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The Sad 11 g Bowl

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Warning: below Is the sad lament of an aquarist on the lonely journey of a project failure. 

My lovely wife consented to a bowl in our room as she felt we had enough tanks. Give an aquarist an inch and we’ll take a mile so I grabbed an 11 g bowl. It was to be a Neocaridina tank but it ended up housing 2 Endler males initially who I rehomed and then most recently a pair of @Bentley Pascoeblue Hawaiian guppies purchased from RedFishBlueFish. I’d kept orange neos from LR Bretz in there along with some amanos and rams horns.

The setup - I decided to use some gravel from a seasoned tank, some crushed coral, some laterite below everything, and some flourite sand as cap - I used what I had around to keep Costs down. I added 2 pieces of local obsidian and Oregon manzanita, and loads of various plants including my wife’s long languishing orchid that we placed partially submerged. Coop medium sponge I’d seasoned in another tank for 2 weeks, an Amazon stand and 9 w light and a 25 w Fluval heater. The bowl ran from October 2020 until last week with one bump in the road - Dec/Jan had planaria, treated planaria with febendazole, first week after every other day water changes to get the bodies of the planaria and got to day 8 after treatment and had an ammonia spike water changed my way out of that but lost some Neocaridina. That’s about 3 months ago. I got the blue Hawaiians 1 month ago. They’d done well. I’d stayed on my Maintenance schedule changes thrice a week for the first week and 30% a week thereafter. Then came this last week I saw the fish getting sluggish so I checked ammonia and it was at 0.25-0.5 and I did a 50% water change and gravel vac. I held feeding as there was plenty of algae and biofilm. Everything looked good. Then saw them getting sluggish again, another 50% change 2 days later. Next day went to check to see if I needed to do another water change and male was dead, female barely alive and all the neos and amanos dead. She’s now in with some white clouds and looking healthy again. At the time of the complete failure last week the  API master test had ammonia was 0.5-1, nitrite 0, nitrate 40, pH 7.2, tds has sat between 200-300 and gh 2-4, kh 8-10. I’m keeping the sponge and the plants in for now but it’s so depressing to look at. 

I’m sick about the whole thing. It was that slice of nature I got to see every day. The gentle bubble of the sponge helps me fall asleep. The little neos and their shrimplets popping out of the subwassertang. The shimmer and sheen of that blue Hawaiian male. My crypts oh man they’ve all melted - tropica, pink flamingo, bronze which happened after I moved the rocks out and gravel Vacuumed all the detritus, got all the shrimps/shrimplets out and I saw some gas bubbles. This was curious to me making me think that perhaps ammonia may have been worse than I thought - always heard the api kit could underestimate the actual ammonia level -as well as making me wonder if there was a lot of trapped gasses in the substrate. Probably a bad design on my part with the mix I used. 

I know I need to turn that frown upside down but I’m struggling to assess the faults of the setup so I can complete the post-mortem and move to the bowls next happier iteration. 










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I’m sorry you’re having such issues.  It sounds like it would be a beautiful bowl.  Didn’t know they came so big!  I don’t know if it was the culprit or just a factor, but in my experience orchids don’t like wet feet. The roots may have rotted and added to your ammonia issue.

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Wondering what people’s thoughts are on turning the bowl into the ultimate planted beta shack or going just shrimp - thinking yellow Neocaridina as I’m trying to keep things simple not sure this is the best time for a foray into caridina. Just perused the show your beta thread and was transfixed but I’ve heard stories about the fancy betas having so many health problems from inbreeding. I suppose the same could occur with shrimps.

Photos from Amazon and Pinterest. 



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Sorry the bowl didn't work out as hoped. It's a showstoppper even without fish, you have a great eye for plants and scaping. I lean towards the shrimp, just because I love the little buggers. More activity, whereas a betta would give more companionship I suppose.

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@benchiltonthanks for the kind words, I’m mostly broken up about the loss of the livestock I was really attached to my shrimps and the guppies were showstoppers. I’ve thought that with this next scape I’ll bank the substrate to really play with the optics of the bowl. 
Yeah I’m leaning towards yellow sekura Neocaridina - not sure I could do orange for awhile. I’ve thought about tangerine tigers but that would mean Fluval stratum which I don’t mind but I guess I’m a little gun shy and scared to fail again honestly especially with 12 shrimp shipped going for >$100 for the TTs. 

heres a pic from Buce plant I turn to sometimes when I get excited about something other than neos. 


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Appreciate that @benchilton. I’m leaning towards roughly 10-15 to start. First will be the aquascape, fully cycled over the coming months and then when seasoned the shrimp. I often use some of my Endler males to help things along once the cycle is complete to keep It going. Then they end up with some of the females at the LFS for store credit. 

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Well I did a water change in the Sad Bowl - reminds me of the kids book Sad the Dog - anyway and I have gotten some inspiration. Grabbed some hardscape from our piles of obsidian, inventoried the plants I have and what I want. 
Isn’t it amazing how life moves on despite us creating blocks and obstacles for ourselves outside of the actual challenge. 
And here are a couple pics of the bowl, the plants and just wanted to document where we are starting from. 5B78DBE5-247C-4D03-A2AE-E592095A7AB8.jpeg.9c5bb1a2d0bf213f790f4475cdf48a81.jpeg






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  • 3 weeks later...

Wondering if anyone can critique my ideas for substrate and planting for this bowl.

I’m going to use some Bags of lava rock to create height in the back of the bowl. I think it will help with the optics to create perspective. I was going to put down some laterite and was going to use a couple cups of substrate from a tank that’s doing well with Fluval Stratum on top. I’ll use my local obsidian for hardscape.

Plants - I’ve grabbed some red tiger spiralis for background and may use balansae as well; mid ground crypt wendtii red, bronze and green; mid ground crypt nurii rosen maden; crypt parva for the foreground; have been debating about using some different colors of cabomba I have to fill in spots and bring some different color and texture to the crypts; I also have some ludwigia a green form that I think will be nice and give some height and fill in as well. I have some baby’s tears which might also give a different level of height texture  etc. the goal is to creat a beautiful planted tank with lots of surface area for shrimps - about 20 dreams. 

I’m using the picture I’ve attached of bowl I found in Pinterest as my inspiration. 


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