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Mtnmonter's 20 high

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Finally had time to get this tank set up. Now time to get it growing. I figured I'd start a journal to show my trials and success. Some plants are new to me and some I do well with. Once the tanks start showing decent plant growth I will slowly be adding 6 cherry barbs, panda corys, and some type of algae eater. 

My set up:

Aqueon 20H

Aquarium Co-op 100w heater

Aquarium Co-op medium sponge filter with easy flow

Hygger 957

Caribsea Snowy River Gravel

Zebra rock and spider wood found at lfs.

Easy Green and root tabs as needed



Crypt lucens, lutea, and wendtii green

Jungle Val

Bacopa caroliniana

Alternanthera reinekii

Rotala rotundafolia green.

Water wisteria


Flame moss

Narrowleaf java fern

Anubias nana 

Anubias nana petite



Edited by mtnmonster
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The fun of a newly set up tank.... Diatoms have arrived. Faster and more abundantly than I've experienced before. They seem to have established better in the higher flow areas, which new to me because I usually see the opposite. 


Biofilm has started to form on the spider wood.

Plants seem ok. As expected some of the crypts are being dramatic and starting to melt.

Only plants showing obvious signs of growth is the water wisteria. It was not fully converted to its submerged form, but is starting to sprout new leaves.

Pearl weed isn't doing so great. It was delayed in shipping at the beginning of the year and has been in another tank for a couple weeks. It has melted quite a bit but still has some healthy. I'm keeping them in the pots until they bounce back or completely die off.

I have more plants ordered. That should have arrived today, but UPS decided they wanted to keep them over the weekend. Hopefully they will survive the below freezing temps. I did order an extra heat pack from the supplier.

As for maintenance, I'm just going to lightly siphon the diatoms from the substrate and and clean off glass and any leaves that diatoms have accumulated on. I'm not monitoring for ammonia or nitrites yet. My goal is to get plants established before slowly adding fish. I do have some hitchhikers from my other tanks so we'll see how they do with algae for now.

Might add a couple nerites in the next couple weeks. I'm debating on getting shrimp or a couple otocinclus. I've never kept either one. I am for sure going to add 6 cherry barbs and I want to add a small group of panda corys. 

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Yesterday made 1 week.


The nitrogen cycle has started. Saturday  Nitrates we're at 40ppm, nitrites 2ppm and ammonia 2ppm. PH was 8 which is normal for all my tanks. I did a 25% water change and added another dose of easy green. I'm not overly concerned with the cycle at this point. I find just letting it go as long as I can helps to complete the cycle faster. 

Today nitrates 20 nitrites 2 And ammonia 1.  I'm not going to water change today. Just top off.I did finally receive some new plants not sure what some are but I got some more Bacopa and rotala, and red root floaters. I will post some pictures once they get adjusted and some new growth and hopefully I will be able to get better identifications.

All the original plants are doing well. Lots of slow but new growth. The pearl weed pots started to come back so I buried the pots in the substrate. When they get a little stronger I will add some more gravel around them. 

So far lighting is set at 60% for 6 hours a day. I may increase to 8 hours in another week.  So far so signs of algae besides the diatoms and some on an anubias I moved from another tank. 

I do have a question about shrimp. I've never kept shrimp and I'm considering amano or maybe some cherry shrimp. 

1. Would adding shrimp after the cycle completes and shows stable be ok or should I start adding fish and give it a few months for the shrimp?

2. Which species would be best for my parameters and more forgiving for someone new to shrimp? I can't give kh and gh but I know they max out when I test so I just quit testing. 

3. Since this tank will not have a lid, how can I prevent them from escaping?



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  • 2 weeks later...

2 weeks IMG_20240202_184410969_HDR.jpg.b3ca78650a311286ba78af5dc64a41d2.jpg

Nitrates 10 ppm, nitrites 0, ammonia 0

Ph 8.0

GH and KH maxed out test strips.

Things are coming along. I've not detected any ammonia or nitrites in a few days. Plants are taking up all nitrogen compounds. 

Algae has gotten off to a decent start an now I've gotten some new plant growth from all plants and beneficial bacteria doing it thing I decided to add some clean up crew. 1 nerite, 3 amano, and 2 otos. I'm going to keep a very close eye on ammonia and nitrites. I'm also going to move another seasoned sponge filter in just to help with or if any spikes happen.

Hopefully the addition of some livestock will help keep my nitrates up. I'm going to give it a few weeks before adding anything else. The cherry barbs and panda corys are in their quarantine tank now and doing well. I figured if either tank shows signs of disease I can easily treat separately. 

Nitrates are going to be a bit of a challenge to keep in this tank for now. Within 4 days the plants are consuming 20ppm.

My EG pump got plugged and when I was cleaning it I broke it so I'm just measuring ml. Right now I'm adding 4ml every 4 days. 

I changed the light settings in the hygger 957. Now it's 60% from 8am to 12 pm then turns off until 4pm until 8pm. So 8 hours total at 60% with a 4 hour siesta. So far so good. 

Diatoms are still going strong, but my new nerite has already made a big dent in just a few hours. Otos are actually eating off the glass. Amanos disappeared immediately. My parameters were exactly the same as the lfs. I did still drip acclimate. I will still supplement with algae wafers and veggies.

One thing to note for me anytime I move crypts they melt but grow back strong. This time I've only had a few leaves actually melt. And new leaves already on most of them. I guess I accidentally did something right.

Pearlweed making a comeback.



Flame moss coming back 



Nerite did some work!



Not sure what this fine leaf plant is anyone know?



Anubias nana "variegated" the variation is very light hopefully will stand out more over time.


Even found a variegated hygrophilia difformis still converting


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  • 2 weeks later...

One month.IMG_20240216_220025471_HDR.jpg.b0aed3cb886d750e067897b5eadc4116.jpg

So far things are going very well. I added some buce and a bolbitis I picked up from PetSmart. I've also added some more fish. 6 panda corys, 1 juvenile dwarf gourami, and a juvenile blue eye lemon pleco. All fish seem to be doing great. Otos and corys hangout together and the otos are eating well. Between the nerite, amanos, otos and baby pleco I'm not seeing any algae. 

Since I'm not seeing any algae I'm actually dosing 2ml of easy green every 3 to 4 days. Even with all the fish no spikes in ammonia or nitrites, and nitrates are staying under 20ppm.

I added a glass lid just because evaporation was almost 2 gallons a week and I figured summer was coming and it would get worse. The glass lid really darkened the tank more than I thought so I upped the lighting to 70% a week ago, still no signs of algae. Plants and clean up crew doing their jobs. 

I did trim and replant a few of the AR and wisteria. All plants and moss are showing ok growth. I did realize some of the "Bacopa" I got from my lfs was actually unconverted rotala. The AR is doing pretty well in this tank. It does well in all my tanks, but the higher lighting in this one is keeping the red vibrant. The red root floaters are struggling a bit, I have the lid propped open to allow more air flow, but I really think I need to raise my light to get more spread. They're doing great under the light but the ones that aren't doing so great do not get much direct light

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On 2/2/2024 at 4:34 PM, mtnmonster said:

Not sure what this fine leaf plant is anyone know?

It looks vaguely like "Rotala sp Maka Red" it could be some species of fine leaf Rotala.

The tank is coming along very nicely! You may even consider just removing the plants that aren't on the island there

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 2/20/2024 at 1:31 AM, Schuyler said:

It looks vaguely like "Rotala sp Maka Red" it could be some species of fine leaf Rotala.

The tank is coming along very nicely! You may even consider just removing the plants that aren't on the island there

I just removed that plant. It just wasn't thriving at all. I didn't want it consuming nutrients or space for my other plants. I am considering moving some plants to a couple other tanks. 

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2 months and a little neglect. Not fertilizing as much as it needs. A little green hair algae showed up, but the amanos too care of that quickly after I took a couple extra days not feeding the tank. I do have some staghorn algae showing up. I've never dealt with that before. I'm going to increase ferts and give it a couple weeks. Then if that doesn't work I will try reducing light intensity. Nitrates are hard to keep above 20ppm. I did add 6 cherry barbs I had in quarantine so maybe that will help keep nitrates a little higher. I did lose an oto a couple weeks ago. The other it still doing well


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