I've recently started to fix up my 5 ft x 18in x 18in and my better half is well and truly sick of hearing about equipment, water chemistry, plants and fish so I thought I might share my fishy journey with anyone who might be interested. I'll upload photos along the way and I welcome any comments or suggestions anyone might have.
History- I had the tank made to fit on top of a cabinet about a year and a half ago. I had great plans for it but after the initial basic setup I fell ill and wasn't able to continue. The occupants over this time were a Black Ghost Knife and 2 Bristlenose. I've always been a plant person (worked as a florist) and once I'd seen some beautifully planted high tech tanks I wanted to do something similar. However once I started research the fish I wanted to keep I realized that high level light just would not be suitable for them. But I wanted a planted tank with thick HC carpeting and plants that you could see...um...growing! It was time to re asses what was important and decide which was more important to me, plants or fish and the answer is..drum roll...THE FISH, duh!! So low light NPT here I come, all ready to go buy 2 T5's when Byron convinced me that even this is too bright for the fish I want to have. His tanks are pretty lush so instead I bought another T8 to add to one I already have.
Planned fish to add include apistogramma, farlowella catfish, rummy noses, neons, red phantom tetras, peppermint bristlenose (one of the original ones died), snakeskin guppies, rams and corys. I have some Aspitogramma, the peppermint and some rummy nose currently serving their time in a quarantine tank.
Since this tank is already full using soil for substrate would have been a nightmare and I don't feel confident enough to try it. I wanted something with some nutrients in it so chose Flourite because you never have to change it as it lasts the life of the tank. I'm using black Flourite for the bottom two thirds with black Flourite sand on top for the enjoyment of all the substrate digging fish. Rinsing was quick and easy, I tipped one bag at a time into a big tray and blasted it with the hose and tipped the water out. Constantly washing Flourite is totally unnecessary since your washing away good nutrients that you pay a pretty penny for. What did take a while was getting it in the tank without causing a massive cloud along the way. I'd pretty much succeeded by going extra slow when my Black Ghost got curious and found what fun it was to kick up dust. Figure eights, laps at break neck speed plus vertical and horizontal donuts were the order of the day. He had great fun, and I got frustrated!!! The tank got so cloudy I could not see to continue so had to call it a day. The next day the dust had settled but he was ready for me and began his aquatic acrobatics as soon as he found my hand in the tank, this became routine over the next 4 days it took for me to get the Flourite into the tank! Today I put in driftwood, but pics will have to wait until tomorrow cause my camera battery's flat.