11.33 Gallon – “Death Mountain” Update

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Here’s my “Death Mountain” tank, though the way I’ve been trimming the vallisneria spiralis (the tall green plant in the back left corner) and cutting all other plants low has made the similarity to the video game mountain less obvious.

Plants are starting to grow in well, and my red cherry shrimp began breeding almost immediately after being added. I’ve still got the Boraras brigittae swimming around in the back of many of the full tank shots. They were doing quite well, being very friendly and adventurous, until a recent water change that disrupted the substrate. I’m planning on setting up a more stable habitat for them, with lower lighting and more leafy plants to hide in, quite soon. I’m also tempted to add in a gas CO2 system to improve growth, because my impatience is starting to get the best of me!

These are the newest inhabitants of this tank. I ordered 30 red cherry shrimp. They were rather cheap, as many were culls from a shrimp breeder. Included with the shrimp were also three fish I hadn’t expected. Two red wag platies and a female guppy, all still quite small and young, were thus added to the tank with the shrimp.

I am really enjoying watching the shrimp go about their daily activities! Their limbs are a blur of motion, constantly picking up little tidbits from around them. The males are rather pale and small compared to the bright red females. They group together in a huge colony when feasting on added food.

I’ll update again once the tank has progressed further!

3.8 Gallon Walstad Bowl

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I wanted to try my hand at a completely low-maintenance tank, and this was the result. It’s gone through many phases, but it currently sits as a dark, tannin rich environment with crypts, cabomba, and floating plants. It once had far more plants, but over time I began transplanting these into other tanks that needed more cover. It also once had a far brighter light, but that, too, was given to another, more demanding tank.

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During a planaria culture – easy, free, live fish food!

One huge benefit of having a tank without any inhabitants beyond hardy plants is that I can play with the tank as I wish. One of my favorite ways to use this tank is to intentionally grow planaria for food. Many smaller fish and picky eaters will eat planaria – but having planaria in your tank is usually a sign of excess, uneaten food and poor water quality. Thus, I can add food to this fishless bowl, let the planaria grow, and siphon them out to use as food.

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This tank is far different from most of my tanks, as it has no filter, no heater, and no living creatures I intentionally added. Yet it is also one of my most unique environments. I really love the dark, tannin rich water, creating beautiful silhouettes out of the cabomba and wood in the tank.

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Right now I only ever really bother to top off this tank with conditioned water. Perhaps I’ll go ahead and do an actual water change on it in the future to lighten the water color or prepare it for more plants or even some snails or inverts. But for now, I’m enjoying the evolution of this dark and still world amid the other brightly lit tanks with constant water current.

First Bringing Home Jake, the Green Spotted Puffer

I was enamored by Green Spot Puffers (GSPs) the first time I saw them at the aquarium store. I was so excited and curious that I took a photo of their name listing on the display tank so I wouldn’t forget.


I began doing lots of research on tetraodon nigroviridis in preparation for one day having my own. The initial dismay of being limited to a species only tank of at least 30 gallons passed, and I began excitedly preparing their future tank. Once the tank cycled, I checked with the store to match the temperature, pH, and specific gravity of the store’s GSP tank with my own. Finally, everything was ready to go! Here are the photos I took of Jake on the way home from the store that first day.

It took many months of trial and error to get Jake healthy and happy in his new home. He continues to grow and become more confident. Maintaining a GSP tank also continues to give me new challenges and insights as Jake grows and changes.

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