Just bought my first tank ever...help?

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Original poster
Jun 13, 2018
Hello all; I'm completely new to aquariums I've never kept a fish of my own..I think my family kept a fish in a glass bowl for a bit when I was little...maybe a few months but all I remember was it being belly up in the bowl one day and never wanting a fish because their lives really seemed kinda empty honestly. Mostly all I've enjoyed seeing was koi and of course aquariums at the zoo..I suppose because in these large tanks with living plants they actually seem quite fulfilled, still at the petstore I never was all that interested in seeing the fish....buuut I fell in love with the look of forest aquascapes so I impulsively bought a 75gallon tank and stand on craigslist last weekend...I think it'd be especially beautiful to have to look at during winter months when I can't spend much time in nature

I've been researching loads of things for a few days straight now but I have a few questions...I'm trying to come up with a plan before I even get started. I like the sound of the walstad method but was mostly interested in growing alot of slowing growing mosses and java fern in my tank with manzanita branches and maybe adding a couple rooted plants; does the moss and java fern still thrive with the nutrients in the soil? I want it to grow as quickly as possible and I still plan on trimming the moss and splitting the fern and other plants. I know they don't root in soil but maybe the nutrients will find a way to benefit them?...I would rather not use fertilizer as alot of the critters and moss I'm interested in seem sensitive to it...maybe co2 during the day if growth is too slow. I'll be capping the soil with medium grit sand. The tank came with a free filter so I will incorporate that mostly just for some movement in the tank. I plan on just setting up the hardscape and plants/moss for a few months until I feel everything is nice and balanced then adding some small creatures...

I was thinking perhaps phoenix rasboras, blue velvet shrimp and a couple blue eyed lemon bristlenose plecos...

For longer term when I feel I could keep a fish thriving I was really loving the idea of elephant nose fish (peter's)...they look like little dolphins especially in groups...there's not alot of info out there. Does anyone have experience with these? Are they good with the small fish or even shrimp...or just bigger fish?...and are they likely to fight with their own kind? Any care tips for these when I do decide to get them? I know they are finicky. I will be getting another larger tank in maybe a year so whenever that happens as I really doubt they'll be good with shrimp and I know if I get more than 1 I'll want a larger tank..

Thanks so much for reading! Would love to hear what you guys think...
Last edited:


Josh Holloway--Be mine!!!
Sep 1, 2003
Calif. SF Bay area
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A 75gal is a very good start. The tank will need to be cycled and you will need pure ammonia to start the cycle. This will take a month or so, so you have plenty of time to consider what you want to do,

PS- Welcome to Aquaria Central.


AC Members
Jun 28, 2006
SF Bay area, CA
Welcome to AC! Like tanker said, a 75g is a great size to start with, you have many options. In addition to java ferns & moss (several types of each) look at anubias (again several kinds), maybe bolbitus or bucephalandra. Cryptocorynes are nice & easy too, many colors & species.

Wait until you have a really, really good grasp of the aquarium hobby to try elephant noses they are in the "advanced" category of fish, very fussy feeders IME & need very good water quality. Not a beginner fish in any way. We tried 1 many years ago after several years in the hobby & were unable to provide for its needs, sniff.

But there are many cool fish that are much easier to keep. I'm a bottom feeder nut, I love loaches & catfish. Take your time; research & shop...you'll have a month or 2 until your tank is cycled & ready for animals, but plants can go in any time...but look & ask, we'll help you BEFORE you buy.


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Jan 11, 2013
West Falls NY
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Welcome! Sounds like an outstanding plan. You might want to start a bit on the smaller scale though. Kind of a practice run. Just my opinion..


AC Members
Jan 17, 2017
Santa Barbara area.
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I assume your tank came with basic lighting and so your plan to stick with wood and low light plants like ferns and mosses sounds like a good one at least for starters.
Soil type is not important for these type plants but it would set you up for a future Walstead planted tank if you use some sort of aquasoil with a gravel cap. This can be messy to set up, however and you want to be careful. Simple gravel or sand is easier and works just fine for most planted tanks.
I like your patience and your plan to start with small fishes and shrimp.
You have the luxury now of just keeping it unstocked and going through the cycling process.

Good luck. Sounds like you are not in a hurry and that is good!


AC Members
Original poster
Jun 13, 2018
Thank you guys..sorry about not responding sooner. I put off thinking about the tank plans for a bit. I got the API master test kit just now and tested my tap water.

.4ppm ammonia
8.4 PH
0 nitrite
0 nitrate

The ph that suits the fish I want is about 6.5

I'll be adding around 4 big manzanita branches to the tank as well as some big rocks, do you think the ph will lower on it's own? The water changes I'll be doing will be small as well. I might do co2 in the future but I don't want to rely on that for anything; just a boost.

My tank didn't come with lighting I'm deciding what I'd like to use. I was thinking the beanswork DA led light (6500k .50w)
Is that one ok for the mosses and low light plants?..I read they grow better with moderate light. I decided I won't be getting shrimp for now..trimming the plants with the shrimp in there scares me that i'd cut some on accident...I guess I'll see I think I wanted to do slower growing mosses. I think I'll go with phoenix rasboras, and some other nano fish, a couple bristlenose plecos and some nerite snails. I still would love to try the soil method with a sand cap; I've got my heart set on it a bit because I do want to add some rooted plants and it'll be almost fully carpeted..but I'll look into other methods incase. :p

I'll definitely wait on the elephant noses..I'm moving in a year and wouldn't want to travel with a finicky fish.

Thanks alot! :)