15 Gallon X-Tall – From September 2013

15 Gallon X-Tall Sept 2013

Looking back at these photos of my old 15 gallon setup, I wish I could go back in time. I love this initial setup, but wound up deciding that the large white rock was just too large for the tank. I tried to chisel off the back side of it to give the tank more space, but it tragically broke the rock into smaller pieces, none of which maintained the height I wanted for the rock centerpiece. Later a CO2 regulator malfunctioned and gassed the entire tank, killing all of the rasboras, ghost shrimp, and most of the Otos. The bacteria was killed, causing the tank to cycle again. Many of the plants died. The riccia fluitans tied down to the rocks took off, intermixing with the HC carpet to the point where I had to dig up the entire foreground to pull out the riccia. Basically, this tank went into a rapid downward spiral not too long after these photos. Maybe one day I’ll get back to such a beautiful state, but, for now, this tank is back to being a work in progress.

15 Gallon X-Tall Sept 2013

Tank – 15 Gallon High from Marineland

  • Same footprint as a 10 gallon, 20 x 10 x 18 [inches] – about 170 lbs when full
  • I had to get this specially ordered. Originally I wanted to build this tank into a bookshelf, viewed from both sides, with a very thin, jutting rock cliff and tall plants growing all around it, short plants and maybe a moss tree on the cliff. I couldn’t find a rock to act as the cliff, and I never setup the bookshelf, so this is what I went with instead.

Filter – TOM Aquarium Rapids Mini Canister hang-on-the-tank C-80, 80gph, available here

Heater – Tetra Submersible 100W heater, available here

Lighting – 24″ T5 Quad High Output Light Fixture with Timer 6500K, available here

  • Though tall tanks need higher lighting to reach the substrate with the same light levels as shorter tanks, this light fixture was overkill. I now run it with 1 or 2 of the 4 possible HO T5’s running. I’m still not sure if running 2 is too much for the tank, so I alternate days.

Substrate – CaribSea Eco-Complete in black

15 Tall 2

The tank used to home four female bettas, 5 Harlequin rasboras, 3 Otos, and between 4 and 10 ghost shrimp depending on how their breeding was going and how many I fed to my puffers. 15 Tall 3

Lace Leaf Java Fern and Wood – 2.11 Gallons – Update



Last time I posted on this tank, it was to show off the hardscape and discuss my initial inspiration/motivation. Here was the initial hardscape:

Hardscape and First Plants 4

I’m never a fan of initial tank setup photos. They always look disappointing compared to what they become. Here is the same tank after a second round of planting:

2nd Planting

And, finally, a third round of adding more lace leaf java ferns:

I’m excited to see the java continue to grow and intertwine amid the wood. I also plan to add some shrimp to this tank! Not sure what kind yet. I want to be sure it has settled and would be a good home for them first.

Here’s a rundown on this this tank’s specs as of these final photos:

Tank – Aquatop 4.12 Gallon Cube, Low-Iron High-Clarity Glass, available here

Filter – Azoo Mignon Filter 60, rated for up to 3.5 gallons, available here

Substrate – Fluval Shrimp Stratum, available here

Lighting – Mr. Aqua Ultrathin Aquarium LED Clip Light, available here

  • I’m not sure how I feel about this light yet. It sure is bright, and based on the Mr. Aqua reputation I expect it is a good light. Yet the color is very blue, and it is a bit too large for this tank. I’d probably like and appreciate it more on a different tank. I also tend to like warmer light. For some of the shots above, I moved my little Ikea desk light over to warm up the shots.

Heater – Aquatop Nano Aquarium Heater with Thermostat, NH-15W, available here

Plants – The only plants in here are lace leaf java fern and a floating moss ball I put behind the wood centerpiece. I added it since previously that moss had been floating in a cycled tank and growing well. It only floats because I placed a single cut-out bubble from a sheet of large bubble wrap within the moss using some string. There is also some regular java fern in there, but mostly to keep the tank looking more full for now. There are also some floating plants in there – frogbit an some other random ones from other tanks. They helped it cycle and keep the light from being too bright for the java fern below, which is a low-light plant for the most part.

Here is a shot of the tank that shows off how the equipment is setup. The filter is on the right side. The heater is behind the wood, such that the filter outflow and intake still interact with in front of and behind the wood.


This shot also really helps show off how cold looking the Mr. Aqua light is compared to the Ikea desk lamp. I’m not saying anything about the quality of the lights or ability to grow plants, just the aesthetics they create. I also really love how the main piece of wood juts out above the tank rim. This can be a very effect tool for making smaller tanks look even larger. Getting a decent light balance to really show off this aspect in standard tank shots is hard for me right now, but it would be worth it in the future.

Lastly, here is the tank on my aquarium shelf, next to my 4.12 gallon rimless cube and the 3 gallon bowl upgrade that my original 1 gallon Walstad received. I’ll probably do a post on the bowl Walstad tank once it has settled and I’m a bit happier with it.