It all started supposed to be a gift for Leilani for Christmas. But then I realized that a good fish tank requires a lot of effort, I got carried away, so I sort of claimed it. Not that she wouldn't be enjoying it just the same as if it was for her, but it became more than "OK, let's getta a Betta fish and put it in a large jar with a plant on top."
I wanted to do a planted tank (one with a bunch of live plants). I was inspired by a bunch of stuff I found online. I learned that "aquascaping" is a thing - they have competitions. There are some amazing looking tanks out there.
I was looking to strike a balance between zero-effort and time consuming. I found what I was looking for: "a low-tech planted tank."
The legit pros would never do this, but so far I have purchased everything from the big box pet stores. I might reform depending on how things go, but the convenience of walking into a store, tracking down a store employee so they can assist you, and asking them for detailed information about aquatic life which they "have received no training on" is easier for me. For now.
Anyway, I bought some awesome, muddy substrate (Seachem Flourite) (which I apparently didn't rinse
There is a nitrogen cycle that a new tank needs to have in place before a tank can be considered "cycled" or "established." If this hasn't happened, you get a bunch of dead fish. There are many ways to do it, and many schools of thought on each (the "traditional" mode involves using live fish which many consider inhumane since it kills or severely damages the fish).
Since I had a bunch of plants in my tank, they actually help with the process, reducing the toxicity that might otherwise appear. After a week, the plants were doing well so I was ready to add a few, hearty small fish.
I found some cherry barbs at the store which fit the bill perfectly. They are really finely detailed and beautiful. The orange-red ones are male, and the yellow-brown ones are female. I didn't realize that the genders had such different coloration until after I brought the five males home.
I've had the fish for about 4 days now and they seem to be doing well. Swimming about energetically, happily eating their food when fed. The plants are doing well also, and get snacked on by my omnivorous fish. Cherry barbs like cucumbers and zucchini so I'll give mine some later today to see if they eat them.
If I make it to the two week mark with all of my guys alive, I will add some females to the mix and see what happens.
Here's a picture of the tank at week 1. I hope the plants grow out and I anticipate adding some shorter plants sometime in the next few weeks to add some variety. The barbs totally love the plants, swimming through stalks and leaves.