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A Beginner's 20g Long Aquarium (Platys + Pygmy Corys)

I’m also dealing with hair algae. It started a few weeks ago because I neglected to clean the tank for too long. It got pretty bad but I ripped out as much as I could last week and thought I was done with it. The annoying thing is all the bits that are stuck to the gravel. My siphon isn’t strong enough to pull them up and my hands can only do so much; I actually had to straight-up remove a small amount of gravel.

Well now it’s coming back at double speed. I can keep pulling it out, but I would like to address the root cause if it can. I’ve reduced the daylight hours of the tank, and I really don’t think I’m overfeeding (which means I probably am lol) but I’m gonna try to feed less anyway.

Among all the doom and gloom, one bit of good news(!): I figured out how to apply the repashy onto my driftwood, and all the fish loved it. I don’t think my shrimp got to it because it was too out in the open, BUT I finally got confirmation that the otos understand the repashy! I bought it for them in the first place but I could never tell if they were actually getting any. This time I could clearly see them munching on it in broad daylight, alongside the other fish. I think it helped that I had it spread over a larger surface, so the fish didn’t crowd each other.

I have to be careful with feeding because my danios (and platies, but at least THEY’RE supposed to like algae) are pigs and will devour any kind of food I put in there, even if it’s something clearly not theirs, like an algae wafer.
Well now all the shrimp are fluke-free! It seems like they show up if the tank has been overfed, but if those conditions are cleared up before it’s too late, the shrimp can just molt them off when they’re healthy again.
Got carried away while integrating the new pothos (currently suspended by some surprisingly competent paperclips) and ended up rearranging the aqua scape a little bit! I also removed the sponge over the filter intake, because I noticed the substrate was annoyingly dusty despite gravel vac-ing just the day before, and I think it’s because the debris settles on the bottom before it filtered because of the slow flow. My shrimp are a lot bigger now so I’m hoping it’ll be ok without it. Removing the sponge made the flow in the tank way stronger, which the fish seem to like a lot. The platys like to hang out in the bottom front, where the current is really strong, and all face into the current and pick out goodies from the water.
Unfortunately my nitrates got too high over vacation (40ppm), and I lost one of my female platies (Gertrude) as well as 2/3 shrimp and my last Pygmy Cory :sad:. I’ve realized that my nitrates have been sitting pretty high in general (20ppm, which my test marks as “fine” but I’m learning is NOT), and that that could probably explain the various one-off fish deaths I’ve had over the course of owning the tank. I did a water change two days in a row trying to get it down, and it’s back down to 20 at least now. It’s annoying because I can’t change TOO much water or I’ll throw off the pH, since my tap is at 6.8 and crushed-coral-treated tank water is at 8+.

With a bunch of stuff gone or in low numbers, I had a lot of thinking to do regarding whether I even want to get more of the same stuff, or completely rethink my stocking. But I did a good bit of thinking whilst staring at the tank this morning, and I’ve come to to the conclusion that I do like the plan I already had. What I really want is fish that will interact a lot with my aquascape and make it feel lived-in. And some of the best fish I know for that are pygmy cories, shrimp, and livebearers fry! There are of course other community fish I would like to try out some day (loaches, panda garra, chili rasbora), but when it comes down to it I’m just not feeling them for THIS tank. Although, there is one on my list, that being Scarlet Badis, which I have considered for this tank for a long time. I like how they’re small but territorial, and I think that they would add a cool dynamic to the tank. But the live food is something I haven’t gotten into before, and it intimidates me. Plus, I’d be scared that they would be outcompeted by the larger platies and danios.

Having to buy more stock for this tank does throw a kink in my plan of getting a second tank soon. One will have to wait, but idk which yet. I need to get another Platy because my remaining female is bullying the male, but the other things I should be able to do whenever.

A seldom-seen angle of the tank, snapped whilst cleaning dresser to make room for the new tank.

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