View Full Version : 'The Un-Amazon' tetra haven

04-01-2009, 04:46 PM
Well, I got a little crazy and started a freshwater tank :surprise: I figured it will give me something to look at while I finalize plans for my saltwater tank(s), and I've been seeing a lot of really beautiful planted tanks lately.

I wanted to do something really low tech for this one, since the saltwater tanks will be pretty complex (the 6 gallon extremely so, with all the DIY lighting and such). I had some space by the window and little bit of extra cash, so I bought a 10 gallon kit from Walmart...
and proceeded to set it up with a heater I had lying around. Since Walmart also had a fair number of South American creatures swimming around in their tanks, I decided to use that as my theme.

To that end, the tank was filled with tap water which was allowed to sit for a day. I then added some washed sand, pebbles, and stones, and since I was planning this to be a planted tank, I seeded the sand with some clay and peat. The next day, I went and bought 10 neon tetras and 5 glowlight tetras, and a 'sword' plant from Walmart. Once I got them acclimated and placed them in the tank, I let them settle in for a day and then dosed the tank with peat...

The fish didn't seem to mind much. Actually, the cloudy water probably made them feel more secure... and the color that the water took on was what I wanted to achieve.

I realized after doing some research that the plant I had bought was not actually a 'sword' plant after all... or at least not an Echinodorus species as I had first thought. E. tenellus turned out to be a species of Cryptocoryne, C. parva to be specific. Anyways, I realized there was more than one plant in the pot so I split them up, and replanted them near the front of the tank where I will allow them to establish. I plan to start a S.E. Asia planted tank in the near future, so these will eventually move into that tank, but for now they provide welcome greenery until I can order some plants online.

For a more natural look, I added some cleaned dead sticks, dead leaves, etc... all the things a normal natural stream might have.

FTS: March 25

My tentative plant listing:
Echinodorus quadricostatus (mid ground)
E. osiris (specimen plant)
Mayaca fluviatilis (stem plant, background)
Heteranthera zosterfolia (stem plant, background)
Egeria najas (stem plant, background)
Ceratophyllum submersum (floating)
Azolla spp. (floating)
Salvinia minima or rotundifolia (floating)

All of these plants are found in S. America, so they fit my theme. I added an Otocinclus and a Corydoras a couple days ago, and have built a 'floating' vegetation mat over half the water's surface. Yesterday I added some live roots and a little more vegetation (what was left of the plants that I used to create the mat)... I don't have pics of that yet, I'm going to wait and see how it looks in a week or two. I may have to pull the roots if they start to look bad.

Some random pics... the fish are looking great! Must be the distilled water that makes up their environment, I switched it over gradually over the past 2 weeks since I set up the tank.

Big Bertha, a gravid female and the biggest of the neons...

FTS: March 30

Thanks for looking! More to come as the tank fills in or things change.

04-01-2009, 10:44 PM
Looks good. Are you just using natural sunlight?

04-01-2009, 10:48 PM
Yup, no artificial anything in this tank.

EDIT: Hmm, I'll bet you're thinking about the sun heating the tank... I'm home during the day and have observed around a 2.5 degree Celsius rise in the temperature over an 8 hour photoperiod (currently, this will change as summer comes closer), with around 6 hours of direct sun. I will need to get something in place to deal with this... so I'm building my own mini-chiller. Should be much cheaper than those Coolworks setups, though I could just save some cash up and add one of those to the HOB filter. I'll document the build when I do it for the benefit of others.

05-07-2009, 10:12 PM
Quick update:

Added some driftwood, changed out the filter for a 150 gph power filter, added some sphagnum moss and dead leaves, 3 more otocinclus, another peppered cory, and 4 black neons. Downgraded the heater to a 50 watt, and tinted the back of the tank with a 35% heat reflective window film.

FTS May 4, 2009:

I'll add some detail shots later.

05-07-2009, 11:06 PM
looks great....such a neat idea too. I'll be following this one along

05-07-2009, 11:28 PM
That is a great looking "natural" tank. will follow along with this. :biggrin:

05-07-2009, 11:41 PM
Neat! :cool:

05-08-2009, 12:01 AM
Still have a soft spot for neons! Tank is a cool concept!

05-08-2009, 02:57 AM
Yeah, it turned out okay... I realized after I had done it that I have sort of a riparium thing going on, with the emersed growth and roots hanging in the water. Not as nice as some I've seen on the internet, but an interesting idea nonetheless. Originally I did it as a way to give the tetras some sort of cover, to make them feel more comfortable. They do seem happy, but I won't know how happy until I get my test kits and test the parameters. I do a 20% or so water change every couple days (never more than 5) with distilled water, so I expect the water to be pretty good. I top off with distilled and aged tap water, so the water should have some hardness (but not much).

I promised some detail pics...

I love this pic of the 4 black neons... they move away from the larger shoal of neons and glowlights by themselves occasionally, but most of the time they stick with the crowd. Never far from each other though, even within the school. This pic turned out a little different than the others... the auto white balance on the camera kicked in.

Auto white balance on this one too... but it shows the texture of the debris on the bottom of my tank, and the contrast with the fish.

And a couple more.

Thanks for looking, and your kind comments.

05-08-2009, 03:01 AM
Makes me want another freshwater tank.

05-08-2009, 03:06 AM
I wasn't sure if I should be bothering with FW again, but I love tetras and couldn't resist. I'm glad I did :biggrin:

05-09-2009, 05:47 PM

05-12-2009, 10:10 PM
Building a plant and tank stand this week, so these guys will be moving into a fancy rimless 20 gallon.

05-14-2009, 05:03 AM
I feel like taking the trim off my 5.5G tank. It looks better rimless.

06-04-2009, 09:56 PM
Any updates on solar amazonia

06-05-2009, 05:52 AM
Oh yes, I should update this. A couple days ago, the tank temperature reached 28 C. I lost 2 neons, and 2 Otos. I have decided to ditch the sunlit idea for the summer, and the tetras, otos, and corys have moved into a semi-temporary home in a 15 gallon tank. I really like the new aquascaping, but I need to look at getting a dark bottom for these guys... their colors have washed out since losing the cover of the emerged growth.

FWIW, since I like the new aquascaping I may just keep the setup the way it is. I'll snap a few pics tomorrow to show how it looks. The 15 gallon has some scratches in it since it is one of my old tanks (and it also still has the trim), but it looks good anyhow and the fish seem to be enjoying the extra swimming space. There is some driftwood in there now that I may remove, we'll see how it looks in the morning.

06-08-2009, 03:53 AM
So, I had some ammonia issues with this tank after the changeover... just enough ammonia to slightly tint the test, around .25 ppm. A 25% water change was performed that day (2 days ago), reducing the ammonia to almost negligible. No fish losses, the glowlights have gotten their color back (though not fully, I suspect they feel a little exposed in the open aquascape), everyone looks happy now. The tank is clear today, so I thought I'd snap a few photos.



I now am in need of some plants. I wonder what I can grow with only indirect light? Though the tank is probably as well lit on a bright day as the saltwater tank (with 2 x 18 watt T8s), with reflected light (and sky light). I think I will probably attempt a large stand of stem plants in the mound of sand to the front left of the rock, and a low rosette center stage.

I should have bought some plants while I was in Prince Albert. Anyone in Saskatchewan or Manitoba want to send me some plants on the bus? :lol:

EDIT: Before anyone says anything, no the tank is not level. :biggrin:

06-08-2009, 06:27 AM
Java fern will grow in almost any light, is hard to kill and will root to your rock if you tie it temporarily with dental floss.

06-08-2009, 06:31 AM
I've considered that but I refuse to buy single leaves in a store, to wait for plants to grow. I hated doing that years ago and won't do it now.

I am, however, considering planting a 'moss garden', since I don't want to add lights. We'll see, the tank has to stabilize somewhat before I do anything further to the poor fish. The move was somewhat traumatic for them, with the ammonia and all. I'll never again move a sandbed without rinsing the sand well first... that was my mistake, I'm sure.

06-08-2009, 06:42 AM
single leaves? the java fern I've ever purchased was in whole plant form, usually for around 6-10$ for a good sized clump but if you know anyone with any in their tanks they are usually MORE than willing to give big clumps away. In my 55g tank I throw out a 5g bucket worth of plant clippings every couple of months, much of it is javafern and java moss.
This little runner shouldn't cost more than 5$ or so at a pet store

06-08-2009, 07:17 AM
I was at Petland (around 4 hours away, closest place to buy fish and stuff though I wouldn't call it a LFS) last week, where I got my salt, rock, and sand (the salt and sand were overpriced, and the live rock is nice but devoid of life). All they had was clumps of single leaves, wrapped on the stem end with rockwool, and held with plant weights. I've seen similar at Walmart.

I have to commend Petland for having a decent array of plants to choose from, I just wasn't sure what was happening with the saltwater stuff when I got home, so I wasn't sure what (if anything) was happening with the tetras. Didn't want to have plants with no permanent home.

Also, I don't know anyone with tanks in town. Well, one guy. But he just has oscars.

06-08-2009, 07:25 AM
Oh that's a shame :( I wonder why they'd sell it like that? If you were closer I'd give you some!

06-08-2009, 07:35 AM
:lol: Thanks Keri! They likely sell it like that because it's cheaper to produce... they just grow the plants on wood, harvesting leaves occasionally (which grow back).