#TinyTankChallenge – Brian

I thought I’d give a little more detail on my #tinytankchallenge project. Like Ethan, I will be using a “standard” 2.5-gallon tank. Unlike Ethan, I will be creating a freshwater biotope aquarium using plants and fish from the White Cloud Mountain area of China. White Cloud Mountain is the type location (the place where a species is first found) for the White Cloud Mountain minnow (Tanichthys albonubes), my feature species.

White Cloud Mountain Minnow, Tanichthys albonubes. Photo by sannse. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

A biotope aquarium, as I mentioned in my previous post, is an aquarium that uses livestock and design elements from a specific geographic region. This can be as precise as only choosing plants and fish from a particular spot in a particular stream, or as general as using plants and fish from the same watershed, or even just the same country-of-origin.
As far as equipment goes, I’ll be using a 2.5-gallon tank I had on hand for another project that never came to fruition. I’m happy to put it to good use here! I will not be using a lid so I can maximize the light reaching the plants.


I’m using a fine gravel substrate that I purchased when it went on clearance ages ago. At the time, I think I may have paid a dollar for the bag, but a five-pound bag of this kind of gravel typically runs around $5 or so. Plants prefer a finer grain, and I’ve done really well growing all sorts of rooted plants in this type of gravel. I do realize that this isn’t “plant substrate”, but I’ve had good success using this less expensive gravel and occasionally supplementing with root tab-type fertilizer pellets.


Filtration will be provided by a small hang-on-back filter that I’ll actually hang on the side of the tank to create a nice current. This will mimic the flow found in sluggish streams, similar to the ones in which White Cloud minnows live. The filter cost $22.50 at an LFS (local fish store).


I will use this small LED light bar to light the tank. The LED light cost $19.99. This tank light has a number of benefits: it’s very bright, it has a small size, and therefore it doesn’t use much power. One negative feature is that it IS so small, so I may end up getting something else. Updates to come! The tank won’t need a heater, since the plants and fish all come from cool-water habitats.


Current Project Costs:

  • Filter – $22.50
  • Light – $19.99
  • Gravel – $1.00
  • Tank – $9.99
  • Total – $53.48

So that’s where I’m at coming up to the beginning of the year. Next steps include rinsing the gravel of dust, research into the species of plants found in the type location, locating those plants for purchase, and starting the cycling process in the tank itself.

Stay tuned!


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