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In which a Water Garden leads to a 5 gallon, a library 10 gallon, and a 20 gallon long


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This summer, a Back to the Roots Water Garden with a Betta (Winston, named after my cousin’s dog) led to an aquarium rabbit hole that I haven’t escaped.  My 7yo talked me into a zebra nerite (Perry Pail, because that rhymes with snail) on one of our weekly trips to the LFS this summer (he likes to feed the koi there). I was not prepared for how much snails poop!


Research told me that the Water Garden was pretty small and poorly shaped for a Betta, so I got him a 5gal and left Perry to fertilize the water garden on his own. Research also told me that I probably needed some Amano shrimp (obviously), since they were big enough that Winston couldn’t eat them. Roger, Roger, and Flip (named after the boy and dog in Richard Scarry’s Things That Go, with two Rogers because the 4yo copied his brother).


Even though the new guys were too big for Winston to eat, he would not stop pestering them. This seemed grossly unfair, so the shrimp moved to the Water Garden and Perry moved to the 5gal with Winston.




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I’m also a school librarian, so once I was bitten by the aquarium bug over the summer, I decided that we needed one at school, too.  I found a 10 gallon kit that was reasonably priced, then waited seemingly FOR-EV-ER for the fishless cycle to complete before shopping for inhabitants. I started with an order of plants and 7 gold nebula shrimp (Caridina villadolidi) from Aquatic Arts. They sent 11 beauties, but my inexperience caused a tragedy. I popped them into a small temporary tank with some Ammo-Lock, but it was obviously not enough because almost everyone died while I was at work. I felt awful, and I couldn’t afford to replace them. The lone survivor moved in with the Amanos at home, and I named it Bebe (no way to know gender with no one for comparison 😢).


After learning a bit more about red cherry shrimp, especially how easy they are to breed, I decided to build the school tank around them. The guy at the LFS close to school that has RCS was great, really excited that I was putting a tank in a high school space, and helped me pick out fish that would be good buddies for the RCS.  I brought everyone (8 + a baby painted fire RCS, 8 dwarf corydora, & 6 sundanio axelrodi) home to the library and they settled in pretty quickly. The plants struggled initially, but eventually got very happy. 


An amazing student helped with keeping track of water parameters. I think we’ve lost 4-5 of the RCS, but we’ve had at least that many babies, including one with natural coloring who is awful hard to find!








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