Hoa G. Nguyen's very low-tech

Freshwater Planted Aquarium




In chronological order:

(all images are copyrighted by Hoa G. Nguyen, 1998-present)

Angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare): two common veiltails. I have successfully bred and raised angelfish. The one pictured here is a descendent of another large common veiltail mother and a midnight veiltail father.
Otocinclus (Otocinclus affinis): eight, young ones are very social and fun to watch, but older ones hide in the plants all day. They come out in the evening when the lights are dimmed for their work shift, keeping very busy cleaning algae off the leaves. An important part of my algae-control crew.
Siamese Algae Eater (Crossocheilus siamensis): four, about 4 cm (1.5"). Besides being a very important part of the algae-control crew, they are probably the most delightful fish to watch. (See article on algae-eating carps by Frank and Sarakontu.)
Dwarf Pleco (Peckoltia vittata): one, about 4 cm (1.5"). Cleaned the large piece of driftwood of all red fuzz algae in three nights! Very reclusive, it can be spotted only in the evenings, when it comes out of hiding.  Evening activities are quite fun sometimes.  (See comments under Red Fuzz Algae for more.)
Coolie Loach (Pangio kuhlii): three, 5 cm (2"). I bought these guys to help turn and aerate the gravel. They hide under the rocks and can only be seen when I lift up the rocks to vacuum. Occasionally in the evening, when the lights are dimmed, they can also be spotted among the ground cover.

Malaysian Trumpet snails: quite a few. Large ones can be spotted on the leaves at night after the lights are out. When I still used the Eheim Surface Skimmer, small ones were always found inside the Fluval filter at filter cleaning time. Help control algae and turn the gravel over, since they burrow in the day time. They are the only type of snails that survived the Clown Loaches in my tank. (The Clown Loaches did keep them in check, but could not eradicate them completely.)

Black Skirt Tetra (Gymnocorymbus ternetzi): two, 3 cm (1"). I bought 10 initially because I like schooling fish and had hoped that these would school, as mentioned in the books. But they did not school, and jumped out of the tank one by one until only two are left. They were also the most aggressive raiders of baby angelfish.
Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi): four, 1.5 cm (20 cents each). Turning my interests to smaller fish, I decided to give these a try. I have heard that neons are angelfish's food, but in this densely planted tank, they seem to be doing okay. I have had some "disappearance" of the smaller neons, but the population has stabilized to a small school of larger neons.
Black Molly (Poecilia sphenops): four, 5 cm (2"). I bought these to try out their ability for keeping the water surface clean (surface skimming). It worked (I have tried Balloon Mollies also, but they do not seem to work as well). But they are also delightful fish to have, very animated and have great personalities. They aren't completely black, but marbled and some have gold specks in their tail, enabling identification of each individual. The Bettas (both male and female) chased these Mollies at first, which was amusing, considering that these Mollies are just as large or somewhat larger than the Bettas. But eventually everyone got along fine. One of the Mollies constantly gave birth to new babies. At first they would disappeared after a few days. I suspect they were eated by the Bettas (after the Bettas were gone, they stopped disappearing). I now have seven adolescent Mollies in addition to the adults.

One problem with Mollies is their susceptability to Cammallanus nematodes. These are small red worms that infest their intestines and can be seen as short (~2mm long) hairs that stick out of their anus. These can be effectively treated with an aquarium medication called Pipzine (by Aquatronics). However, I had to repeat the dosing to get rid of a reinfestation.

Dwarf Gourami (Colisa lalia): six, 5 cm (2"), two blue and four red, all male. They certainly add color and personality to the aquarium. Semi-aggressive to each other, they would flare at each other occasionally as they pass one another (as seen in the picture). The two blue ones seem to have staked out territories near the front of the aquarium, the red ones stay mainly in the back.


In chronological order:

Comet Goldfish (Carrasius auratus var. ?): seven, used for tank cycling, given away after 30 days. Very nice and colorful, but I wanted to keep tropical fish.
Gold Gourami (Trichogaster tricopterus): I bought two but had to return one due to in-fighting. The other one lived for about 4 years, then died of a parasitic disease (a lump which it carried for most of its life, which I could not cure and did not seem to affect its behavior any).
Bala Shark (Balantiocheilus melanopterus): three, about 12 cm (5"), very rowdy, chasing each other at feeding time, but calm and almost motionless during midday periods. After living in the tank for about 4 years, they all died within 4 weeks after the Gourami died (two jumped out, one died in the tank). I suspected that they got the parasites from the Gourami. Sadly, this actually solved one of my problems. I had wanted to trade in these Balas for something smaller and not so active, but were not able to catch them. They were very fast, and the tank is rather crowded with plants.
4-line Pictus (Pimelodus blochii): one, about 8 cm (3"), fun to watch, but killed 2 small angelfish in 3 days before being traded in.
Pleco (Hypostomus plecostomus): one, young, about 4 cm (1.5"), observed eating plant (Brazillia Pennywort) in broad daylight. Returned to store after 1 night.
Rainbow Shark (Epalzeorhynchus frenatus): one, about 10 cm (4"), very pretty but also very territorial towards the Bala Sharks and Siamese Algae Eaters. Tends to hide more as he grows older, coming out in the evening. Eats some algae. After 4 years, he eventually got too agressive, chasing and stressing the other fish too much. I traded him in after he caused one of my prized adult Siamese Algae Eater to jump out. Catching him was another story.
Clown Loach (Botia macracanthus): five, about 5 cm (2"), a very fun group of four plus one loner. They tend to hide under the ground cover and only come out at feeding times. Two of them succeeded in outcompeting the others for food, and have grown much bigger than the other three. (At first I was dropping in 2 sinking wafers every night. Later I have switched to 5 sinking wafers every other night, to even out the odds for the smaller fish.) After six years, they all died over a short period, when my Fluval 204 filter impeller jammed and melted, and fouled up the water inside.
Farlowella: two, about 15 cm (6"), unusual shapes, good consumer of the regular green algae. Due to their long bodies, they are best at cleaning the glass or large Amazon sword leaves only. They seem to stake out one Amazon Sword each, or the front glass, and only occasionally scrape the driftwood.
Bristle-nose Catfish (Ancistrus temminckii): one, about 8 cm (3"), unusual and "ugly" fish. Bought to try out the famous algae eating property mentioned on the net. Eats red fuzz and green algae, but not as efficiently as the Peckoltia vittata at cleaning the driftwood. An almost invisible fish, it hides really well during the day. Scrapes the Amazon sword leaves too closely sometimes and puts holes in them. Given away.
Ramshorn Snail (Planorbis sp.): five, ~1 cm (1/2"). I got these to help control algae. They were observed scraping algae off the leaves, but they do not burrow and are not as tough as the Malaysian Trumpet snails, and thus eventually got eaten up by the Clown Loaches.
Siamese Fighting Fish (Betta splendens): one male and two females, all blue, didn't like the Clown Loaches at first (flared gills and chased after them when approached, but too slow to catch up with them), but became a happy community fish after a while. They lived for about a year and a half, the usual life span for Bettas.
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