I say biotope-ish because I'm not going to be overly strict - am going for general geographic area for plants, will likely use oak leaves as bottom litter to make them feel like they're in something close to their natural habitat, and will probably try some cherry shrimp in with them, too. If the puffers go after the cherries I'll put them in my work tank.
So... my plans are:
- 10 gallon tank, low tech planted
- Aquaclear 30 filter with sponge or pantyhose around the intake to protect puffers. (I have heard good things and I can adjust the flow rate so the puffers don't get blown around but yet get good filtration.)
- Unsure about lighting - thinking 2-3 wpg. Open to recommendations. Right now just have the stock light, not sure what the specs are.
- Planned temp: 80 deg
- My water tends to run 6.5-6.8 pH, and very soft. I believe this is OK for the puffers.
Plants: I am going off a list on a dwarf puffer website - plants generally from India/Sri Lanka.
- Crypts - lutea, wendtii or willisii
- Java fern
- Java moss (good for shrimp, too)
- Hydrocotyle sibthorpioides (love the look of this, never used before)
- Hygros - difformis, polysperma, or corymbosa
- Vallisneria tortifolia (dwarf vals - will probably definitely use as foreground?)
And I would like a floating plant - puffers like dim light, and I've found that most of my fish are comforted by floating plants. I think my options are:
- Salvinia natans
- the Hygro difformis (wisteria)
- or use one of the lotus plants and let them go to the surface (Nymphaea lotus or stellata)
Anyone have opinions with these plants? What about the floaters? I've never used lotus before. Would that be a good or bad idea for surface cover? Or I could keep them trimmed short so they don't reach the surface.
I'm mostly concerned with finding plants that will look right in proportion to the small size of the tank.
I want to go with a darker substrate, for looks but also because that was recommended for the biotope. Dark with some red/clay mixed in was what was specifically recommended, but not sure if I need to go that crazy. If I could find something fairly easy that would work, great.
- Are there any dark brown / red (iron red, not fire engine red) substrates that work well with live plants?
- I am considering: Eco-complete (planted red?), Flourite black sand, or any other fine substrate that looks even more natural than black - I'm thinking a dark brown / red or even a mix of two different color sands?
- Puffers love live blackworms, frozen bloodworms, occasional brine shrimp treat, and snails. I have a LFS that has the DPS so I'll find out what they eat.
- What do your puffers eat? How often do you feed snails? Do you feed them every day or every other?
I actually don't have any pest snails now since I had that pair of Laetacara - they were snail assassins. I only have MTS in my tank now, and I think I read that the puffers can't really get these guys. I could get some pond/pest snails and put them in my main tank, I guess. I really don't want to have a dedicated snail tank if I can help it. If I had to feed them regularly I would work it out, but if it only needs to supplement their diet, I'm sure I could take them off the hands of my LFS and / or pick them out of my 65 gallon if I put some in there and let them go to town.
I think that's it. :) Thanks for reading my novel and I'd appreciate any insight!
OH - one more thing - 2 puffers for a 10 gallon? Or should I try 3? I have read both and would love to know what your first-hand experiences have been.
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