View Full Version : Lab Rat's free craigslist tank

08-17-2009, 01:51 AM
Today I picked up a "50" gallon tank which really turned out to be a 29g. It came complete with a wood stand, filter, other supplies, and three fish, two of which are totally inappropriate.

The tank hadn't had any maintenance performed in two years. That's two years of no water changes or filter maintenance, though they did top the tank off. There was no heater and just a little in tank filter. It had been the woman's husband's tank and he died two years prior. She just wanted it gone and didn't take the money I had offered (was listed for only $20).

The original nitrate levels in the tank water were over 400ppm. I slowly acclimated the fish via the drip method in their buckets over 3 hours. I scrubbed the calcium deposits and other junk off the tank then set it up.

Here's what the tank looked like right after I'd swished the old filter media in the tank:

I'm running two hob filters on the tank right now, so a couple of hours later the water had cleared a bit, looking like this:

Once the water clears more I'll post pics of the current inhabitants, a 14" pleco, an 8" oscar, and a 4" gourami.

08-17-2009, 02:28 AM
Here are the current inhabitants:

The oscar:

The gourami:

The pleco:

08-17-2009, 02:32 AM
im so shocked they lived as long as they have

08-17-2009, 02:32 AM
Ouch...from what I can barely see, that oscar looks pretty beat up...

08-17-2009, 02:36 AM
I was going to say the oscar looks pretty good.Flaring colors out like crazy!
Thats a good sign.
At least thats what I hope I see!
The other fish look nice too!

08-17-2009, 02:51 AM
A free tank is a free tank, but that does suck that it hadn't been maintained for so long.

08-17-2009, 03:35 AM
I bet they are so happy to now have an owner that will give them proper care. That Oscar definatly shows the signs of past neglect, suprisingly the gourami looks pretty good :11: Congrats on the tank!

08-17-2009, 04:24 AM
good luck man the fish look good considering the past neglect

08-17-2009, 05:27 AM
Tanks starting to clear up, hopefully by tomorrow it will be totally clear.


I appreciate y'all thinking good thoughts for these fish. Hopefully they can tough it through the change in water conditions.

08-17-2009, 05:44 AM
Congrats on the new tank, Labby :) And folks, it isn't terribly surprising that the fish are in decent shape despite the lack of maintenance; my uncle knew nothing about aquarium maintenance, and the neon tetras in his algae covered tank with a simple box filter in the corner, thrived for more than 14 years. His only care was keeping the tank topped off and feeding the fish.

Fish are quite resilient creatures given stability.


08-17-2009, 06:03 AM
Wow. Those fish are real survivors.

08-17-2009, 06:11 AM
Congrats on the new tank, Labby :) And folks, it isn't terribly surprising that the fish are in decent shape despite the lack of maintenance; my uncle knew nothing about aquarium maintenance, and the neon tetras in his algae covered tank with a simple box filter in the corner, thrived for more than 14 years. His only care was keeping the tank topped off and feeding the fish.

Fish are quite resilient creatures given stability.


I still find it hard to believe, just because those neons were in the the same sized tank with a much much lower bioload and all that algae that you explained acted as a filter.

Wow, that water looked like sewage.

(Oops, I accidently dropped another hat in my room and a platy died.

08-17-2009, 11:35 PM
The fish all look great today (well, great is a relative term), no signs of stress or disease which was what I was concerned about.

I've named the pleco Roger. Hopefully Roger gets to go to a new home today, which would be a 10'x6'x2' koi pond...pleco heaven. The oscar may get to go with Roger, I'm still not sure about an oscar in a koi pond.

Here are today's pics:


Oscar with a flash:

And Snowball the gourami:

Snowball looks pretty good except one of her feelers is only half there.

All three being cuddly in the corner:

08-18-2009, 12:15 AM
aww snowball is beautiful! What a stunning gourami, I hope her feelers will grow back once she's in good water. Considering what he's gone through, the oscar doesn't look to terribly bad either, not great, but in two years without a water change, i suppose you can't expect much

08-18-2009, 12:24 AM
Thanks Wolf!

Unfortunately I called the guy and he can't pick up Roger tonight. I'm keeping my fingers crossed he doesn't flake out, you know craigslist people and all. He did offer for me to deliver the fish but I won't do that unless there is no other option. At least that will give me more time to figure out whether pond life in south Texas would suit an oscar.

08-18-2009, 08:14 PM
I disagree the oscar looks pretty bad.

08-18-2009, 08:23 PM
I disagree the oscar looks pretty bad.

That's what I was thinking....It has so much white and dullness to it, especially for a tiger.

08-18-2009, 08:47 PM
Looks more like a common oscar to me which retain that more wild type coloring. The fish is stunted pretty bad you can tell from the smallness of the body compared to the head and the largeness of the eye. Now that its in good condition it may pick up and start growing a bit more, time will tell but it will never be a full sized fish. I think this O should be a lesson to everyone on water quality and the myth attached to fish growing only as large as the tank allows.

08-20-2009, 04:53 AM
So just for everyone's reference, craigslist responders are completely flaky. I've been stood up the past 3 nights on someone to pick up Roger and Jack (I have now named the oscar Jack, and yes I realize that is stupid since I have a Jack Dempsey named Fred). We'll see, hopefully I can rehome these guys soon as I fear I have disrupted the biological filter though I've done my best not to. Last night I detected a trace amount of ammonia so I've increased the wc plan to 50% daily and I'm doubling the dosage of Prime to help.

Jack is currently on a hunger strike even though he is pretty emaciated so that just adds a whole new level of fun to the mix.

08-20-2009, 05:12 AM
Looks more like a common oscar to me which retain that more wild type coloring. The fish is stunted pretty bad you can tell from the smallness of the body compared to the head and the largeness of the eye. Now that its in good condition it may pick up and start growing a bit more, time will tell but it will never be a full sized fish. I think this O should be a lesson to everyone on water quality and the myth attached to fish growing only as large as the tank allows.

:goodpost: I totally agree with you. He looks like he's been very neglected and hopefully there's a chance he can somewhat turn it around and have a decent oscar life. Good luck with him!

08-21-2009, 12:14 AM
I ended up taking Roger and Jack to a LFS today since I'm pretty sure an ammonia spike was coming. I really didn't have many other options. Roger got to go into an 80g holding tank so at least he can move around a bit and Jack got his own place to be.

Lady Hobbs
08-21-2009, 12:22 AM
Good job. Are they going to keep them or just hold them for you for awhile?

08-21-2009, 01:48 AM
They're going to keep them. Unfortunately I have no way to house an oscar appropriately, much less a pleco. I really hope they both find great homes. It was such a sad situation for the fish.

08-28-2009, 02:25 AM
I ordered the substrate for a planted tank the other day and it came in today. I decided to go with 2 bags of the Flourite black sand and 1 bag of tahitian moon sand. Being a bit tired and lazy I really didn't rinse the substrate, just dumped it in and did 3 subsequent very large water changes, taking as much out as I could each time. It really was not a bad system.

Driftwood and plants were added and I dosed with Flourish, Excel, N,P,K, and iron just for fun. Excel will be the main source of carbon for the plants as I've not had luck with diy CO2.

Here's what it looks like now. It's still degassing, hence all the bubbles.

Tomorrow I may pick up a couple foreground plants and I'd like to get a couple of onion plants too. Not sure what I'll stock with, maybe I'll see what the LFS has in. I will be putting my 3 apistos in there tomorrow. Will also be adding a solid black background. Also, my PC fixture is not working so I need to invest in new lighting.

08-28-2009, 02:26 AM
the tank is looking fabulous Lab Rat :19:

08-28-2009, 02:27 AM
Looking good! Keep us updated

08-28-2009, 02:30 AM
Def the ultimate Before and After ;)

Looks great Lab!

08-28-2009, 02:30 AM
Very nice, it's amazing what a good cleaning and a new aquascape can do to make a tank look good again. I love the flourite black sand, I have it in my 90g. thumbs2:

08-28-2009, 02:22 PM
I'm amazed too - that the fish survived under those conditions.

I've seen it before too - fish survive under horrendous conditions and other fish keep dying despite what appears to be ideal conditions...

It remains one of life's mysteries.

Tank is looking good though! Wonder why she thought it was a 50g?

08-28-2009, 03:04 PM
tank looks great lab!

08-28-2009, 03:34 PM
Wow! What a transformation!! Looking good!! thumbs2:

Wild Turkey
08-28-2009, 04:33 PM
The tank looks so much better!!! really good job already

Glad you found a place for the fish alsothumbs2:

08-28-2009, 09:36 PM
what a great job you did turning that tank around. i cant wait to see how it progresses over time.

08-28-2009, 10:54 PM
Tank looks great! Your doing an awesome job thumbs2:

08-28-2009, 11:51 PM
Tank looks great Lab! :22:

08-29-2009, 12:52 AM
Picked up a new PC fixture today since the old one is busted. Hopefully this one doesn't fail after less than 2 years. I also picked up some fish for the tank. This past week I did a fishless cycle just because I'm paranoid and wanted to make sure I really did have enough bacteria to cover a whale shark. When the ammonia went from 6ppm to 0ppm overnight and the nitrites were gone shortly after I felt good about the biofilter.

Since I'm pretty confident in the biofilter, plus the tons of plants I've added I went ahead and added more fish than I usually would. I picked up 9 rummynose tetras and a SAE. I was psyched to find the SAE, hardly ever see real ones around so I snapped him up. He was the only one at that lfs and I didn't see any at the other lfs I went to either.

So far stocking wise I have:
3 female apistos
1 platinum gourami (Snowball who originally came with the tank)
9 rummynose tetras (hopefully they all survive acclimation)

I may add a small school of cories in the next couple of weeks. There were some really cute skunk cories that would look nice with the black substrate. I decided not to push my luck though and held off on getting them.

Also, I picked up an amazon sword, 6 spiral vals, and 4 small crypts. I may actually have too many plants, I'm not very happy with the placement right now. I'll give them a chance to fill in and then decide.

Pics to follow, I don't want to stress the rummynose so the tank light is off for now.

08-29-2009, 05:56 AM
Seems the guy bagging up the rummynose messed up and I should have stopped him. He put all 9 fish in a single bag with not much water. Unfortunately I have lost 4 so far, most likely due to ammonia poisoning on the short ride home. Hopefully the rest will be ok.

Here are some pics of the surviving ones:




08-29-2009, 05:58 AM




08-29-2009, 05:58 AM
Nice pictures! the sae is adorable! thumbs2:

08-30-2009, 04:43 AM
I returned the four dead rummynose to the lfs this morning and the woman who bagged the new ones used much more water and there were only 4 fish in there this time. They all made it home fine and I acclimated them over about 2 hours via the drip method.

So far, everyone looks good. Rummynose are very cool fish, I'm glad I chose them.

09-03-2009, 05:54 AM
Wow! sure doesnt look like the same tank at all! Its looks really really good. I bet Snowball is LOVING it!

09-04-2009, 02:21 AM
Thanks Hailey!

Snowball just got moved to the 55g last night as she's a tough old broad and is absolutely terrorizing the rummynose. I suspect she slaughtered one of the apistos too as I found her little body in pieces. I wish I'd caught it sooner, but RIP little apisto.

So Snowball now lives in the big fish tank with my macaw, the rosys, and the pictus. Those fish should be tough enough to handle her and her attitude.

I'll post some pics soon, the plants are looking decent still.

09-13-2009, 12:56 AM
Time for new pics!

Since the last update the stock has changed a bit. The one female apisto killed off the other two which made me very unhappy. I blamed Snowball for the first death and relocated her to the 55g (where I think she is very happy), then saw the other one being picked on. I separated them but her wounds were too bad and she didn't make it.

So, I've added a pair of bolivian rams, 8 skunk cories, and a tiny bristlenose pleco. Tank should be fully stocked now, I don't plan on adding anything more, except plants.

Full tank (taken at a funny angle because of the flash reflection):

Right side:

Left side:


09-13-2009, 12:58 AM




09-13-2009, 01:01 AM




10-14-2009, 06:24 AM
Tank has been running well. Filtration has been upgraded to an xp2 plus one of the HOBs that had been on before. I haven't added any new fish as I'm quite happy with my stocking and no new plants either. The plants have started to fill in, especially when compared to where they were before.

Full tank, no flash:




10-14-2009, 06:26 AM




10-14-2009, 06:28 AM
Tank is looking good Labby! :22:

10-14-2009, 06:33 AM
Tank looks awesome! thumbs2: I like those bolivians and skunk cories :)

10-14-2009, 02:43 PM
Your tank is looking great thumbs2:

10-14-2009, 02:48 PM
Nice looking tank and fish!

10-14-2009, 02:49 PM
Looks great! Congrats!

10-14-2009, 02:56 PM
looks great, love the rummynose.

10-14-2009, 04:27 PM
LR, I don't know how I missed this thread before, but I did. Now I know the history of your 29g. It was a great save, refurbish, and restock of the 29g. It's also a wonderful job of rehoming fish.

Told you that 29g was an interesting tank and surely it is..all in a good way.thumbs2:

10-18-2009, 03:29 AM
Thanks guys!

11-05-2009, 01:36 AM
Some updated pics of the plant growth. I think my light was too much for the java ferns as most of them crapped out. The blue hygro loves it though, as does the spiral val.

Snowball was returned to the 29g since my nic was beating the crap out of her in the 55g. She's healing up nicely and seems to be doing well with the rummys, no longer terrorizing them.

Right side:

Left side:

Angled full tank:

Caught in an embarrassing moment:

11-05-2009, 01:39 AM
Great shots! Tank is looking great! thumbs2:

11-05-2009, 02:00 AM
Looking good! Nice ram!

11-05-2009, 03:18 PM
For the Extreme Tank Makeover Contest!

Looks fabulous! I read the entire thread and am absolutely amazed at the difference. I'm so glad Snowball survived and you kept her. She's very pretty, and a much happier girl now, I'm sure!!

Great job all around!

11-05-2009, 03:26 PM
It looks terrific! Fish look so nice and healthy! Way to go!thumbs2:

11-05-2009, 03:54 PM
Great looking Bolivians, LR!

11-05-2009, 03:59 PM
I also missed this thread. So glad to read the history of this tank. You've done an awesome job, Lab Rat!

11-05-2009, 04:06 PM
thats awesome labby!

11-14-2009, 06:36 AM
More pics because I'm bored. Added a couple sprigs of red ludwegia and some other little foreground crypts. Also trimmed back the blue hygro, it's growing like crazy.



Before the trimming:

11-14-2009, 07:08 AM
Your tank looks great, Labby! thumbs2:

11-14-2009, 08:18 AM
WOW! The tank is looking better and better as the plants fill in. Very natural looking. thumbs2:

11-14-2009, 10:34 AM
Tank looks great labby! :22:

11-14-2009, 11:18 PM
The tank looks very good!thumbs2:

12-10-2009, 10:16 PM
An updated pic:

The sword plants are really growing, I'm going to have to transplant either the red rubin sword or the other one. The vals have started spreading nicely too.


Female ghostie all berried up:

12-11-2009, 11:35 PM
Very, very nice, Labby. Wouldn't change a thing in your tank.


12-11-2009, 11:48 PM
Tank looks great LR!

01-10-2010, 06:34 AM
I added DIY CO2 about a week ago, not sure if it's doing much but with my water as hard as it is I figure it can't hurt. I'm running the line into the intake of the canister filter.

Also, Noob was kind enough to send me some free plants (thanks Noob!) He sent me rotala veitnam sp., bacopa , and a ton of myro.

Some of the myro:

Myro and rotala:



01-10-2010, 09:17 AM
Well on your way to a beautiful planted tank, Labby :)


01-10-2010, 01:57 PM
Looking very nice!thumbs2:

02-26-2010, 04:58 AM
Updated pic:

03-14-2010, 05:44 AM
Decided the tank needed some trimming and rearranging as it was looking like a wild jungle. I pulled the aponogetons and some of the rotala indica, moved all the vals to the back, rearranged the crypt lutea, and added a new crypt lutea. Also added a stem of anacharis just for it's nitrate sucking properties as I have 12 cardinals in QT that I will soon be adding (gotta love the Petsmart $1 tetra sale, the only way I'd buy fish from them).





03-14-2010, 02:40 PM
Excellent growth labby, the CO2 looks to have done a nice job on the plants :22:

03-14-2010, 03:59 PM
My friend has a fish tank at his moms house that he never took care of it. He set it, a 8g nano cube, with everything and one fish. I have noc clue what it is. The tank is completely covered in algea to the point he said he couldn't see anything in it. Says everytime he goes to the house its still alive...he never feeds it....so I'm not sure how that thing still survives...I keep trying to get him to give me the setup.....

03-14-2010, 05:04 PM
Excellent planted tank!thumbs2:

03-15-2010, 04:20 AM
Thanks guys! Souly, I hope you're able to rescue that poor fish. I've found myself taking in several in circumstances like that. The latest was a pair of fancy goldies in a 2.5g tank with no filter.

03-15-2010, 10:59 PM
wow that anubias is like a jungle in itself. i hope mine gets to that point.

03-16-2010, 12:01 AM
wow that anubias is like a jungle in itself. i hope mine gets to that point.

I have a couple like that. One I chopped up into 6 smaller plants and they're all starting to grow. I love anubias, great plants especially with cichlids.

03-20-2010, 04:31 AM
Decided to add some crypt parva to the foreground. I'm hoping it grows in well. So far no signs of crypt melt from the shipping/transplanting.




Also added a school of 12 cardinal tetras:

03-20-2010, 05:58 PM
Beautiful cardinals and plants Labby.thumbs2:

04-11-2010, 06:12 AM
Got a bunch more plants, a whole small flat rate priority box full. I added some to the 29g and some to the 55g. I have got to stop with the plant buying...




04-11-2010, 06:28 AM
You can keep buying the plants just send them my way instead :rolleyes: . Looks good though, keep us updated.

05-17-2010, 03:12 AM

New checkerboards:


Bolivian male:

09-24-2010, 02:10 AM

09-24-2010, 03:20 AM
Wow, you're tank is looking great!

Did you thin out the plants 'cause they were taking over?

09-24-2010, 02:46 PM
Thanks! I thinned a lot of them, and also was gone for almost 2 months on business, so the more difficult/delicate ones thinned themselves. Idk what happened to all the vals though, they were doing awesome and shooting runners out like crazy, and then poof, they disappeared.

09-24-2010, 03:26 PM
I just read through this thread, wow what a turn around on this tank.
do you still have snowball?
loving the plants too.

09-24-2010, 03:30 PM
Yep, Snowball is alive and well, queen of the tank. She loves swimming through the plants. And thanks, this tank was a fun one, and I still like to go back and look through it's evolution in just a year.

09-24-2010, 03:33 PM
Wow in just a year, thats impressive.thumbs2:

11-19-2010, 06:01 AM

01-25-2011, 02:58 AM




01-25-2011, 03:00 AM


01-25-2011, 04:06 AM
Wow that tank has realy come along way good job. Is that a ram in the 2nd to last pic. If so what tipe is it?

01-25-2011, 04:19 AM
Yes, it is a female (I think) bolivian ram.

01-25-2011, 03:03 PM
Interesting tank Labby. :ssmile: What is the fish in post 95, 2nd picture? Checkerboard?

01-26-2011, 02:12 AM
Yep, male checkerboard cichlid. And yeah, the stocking is very "interesting" right now, lol. The cards and rummynose will be going to the auction before I move.

01-26-2011, 02:49 AM
Awesome transformation! Well done!

01-26-2011, 05:44 PM
Great looking tank! What lighting are you running on it?

01-26-2011, 07:18 PM
Awesome transformation Labby! Can you give us a full updated stock list? I lost myself along the read.

01-26-2011, 08:35 PM
Thanks guys!

Great looking tank! What lighting are you running on it?
It's a 65w PC lamp at 6700k.

Awesome transformation Labby! Can you give us a full updated stock list? I lost myself along the read.

I'll give my stock list with the disclaimer that I don't ever recommend this stocking and that some fish are just in there temporarily. It's heavily stocked but with the plants I have in there I am able to keep nitrates low without issue.

Schooling fish:
Cardinal tetras
Rummynose tetras
Danio choprai
Roselines (were going into the 75g, but the pictus started eating them, so I'm growing them out a bit in the 29g so they do not continue to be eaten)

Bolivian rams
Checkerboard cichlid

Platinum gourami

L144s babies
BN baby

nerites (olive, horned, zebra, batik/tricolor)
bamboo shrimp
vampire shrimp
bee shrimp
mandarin orange shrimp
ghost shrimp
amano shrimp

I think that's it. I plan on taking some of the fish to the spring auction because I'm moving in May. I'll probably auction the more common fish that will be easy to locate again to make it easier on both me and them. The harder to locate fish will go with me (danio choprai, roselines, L144s, most inverts) as will the cichlids and the anabantoids. I plan on setting up a high tech planted 75g that most of these fish will tranfer into (especially the roselines, no way will they be in the 29g when I move).

01-26-2011, 08:44 PM
Wish ya didn't use photobucket so I could see these at work, check em when I get home.\

How is the PC working out? Any noticable difference vs t8 or t5?

01-26-2011, 08:46 PM
PC is better than t8, but sucks bad compared to t5ho. All my fixtures from now on will be t5ho or LED (once the price drops). Plus the PC lamps are so expensive.

04-10-2011, 09:02 PM
Made some major changes to the stocking in this tank in preparation for my move. I sold all the cardinals, rummys, bolivians, checkerboards, and Snowball (I gave her to a club member, told him her background, so she'll have a great home for the rest of her life with him). Kept all the fish that would be difficult or expensive to replace (glowlight danios, roselines, L144s, various shrimp) and I also picked up 12 Cryptoheros nanoluteus juvies. They're not common in the hobby so I had to snag them when I had the chance. I'm going to take more pics tonight when it's dark out.


06-15-2011, 03:35 AM
Tank is now torn down. End of journal.