So I wasn’t super happy with how my 4.12 gallon tank came out. Aesthetically the tank seemed off balance and missing something. Even worse, the plants and shrimp were not thriving the way those in my other tanks were. There wasn’t nearly as much new growth, and sections of the tank were accumulating detritus and causing plants to rot. Somehow this tank wasn’t healthy. Here’s a shot from before this rescape for perspective:
Here is a rundown of the main issues facing my tank, and how I fixed them:
1. Plants rotting, detritus buildup —> Increase water flow, trim/move plants, vacuum
- Stagnant water and areas of low flow within a tank can inhibit plant growth or cause decay in weakened plants.
- Plants reach the water surface can greatly impede water flow. Trimming plants to give a few inches of clearance can make a large difference to the tank circulation.
- Moving plants away from the tank walls and corners can reduce low flow zones and allow circulation around plant clusters. Decaying plant matter often collects in corners, and is far easier to monitor and vacuum if plainly visible.
- Vacuuming often as part of a small water change. After each mini vacuuming, pour the the fresh water into the tank such that it flushes out planted/low flow areas and stirs up detritus. Sometimes an immediate second vacuuming can be used as well. It is important not to remove too much water or disturb the substrate during this process, else the tank could endure a mini-cycle with spiking ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates.
2. Tank lacks balance, crowded, no focal point —> Return to simplicity, increase open space
- Simplify – reduce the different types of hardscape, plants, and substrate. I chose to remove the wood, leaving only rocks with similar coloring, texture, and cleavage. The tank feels much more spacious now, and the rocks form a clear focal point, contrasting the plants.
- Space – I trimmed down the plants and bunched them more tightly, away from the walls of the tank. This helped the water flow greatly, and it also melded the previous chaotic mess of plants into a condensed bush. Suddenly the plants were united into one element, offsetting the substrate and hardscape nicely. The open space above the plants makes the tank look far larger than it is.
Hopefully this helps! I’ll update again in a few weeks once the tank has stabilized again.