March 2014 TOTM Award : Autumsky’s 72g Bowfront

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Visiting my grandparent’s farm, in the almond growing Central Valley of California, I discovered a water trough in a sheep pasture, brimming with intriguing little jewels.  I was told they ate bugs and kept the water clean.  There were intricate patterns of red and orange, purple and pink, silver and blue, yellow, green and black.  They, I imagine now, were Endlers or just pretty Guppies, with ribbons of color fluttering in the sparkling clear irrigation water.

Scoop, catch and experience.  What began with a fun childhood adventure, many years ago, continues in a big way today.  Scoop, catch and experience!  It is more fun than ever now!

Although I wasn’t able to take the jar of fish from the farm home 500 miles in the car, (a white farm kitten made the trip instead), I ended up with a couple tanks through my youth, and adopted a Blue Oranda in my senior year of High School.

Time went by but the call of the water beckoned.   After awhile I started back with tanks again about in 1997.   A 29G, a Betta and a pond system tank consisting of things we found in the local pond and streams.   One was a tiny little 1” catfish, maybe a Channel cat, my daughter found in a grocery center ditch and collected in a discarded fast food cup.   Its name was Cattie.

I had so much fun, and fell in love all over again!  I thought I knew so much about the care of the fish which depended on me.  During those years, there were up to 25 Bettas (not all at once) in very large vases, 1.5G to 3G bowls with plants for filtration, pwc, and Ammolock.  They were my favorite house plants.

There was much trial and error.  For example, don’t put your Betta bowl on a table right above the A/C vent.  Took a break for a couple years, one of the Bettas lived 5 + years.

Started all over about 5 years ago with a 16G bowfront, some Bettas (and a little pond) and had a rapid succession of different tanks, when all I had really wanted was a 46G bowfront.  Aquarium Advice became an integral part of my fish keeping a couple years ago.  What I found out was that I had been told a lot of information which wasn’t true and didn’t work.  The planted tank opportunity began.  Jetajockey supplied my first real plants for my first planted tank nearly 2 years ago.

While shopping for a used 46G tank with a budget of $200, there was a half price reduction on a $400 72G tank.   A 72G opportunity was beyond expectations!

After a bit of discussion, the 72G Oceanic tank was mine. It came with a matched stand, and it had some sand but not enough so I purchased Eco-Complete and began creating this wild tank.   Already there was an awesome piece of driftwood soaking in my little pond, I had found an interesting twiggy piece, one piece came from a member from this wonderful community, and there is a Mopani DW too.  Several stones, Petrified Wood stones mostly and a smooth red stone.

This tank was a big stretch for me.  I had begun focusing much more attention on my love of invertebrates with nano and small tanks.

This set up is the 72G Oceanic tank, stock black back and Oceanic stand and a single 4’ long 32W T8 Flora sun bulb, yes a single bulb, I have been waiting for the right light fixture to come along.  With the Fluval FX-5 monster filter which came with the tank.   I have a stainless steel heater and one 5W Coralife Air Luft air pump on there with a 4” air stone and a thermometer.  For the light I try and do about 12 -14 hours divided with a Siesta (rest period) or around 6-8 hours at one time with a new bulb each year.  This tank has been up for a year.

The plants are lower light, all the medium and higher light plants couldn’t survive, though I tried.

Swords/Echinodorus – Amazon, Pygmy, and Kleiner Bar

Bolbitis Heudelotii African Water Fern, Staurogyne Repens

Anubias – Nana petite, Nana, Congensis (Afzelii),

Cryptocoryne- Retro Spirilis, Wendtii, Crispulata Balanase

Christmas Moss Vesicularia dubyana,   Cyperus helferi recent addition

Eel grass, Ludwigia Repens x l. Arcuata. Salvinia Minima, Duckweed


2 Bamboo Shrimp, 1 golden Clam (1 died that never scooted into the substrate)

2 Siamese Algae Eaters

1 Rainbow Shark, 1 Raphael Spotted Cat, 6 Albino Bushy Nose Pleco

6 Cardinals (need a few more), 3 Neon Tetra

11 Harlequin Tetras, 12 Glowlight Tetras

Blue Wag Rainbow Platy – Momma and 3 babies, 2 Black Skirts I longfin

4 Baby Angels – 2 silver/Golden & 2 Golden/Koi Mix – quarter size

1 Purple Spotted Gudgeon 6”, 1 male Pearl Gourami

Amano shrimp seem to have disappeared, will try a few more

Looking to add back in a few Reticulated Hillstrean Loach (Sewellia lineolata)

Planning on moving the Gudgeon (getting too big and maybe snacking on little things), Platy and Blackskirts.  Looking to have about 3 male Angel Fish in the tank.  Hoping my Koi Angels (in the breeding tank now) finally create babies and I can raise them for this tank.

The thing I dislike the most is changing the water in the 72G (have to use a step stool), and dealing with the FX-5 filter (always do something wrong and get water all over the floor), but I love the tank AND the filter.  Nano tanks are my favorite because pwc and maintenance take about 5 minutes and I can use a 1 gallon pitcher.  My favorite group at this time would be the invertebrates; they are amazing caretakers of the aquarium.  This is my favorite hobby and I love sharing with my friends here on AA.  Thank you for this honor and recognition.

Filed under TOTM.