Jared Andrews

Planted Tank II

Last Modified: May 01, 2024

This is a running log on a planted aquarium I started in October 2023, to see the most recent update click here.


I have been an on-and-off fish tank guy since high school. I was given a betta fish as a gift which I had for many years. In college I had a fish tank with a bunch of neon fish and some larger shrimp. Then I had a decade long fish tank drought upon moving to Boston and then traveling. Now settled in Worcester, tanks were a possibility again. I had been considering it for quite a while but not pulling the trigger. Then one day I found out my 94 year old Grandpa was going to visit family in the south for a month. He needed someone to watch his fish and I said "of course".

When I was younger my Grandparents lived out in the woods. Their house was positioned up the hill from a swamp and then a river. Across the street was a pond that the river connected to. In the back yard and in the swamp Grandpa had built a lot of stuff, like decorative outhouses for storage and an artificial pond. The artificial pond had many natural inhabitants but in the spring or summer my Grandpa would move 3 huge fish from inside tanks to the pond. Inside he usually had a few tanks going with different types of fish.

Grandpa's tank

Two fish

During the period I was watching his fish, he only had one tank and it was full of "guppies" and snails. In fact there was a snail population explosion happening. I had never had snails before and I found watching them to be surprisingly cool. When my Grandpa returned from the south I asked if I could have some snails and he said "of course".

I bought a 6 gallon cube tank and put the snails in there. I decided instead of getting fish I was going to start adding plants first. I had never grown live plants in an aquarium before but I had been seeing a lot of it on instagram and reddit and getting into the idea. I got really into the cube tank and have learned a lot from setting it up. I have had it for about 2 years now.

Cube tank 1 Cube tank 2 Cube tank 3 Cube tank 4 Cube tank 5

While I was getting into the planted tanks with my snail friends. My Grandpa continued keeping things going with his. He got the snail population under control, mostly by feeding them to birds. But then he had a "guppie" explosion to deal with. I keep putting guppies in quotes because that's what he told me they were. I'm not totally certain tho, I feel like some of them look a lot like mollies. It's possible there are two different type of fish. He ended out splitting the fish into two tanks and trying to get the gender ratio more correct. I think this was somewhat effective.

My Grandpa passed away in October 2023. He was a cool guy with a lot of fascinating skills and hobbies. He was a great guitar player and played in a lot of different bands when he was young, going all over the country. No recordings exist from that time but we did get him into the studio when he turned 80. You can listen to those tracks here.

Grandpa 1 Grandpa 2 Grandpa 3 Grandpa 4 Grandpa 5 Grandpa 6

October 12, 2023

The day after my Grandpa died, I went to his place and picked up his two fish tanks. I put them up on my fireplace mantle and cleaned them up. I knew pretty quickly I wanted to consolidate both tanks into one and I began planning.

The first thing on my mind was: is it actually okay to place a fish tank on top of a fire place? There is a lot of myopic discussion of this topic online regarding two possible issues: weight and heat level.

My fireplace mantle is 100% brick, I'm quite confident it could hold up much more weight than these two tanks.

Regarding heat, I did a couple fires with and without the fish tanks and attempted to measure any impact on the mantle with a infrared thermometer and a FLIR attachment for my phone. I concluded that the heat increase was negligable if there is any at all. I do not normally have huge fires in my fire place, usually it's 1 or 2 duraflames at a time, as decoration in the winter. If I am doing a big fire, it's because my furnace is broken or something like that. I did test a bigger fire and could not measure any concerning impact.

Original Tank Setup

January 10, 2024

It took a little while to find a new tank for the fish. I wanted it on the mantle and I wanted it to be as tall and wide as possible. Unfortunately the depth available on the mantle is quite limited. This 90B UNS Rimless Long Glass Tank was the biggest commercially available tank I could find. I did reach out to a few custom aquarium builders and even researched how to build a tank myself. In the end, I decided to keep it simple and made the order. I moved the old tanks into my office and started planning.

I may research tank building further and try my hand at it in the summer. I would definitely like this tank to be taller.

Tank Delivery Testing Placement

January 11, 2024

For my first planted tank, I didn't really plan things out. I processed a piece of wood from my backyard into "driftwood" and ordered a few random plants from the internet. This time I was going to try and buy as much stuff locally as possible, I really didn't want to be ordering and shipping rocks online.

With that in mind I sketched out some ideas for the tank. These are primarily abstract shapes as opposed to specific plants, rocks or driftwood. I took this approach so I could take these sketches to the store and buy stuff that fit into them, instead of the other way around. I learned a lot about aquascaping from /r/PlantedTank and /r/Aquaspace.

Sketch 1 Sketch 2 Sketch 3 Sketch 4 Sketch 5 Sketch 6 Sketch 7

January 14, 2024

At this point I was ready to really start building the tank out. My plan looked like this:

  1. Buy a new tank
  2. Buy hardscape, substrate, filter, heater and lighting
  3. Determine hardscape arrangement
  4. Quarter fill tank with water from one of the old tanks and marinate a used filter in it
  5. Buy plants locally
  6. Plant them and fill tank all the way
  7. Order additional plants online
  8. Cycle the tank
  9. Move Grandpa's fish into their new home

It was time for step 2. I went on over to Luckys Aquarium a local aquarium store I had never visted. Boy did I get uhhhh, lucky with this one. They had everything I needed and a great selection of freshwater plants for a future visit. I went home with a bunch of "Seryu Hill Stone", a great piece of spider wood, substrate and a new sponge filter.

Luckys 1 Luckys 2

January 15, 2024

I spent an incredible amount of time placing and moving the hardscape around. Once I felt good about it I added substrate. I used "CaribSea Eco-Complete" black soil in mesh bags to provide support with a beach sand as the top layer. I added and removed substrate numerous times. I am very lucky I did not crack the bottom of the tank moving those rocks around. It would have been wise to place a towel down while trying out arrangements prior to adding substrate.

Hardscape 1 Hardscape 2 Hardscape 3 Hardscape 4 Hardscape 5 Hardscape 6

I finally came to this design. I really liked the ideas it gave me when I looked at it. I could envision a little java moss forest between the rocks and the left side of the spiderwood, some sort of plant crawling up the wood and out of the water. I enjoyed the little crags and caves that emerged from the orientation of the rocks. I could see crypt plants wedged in them or baby fish hiding away.

I filled the tank up 25% with water from another tank. I dropped a used filter in it and stuck an airline in it to cause circulation. I also put the sponge of my new sponge filter into one of my grandpas tanks to soak.

Hardscape Final 1 Hardscape Final 2 Hardscape Final 3 Hardscape Final 4 Hardscape Final 5

January 30, 2024

I returned to Luckys and bought my first wave of plants:

All of these plants should be appropriate for the tank as they don't require c02. Furthermore, many of them can be stuck into between the rocks that make up the spiderwood's border.

I also transplanted some java moss from my other planted tank onto the left side of the spiderwood. I would like to see this grow taller into a sort of forest. I forced the java moss to stay down by tucking the ends of it under and around the base which the spider wood is attached to.

In the first image you can see the water I had "marinating" in the tank for 2 weeks. I didn't intentionally leave it that long, but I think it helped a lot. Especially in getting the sand a little bit water logged before the filling it completely.

I did my first water test with my API Freshwater Master Test Kit.

Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate
7.8 0 2 5

I know some would advise against this, but since I was going to be monitoring the tank so closely over the following days, I decided to add 4 fish of different sizes from my grandpas tanks.

Partially filled and planted tank Filled and planted tank Duckweed floating Canary fish

January 31, 2024

I placed a couple online orders for the remaining plants I wanted. At one point during the day I walked by the tank and noticed something odd, there were 5 dead fry on the sand. One of my fish had given birth! Looking closer at the tank I saw that there were fry swimming around everywhere! I counted around 12 new living fish in the tank. Something I was not really planning on. I did a 25% water change and used water from my other planted tank which has solid parameters.

Fry Fry Fry

February 1, 2024

Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate
7.8 0.25 2 80

All fish seem to be doing well. Nitrate rose a lot and ammonia and nitriate were rising. But I decided to wait and see. I am feeding the fish daily, more than they can eat.

February 2, 2024

Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate
7.8 0.5 2 80

Fish still doing well. Slightly concerned about the ammonia rising further. You can see in this picture that a good coating is developing around the sponge filter.

Tank on February 2

February 5, 2024

Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate
7.8 0 2 80

The ammonia has dropped to zero and all the fish seem good. I recieved some floating rings as the duckweed was already beginning to spread. I also added a pump of Aquarium Co-op Easy Green All-in-One Fertilizer. I have never used a liquid fertilizer in my other tank before, instead relying entirely on root tabs. For this tank I decided to give Easy Green a shot.

Tank on February 5

Feburary 7, 2024

I received both of my online orders and planted the final plants for this tank.

From Buce Plant:

From Aquarium Co-op:

Plants in both orders arrived quickly and looking healthy.

I asked /r/PlantedTank for suggestions on a plant that would grow up the spider wood, shout out to all the people who responded. I decided to go with Brazilian Pennywort as it seemed like the easiest to grow and most reliable.

Both carpet plants (Dwarf Hairgrass and Monte Carlo) would benefit from c02, I decided to give them a shot any way.

I was very happy with how the pennywort looked. I floated it on the inside of the spiderwood and wrapped pieces around on the various arms.

Fully planted tank Dwarf Hairgrass placement

February 9, 2024

Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate
7.8 0.25 2 40-80

February 12, 2024

Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate
7.8 0 0.25 40-80

Added one pump of easy green after testing.

February 18, 2024

Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate
7.8 0 0 40-80

At this point the tank appears to be cycled. At some point I will do a bigger water change to lower the Nitrate level but I'm not currently worried about it. I want to get a sense of how much Nitrate the plants can consume and I'm hoping to see the number drop.

Added one pump of easy green after testing.

I added a few more fish from my Grandpa's tanks and I added an additional light.

The pennywort has really taken off and all of the plants seem to be growing. Duckweed has completely taken over the surface and I added more floating rings. I know a lot of people complain about duck weed which is understandable. I personally enjoy using my tweezers to remove the duckweed from inside the rings, it reminds me of a zen garden. At this point I am now putting the excess duckweed into a raised bed which is nitrogen deficient outside, so I find having the stuff useful. I also have a compost pile it can go in once that garden is growing again in the spring.

Tank on February 18 Fish on February 18

Top View

February 26, 2024

Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate
7.8 0 0 40-80

Still getting 0 on ammonia and nitrite, which is great! My nitrate measurements have consistently been between 40 and 80. I find it really difficult to distinguish between the colors on the Test Kit, so it's hard to say. Strip tests I used show that the nitrate could be as low as 20. So I'm not really worried at this time.

Added one pump of easy green after testing.

Over the last week I added the remaining fish into the tank. I was able to give 10 of them to a friend, along with a tank. I don't know exactly how many fish are in the tank. Excluding fish that have been born in the last month, there are probably 15-20. I'm fairly certain there has been another group of fry born in the last two weeks, they have so many places to hide so I didn't see them but I have seen some fish that are way too small. I'm hoping to continue to give them away and achieve stasis in the tank regarding their population. Their population was fairly stablized (not growing, they were probably overcrowed) in their old tank.

The lights have been on for 12 hours a day. I have not seen an algae explosion, there is some growing on the top of the spider wood near the surface, but you can't really see it due to the duckweed. The walls have a very light coating, I can't get a good pic with the camera. Guessing they will need to be cleaned in 2 - 4 weeks.

The pennywort is really spreading across and out of the tank. I'm training it up the spiderwood as it grows. Based on the growth so far, I expect this plant to completely take over the tank. I'm going to let it get real big before I start cutting it back.

The lily bulbs have especially surprised me, looking at old pictures they have grown a ton and their color looks pretty good! One even sent off a shoot which could turned into a new plant.

The monte carlo and hairgrass are not doing good. I think it takes a bit for these plants to get established and the fish tend to hang near the filter with them. They have knocked a lot of my carpet out. Going to continue watching this situation develop, it might not be too late for either of these plants.

Tank on February 26 Crypt Growth Close Up Grass Destruction Algae

March 3, 2024

Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate
8 0 0 5-20

Levels looking good. Ph risen slightly but it causes me little concern. The nitrate has definitely dropped. In the last post I mentioned my difficulty with reading the testing kit nitrate results. I know it definitely dropped this week because there was no sign of red in the water, only orange. The plants are growing well so I suspect they are consuming it.

Added one pump of easy green after testing.

I have now confirmed 100% that the fish are not guppies but mollies. I looked at images online and while there are many types of guppies I couldn't find any that look like these fish. I eventually came across Mollies and they all look like minor variations of mollies. A few nights ago I had dinner with my dad and I asked him about the fish, he confirmed that they were Mollies, he remembers being with my Grandpa when some of the initial fish were purchased. It's interesting to ponder how many generations of fish I am looking at since they fish were bought from a store. Once I get a better handle on things I will attempt to introduce a fresh mollie from a store to freshen up the DNA. I feel like these fish are quite inbred at the moment. I recently spotted a fry that grew to about a half inch in size with a completely twisted spine. I was rooting for the little guy but I have not seen him for over a week, the last time I spotted him he was keeping very low to the ground. I suspect he died and is either fertilizing the plants or served as fish food.

Otherwise, the grown mollies all seem happy, though conventional wisdom dictates that there are too many of them in this tank. I'm still trying to give them away to people in my personal life. If you happen to be reading this and are in Central Mass, email me (jared at jaredandrews dot com) if you want some Mollies, I can probably give some plants too.

Speaking of plants, they are flourishing, I'm trying to let things get really wild in there for a few weeks, but I might be tempted to trim soon. The lily bulbs are sending out all sorts of offshoots and getting massive. The pennywort is still thriving and going all over the place. My Java Moss forest has started to grow up and is now visible at eye level when looking directly at the tank.

The carpet plants continue to do bad, but haven't gotten visibly worse since last week. I'm going to continue hoping for the best with them.

Tank on Mar 3 Java Moss Forest Right side lily bulb Sad Carpet

March 9, 2024

Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate
8 0 0 0-5

I had hoped to wait several months before trimming the plants at all but two factors made me decide to do it today:

  • I originally placed two floating rings around the driftwood, I didn't fully understand how pennywort grew and I wanted there to be be space for it to climb up the wood. This turned out to not really be a problem. The pennywort has no issue fighting its way thru the duckweed. On the other hand, it was almost impossible to quickly clean out the rings around the wood when duckweed inevitably grew in it. I wanted these two rings gone.
  • The pennywort was really taking over the tank.

Overgrown tank, front view Overgrown tank, side view

My two lily bulbs had also grown aggressively and looked like they needed a trim. They were send up lily pads, but some were getting stuck against the front of the tank and rotting away.

Left Lily Bulb Right Lily Bulb

In some good news, the monte carlo, appears to be carpeting. So it was important not to mess that up during this trim.

Monte carlo new growth

I began by pulling out as much duckweed and pennywort as possible. At some point I also removed 30% of the water. It has been a while since I have done a water change so this seemed appropriate.

In progress In progress In progress

After this I trimmed a few plants and moved some plants around. I also wrapped some pennywort up and around the wood. I'm not sure if this will work or if it will die, but I have plenty of this stuff so it's an experiment I'm willing to run.

Post trim

March 10, 2024

Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate
8 0 0 0-5

Added one pump of easy green after testing. Also put some root tabs under the rotella on the back left side.

Levels still looking good post trim. I have noticed the Ph slowly rising. During my trim I removed a full cuttlefish bone I put in there, it was quite deteriorated. Could be the culprit or something else. We'll see what Ph looks like next week. I have held on to all of the pennywort which you can see floating on the left. It is likely I will give away / compost most of it, but I wanted to give it a week or two before and make sure the pennywort I chose to keep kept doing well.

Next day post trim

I also noticed this snail who must have hitchhiked into the tank on some plant. Will leave it for now, but potentially move to my other tank. We'll see if this snail crawls out of this rimless tank at some point.


March 17, 2024

Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate
8 0 0 0

Added one pump of easy green after testing.

Somewhat surprised to see the Nitrate drop to 0. I guess the plants are eating it all and the fish bioload is not as high as I would have expected.

I added 10 yellow shrimp to the tank this week which I was pretty excited about it. I allegedly purchased 30% male and 70% female. So far I have observed two pregnant shrimp, so I'm hoping the eggs hatch and it all goes well. I have not observed any animosity between the shrimp and fish. A couple of the shrimp have molted and as far as I can tell none of them have died. There are a lot of hiding places in this tank though so it's hard to say.

I will hopefully be pulling out some excess pennywort and giving it to a friend this week. The monte carlo carpet continues to slowly spread so that's great. All plants that I trimmed last week are growing great so I don't think I overdid it.

March 17 Tank March 17 Tank March 17 Tank March 17 Tank March 17 Tank

March 21, 2024

Added one pump of easy green. Have been feeding fish a little more to spike nitrates (~3 times a week compared to ~2). Since nitrates have been at zero I am going to try dosing with one additional mid week pump of easy green for a little bit. Still minimal algae growth, if this creates a spike of algae growth over next 3 weeks, I will switch back to once a week. I should note I have lights on in this tank for about 12 hours a day.

March 25, 2024

Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate
8 0 0 0-5

Added one pump of easy green after testing.

Things still looking good. The yellow shrimp have given birth to many babies. I can't get a good pic of them and I can only really see them at night when the lights are off by pointing a flash light into the tank. There are so many places for the babies to hide it's hard to say how many there are. I'm guessing 5-20. It's great pointing the flashlight into the tank and seeing a microscopic shrimp rush to get into a hole in the hardscape rocks or some other hiding place.

I also 3D printed some different sized floating rings for the surface of the tank. They are printed in black PETG which is allegedly safe for the fish. I think they will need to be tweaked further. One has sunk so far. All the others have stayed at the surface. They do not float as well as the foam rings I have purchased.

Gave away a lot of pennywort to a friend. What remains is growing well and I suspect I live have a ton of it again soon.

I also added a seconod smaller sponge filter to the right side of the tank. I had it soaking / sinking for a couple weeks so you might have seen it in prior pics. I finally turned it on this week tho. This was more for the purposes of water movement and surface agitation so I could have used an airstone, but since this smaller sponge filter is better sheltered I figured it's surface could provide a safer feeding ground for the smaller shrimp.

March 25 Tank March 25 Tank

March 28, 2024

Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate
7.8 0 0 0-5

Added one pump of easy green after testing. This is a continued experiment in doubling the dosage of fertilizer for this tank. So far things are going well and I will continue.

Two 3D printed related updates:

  • The floating rings I mentioned in the last post are not working out. They do not float as high as foam rings and do a terrible job blocking duckweed. I'm going to try some new slicer settings at some point and see if they will float better with less walls, etc.
  • I created a surface skimmer model to skim off duckweed more effectively, it's working great.

There has been a rotella on the left side of the tank that has gotten way over grown. I could see roots growing up the plant at various nodes. I took a few cuttings glued them to seashell and replanted. I expect this will work but we'll see.

March 28 Tank March 28 Tank March 28 Tank March 28 Tank March 28 Tank March 28 Tank March 28 Tank

I also discovered an anubius that melted away. This guy was in the left at the edge of the rock perimeter. It had little space and a lot of competition, so I'm not super shocked. I composted it.

Melted Anubius

I also noticed that my windelov java ferns have begun to be ready for propagation. If you look at this picture, in the center you can see a fully grown leaf with roots growing towards the top. In the bottom right I have clipped one of those off and planted it. Will keep yall updated on how this little leaf does.

Propagated windelov fern

April 1, 2024

Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate
7.8 0 0 5

Added one pump of easy green after testing. I have decided to stop by experiment in doubling the amount of Easy Green per week. I have noticed increased build up of algae on the hardscape and plants during this time, meaning it is not being processed quickly enough by the plants in the tank.

I have given up on using floating rings for duckweed management. The 3D printed ones I made, even when they don't sink, float too low. The foam ones I purchased don't do a very good job either. I think the problem here is that when the duckweed grows past a certain point, it literally picks the rings up.

I have tried a new approach, by designing dividers that wrap around the spider wood in the middle. These provide more of a wall for the duckweed. Will report back on how well they work in the long term.

Tank Dividers

In other news, the rotala which I transplanted is definitely growing. Within the next week I will probably transplant the remaining tall rotala and make it shorter.


My monte carlo continues to slowly, slowly spread. I decided to trim the left side which still had some of the original longer growth on it. Will attempt to see if that speeds up the spread.


Tank on April 1, 2024

April 8, 2024

Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate
8 0 0 0-5

Added one pump of easy green after testing.

As noted last week I stopped my very short double easy green experiment after seeing increased algae growth over a two week period. The algae buildup still isn't excessive but it has continued to increase. I have decided to change my light schedule for the first time since setting up this tank. Believe it or not I have had the lights on for 16 hours a day since set up. This might sound excessive but my lights are relatively weak and I am definitely a big believer in as much light as possible. Now that things are established tho, I am going to change the light schedule.

Until I change it again the I have switched to an 8 hour "siesta" schedule. Basically the lights are on for 4 hour in the morning and 4 hours in the evening. I'm hoping this will reduce algae without reducing plant growth too severely. We'll see.

Speaking of plant growth, the rotellas I moved are doing great. I plan on trimming the other rotellas and bringing them away from the water surface soon, creating a nice background in front of the heater on the left side of the tank. On the left side my monte carlo, is continuing its slow spread, so that's great.

Left side of Tank

The small sponge filter is for a nano tank I'm currently preparing, I will definitely be starting a log about it

The baby shrimp are doing great. They are getting bigger and more confident, I have even seen a few of them out in the open on the left side of the tank. The fish do not appear to be bothering them. I did spot a random red shrimp among the babies. At first when it was smaller I thought it was part of the yellow shrimp babies, but given it's growth rate I believe it was a baby dumped into the tank when the yellow shrimp were added, probably a mistake on my end or the breeders as I also received a bag of red shrimp for my other tank. After multiple attempts I was finally able to catch the red shrimp and move it over to my red shrimp tank.

Shrimp on April 8 Shrimp on April 8 Shrimp on April 8 Shrimp on April 8 Shrimp on April 8

I have generally remained satisfied with the dividers I 3D printed for duckweed and pennywort containment.


The duckweed you see on the left and right which escaped the barrier, is from me sticking my net into the duckweed while trying to catch the aforementioned red shrimp. The duckweed was pushed down and under the barrier during this. Otherwise, I haven't seen the it magically get around the wall. So that's great!

Tank on April 8

April 14, 2024

Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate
7.8 0 0 5

Did a 30% water change. I was not careful with switching out the water and caused a temperature swing from 74F to 68F. I brought the temp up a little faster by adding hotter water in. But it was not ideal. The temperature rose again within a few hours. As far as I can tell it did not harm the fish/shrimp/plants.

Did the Master test hours after completing this water change.

Added one pump of easy green after testing.

It's hard to say how much my light schedule change has affected the algae. I don't believe it has gotten worse, I am going to give this schedule a few more weeks assuming the algae does not get significantly worse. I may still have the light on too much. I'm seeing a lot of growth in the rotellas, now that I have been transplanting them. I also widened the duck weed gates a bit.

Fish and shrimp seem to be doing great. Tons of small shrimp out and about.

Tank Close-ups April 14 Tank Close-ups April 14 Tank Close-ups April 14 Tank Close-ups April 14

Tank on April 14

April 23, 2024

Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate
7.8 0 0 40-80

Added one pump of easy green after testing.

I believe the Nitrate rose because I fed the fish more than I normally do. I am waiting on a 0.001 gram scale so I can start tracking how much food I put in the tank, I currently take a "vibes based" approach.

In my other 6 gallon tank, I have had 2 larger adult cherry shrimp die in the last month. I still haven't spotted any dead shrimp in this tank and they seem to be thriving, but I am worried that the water in both tanks is too hard. I'm waiting on the GH/KH API tests, so I can start tracking that as well.

I'm also trying to make water changes easier, as that is how I will reduce hardness if needed. Will provide updates on how that goes. I bought a water pump wand which seemed sweet, but it broke immediately. I'm currently waiting on a traditional water pump to arrive in the mail.

Otherwise, things seem to be going well. I do believe the algae levels have reduced and the new lighting schedule hasn't hurt anything. The monte carlo is slowing spreading and is looking great.

Tank April 23

April 25, 2024 - Tap Water Analysis

I received the GH/KH API Test Kit last night and decided to start things off I would measure my tap water. I use tap water for my tanks and am not super interested in modifying it's properties with chemicals.

I have read online that tap water from city water systems can change seasonally, so I will start logging this information quarterly and seeing if I can determine that. I will also be checking out my cities water report. For anyone reading, I live in North Worcester, Massachusetts and use the city water system.

API Tests

Ph (low) Ph (high) Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate GH KH
6.8 7.4 0 0 0 0-25 0-40

Advatec 9 in 1 Aquarium Test Strip

Iron Copper Nitrate Nitrite GH Chlorine Alkalinity KH Ph
0 0 0 0 0-25 0 0 0-40 6.4-6.8

I am pretty happy with these results as they are all acceptable for the plants and livestock I have in both of my tanks.

I plan on repeating this same test on the mantle tank. Previous strip tests have indicated levels over 200ppm. Most likely doing more frequent water changes, instead of just topping off all the time, will resolve this. But that will be a test for tomorrow.

April 28, 2024

Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate GH (API/Strip) KH (API/Strip)
7.8 0 0 20 50-100/150-300 50-100/40-80

Added one pump of easy green after testing.

Notice I am now tracking GH and KH, using both the API test and the Advatec 9 in 1 Test Strip. I am going to be trying to bring the GH down, while not messing up other parameters. I did a lot of small water changes this week while trying to improve my water change set up using electric and hand pumps. No dice so far and I am not happy with my current setup. Will provide an update on that when I have a better setup. These smaller water changes probably added up to 2 gallons over 3 days, but I did not track it closely. I will be tracking water changes more closely in future updates, so we can see the GH drop down. I'm trying to get it into the 50-100 range.

I had a fish death this week, one of my favorite fish nicknamed "Grumpy". It's hard for me to know how old Grumpy was, he appeared to be a full sized adult, and could theoretically be as old as 4 years. Grumpy fish had a very unique coloration compared to other fish in the tank, he was a deep blue with an almost silver white dot pattern. Unfortunately, this pattern and color looked very similar to "ick" which I have seen occasionally on other fish in the tank. I have never treated it and it has always gone away on it's own. I don't think that Grumpy had ick but it was hard to tell. Given his unique coloration, I suspect he was born with my Grandpa as opposed to purchased, he looked like a morph of the blue and spotted fish in the tank. It's likely he was the parent of many of the fish in the tank. Since his death I haven't detected any other fish in distress or with issues, so hopefully this was a one off thing and he was just old.

I have decided I will also keep track of the food in the tank, which I am going to start boosting to bring the nitrate up a bit, obviously I don't want to take it too far. I will be tracking this in 7 day totals, so expect to see that value for the first time in my next weekend update.

Aside from the death of Grumpy, things are looking good. I trimmed back the right lily bulb and it has grown back rapidly. There are many lily pads floating around the top of the tank from both bulbs. I have also spotted another berried shrimp, the yellow shrimp in here seem to be doing really well.

Berried shrimp

I have commented on my spreading monte carlo, here is a close up. You can see very small leaves popping up between the denser sections. Excited to see how this progresses.

Slow carpet spread

Slow carpet spread

May 2, 2024

Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate GH (API/Strip) KH (API/Strip)
7.8 0 0 0 100-200/150-300 50-100/40-80

The tests above are prior to a 4 gallon water change. I will test again tomorrow to see how this affected the levels of the tank.

May 5, 2024

Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate GH (API/Strip) KH (API/Strip)
8 0 0 0 50-200(6)/150 50-100(5)/80

Added one pump of easy green after testing.

I have successfully brought the GH/KH down, curious to see how quickly it rises now that I am actively monitoring it. Algae levels have also dropped to a manageable level. So it seems like my light schedule change has worked.

May 5

May 12, 2024

Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate GH (API/Strip) KH (API/Strip) Food (grams, last 7 days)
7.8 0 0 10 50-200(6)/150-300 50-100(5)/40-80 1.191

Added one pump of easy green after testing.

Found one dead shrimp this week, it was one of the adults. To my knowledge this is the first yellow shrimp I have seen die in the tank. I can't really say how this shrimp died, unfortunately, I think it was the pregnant shrimp I identified on April 28 as I have not seen any babies emerge.

I have started feeding quite a bit more and tracking it above. We will see how this effects Nitrate levels and how well my tank can handle it. So far it hasn't caused a big increase.

May 24, 2024

Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate GH (API/Strip) KH (API/Strip) Food (grams, last 7 days)
8 0 0 40 140-200(8)/150 50-200(6)/40-80 0.998

Nitrate has indeed risen, I'm going to chill out on the food and not add Easy Green this week. I want to see how much it naturally drops, but will do a water change if Nitrate is above 20 next week.

I plan on reducing feeding as this is almost certainly a result of overfeeding. I'm planning to add a pothos plant to the top of the tank. I'm hoping this will suck up Nitrate and allow me to feed and fertilize more.

June 1, 2024

Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate GH (API/Strip) KH (API/Strip) Food (grams, last 7 days) TDS
8 0 0 20-40 100-200(7)/150 50-100(5)/80 0.195 236

Reduced feeding a lot this week, which is more in line with my previously normal levels. Nitrate still high, I will do a water change tonight and check Nitrate tomorrow. Not adding Easy Green today.

Also received a TDS monitor this week, pretty cool. Will continue logging it.

I added a Pothos plant into a floating basket I made (will upload the model to Printables eventually). You can see it in the center top.

I have continued cutting the tops off my Rotella on the left side of the tank and replanting it. This has made a nice forest which I am happy with. You can also see a pot of Monte Carlo I bought, this was for a different tank, but I may plant it in here, for now it stays in the pot.

June 2

June 2, 2024


Did a 2 gallon water change last night. This reduced Nitrate to suitable levels.

June 9, 2024

Ph Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate GH (API/Strip) KH (API/Strip) Food (grams, last 7 days) TDS
7.8 0 0 10-20 50-100(6)/75 50-100(5)/40-80 0.230 198

Did a 1 gallon water change after testing.

If things are still looking stable Nitrate wise next week, I will try to add fertilizer again.

June 9