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Dorm Tank Journal: Season Two


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So some of you may have followed my last dorm tank journal, and I am starting another one for my new tank. The last tank is being taken care of by family members right now, so I'm starting a new tank, trying something i have never done before. More precisely, three things i have never done before. When planning this tank, I wanted to try three new things:

a blackwater setup

Emersed grown plants

breeding an egg layer

Since I was only planning on using ribsome plants, floating plants, and a peace lily, i did not use any form of active substrate, like i have been for many of my recent tanks. Since i wasnt planning on planting any plants into the substrate, i used pool filter sand, since i was planning on getting fish that dig, more on that later.

I decided to upgrade in tank size from last semester, so i took my old 10 gallon quarantine tank, since i didnt really need a quarantine tank anymore. Its just a topfin kit tank i got for $30 way back when.

This tank had many problems, starting with what i forgot. I forgot the nerite snail, the floaters, and the java fern. There is a fish store near by campus, but it is mostly saltwater and monster fish focused, so their plant selection is weak. It seems like a bit of a missed opportunity to not focus on nano fish when your store is under a mile aware from a college campus. Gives me an idea for a backup plan if this engineerimg thing doesnt work out.

the one plant i did remember has had its one problems. This plant i purchased to early, and i dont think it survived the two weeks between purchase and me putting a light on the fish tank. It is down to one green leaf at the moment.

The light i decided to go with was this. Certainly can't complain about the price, and i needed a light that was raised up a bit since i was using emersed grown plants. I have to use a rubber band to hold it in the correct position, but it works. This light is designed for houseplants which is what im growing in the tank. Important thing to note is that this light has a usb port. I have no clue what the intended purpose of it is, but it is very important to my purpose. If you use a light that plugs in the wall and it falls into the tank, all your fish will die, you might die, and it will trip the circuit breaker, which would be very akward to explain to your family or neighbors, if you are still alive to explain it.

To make up for the plants i forgot and killed, i bought some lucky bamboo at a nearby walmart. I also had a family member ship me some water lettuce, anacharis, and ramshorn snails. The satter lettuce did poorly but is slowly bouncing back. Some of the ramshorn survived and the anacharis is doing ok as well.

While i set up the tank in mid january, i only put in fish saturday. This is due to ammonia and general busyness. While a was planning on apistos, a settled on kribs do to thr lfs's recommendation. Kribs in a 10 may be somewhat controvercial, but they look like theyre doing fine.

The kribs spend much of their time im my homemade coconut huts. I got the coconut shells from some fancy sherbet icecream from cosco. As it turns out, coconuts are very, very hard. My battery powered drill couldnt handle it so i had to pull out the plug in power drill. 

The botanicles are primarily oak leaves and acorn husks collected from around campus. Despite the tannic acid, thanks to the high alkalinity of the water, the pH still maxes out the api pH test kit. I didnt bother with the high range pH kit, since i was only worryed about a pH crash.

Due to the light being well above the tank, it causes glares with my cluttered desk. So, good pics are hard to come by. The still arent used to me, and im sure a 10 minute bike ride is a stressful experience for a fish. I only have pics of the female for now, since her coconut cave is closer to me.

The wood was covered in that white stuff wood gets covered in, im not sure if its a fungus or algae, but whatever it is, kribs loved it. Cleaned up the wood pretty well. They seem to have a taste for dead plant matter as well, so i'll feed sparingly until the fi ish cleaning up there new home. Not that im one to talk...

Stay tuned for better pics once i clean the desk and the inside glass








Edited by Scapexghost
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  • 2 weeks later...

Big time screw up:


So few several days now the fish have not been eating. I thought the food may have been stale, so i pick up some frozen food. However, the showed no interest in this either. I though it may be internal parasites so i treated for it. Later the fish seemed to be "breathing" heavy and swimming at an angle. I thought this may have been an ammonia spike and did a water change. This is when i discovered the heater was unplugged. With no lid and no heater the tank temperature was getting very low. I then made the big mistake of trying to raise the water temperature with warm tap water instead of letting to heater raise the temp gradually. This made the swim bladder issue worse and now they are swimming vertically. The only thing i can think of is an epsom salt bath but more than likely i have lost them. 

I think i made a lot of mistakes with this tank, but the biggest was trying something new when i didnt have the time or resourses to give it the attention it needed. This semester has been more intensive then last. If i lose these two i think ill switch to white clouds or some other hardy cool water species i can more easily care for.

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On 2/18/2023 at 8:46 PM, nabokovfan87 said:

Add an air stone.  When you can check PH.

Things happen. Give the tank time to do it's thing and keep an eye on parameters for the fish you're keeping.

Stay positive!

I re-tested just now, and the pH is in the high sevens. I dont have an airstone with me so ill drain the water so the hob splashes a bit. The fish seem to be doing better, swimming at an angle still but not completely vertical.

Edited by Scapexghost
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Thank you @TheSwissAquaristand @nabokovfan87for the advice and kind words. Thankfully. the female seems to have made a full or near-full recovery. However, the male has gotten much worse. This makes since as the female is bigger so is likely less effected by temperature swings in the tank. This is also compounded by the females harrassing of the poor guy. Definetely wish i had the space of a quarantine tank. 

I'm not sure if i'll replace the male as the female is a bit of a menace, so i might keep her solo unless i kind find a beefier male. 

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The male passed. The female is swimming and behaving normally, but still breathing heavily. Going to leave the light off and hold off of feeding until this behavior subsides.

Long term if she recovers ill keep her alone and focus on getting her big and healthy, and try to breed her over summer or have her be the centerpiece of one of my tanks at home.

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Update: so i fed her when i said, and while she did show interest in the food, she would spit it out. This is a sign of gill damage to me. I fed her again yesterday, and she ate with no problem. Think its safe to say she is healthy again.

Bc of the water changes when she was sick, the tank is hardly blackwater anymore. The peace lily also died. She is digging out the caves, which i believe is a sign of breeding behavior, so i think i'll risk adding a new male after all. 

I will not do so until after spring break, which is coming up. This poses a bit of an issue, with as the fish will be alone for 9 days. Definetely dont want to put a male in there when she is nine days without food. 9 days is pushing general wisdom but bc she is a scavenger i think she'll do fine.

This week is kinda hectic with midterms and such, but hopefully ill find time to get some pics.

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  • 1 month later...

Update: so this update is a little late, but here's whats gone down since the last update:

Spring break: so i had to leave my tank for around 7 days, but everything went fine. The fish was completely ok and the tank was the cleanest its been in a while. The only issue was that almost half the water evaporated. Starting to agree share Cory's view on topless tanks. 

When i came back, i came back with some goodies, some snails, some water lettuce, and some mint. All the water letuce died but the mint has done well. Oh, and an eligible bachelor for my little lady fish. 

I picked the largest male they had at the local fish store. Unfortunately they only had albinos but hes not a bad looking fish. I was a little worried as after buying him for the lfs and leaving him in one of my home tanks, i had to bag him up again for an over 10 hour trip, as i had to stop on the way for my little brother's powerlifting meet, and it was pretty cold. However, everything went ok. Ppl always seem worried about transporting fish, i think many would be surprised how safe it is.

There was one problem, i don't know if anyone else does this, but i severely over estimate the size of fish at stores compared to fish at home. It makes sense, as when you buy a group of fish or a single fish, it can be hard to tell how much it has grown when all the other fish have grown at a similar pace. I was worried that my aggressive female would kill him, but so far everything has been ok.

The semester ends in about a month so it doesnt look like ill get any babies. Still, i have learned from this tank and have gotten many ideas.



For some unimaginable reason, androids take pics in .heic now, so i had to take screenshots of the pictures, hence the black bars

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