Build Thread My $12 Aqueon 10 gallon journey from nothing.


Community Member
Jul 24, 2023
Port Saint Lucie, Florida

I’ve been around for a minute but haven’t started a build thread until now. Mostly because toddlers, and I never really set out to “build” anything but a functioning fish tank that supports life for a few platys that my kids would almost immediately forget even existed. I knew precisely zero about aquariums when we began in August of 2022. For example, the notion that we could not bring a fish home the same day we purchased the tank was a big surprise.

Now I’m no stranger to husbandry hobbies, prolifically breeding scorpions for a solid decade, but I had distanced myself for long enough to completely forget the black hole that opens.

So here we are. Completely green, and blissfully ignorant of the turn ahead.


At some point, I discovered Tom Barr and a trap door opened.

This is my first post as I document the progression (for myself, really) and I’ll update as I find the time.

I would not have achieved this humble tank and an ever growing mountain of knowledge without a dedicated group of like-minded dorks like you, and am forever grateful for each and everyone’s contribution.

So here we are a year and a half, countless dollars, and many dead fish later:


Side note, are we able to upload videos directly to a post? Or do we need to find a way to host them elsewhere and hyperlink/embed them?
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Haha, I had a similar entrance. Set up a tank for my younger sister for a crayfish she brought home from school a decade ago. Went from researching nitrification to incorporating plants, to discovering Amano and like you, Tom Barr. Rest is history!

Beautiful tank. And I believe you have to have the video hosted, I’ve tried uploading even the smallest of clips and the file is always “too large”
September 2022.

The vomit inducing decorations are getting to me. In an attempt to distract from my mistake, I’ve added obligatory Java ferns, moss, green camboda, and L. repens (which I still have, and must trim weekly as a reminder of where I came from). Fish are dying at a less-than-genocidal rate.


Tank is serving its intended purpose. Ellie prefers eating with the fishies over the TV. Great success.

Nice opening post and nice planted tank!!

Looking forward to hearing more about it. You should post your thoughts on how you manage the tank, and how you got there.
Nice opening post and nice planted tank!!

Looking forward to hearing more about it. You should post your thoughts on how you manage the tank, and how you got there.
Thanks Gregg. I’ll definitely get my thoughts about my current maintenance rerouting and how I got there. I strongly appreciate any and all feedback, as well as corrections to error.

Here’s a quick visual timeline to near current.





Miraculously found a Chihiros RGB60 for sale locally and snatched it up.

Naturally once I had sufficient lighting I could now justify trying the co2 injection I told myself I’d never need. And it just so happened the Fluval 45gram co2 kits were on sale for $29. I obviously had no choice. (Spoiler alert. It’s a trap).


At this point I’m still running the original Aqueon Quietflow 10 HOB filter modified with biomedia, sponges, and floss but realizing need for something that would hold a larger bacterial buffer and generate stronger circulation. I was also introduced to surface oil/protein buildup, and the need for a better suited fertilization regime than Seachem Flourish and API Co2 booster.

I’ve also started a side project 5 gallon at this point. Which is justifying the need for increased tech and equipment.

Some progression pictures over the year and livestock/equipment/maintenance details:

Equipment list:
  • Tank & Stand:
    • Aqueon 10-gallon standard tank
    • Random TV console cabinet stand
  • Lighting:
    • Week Aqua M450 Pro
  • Filtration:
    • Amazon Hang on Back canister filter with modified inlet/outlet for 12/16mm hose attachments (7 watt, 180gph)
    • Sunsun HW-603b canister filter (6 watt, 106gph)
    • Dymax glass lily pipes set x2 (two lily outflows, one standard straight inlet, one surface skinner inlet)
    • Generic Amazon surface skimmer
  • CO2:
    • Generic dual stage Co2 Regulator
    • 3/8 UNF to TR21.4 sodastream adapter
    • Fzone co2 solenoid
    • MuFan co2 splitter
    • Generic bubble counters/check valves x2
    • Neo co2 diffuser & Fluval co2 diffuser (to swap while cleaning other)
    • Generic drop checker
    • 14.5oz Sodastream tank
    • Etsy 3d printed sodastream mounting brackets (kid-safe mounting behind tanks/cabinet)
  • Substrate:
    • 8lbs Caribsea EcoComplete (black, as base)
    • 5lbs Black Diamond Blasting media (surface layer)
    • Leftover rainbow vomit gravel I never finished removing before adding new substrate.

Equipment maintenance and details:
  • Biological media: Pumice stone
  • Mechanical media: 10-30PPI sponges
  • Chemical media: Fluval Zeolite/Carbon mix
  • Filter pads cleaned/rinsed every other month, or when flow is noticeably diminished.
  • 5 to 7 gallon water changes (completed every other week with 50/50 mix of RO and dechlorinated tap water)
  • Fritz Zyme 7 bacteria added after maintenance and filter cleaning
  • Seachem Neutral Regulator to dechlorinate tap water, buffered to off-gassed 7ph with Seachem Alkaline Buffer
Fertilizer, Lighting and Co2 schedules:
  • Dosed via PPS Pro routine:
    • Seachem Flourish
    • Seachem Iron
    • Seachem Nitrogen
    • Seachem Phosphorus
    • Seachem Potassium
  • GH maintained to 10-11 with Kent Marine liquid calcium and Epsom salts
  • KH maintained to 3 with Seachem Alkaline Buffer
  • Seachem Excel and hydrogen peroxide spot dosing for algae maintenance (very minimal at this point, presumed possible from the age of tank, bio-stability, and lean dosing of ferts)
    • Note: I use the full Seachem lineup because I already purchased everything before knowing any better. When most are utilized I’ll be switching to a comparable dry fertilizer kit (NilocG PPS kit, BurrAqua if I can figure out how and when, GLA kit, etc)
  • Monitoring via API Freshwater master test kit and generic TDS and Ph meters
  • Light schedule is 10:00am to 9:00pm
    • 80% intensity on default ‘Red’ spectrum; no ramp up/down.
  • Co2 schedule is 7:30am to 8:00pm via mechanical timer to solenoid
    • (On 2.5 hours before lights on; Off 1 hour before lights out)




Switch from the Chihiros RGB60 to the new Week Aqua light:



Trim back overgrowth and added DIY light shades:



Growth accelerates. Testing out more difficult plants (Ammania Golden).

And the current livestock:

  • Flora:
    • Alternanthera reineckii 'Mini'
    • Alternanthera reineckii 'Rosanervig’
    • Anubias barteri nana
    • Eleocharis acicularis 'Mini'
    • Helanthium tenellum
    • Bacopa monnieri
    • Hygrophila difformis
    • Limnophila hippuridoides
    • Ludwigia arculata
    • Ludwigia palustris 'Super Red'
    • Ludwigia repens
    • Lobelia cardinalis
    • Hemianthus callitrichoides 'Cuba'
    • Micranthemum tweediei 'Monte Carlo'
    • Rotala macrandra ‘green’
    • Rotala rotundifolia
    • Rotala indica ‘Bonsai’
    • Ammannia pedicellata ‘Golden’
    • Cryptocoryne wendtii ‘Red’
    • Cryptocoryne albida ‘Red’
    • Bucephalandra pygmaea 'Wavy Green'
    • Bolbitis heteroclita
    • Vesicularia ferriei 'Weeping’

  • Fauna:
    • Danio margaritatus 'Celestial Pearl Danio'
    • Xiphophorus maculatus ‘Red Wag’
    • Xiphophorus maculatus ‘Panda Malibu Sunset’
    • Tanichthys albonubes ‘White Cloud Minnow’
    • Jordanella floridae ‘American Flagfish’
  • Invertebrates:
    • Planorbarius corneus ‘Rams horn snail’
    • Physella acuta ‘Bladder snail’

The reds look incredible at this point, but the increased difficulty in maintenance, old growth, and obvious circulation problems helped me realize I was overdue for a full comprehensive trim, clean out, and modest reset of the tank. I’ve learned more than I ever thought I would about growing plants, and was ready to shift focus on crafting aesthetic appeal.

So we begin:

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Some things I’ve noticed recently:
  • My Rotala macrandra ‘green’ seems to think it’s a bush? I purchased as a stem bunch, but when planted they want to hang over and creep horizontally, sending vertical shoots at nodes exposed to most light.
  • Same with the Rotala rotundifolia, but to a lesser extent.
  • Super lean dosing individual nutrients has likely been my best friend when it comes to battling algae, as I largely have none until I notice green spot on the glass (low P) or green dust (low N). It is, however, getting tedious and time consuming. If I have a rough morning or evening and don’t dose at the calculated time for a day or two, all hell breaks lose and I spend the weekend doing maintenance to get everything back in check.
  • Of all the available micro/macro mixes, are there any that you would personally recommend from experience? I’m looking to streamline my dosing but do not have resources or time to invest in auto-dosing equipment.
    • NilocG Thrive or Thrive+?
    • NilocG dry micro/macro mix in either PPS-Pro or EI?
    • GLA dry micro/macro mix?
    • NilocG NPK & Micros combo bottles?
    • BurrAqua? How? The website seems forever in limbo. ………….Beuller???

Strategic trimming to sculpt a “hillside” look:


Dancing CPD males:

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Took an impulse trip to the Scales and Fish Expo in West Palm Beach and picked up some unplanned purchases. I was still considering my fertilizer change and the folks at the Badfish Florida ( booth had some nice UNS equipment and APT products. Been wanting to switch my PVC co2 hose for PU, try an all-in-one fertilizer, and get some ramisor for a while. One stop shopping.







I would not have achieved this humble tank and an ever growing mountain of knowledge without a dedicated group of like-minded dorks like you, and am forever grateful for each and everyone’s contribution.
This has got to be the absolute best statement to begin a Build Thread that I have ever seen. :love:

Your tank, my friend, is looking fantastic! Very proud for a fellow Floridian, to be honest. Not many of us!

I also wasn’t aware that @Chantz_the_Scaper and Badfish had such a nice selection of UNS and even APT products. Awesome!
Moved around the light hanger and the lily pipes, trying out one of these acrylic brackets to see if I want a full set.

Also pulled a big mass of Rotala green (starting to really dislike this plant; whoever labeled this a stem plant is a liar, or is perpetuating some cruel joke) from the back in hopes to open up some circulation and salvage some of the Ammannia pedicellata ‘Golden’.