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j_rider's Tank Journal - 45cm Shallow

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Long time reefer, but first ever attempt at a planted freshwater tank. Going to try to record some of the ups and downs of my journey here. 

Have been dreaming about a tank for my study for a few months. Original plan was to have a small marine tank (already had 95% of the required gear and knowledge), but then came across some shrimp vids on eBay and started thinking about a freshwater tank instead. 

A few months of research, a few weeks of buying/selling gear, a few dozen changes of mind re: what I planned/wanted, and I was finally in a position to start cycling this tank. Luckiest trade was with a local hobbyist who was heading in the opposite direction – ie. he had been planning a new freshwater tank and decided to go marine. I got 80% of the gear for this tank from him and he got some of my surplus reefing equipment. 😊 So, here we go. 


Tank: 45 x 22 x 24cm (WxDxH), rimless, low-iron 

Filter: Seachem Tidal 35 

Light: Chihiros WRGB II Slim 

Hardscape: dark Seiryu stone 

Substrate: Fluval Stratum aquasoil with a little bit of white sand 

Start: 8th May, 2024, fishless, dark start method for cycle, plants added in 4th week 

Plants, 31st May, 2024: 

- Foreground - monte carlo, hopefully, eventually, a lush carpet 

- Midground - staurogyne repens for green accent plants 

- Background - alternanthera reineckii mini for some red accents 

- Floating – red root floaters, water lettuce 

Inhabitants: current thoughts (very open to change) are a colony of neocardina shrimp, a few otos and maybe a small school of fish appropriate for a tank this size..

Pic attached is as of 6th June, 2024. Only inhabitants at this time are 3 small snails and 2 copepods (both hitchhikers on the floating plants), plus 2 pieces of sweet potato lol (added to start growing biofilm for future inhabitants)


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A few changes.

1) I thinned out my RRF and water lettuce so that they weren't so crowded and they are now floating much better above the waterline

2) I also decided that my great looking, but annoying, sand was taking up too much room at the front > not much planting room on the front right side > vacuumed some of it out and replaced with new aquasoil, then moved some of the monte carlo from the back (where I realised it was going to be a pain to trim due to the rock layout) to the front right. Happy with the result.


3) Bigger news though...my tank now has the first of its chosen inhabitants!

5** ember tetras, as per the recommendation of @xXInkedPhoenixX  in my intro post, thanks.

They all seem to be doing well. Exploring the tank, hanging out together and quite active.

One potential issue is that I am struggling to get them to eat. I bought Tropical SuperVit Mini Granaulat slow sinking pellets. They float for ages on the surface and then eventually start sinking. Some of the tetras will eat one, or attempt to eat one, but other pellet sink straight past the nose of other tetras without much interest. I have been forced to siphon out the extra pellets that I can see every day or two.

Would welcome any suggestions. Today is day 5 of them being in their new home.

**I originally purchased 6 tetras, but one didn't make it through the first 12 hours. 😞He was active like the others in the bag at the store, but by the time I got home 40min later he was having a rest on his side on the bottom of the bag. Then, after acclimation, he swam straight to the bottom and lay amongst the monte carlo. By the morning he had regrettably passed. On closer inspection he was incredibly skinny, much skinnier than the other 5.

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Who needs shrimp, when you have a copepod! 🙂

Copepod came as a hitchhiker on some dwarf water lettuce I bought a few weeks ago. Don't see him often (today was only the second time since he disappeared into the tank), but he is quite the character when he decides to go on an exploratory journey. Had taken a short vid of him, but just realised I can't load vids on the forum...oh well. Just close your eyes and imagine a copepod doing loop-the-loops to the right of the main stone.

In other news, my tetras are doing well. Helps to turn on the heater, lol. Much more active now that the temp has risen to 22.5, instead of 17! The temp rising helped their activity levels, but didn't seem to make much of a difference in their interest in food. Not sure if the following is a good idea long term (would welcome any advice), but have temporarily given up on the slow sinking tablets and have managed to find something that they will eat = Vitalis Mini Marine Grazer discs. Use them in my marine tank.

They are large discs of food (25mm wide) that you attach to a special magnet and mount on the glass. Have been placing one on the front glass with the filter off, which releases a cloud of food particles that the tetras have been enjoying, then removing after a few minutes.

Not the greatest pic, but here are my four more adventurous ember tetras.


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