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Harmonizing Beauty and Function

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My approach to this fine hobby has centered around two challenging values that are not easy to harmonize:

(1) Breeding

(2) Beauty

For example, I am easily drawn in by colorful new additions at my LFS. It is exhilarating for me go encounter new fish and plant species here on the Forum. A stunningly planted tank gets me every time.

But for breeders — true, serious breeders — the functionality of a tank is preeminent. Many avoid the dirty nature of plants, substrate, hardscape, etc. preferring largely bare bottomed aquariums, sponge filtration, and functional decisions about air, lighting, tank arrangement, etc. Other breeders lean towards the functional value of molm-filled bottoms, selective plants, collection of rainwater, etc.

I admit to finding myself on a sort of river-meets-the-sea “estuary” between these values.

So, as my example today, I’m sharing some photos and a video from a tank that represents this odd dance of ideals.

Most noticeable, are seven Discus. I’m hoping for three pairs…


Rocks were bought on Etsy a long while back as “Lake Michigan Rocks.”

My personal satisfaction is more in the Rams I’ve raised since last summer. Their colors far outstrip their store bought parents…



But “Functionality” meets “Beauty”  with half a dozen Siamese Algae Eaters…


Compatibility with Discus has proven excellent, and they’re growing wonderfully in the warm water.

Tucked into the background are a school of very small Glowlight Pygmy Barbs — an India native species…


Now, while I love to keep this tank looking fine, there is a raft of algae I’m sure will endure forever. That’s an acceptable functional component that I’ll admit the folks at Green Aqua wouldn’t tolerate. Still, I did scrape a lot off the back glass yesterday because I preferred it clean.

I’m trying out some new stem plants — Moneywort. I don’t expect it to thrive. But I had to try something new back there.

I’m also floating some Frog-bit across the top. Also added is an aquarium Lily. I’m eager to work with these new plants, though unsure if they’ll necessarily all do well in here. 

Functionally, my Rams recently spawned. So my approach is to float a fry tray in the tank for a month or two — NOT very “beautiful” to look at every day, but an incubator for future beauty!



For a look over how function meets beauty, here’s a short video looking at the pieces all together. For perfectionists on either side, this is maddening! But for me, it’s just how I NERM…




Edited by Fish Folk
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I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately as well. I consider all my tanks with one exception my QT, “show” tanks. Although most are set up to be natural to help them feel comfortable to breed. I have no breeding tanks, I consider a breeding tank to be the bare bottom, minimal plants and decorations (if any at all), and only purpose is spawning. As much as I love when my fish have fry, I enjoy breeding but I’m definitely not a breeder of fish.

Lately I’ve been considering using a couple tanks to make breeding easier. I’m becoming impatient, my ultimate goal is to stock tanks with fish I have breed. I’ve been trying to set conditions and wait. Rummynose tetra and GBRams are my main focus to breed right now . 
my problem really is when I set up “breeding” tanks I will think well they need plant/ hides then of course within minutes I turn it to a show tank so when/ if they have fry it so hard to collect them/ parents.

And BTW the discus are looking great and those GBRams are amazing!!!

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That is a beautiful tank, @Fish Folk!

I do not breed critters (intentionally, at least), but have learned that DP is not for me, as the dwellers turn them into PT. The “dis” prefix is dropped very quickly and they go about redecorating, and usually the end result is quite pleasant and interesting. Most definitely not “Green Aqua” standards, but they are happy and keep me happy. At the end of the day, that is what matters to me most.

Your breeding journals are always fun and you share very useful information, so, thank you! 🙂

Edited by eatyourpeas
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