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Sloppyscaping, an aquarium journal

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Sloppyscaping: instead of separating micro culture plants and painstakingly gridding them out in ADA soil, you grab handfuls of guppy grass, slap a rock on the bottom part, anchor some in pool sand, and call the hair moss intentional. 

It will not win awards, but your husband won’t divorce you for spending more money on Anubias than you do on food. And it leads to some cute moments like this one:


This is just meant to be sort of a picture journal of experiments and failures in aquarium keeping. New to the hobby so if you see me try something that will result in complete disaster please do intervene! 


the Sloppyscape, A Gupster’s Paradise. I am not sure how many mutts are in here but there are also Corydoras julii, MTS and ramshorn snails, and pond snails that feed other fish. 40g with a canister filter, trying to figure out what else could go into it. 


I am playing with the idea of trying to do some kind of Pandaria themed tank with panda guppies, and potentially panda corys? I have a variety of 5-20 gallon tanks I could use, but am not sure where to start with stones or plants. I have a 12 gallon rimless nano with an integrated back sump that I would like to use, but I’m not yet sure how intense the flow on the pump is or if it can be adjusted. 

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On 8/20/2020 at 4:41 PM, Alexa said:

That’s the home of the WOW pandas, right? (Lol haven’t played in over ten years.) I think the panda themed stock would be awesome with that scape 😎

Yes. I mean it’s basically China inspired but let’s call it Pandaria so I can make it kinda cheesy... still trying to figure out which tank to attempt this in. 

Here is a head on shot of the Gupster’s Paradise:


Here are the other current sloppyscapes. 


36 gallon bow front with one high-sass blood parrot. This is a temporary tank for him, waiting on a friend to build a metal stand for my 75g. Guppy grass (as always), fake plants, Marimo moss, and some still-in-planter crypts. 


20g with a pair of dumbo guppies, and some random small female guppies and molly fry. Definitely a WIP. Definitely a lot of things that need to be replanted. 


Mean Muggin Tank. One very shy pea puffer, three bumblebee gobies, and three amano shrimp to help take care of a nasty diatom bloom. Oddly, this tank is pretty quiet and peaceful. I would kind of like buy more peas to if more peas would help my one pea be more confident, but I would do that in a separate tank I think to avoid stressing the bumbles. 


pure guppy trio in a 10g hex. I love a hex aquarium, had one as a kid and never quite got over how cool they can look. This one has a mass of java moss and what else, guppy grass, as I wait impatiently for fry. 


6 gallon nano with sparkling gouramis and velvet blue shrimp. I would like to redo this one soon, but I just got the gouramis and they are already so shy I would prefer not to give them a heart attack. But I would prefer to actually be able to see the little glittery guys so I know they’re eating and etc. 


2 fancy goldfish and 4 guppies that refused to be caught when I transitioned the tank. These guys (well, just the goldfish) will be taking over the 36 bow front once the 75g is ready. 


quarantine. Fake plants and crap that came with used tank purchases. Hosting an electric blue acara (1-2 inches), 7 guppies (at first just to act as dithers, but then I bought two males from petco and added them in) and one cobalt blue jack Dempsey (1 inch). My hope is the acara and dempsey can be tankmates with the blood parrot in the 75g for a children-friendly crazy cichlid creation tank. 


the pond. Home to an unknown amount of guppies and mollies and scuds and snails and who knows what. We’ll find out in early September. 

Not yet in use, but being figured out:


12g nano with integrated sump. Really excited to try that out. Also just picked up a 5 gallon with something similar set up, and I have a 5.5 nano that is currently just holding some scuds and snails, along with a 10g I am thinking will be the dedicated quarantine tank once the current batch of quaratinies is freed. 

I don’t love where most of the tanks are at, but as I accumulate more plants, rocks, driftwood, and knowledge I’m looking forward to maybe getting past sloppyscaping with excess guppy grass and into some more elaborate and thought-out environments. 

Edited by RovingGinger
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20 hours ago, Tre said:

I swear that would be the last piece of furniture my cats would use.... just cause I put it there.

My kitten loves falling asleep watching his buddies/sworn enemies. 

I bought a 75g in the petco sale, convincing my husband that it would be a great birthday present. I want to move my three weird cichlids into it (blood parrot, electric blue acara, cobalt blue jack Dempsey) but I don’t want to spend a ton of money. 

- Substrate: black diamond blasting sand, 100 lbs ~$40 delivered to my door 

- Filter: Polar Aurora 266gph - this is only my second canister and the other is the smaller version. Not sure how great it is but I found it simple to set up. - $64

- Light: Random 4ft LED grow light. I don’t know enough about lights to spend more money yet, but I like growing cuttings out of the top of my tank. - $41

- Stand: traded labor for glowforge time and had a buddy weld a steel stand for it. He says it’ll hold 900lbs, I’m not going to put the fish in right away.... $30 in materials + I owe him one. Primer and paint (rustoleum self-etching primer, rustoleum hammered spray paint) - $20

- Tank: $100

setup so far: $195 not including plants, driftwood, fish, which are all kind of collectively used between the tanks. Any obvious disasters in waiting?🤞🏻I will add aeration of some kind as well. For the lid, I’m planning to do plexiglass with holes cut for plant holding. 

Just for fun, here’s an experiment in a much smaller tank: aquaponic succulent propagation. 


Edited by RovingGinger
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Newest member of the legion of tanks: used 12g nano with integrated sump type filter in the back. I wanted one of these to see how hard it was to potentially build the same system into some used 10 gallons. 


planned occupants: Pygmy corys (unavoidable at 10 for $15 and SO CUTE) and maybe, very maybe one other fish depending on how the load is with the corys. 

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I spent today lazily doing tank maintenance. Serviced the canister for the first time. In retrospect, rewatching the instruction video beforehand would have been a good idea. After I mopped up the living room and managed to get the thing started again, all was good. Like many on this forum I have a very understanding and helpful spouse. 

Set up the 12g and added 3 male guppies to start the cycle, as well as some filter media from previous filters and a healthy dose of bacteria stuff. And a crap ton of plant roots. 

and, found new guppy fry in 3 tanks including the 2 purebred tanks. They may have been born yesterday or the day before, but I’m calling them birthday fry. DEAF9ED5-FE02-42C4-B99B-D510F3325F95.jpeg.7dbaea7353c6d9a52e1a5159c4de11c8.jpegF2324B0F-752C-460A-9BCA-6D394D747A90.jpeg.7c7cd7f93eea1ee66cb6e76772ff6a2f.jpeg

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Trying to make a new lid for my 12g. The existing one was fine, but blocked the majority of the back filter area. This made it a pain to grow plants in the back section as they all had to squeeze in through a small hole and then be disturbed when I had to open the lid for anything. 

I can laser cut up to roughly 11x20, but a) my acrylic supplies are low and I didn’t have a full sheet of clear, and b) the lid dimensions I needed were 11.25x13.5... so it’s in two pieces. One piece clear for the back which won’t be moved as much and is directly under lights, and translucent for the front portion.

I also discovered halfway through this process that the clips on the old lid were both too wide for the new lid (1/4th vs 1/8th), and too few in number thanks to the new design. So I also tried to prototype something small that could hand over the tank side and hold it in place. 

apologies on the poor quality. This is the front part of the lid. The make-do clips are in the hole in the center to save on material. The hole is because I don’t really have jumpy fish in there and wanted a simple way to feed and open. 



close up of the clip design. In hindsight, this should’ve been a part of the project measurements - the lid should’ve been a hair less wide, and the little part that holds the actual acrylic up should be a little bigger and bulkier. It works for this purpose but it’s a bit tight. 


this however is a literal representation of measure twice, cut once... guess we’ll be trying again once I figure out how you measure a curve. 

But, overall, for half an hour of fooling around it works for what I needed. 


And luckily since it’s in two parts, I only need to recut half of it. I’d prefer to do it all transparent too so I need to pick up some more acrylic. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Some new friends: 0C79DFBF-273C-4BA0-ACA8-A37D82D45B9A.jpeg.b8f36f0813ccad33dae6695e9debc230.jpeg3FFA6F56-8AE1-413C-957D-D08C9DF99353.jpeg.9a3ba7070c291f1e0d96aafabe5567e4.jpeg

these guys (kribensis) arrived today and are doing well. 8 total, unsexed and about an inch long. 


I also picked up 6 multifasciatus recently in another tank. Both tanks have some guppies for dither. The kribs will be headed to a larger tank once they’re a little bigger and we see what the genders are. 


Many of these tanks are in my office; this is my newest setup and I still haven’t decided what to put in it. I picked up this 5g used for $20 and used Marimo moss for most of the plants so far. 

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  • 2 weeks later...


the 75 gallon is. Finally. Set. Up. 
Blood parrot, polar parrot, and one poor molly that’s technically big enough to help take some of the bullying off the baby polar parrot. Don’t worry, it’ll soon go back to the 40 breeder where it reigns supreme. 

Hoping for the plants to grow in and planning to add more. No hard scape thus far. 



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So far so good but the convict parrot is 1/3-1/4th the size of the blood parrot. From what I’ve read it should not get as big. The blood parrot is making all sorts of hollows for itself and chases both the convict parrot and the molly, but can’t do anything or chase both at once. 

I am thinking angels and Yoyo loaches for combo fish. 

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I found this guy at the local petco and fell in love. Ended up moving the bumblebee gobies out of the 5g for no reason other than I wanted to stare at this pretty guy while working instead (and hoped he might be a little more interactive).

He's flouncy, angry, and gorgeous. I certainly don't remember the bettas in fish stores looking like this when I was a kid.IMG_1744.jpg.c802da9b263e4f85ab60c40ea8f52342.jpg

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29 minutes ago, RovingGinger said:

 I certainly don't remember the bettas in fish stores looking like this when I was a kid.

Me either!

Back in my day 20 years ago this would have been competitive for best in show at the IBC (International Betta Congress) convention.

I wonder what a show winning betta looks like now?

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This week I got the N class Endlers set up in one of the retro 30 gallons. Kept the bare slate bottom and added a lot of guppy grass and chunk of mopani wood from another tank. 38423D4C-E603-4162-891D-440A9B070CB5.jpeg.90de10265fee730f81d84cc8d0c4ec9f.jpegB1CCB289-85DC-49A6-865E-7F94AF2CC621.jpeg.a6b25236d2fdc59ef09b9214730b12d5.jpeg

This tank below has grown into one of my favorites. It’s overgrown and fully of hair algae too, but I like the variety of plants and the hidden fish. I have sparkling gouramis and baby kribensis in there (think I got the last baby guppy out today). The kribensis will go to different tanks as they put size on, but I think this is now home for the sparklers. 

in another achievement I finally moved all the Yoyo loaches into the 75 with the blood parrot, convict parrot, and angelfish. Lesson learned - never put a loach in a planted tank other than its end destination. 

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4 minutes ago, akconklin said:

@RovingGinger the tanks look great! Those retro ones were such a great find. It will be fun to see what you do in each of them. 

I've never had yoyo loaches,  but I know my pygmy chains are pretty fast too!

They are one of my unexpected faves, and my sister’s favorite of the fish I keep. 

They sleep like dead things though. Makes for a fun guessing game... 

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50 minutes ago, Daniel said:

The Funky tanks look like an apartment complex.

Any second thoughts on pulling the trigger and adding even more tanks to your fishroom?

No, but I have to train myself to stop keeping an eye out for used tanks. I’ve kinda figured out what I like (for now) am trying to consolidate species a bit. And barring that basement fish room becoming a reality I’m out of space 😂7587ACFC-9B62-438B-963F-5F1393FAEF42.jpeg.2faa34b642d64913530faae698e9c903.jpegD2F569C2-B907-40B5-A981-A47A9CE5698A.jpeg.5c770562cde26eef407e577f0b1d7704.jpeg

bonus shots of kitten + 40 breeder. His favorite. 

Edited by RovingGinger
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