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Well it’s been just over 2 months since I started my tank. Admittedly it was a rough start... you can read that story here.

Since then, I’ve invested in some essentials including the API Freshwater Master Test Kit and use it weekly. I’m going to take things slow but the tank seems to be extremely stable and healthy now. I still think the pH seems high though (guessing due to my native water supply). Last test results...

  • Ammonia: 0 ppm
  • Nitrite: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate: 0 ppm
  • pH: 8.2 ppm

I’ve added five Neon Tetras and three Cherry Barb Shrimp along with the three Mollies. Found some driftwood on Kijiji and some dragon rock at Pisces Pet Emporium in Calgary (love this place despite the initial advice I was given, attended a fantastic planted tank seminar there recently too).

Several weeks ago, I came home to find the tank temperature at almost 35 degrees. I jumped into action and changed the water quickly to try and save my community. I later discovered that the cord on my second-hand tank heater was faulty. If I shook the cord, the heater would switch off and on. Not knowing that, I must have turned up the thermostat. I suspect the cord moved to just the right position causing the water temperature to rise.

In the end, all the fish were fine, however I lost one of the Cherry Shrimp a few days later... guessing due to the extreme temperature changes but who knows. I boiled and soaked the driftwood but I found it still darkened the water a tad so I dropped some activated carbon in the filter and it worked like a charm.

Let me know what you think and if you recommend any additions to the community.

Freshwater Aquarium

Aquarium 2b

Aquarium 3b

Driftwood 4

I do know that the cheap neon light that came with the aquarium hood is not near good enough to allow these plants to thrive. The bottom leaves on the Hygrophila Polysperma have died but there are many sprouts on the plants and they appear to be growing. The lights just aren’t strong enough so I’d love to get a couple T5’s but that might have to wait till I get a bigger tank. Plus, I have a cat so not sure how I can have those kind of lights without a hood.

Live plants are the ticket, and I look forward to replacing all the fakes with real plants in the future. Likely have to wait till I can install better lighting though.

Not sure about livestock at this point or how much more this little 20 gallon will take but I think there’s room for a few more. Would love to hear your feedback on the tank as well as any suggestions or recommendations. Thanks!

So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment or give me a


  • Shocker: Gorgeous Tank! Your hard work seems to have paid off.
  • rpsp_07: oh man thank you for the update!! looks great! a single t5 setup should fit into the strip spot in your hood
  • Snarggle: Great looking tank...get some live plants..I’m guessing your tank was at 35degC vs 35degF
  • kthorkel: Nice tank. If you’d like plants look into low light ones first.
  • robwhughes: Thanks all, appreciate the comments very much.
    @Snarggle Yes, Celsius.
  • Newfishmom: Very beautiful. I love the driftwood.
  • johnarthur: Great aquascaping! You may want to consider getting a full hood for the aquarium. This will prevent jumping and water evaporation. With too much evaporation, the minerals in the water tend to concentrate, because they don’t evaporate.
  • robwhughes:

    @johnarthur Thanks, appreciate the compliment. I have a full hood currently but I’d like to upgrade my lighting and the hood seems to limit my options. Any suggestions?

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