I like to use a 40
gallon long, the above pix are a 55. Just before
I found out I was moving to Hawaii I bought a
40gal long from Meijers for $60 but I left it
behind, the movers wanted $120 to pack it. When
I got to Hawaii I went to buy one and they want
$170. A 55 is only $90, they said it's because
they sell more 55's.
PAINT THE SIDES AND BACK BLACK, at least the back.
The reason I like the 40 over the 55 is that it's easier to plant your
plants and clean. With a 55 you need a longer
stick and the plants get hard to keep down, with
a 40 it's real easy to get the plants into the
sand. Also I use a piece of air tubing taped to
a stick as vacuum to clean the bottom,
I like to keep the sand spotless, I vacuum about
twice a week before I add water.
As I vacuum the 55 I really wish I had the 40,
it was so much easier on my arms.
That's next, get silica sand, I like to have about 3", this allows the
plants to grow better, they can root easier and
stronger, and light will reflect back up from
the sand giving more to the plants. Make sure to
rinse the sand well before putting in the tank,
but don't put it in the tank yet.
NEXT step is to set up the bubble system. I get a few feet of the hard
straight tubing that will fit inside the normal
flexible air hose/tube. Then you glue (with
aquarium safe silicon) the straight pieces on
the bottom and up the side connected at the
corner with the flexible tubing. About 3" fro
the top you switch back to flexible. I do about
4 of these, ending in different areas of the
tank bottom. You'll need like a 5 way valve to
adjust air flow to these. After you place the
sand you can have bubble coming from under the
sand, I like to adjust them as slow as possible.
It's great if you can get it so the bubbles are
a second apart or more.
Next, plants. Hygrophila corymbosa is my favorite. It has a great
green and grows well in various environments. I
start with 4 to 5 bundles and spread them out to
fill 3/4 of the tank, I like to fill the whole
tank leaving a 7" to 10" area off to the side in
front for some rocks or driftwood. It'll be kind
of sparse at first, but eventually you'll have
many of them so long they'll lay across the top
of your water. I take these and snip them about
5" from the top and re-plant them, it won't take
long till you can get it so thick you can't see
4" past the front glass. It's good to make
a tunnel/cave or 2 for the kuhli loaches.
Then for the fish &
such. 10 to 15 neons, 15 harlequins (RASBORA
HETEROMORPHA), 2 or 3 newts, 5 or 6
kuhli loaches, 3 or 4 horseface loaches, about 7
hatchet fish, 7 to 10
black neons, and 9 white clouds. I had a tank
like this before, and what really looked good
was having 2 discus. Some say that the water for
discus needs to be around 90°f but I bought them
as little 1" long babies and in a few months
they were almost full grown and brightly
colored. Also it's kind of nice to add 2 or 3
zebra danios. More than that will screw up the
schools, just a couple will swim along the top
of the plants and add a little life.