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These are my two tanks. My 20 gallon hex was just recently converted to a fully planted tank a few days ago. It houses a betta, named Creme Brulee, 9 neon tetras, an otocinclus, a guppy, two African dwarf frogs, and a ghost shrimp. They all seem to get along very well, even the shrimp that I thought I would kill immediately with the frogs or betta.

I've been binge watching every video I can on aquascaping and aquariums in general. This is my first real attempt at aquatic plants. I feel like I've gotten pretty good at houseplants over this year due to the pandemic and this was my next step in the hobby since my husband said I couldn't get anymore plants since we will be moving soon (GA to the DC area) and he doesn't want to move them.I have had fish tanks since 2011 and worked at pet stores with fish for 4 years so I have the basics down but want to expand my knowledge and maybe someday have a room in my house just for my fish and plants. 

The 10 gallon tank is a tank I'm cycling for cherry shrimp or crystal shrimp. I have all the tests (TDS meter, Gh, Kh, freshwater master test kit) to see which species based on my water parameters. I have very soft water with a low TDS (under 100) so I'm leaning towards crystal red shrimp since they would require fewer adjustments. 

I'm hesitant to call it my first attempt at aquascaping but really that's what it is. Lol The plants on the right (Rotala indica) should grow nice and tall to hide the heated and filter nicely. They melted back pretty hard but the new growth I replanted makes me pretty confident that they will be just fine in a few months. I even have a crytocoryne wendtii green that completely melted and the roots seemed firm so I planted them in the tank and they seem to be regrowing new leaves as well! 

I'm really having some fun with it and I'm definitely getting the itch to get another tank. I'm trying to convince my husband to just let me upgrade the 20 gallon to a 75 but no luck until we move again. 

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Those look really nice. My only critique would be get some friends for your oto (just 2 more at least) because in my own experience they like to rest near each other when they're not foraging or when they get startled. And if you get them to start eating algae wafers the other fish will usually eat what they have left over (the ingredients arent so very different than normal sinking wafers). Mine tend to get spooked by the betta when he comes near (but essentially ignore the ghost shrimp and other fish)

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4 hours ago, Phill D said:

 My only critique would be get some friends for your oto (just 2 more at least) 

I will now that I'm learning that my tank can handle a bit more bio load that a gallon per inch. Especially since I'm running a H.O.B. and sponge filter in there and do my water changes regularly.  I'm off work on Sunday and will get him a couple buddies. I obviously got the one without researching their social habits first. I won't be making that mistake again.

I do give them algae wafers. Whenever one is gone I drop a new one in. I was thinking of getting sinking bottom feeder pellets too. Creme brulee doesn't seem to bother anyone. I even caught my shrimp grabbing his tail once. He did not appreciate it very much but didn't do anything about it and moved away. 

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13 hours ago, be28ans said:

Welcome to the forum. Beautiful tanks. What type of substrate do you use

My substrate is Aquavitro Aquasolum black humate in the 10 gallon. I really wanted to do something good for the plants and shrimp. It's a buffering substrate so it lowered my pH to 6.0 or possibly lower than that. I haven't looked for a lower pH test yet. The fish aren't acting funny so I'm not overly worried about it. 

My 20 gallon has eco complete substrate. I have heard good things but have no personal experience so I decided to try something inert instead.  

I really need to look into root tabs but since my substrate is so new I'm pretty sure I have some time before the nutrients are low/gone and I'll have to actually use them. 

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6 hours ago, SpiritLiefe said:

I will now that I'm learning that my tank can handle a bit more bio load that a gallon per inch. Especially since I'm running a H.O.B. and sponge filter in there and do my water changes regularly.  I'm off work on Sunday and will get him a couple buddies. I obviously got the one without researching their social habits first. I won't be making that mistake again.

I do give them algae wafers. Whenever one is gone I drop a new one in. I was thinking of getting sinking bottom feeder pellets too. Creme brulee doesn't seem to bother anyone. I even caught my shrimp grabbing his tail once. He did not appreciate it very much but didn't do anything about it and moved away. 

Betta can be one of those species very unique from one individual to the next. Like dogs. Mine for example ignores his tank mates 99% of the time. But when he sees me dropping food in, he'll eat his floating food then go to the bottom of the tank and scare the loaches away from the wafers while he takes 5 or 6 bites. The Cory's aren't particularly startled by him though, despite being less than half his size. He'll even go so far as to pick the wafer up and crunch a piece off. It reminds me of keeping show dogs a very long time ago, there'd always be one who tried to bogart the community bowl even if he had his own.

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6 hours ago, JeffM said:

That is a nice looking first planted tank! Should look great once it grows out some. Keep us updated wit new pics in a few months.

Thank you! I've gotten a bit obsessed lately. I spend the majority of my free time watching YouTube videos on fish and aquatic plants and aquascaping. I'm shocked at how quickly the plants are growing.

I am using iron and plant fertilizer but it's still shocking to see the difference day to day.

I will definitely be updating once it grows in!

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@Phill D I have definitely found that bettas have very unique personalities. I haven't had any be overtly aggressive to other community fish personally but I always keep an eye out on them when they're new to the tank. This particular one is SUPER shy and hidey. Here he is hiding in the "tree roots." 

I had one many years ago called Erlkonig (elf king in german) who would chase a laser pointer if he saw it. We were playing with the cat and it hit the tank and we saw him react so we started playing with him too. He might have been aggressive but at that time I only had a 5 gallon tank and he lived with only a mystery snail. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was just looking at the tank and I realized that I already need an update picture! It has been 12 days since the original post. I have grown some algae in the past many days and I have cut back on fertilizer. I'm going to try one dose a week and I have ordered a timer for my lights. I also gave up on the cycling "experience" and switched sponges with my established tank 10 hours ago. It's now ammonia free like magic. I don't know how I ever lived without sponge filters. My friend is deciding on shrimp because I was only allowed to get the tank if I sold it before we move so she's picking shrimp colors so she has a say in what she has later on. I'm going to do a water change and scrub some of the algae off and do another test to see where the pH ends up since the substrate is keeping it around 6.0. She really wants neocaridina shrimp so I have all the stuff to make the water ideal for them. I'm still trying to convince her to switch to caridina shrimp because we would not have to do anything to the water except dechlorinate. Her tap water is about a ph of 6.6 so there wouldn't be too much trouble there and the water here is very soft.

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I added my Fire Red Cherry Shrimp this afternoon! Got them from my local fish store AND they were on SALE. I paid $50ish for 10 +1 free shrimp and a package of shrimp king complete. They were $3.99ea. They were $5.99ea last time I looked back in the beginning of October.

Definitely working on that algae problem but I think the shrimp will be well fed for quite a while on it. I cut back lights to 6 hours a day and fertilizer once a week. Maybe less if it gets worse.

I drip acclimated them after I added shrimp salts to get the TDS, pH, GH and KH as close to the water they came in. It worked out very well. They're all eating and looking happy. 

Creme Brulee and the guppy are back in their 20 gallon and the betta is being a bit reclusive but that's about normal for him anyway. I'll be keeping a close eye on them the next several days just to be sure they're adjusting back to their tank well. 

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