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Hey all!

I wanted to document my adventure, or I should say our adventure. My spouse and I are curating our very first fish tank for either of us. Getting to the actual planting took months!

I'll be adding to this as it grows, and be sure that I'll be asking for help!

We both have backgrounds in research, so research we did. 

First was to catch the sale at Petco for a nice tank and a few other supplies.


Then we had to get a stand. I initially thought I was quite the genius and was going to use heavy-duty, 1000 lb. certified wall stud brackets to hold a vinyl wrapped board. I was WRONG. One needs 2 studs for these, and the wall for the tank only had 1. So instead, we purchased a 400 lb. per-shelf certified shelving unit and bracketed THAT to the wall. With paint and some vinyl marble over the wood shelf for water-proofing, I like how pretty it is. 



Hardscape was next on the list; we went to a local river with some cardboard cut to the size of the bottom and height of our tank. It was an adventure, and we ran into some very confused ducks who appeared to assume we were there to feed them. 


After some appropriate cleaning and testing for calcium, we had some fun actually laying out our hardscape. Working with heavy rocks inside a glass aquarium was TERRIFYING but well worth it. I even added some curtains to hide the "behind the scenes" supplies and electrics. 


Of course, I had to play with some macro then...


FINALLY, I felt confident enough to purchase plants! I really appreciated the help from @lefty o, @FishyThoughts, @Andy's Fish Den, @Daniel@Fonske, and others. We really appreciate the direction. We waited for our order to get in (lightning fast by the way) and were ecstatic to spend the evening planting away. 


I can't wait to see what this grows into! After we're comfortable with the plants growing and the water specs seem right, we'll be getting some guppies to hang out with us. Since we spend most of our lives in this office, we're excited to add life to the space.


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  • 3 weeks later...

We had a crisis when we realized that the biggest rock in our scape was leaking calcium like nobody's business, creating HUGE swings in our pH. We also had to add co2 with our pressurized water system off-gassing most of our useful co2 for our plants! But everybody is back in the tank after a re-aquascaping and week of ph/gh/kh monitoring. 


They are sooooo stinkin' gorgeous!


When brought them over, all of the shrimp piled on to our snail!! It was cute and disconcerting at the same time.


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I'm sooooo jelly!  Beeaaaaaauuuutifuuuullll!!  But out of curiousity, I see dragon stone in your photo.  Is that the stone that was leaking calcium?  I use dragon stone exclusively and my GH is always pitifully low and my pH is usually quite stable.  I see you are using some gravel as well.  Are you sure it's not the gravel?  My PetSmart gravel for sure was leaking minerals and caused my quarantine tank GH to shoot through the roof!

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@Martin Thanks for the compliments!! My partner and I loved doing the design.

I traded out the stone that WAS leaking calcium and added the dragon stone instead, so the shrimp could have some nice hiding spaces while still not having major calcium issues. The gravel doesn't seem to be the issue (we went all experimental and compared cups of non-gravel water to gravel water after 48 hours on the counter). I appreciate the heads up on the PetSmart gravel!! I will for sure be saving up for the nicer substrate in the future if (and from what everyone is saying WHEN) we get another tank. 🙂

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42 minutes ago, Gestaltgal said:

(and from what everyone is saying WHEN) we get another tank. 

It's funny how you can set up a new tank and then almost immediately want another one lol. I've had mine about 6-8 weeks now and I'm already like, "how can I pull this off and have the wifey not leave me?" 🤣

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

I want to add some updates, and it has been a journey!

We have a quarantine tank set up, cycled and ready for fish. We ordered some beautiful blue guppies online, only to have them arrive dead. The second round of shrimp we ordered made it fine in the same shipment. It looked like they had pecked each other to death (holes in each and every one). The online retailer was VERY kind and VERY professional and refunded us.

Now, we don't have an LFS, so we then went to our local chain store and found a knowledgeable and professional fish manager, who happily helped us get 5 Mollies. We brought them home, drip acclimated them to the quarantine tank, and a week later, the biggest one had pecked the smallest to death (it happened over night?!). So, we returned the mollies (bully separate), and we opted for 4 male guppies because they didn't have any females to mix in. The guppies seem very happy.

AND we have had a round of baby shrimp! We're very excited about it. We have added 2 more nerites (for a total of 3), and my favorite is still the zebra.

Macro of Baby Shrimp



Zari! My Favorite 🙂snail.jpg.5cc357166c0c28e94d787be23f821175.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

Updates: The light is finally balanced after we had an algae bloom. The shrimp went through a vorticella outbreak, which we corrected thanks to some great advice here! Everybody is finally happy, and we have had 4 egg hatchings at least. Our Pogostemon Stellatus Octopus has grown incredibly! I'm so happy with it. We have a group of guppies quarantining. I can't wait to add them.831170522_Updatedtank.jpg.9c84f8923bc19a0dc94321f52a320717.jpg

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  • 1 month later...

Tank update: We have guppies!

Biggest change we did was swap out the substrate. I didn't like managing tank stuff with the big gravel. I'm finding I like the sand much, much better.

Guppies were quarantined and had some sort of issue that even the med trio didn't seem to address. We lost three females and one male.

However, the ones that are left are a great number for our tank and seem pretty resilient. The guppies and shrimp seem to get along fine, and the nerites keep bopping around the tank, keeping everything clean. So glad to be getting so immersed in the hobby.

I think for the inevitable "next tank," we'll be doing a shrimp only tank to put the bluest of the blues in. A little tank to keep at my desk sounds delightful.


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  • 2 weeks later...

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