Hi! I'm no newbie to aquariums (or animal keeping in general) but I've never been very good at forums. I'm giving it a shot because I used to share my expertise in the rat and mouse fancy.. so I might as well try to offer up some here, as well. I wanted to gush about my tanks, too. I'm a big ol' fish nerd now.
So... I've had aquariums and fish since I was a kid, but I got the first real one of my own up and running about 3 years ago. It was a 20g Tall that housed a single male Betta and some live plants. Nothing special, really. I just had a thing for Bettas. After he passed on, I picked up a Pictus catfish and a Gold Angelfish I called Badger because I wanted to try something new. I didn't know at the time that Angels were supposed to be difficult. Anywho, my fiance got jealous and wanted something of her own, so we picked up a little 10g and 4 Neon tetra, 2 Guppies, and 2 TEENY TINY Siamese Algae Eaters.
Meanwhile, my Pictus had passed away because he had a difficult time at the LFS
when I first got him (He was jumper and one of his whiskers got caught in the net. He was just super stressed right away.) and I ended up getting a baby African Featherfin Catfish simply because he caught my eye. I called him Spoofy. I didn't know how bug and intimidating my little Spoof would get eventually.
My boys were getting huge in the 20g and when Badger was around 6 inches tall I upsized. A lot. I got a 75g from PetSmart for Black Friday and set it up. I didn't let it cycle or anything. I just filled it, put some Prime in, put my filters in for a couple hours and then dumped my Angel and the Featherfin in. The troopers somehow lived! Whew!
We moved the 10g contents to the old 20g Tall and moved it into our bedroom. After that had balanced out, I got a nice UV
light and my fiancé started getting plants and more Neons. One guppy died after a year or so, but the other lives on! The SAEs got up to about 6 inches before we moved them over to the 75g and then we got her a few Corys. I've never seen a tank grow plants like our 20g before. Every couple weeks, it's absolutely overgrown. We just move the overgrowth to the 75g for the fish to munch on in there. So now the 20g just grows plants and houses a school of 14 Neon Tetra, 1 old Guppy, and a few different Corys that hang out despite their differences.
After the 75g balanced out, I got Angelfish fever. I've ended up with 5 in total. The first Gold male I had, Badger, is still around and he has a weird habit for an Angel.. He's paired off with 2 girls. He regularly alternates having clutches with the Marbled girl, Sid, and the Silver girl, Rhett. Then we have the normal pair of my HUGE Silver Veiltail boy, Arin, and his girlfriend, Vicious, a Smoky. The tank is wide enough where they have their territories when they have clutches and no one gets into fights, and then the bottom feeders take out the clutches before they get too far. I got some 8 Black Neons (Suzy, collectively) to brighten things up and 3 Dojo Loaches (The boy is called Noodle and the girls are Spaghetti and Linguini) for personality.
Around Christmas last year, I saw a little Eel in the LFS
and fell in love.. Turns out it was a Macrognathus Aral (not really a little Eel. Oops). Apparently, they're super shy and can die just because they're too scared to eat so you should get them FIRST... I was so scared! But, she only took a week or two to settle in and then as soon as she started eating from me, she became a little piggy!! Honestly, one of my favourite fish. So much personality in my little noodle nose! Her Majesty, as we call her, has grown to about a foot now and begs for worms from me every couple of days. She and her buddy, Spoofy, chill together under the logs in the tank until they get hungry and then I'll drop in a worm and they race for it. Her Majesty always wins.
After the SAEs got too big for the 20g, we moved them to the 75g, but one passed from an ulcer recently. The other, Fluster, is still chilling in the 75g, hanging with the Dojos. She only gets annoyed when the get excited for a storm.
And lastly, just recently, I got a few Mollies to generate some more waste because my plants had stopped growing. It helped a LOT and the Mollies love the huge tank. They're all pretty chill except for the Silver Sailfin, who swears he can take on the huge Angel, Arin. He just acts all cool and then scrams as soon as Arin looks at him.
Over the years, I've learned a LOT about many different kinds of fish and if I don't know the answer right off the top of my head, I can certainly find it for you.
Lond story short, we have two tropical tanks. One is dedicated to tiny fish and the other is a big ol' semi-agressive tank. The 20g is a fun, pretty little tank for our bedroom. We love having it... ON THE OTHER HAND! The 75g is for someone experienced only.. It's a very fine balance and needs a lot of attention, as does any techincally 'overstocked' tank does, but through a lot of experience and reading, I found a way to make things work. I do contaminant checks on everything weekly, before the water change and everything comes out as it should. I have enough plants now that they eat up the nitrates before I even NEED to do a water change. I used to use classic filters, but found out that if I left the weird behind-the-tank ones you can buy from WalMart to gather algae, then they turn into an awesome bio-filter. I change two of the six pads out every 3 months or so, rotating down the line. I have a very specific set of fish now that can cohabitate and not muck up the water past the point of control. I've got a group of very different fish that have similar requirements and it makes all this madness come together into something cool. Through everything, though, I thing my favourite part of having the big tank is watching this lovely little river ecosystem in my living room just live its day-to-day and knowing:
"...Hey. I did that."