Setting up my betta tank… and others!

GloFish-on-roomoffI’ve been sitting on too many empty tanks for too long.  I’m thinking it’s time to do something about that.

To that end, I’m working on getting some tanks full of water and cycling, starting with the 3-gallon GloFish tank I got for my birthday.

I thought about getting the GloFish brand gravel, but it’s a little too sparkly for my taste. I went with basic TopFin black gravel instead.  I added in an Aqueon “begonia” plastic plant for decoration — after I felt it carefully, it seemed soft and smooth enough for a betta’s fins.

As I mentioned in my review of the tank kit, I’d rather not use the standard TopFin cartridge in the filter.  I got a BioMax insert for an AquaClear 70 filter and stuffed it in the filter.  I used a little DIY filter floss under the BioMax baggie for mechanical filtration.  For heat, I got a 10-Watt Aqueon Mini-Heater.  Everything else (so far ) came with the kit.

Click past the cut to see photos of the betta tank and to read about the gammarus shrimp tank I’m working on!

Gammarus Tank

I’m planning to start up a colony of gammarus shrimp (a.k.a. "scuds") , or at least to attempt it, in a 10-gallon tank.  The idea is to initially have the tank lit on one end and grow out some plants — probably anacharis to start with — and eventually to propagate those plants all over the tank.  Gammarus apparently like dark hiding places, so the other end of the tank will be unlit (at least until I get lots more plants).  I’m also going to try using leaf litter for added hiding places and shrimp food.

I’ve never tried this before, and I understand that some folks have trouble raising successful scud colonies.  Those who succeed at it apparently find that dim, cool, oxygen-rich tanks with tons of microorganisms and leaf litter give the best chance of success… at least, that’s what my reading on the internet suggests.

Since I need lots of microorganisms, even green water if I can get it without natural sunlight, and since I want to use the tank partly for plant growout, I’m dirting the tank.  I laid down a layer of Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix a week ago, capping it with Black Diamond Blasting Sand (20-40 grit).  I then filled it with water too fast and blasted a hole in the sand cap, filling the tank with potting mix.


After a week of running a sponge filter, I could almost see the bottom of the tank… so I drained it, added more sand where necessary, and filled it again… slowly.  The water is cloudy now; if it hasn’t cleared up in a week or so, I’ll drain and refill it again.

There is a lot of debris on top of the substrate where I didn’t add more sand, but since it has settled, I’m thinking it will just provide more food for microscopic organisms that the gammarus can feed on.  For all I know, the shrimp might even eat the debris themselves.

Anyway, it’s a work in progress, so I don’t have any photos… yet.  I’ll be sure to post some when it’s worth looking at, though. 😉