I’ve had freshwater fish tanks on and off since 1995. It started with a 29-gallon tank from Wal-Mart with plastic rocks and Neon Tetras that quickly died. I soon discovered plants and algae. I’ve grown my share of both over the last 20 plus years. I tried saltwater once and failed miserably.
My obsession reached new heights a few years ago when I upgraded all technical aspects of the tank, including filtration, lighting and an advanced CO2 system. I’m using the Green Leaf Aquarium GRO-1 CO2 Regulator with a 10lb aluminum cylinder and a Milwaukee MC122 PH Controller. This means I’m pumping CO2 into my tank to help feed the plants. The CO2 is coming through an in-line diffuser on the outtake line and there are zero bubbles.
The CO2 has been off for the last eight months so you won’t see the monstrous growth in the picture above. I should have great results to show in about three months. In the past, the plants exploded in size and need to be trimmed often, which I didn’t do as much as I should have. I’m also dosing with dry fertilizers each morning. Mixing the fertilizers involves precise measuring with a digital scale in the kitchen. This also reinforces my nerdy geek status with the kids in the house.
My signature fish is the Denison Barb, or Roseline Shark. Information varies about the size when fully grown but I have several close to six inches long and at least two years old. They are massive compared to the Tetras and Angelfish I’m using to keeping. They tend to stay near the bottom of the tank and are extremely shy. They dart away as soon as my chair starts to roll in the office. The other fish include Cherry Barbs, Harlequin Rasboras and seven very busy Cory Catfish.
I’ve always loved planted tanks. I’ve moved away from stem plants in the last few years because they grow too fast, get too straggly looking and make a mess when they lose leaves. I don’t have time/take time to perform maintenance as much as needed. I prefer the Jungle Val seaweed looking tall plants, Java Fern on wood and the low-level cryptocoryne plants. When the Red Lotus has enough CO2 and iron, it’s magnificent and takes over as the highlight of the tank.
The standard rule on fishkeeping is to measure the fish by inches and never have more inches than gallons in the tank. I’ve been able to cheat this system a little by keeping healthy plants and two filters. The combined flow rate of my two Fluval filters is more than 500 gallons per hour. My estimation is that I have about 77 inches of fish in a 70-gallon tank. My chemical levels are always in check. It’s a well-balanced system.
I added water during the summer because of evaporation. I changed one filter around June but other than that, I didn’t touch the tank for eight months this year. I only lost one old yellow barb during that time. But, the lights are on a timer and I fed them every day. The tank is happy.
This is a list of the equipment and fish. It’s much more for my benefit than yours. I want to remember what I’m using.
70-gallon tank 36x24x18
Cherry cabinet with cover
Fluval Ultra Bright LED Aquarium Strip Light
Fluval 306 Canister Filter
Fluval 206 Canister Filter
Flourite Premium Aquarium Plant Substrate – About 30 pounds
Hydor ETH 300 In-Line External Heater 300w – Temperature 75° – 78°
Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Circulation Pump
Top Fin Air 4000 pump
6 Denison Barbs – 4 to 6 inches each
6 Cherry Barbs – all male
1 Yellow Barb
10 Harlequin Rasboras
4 Siamese Algae Eaters
7 Green Cory Catfish
4 Otocinclus Catfish
1 Dwarf Puffer
Dozens of Jungle Vallisneria
2 Amazon Swords
1 Dwarf Lily
1 Red Tiger Lotus
Various other Cryptocorynes