Lesson’s Learned: 1 Gallon Planted Tank

My 1 gallon planted tank was the smallest tank I’ve ever had running, and with that I learned some important lessons that can help me be more successful next time. If you want to learn more about the actual tank, follow the link for the write up of my 1 gallon planted tank. I really liked the tank, but as always I have learned from it and have some things I would do differently next time.

Lesson #1: Evaporation


One big problem I always had was with evaporation. The problem was, the tank had a small fan in the top, and without the fan running, condensation built up pretty fast inside the canopy. With the fan, I needed to add water to the tank every other day. Since this tank was at my office, for vacations and 3 day weekends I needed to do something different. I was able to work around it by leaving the top part of the canopy off and turning off the fan. But, without the fan, the tank also tended to heat up a bit too much from the light. It felt like a constant balancing act of trying to keep the tank the right temperature, but also keeping the water level high enough. In the picture to the left you can see the red line is where the water level was in the refugium after a couple days, and the blue line was the water level in the main display tank. The reason the water level was a problem is because the refugium part of the tank was where the water level dropped first because of the design. Since the heater and the pump are in the back, if the water level dropped too much I risked ruining my equipment.

Lesson #2: Jumping Shrimp!

Another lesson I learned is that apparently shrimp can jump out of water. The first day I put the shrimp in the aquarium one of them jump out of the tank through a crack between the driftwood and the acrylic top and landed on the top. Before I realized what happened, it dried out and I found it dead. I ended up stuffing moss between the driftwood and the top so there wouldn’t be any more escapees. But seriously, who knew shrimp could get that much height.

Lesson #3: “Pest” Snails Aren’t Always Pests

Malaysian Trumpet Snail

I also learned that Pond Snails and Malaysian Trumpet Snails can be a great part of your cleanup crew. I know most people consider them a “pest” snail, but I’m on board the “pest” snail train. Despite what some people have reported, these snails don’t eat healthy plants. I have seen them however eat old decaying leaves that would otherwise pollute my tank if I didn’t take them out. They also ate any extra food I might have put in for the shrimp. They do have the ability to breed like crazy, but if you aren’t over feeding your fish tank, there isn’t much to worry about. The one thing I noticed more before I added the shrimp is the pond snails poop a lot. Considering they are a small snail, they poop a surprisingly large amount. After adding the shrimp though, I didn’t notice it as much, so either the shrimp swimming around in the tank moved the poop to the filter, or they are eating it. Hopefully it’s the swimming around theory.

Lesson #4: Betta’s Will Eat Shrimp

For a while I had the tank with just shrimp and snails, and all was right with the world. Everyone lived in harmony, never bothering anyone. Then I gave into the peer pressures of my coworkers and added a fish, a baby betta. At first everything was fine, it was cool to have a little fish in my tank at work. The betta just ignored the shrimp and the snails and did its own thing. Then one day she snapped. I think when one of my shrimp gave birth, the betta got a taste for baby shrimp and and then started to kill the adults before I could realize. All except one that somehow made its way into the refugium part past the sponge, away from the betta. But, she didn’t stop there, although I never saw it, I think she killed the snails too, because one by one they started to disappear until one day I realized all the pond snails were gone.

Lesson #5: Temperature is Hard to Control in a Small Tank

The temperature of the tank always seemed to fluctuate throughout the day. Being such a small tank, the having the internal pump and a powerful light, the small amount of water quickly would heat up. Even with the fan built in, the temperature would get up to 83°F sometimes. The temperature fluctuation I think sometimes affected the shrimp and I lost some along the way, before the betta got a hold of them.

I ended up bringing this tank home in March 2020 when my office shut down due to Covid-19. Shortly after I broke down the tank and moved the survivors to a 5.5 gallon tank I set up. It didn’t take long for me to look at that empty tank and decide to set up a pico reef, this time with some modifications which allowed me to fix my two biggest problems of the little tank, evaporation and temperature control.

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