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Robyn's Freshwater Aquariums

Last Updated: 8/8/21

My Current Setups

My Previous Setups

Filter Comparisons - what I think of my filters

How I Got Started Keeping Aquariums

To learn more about a particular fish or shrimp, click on that species where it is underlined. That will take you to a page just on that animal including lots of information, photos, and links. For more information on aquarium plant species, see my aquarium plant page.

You can witness the changes in my tanks over time. To see dozens of photos of the various fish and other animals in my tanks, follow the links over to pages on those animals on those tank pages.

5 gallon glass tank with paradise fish setup 9/20/03, emptied 4/12/08

I tore down this tank on 4/12/08 after the last paradise fish died.

5 gallon tank with two of the three paradise fish visible on 6/19/05.

5 gallon tank with the three paradise fish (marked) on 9/22/03.

5 gallon tank on 4/29/07. The two paradise fish are in the photo which I can see on my home computer but it is too dark to see them on my work computer so you may not see them.


None. My last paradise fish, an adult, female I think, died on 4/5/08. I had three paradise fish in there (parents and daughter) but one of the two females (probably mother but could have been their daughter) died on 6/12/06. The male (I think although it might not have been) died on 6/19/07. I think the survivor was the "baby" born in 2003 but am not sure. Beginning in late 2007, the remaining paradise fish would hang at the surface vertically. She died on 4/5/08.

Other Animals:

Trumpet snails.

On 1/8/08, when I got a few plants at the fish store, I found a young ghost shrimp and scuds in with the plants. There was also some sort of insect larvae (midge maybe) and a leech (the kind that eats debris). I could not really separate them. I did not want to throw them away. I put them in my 5 gallon tank (which only had one dying paradise fish who was too weak to try to eat them). I never saw the shrimp after the day I put them in so maybe she did eat them!


I put in some duckweed. There were many fake plants. Update 7/29/05: The tank surface was covered in live floating ferns. Update 4/5/08, the paradise fish died. The top half of the tank was clogged with floating fern and some duckweed. I was not sure what to do with it.


Corner filter run by air pump with rocks, Ammo-Carb, and filter floss. This was replaced on 7/23/05 with a new Elite Stingray filter for a 5 gallon tank. The air stone was left in by itself. I stuffed some of the old filter floss into an ornament so the tank would not have to re-cycle.
A 25 W heater was added on 1/24/04 since it has been dropping below 60 in the laundry room where this tank was. The paradise fish acted weird after that, hardly moving. The heater was set to 68 degrees F and appeared to be working fine. Update: 7/29/05, I do not know why I said the fish were acting strange. They are certainly fine now, 1.5 years later.
Small fluorescent light.

3 gallon Eclipse tank set up 1/22/00 and emptied on 6/23/01

The three gallon tank, taken 1/30/00.

Note: These fish were moved to the 20 gallon tank as those fish moved to the 50 gallon tank after all the goldfish in there died. It was musical aquariums! The 3 gallon tank was disinfected and set aside for now.


Moved to the 20 gallon tank on 6/23/01.


By November of 2000, most of the plants died in this tank. I think the microorganisms had a population explosion in the intense light and ate them all! Most of the plants died and some algae of various species grew. Only a little piece of anubias barteri survived to be moved to the 20 gallon tank.


Acrylic 3 gallon tank.
Eclipse System 3 with 35 gph filter and biowheel.
6 W fluorescent light.
25 W heater set to 76 degrees F.

10, 5, and 2.5 gallon tanks

Note that the 5 gallon tank was pulled out of storage and information on its setup is above under 5 gallon tank. The uses below were in the past.

10, 5, and 2.5 gallon tanks were used as quarantine and for fry or salamander rearing as needed with corner filters, 50 and 25 W heaters, glass lids, and fluorescent fixtures.

In the 10 gallon tank, I used to have a paradise fish, plecostomus, and a pair of neon rosy barbs in it. All but the plecostomus died within but a few years.

The 5 gallon tank is in storage after raising many babies. (It was brought out of storage for the paradise fish, see above). The 5 gallon was last used to quarantine seven fish I bought on 2/1/02 that were released into my three tanks on 2/16/02. There were a pair of longfin blue danios for the 40 gallon tank, a longfin rosy barb male and regular female rosy barb for the 50 gallon tank, and two regular and one albino glowlight tetras for the 20 gallon tank. The barbs and danios showed spawning behavior within days in quarantine! After I released the fish, I kept the tank running. As of 2/25/02, I saw three babies! From their size (smaller than danios), I assumed they were rosy barbs. Only time would tell. I also put in a few baby panda cories from my 50 gallon tank on 2/23/02. By 3/12/02, there were two obviously rosy barb fry doing well in the 5 gallon tank with half a dozen panda cories. Each week I added hair algae from the 50 gallon tank which adds eggs from the panda cories and rosy barbs who spawned in it. The tank had a 25 W heater, corner filter with Ammo-Carb (zeolite and carbon) and floss (the intake is covered with pantyhose), a lid, a fluorescent light, two plastic things for fish to hide in (removed when adults moved), some frogbit on the surface, and some large clumps of java moss mixed with hair algae. Some snails hitched a ride in too. I also put in some gravel from the 50 gallon tank so there would be some beneficial bacteria. On 3/23/02, I added five newborn zebra danios from my 40 gallon tank to the 5 gallon tank which now has about 3 large rosy barb fry and 3 large panda cory fry as well as some smaller ones. They may eat the baby danios. I added 10 more baby danios on 3/30/02. They too vanished. Then, on 4/6/02, I moved three now-large rosy barbs and five panda cories to the 50 gallon tank with their parents. I left behind one smaller rosy barb and added another three danio fry. By 4/12/02, I can see one of the danio fry is alive and well and growing. I guess the rosy barbs were getting so big fast by eating baby danios! Help! I have too many fish! On 4/20/02, I put in 6 more baby danios. The one living danio fry is getting big all by himself except for the rosy barb that may have vanished. On 5/18/02, I moved the one danio to the 40 gallon tank and the last rosy barb to the 50 gallon tank (I was still there). I put in 11 new newborn danio fry and a newborn ghost shrimp. On 5/25/02, I added 5 newborn danio fry and another baby ghost shrimp. By 7/31/02, there were 7 baby danios left and only one shrimp. They were put into the 40 gallon tank on 8/10/02.

The 5 gallon had a sick goldfish in it in the Fall of 2001 for a few months. In 1999, it had a single spotted salamander larvae and was set up with a corner filter and a floating island. After the salamander reached adulthood in 6/99, it was released into my fish-less pond and soon left.

The 2.5 gallon tank is currently in storage.

Filter Comparisons

Note: This information is solely my opinion. Comparisons are not just amongst these filters but as compared to others I have used like corner filters, undergravel filters, Accuclear filters, etc.

Aquarium Filters

Attribute Penguin Mini Penguin 170 Emperor 400 Magnum 350 w/ Biowheel 60
gph 110? 170 400 350
Initial and Maintenance Costs Low Low Moderate High
Type Hang on tank Hang on tank Hang on tank Canister
Ease of setup Easy Easy Moderate Hard
Time to setup Low Low Moderate A long time
Ease of maintenance Easy Easy Moderate Hard (may be painful)
Time to completely clean Less than 5 min About 5 minutes About 10 minutes 20 to 30 minutes
Filtration Strength Low Moderate High High
Filtration Options Low Moderate High High
Noise Low Low Moderate to High Moderate
Likelihood of Problems Low Low Moderate High
Likelihood of Leaks Low Low Low High
Worst Traits Clogs frequently May clog or slow (also, when my old Penguin 160 got old, it made a lot of noise and got hot so I bought a new Penguin 170) Cannot lift entire filter off back for cleaning since too bulky Painful to disconnect and open for cleaning, long time to clean, frequent leaks and bad seals, tubing very hard to manipulate and clean
Best Traits Small, cheap Good filter for 20 gallon Powerful filtration but hang on tank, lots of filter capacity Large filtration capacity, large canister for carbon, etc.

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