My 20g Planted Journal (! 56k)

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Aquarium Advice Freak
Jan 22, 2008
About 6months ago I decided it was time to take my 20 gallon out of the plastic and into the planted realm. I decided I wanted to make the tank look a little more sophisticated and figured I could either purchase all new silk and plastic plants, or spend the money on live plants, something I'd always wanted to try. I was also having trouble with water quality (WQ) and was losing fish due to a worn out bubbler that was no longer passing enoguh water through the small filter. So it was time to upgrade the whole system. Here is a photo journey from the start until now, and I will try to update regularly from here on out (this 20 gallon journal took a backseat to my 5 gallon tank which i started from scratch)...I hope you enjoy, and thanks for looking! Also...any suggestions are welcome!

Tank Specs:
20 gallon High tank
Regular aquarium gravel substrate
Marineland Penguin 100 Bio-Wheel HOB filter
18" 15watt fluorescent bulb

Purple Cabomba
Anubias (on driftwood)
Small red Crypt
Large green crypt
A little bit of anachris that I might pull so I can dose with excel

3 female Bettas
3 platys
3 zebra danios
3 glolight tetras
3 neon tetras
3 guppies
1 blue dwarf gourami
1 clown pleco

My 20 gallon before "renovations" began:


After preliminary renovations:


And moving into more renovations as the new filter began doing it's job and my WQ and tank had restabilized...



And some of the inhabitants of my 20gallon:

Lady Bettas (2 of the 3):


The 1 baby guppy survivor (he figured out how to hide out from the other fish and get enough food to grow!):

and my Gourami:

Of course there's more, but these are the ones who have "sat still" long enough for me to get half-decent shots of them!
Heehee thanks! Yeah, i think he's beautiful!

the otos are doing great, but no, i never found the 3rd one....never found a floater, haven't seen him swimming around, and the other 2 are always together. I'll update more in my Oto thread :)
Just wanted to post some updated pictures of my 20g. I think it's growing in pretty well, I added some more Crypt spiralis (sp?) in the back and moved around some of the older spiralis toward the back and over a little. Let me know what you think, and enjoy!

My 20g without a flash using a couple different settings:


20g Update!
It's getting a bit jungle-y on the left side, but i think the Crypt Spiralis (sp?) is growing in nicely in the middle (it's only been ~3weeks)

Here's a couple very similar pictures, I was wondering which lighting you think looks best in the pictures? (it's just different settings on the camera).

Let me know what you think about the tank and the camera settings or anything else!!!
thanks, and enjoy!



My guess is that the second picture is closest to what you naturally see with the eye. But there's a crispness to the 3rd and less yellow that I really like.
Wow...looking really beautiful. Newbie question: what kind of driftwood do you have in there? It's lovely and I'm looking to get some myself as well as going planted.
Looks malaysian to me.

I like the third pic the best, but like Neilanh, I think the first is the worst. It's not that it's bad, it's just that the latter two are better, with the third being the best IMO.

Karackle, I love your tank and think it looks soooo much better than before. Your stocking is similar to mine as well, I love that pic of the gourami. You can tell by its vibrant colors that it is happy and healthy, good job!

One suggestion, and this is JMO, but I think your gravel is stealing the show. My eye wants to focus on the plants and wander but it keeps being drawn to the gravel. JMO.
wow so many great responses, thank you!!!

Neilanh - I agree with you, i think the 3rd looks the best, i agree it looks crisp and clean, but you are also right in that the 2nd picture looks much closer to what you see by eye.

Sahabo - Thank you! And (Zagz pitt420dude were on the money) it's Malaysian Driftwood.

Zagz - Thank you so much! I really appreciate that :)

pitt420dude - Thank you so much for the kind words, the tank certainly has come a long way! i'm so glad i can share it! I know, the gravel isn't the best. I was hoping when i doubled the volume by adding as much black as there was blue and purple it would look more black, but alas, it wasn't so. I worked with what i had though so i'll take it for now. perhaps looks for a really low light carpet plant to cover up some of the colored gravel. Or wait until i want to tear down the entire thing and re-scape it, and change the substrate then. Thanks for the input though! :) And thanks for the kind words about the gourami, sadly, i recently had some intestinal parasites in my system and the gourami and my young guppy were the only two that didn't make it :( He was very happy and healthy until then, and even got along with my Bettas! Sigh...not sure what, if anything, to get to replace him, I wonder if I got really like and get a docile gourami, or whether another would work. We shall see.

Again, thanks everyone for the encouraging and helpful info!!! :-D
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Love the tank, it looks so big!! I'm toying with the idea of a carpet too.

I have a friend who had similar stocking (female bettas with a gourami; she recently lost the bettas, not sure why). Her gourami was afraid of the bettas from what she said though. Sometime eventually, I want to set up a 10 community tank of female bettas. Or maybe I'll do a male betta with less colorful schooling fish. Too many fish to choose from and not enough time :(.
Thanks! I really appreciate that! :-D Yeah...i'm thinking about the carpet...i'm going to my LFS tomorrow to see what's out there for plant and lighting options. We'll see. :)

Your ideas for a 10g sounds cool! In my opinion, I'd go with a couple females if you can find brightly colored ones, they have quite a bit of personality :) A nice male betta with some friends is a good idea though too of course, but females tend to do better with commuity fish....less fins to get nipped at :p
I was away for 3 days last weekend and my roommate accidentally left my fish tank lights on the whole time and unfortunately there was a lot of plant die-off in my 5g, BUT my 20g apparently had enough nutrients to sustain the extra growth from the added light and they grew like crazy! My crypt spiralis (or balansae) was pearling like mad when I got home. My large anubias (i realized it's probably an anubias and not a large crypt wendtii) in the front grew a whole large new leaf in the past week!

Here's a couple new pics of the tank:


Would it look better if I pulled out the purple cabomba and moved the large anubias to the corner where the cabomba is now?
Here's a close-up of that corner:


And I finally got a clear and decent picture of the blue female betta:


Any input, feedback, questions, comments, or concerns would be great!
Wow, that surprises me about the 20. Plants need a rest period too, surprising they're doing so well after going without it for a while.

I can't ID what you think is an anubias for sure, but I believe it to be some type of crypt. If you can get a closer photo of the one in the back we can id that one too, but from here it looks like balansae to me too.

The tall stems you have front/left IMO should be kept trimmed low or moved to the back. It's blocking the view of a large portion of your tank. Overall the tank will appear much larger if you free up that space by moving that plant to the back. I have that same plant in my tank, and for the life of me right now it's name escapes me.
That looks like Limnophila sessiliflora to me in that corner, rather than a Cabomba. Fact that its growing at all indicates its the Limnophila as well, as a Cabomba wouldn't tolerate the shade in that corner, while the Limnophila would survive it.

Neilanh - That's a good point, maybe i'll move the Wisteria to the back right corner, leave the anubias where it is (i thought it was a large crypt, but the leaves don't see the same as my other crypts, different shape, texture and they're sturdier), and maybe put the cabomba (if it is that) where the Wisteria is, since it is thinner it might not block as much of the tank? Perhaps i'll try that this afternoon as the tank is due for a water change :)

Dave - I looked up the Limnophila and Cabomba and based on the pictures, the leaves are really more the cabomba shape, but it's definitely possible it's not cabomba. It is not fairing as well in that shaded corner as it does in my 5g.

Thanks for the input! More is always welcome!
Well, despite the poor health and subsequent passing of my 3 platys, the 20g and it's inhabitants are doing wonderfully. So i think it is time to replace some of my fauna. The question is, who do i add? The current inhabitants are as follows: 3 female bettas, 3 zebra danios, 3 glo light tetras, 3 neon tetras, 1 femlare guppy, 1 clown Pleco. Previous inhabitants included a Dwarf Blue Gourami and the platys, as well as other guppies, male guppies tend not to do as well, i think they get picked on by the female bettas.

I was thinking of getting another female guppy to keep the one i have company (perhaps this isn't necessary?) And either a few more Neons and/or Glolights, OR a trio of cories? Though i hear they do better in larger numbers, but I'm not sure I have room for too many?

Any and all thoughts and input would be greatly appreciated! Other stocking ideas welcome as well!
I just caught up with this thread and the plant ID seems to be undetermined still? It looks like a crypt wendtii to me and not an anubias (anubias tend to have thick rhizomes and stems and very broad leaves).

Anywho, looks like you have things in order. If not neons, try cardinals! :)
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