eRodent > Tropical Aquarium > Planted Aquarium Residents and Quarantine.

The Residents of my Planted Aquarium and Quarantine.

This page is about the residents in my Planted Tropical Aquarium. I was a complete novice when I started having never owned tropical fish before and had some problems getting the tank set up and cycled.

Fish In
The tank the day that I put the first fish in.


I had health problems with my first fish and now am a firm believer in quarantining fish and have bought a 60l tank for this purpose. I only buy fish from a good local shop (Sweet Knowle Aquatics) that quarantines all their stock, and then quarantine myself for 2-4 weeks. This tank is a Hagen Elite 60 - I had to buy this in a hurry and it's an ok tank but I have ended up replacing the filter (the stingray that comes with it really isn't up to the job), the heater (started to overheat after a few months) and the light tube (not strong enough for plant growth and replaced with a T8). The filter is now an Eheim Aquaball and the heater a Rena SmartHeater, both good quality. I also could never use the stand that comes with this tank - it just wasn't stable enough and I had a 'tiny table' built for it so it could go in a gap I had.

It was fully fishlessly cycled with biomature before first use and has had fish in it pretty much constantly since. With the first set of fish I did get trace readings of ammonia and did regular large water changes for several days. But there were no problems when I added fish after this. I bought a device called a Seachem Ammo-alert, which is a permanent ammonia test for the tank, but also continue to do tests with my test kit. I do 20% water changes daily when new fish first go in, and then go back to twice weekly. The tank is planted and has bogwood in it unlike many quarantine tanks but I feel this makes it look attractive and gives a better environment for the fish. This means I have to use plant fertilisers and easy carbo in the tank.

Quarantine Tank
My Quarantine Tank.

Pristella Tetras.

After a great deal of thought I decided that my first fish were going to be Pristella Tetras (also known as x-ray tetras). This is because they area fairly hardy species of tetra and I also think that they are very beautiful in a subtle way. They have striped yellow and black fins, a silver body and a bronze coloured tail when they are happy.

I bought half a dozen of them and after slowly acclimatising them to the tank, they were released. They spent the first few hours in a tight shoal but once relaxed they'd only shoal part of the time, the rest is spent pootling around the plants and playing in the filter outlet. These little fellas have won the jackpot really being put into a large planted tank. Initially they were difficult to feed but soon learnt the signs of food coming and rush around picking it off. They are great little tetras.

Sadly after about 3 1/2 weeks I noticed that one of them had become quite thin and seemed to have a slightly bent spine. He also developed white stringy poop. Unfortunately these things are signs of parasites - possibly a nematode infection called capillaria. The problem at this point was that I had two nerite snails and many pest snails in the tank and my new quarantine tank was not cycled yet. Anything suitable for treating these parasites would kill the snails. It hadn't occurred to me to quarantine first fish as I thought there was nothing for them to give an illness to but I hadn't thought of this problem.

The spirited little fish eluded all attempts to catch him and I ended up treating the whole tank. Initially I used Sera Nematol which suppressed it but it came back, and then successfully with 3 treatments with Kusuri Wormer plus over 3 weeks - this is important to kill any parasite larvae which can take 3 weeks to hatch. I moved the nerite snails into the quarantine tank and cut back a lot of the plants in the main tank and physically removed as many pest snails as I possibly could before treating. Sadly although I had done around 80% in water changes and put the carbon back into the filter for several weeks I lost my nerites when I moved them back. I re-added nerites after a few months and many water changes and they survived. The pest snails were tougher and some survived the treatments.

Sick Tetra
The top fish is the sick tetra.

Here is a recent video of them showing their full colours. You can see the tetra that was sick swimming in from the left at one point. He has a deformed spine but has filled out and behaves normally.

Click here to see the video on YouTube if it does not appear below because of your security settings.

Siamese Algae Eater.

It was a difficult decision deciding which algae eater to buy. I already had a couple of nerite snails and didn't really have a problem with green algae, but staghorn was a bit of a problem. The only fish or invert that will reliably eat this is a Siamese Algae Eater (SAE). Unfortunately they get quite large - up to 6" and there are a number of different species that can be mistakenly sold as a SAE, such as the more territorial Flying Fox, that is not such a good eater. A good thread on identifying Siamese Algae eaters on Practical Fish Keeping forums to help you ensure you buy the right fish.

Anyhow I found some little ones at Sweet Knowle Aquatics that I was pretty sure were SAEs and bought one. He was tiny, smaller than the tetras and a bit tatty, but in theory the youngsters should eat algae well as they grow and he won't put so much strain on the filter. I felt really sorry for him as he'd been taken out of his shoal and put on his own in the tank - it would have been better to have a group but I didn't have room. The tetras didn't like him much to start off with but they got used to him and now let him shoal with them. His fins have grown back beautifully.

Initially he showed no interest in Algae at all and stuck to one end of the tank. I wonder how much algae he'd seen - he was in a bare tank in the shop. But slowly he got the hang of nibbling algae off of the leaves in the tank. Although he does also like the Frogbit roots. He has now grown to a good 3 inches and is a happy little fella, always nibbling on algae, digging through the gravel, and "shoaling" with the tetras. He'd still rather eat flake than alage but he does a reasonable job in the tank. He's become a little agressive with the other fish at feeding time, but it doesn't usually amount to more than chasing one of the Pristellas around the tank until he gets worn out as he cannot catch them. The first photo shows him when I first got him and the video several months later, probably 3/4 grown.

Nutter when I first got him.

Click here to see the video on YouTube if it does not appear below because of your security settings.

Zebra Nerites and Pest Snails.

I bought a couple of stripy snails (zebra nerites) with my first set of tetras. They are rather cute little fellas and happily munch away at the algae without damaging the plants. That said they seem to prefer the bogwood to pretty much anything else. Sadly as I said above I moved them back into the main tank too soon after it had been treated with wormer and they died. I left it several months and kept track of the water changes I did until I was sure that there was less than 0.5% of the water that had been treated left (as well as having a carbon filter running). Then I bought some 'candy nerites' and introduced them to the main tank after quarantining them.

I got a range of pest snails with my plants including bladder snails, little red ramshorns and river limpets. They reproduced rapidly initially but their numbers seem to have stabilised. They do a job of clearing up algae, rotting leaves and left over food so I'm not too worried about them. The trick to keeping numbers down is not to overfeed. There are the odd holes in the leaves of my plants but I shall just have to keep and eye on them. These guys actually survived the cycling phase so they must be pretty tough when it comes to ammonia and nitrites. The bladder snails and a few ramshorns even survived the wormer although the river limpets mostly died.

Cardinal Tetras.

My second fish, once I'd finally sorted the parasite problem in May, were half a dozen cardinal tetras. This time I used the quarantine tank, took a few days to settle down but are now happily swimming around with the other fish. They can also be seen in the SAE video.

Cardinal Tetra.

Glowlight Tetras.

After another break so as not to have fish in the quarantine tank when I was on holiday I decided on some little Glowlight tetras in early July. These guys were absolutely tiny when I got them and spent 4 weeks in the quarantine tank getting up to size so that I felt safe to move them. The Glowlights lurked around the back of the main tank a little initially but soon started to swim around more and coloured up nicely.

Peru Green Strip Corydoras.

So I then preceded to get (possible) swine flu, leaving me quarantined in the house, with an empty quarantine tank. I didn't want to leave it empty as I'd need to recycle it so I sent the husband out to buy me some fish. These little fellas came back. They are Peru green stripe Corydoras, not cheap but absolutely beautiful. They have neon green stripes down their sides. The substrate isn't ideal for them - in the main tank I've got a layer of smooth gravel over the top. Several months down the line they seem to have healthy barbels - I have heard that dirty substrate is more of a problem than gravel. However they are very shy and tend to hide under the bogwood for much of the time so maybe a less exotic species would have been better. I'd like to move them into the new tank I am setting up with a sand substrate but doubt I would ever catch them. They are also a little difficult to feed, but I drop Hikari sinking wafers in at lights out for them.

Click here to see the video on YouTube if it does not appear below because of your security settings.

Pitbull/Dwarf Gold Spot Plecos.

Finally I wanted a pleco. Large plecos can be messy and destroy plants so I made the decision to get a little group of pitbulls. I got 3 and one of them turned out to be a Dwarf Gold Spot (Parotocinclus spilosoma) rather than pitbull (Parotocinclus jumbo) pleco. I've called him spotty and he is much tamer than the two pitbulls. These are great little plecs - cleaning algae from the glass, plants and furnishings and not damaging the plants. They like Hikari algae wafers, cucumber and peas which is good as the algae is going down. I also grow algae on stones in a little tank sat in the sunlight for them.

Click here to see the video on YouTube if it does not appear below because of your security settings.

The label on this video is wrong - it's spotty the Dwarf Gold Spot Pleco

Dwarf Gold Spot Pleco
Paratocinclus Spilosoma.

Zebra Danios.

My latest additions are a small group of Zebra Danios in the quarantine tank. Often overlooked because they are so common, they are really beautiful little fellas with their blue and silver stripes and are endlessly interesting zipping around the little tank. Originally bought to keep the quarantine tank cycled they are now going to be first residents in a new stream biotope tank I am started. Do you like this page? Is it useful? Please email me at and let me know. Put something about aquariums in the title so I can pick it out if my spam filter gets it.

Back to Main Page