Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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LaurenKK 01-20-2014 08:12 PM

Aquafarm started me daydreaming
I received an Aquafarm for Christmas (, which seems to be leading me down a slippery slope.

Firstly, I can't stop thinking about all the poor bettas stuck in those disgusting cups at my local PetCo now that I am familiar with their proper care.
Secondly, I am desperate to start a larger tank with live plants! I have been browsing Craigslist this last week and drooling over all of the 55gal+ aquariums that no one wants anymore and are selling at wonderful prices.

I'm here to find out all I can about maintaining a planted tank, hopefully ~75gallons, and to hopefully turn that into an awesome community tank once I get the plant care nailed down.
I am not drawn to on particular fish, but rather creating harmony from many things that are different from each other.
I am open to suggestions on plants and fish, and would love to hear what you wish you had done when you were starting, what you wish you knew, what resources I should keep handy, etc.

I just read the 4-part series on basics of keeping a planted aquarium and am totally inspired. What I'm looking into now is that fine line of not overstocking the aquarium so that I may keep non-plant filtration to an absolute minimum. I'm all about minimalism and respecting Mother Nature's intentions wherever possible (and as much as my artificial ecosystem can allow).

SeaHorse 01-20-2014 09:12 PM

Welcome! I'm so glad you joined us! Didn't you know that tanks multiply too?? Not just fish?? lol Yes indeed... a slippery slope!!
I'm on my first planted tank EVER too... there are tricks to this... lighting, fertilizer, and not planting some of the plants too deep. Some like to just have their roots under gravel/ground but nothing more. Some just seem to "melt" away. But you don't need CO2 to get started or even at all. Feel free to start a "Journal" thread to share photos. We love photos!!

btw... I just don't understand your little tank... how does it self clean? makes no sense to me. Can you explain?

rsskylight04 01-20-2014 09:40 PM

Hello and welcome.
I think a 75 is the perfect size tank for someone who wants a "big" tank, but doesn't want to go overboard. It is much better than a 55 because of the extra depth front to back. Opens up a lot more possibilities for aquascaping and stock options. I have two 75 gals now and for me its the perfect size.
Somtimes I do wish I had a huge 125 gal or bigger but that's just being greedy.

Im also on my first planted tank after 30+ years of fishkeeping. Its only a 10 gal, but the lessons I'm learning will translate to my larger tanks eventually. Its extremely rewarding to keep aquatic plants, amd being a lifelong gardener, I'm really surprised at myself that I haven't done this till now. I, too was inspired by info from this forum to start.

Slippery slope... yeah you could say that... if you want to make a huge understatement! I'm up to six tanks now and no regrets except that I don't see how I'm going to add any more to my collection.
Good luck!

LaurenKK 01-20-2014 11:58 PM

@SeaHorse: I'm taking this straight from the manufacturer's website...
"Fish produce ammonia-rich waste, beneficial bacteria in your AquaFarm convert the ammonia to nitrates. These naturally occurring bacteria grow really well on the Growstones in your plant pots. Nitrates are ultimately toxic to your fish, but fortunately, they are also amazing food for plants! As the plants continuously uptake nitrites as the nutrients they need to grow, they are also cleaning the water for your fish."

Up top are five 3" planter pots, 2 are wheat grass, 3 are a lettuce blend. There is a tray that sits in the top of the tank, about 1/2" of water is pumped up out of the tank into this tray. The bottoms of the planters rest in this water, and their porous "growstones" wick the water up into the roots of the plants. The tray also has two holes in it, so that the water that the pots are sitting in falls back into the tank continuously... always pulling water up, and always letting some drip back in.

Of course, when I came home with my betta I started doing some research and ran out to buy a heater and water testing strips (the API master kit is on it's way in the mail). So far the water seems great and betta is happy.
I chose him at PetCo because he was such an "interesting" peachy shade, with just a little red on his front fins. Within a couple of days he started turning blue. 3 weeks later he is now a bright royal blue with only a touch of peach on his head! At first I was like "crap, I picked the most stressed fish out of the whole bunch", but he's doing well, is excited any time I or a cat walks by his tank, and I'm fairly certain that this evening I saw the starts of a bubble nest collecting around the top of one of the plastic plants.

LaurenKK 01-21-2014 12:06 AM

I was thinking 75 sounded like a good number :)

Somehow it never dawned on me to put plants in aquariums. Or at least, not in the same tank as fish. I've always been interested in ponds and small potted water gardens, but never considered them something I might try my hand at. I had a large garden at my last house and have missed it in a crazy way these last 2 years since I moved. I have barely any yard, not even enough space for pots, so I'm latching onto this aquascaping idea like mad.

I'm torn; I want to create a big, long, beautiful "landscape" with a colorful community of I-have-no-idea-what-yets, but now that I've read up on bettas, I want to save them all and maybe create 3 sections in a giant tank with landscapes that flow into each other and go with bettas... (enter The Seeeeeconnnd Taaaannnnk, duh, duh, duuuhhhnnnn).

Looks like I've got a plan for that tax return ;)

SeaHorse 01-21-2014 12:21 AM

Thanks.. they make it look SO small... the tank I mean... and the water level in the picture looks to be way too low for the plants to reach it. At least that is the way I interpreted it when I first saw it. I thought plants take up Ammonia which is the first stage of the cycle and the only way to get rid of nitrAtes was water changes.... Hmmmm this is VERY interesting. I am very curious about this now... but still a bit confused. lol (that doesn`t take much!)

EDIT: I watched the video... it`s WAY bigger than I thought it was. I`m glad. And it`s 3 gallons... a reasonable size for a Betta!! Post a picture of it once you get it all set up!!

LaurenKK 01-21-2014 10:20 AM

The Aquafarm
3 Attachment(s)
First Image: betta on day 2 or three. He was mostly a fleshy tone when I brought him home, not knowing that bettas will be pale when stressed :(

Second Image: betta, perhaps to be named Interim Puppy, 5 days later, so ~1 week with me... a new man! He's blue! (down there in the lower right corner)

Third Image: pleco, Sucky, doing his thing. I brought him home from a holistic pet shop I found in my town (wish I found them before I picked things up at PetCo). The farm was a week old when I added him, and this is a couple days after he arrived. Three weeks in and he comes out of the log more, but I have to sneak over to the tank after lights out to really see him (now that I know he's nocturnal)

Click through to my "tanks" section to see a picture of the full set-up and decor.

SeaHorse 01-21-2014 10:28 AM

Super!! That looks awesome!. What a change they make once they come out of their cups! I hope you like blue!! :lol: Aren't Bettas sweet!! (fyi) He'll like his water up near 78-82 degrees... they are tropical and not like Goldfish.

Sucky... did you get sinking food/discs for him? He will also like zucchini, broccoli I think. Blanch for a min and cool to room temp. Remove uneaten food. Be prepared he may need to go into the 75 G at some point depending on what he is. A "Common" will grow to 2 foot long :shock: but a Bristlenose will stay much smaller... 4-6 inches I think.

Looks great!! Keep us posted on your journey! Thanks for sharing!

LaurenKK 01-21-2014 10:50 AM

I LOVE the blue. I'll try to snag a macro of him today (it's finally sunny, so great natural light) to show it off.

TEMP: I know! I moved him just the other day closer to the center of the house and onto a wall with a heater nearby to hopefully give his lame heater a boost. If I don't see improvement by this afternoon I'm planning to grab a bigger, adjustable one, hello eye-sore, but gotta do what I gotta do. How close can I position the plastic plants to a heater? I'd like to hide it with the tall, pinkish thing I've got in there...

PLECO: he/it is a bristlenose, and was assured by the pet shop that he would not outgrow this tank... I was also told that between leftover fish food (which I don't allow) and fish waste and algae there would be plenty for him. I offered a carrot slice (prepared as you mentioned), but the betta had more fun pushing it around than the pleco did eating it. Sucky only nibbled at it a couple of times I noticed, and by next morning hadn't appeared to have eaten any more of it, so out it came. Ill try something softer like cucumber or zucchini. Would you happen to know how to tell if Sucky is getting enough to eat?

SeaHorse 01-21-2014 11:24 AM

All good news! You can put the plant about an inch in front of the heater. Keep an eye out for anything sharp (plastic plants sometimes) ie torn fins. When budget allows try to get him a bushy silk plant... or something to rest on/hide in. They have suction cup leaves too, resting places... Betta's like to "hang out" on plants etc. A live Moss ball would be nice too. They are very common in Betta tanks.

Sucky... If you give him the "right" food... he'll hang out and munch on it. My common pleco ended up with the zucchini skin from the slice hanging around it's neck and swam that way for awhile! She ate out the flesh part... and the skin ring was left. If Sucky isn't eating at all try Algae tabs, shrimp pellets... A new tank doesn't have a lot of algae... but they (BN) are considered one of the best!
They can get quite skinny when they don't eat. Frantic back and forth swimming is not a good sign either. Hiding and hanging out is normal behavior.

Read up on him! Not sure if he likes "wood", some plecos do. I've never owned the BN to guide you further.

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