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Critique my aquascape Constructive critique on my first tank

FrozenShivers

Member
Joined
1 Apr 2022
Messages
26
Location
Dunfermline
Hello all,

Just started setting up my first ever aquarium yesterday. Kit is as follows:

  • 40x25x25 (25l)
  • Seachem Tidal 35 Filter
  • Aquael Leddy Planted LED
  • Unpack Limpopo sand
  • Elodea Densa plant
  • TNC Complete
  • Root tabs

I am going to add a black background to the tank, do you think I should move the filter to the back instead of the side where it is now? Should I dose TNC per week as stated on bottle or would I be better dosing 1-2ml per day and doing daily water changes? (I'm on holiday from work and it's a small tank so I'm happy to do this if it helps the cycle). Am I ok to leave the small leaves that have fallen off on the bottom of the tank or should I be removing them? I've planted some in the substrate and left some to float, figured I'd try both methods.. My understanding is that all the bubbles in the substrate and on the glass are normal and should clear in a week or so? I'm looking to add some more plants as I only bought one little pot, should I just buy one of the pre-selected 'beginner packs' for a discounted price or pick 2-3 plants myself? My aqua scape won't win any awards but it's my first attempt and I only have 3 rocks currently (didn't realise stones and sticks were so expensive!) if there's any tweaks I can make to my setup to make it look or cycle better please let me know, sorry for all the daft beginner questions, any advice is much appreciated :)

Here are my results with API Master Kit on first day:
PH - 6.8
Ammonia - 0.25 ppm
Nitrite - 0 ppm
Nitrate - 5 ppm

IMG_5671.jpg
 
Last edited:

seedoubleyou

Member
Joined
29 Mar 2022
Messages
390
Location
Windsor
Hey welcome to the hobby. Small tanks are great but changes happen fast, so it’s always good to do things slowly.

Cycling is a big area, with a few methods all that work and some have better success with certain methods that others.

I’ve always done instant bacteria and fish straight away, with no ill effects.

As for the tank, the filter is perfectly fine where it is.
I’d definitely recommend more plants if you’re able too. The tall stem plant you currently have is best being planted right at the back of the with smaller plants towards the front.
This has two benefits, one you can see the plants, and secondly it creates depth.

Talking of depth, your substrate need only be about 1-1.5 inches at the front and then sloped towards the back, this again create depth but also gives stem plants something to really root into.

Rockwork. You can always add more rock if you want or even a nice piece of wood to add another texture to the tank and real sense of nature.

The fallen leaves are usually best siphoning out where possible as they release ammonia when breaking down. Not a bad thing when your cycling a tank I suppose. But it’s good to start best practices from the off.

There’s a wealth of knowledge on this forum, you can go as deep with it as you like. I personally like to keep things simple, even when running a high tech tank.

Good luck,
Chris.
 

seedoubleyou

Member
Joined
29 Mar 2022
Messages
390
Location
Windsor
A side note. I’m not sure what the light is, it looks a little powerful for the tanks as it currently sits, I’d lower it if you can. Either with the addition of a cheap light controller or try black tape over some of the LEDs to blank them out.

Battling algae in a new tank is a hobbyist killer.
 

FrozenShivers

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Thread starter
Joined
1 Apr 2022
Messages
26
Location
Dunfermline
Hey welcome to the hobby. Small tanks are great but changes happen fast, so it’s always good to do things slowly.

Cycling is a big area, with a few methods all that work and some have better success with certain methods that others.

I’ve always done instant bacteria and fish straight away, with no ill effects.

As for the tank, the filter is perfectly fine where it is.
I’d definitely recommend more plants if you’re able too. The tall stem plant you currently have is best being planted right at the back of the with smaller plants towards the front.
This has two benefits, one you can see the plants, and secondly it creates depth.

Talking of depth, your substrate need only be about 1-1.5 inches at the front and then sloped towards the back, this again create depth but also gives stem plants something to really root into.

Rockwork. You can always add more rock if you want or even a nice piece of wood to add another texture to the tank and real sense of nature.

The fallen leaves are usually best siphoning out where possible as they release ammonia when breaking down. Not a bad thing when your cycling a tank I suppose. But it’s good to start best practices from the off.

There’s a wealth of knowledge on this forum, you can go as deep with it as you like. I personally like to keep things simple, even when running a high tech tank.

Good luck,
Chris.

Thanks a lot for the post Chris, really helpful. I'll try and get the substrate height a little better to create depth and I'll move the plants to the back and order a couple new plants. I think it might just be the photo that makes the light look really bright, it's a 7w LED with no dimming function sadly.
 

seedoubleyou

Member
Joined
29 Mar 2022
Messages
390
Location
Windsor
Spend some time in the journals section and see what others have done with a similar size tank.

Aquarium garden do good bundles and you can specify at checkout that you’re not running CO2, they’ll pick easy plants that suit.

Not sure what you’re plan is on fish, I personally wouldn’t stock anything other than a Betta fish in this tank. Other May disagree but I don’t like to limit a fish on space and your footprint is relatively small.
 

FrozenShivers

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Thread starter
Joined
1 Apr 2022
Messages
26
Location
Dunfermline
Spend some time in the journals section and see what others have done with a similar size tank.

Aquarium garden do good bundles and you can specify at checkout that you’re not running CO2, they’ll pick easy plants that suit.

Not sure what you’re plan is on fish, I personally wouldn’t stock anything other than a Betta fish in this tank. Other May disagree but I don’t like to limit a fish on space and your footprint is relatively small.

That's where I was already looking so that's good to hear. I had planned to have either a Betta or some shrimp in this tank, I actually got a bit excited and also have a second tank ordered that's larger, it's 60x45x35 (94.5l) so will have slightly more options for stocking once that's setup.
 
Joined
12 Mar 2022
Messages
164
Location
England
Hi there,
Welcome to you & your first tank!
As others have said about reading threads etc but not too much at once! 😵
Regarding your plants, yes more definitely, you can't have too many. Stem plants such as limnophila sessiliflora are very useful. When they reach the surface you can cut the tops off & replant them to increase the plant mass.
To tone down the light I'd add some floaters such as Amazonian frogbit or I use salvinia because frogbit wasn't available.
Don't worry about adding fish yet, just get the plants growing first then the tank will become a stable environment.
I haven't used TNC ferts but there are plenty of people here who do & can advise on dosing.
Enjoy!
 

FrozenShivers

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Thread starter
Joined
1 Apr 2022
Messages
26
Location
Dunfermline
Hi there,
Welcome to you & your first tank!
As others have said about reading threads etc but not too much at once! 😵
Regarding your plants, yes more definitely, you can't have too many. Stem plants such as limnophila sessiliflora are very useful. When they reach the surface you can cut the tops off & replant them to increase the plant mass.
To tone down the light I'd add some floaters such as Amazonian frogbit or I use salvinia because frogbit wasn't available.
Don't worry about adding fish yet, just get the plants growing first then the tank will become a stable environment.
I haven't used TNC ferts but there are plenty of people here who do & can advise on dosing.
Enjoy!

Thank you! I have 5 more plants on order, hopefully be here on Wednesday. Not planning on adding fish for around 1month or so :)
 

PARAGUAY

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13 Nov 2013
Messages
2,677
Location
Lancashire
Try slightly putting the two large stones at a slight angle think it would look really good. Nice stones. Have you thought of sourcing you own wood. With all the winds there should be plenty on the ground what should be ok. Try a wood with Oak Birch Beech pretty sure you will find something. Agree with what's said increase plant mass with eg vallis hygro. Polysperma or similar what's suggested
 

FrozenShivers

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Thread starter
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1 Apr 2022
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Dunfermline
Siambetta do some lovely fish if you want a quality Betta, they have a site.

I'll check them out, I may end up using this tank for shrimp.
Try slightly putting the two large stones at a slight angle think it would look really good. Nice stones. Have you thought of sourcing you own wood. With all the winds there should be plenty on the ground what should be ok. Try a wood with Oak Birch Beech pretty sure you will find something. Agree with what's said increase plant mass with eg vallis hygro. Polysperma or similar what's suggested

That makes sense, I'll try doing that to my stones today :)....I have thought about it but got scared off as when I researched it, it seemed that getting the wrong wood could be catastrophic.
 

kayjo

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Joined
3 Nov 2021
Messages
79
Location
New England, US
I like the rocks. I would try not to put them in a straight line. Sometimes less is more. Don't feel you need to jamb it full of rocks and wood. Like FrozenShivers suggestes, play around with what you have. Sometimes a slight change can make a huge difference.

I would start cycling it now while your working on the scaping. What will you use for the ammonia source?
 

FrozenShivers

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Thread starter
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1 Apr 2022
Messages
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Location
Dunfermline
I like the rocks. I would try not to put them in a straight line. Sometimes less is more. Don't feel you need to jamb it full of rocks and wood. Like FrozenShivers suggests, play around with what you have. Sometimes a slight change can make a huge difference.

I would start cycling it now while your working on the scaping. What will you use for the ammonia source?

Thanks for the advice. Still need to add ammonia source, I don't have any fish food but I have prawns in the freezer (sadly they have herbs etc on them), was thinking of rinsing one off and putting it in?
 

swyftfeet

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29 Oct 2021
Messages
147
Location
WNY
if $$ is the issue, and you've got some fertilizer (just about any terrestrial) with urea or other ammonia in it, it will start the cycle. I wouldnt know how to do the calcs, I just squirted a bit of miracle grow like in mine like 50ml total spread over 5 days ( 2 tsp a day in a 30g) and it was off to the races. I also had jobes plant stakes in the substrate. and they have some ammoniacal nitrogen in them.

I'd recommend waiting a few weeks (4-5) after such a unscientific method to ensure your tank is stable.

My nitrites were off the charts for a while then boom gone. its in my journal if you want to see how the underfunded deal with these things.

There are better. more scientific ways... this, however, works if you dont want to waste money on bacteria that has questionable efficacy.

I filled my tank 20Jan and it was gtg around 12 feb, so about 3.5 weeks in my case.
 
Last edited:

aec34

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10 Oct 2020
Messages
412
Location
Gloucestershire
Hi @FrozenShivers I wouldn’t worry about ‘starting the cycle’ - I’ve never done this with my tanks. Just bung a load more plants in, leave the tank to run for a few weeks and enjoy watching them start to grow. If they don’t, ask for help! Floating plants are really useful for this.
I have this light running on a similar sized tank - if you get a bit of algae then try shortening the time it is on for.
In my experience you’re likely to get a period when things look a bit sad about 2-3 weeks in before they all perk up.

Oh, and shrimp are awesome. I only have small tanks and they are endlessly watchable. 🦐
 
Joined
12 Mar 2022
Messages
164
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England
What @aec34 said! More plants are the answer....and patience....nature will do her thing & the pounds you save on cycle starters or other fancy additives you can use on plants or stock. @swyftfeet's 3½ weeks or so to cycle sounds about right.
Using a dechlorinator/water conditioner is most important each time you water change, start now so it becomes second nature & you don't forget.
You can keep many more shrimp than fish in 25l so if you want to see action all the time they would be more interesting doing shrimpy things than a few tiny fish or you could go for a single betta.
 

FrozenShivers

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Thread starter
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1 Apr 2022
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Location
Dunfermline
if $$ is the issue, and you've got some fertilizer (just about any terrestrial) with urea or other ammonia in it, it will start the cycle. I wouldnt know how to do the calcs, I just squirted a bit of miracle grow like in mine like 50ml total spread over 5 days ( 2 tsp a day in a 30g) and it was off to the races. I also had jobes plant stakes in the substrate. and they have some ammoniacal nitrogen in them.

I'd recommend waiting a few weeks (4-5) after such a unscientific method to ensure your tank is stable.

My nitrites were off the charts for a while then boom gone. its in my journal if you want to see how the underfunded deal with these things.

There are better. more scientific ways... this, however, works if you dont want to waste money on bacteria that has questionable efficacy.

I filled my tank 20Jan and it was gtg around 12 feb, so about 3.5 weeks in my case.

Hi @FrozenShivers I wouldn’t worry about ‘starting the cycle’ - I’ve never done this with my tanks. Just bung a load more plants in, leave the tank to run for a few weeks and enjoy watching them start to grow. If they don’t, ask for help! Floating plants are really useful for this.
I have this light running on a similar sized tank - if you get a bit of algae then try shortening the time it is on for.
In my experience you’re likely to get a period when things look a bit sad about 2-3 weeks in before they all perk up.

Oh, and shrimp are awesome. I only have small tanks and they are endlessly watchable. 🦐

What @aec34 said! More plants are the answer....and patience....nature will do her thing & the pounds you save on cycle starters or other fancy additives you can use on plants or stock. @swyftfeet's 3½ weeks or so to cycle sounds about right.
Using a dechlorinator/water conditioner is most important each time you water change, start now so it becomes second nature & you don't forget.
You can keep many more shrimp than fish in 25l so if you want to see action all the time they would be more interesting doing shrimpy things than a few tiny fish or you could go for a single betta.

Thanks for all the replies guys really helpful! I have put my existing plants all on the top of the tank as floaters, still awaiting the arrival of my additional plants so not got much in there yet, I did put in 2 small bits of prawn in the meantime to help kick things off hopefully. I'm pretty sure I'm just going to put some shrimp in there so I'm glad to hear that they're an entertaining watch :)...I have been using Seachem Prime on all my water changes so far and wouldn't dream of putting my tap water straight into the tank, so hopefully I have started the habit already :)
 

FrozenShivers

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Dunfermline
Hi all, a wee update for you, my plants have arrived from Plantek Lab, washed the gel off with water out of the tank. I'm sure I have some plants that aren't suitable for my tank or will die but here's what I planted:

1xLimnophila hippuridoides
1xHygrophila polysperma
1xRotala rotundifolia
1xLudwigia arcuata
1xLobelia cardinalis

I also installed my Eheim Jaeger 25w heater and have it set to 20c, I have a syringe on order so I can accurately does TNC Complete and Seachem Prime. Question, I know I don't have any shrimps etc in yet, but now that I have a heater in, do I need to pre-heat the water prior to doing water changes? If so what's the best method? Take the heater out and submerse it in the bucket?
 

alnitak

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9 Feb 2022
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France - Essonne
Hello, as your heater is set at 20°C, so let's say room temperature, you can pour your changing water in a bucket, leave it at room temperature for several hours, and go. The difference with the tank is low, so don't worry about that.

In the future, with fish and shrimps, if you increase the temperature in the tank to let's say 23-24°C, the best could be to buy a cheap heater to pre-heat the water in a bucket :)
 
Joined
12 Mar 2022
Messages
164
Location
England
I have small tanks so use a bucket for water changes & I just boil the kettle for hot water to raise the temperature. Dip my fingers in the tank (electrics off of course!) then dip in the bucket to compare temp, I'm usually within a degree of the tank reading.
With our six cats I can't leave a bucket of water containing a heater unattended for more than 30 seconds unless I want a flood!!
 
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