I'm back and need a refresher.

Oct 18, 2011
Miami, FL
Hi guys. I used to have a 10 gal. and a 20 gal. tanks in 2011 and I got rid of them back them because of housing issues.
Today I was gifted a 20 gal. tank and I need to make sure I don't mess it up.
It has been cleaned. Don't worry, I didn't use soap or anything bad. I now have it running to get it acclimated. I put some fish food in there.
Give me ideas on what to get. I want a natural looking tank.

Thank you[GALLERY=media, 800]20161006_155530 by Midwife@heart posted Oct 6, 2016 at 4:11 PM[/GALLERY]

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The Big Fish
The Big Fish
Oct 22, 2002
Sunny Southern California
welcome back to the fish keeping world. :)
natural tank...probably some different gravel. do you want fake plants or real plants?
but let's get your tank cycled first. what kind of filter?

Oct 18, 2011
Miami, FL
I want real plants. I had them before and loved them. I also want some for the fry to hide.
I don't know what kind of filter it has.

I plan on getting the plants first and once the water is ready, bring fish little by little.

Dec 1, 2013
If you want a planted aquarium, I would highly suggest a dirted tank! These are super easy to take care of because you basically do not need to siphon - the plants do all the work! I believe the layering goes: dirt and oyster shells, gravel then sand. Personally, I have dirt and fluorite and my plants don't seem to have a problem with it. The only thing is, you will probably need to get some snails to bury into the dirt to disturb it. These layers need to only be about 1/3 inch deep. Dirt can be even less. Make sure it has no contamination in it by getting a clean bag (no fertilizers added) or baking dirt you have at your house.

If you want to do sand, you only have to siphon the top to clean it. You will want to stir it sometimes to avoid ammonia pockets.

For gravel, it's normally a pound per gallon. Although, I have definitely done tanks with more or less that. I normally just eyeball it.


Superstar Fish
Jan 11, 2013
East Aurora, NY
Good call on the 20 long tank vs. a 20 high! You did great there. Longs are a much more versatile tank because of the bigger footprint and lower height, which is easier for plants (for lighting, etc.).

For a natural look, if you've got a Petsmart around you, I've seen a real nice looking super fine gravel in natural color under their "National Geographic" brand name. Sand looks best to me, but it's a pain with hang on back filtration because it destroys the impellers.

You really have to figure out which type of plants you want to keep and THEN choose your substrate and lighting. The lighting you have may not even be enough for java fern or anubia.