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Need help choosing substrate

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Need help choosing substrate
Old 05-24-2013, 01:03 PM   #21
 
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Thanks you guys. I appriciate all the help. I worry so much about doing it all right within budget. I don't wat to cut a corner that ends up killing my fish, killing my plants, or breaking something like my filter. My boyfriend is buying me the 20 gallon as a gift, but I don't want to go near his budget of $250 if I can help it. That's for the aquarium (glass), hood, stand (required), decore (functional stuff like caves), plants, substrate, fish, and other stuff like fish food and plant food. I have a filter and heater that will work. I found the aquarium, hood, and stand for $160, but I haven't run across anything cheeper for that part of it.


1. Plant wise, I'm having trouble narrowing down my list. After going through the plant profiles, I have narrowed it down to the following: in alphabetical order, Amazon Frogbit, Dwarf Sag, Java Fern, Java Moss, Water Sprite, and Water Wisteria. I am hoping for plants that wont be too messy (shedding) and hopefully some that are edible. Floating plants would need to not get sucked up in the filter. All would need to feed from the water column as I will only be dosing with liquid Flourish. Water temp is 79-80 F. Soft water with pH of 6.6-6.8. Please let me know if any of these plants wouldn't suit these conditions.

2. Numberwise, how many of each fish would make a good mix? Keep in mind I want a minimum of 5 female Bettas and 5 Kuhli (what petsmart has labeled Kuhli anyway) Loaches. I would also like to have some Otos unless it is not possible in this size tank with its plants and filter.

3. My tank will be having a pretty good current. Will that cause a problem with the playsand?

I ran across a DIY Cave Grotto Aquarium Brackground that is made out of vinyl guttering, silicone, vinyl lawn edging, rocks (I wouldn't use lava rock as I'm pretty sure that it's not innert, so I would have to find something else cheep. Suggestions?), and hocks or suction cups (to hang it by) that looks amazing (can't post line via Kindle), but I worry about the cost (cheep aqurium silicone suggestions anyone?) and safety of it (is it all inert and aquarium safe?) as well as it's functionality.
4. I mean, would it be good for my aquarium inhabitants (loaches, bettas, and otos) and give them enrichment as well as plenty of hiding places or would it be a glorified 3D background that would take away some of the depth and volume of my tank?
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Old 05-24-2013, 01:47 PM   #22
 
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Quote:
1. Plant wise, I'm having trouble narrowing down my list. After going through the plant profiles, I have narrowed it down to the following: in alphabetical order, Amazon Frogbit, Dwarf Sag, Java Fern, Java Moss, Water Sprite, and Water Wisteria. I am hoping for plants that wont be too messy (shedding) and hopefully some that are edible. Floating plants would need to not get sucked up in the filter. All would need to feed from the water column as I will only be dosing with liquid Flourish. Water temp is 79-80 F. Soft water with pH of 6.6-6.8. Please let me know if any of these plants wouldn't suit these conditions.
As this is only a 20g, I would forget Wisteria. Water Sprite is ideal, as it is floating, providing shade (which the fish mentioned prefer) and dangling roots which Betta love to browse through. Wisteria needs good light, and hidden under WS it likely won't get it. The other plants, Java Fern and Java Moss will thrive under WS. As for Dwarf Sag, I find this a slow plant and I would suggest Chain Sword or pygmy chain sword. I have all of these, in varioous tanks and sometimes together, and the swords are much better under such conditions. I do not use substrate additives with these, only Flourish Comprehensive (and Trace, but this is not necessary).

Quote:
3. My tank will be having a pretty good current. Will that cause a problem with the playsand?
You can baffle the filter presumably, as this is less of an issue for sand as it is for the fish, esp Betta that occur in still water like swamps.

Quote:
I ran across a DIY Cave Grotto Aquarium Brackground that is made out of vinyl guttering, silicone, vinyl lawn edging, rocks (I wouldn't use lava rock as I'm pretty sure that it's not innert, so I would have to find something else cheep. Suggestions?), and hocks or suction cups (to hang it by) that looks amazing (can't post line via Kindle), but I worry about the cost (cheep aqurium silicone suggestions anyone?) and safety of it (is it all inert and aquarium safe?) as well as it's functionality.
4. I mean, would it be good for my aquarium inhabitants (loaches, bettas, and otos) and give them enrichment as well as plenty of hiding places or would it be a glorified 3D background that would take away some of the depth and volume of my tank?
I've no knowledge of what this might be, so can't say; but if you are looking for inexpensive [even if it only means having more moeny for something else], nothing beats plain black construction paper. A sheet is a couple dollars or less, and I use this on my four smaller tanks. The depth (front to back) is more spacious because you don't see the back, and it certainly sets off the colours of fish and plants. Just a thought.

Byron.
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Bluewind (05-24-2013)
Old 05-24-2013, 02:07 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluewind View Post

1. Plant wise, I'm having trouble narrowing down my list. After going through the plant profiles, I have narrowed it down to the following: in alphabetical order, Amazon Frogbit, Dwarf Sag, Java Fern, Java Moss, Water Sprite, and Water Wisteria. I am hoping for plants that wont be too messy (shedding) and hopefully some that are edible. Floating plants would need to not get sucked up in the filter. All would need to feed from the water column as I will only be dosing with liquid Flourish. Water temp is 79-80 F. Soft water with pH of 6.6-6.8. Please let me know if any of these plants wouldn't suit these conditions.
I did a lot of trial and error, not many errors at least, with plant selection... I tried about 30 varieties and have over 20 work out well. Some failed due to light, some I didn't like so much. Your list is pretty good, I don't know about the dwarf sag and I think wisteria is fairly high light. I like crypts as they are a nice low light plant that is substrate rooted but doesn't seem to need root tabs... slow growing though. I always just look for tanks at the LFS that have some growing in the low light conditions similar to my tank and they have all worked out very well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluewind View Post
3. My tank will be having a pretty good current. Will that cause a problem with the playsand?
If you are using and HOB, the sand shouldn't be an issue with the current, just turn it off when you disturb the bottom planting and vacuuming. If a canister, don't point the output at the sand. It should be fine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluewind View Post
I ran across a DIY Cave Grotto Aquarium Brackground that is made out of vinyl guttering, silicone, vinyl lawn edging, rocks (I wouldn't use lava rock as I'm pretty sure that it's not innert, so I would have to find something else cheep. Suggestions?), and hocks or suction cups (to hang it by) that looks amazing (can't post line via Kindle), but I worry about the cost (cheep aqurium silicone suggestions anyone?) and safety of it (is it all inert and aquarium safe?) as well as it's functionality.
4. I mean, would it be good for my aquarium inhabitants (loaches, bettas, and otos) and give them enrichment as well as plenty of hiding places or would it be a glorified 3D background that would take away some of the depth and volume of my tank?
I pick the latter. A hunk of driftwood placed upright in the corner (don't go with big, aim for flat, it's cheaper and gives more cover with less displacement) gives the corner to hide in, a couple of rocks (pick your own for free) stacked gives you a cave, another flattish driftwood across three rocks gives you two more caves and space behind to hide in. Depending on your fish, you may or may not need a lot of hiding... even the java moss provides some cover once it gets spread out. I hear loaches like leaves on the bottom too. All fairly cheap decor. It would suck if you took up a ton of space with a backdrop only to not have it used anyway. I like stacking rocks even though I only have one of those... I do like the driftwood setups though... shrimp love the knarly driftwood to hide in too... if you end up with shrimps anyway.

Some thoughts anyway.

Jeff.
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Bluewind (05-24-2013)
Old 05-24-2013, 04:31 PM   #24
 
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Wow. You two went bove and beyond what I expected. Thank you so much :)

I would tell you if I had a baffle or a HOB, but I'm clueless as to what either one is! *blush*

Okay, so no on Whisteria and Sag and look up Swords. I took Crypts off my list because of melt and I tend to move stuff around. If I can't find Water Sprite, what is a good alternitive for my floating plant?

So the cave thing would be a waste of time and money? Good to know. Maybe I'll look into one of those caves you can make from pvc pipe, gravel, and silicone. I will have to look around for some silicone that's cheep and aquarium safe. The river rocks idea sounds like a good idea too and I could use left over silicone from the cave project to glue together the rocks for arches ;)

So what chain stores carry Estes Reef Sand? Does it go by other names? Is there an equivalant brand I can ask about too?
What about playsand? What chains carry Quirite(sp?) ?

I'm guessing that yall are unable to answer stocking questions for some reason. I will just have to do my best. Maybe 5 loaches, 7 bettas, and 5 Otos? Or 6 Loaches, 7 Betta, and 4 Otos? Or 9 Bettas, 4 Loaches, and 3 Otos? I'm raising the betta myself from fry, so they should make an excelent sorority :)
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Old 05-24-2013, 04:42 PM   #25
 
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I would tell you if I had a baffle or a HOB, but I'm clueless as to what either one is! *blush*
This just refers to some method of reducing the water current from the filter. You might find some threads in the DIY area, but generally you can use sponge or filter foam to make a sort of baffle which the water will still pass through but much slower. I'll leave it for those who have done this to detail.

Quote:
Okay, so no on Whisteria and Sag and look up Swords. I took Crypts off my list because of melt and I tend to move stuff around. If I can't find Water Sprite, what is a good alternitive for my floating plant?
If you move plants, forget crypts. A good floater I like is Brazilian Pennywort. It still has some dangling roots, though no where near the extent of Water Sprite. Dwarf watter lettuce is small, but the regular water lettuce is another, though this latter is better in ponds as it will block a lot of light and gets large.

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What about playsand? What chains carry Quirite(sp?) ?
I buy Quikrete Play Sand at Home Depot. I believe Lowe's also carries it. Just make sure it is play sand, not one of their other products like paver sand which is not as good for several reasons.

Quote:
I'm guessing that yall are unable to answer stocking questions for some reason. I will just have to do my best. Maybe 5 loaches, 7 bettas, and 5 Otos? Or 6 Loaches, 7 Betta, and 4 Otos? Or 9 Bettas, 4 Loaches, and 3 Otos? I'm raising the betta myself from fry, so they should make an excelent sorority
I will leave the Betta to the Betta experts, as I've no experience so can't say about numbers. But for otos, no less than three, but five would be better. Kuhli loach, again absolute minimum 3, but five is best.

Byron.
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Bluewind (05-25-2013)
Old 05-25-2013, 07:53 AM   #26
JDM
 
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I'd suggest 5 and 5 then top off with bettas as that gives you good numbers of oto's and loaches. Bettas can be pretty much any number.

The playsand can really be any playsand. The quikrete product is finer than I thought it would be, I just put it in the office tank and find it darker and finer than my other sand from Home Hardware.

For the rocks, I just stuck them... no glue. They don't move on their own and the fish don't push them around.

Jeff.
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Old 05-25-2013, 10:15 AM   #27
 
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"Best" for kuhli loaches is as many as you can fit. In a 20 long (30 inch tank) I would not keep less than 7. In my experience they do best in larger schools, meaning they are more active.
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Old 05-25-2013, 11:13 AM   #28
 
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Actually Jeff, numbers in Bettas are very improtant. They can be kept alone. Females in groups must be kept in odd numbers of 5 or more so that they may establish a hyarchy (sp?). Some have had sucess with a group of 3 but more often than not the omega gets picked on far to much by the other 2.

So which one of the Quikrite sands is the best exactly? There's more than one.

Also, could someone plese tell me what Estes Ultra Reef Sand is called on Amazon so I can look it up?
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Old 05-25-2013, 12:48 PM   #29
 
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So which one of the Quikrite sands is the best exactly? There's more than one.
I previously said, get the play sand, not one of the others. Quikrete Play Sand.
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Old 05-25-2013, 01:50 PM   #30
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I think it is actually called premium playsand. I don't know if there is a "not premium"... Here's a shot of the bag... sorry for the grainy dark pic though.

Jeff.
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