So you are starting a freshwater aquarium. The steps are pretty simple, but patience is required. Firstly, select a tank of minimum 2ft (60cm) long which would be about 12 gallons in most cases. If you don’t know how to calculate gallon, measure the tank’s lenght, width and height, divide by 1000 then multiply by 0.2642. For beginners, a larger tank assures relatively less impact of water changes to the creatures and so will be easier to manage than smaller tanks. Also, active fishes such as Zebra fish need at least a 2ft tank for their speedy swim.

There is one thing to note, for those who wish to have a planted aquarium, there is something called watt per power of light. Check your light bulb’s watt. If you need to increase watt for the light, you can choose a higher watt bulb or you can use two bulbs together, ie. 2 x 15w. Therefore for my 2ft tank, 15w divided by 12 is about 1.25WPG. While many online suggested this is too low for plants… I fuck care. I think the plants should be ok if they are not those which need a lot of light and are easy to care for. Besides, higher level of light requires higher level of nutrients injection and will attract algae. While the plants may not grow that much under 1.25WPG, as long as they will live, I fuck care.

So those who think they need better lights, you can get the bulbs since most tanks which come with lights will have like 15w~20w of light which won’t be that cool.

You’d need a filter and a pump, then choose the gravel. For me I choose soil for aquarium to grow the plants in.

Given that I was inexperienced, I simply poured water into the tank making the water muddy. Given my experience, don’t turn on the filter or pump until the dirt has settled. If you are returning filtered water into the tank and is causing the muddy water, you can use tapes to divert the flow and break the downward rush. The water will hit the tape first then the tank water hence lessen the direct hit into the soil stirring up cloudy water. The water will take a night to be clear. Before that, remember not to start the filter or pump.

You can start planting the plants and putting in decorations after the gravel is laid, and fill up the tank by 20%, then 50% then 100% with time interval in between.

When the tank is filled up, you should start the filter or running cycles so that the good bateria in the filter can be nurtured. If you have problem filling up a tank because the dirt keeps stirring up, get a rock or decoration and pour upon it so that the force of the rush will be broken by the rock or decoration. While you are doing cycles, remember that the water contents may be not yet friendly to your creatures. Especially if you fill the tank up with tap water, you will need a day or two to wait out for the chemicals in the water to be removed. It is said that you will need to take 3 weeks for the water with soil to settle down whereby ammonia and nitrite will be converted to harmless nitrate needed by the plants.

I myself don’t believe in the craps of injecting CO2 and liquid fertilizers… Basically, the fishes’ craps and respiration should provide CO2 and fertilizers along the way. And I let the 15w light on for around 12~14hours a day. Of course, if the bulb blows, I’d get one with around 30w. Why waste the original bulb?

As you can see from the above picture, there is a plastic box on the right top corner. It is used to quarantine one Neon Tetra that is suspected of the notorious Neon Tetra disease. Given the lethal effect of this disease, any fish losing body color however slightly should be quarantined immediately for a month. If in doubt, release the fish into the wild and restock. The water can be taken direct from the aquarium and the quarantine box be refilled once everyday with the aquarium water so as to minimize the water change  impact of the patient.

For myself, I currently have 5 Neon Tetras, 5 Zebra fish, 2 Otto fish and 1 cherry shrimp because 1 shrimp is missing… I don’t know where the fuck it goes. 1 shrimp died perhaps due to a fall to floor when I was trying to introduce it into the aquarium. But due to the consideration of the tank’s water, to prevent death due to water quality, I will restock the shrimp after another 2 weeks when the water age is about 3 weeks.

Basically, Neon Tetras are beautiful, Zebras are naughty and you can see them playing around the tank swimming like topedos. I get the Ottos to fight any algae forming… and now I am worried that there is few algae around for their diets. Ottos are small catfish which are suitable for a 2ft tank since the next choice could be a chinese algae eater that will turn aggressive as it ages and will kill other fish as it fends for its territory, and it’d grow pretty big… for a 2ft tank. It is heard that without algae, Ottos will also feed on soft decaying leaves… … well~

I got the cherry shrimps to clear any food remains due to overfeeding. The shrimps usually hide in the bush on the left of the tank. But the zebras have been disturbing the shrimps from day one… Funny.

The reason of having a freshwater planted aquarium is really to experience the condition of the wild, witnessing how the exchanges of gases and substances work… and most importantly, to reduce the load of maintenance.

Instead of sucking or removing the gravel for cleaning, I am hoping the fish’s shit will be fertilizers for the plants, and plants can produce enough oxygens in case I have to stop the filter for any fries happening in the tank…

Now about filling the tank with fishes…

There is a rule of 1 inch of fish per gallon of water. But for my 2ft tank… after adding about 15 creatures, the tank still looks empty. Given that 1 tetra is quarantined, I decided to fuck care about this rule and I am going to add another 5 Neon Tetras to make a school of ten… if the quarantined chap doesn’t die in the end. Basically, you fuck a rule when you can afford to fuck care… and I am fucking care~

When you select the fish, take a moment to see if the fins open up, check the body, check the tanks for dead fish… a diseased tank offers diseased fish. Net the fish gently up, and when you got home, throw the bag of fish into the tank so that the fish can adjust to the temperature gradually before you release the fish from the bag. This will take about 10mins. Then you gently grab the fish and throw them into the tank from the bag. Do not pour the water in the bag into your tank… any disease particles may be thrown in as well if you do so. Some people worry about the ammonia in the water of the bag, that I don’t really care.

The most important rule of the stocking rule is basically to observe the nature of the creatures you are dumping into your aquarium. For most catfishes, they may be over an inch, but they don’t fuck move much, so you can fuck the 1 inch 1 gallon rule. And for a school of tetras, they consume only that much of space as a school of 5~10, so you can fuck the rule again.

Basically to Scope… rules are meant to be fucked. Ok… Girls are meant to be fucked as well. Why not? Girls like sex.

Look at this cute little rascal… since 1 has died and 1 is missing, I am definitely going to restock another 3. And yes… I am definitely not sure how the aquarium will handle if they got fries… IF they ever got fries, that is. For now, my Zebras are swimming like so happily in the tank… sometimes disturbing my lone cute cute cherry shrimp. To be honest, for creatures of the lower layer of the aquarium, other than cute little cherry shrimps I have really no other BETTER options unless I take a fancy with Corys… which I don’t.

I don’t like kuhli loaches because they basically disappear, barrowing into the mud or sand… and why the fuck should I buy something that I won’t get to see? And worse… actually I used to have them when I use tiny stones for gravel, and whenever I washed the gravel, I nearly killed them since they hid in there. Worse… now with plants, if they dig, my plants could be uprooted!!! That’s so no no, baby~

And of course, I am not intending to get any eels or catfish or fuck predators to fuck my small 2ft tank.

When you are starting an aquarium, whatever fuck aquarium it may be, as with fucking a girl, you think about maintenance. You can’t just have an aquarium without thinking of how to maintain it. There is a reason why I don’t stock guppies. These motherfuckers will fuck hell despite water quality, so don’t be fooled by their beautiful colors; they will just fuck and fuck and fuck until the entire tank is full of fries, and then what do you do? Dump them? Oh, that’s cruel… Dump the fries? Oh, shouldn’t those fries deserve childhood? Yes. Kids may love to see them fuck and see those babies, but… it’s really about karma.

Besides, it’s very very difficult to maintain when you have to consider managing so many fucking fries hiding here and there. Imagine those filters will suck in those suckers to their dooms as well. And what is the use of a guppy with nice big tails? They could be nipped off by tetras! Not only that, they are slow weird creatures. They look like Mollies which are a good source of food for arowana and clown knife…

Once the eco-system is established in this planted aquarium of mine, I have decided to just change 15% of the water every two weeks. Yes. I am lazy. No. I don’t want to disturb the aquarium too much. When you have an aquarium, the whole fun is not to disturb them… or overstock the tank.

I used to have a silver arowana and a clown knife, and I think it’s bad for karma to see so many fishes, frogs and whatever the fuck shrimps  killed by feeding those big boys. So my intention of starting this little aquarium is to provide those fishes I get from those shop with lousy tank condition a better home to enjoy. I am sad for the dead shrimp, I can only hope it has found a better home in Heaven or whatever. The design of my aquarium is very very very simple… I can’t say it’s beautiful because I have seen reaaaaaaaaaaaally beautiful planted aquarium. But I intend to create a ‘forest’ of some sort for the fishes to enjoy.

Hopefully everything goes well. We will see that in about two months’ time…

Anyway… I have the Ottos for the algae… so… if I don’t have red algae or MTS motherfuckers, I should be having an easy time enjoying my little work. Wish me luck~

Well, bad news. The shrimps died. Perhaps the ammonia level is still too high for a 5 days water. So I’d be restocking the shrimps after 2 weeks… …

I just replaced the Lucky Bamboo with Java Fern since Lucky Bamboo is no plant for aquarium. I don’t understand why the shops in Singapore are selling this Lucky Bamboo… Fuck~ And the leaves of the fern ain’t exactly looking great with some holes here and there…

MTS? Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck!!!

Hope not.

Anyway, given that I have lost two shrimps and now one remains, we’d talk about the need to cycle the water.

The tank is currently 6 days of age. Given me using aquatic soil, a huge amount of ammonia was supposed to be released into the water… so that was what I read and hence I let the water stood for around 4 days before I add creatures. OK. The tank isn’t really cycled yet. According to ‘Aquasoil’ info, you’d need 1.5 to 2 weeks to cycle the ammonia… I don’t use Aquasoil but a Japanese brand, but I reckon the logic is the same. Which means by now my tank should be running high on nitrite. Whatever the fuck… Ammonia is good for plants and toxic to creatures. And Cherry shrimps can’t resist toxic Ammonia very much. OK. That’s my fucking mistake.

So now I still have one shrimp left.

Hmm… how the fuck does it stay alive?

It is said that a full cycle will take about 1~2months. For my case, I am going to test the water by adding shrimps in after 2 weeks.

Fuck cycling means you have to get freaking bateria nurtured to break down Ammonia into Nitrite then another batch of freaks to break Nitrite down to Nitrate and whatever fuck. Nitrate is also good for plants, and will need to exist in extremely high level to kill creatures. I guess another signal of end of cycling should be the blast of algae into the tank because Nitrate fuels algae growth. I know many aquarists are worried about algae, but I am now praying for them to appear… so that my Ottos also got something to eat.

During this cycling, no choice that I have to change about 40% of the water. I intend to change 20% of the water 3 days later.

Actually I don’t really know why the fuck must I change 40%… That’s because the pump is working, the water is aerated, there should be enough oxygen to break down the Ammonia eventually to Nitrate. The only reason why I am changing water is hoping to reduce Ammonia level after the creatures have been dumped into the tank for 2 days… considering the shits and urine will also produce Ammonia.

Right now, I am worried for the Ottos’ diet, the lone shrimp’s life and most importantly… whether the plants can survive under 1.25WPG light. According to some folks, the WPG is outdated already. I don’t know how true that is, but if the plants can stay alive for another 2 months, I’d consider the tank fully functional.

This is the lone survivor hiding among the fern leaves.

This is one Zebra Danio. They are very fast, so it is extremely tough to focus upon them with a simple digital camera.

At the background, you can see the Neon Tetras. There are 4 left with 1 released to the wild. I really can’t take the risk of releasing that one fish suspected of Neon Tetra Disease into the tank. I hope I have done the right thing. And yes. You can also see an Otto here. Isn’t it cute?