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Riverside Aquascape Cube Tank Journal · Vienna Guppies and Pygmy C


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Hi everyone! Thanks so much for your ideas and feedback on my previous posts!  

Came back to give an update on the project.

Tank: 42L 35-cm cube tank (Urna Blau Cubic Aquascaping 42L) roughly 11 gallons
Light: Chihiros WRGB Slim
Filtration: HOB Aquaclear 20 with ACO nano course sponge *has been running on another tank I have for 2-3 weeks

No heater yet, but I’ll add one before the fish go in. Without filter, tank runs 22-24*C right now in fall.

Plant list

  • Sag. sublata
  • Valisneria nana
  • Echinodorus tenellus
  • Eleocharis acicularis 
  • Crypt parva
  • Mayaca Fluviatilis
  • Cyperus helferi
  • (I’d like to add more Val nana and also Juncus repens, Potamogeton gayi, and/or Murdannia keisek.)

I set it up Friday night/Saturday morning, and it's looking pretty good so far.


Plan: (dependent on water quality and plant growth)
Day 1 - 10 ppm nitrates, no nitrates, no ammonia,  300+ ppm GH, 40ppm KH, 6.8 pH, and 0 chlorine. I did a small 20% water change and rinsed course prefilter sponge in used tank water to remove pieces of grasses that were stuck. 
Day 3 - 50% water change *add more Val, ramshorn snail and amano shrimp 
Day 7 - 50% water change *add nerite snail
Day 10 - 30% water change *add juvenile platy from my breeding colony and a snail
Day 14 - 30% water change
Day 17 - 30% water change *add 10 Pygmy corys
Day 20 - 20% water change
Day 20something *add 4 guppies, remove platy

Like @Zenzo's recent video suggests, I find when I lean hard into patience and find joy in the process, I enjoy my planted tanks much more. Yes, I did add Seachem Stability and Prime, and, yes, I am using a used filter, but I don’t like putting my fish at risk for something I can control like just waiting a few days. I am lucky, though, as I have a lot of other tanks to keep me busy 🙂 and I’m not worried about the multiple LFS in my city running out or not having Pygmy corys.  Anyway, feedback welcome! Cheers! 

PS - In a future post, I'll add some photos of the vienna guppies I brought back to Spain with me from the US. My pair has had two drops of fry since August, with a third batch expected next week.  #viennaguppysuperfan 🤓



Edited by PedroPete
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On 10/24/2021 at 4:32 PM, PedroPete said:

Like @Zenzo's recent video suggests, I find when I lean hard into patience and find joy in the process, I enjoy my planted tanks much more.

I am happy to see this. It looks great! Yes, we can all use a little patience, especially with our aquariums!



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Thank you so much! Totally agree. 

Day 3 -  some bubbles on water surface. Mental note: rewatch Cory’s video on surface foam. Did 50% water change after using ACO test strips: 50ppm Nitrates, 10 Nitrites, 0 ammonia. PH rising to mid 7 (has been a bit lower at start), hardness also rising with water changes slowly - hard water here in Barcelona. (great for guppies 🤓) some melting tips on Val, but overall, plants are perking up and readjusting to angle of light.

Have added two small ramshorn snails and one tiny bladder snail. No amano shrimp added yet. Probably will snag one from another tank in a day or two. 

I have more mayaca, sag, and Echinodorus tenellus that I didn’t use to plant. I think I’ll add all the tenellus I can in front half, and maybe a bit more Mayaca (both tissue culture), but I want to wait on the sag. I would like to add a bit more Val nana to the middle and right side. May have to order juncus repens as I have not seen in locally in a while.



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  • 3 weeks later...


Update time: Day 21. 3 weeks in and the tank is doing super well! Plants are doing what they should, settling in. Some die off / melt, but not much. LOTS of growth. Have already trimmed some of the Dwarf Sag. Have noticed no major algae or diatoms yet (unless diatoms can be red, then maybe? Some of the rocks got a few reddish spots in week 2. Glad they are aging and looking more alive.) Lights are on 7 hours a day with ramp up / down periods of 1 hour. I will likely increase this soon. I follow the Tropica app pretty closely (which is how I made my plan in an earlier post to change varying amounts of water quite often). I attribute no real algae growth to this + well-controlled light + a good algae eater squad.

Since I started the tank with beneficial bacteria, a used sponge, and an HOB filter that had run for about a week on another tank, so I felt good adding nerite snail, ramshorn snail, and amano shrimp during week 1. They've been working hard 🙂 In week 2, I added a baby red platy that POPS under the Chihiros light, and he's been a bit lonely, but he's decided he's a big fan of me because I bring krill flakes and BBS every day. Have fed him light meals 1-2x per day. Anyway, here are parameters if you're interested (Coop Test Strips - some values are estimates due to color-matching difficultly). image.png.6fff7f84fb7f9c9aea938575ac33aba2.png

As you can see, hard water here in Barcelona - great for guppies (!) ... hoping it won't be the downfall of the pygmy corys I want to add. They've been at LFS for over a month, and reportedly have been doing well there.

Today was a big day:  I added 15 two-month old vienna guppy fry mid-afternoon and bought 10 pygmy corys (who are now in quarantine tank). My baby red platy was so confused...as he hadn't seen other fish in a few weeks, so he started chasing them until he realized they were in shock / excited to explore. They calmed down a bit, but still in top half of the tank mostly. Only 1 guppy really came down to explore in the grasses, that I have seen. I did feed a small pinch of hikari pellets, which they all ravenously snapped up.  I left the corys alone to hang out in the QT tank which has drift wood, algae, java moss, and floating plants, so they hopefully won't suffer from a ton of stress in this transition.

My plan is to let the guppy fry grow out a bit, hopefully sex out in the next month, so I can leave 2 M and 2 or 3 F in this cube, move the rest back to breeding tub, and then add in the pygmy corys. They'll be in QT until then. I left them alone today but tomorrow I'll try the food the store was using: AZOO's Ultra Fresh "Tropical Shrimp Pie" sinking pellets. I have BBS and a few different frozen foods to try with them, too, in the coming days. (The platy will go back to his brethren soon, too. He's just too cute, though. Today today he was playing with a piece of frogbit stolon like a puppy with a stick... no joke. Baby platys are much cuter than baby guppies, but I prefer adult guppies' antics over platys, I think.)

My apologies in advance, as my phone camera isn't the greatest...

📸 See? Cute, cute, cute...


📸 Weekend mornings I catch the Chihiros gradually increasing in intensity while sun beams through a nearby window (lasts maybe 30-45 minutes)...


📸 Dwarf sag in center left a few days ago (trimmed back today):


📸 This last photo is from this morning:


PS if you've made it this far... 1) thanks 🙂 and 2)there were 2 kinda funny things that happened today:

· There was a single rosy loach (I think) living in the tank at the LFS with the pygmy corys. They had Normanii lampeyes up top, then the corys below, and the little loach was shoaling about with them. I was so tempted to take it home, but ended up not doing it. There were corys left at the store after my 10 were bagged up, so they can stay "classmates" (bad school joke) there, I suppose. I'd like to have rosy loaches at some point, but like an actual group of 8-10.

· A random low-grade blue Neo shrimp appeared in the quarantine tank with the pygmy corys. I'll be honest, after acclimating the fish to water temp and drip acclimation, I poured their bag into a small "critter keeper"-style container, through a net, and transferred what I thought was just the fish into the QT tank. So somehow that shrimp must have made the trip with them??? I have red shrimp in one of my classroom tanks and also a large planted mason jar... and I cull my low grade reds by adding them to another tank at school, but that's only been like 3 total shrimp...so maybe this one will go live there? I kind of want to leave him in with the corys as a bit of clean-up help (along with the boatload of snails who happily munch on the string algae there.


Edited by PedroPete
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