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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I went shopping today and picked up a new aquarium and glass lid. This is going to be the start of upgrading one of my tanks to something larger. The new 20 gallon long is still small, but I don't have the space for anything larger. Someday I will be able to combine my two Southeast Asian microfish aquariums into one large one, but that is still a time away. For now I'm just happy to be getting something bigger than a 10 gallon. The 55 just has to stay in the basement, while my dreams of a 75 are also on hold.

There's literally nothing to show for the new tank. It's an empty aquarium and glass lid. So instead I'll show off a few pictures of the tank that it is replacing. The pictures are a month or two old, because my batteries are dead. I even tried switching them out with the ones in all my remotes. I just spent two hours in the car going to the fish store and back, so I'm not going out for batteries. Newer pics will have to wait. I'm just too excited to wait to post though.







Right now the tank is home to pond snails and 8 Boraras naevus, as well as a range of plants (14 kinds!). I love how it looks but want the extra space for more plants and a lot more fish.

The filter (Finnex PX-360 mini canister) will be moving from the 10 to the 20 long. It's rated for 100 gph, so should be good. I will need a new light and am leaning towards a 30" T5NO. With as fast as my floaters grow that should be the perfect amount of light. I'm also going to use Miracle Gro Organic Choice Potting Mx again, although this time I might use Estes marine sand as a cap. I'm trying to figure out if black sand would look goofy with the rocks I have currently. I do like really dark substrates though. I'm also trying to figure out the way to go with driftwood, ie use the piece I have, a larger manzanita piece, or a whole bunch of smaller pieces.

When the change over is ready to happen the fish will be moved to another tank for a few weeks to make sure the substrate isn't leaching ammonia. When it's deemed safe they will be put back in.

That's basically where I'm at. Now the fun part, which is getting to decide on which fish and plants. I have some ideas, but I'll save that for another post.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Ordered a few more things for the new tank tonight. I got a Coralife 30" T5NO light and a 6700k bulb to replace the one bulb that it comes with. That will make both bulbs 6700k. Heard really good things about that fixture on this size tank after a ton of research. If it proves to be too much light then there are certainly easy ways to cut it back enough. I'm doubting that will be needed, but you never know.

Oddly enough the bulb and light are both being sent from the fish store I was at yesterday. I had looked at the fixture and thought I saw it cheaper on Amazon. I did, but was surprised when it was from the same place. It works out to be the same amount with the shipping. I'm unsure if I saved any on the bulb because I didn't price that at the store and shipping for the two was combined. At worst I paid the same and just have to wait a few days. Not a problem, as I still have things (plants, lots and lots of plants) to get.

The other thing I got was Tahitian moon sand. It sparkles apparently! lol That is pretty unmanly for a tank, but somehow I think I'll be able to manage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Made my first stupid mistake. The Tahitian moon sand I bought last night was only a 5 lbs bag. A quarter of what I need, so I've had to order even more. Hopefully that will be my last screw up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
lol I have no idea how much it sparkles. Chesherca told me it did. It looks good in her pictures so it can't be too bad. I was going to get Estes marine sand, but the Tahitian moon sand seemed so much cheaper. It is when you're comparing 5 pounds vs 20!

This will be my first black sand. I've only used pool filter and play sand before. I wanted something black, because I like how plants just pop in my Eco Complete. Everything but the original bag of sand is coming from in state so it hopefully won't take long to get here even with the post office closed on Monday. I'm resisting the urge to buy the plants yet. I'm excited to do that. I'm really dreading trying to catch the fish though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
LoL yeah I would say 5lbs is cheaper then 20lbs.
I used Black diamond once but not sure I would use it again. It was cheap and looked good!
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If it was cheap and looked good why wouldn't you use it again? I had thought about it, but only briefly. Right or wrong I made up my mind that blasting sand just wouldn't be "softbelly" safe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
That's why I probably won't use it again. At the time I had it I didn't have any substrate fish. Though I read where ppl said its fine for Cory's and other fish on another site. After going through it and cleaning it. Yeah not convinced it was safe at all and OMG talk about taking FOREVER to clean!! Yeah it took about 3x as long to clean then play sand did. It also stained my buckets! :shock: I finally got it all cleaned and looking good before I put it in my tank. I used it as a cap over my MGOPC tank once. It didn't leave any residue or anything in my tank like it did in my buckets when I was cleaning it. So i guess I got it all cleaned but I don't think I will go through that again. I will just stick with Playsand until I can find a cheap Black sand to use next time.
No substrate fish! :shock: That's just so not me. Every tank I've had has some. It was usually always corydoras. Two of my tanks now don't contain any catfish and those are a first. One has loaches though and the other is this tank which will have loaches. lol That's usually the first fish I decide on for a new tank.

If Black Diamond takes longer to clean than play sand then I'm definitely avoiding it in the future. I know I spent hours cleaning that stuff. Worked better though once I realized you have to clean a handful or two at a time. It's a shame pool filter sand has that crappy color. I cleaned that before and all I did was make it wet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
*waves*

This is going to be so much FUN! I'm excited to see your tank grow!!!

Tahitian moon sand DOES sparkle, lol, but it isn't like glitter. . . this random internet picture is fairly accurate, I think:


All those little white specks you see are where the light has hit those pieces just right to make 'em shine. It dims down a bit once it gets older, but the sparkle is still there. I like my TMS, wish it weren't so expensive. . . I don't think it's particularly UN-manly, so you should be all-right *giggle* My husband likes it just fine - and he HATES all things glitter. It didn't take me nearly as long to rinse clean as it took me with play-sand, but I did have the problem with the black residual staining buckets and siphons when it was new. After the rinsing, and one wipe off on the tank glass after adding, I haven't had any problems with it. . . I hope your experience is happy, too - I'll feel bad if you end up hating it after buying it in part because of my rave!

The original tank looks nice - I can't wait to see how you grow it! Now you know we need a plant list. Those are important!

Anyway, good luck with everything - I hope it all ships super-quick and you can get started! *cracks knuckles*
lol The unmanly part was just a bit of teasing. If I thought it would have looked terrible I wouldn't have gotten it. Having the sparkles I'm hoping is a good thing. I'd like to use the rocks I have in there, plus some others I have in the backyard that I got out of the creek. I wanted a black substrate, but didn't have really dark rocks so I hoping this kind of pulls it together.

How bad is the staining? I was planning to clean the sand in my unfinished cellar. If it makes a big mess though I guess I'm going to be freezing my butt off outside. I've done play sand in the cellar with no problems, but if this is worse...

Plants in there now or what I'm going to get? The getting is a mystery. I saw some cheap Crypt nurii for sale, but I'm afraid to buy it now without the tank set up and might not see it for sale again. I am planning lots of crypts though.

In there now are:
Crypt wendtii green gecko
Crypt wendtii Mi Oya
Crypt wendtii bronze
Anubias barteri coffeefolia
Anubias barteri gold
Anubias barteri micro
Anubias barteri petite
Java moss (not pictured)
Peacock moss
Amazon frogbit
Dwarf water lettuce
Salvinia cucullata (little bit yet, but the other floaters do better and grow quicker)
Java fern narrow leaf
Hygrophila pinnatifida (I've seen more growth from the anubias than this :shock: )
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
I like crypts, but they can just be so touchy! They were growing very nicely in the substrate, but I always have some set back. I added those tiny fish and boom! two bronze wendtii melted away and haven't returned. Couple weeks again when the fish were acting funny, melt all week. I know when I replant them I'll go through the same thing. At least I don't have to worry about that with the anubias. They grow very slowly, but it's not a step forward/step back deal.

Oh fish I'm considering? Oh boy am I ever. This is going to be book length.

First thing is I want to at least double my B. naevus. I have 8 in a 10 gallon tank which sounds like a lot, but you would not believe how empty that tank looks. Some of the pond snails in that tank are the same size as the fish. I have 20 or more B. brigittae in my 29 gallon (they are tough to count!) and it's awesome seeing a huge shoal of tiny fish swimming around.

Since I have the B. naevus that eliminates any other Boraras since I don't want to risk hybridization. Sundadanio axelrodi 'blue' is also out since I think I'm going to add them to my 29 gallon. No sense in have the same fish in different tanks when I have limited space. I could still do the red or green Sundadanio forms/species though. I'm also crossing of Dario hysginon and dwarf zebra loaches since I have them as well.

These can't all be together with each other, but they can be with my Boraras from what I've read. I've fallen in love with cyprinids since I never kept them before. Most of this research goes back to researching my last tank.

Horadandia atukorali, Danionella dracula (if I want really tiny), Microdevario kubotai, Trigonostigma hengeli, Danio tinwini, Danio choprae, and Brevibora dorsiocellata would all stay small and should work. Oryzias woworae isn't a cyrpinid, but it is a fish I'd love to have.

If I was willing to try live foods I could get Indostomus crocodilus. If I wanted to do live foods and blackwater I'd go for licorice gouramis (want them so bad!).

For the substrate I want kuhlis, preferably the small guys, but they are all nice. I think I've said before I suck at stocking, especially with tiny fish. I'm not sure how many kuhlis could be kept in a 20 long, because I've never had them before. The more the better since the are so social, that's why I want the small guys. Barbucca diabolica is another loach I'd like, but they're tough to find. Everything else on my list I've seen for sale before different places and right this very moment at the Wet Spot.

Petruichys sp. 'rosy' would be nice. They need water harder than my tapwater from what I've read from the only source I could find. It is in the range though of what I buffer my water up to for the plants. That's the low range for them, but the high range for some of the other fish I listed, which probably isn't the greatest situation. On the other hand the rosy loaches are found in nature with celestial pearl danios and some sources say they need even softer water which makes me wonder just what range the loaches have.

lol That's just some of the fish I was considering. I need to narrow done the list a lot. I wouldn't be opposed to small characins or even pygmy sunfish (really want them too!). I'm just trying to keep the post from getting too long and boring everyone. Oh and sorry about not using common names, a lot of these fish just don't have them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
My lighting arrived today. Still waiting on the sand yet. Not sure when that will arrive. I would like to start ordering some plants, however not being sure when the sand will be here makes that a problem. If it was stems I could just float them until I set up the new tank. I'm going to be getting crypts though and they don't respond well to floating.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
HEY! I'll have you know that I own 12 fish that are over an inch and a half! Just because the other 44 are smaller than that means nothing. lol

Shh, but that was the short list of small fish. I think I've got it narrowed down some though, although one day I will likely own all those fish on the short list.

Good news...sand will be here tomorrow! Bad news...just the one five pound bag. The other 15 pounds haven't shipped yet. Must resist the urge to buy plants still.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
One day maybe room won't be the deciding factor and I can take all the empty tanks out of the basement and fill them up. Oh and the shed, I have some in the shed too.

The sell five pound bags just to to confuse people like me. I'm pretty sure once I get the bag I'll read the really fine print and it will say "You should have got the bigger bag, idiot."

I do want the licorice gouramis. I'm not even picky about what species. Maybe I'll collect them all too one day. My tapwater is 3 dGH and I buffer that up to 5 for the plants. That might be too much for them. They seem to do best in super soft, super acidic, strictly black water tanks like Betta coccina complex species (did you guess I want them too?) need. Plus given their rarity, they are something that if you own them you should probably be trying to breed them.

The shorter list is a loach species or two, still haven't narrowed them down, and either Hengels rasbora, emerald eye rasbora, or Daisy's ricefish. OK, I still need to to do a lot of narrowing down, but it's a start.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
For me the Hengels rasbora would be one of the more expensive fish to get. Them, Sundadanios, and Pangio loaches would cost me a large amount in shipping. Almost anything else I listed, including licorice gouramis, could be gotten for maybe 1/6th of the shipping cost. We're talking less than $10 vs $50.

I was doing some quick reading on licorice gouramis. The do best in water 2 dGH or less so I'm not sure how much difference that one degree would make to them. Also turns out that they can be kept with plants. Crypts, mosses, and watersprite were all listed as being good with the extra soft water. No idea how anubias, Amazon frogbit, or Java fern would do. When I first put plants in this tank the ferns kept growing black spots and dying some. When I buffered the water though it started doing great. Not sure if it just acclimated or if the harder water was the key. I have alder cones, Indian almond leaves, and oak leaves stored in my fish stand for blackwater so that's not a problem. I'll have to do some more reading and give it some thought. I'd for sure have to set up cultures though if I got the gouramis. Even my Dario hysginon will eat dry foods, but they won't.

You don't need a 20+ gallon tank for either licorice gouramis or the Betta coccina complex, so you don't have an excuse. Any of those you can house a pair in a 5 or 10 gallon. If you want I can trade you some empty tanks for some of your loaches. I'll give you a really good deal too. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Perhaps what you saw was for a group? Byron's profile says 15-20 gallons for a group, but that a pair can be housed in 5-10 gallons. The Parosphromenus Project echoes that as well. That site is a good read if you're curious about them, or just a nerd like me. Both of them recommend floating plants to help with water quality, so that helps a great deal with water quality.

I know from talking to Byron that he has even softer water than I do. His profile says licorice gouramis need water less than 8 dGH. He does his research so I am willing to believe him. So water quality isn't an issue. I still keep coming back to how endangered they are though. I'd kind of feel irresponsible keep them and not breeding them because of it. You know what I mean? It's a project I want to do someday, but it will have to be in the future when I have space for grow out tanks, etc.

That Fish Place is nice, but surprising I've only gotten my rosy and kitty tetras there as well as my Corydorus sterbai. My red lizard whiptail I got from the Wet Spot. That was my first time shipping fish. I think in total I spent $115 for three fish! That's part of why I'm waiting to order from there again until I get fish for multiple tanks. The worst part is one of the three disappeared within three days, never to be seen again. The rest of my fish (all the Boraras, the loaches, and the Darios) have come from a local lady that specializes in small fish. That has spoiled me in shipping costs (not to mention the free fish). When the weather is warm I pay $8. At the beginning of January it cost me $12 because of the weight of the heat packs. I don't want to order in cold weather again. I've lost 5 fish either as DOAs or within a few days of receiving them. Four of those were in the 2 cold weather shipments. We are talking 4 out of 14 vs 1 out of 38. Huge difference there. She does sells licorice gouramis though.

I wouldn't even begin to know who to ask to order fish in for me. The size of That Fish Place is just huge. It's not like when there was an LFS around here and I knew the owners and they knew me. The local lady I get my other fish from? She doesn't like kuhli loaches. They creep her out. lol I'll give her a pass though, because otherwise she has great taste.

If you sent me loaches though I couldn't joke about stealing your's! Your's are like movie stars! I've seen the videos.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Forgot to add. The one bag of TMS (aka sparkle sand) arrived today. Took me about 5 minutes to get it clean. I really like the color of it. I also saved that bio-magnetic clarifier that came with it. I'm convinced that thing is empty, but I kept it anyway. Even if it's not empty I doubt I will use it as I don't want to put something in my tank, unless I know just what it is and what it does.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
There can't be very much liquid in that clarifier pack. I even rolled it up like a tube of toothpaste to check if something was in there. I've yet to experience any sort of cloudy water that didn't go away quickly on it's own, with the exception of play sand that I thought was clean. Learned my lesson there after filling and siphoning a 40 gallon tank half a dozen times lol.

The rest of the sand still has not shipped. I got it from a different seller, because they actually combined shipping and were from PA. I figured it would get here faster. It might have if it ever left the warehouse. It might only be next week that I get to start changing things over. That might work for the better though, since next week is supposed to be warmer. That'd help if I'm ordering plants. TFP is also having a sale next weekend and somehow I managed to get a Saturday off out of luck. 25% off all the plants and fish, so I was planning to get myself some more cories. When I bought the tank I didn't see a huge variety of crypts, most just four different wendtii forms. I have to do so comparison shopping then because even with the discount I think I could get them cheaper online without going to too much trouble searching. The ones I have now all cost me a dollar a piece before the shipping was added on.

That lady is about 50 miles away. According to Google maps, an hour an 10 minutes or so. lol I actually thinks she likes loaches, provided they aren't kuhlis. I've never kept a snake, but my reasons are different. I've kept plenty of rodents and having a snakes would probably freak me out with a God complex or something. I'd wonder why some rodents get to live happily while I was buying others to feed. I'm a little weird though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
You guys have way more faith in my ability to put something good looking together than I do, that's for sure.

I'm going to write a long book on the whole short history of the tank so you can get all the backstory, Chesherca. I think Boredomb knows it all too well since whenever I got overworried over nothing he was one of the people that needed to tell me to calm down. I always bug out with any new method, until I've done it myself. One of the reasons I do something new every time I set up a tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
The 10 gallon that I'm upgrading actually began back in late November. My grandmother's fish had all died and her tank was sitting empty in her living room. She's impossible to shop for, so I thought I'd set her up a smaller aquarium. Most of the things I needed were sitting around my place already so I was going to be free to just spend the money of plants, fish, and substrate.

I ordered plants for her from two people. First shipment arrived and it was way more than I ordered. I got hooked up with all kinds of freebies and extras. It was enough to plant her entire 20 gallon and I still had a whole second shipment coming. I didn't even know what was in it, but knew I was going to get a good deal. So I dug some more stuff out of the cellar (Ma got all the good stuff though) and bought some play sand. I threw it together with some driftwood and left it go for a few weeks while I tried to figure out some sort of concept. I swear that was what happened and that I wasn't just looking for an excuse to set up another tank. Anyway, here's what it looked like then.



So after a few weeks I had no growth. OK, that's probably not unusual, but I had back luck before with crypts. Having a high tech tank warps perception too lol. In that tank I can measure daily growth in inches! So anyway I decided to order myself some more plants and to give the crypts a boost.

I did lots of research and finally decided on the stuff Boredomb pictured. I did it slightly different than him though. I didn't bother to pull out any of the big chunks. It all went in after I ripped the tank apart. I did a two inch layer pressed down and then capped with an inch of play sand. Much swearing went into the tank until I learn how to fill it without blowing the sand around and making a mess with the Miracle Gro. More swearing went into the hardscape. I tried lots of variations, gave up tossed rocks in and random and jammed a piece of wood in there. lol Like most of my tanks that approach seems to be the one that worked.

Initially I had ammonia readings and the tank was actually cycling itself. I also had tannins, but they went away after the first water change. The ammonia took longer and was my first panicing. Everyone says soil substrate tanks should have fast growing plants and I didn't have any! I used seeded material from another filter and added floating plants and wa-la no ammonia issues since.

I thought I'd see lots of melt with the crypts when I changed over the substrate. I didn't see any. In fact they started growing well. A new leaf every six or seven days. About a week and a half after putting the Mi Oya in they were sending out daughter plants. The crypts loved the soil!

Compared to the plants in my grandmother's tank, mine grow much faster and larger. Her's have barely grown at all in Eco COmplete with added Osmocote+ root tabs. Her light is even a lot stronger than mine. That made an algae farm though. Floating plants got rid of all that. Which reminders me I need to get rid of some of those next time I am at her place since they cover the whole surface. My tank has yet to show any algae at all after about 3 months.

I haven't had problems with melt, aside from when I added the fish (two bronze crypts melted) and randomly one week that was accompanied by strange fish behavior. That was a very bad problem. For instance my remaining bronze crypt went from seven leaves down to two and still hasn't started regrowing. The other crypts have begun to regrow though. I had at first thought they were too shaded, but my grandmother's tank is even more shaded and it hasn't occurred. She doesn't have fish so I only do biweekly water changes and had skipped doing her tank that week.

Besides that the only plant problem was with the Java fern dying when I first got it. Once I started buffering my water though, the problem cleared up and now it's growing very well. I have tons of baby plants forming on all those bad leaves. The rest of the plants are growing well. The Amazon frogbit is growing very well, so much so that I have to remove some every week. Most times I forget to dose micros in this tank.

Oh there was one other time I freaked out. I had just ordered the fish and was waiting for them to come the next day when the soil started bubbling. Turns out that it was just built up CO2 from the organic breakdown in the substrate and nothing to worry about. It still does that. Doesn't even bother the fish. In fact when it happens they all make a beeline for the area just to check it out and see if there's anything for them to eat.

Just one random note to leave off this probably too long post. Two of my Boraras naevus came to me missing an eye. One is missing the left, and the other the right. They are the only two I can tell apart from the rest, but still don't have names.
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
I haven't had a problem yet with the sand shifting down. I pressed the Miracle Gro down by hand before adding the sand, don't know if that helps with that. I have heard the substrate will condense further over time. To be honest I've never heard of the layers getting mixed up like you would think would happen though. I mean with the exception of being careless when rearranging plants. That's one thing you really can't do with a soil tank. You pretty much have to put the plants in and leaves them there.

You don't have to use sand, but you do have to use some sort of cap. I picked sand because it's said to be best for any sort of bottom dweller I would want. Eco Complete, Flourite, Oil Dri, and even gravel of the right size will work.

I know some types of mineralized top soil that people make can lower ph, which crypts appreciate. I went the lazy route, although I didn't have a choice. I would have had to wait until summer to try mineralizing. In this case it's more of it has the nutrients that you would otherwise have to dose as well as some small amount of additional CO2. It won't last forever, but it will last a whole lot longer than root tabs. I've seen pictures of a tank using this method that was still going strong after 3 years and no additional ferts.

lol Yeah I'm pretty sure I annoyed boredomb with all the questions. Redchigh too. He was a lot of help as well.

I honestly have no idea what happened, but I wish I did. My bronze and Mi Oya wendtii crypts melted for an entire week. Oddly enough the green gecko ones didn't lose a single leaf. If I had a clue I could hope to prevent it in the future. It sucks losing about a month's worth of growth. There's just so many things it could be though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
Are the floating bits the real problem or is it a case of too many nutrients being available? I kind of think it's the latter. I mean in MTS all the floating bits are removed, but it's still capped. I had just assumed it was because it would play havoc with water chemistry if it wasn't. Total guess though. I thought I had read something somewhere about if it was possible not to cap, but after an hour of searching the net I haven't found it again.

I've never tried Oil Dri or Safe-T-Sorb or cat litter. I've heard good things about them though. They all all clay based and the have high CEC rates and cheap prices. I heard it will low kh pretty fast. Not sure how long that buffering ability lasts. I know redchigh uses Oil Dri. Maybe that's where you saw pics on here?
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
Most just thinking out loud here, so keep that in mind.

Just the few floating bits I got annoyed me. I can't even get my driftwood to sink and it is waited down. I don't even want to think how long it would take for all the little bits to do it. I've netted them out but that still took forever. I'm thinking if you wanted uncapped than MTS would be the way to do it. No floating bits, plus you've already broken down the organics so there shouldn't be any ammonia spikes.

I know some people keep "mud" tanks, but those are serious plant keepers, they kind that are just as likely to have no fish as have fish. Might even border more on no fish. I don't think it'd be a problem in a plant only tank. I still think it would be a mess depending on the fish. In my head I'm picturing a puddle that looks clean with mud on the bottom. Water is all clear until you step in it and then it's a cloudy mess. I could just see the same thing happening constantly if there was any sort of bottom dwelling fish in there. Digging, rooting around for food, even swimming.

Jes-Why don't you want to mix layers? Just curious.

Boredomb-What plants did you move around? I know it's totally possible and have done it myself a few times. I think sometimes it will be an automatic no though. Anything with a huge root system would just pull out tons of the bottom layer no matter how careful you were. A stem plant with smaller roots though would be easy.
 
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