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So here’s my photo journal for my Flex 9 gallon.

initial set up, early December 2022.


There is no livestock yet, just getting the wood, rock and plants started…9C67E77C-F6CE-445F-BFDA-0F76AFAD267F.jpeg.3d8b8d788628ca584e3c38a69786e116.jpeg

About 1 week later:

C1C9F15F-7BED-48A6-B280-C8993CC28C71.jpeg.539ab11d075aa28c8a68cf82597257e8.jpegmoved some things, making more cloudy water, but more plants!

Another week later:

the water is better. Some of the hair grass is starting to root … still not livestock ready though.

Another week:


I found some Java fern!  The Pearl weed has just begun to spread.  I moved some more things to make the water cloudy again…

Another week:


more Java fern!

Another week:


most of the melt has ended, and real growth is happening!

Another week:


the plants are all super happy.  The water is consistently where I want it!  Goal achieved.





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Flex 5 gallon weekly progress (yep, the plants just floated for 2 weeks before I planted them….

week 1: picked initial layout and rocks.  Don’t worry, I change my mind …


Week 2: a dozen pots of plants from aquarium coop showed up.


week 3: I moved the plants into a bucket, stole plants from the 9 gallon above, and found some spiderwood.43D3DEEA-5AD1-443E-8227-72589EC4DC27.jpeg.6b132016d246558eb446e8f9135898f9.jpeg

week 4: I finally started planting 

week 5:  I’m mostly happy0143BB87-2961-4F26-82FA-AB14EC3B27EA.jpeg.6f750e6368590bb8fb5ae0e92376cf38.jpeg

week 6:  I moved the spiderwood 1/4 inch left….0143BB87-2961-4F26-82FA-AB14EC3B27EA.jpeg.6f750e6368590bb8fb5ae0e92376cf38.jpeg

week 7 tannins are leaking onto my white sand 😞2A602736-295B-4215-94BB-59C7DAA59E37.jpeg.0a54f8427f28b06fb9fa21ac273971cd.jpeg

I was away 2 weeks, so a bit of a jump to now:




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This is my usual process I guess.  Get a tank, spend 1-2 months setting up, eventually get fish.

Right now, all of my aquariums are “over stocked” according to the “1 inch of fish per gallon” rule of thumb.

There are 3 pea puffers, 14 ember tetra, 2 nerite snails, and 10 (or so) amano shrimp in the 9 gallon.  They’re all happy.  There are tunnels and line of sight breaking things everywhere.  The plants and fish are all doing well, and other than 1 ember tetra dying the day after they came home, I am unaware of any fatalities.

pH on all tanks is 6.8

0 nitrates.

0 nitrites.

0 ammonia.

I check water with my API freshwater master kit every Sunday during the livestream, after the water changes.

I use test strips 2-3 times per week.

I personally believe the key to success is patience.  I set up just after Thanksgiving, finished just before New Year’s Day, and introduced livestock mid-late January, after the plants were doing ok and actively growing.

I don’t put a lot of faith in “good water parameters” unless a tank is a month or so in.  My tap water tests the exact same as my aquarium water, right out of the tap…  

i guess my point to self is, the beneficial bacteria make the water “good” and fish safe.  That doesn’t come out of the tap, it comes with time.

Spec 5 shown above has approximately 35 blue shrimp, 9 chili rasbora, and 1 nerite snail.

Spec 5 #2 has 1 platinum white dumbo eat half veil male betta, 1 nerite snail, 10 or more yellow shrimp,  and 9 neon green tetra.  This was my “quarantine” tank and one day it will be a pretty girl, but for now … no photos, please 😐

Flex 9 #2 has 1 plakat koi male Betta, 14 celestial pearl danio, 20+ Bloody Mary shrimp, and 2 nerite snails.


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This weekend:

The Betta 9 gallon is doing well:


there is at least one pregnant cherry shrimp!


meanwhile, in the other betta tank:


no one seems berried, but … Shrimplets!

ok, shrimplet …. But it’s progress in the yellow world.

in the Puffer tank:

the ember tetras are out and about..


But the puffers are being stealthy and hard to photo.

Meanwhile, in the shrimp tank, the Chili Rasbora refuse to come out of hiding.


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