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Tank setup: A Closer Look at the Fangorn

So here I’d like to talk about what I stocked in the 22gal community tank. Every planted tank is made up of several key components that helps the tank sustain its health. I will tell you what I chose for each, and why I did so, so listen close.

Note that discussion for the flora and fauna will be in a different article altogether, maybe one for each.

Starting my tank, taken on March 21st of 2016


Glass tank

For the tank itself, I went to Magallanes St. downtown to shop for nice cheap deals. If you are a beginner like me back then, you would want to get the cheapest equipment that would still serve well in the hobby. If you got the money, I suggest you check your options in the more high-end stores as well so you don’t miss out. I ended up with this 24x18x12inch build for around PhP1200. I also bought the rack that it fits in for PhP500. Not a bad deal, really.
There is one caveat with this tank, though. Pretty much all plants tend to grow towards the light, so some plants resulted in really long stems, and some lose their foliage down below, and only kept the ones near the surface. So my advice – get a tank around the 1-foot height so that the plants are not too far from the surface.

Substrate and hardscape

The substrate in this tank is made of ISTA Premium soil with I think 6 pH. I could not recall how much I used but 2liters of this soil will cost you around PhP380 at Piper’s. To compute for your need, just multiply your tank dimensions (LxW) and the desired thickness. I suggest around 4 inches. The substrate is an important component of building a planted tank, so if you can, try too look around for better ones like ADA. I just got the cheapest ones because I didn’t know its importance back then. Remember, the soil holds the nutrients that will nourish your plants, so the better they are, the longer your plants will remain healthy.

To add a little accent to the hardscape, I decided to add two pieces of driftwood where the moss would be seen sticking to. More on that on later posts about the different mosses I have in the tank.

I never really planned to scape the tank, so if you can see my initial setup, you’d know I just shoved in the plants to the ground and made sure they are not blocking the view. I am still trying to establish the identity of my tank until now.


This is interesting. I once started with two 8W T5 tubes that were around the same length as the tank. I had slow growth and not much improvement on the volume of the plants, so I went ahead and had someone build me a high-light DIY lamp from three LED bulbs, each blasting 24W of light.It was emitting blindibg levels that after a few minutes, the plants started giving off oxygen bubbles, more commonly known as pearling. It was a very satisfying sight – save for a few days later when algae outgrowth started forming in the moss and on the Anubias leaves. I panicked and did a one-two punch with H2O2 and Excel, and thankfully I got rid of the algae with minimum casualty. Bottom line is I was exposing the tank too long under the light. I adjusted the timing so that it gets 4 hours in the morning and then 3 hours ij the afternoon. I have had no algae outbreaks since. Lesson learned – photoperiod is as important as the light intensity. Analog and digital timers available at your local hardware store will help keep the timing consistent and automated.

Water Column

I simply used tap. It’s easy to obtain, and is umm, dirt-cheap? Of course I made some treatments before I poured in the pail and call it a day. In the first few weeks, I used the recommended dose of Seachem Stability to keep the beloved fishes alive without the need to cycle the tank first. Oh and for those new to this hobby, tank cycling is very important. Look it up. I also used Seachem Prime to rid the tap water of chlorine and other chems. In other words I made sure the fishes and plants are free of harmful substances in the water.


Water filtration is very important to keep the water’s chemistry as well as the clarity in check. Initially, I tried to reuse the old hang-on filter I was using on my smaller tank, but it proved to be insufficient for the tank’s volume. With this fact, I decided to get a canister filter. I got the Shiruba XB-305 from someone who decided to upgrade to a better system. For the moment, it seems to serve its purpose well. Initially I had it hooked to the back of the tank. The problem was with plastic – it turns brittle over time, and eventually the part that hooks to the side gave in. Fortunately, the pump in this thing is strong that it still works with the power head about a meter below the water surface. Every month or so, if I see that the flow is reduced due to residue buildup, I take out the filter media and wash them with tap water. I am using ceramic and some sponge for the filter media.

Flora and Fauna

For the fishes, decided to move the 6 Cherry Barbs from my old tank to this new one. I added another school of Rummy Nose tetras to add a more dynamic ambiance to the whole setup, as rummy noses tend to swim around the tank a lot compared to the Cherries. I also added some Chinese algae eaters and some 6 Red Cherry shrimps for variety. I was afraid the Rummy Nose or the Cherries might start snacking on the Red Cherries, but surprisingly, they harmoniously lived together.

I opted moved the plants from the old tank to this new one instead of buying new stock. Initially I had some Dwarf Sags, Pearl Weed, Rotala r, Anubias n., Limnophila s., Crypts, and two kinds of mosses. Vegetation was sparse as you can see in the first picture, and it was not much of a looker, but I had high hopes for this tank, and I see so many possibilities for improvement. Eventually I

I will be putting up pages for each of the plant species I have, so I can describe how they thrive in the tank and how to care for them.


If the stuff I talked about in this article overwhelms you, don’t worry. I’m just being too nerdy about it. Truth is, for the most part, it would be hard at the start, and that is mainly because plants and animals need time to adapt to the new environment they are introduced. Once they do get adapted, you will have to deliberately kill them in order to get rid of them. The key here is patience. And believe me when I say I’m not one with lots of it but even I was able to make it work!

Oh and about the name… I chose Fangorn as it is the name of the fictional forest in J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel Lord of the Rings. I have always been fascinated with Middle Earth.

This is what the tank looked like in November of 2016. There had been some additions and moving around, but it doesn’t really take much to turn the tank into a jungle.

If you have any questions or feedback on this piece, I would be glad to hear them, and maybe respond to them. Just leave me a comment below or in Facebook.

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