My ~15 gallon fish tank project

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Aug 20, 2023
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Long story short I plan on making a nice fish tank to sit next to my PC desk (I'm ok with it being a long term project, i realize it will take at least 3 or 4 months untill I'll put the fish in). The space is very limited so I can only fit a ~15 gallons tank. It's a 60x30x30 cm | 23.6x11.8x11.8 inch. It's far from the window, so there's no direct sunlight so hopefully I won't have a huge algae issue. The tank should arrive in 3 or 4 days and I'll update the topic with some photos.

Echinodorus Bleheri Stoffels - in a pot

Everything else is in vitro:
Cryptocoryne wendtii Broad Leaf
Alternanthera Reineckii Lila
Staurogyne Repens
Micranthemum Monte Carlo
Vesicularia ferriei Weeping
Anubias barteri Petite


After the plants grow, I plan to add them at a 1 week interval as follows:

WEEK 1: 2 Pygmy Cory, 4 Cherry Shrimp, 2 Neritina Snails
WEEK 2: 6 Neon Tetra
WEEK 3: the main attraction fish.

Below are two photos of the decorative rocks setup. There will be a driftwood in the top left corner.



The Vesicularia will go on the "cave roof" on the right , the idea is to create a green curtain. The Anubias will go in between the two rocks on the left and a bit on the driftwood.

In the upside-down U-shape in front i plan to have a small (maybe 1cm | 0.4 inch) sandy beach. Outside it I want to make a raised area that will be planted.


1. How many plants are in a in-vitro capsule? And what distance should be between the plants? This will help me know exactly how many capsules I need (I will import the topdown photo in Photoshop, scale it to real life size and with the measuring tools that the program has I can create a "planting map").

2. How many plants are in the Echinodorus Bleheri Stoffels pot?

3. Other plants suggestions - be it replacements or add-ons?

4. For the "main star" I can't decide between:

-1 Sunset Thicklip Gourami
-1 Honey Gourami
-2 Peacock Gudgeon
-1 Betta
-if you have a better idea, please tell me.

More photo-updates when the driftwood and the fish tank will arrive.
One thing I see is Cories should be in groups of 10+ and need to have soft sand as a substrate
I agree with powerdyne, with only 2 pygmy Cories they will be very stressed and will be suffering. 10 is the minimum number for them. Also neon tetras need at least 8-10, with number of 6 they will be stressed.
Agree with the above, given the space I would pick only the tetras or the pygmies and increase numbers to 10+. I also wouldn't put a betta in with either pygmies or tetras as it could lead to issues (I don't know enough about gourami to say if they would also have issues with the dither fish but I'm sure others can say).

Re how many plants are in each pot, I don't think it's a question we can answer, it may be something you can find an answer to from the seller, but usually you can separate the in vitro ones apart as needed and plant as you like.
Are you planning to use Co2? Some of the plants on your list will struggle without but with the number of fish you want to keep I wouldn't recommend Co2. From the plants on your list I'd skip the Monte Carlo and the Alternanthera as I think both will struggle without the Co2 the rest should be ok though.

The Echinodorus Bleheri is quite a big plant for this size tank so just make sure you are happy for it to take over - if you want something similar some other kind of Cryptocoryne or something like a Lagenandra Meeboldii which stay smaller.

I agree with the other comments about your numbers of fish keep the shrimp and snails but I'd go for smaller species of tetra like Embers or Green Neons and get a group of 10 and a group of 10 of the Pygmy Cories. I'd leave out the feature fish though as I dont think you'll need them. One other thing with the cories make sure you have a fine sand substrate for them and this also helps avoid the gap that not having the monte carlo in there as a carpet.

I do plan to use CO2 at least until the plants grow up. I will put the fish in only after the plants are of a decent size. I don't worry about them too much cause plants here are very cheap. The Echinodorus Bleheri will stay in a clay pot behind the large stone.

did some measurments and I can fit a 112l | ~29.6 gallon tank. (80x35x40 cm | 31.5x13.8x15.7 inch) It will be a very close fit on the dedicated desk. The seller is ok for the switch and the difference i need to pay is insignificant. So I'm doing the upgrade.
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Scratched everything and here's the new set-up idea. one medium rock, a small "cave" made with smaller rocks, 2 medium sized driftwood.
As for plants:

  • Hygrophila corymbosa Siamensis
  • Alternanthera Reineckii Rosanervig
  • Ceratopteris Thalictroides
  • Nymphaea Lotus Zenkeri Red (this will be my main star plant)
  • Cryptocoryne Wendtii Tropica
  • Echinodorus Bleheri
  • Anubias Nana
  • Microsorum Pteropus Latifolius
  • Micranthemum Monte Carlo
  • Vesicularia ferriei Weeping


    Tomorrow I'll update you with the hardscaping (photos)
There are issues with the fish stocking, some of which have already been mentioned but others have now appeared too. First, the light...some of the plants listed need fairly intense lighting. But nano fish do not, and need a good cover of floating plants. And CO2, not a good idea. This does impact fish according to more recent articles in PFK, and nano fish are more susceptible because of their metabolism and physiology; and if you use it now but remove it later, you are risking the plants. Aquatic plants need a balance of light (of suitable intensity to drive photosynthesis, spectrum too) and all 17 nutrients. I would suggest you set up the balance from the beginning; plants will have a better job of settling in long-term.
In a plot twist (yes this turns out to have more plot twists than a M. Night Shyamalan movie :yahoo:) I've decided to keep both tanks. The smaller one I'll use to improve/test/exercise my skills until I'll be able to create something really nice.

The Aquarium is a Marina LED 54l KIT. It comes with an interior filter (Marina Jet 80) that has a sponge and active carbon and because there was some space I've added a couple of ceramic rings. To be honest the water flow generated by the filter feels a bit too powerful for the size of the tank.

It has a 10W LED lamp and a heater.
Did the hardscaping and placed the substrate and some gravel. And I filled it with water to do a leak-test and have a general idea of how it looks.

For some reason the photo is way brighter than real life.

WhatsApp Image 2023-08-24 at 7.15.40 PM.jpeg

WhatsApp Image 2023-08-24 at 7.27.43 PM.jpeg
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I'm liking the scape! Maybe add a little more wood in the middle to even it out? Im really liking the rock cave on the right though!
Should I go for something small or medium?

I'll be doing some water tests cause the rocks are green slate that I've got from a local quarry and I want to see if it affects the water.
Should I go for something small or medium?

I'll be doing some water tests cause the rocks are green slate that I've got from a local quarry and I want to see if it affects the water.
Probably something small. Something that can go under the wood that's already there.
Planting Map. I will use Dennerle CO2, Dennerle 10 in 1 substrate is already used, covered with a mix of river sand and gravel. I also got the Dennerle Perfect Plant System Set fertilizer.

1 4 7
2 5 8
3 6 9

1 - Hygrophila Corymbosa Siamensis
2 - Alternanthera Reineckii Rosanverig
3 - Ceratopteris Thalictroides
4 - Cryptocoryne Wendtii Tropica
5 - Staurogyne Repens
6 - Anubias Barteri Nana
7 - Nymphea Lotus Zenkeri Red
8 - Micranthemum Monte Carlo
9 - Vesicularia Ferriei Weeping (i want the cave entrances to be "covered" by it)
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I did something stupid while placing the new root and rearranging some stones, by mistake i mixed the fertile substrate with the gravel. Do I need to replace the entire substrate+the gravel?

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