11-13-2009, 05:00 PM
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Hmm, a 75 would be a great size for a Florida biotope community. Lay down 40 lbs of topsoil, 25 lbs of crushed coral, some hunks of limestone (tufa would be best), then an inch thick layer of 3 to 5 mm dark gravel. Plant heavily (HEAVILY!!!) with Valisnera spiralis or americana along the back and sides. Put a couple of swordplants in there (not sure what a good species for this would be - I'd go with Amazon swords and tell people they were natives.) Use Saggitaria subulata (Dwarf sags) to make a nice foreground, and maybe some hornwort to add some fuzzy texture. Maybe some java moss or Fontinalis antipyretica (Willow Moss) on some stones scattered about the midground. Also, in the back corners, get some fast growing stems. Hygrophilia species, while not strictly native, are perfect for this. They grow like mad. H. polysperma, H. corymbosa (I like the narrow leaf Angustifolia variety) or H. difformis (Water wisteria)
Set the temp around 74. I'd set a fairly substantial cannister filter with the spraybar and intakes at opposite ends to get a bit of current longways. You'll need about 2 watts/gallon of lighting. A pair of dual tube T-8 shoplights ($12.95 at walmart) with cool white bulbs will give you 160 watts or so of really nice light. If you set it up this way, you'll only need to do water changes every 4 months or so. In lieu of the water changes, though, you'll need to trim the plants at least weekly.
Fish (and you thought I'd never get there.): Get 3 male and 10 or 13 wild type Sailfin Mollies (Poecillia latippina), a male and 3 female Jordinella floridae (Florida flagfish). If you can supply live or frozen food no less than 3 times weekly, consider Everglades pygmy sunfish (Elassoma evergladei) and blue finned killies (they come in with ghost shrimp a lot.)
For catfish, you could either go with madtoms, or rely on the fact that Florida is just chock full of introduced species. Corydoras aeneus (common bronze cories) and C. paleatus are both tolerant of slightly subtropical temperatures. If you want to get really fancy, I am told that Longeared sunfish are relatively easy to keep as well.
So that's one option.
One that I have been DYING to do: you'll need a good lid with no gaps. Get some red slate or shale and buid up a nice rick and cave system on each side. Try to mimic the Montana badlands. Top the stacs of rocks with Riccia, Pellia, or Java Moss. Put some long, thin, driftwood with Java Fern tied out near the tip stretching out from the rock stacks over toward the middle. Use a red or beige gravel. Plant crypts (C. wendtii, C. becketti, C. undulatus) or Anuibias around the base of the stacks and some vals along the back. I'd use a cannister filter here too, or a big HOB like an Emperor 400 or an Aquaclear 110. You'll need to cover the waterfall with needlpoint grid, though to seal up all the gaps. Why you ask? One of the fish I am about to mention is one of those esacpe artist types.
Temperature around 78. You could probably get away with one duall bulb fixture on this (though I would go with 2).
Fish: 9 Skunk Loaches. 30 Tiger barbs. MAYBE 2 chinese algae eaters.
Water changes 30 to 50% weekly or 50 to 70% bi-weekly.
For extra silliness, if you can lay hands on models of the cars from Deathrace 2000, and make them with aquarium safe glue (crazyglue works) and paint, one or two of those would take the tank to the level of kitsch that rides the line between tacky and too cool for words.
If you have friends that are deer hunters, get 18 or so deer heads from them. Boil the flesh off them. Set up the tank with a reverse under gravel filter, a couple of internal filters (like fulvals or eheim aquaballs), and a good HOB or two. Do an Mbuna tank with deer skulls in place of rocks. You could talk to other folks to get precisely the mix of fish, but peacocks, Rusties, Socofolis (sp?), Venestus. Pack 'em in there (that's why the serious filtration).
This will need a weekly 50 to 70% water change to keep healthy. (Or 10 to 20% daily, but don't do that unless you can set yorself up an automated water changer.)