. If you change it more it will still be fine. It will not however get better. Planted tanks usually don't have much issue with nitrates.

Bioload does not sound horrible to me. Bigger concern is swim space for everyone but your fish are all pretty small.

What fertilizer are you using?
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