First thing to say is that this isn't about bettas. [IMG class=inlineimg]/images/Bettafish_2016/smilies/tango_face_smile_big.png[/IMG]
My 3 bettas currently live in 20litre, 57litre and 70 litre tanks (see links in my sig)
This Journal is about the new 200 litre that I set up in the last couple of months.
Let's see. The tank arrived in late Feb, I laid it out and cycled it (fishless) in March, with lots of planting, then went on hol for a week, and came back to start populating it in April. It is now mid/late April.
Well, a picture tells a 100 words, doesn't it?
The tank cabinet is an Aquaoak. I have been coveting this brand for about 15 years. Beautiful workmanship. Should last a lifetime. Or more.
The two pieces of wood I fell in love with
The plan was always to have no betta in this tank, and build a compatible, peaceful community, with plenty of healthy activity going on, and some nice planting. I love the plants in all my tanks.
This is the dreadful half way mark, with the light on (Fluval Aquasky) and no plants yet. The substrate is Tropica Soil, which is little smooth round pellets, and a complete provider for rooted plants. No need for top dressing. Once depleted, I will go on to plant food tabs.
I ladled every one of the 200 litres in using a 1 litre jug, in order to prevent the substrate from stirring up dust and silt. Very boring, but worth it.
The huge blue and grey filter standing on the box is a Oase 250 900litres and hour, with integral heater.
Yes, that means no heater cluttering up the tank, since it heats the water as it flows through the pump. Seems to work very well.
The pump lives inside the cabinet, is totally silent (which surprised me) and has a pre-filter sponge chamber that I can remove, rinse and clean, without having to take the top off the pump itself. So far, am delighted with it.
It took 2 weeks of soaking for the wood to sink. This slowed things down a lot, so I had the plants all sitting in the tank in their little plant pots, with a rock weighting the wood, until I could plant properly.
That was a bit frustrating! Especially when it turned out that the plants had brought in pond snails, and the wood decided to grow shipwreck algae like a furry coat.
But I eventually got it planted up, and moved my one and only assassin snail in, to start The Snail Elimination Hunt.
At this stage, the tank was fully cycled (I had soaked the filter media in a strong solution of old tank water and beneficial bacteria, and I honestly think the cycle was up and running in half a week - with me adding in ammonia to feed the colony until the fish arrived)
The small filter at top left is full of Seachem Phosguard, which was added as soon as I saw the diatom brown algae bloom starting. It stopped the bloom in its tracks I am pleased to say. I kept the phosguard in there for 2 weeks, then removed it.
The watersprite was destined to be surface cover, but I kept it in the plastic pot (against the right side wall) until it had started showing good growth, then snipped off the tops to float free, and moved the pot into Tagawa's tank. Hopefully without taking snails too.
And here is the tank 6 weeks after planting, and 3 weeks after the fish were added:
As you can see, there has been masses of plant growth. The watersprite needs weekly pruning.
The scrubby little crypts and dwarf sagattarius are spreading thickly.
I have lost two anubias to rot.
the two bigger anubias are flourishing.
Occupants (100% population for tank size, and with 250% filtration according to Aqadvisor):
5 honey gourami (seems to be one boy and 4 girls, which is perfect. He is very pleased with his harem)
25 green neons (these are wonderful. they shoal at times, and scatter at times, and are beautiful)
9 black neons (these have been moved from Tagawa's tank, and enjoy schooling with the greens)
11 cherry barbs (these were moved from Tagawa's tank too, and look a bit lost in this size tank)
9 kuhli loaches (these are the busiest, happiest, most excited kuhli loaches I have ever seen. Easily the most entertaining fish in the tank)
7 otocinclus (all doing well, but the rate they cleared the algae was astonishing. I started supplementing their diet almost immediately)
??? pond snails (haven't seen one in over a week)
1 assassin snail (I hope it is beating the kuhli loaches to some carnivorous food pellets on the bottom)
Food is a variety of:
Tropica micro pellets
Bug Bites, small and medium pellets
Hikari algae wafers (goodness, those gourami are greedy)
Repashy Bug Pie, Super Green (for the otos), Bottom Scratcher, and Soilent Green
Frozen or fresh bloodworms and daphnia
I was a bit worried that the green neons weren't eating enough, because the pellets were all too big for them.
But the Repashy has taken care of that. I hold a small piece of Repashy in my fingers, an inch under the water, and gently rub my fingers together to rub tiny pieces off the lump. The greens go wild for it, catching the micro pieces, which are pre-soaked out of the water, instead of having to peck dry bits off a sinking pellet.
I'm a total convert to Repashy.
A few closeups:
The dead leaves are small Catappa leaves (Indian Almond) which I scattered to provide the kuhli with some leaf litter.
The upright brown leaves are melting crypts, which are showing amazing fresh green growth from the base.
The fleet of otos, with their round little bellies next to one of the big Catappa leaves I have slotted around the back and sides of the tank.
I cannot believe how much growth the dwarf sag has put on. It is going to try and take over.
The gourami and kuhlis squabbling for algae flakes
Overall I feel I have learned a great deal from the algae trials and tribulations in Tagawa's tank, and the diatom bloom in Valentine's tank. And I am profoundly grateful for all the info on cycling here, and other sites. Also the hours I have spent watching youtube plant tutorials have been indispensable.
The Greenaqua site is superb, with all their aquascaping videos. I know that my tank looks NOTHING like any of there brilliant aquascapes, but I still learned a lot, and applied some of it. [IMG class=inlineimg]/images/Bettafish_2016/smilies/tango_face_grin.png[/IMG]
My goal was always to aim for something like a river bottom, with roots, dark mud, a few floating plants, and lots of cover for fish to display their natural behaviours. And I think I have made a good start, although there are some changes I can see needing to be made in the future...