It’s taken a good month, but I am just about done with my freshwater tank. I had a 10 gallon before, went through 3 beta fish, and gave up. I didn’t do my research. I just wanted aqua plants and felt bad for those poor beta fish in the tiny tuber-ware and became a pet owner on a whim.
Now years later, I’m trying again, but the lockdown has given me a lot more free time with some knowledge and research. It turns out it’s better to have a big tank when you start; it seems counterintuitive, but you are trying to balance an ecosystem in a tank, and the larger the body of water, the more forgiving it is too small changes.
Step one was getting a tank and substrate and filling up the tank. Substrate creates needed ingredients for the plants and the whole tank. It’s like potting soil for plants; please don’t use potting soil. It isn’t good for the critters in the tank.
Step two, I added the plants, then a thin layer of river rocks, so they didn’t float and protected the roots from the snails. Later, I discovered glass plant pots that stick to the wall, so I have the greenery, but it’s not covering up the animals.
Step three, I added the nerite snails, which live in freshwater but only lay eggs in brackish water. Brackish water is a mix of fresh and saltwater, so no chance of it getting overrun by snails. The snails clean up any algae that might grow in a tank.
Step four, fine sand and freshwater clams. It would be best if you had the fine sand so the clams and dig in and work on filtering the water. Please note you can’t see the clams in the above photo because they are already hidden.
Step Five decorations. I added seashells, land snail shells, a purple barnacle structure, and coconut shells. I think everyone has unused seashells from some trip to the beach, the coconut shells cam from the store, and the barnacle structure ordered on the internet.
Step Six, crayfish. I got two blue crayfish, and they are fun to watch; the coconut shells are for them as crayfish need hiding spaces. I cracked it open with a hammer wedged it into the sand to make sure there was an opening.
Step Seven, guppies. Not seen in the photo because I haven’t received them yet, but I’m getting 5 guppies. If you have crayfish in your tank, you need to have the right kind of fish, not big enough to eat the crayfish but fast enough to keep out of their way and no bottom-feeding fish.
Step Eight, sit back and enjoy the antics. The crayfish keep trying to get out; they are known for it, so I’ve taken to call them Steve and McQueen because they are trying for a Great Escape.