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Dria's Aquarium Escapades


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Wow, keeping a journal of tank stuff seems like so much fun! I'm going to give it a try and see if it sticks. It'll be fun to watch the progress over time. Okay, like I said in the intro section, I'm a returning hobbyist who lives in Kitsap County, WA. I've kept both fresh and saltwater tanks in the past, but haven't had one for a few years now, maybe going on five? Anyway, I'm restarting again from scratch! Exciting times. 😁

It may be a challenge figuring out what to keep in this water, it will be my first time starting up a tank since we moved across the country. I always had tanks in city water and here we're on a well. The water is SO HARD, GH registering between 100-150 with a KH around 80. Luckily the pH isn't bad, right around 7. We do have a tiny bit of nitrate in the water, but it's only around 10 so not too bad.

I currently have a 15 gallon cube that I just got for my birthday. Started up on December 22nd. I fed the tank every day and waited until I saw measurable ammonia on the 28th to add a bottle of nitrifying bacteria. It took 4 days to get to 0 ammonia, and there hasn't been any since. Currently waiting for my nitrites to drop all the way down to do my first water change, but I've already got quite a lot of nitrates in there, so probably any day now. Water has been cloudy since I added the bacteria, but finally today it seemed to start really clearing.

I've got three plants in there right now, (pennywort, dwarf chain sword, and pogostemon stellatus) with several more on the way this week. Once my nitrites have gone away I'll be headed to the fish store to get some neocaridina shrimp. I can't decide between all the lovely colors, so I'll likely just go with whatever they have the most biggest ones of when I get there. I've kept them in the past and really love their antics. Eventually I'll add a school of nano fish, but that's a ways down the road at this point.

Later on this year I'll be upgrading to a bigger tank, a 29 gallon high (that's why I have the giant filter sitting in the 15 right now 😉) We still have the stand for my old 20 long though we didn't move the tank with us, so I'm just going to repurpose that from being the table in my husband's office that holds some computer equipment and a lamp back to its rightful job. I regretted the smaller size tank almost immediately, hehe! But it's probably good for me to start off slow anyway.

I love raising aquatic plants, so I'm toying with the idea of going high tech with CO2 and the whole nine when I go to the big tank. We'll see though.

Okay, here's a picture from today!

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On 1/3/2024 at 8:38 AM, TheSwissAquarist said:

Nice tank! I can see it as a really cool scape if you added some more plants with CO2. Maybe try attaching a plant to the rock. The Easy Flow kit is making me jealous 😂.

It works really well! I was a little skeptical at first because I couldn't imagine how it was going to work and initially set the sponge filter up without it, but I'm a convert now. It makes really nice surface agitation and it's VERY quiet.

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I'm still showing measurable nitrite today, so another sad no shrimp day. Interestingly the amount of nitrate actually went down, so I'm guessing the plants have a growth spurt pending! I have noticed the dwarf chain sword mother plant threw out two runners since I clipped the other two off. And both of those are showing leaves already. I was a little worried there wasn't enough light down where I put it, but it seems okay.

In some good news, today I had my first confirmed animal life in there. I've got a baby snail hitchhiker moving around on the glass. I'm not mad about it. In fact I intentionally didn't wash the plants very much to get some of the micro organisms growing. I also saw several copepods of different sizes bopping around on the driftwood and the glass. So, progress!

I feel like I'm right on the edge of being done, but of course now I'm extremely impatient to go get some inhabitants. 😂

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Darn it. I was hoping my wee hitchhiker was a ramshorn but it looks like a bladder snail after all. I should probably get it out of there before it makes a menace of itself. Oh well. Still have nitrites today. Booo. Well, at least it's visibly less than yesterday.

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It's ALIVE!!!! 🔎 Lots of critters bopping around on the glass today. Another wee snail among them. I've decided to leave this one alone because I've got algae starting on some of the plants now. Maybe if it earns its keep I'll let it stay.

Nitrites are still detectable, but definitely better even since yesterday. Tomorrow might be the day! In the mean time I have some more plants arriving today, so at least I'll have something to add to the tank.

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Welp. Today should be shrimp day. But unfortunately our well pump decided to die yesterday afternoon. I don't technically need to do a water change right now (nitrates are down to about 25), but I thought it was irresponsible to get any animals when I actually couldn't do a water change at all if there was an ammonia spike. Right now I'm just amusing myself watching the snail hitchhikers I got on the latest plants cruise around.

Probably won't be able to get the well fixed until Tuesday at the earliest so shrimp day will have to be later this week. More time to let the tank settle probably isn't a bad thing anyway. Just frustrating.

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Hooray! It was finally fish day. On the way to the fish store I decided that my water is a little too acidic for shrimpies right now. I'm hovering around 6.5 pretty steadily. It had gotten as high as 7.5 from the Eco-Complete, but it's been slowly lowering since I started the tank and my baseline is pretty acidic to begin with. I decided to order some crushed coral and will wait on shrimp until I can get the pH up over 7 at least. Instead, I got some fishies and some salvinia minima! 6 CPDs are in their new home this evening. They seem to be doing okay so far. Got a few pictures before the lights went out.

 

 

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It's been an exciting couple of days! So, after some more consideration I ended up getting some blue shrimp. They are mostly still in hiding phase, but I got a picture of a few of them hanging out under some floating plants.

I also got a few more mail order plants. I'm still trying to figure out which plants do best in my water, so I took the approach that Irene recommended in a video which was get one of a bunch of different things and just keep watching them for a while and pick the ones that thrive and get rid of the ones that don't. I couldn't figure out how to plant the Ludwigia Palustris so I just draped it around the manzanita branch for now. The fish really seem to like it there!

I'm really happy with the way it's shaping up to look like an ecosystem. Current stock is 8 CPD, 6 Blue Dream shrimp, and a bunch of pond snails.

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I think the magic number of CPDs is somewhere between 9 and 12. I stopped by the fish store today to grab 4 more since everything had settled in well. The second I added the new ones all of the behavior changed. The new additions didn't even go into hiding after I put them in. Everyone was out swimming around in little groups. An amazing difference. Even the smaller one that had been hanging out mostly alone due to some bullying from the others was all of a sudden hanging out in the group. It was nice to see. 🙂

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I've got fry! While I was sitting staring at my tank today I spotted a tiny CPD fry! Then, I eventually saw two more and even a shrimp fry. Aside from being pretty heavily planted (as you can see from the picture) I haven't been doing anything to actively encourage survival. I had seen mating behavior from the CPDs several times, but I assumed they were eating all their eggs because they are voracious little hunters. I have been leaving most of the dying plant matter in the tank so I hope I have enough for the little guys to graze on.

Not sure if they adults will hunt them or not? They certainly seem to go after floating things more than actively swimming things. The shrimplet might already be too big to fit in their mouths anyway (it was a struggle to find stuff they could actually eat). Not sure about the tiny tiny fish fry. I finally got a pepper grinder to make dust out of all the food and they seem to be eating better which might have increased the survival rate for the little ones too. Hopefully there are particles small enough for the little guys to eat too.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Things are going well in the tank! I just got 4 more CPDs today to fill out my school of 15. I think they are even happier at that number than they were at 11. The new additions started schooling with the rest immediately. I also picked up a few more blue shrimp a few days ago and they have been much more out and about with the added numbers as well. I saw the fry a few more times since the last update, although I haven't seen them in a few days so I have no idea if they are still around. 

Everything has been very stable. I'm starting to contemplate what centerpiece fish I'm going to go with in here. I was considering Endler's but I'm a little worried about how fast they will multiply. There is still room in the stocking at this point, but a dozen babies will be a lot in this tank. Eventually I'm going to go up to a 29 which will be less of an issue, but that's probably a few months away yet. The other option is pair of honey gouramis. They won't multiply as fast even if they do breed, but they might get a little big at the top end. I'd likely get them moved out to the 29 before then.

I'm really happy with the plant situation too. I now have a list of plants that do well in my water that I can use to scape the 29. It's so interesting how different plants adapt. Everything that used to work well in my soft city water has been struggling in this tank and things I never would have tried with that water are just thriving.

 

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Went to the ACO store yesterday to pick up one of their lace plants and saw some cute Endler's that I decided to come home with as well! So we're basically stocked at this point (assuming an influx of baby Endler's) until I get the 29 in a few months. I'm already making plans for that, but I'm super happy with where the tank is right now.

 

 

 

 

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