"Gee, Honey, it's BIG": My 75 gallon freshwater journey
Hello and welcome to my attempt to chronical my freshwater tank journey from 10 gallons to 75 gallons. I have some technical issues to resolve (starting with making all my pictures less than 2MB) but my intention is to tell my story just for the fun of it. I've admired other tank threads on this site which have served as my inspiration.
So here is the story:
Three years ago we bought the boys a 10 gallon starter aquarium for Christmas. I had kept tropical fish (without much success) 15 years ago, and had not learned much about aquariums in the intervening years! With a lot of excitement and some bad advice, we stocked that first tank with two black widow tetras, a serpae tetra, three danios, and a corydoras catfish. The boys were 1 and 3 at the time (1st & 2nd picture).
Fast forward three years, and my excitement and knowledge had grown to the extent that I wanted a larger aquarium. I had been daydreaming about this for months, but always ran up against my husband's plea for "no more pets!" So I resigned myself to improving my little 10 gallon underwater world, and sought to tweak the tank to make the remaining occupants (the original two black widows) happier. No matter what I did, they would hang out in the lower corner behind a plant until the lights went out, when I would see them swimming around the rest of the tank.
Here is the 10 gallon, toward the end of its incarnation as our primary tank (3rd picture). It has some live plants and mystery snails.
Suddenly, my husband suggested we might get a larger aquarium. Before he could reconsider, I rushed the family to several aquarium stores until we had found and purchased this larger aquarium. Luckily for me a complete aquarium setup (stand and hood) looks much smaller in a show room than set up in your living room, because we ended up with 75 gallons! (4th picture). Hence if you view my aquarium profile you'll see I named it "Gee, Honey, it's BIG," my husband's reaction when he stepped back and viewed it in our library.
This was to be a completely natural, planted aquarium. We started with Caribsea's EcoComplete substrate mixed with some small, naturally colored gravel. I wanted a dark substrate because although I love the look of the natural gravel in the smaller tank, I was forever "losing" the inhabitants that blended into it. I wanted to see the colors of the fish and snails quite well. We have an Eheim 2217 canister filter and a shiny black backdrop.
The large river rock has an interesting story behind it: my father collected it in the early 70s when he was at Fort Dix for National Guard camp. He and my mother had a rock garden at the time. The rock split in half, and his sergeant major has the other half! It has been in my dad's garden all this time, much weathered.
Basil tests the strength of the glass covers (5th picture).
The first thing we did was to move our two tetra friends into their new home. We figured we owed it to them to live out their natural lives in a nicer environment. To our pleasant surprise, they immediately changed their behavior and began to swim everywhere...even with the lights on! I suddenly realized, after three years, that these were really beautiful fish. When they bank around a curve and the light catches their scales, they gleam like polished silver.
So although it upset the original stocking plan (which was considering gouramis), I added 6 more black widow tetras. After all, this tank was not designed to be challenging with regard to the inhabitants...and I already knew these fish were hardy. If they'd survived my learning curve in a 10 gallon, they would surely flourish during my learning curve in a planted 75. And did I mention they were pretty? (6th picture)
I wish I could upload the video I took of them when we first put them in their new home...is it possible for fish to be excited?!?
(More to follow...time for the weekly water change!)
Good thing that you learnt from your mistakes!
Fantastic set-up BTW! :-)
For our next school of fish, we considered cherry barbs. We wanted to try a completely different type of fish, and one that was red. Then the gentleman at the fish store told us that barbs eat plants, and that most planted tanks are tetra tanks! We switched gears again and came home with 8 serpae tetras (1st & 2nd picture).
These are lovely, too! Like little pink and red salmon. They didn't shoal as much as we'd hoped, but thanks to the numbers and space in the tank neither species picks on the other and any aggressive behavior has been limited to the occasional schoolmate chase. The black widows are much more sedate...and the serpaes forage on the bottom for dropped tidbits the black widows don't bother about.
My husband wanted a fish that schooled more tightly. We thought about neon tetras, but I worried about reports of them being inbred. Black neon tetras were considered until we couldn't find any healthy looking ones locally. Then I read an article that brought bloodfin tetras to my attention. I had never heard of them. I knew I wanted to complete the tank with corydoras or similar catfish, so a school that would swim near the surface like bloodfins sounded like a good fit.
Another trip to the store netted a dozen bloodfin tetras. Wow! These guys make the active serpaes seem like they are swimming in slow motion and the black widows look like they are anchored. They may swim more near the surface than the others, but they also pick through the substrate. They don't school tightly, but if it looks like one of them has found something to eat, suddenly a crowd of them are there! And their color; like pearls, or maybe opals. Stunning. (3rd picture)
Sadly, the bloodfins are so fond of eating that they chased the mystery snails back into their shells and ate their algae wafers. I moved Bluey into the betta tank so (s)he would have a better chance of eating. Alas Goldie died :cry:...which I can't swear was due to starvation but I do wonder. (4th picture). I love Mystery snails but I am getting leary of owning them because I am beginning to suspect I don't know enough about their care.
Oh wow, your family is going to get so much enjoyment out of that tank. Grats! It's looking great too with the arrangement, and the plants!
Meet Mr. Beta Alpha Fish
The 10 gallon was redone completely for Mr. Beta Alpha Fish. He came home with us in November 2012 as a party favor from my nephew's Bar Mitzvah and I have enjoyed reading and learning about these lovely fish. No little vase for our guy! He does seem a tad small for a 10 gallon, but the 2.5 gallon I originally housed him in did not please me. It is poorly designed and I could not see him very well.
The boys helped break down the 10 gallon as we prepared to redo it as a betta fish's paradise.
The last picture shows Mr. Beta Alpha Fish's new home. I wanted floating plants for the 75 gallon, but with a glass cover and not a lot of circulation I was not sure what would work. The LFSs don't have a lot of options anyway, so for now I just floated what was left of the anacharis (after it "cooked" in the betta tank) and it seems happy enough. Unfortunately, that corner of the 10 gallon is now bare and needs some attention. I attached the lacy java fern to the Roman ruins (I took Latin in high school and college, and the ruins just make me smile. The T. Rex skull is for my dinosaur-obsessed 6-year-old. Mr. Beta Alpha Fish is hard to take seriously because of his frills, so corny décor works for his world). The plant in the foreground was sold to me as a "crypt spiralis," but I have not found it in any of my books and it has not melted like crypts are supposed to. I have two in the 75 gallon and they are growing like everything else in there, despite being coated in what I assume is diatomes. We also replaced the faded coral reef background on this tank for a picture of plants and rocks after this picture was taken.
I've received some good advice from betta keepers on this site about suitable plants for a tank that is kept at a cozy 80 degrees F, so I am hoping to get to the LFS this weekend for some more plants.
Tank is looking great :) So happy to hear that you've learned and grown from your mistakes.
I love all the plants in the 75, they look beautiful. As does the stone.
I do have to point out though, the Eco Complete substrate is too rough for Corydoras and most bottom dwellers :( Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
Now I'm getting worried about the need to QT after my scare, yet I don't have a QT tank. I'm not sure how I'm going to get over that hurdle as I do want to add more fish to my tank. Do you have any insights in to what would work well in a tetra tank but not be a tetra?
I love your family, and your tanks! The 75 is shaping up to be a beauty, and your lil' Betta baby is adorable - nothing wrong with a bit of Kitsch here and there to keep things fun and whimsical - you should see my daughter's betta tank, it's all over purple sand and mermaids! The boys look like they're having so much hands-on fun setting up the 10g tank!
I think I saw some C.Spirallis - in the picture of the big grey/brown rock with a crack in it and the beautiful Bloodfin Tetra? C.Spirallis is the tall grassy plant that is working really hard on taking over my 55, I love it - and it doesn't *always* melt when I move it :)
In my opinion, a QT tank is a really important thing to have, and can save you a TON of heartbreak along the way - especially while you're still actively stocking your tank. It's worth the $30 to pick up an extra 10g tank 'kit.' Even if you have to stick it in an out-of-the way corner of the house, or the laundry room, they can really be worth their weight in gold (that's a LOT of gold!). It also gives you the ability to remove a fish who is being a bully in the blink of an eye, or get a fish that has been sick/bullied to a safe place where you can keep him isolated and stress-free - plus medicate if necessary without worrying about what will happen to the others in the tank - contra-indicated meds with some species, but not others/cycle issues/plant-life - all that fun stuff can really be worrisome if you find yourself in a situation that requires medicating (which hopefully, you won't!). . .
I'm not so good with stocking advice, and I'm not terribly familiar with the species you have already (though I did very much enjoy your descriptions of their very different behaviors), but I hope you figure out what you're looking for - very much excited for the next update to your lovely tank!
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