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My Name is Toni and I am very pleased to have won Tank of the Month!  Growing up my stepmother kept a freshwater tank where she bred angle fish, pond snails and algae.  One of my favorite places to go was the LFS and wander the aisles looking at all the beautiful fish. 70’s were a tough time for fish in tanks.

It wasn’t until I had a home of my own in the early 80’s that I attempted my first aquarium. I had a 35g hexagon with an Oscar named Walter. Walter was about the size of a silver dollar when I got him. He had lovely plastic plants and a rock to arrange to his liking. I had an under gravel filter and thought I was pretty fly! Walter quickly grew to the size of a dessert plate. He destroyed everything in the tank and would actually float to the top of the tank and knock the top of the tank off! Glass cover , light fixture and all. Walter was re-homed to another family with a 125G tank. I tried fancy Orandas, Ryukins and a black moor. They languished and killed my desire for an aquarium for another decade.

In the mid 80’s that I got brave enough to set up another tank . My son was interested and we got a Beta in a 2g Plexiglas hex sitting on the kitchen table. No heater or filter, just a light and water changes. I think that fish lived forever. Now we hit the late 90’s. And my husband and I feeling very adventurous set up a 55g saltwater reef. Power heads and new “Bio wheel” along with chemical filtration, we thought we were the bomb! We did lots of reading, cycled our tank, aged our live rock and to our credit we never had a single causality. We had several corals (mid light) and few fish, and the usual salt water cleanup crew. Lenny the Blenny was our favorite.

We went on a 3 day holiday and the power went out. It tripped the surge protector and it didn’t come back on . We came home to a $3000 tank full of death. We gave it all away. We were heartbroken. It wasn’t until 2010 that my husband brought home a badly neglected Beta from his office that we had another fish . I set up a 3g plastic Marine-land bio wheel kit for the Beta and nursed him back to health, a small Anubis and java fern to make it pretty. But he only lived about 2 years. My husband and that fish had bonded. I set up a 10g glass and had some barbs along with my plants. Then it was 20g, and last spring my funky little bio wheel filter and light hood was finally on its last legs. It did the job but I wanted more than just a replacement.


Now I have the 29G running a Sun-sun 302 Canister Filter with Bio home media,  Modular Aqueon LED lights and a small Hydor circulation pump. While running the smaller tanks I had some bad luck with gravels severely impacting my ability to manage my water chemistry, so my tank uses 100% glass gravel.
That small Anubis and java fern has since blossomed into several large plants, I have split and split again.




neon’s, khuli loaches, beta, nerite snails, mystery snails
For some reason I have very happy snails and I have lots of snail babies. Maybe it’s the candle light and soft music I play? I am fortunate that the LFS take them in exchange for supplies I need for my tank(s).




I am now up to my 6th tank. I only had one in the spring, but I have been enjoying it so much I have expanded my hobby to include :
One outdoor grow out tank, 5g. It gets filtered light on a covered patio.
I have 2 8g Bi orbs, one for a beta and the other for pink mystery snails and plant grow out.  I have one 10g mystery snail hatchery with an HOB.



I just set up a 9g Bio cube, that is intendedaa_5 for my office.

It is seeded with old media and is now establishing the needed beneficial bacteria.
And my main tank; the 29g.

All of my tanks are definitely on the low tech side, mostly low light non demanding plants. All of them get a PWC every 1 to 2 weeks depending on the bio load. I do not dose anything other than to treat the tap water and make it safe.

In my main tank I use RO/DI water with Equilibrium added to re-mineralize. There is something in the local tap water that the Khuli loaches do not like.

I test my water when anything seems off. Fish acting odd, plants looking dull, snails not active…. Listen to your tank, it will tell you when something is off. I have not had any ammonia in my tanks since I can’t remember when. 0 Nitrites, and I try to keep my Nitrates under 40. If it jumps it usually indicates a plants or deceased snail needs to be found. I usually do a light vacuum when I do my water changes.


My biggest sin, I love to feed everybody. It’s the Italian in me, I love to watch the little fishes gobble down their food. So a few months ago I cut what I was feeding in half! I expected them to languish and make me feel terrible but honestly they haven’t skipped a beat . They get something different every night of the week.

Frozen blood-worms, brine shrimp, myssis shrimp, bottom feeder pellets, homemade snello, and some fresh veggies/blanched peas. I recently started a grindal worm culture, and they love these things. Sunday is veggie day. Even my betas eat their peas like good little boys.

Aside from suffering from MTS big-time at the moment I manage to hold down my full-time job, keep the house, paint and craft, and spoil my hubbie and pug terribly. There you have it, probably the least technical or informative write up you have read to date by a TOTM winner. But perhaps some shared experience we have in common as we continue to learn and grow in this amazing and beautiful hobby.





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