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Suggestions for stocking 55g tank?

This is a discussion on Suggestions for stocking 55g tank? within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> Originally Posted by andrewr2488 ok thank you very much b. as for substrate color, i would like a more natural look but i do ...

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Suggestions for stocking 55g tank?
Old 10-25-2009, 05:33 PM   #101
 
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Originally Posted by andrewr2488 View Post
ok thank you very much b. as for substrate color, i would like a more natural look but i do not feel like paying an arm and a leg for the eco or any similar product. aquariumplants.com substrate is the same thing as turface and soilmaster select. paying 70 bucks for a 5 gallon bucket of it when i can get 50# for 30 bucks, i think ill sacrifice the color. as for the peat i have researched a bit and they say a more controlled way to add peat is just to soak it in a bucket for a few days and add small amounts and test between. they say peat can lower my pH by about 0.5, so now comes the question. if i can sustain the pH level to be 6.5-6.8 would blue rams be a possibility? i'm gonna keep the temp at about 77F and i have updated my fish list to match my substrate.

Corydoras Sterbai
Black Skirt Tetra
Cardinal Tetra

Either of these rams
1 gbr
1 gold ram
OR
2 bolivians

I've still got to test my KH and GH. i went to petsmart and petco and couldnt find the test kits.
going with a marineland stealth heater, 200 watts
Peat gives out over time, and depending upon the hardness of the water this varies. Before you ask, I've no idea how long this or that much will work, I've never used it. But you will have to keep buying or finding peat.

Realize that once you have a colour substrate, good or bad, you can't change it without pulling it out; point is, get what you want and spend the money to do it, or you won't be happy with the result if it doesn't quite measure up to what you'd like. Some things are worth the extra money. But as for Eco-complete and similar enriched substrates, they are expensive and I would never use them because there is no need. Plain gravel works just fine and it is cheaper in bulk. A root fert tab/stick next to the larger plants provides all the nutrients they need with the setup you're aiming for.

A temp of 77F is insufficient for the common (gold or blue) rams; over 80, preferably around 82. The cardinals and C. sterbai can manage with that, if you go this way. Bolivians are much more accomodating, normal temps (77-78 F) and the others are OK with that too. The black skirt tetra Gymnocorymbus ternetzi is listed as 68-78 F. Interestingly, it comes from some of the same rivers as the C. sterbai and the Bolivian Ram.

B.
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Old 10-25-2009, 09:36 PM   #102
 
Could you give me an example of a tank that would be set up to house 1 blue ram, and 1 gold ram. I did actually find a lfs that carries blue rams and can probably get a hold of a gold ram. I'd like to have some sort of tetras, and some sort of corys. any other tank mates can be listed also. i'd like to get an example of the following if you dont mind

Ideal temp
Ideal pH
Ideal tankmates
Ideal plants
Any other Misc info you think I will need to make things comfortable for the inhabitants.

I like bolivian rams but imo the gbr and gold ram are alot nicer looking. I actually would rather have the gbr either way since i have no local source for getting bolivian rams. I can however get the gold and blue rams. I am getting very excited about the whole thing, I Hope to have things completed by then middle of november. I should have it atleast planted and running within two weeks. I hope mine turns out as amazing as yours Byron. If using root tabs, Is there a need for liquid ferts such as flourish comprehensive? I'm still very new and I'm trying to absorb all info I can.
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Old 10-26-2009, 01:51 PM   #103
 
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Originally Posted by andrewr2488 View Post
Could you give me an example of a tank that would be set up to house 1 blue ram, and 1 gold ram. I did actually find a lfs that carries blue rams and can probably get a hold of a gold ram. I'd like to have some sort of tetras, and some sort of corys. any other tank mates can be listed also. i'd like to get an example of the following if you dont mind

Ideal temp
Ideal pH
Ideal tankmates
Ideal plants
Any other Misc info you think I will need to make things comfortable for the inhabitants.

I like bolivian rams but imo the gbr and gold ram are alot nicer looking. I actually would rather have the gbr either way since i have no local source for getting bolivian rams. I can however get the gold and blue rams. I am getting very excited about the whole thing, I Hope to have things completed by then middle of november. I should have it atleast planted and running within two weeks. I hope mine turns out as amazing as yours Byron. If using root tabs, Is there a need for liquid ferts such as flourish comprehensive? I'm still very new and I'm trying to absorb all info I can.
OK Andrew, here are my thoughts on your list. I am assuming this is for an aquarium to house a pair of common rams; these fish always do better in pairs (male and female), so first off I would get a pair of blue rams or gold rams. At the outset you mentioned a 29g tank, upgrading to a 50g shortly. If you're building the 29g now, I'd go with one pair of either ram. When you have the 50g, add a pair of the other ram. The males need room for a territory and that equates to linear space (length of the tank). Your plant arrangements, wood and rock will delineate the territories; this is always more successful with more than one pair of dwarf cichlid since the males will "recognize" the territorial boundaries.

Water temperature, minimum 80F, preferably 82F. The pH should be below 7, preferably around 6.0 but somewhere in the low to mid-6 range will work. But hardness is even more important. A general hardness of 2 to 3 dGH is about the best, with a carbonate hardness to match (2-3 dKH). This will allow the pH to drop naturally, so it is the hardness aspect that needs to be addressed and the pH will fall into place. As noted previously by myself and 1077, this can be achieved by RO, mixing distilled water with tap water, and peat filtration. I would look into the cost for a RO unit; over time it may balance out the cost of continually buying pure water. Rain water can be used, but there is always a risk that it may contain toxic substances and contaminants. But it is an option, depending upon where you live and how you collect it and filter it. Rain water is always soft and acidic.

Once you have the water parameters, add the plants. Any of the Echinodorus (swords) will work; for examples, see the photos of my two Amazonian tanks, the 115g and 90g, they are both full of Echinodorus species almost exclusively; quite a variety. Brazilian Pennywort although a stem plant grows well with lower light; I have it in my 115g along the rear wall near the sides. Floating plants are recommended for dwarf cichlids, it eases their natural skittishness. Although not geographically correct, Water Sprite (floating fern, Ceratopteris) works ideally; it is fast growing which means it performs very well as a water filter, and it will thrive in soft, acidic water. I have it on the surface in my 90g, while I am growing some Amazon Frogbit to replace it as a surface plant for more authenticity. Another good floating plant is Salvinia; it sort of resembles common duckweed but is much larger (though still very small) and a lovely silvery/metallic/green colour with small dangling roots. I really like this plant, but haven't yet managed to find any locally.

I hesitate to suggest fish to others, because you should have fish that you like in your aquarium. But as you've asked for possible tankmates to the rams, here goes. Cardinal tetras and rummynose tetras would be ideal, with identical water requirements, and in suitable water both these fish can sparkle like nothing else; and with floating plants to dim the light, they shine exceptionally, as it is so close to their natural habitat. There are two forms of the Cardinal, possibly two distinct species, the Brazilian and the Columbian, with a very slight difference in body shape and colouration. There are three "rummynose" species, the most common is the most colourful with more red on the head, the Hemigrammus bleheri that was discovered by and then named (by Gery) for the great explorer Heiko Bleher who happens to be a member of this forum. A similar fish to the cardinal is the green or false neon, Paracheirodon simulans, it remains smaller and the red is less intense but the neon stripe is spectacular, perfectly straight from the head to the caudal fin.

Other mid-water shoaling fish would include any of the pencilfish [the two Nannobrycon species swim at an oblique angle, the several Nannostomus species horizontal]; they can be more demanding, but so are rams in my view. And the pencils like the warmth, and require soft acidic water. Pencilfish are one of the families of characins, and tetras come from other characin families. For some lovely colour, there are several species of Hyphessobrycon that are various shades of deep red, almost brownish/red. The most beautiful may be the Roberts Tetra, formerly considered a hybrid of two other species but Gery determined this is a distinct species though to my knowledge it has not yet been scientifically described and named, so it is usually called Roberts or Robertsi Tetra. Similar in colouration and behaviour are Hyphessobrycon bentosi and H. bentosi rosaceus, the latter my personal favourite of the two for it's slightly more colourful. Similar in behaviour is the Black Phantom, Hyphessobrycon megalopteris; the males continually "challenge" one another but never with any injury. The red phantom is rarer. Another favourite of mine is Hemigrammus pulcher, sometimes called the Pretty Tetra, Wedge Tetra, or Garnet Tetra; similar to the common Head and Tail Light, but much more colourful and interesting in a thickly planted tank. This species tends to stay in the upper third of the aquarium which is good, as the rams and most of the other tetras I've mentioned prefer the lower half.

Another suggestion for upper level fish, actually surface fish, are the hatchetfish in the Carnegiella genus. These are the smaller hatchets, including the two marble species [C. strigata strigata and C. strigata fasciata] and the three silver species [C. marthae marthae, C. marthae schereri, C. myersi]. The marble hatchets are quite lovely. Hatchetfish is another fmaioy of characins; I would avoid the larger silver hatchets from the other two genera. The smaller species in Carnegiella are very social and interesting fish for the surface.

Bottom fish would be species of Corydoras that can tolerate warmer temperatures (some cannot). C. sterbai is one of these. Other catfish that remain small and inoffensive while being very different and fascinating are Farlowella (twig cat or stick cat) and the Whiptail cat, Rhineloricaria sp. Otocinclus in a group of minimum 3 will handle normal algae on the plant leaves (and elsewhere), but if you get Farlowella don't bother with Otos--the Farlowella are incredible algae eaters and one will handle the algae in a 50g easily. They do well in a group, I have three in my 90g. Corys must be in a group, minimum 3 of a species but in a 29g 4-5 would be fine, a few more in a 50g. You can check the species at Planet Catfish, a site full of good info on catfish: PlanetCatfish • the online home of aquarium catfishes You can mix species of corys (those that tolerate warmth of course) but I have found that minimum 3 of each species seems to keep them more settled.

I think this should give you some ideas to consider; search the fish through the knowledge base at Seriously Fish Knowledge Base - Seriously Fish to find photos and decide which you like; it is a good site with reliable information. The tetras, hatchets and pencils are all shoaling fish, so a group of minimum 6 of each species, whichever ones, is best; I always prefer odd numbers, no particular reason, so 7, 9 or 11 are what I aim for in shoaling fish.

Last on your question about fertilizers, with root tabs/sticks for the swords the liquid fertilizer can be less, once a week; with floating plants it is definitely needed as they have their roots in the water. I have root sticks for the big swords, and now use Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive once a week. This is one of the best general fertilizers; Kent Freshwater is another.

Byron.
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Old 10-28-2009, 04:06 PM   #104
 
I believe that for now i am going to get bolivian rams.. i looked at the seriously fish knowledge base and blue ram need pH of 5-6.. i'm going to get into contact with my lfs and see if theres anything safe i can do to get my ph to that level. i love the look of the blue rams, and i would love to have them instead of the bolivian. i just want the fish which would be best for my water. for plants, if i buy this from live aquaria, would it be worth it?

Aquatic Plants for Freshwater Aquariums: Aquarium Plant Pack - Ultimate

I would be buying the one for a 55g setup. I'm going to look into plants from the amazon biotope only, but that package seems pretty cool either way.. I'm just getting way too excited, friday is payday and time to spend spend spend!
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Old 10-28-2009, 04:39 PM   #105
 
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Originally Posted by andrewr2488 View Post
I believe that for now i am going to get bolivian rams.. i looked at the seriously fish knowledge base and blue ram need pH of 5-6.. i'm going to get into contact with my lfs and see if theres anything safe i can do to get my ph to that level. i love the look of the blue rams, and i would love to have them instead of the bolivian. i just want the fish which would be best for my water. for plants, if i buy this from live aquaria, would it be worth it?

Aquatic Plants for Freshwater Aquariums: Aquarium Plant Pack - Ultimate

I would be buying the one for a 55g setup. I'm going to look into plants from the amazon biotope only, but that package seems pretty cool either way.. I'm just getting way too excited, friday is payday and time to spend spend spend!
You pack your posts with too many questions/issues. Well, here goes...

On the pH adjustment, be very careful. Stores are notorious for suggesting the pH down chemicals (various name brands) and they are ineffective long-term and outright dangerous to the fish. If your water is 7.6 it is at that pH because the carbonate hardness buffers it; adding these pH adjusters will lower the pH immediately, then the buffer in the water will raise it back over a few hours, and then you add more... it's an almost endless cycle and the poor fish cannot cope with fluctuating pH levels to that extent. Each single degree in pH equates to a ten-fold reduction/increase in acidity of the water. That has a big effect on the internal workings of the fish, and at the least will stress them (making them susceptible to disease, etc because it weakens their immune system) or more likely kill them outright.

I think you're probably wise to go with the Bolivian ram now, build a nice display around them, and down the road you can decide on changing the water parameters by safe means, either RO water or rainwater (if it is safe to use) or peat. I would go with RO if it were me; it has an initial cost for the unit, but long-term it is very safe and reliable. If you want suggestions on the Bolivian Ram tankmates, just ask (oh dear).

Now to the plants; I would not choose the "Ultimate" pack, which is the one you directly linked too; there are plants included that will be difficult in your situation. The "Deluxe" pack, of those they have, seems the best choice for your situation, except that some of these are not Amazonian plants. I didn't see any solely "Amazon" pack. Do you want a geographic aquarium (all plants and fish are from South America, specifically the Amazon basin for instance)? If so, these packs include non-Amazon plants. We can talk more of that if you like.

Byron.
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Old 10-28-2009, 09:40 PM   #106
 
Sorry, I'm just trying to absorb as much info as I can since I am going to be heading to the LFS this weekend to pretty much buy everything to get it planted. Tuesday I will be starting my week off so I'll have plenty of time to get things situated. I am very interested in doing a strictly Amazon themed aquarium. But I'm basically trying to figure out which fish will inhabit my aquarium and then build the theme around their natural habitat. I'm set on Bolivian Rams for now, So the next question that I will ask you is... What other fish would accompany this fish in its natural habitat? I'm interested in getting things as close to natural as possible. I'm also interested in the plants that would naturally make the bolivian ram and its tank mates feel as comfortable as possible. I'm sorry if I'm bombarding you with questions but I am looking to get as much vital information as needed before purchasing any unnecessary items. Now that I'm thinking about it, Is the Emperor 400 going to be a good filter system for my setup? Eventually I plan on getting something like a Rena XP3.

As for the pH issue, I'm planning to buy an RO unit within the next month or so.. For now I was planning to use Peat moss to keep the pH at an acceptable level for the blue rams just until I picked up my RO unit. Speaking of RO units, I'm lookin for one in the 200-300 dollar range, would one at that price be sufficient for my needs? I'm using it strictly for my aquarium. I have a friend who works for Eco Water and he said that the RO units which come from places such as Home Depot and other similar stores are trash. He's trying to get me a good deal on a really nice RO unit but I'd rather just get the one for two or three hundred dollars.

As always, Thanks for your time and help Byron!
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Old 10-29-2009, 12:47 PM   #107
 
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Sorry, I'm just trying to absorb as much info as I can since I am going to be heading to the LFS this weekend to pretty much buy everything to get it planted. Tuesday I will be starting my week off so I'll have plenty of time to get things situated. I am very interested in doing a strictly Amazon themed aquarium. But I'm basically trying to figure out which fish will inhabit my aquarium and then build the theme around their natural habitat. I'm set on Bolivian Rams for now, So the next question that I will ask you is... What other fish would accompany this fish in its natural habitat? I'm interested in getting things as close to natural as possible. I'm also interested in the plants that would naturally make the bolivian ram and its tank mates feel as comfortable as possible. I'm sorry if I'm bombarding you with questions but I am looking to get as much vital information as needed before purchasing any unnecessary items. Now that I'm thinking about it, Is the Emperor 400 going to be a good filter system for my setup? Eventually I plan on getting something like a Rena XP3.

As for the pH issue, I'm planning to buy an RO unit within the next month or so.. For now I was planning to use Peat moss to keep the pH at an acceptable level for the blue rams just until I picked up my RO unit. Speaking of RO units, I'm lookin for one in the 200-300 dollar range, would one at that price be sufficient for my needs? I'm using it strictly for my aquarium. I have a friend who works for Eco Water and he said that the RO units which come from places such as Home Depot and other similar stores are trash. He's trying to get me a good deal on a really nice RO unit but I'd rather just get the one for two or three hundred dollars.

As always, Thanks for your time and help Byron!
You're most welcome. And ask away, and absorb what you can, just don't get overload.

To the Bolivian Ram, Mikrogeophagus altispinosus. This fish occurs in the Rio Mamore basin, part of the Rio Guapore system in SW Brazil. The Rio Guapore is one of the most heavily planted rivers in Amazonia, along with the Rio Negro. Many rivers and streams have few if any plants, vegetation occurring as overhanging branches and roots, but in the rainy season for six months the rivers flood the surrounding forest for miles and it is then that the fish spawn amongst the plants. Echinodorus species (Amazon swords) are ideal, and some of them are usually available in good fish stores at least from time to time. E. bleheri is one of the most commonly available. With good nutrition it will get large, so probably three in your 55g would be nice, near the back/sides. The smaller E. amazonicus is almost identical except in size. The pygmy chain swords, E. tenellus or E. quadricostatus readily send out runners with daughter plants once established, and will carpet the substrate if you let them; these species are much lighter green than the two previously mentioned, a nice contrast. I have the latter species in my 115g, the foprmer in my 90g. Hydrocotyle leucocephala (Brazilian Pennywort) is an excellent stem plant as it does well in moderate light unlike some of the stem plants that readily lose their lower leaves as they grow; I have this in the corners of my 115g if you want to see what it looks like. It will also float on the surface, which is good for extra "security" to the fish.

As for tankmates, if you're going to be truly authentic there are several species of Corydoras occurring in the Rio Mamore. Corydoras sterbai, C. seussi, C. haraldschultzi, C. gossei, C. guapore, C. mamore, C. cervinus, C. negro, and several others. A group of 5 or more corys is highly recommended, same or different species; I have found that minimum 3 of each species when several species are mixed is best. Some of them prefer their own species, others shoal more with different species, all of them will usually shoal together some of the time. You could have a dozen or more corys in your 55g; I'd probably aim for 12-15 with 3, 4 or 5 of any one species, and this would depend upon your personal preference; some species are more interesting to different aquarists than others. C. sterbai seems to be a hit with everyone, it gets mentioned on this forum several times in cory discussions and is more readily available in stores. Getting hold of some of these species is not always easy, and there is a good corydoras site in Florida that other members have purchased fish from and been happy: Corys "R" Us - Aspidoras, Brochis, Corydoras, C-numbers, Scleromystax

Almost any of the characins will work in such an aquascape; being shoaling fish, they should be in groups of minimum 6 of each species, preferably more (I like 7-11 depending) of those you like. The Seriously Fish site has a very reliable knowledge base that includes information on the habitat origin of the species; here's a link to the section on tetras: Knowledge Base - Seriously Fish I always check the habitat of fish I acquire, mainly because I then have a better grasp of the water parameters and environmental factors that will ensure their health. As an example, fish from fast flowing streams (not the Rio Mamore) would obviously fare better with more water movement, and probably fewer if any plants, such as in the Rio Xingu. Streams with thick plant growth generally have slow water currents, and the fish and plants do better with minimal filtration.

Which brings me to your filter question. I have the Rena XP3 on my 115g and like it very much; you can adjust the flow. It is a fairly big filter for a 55g I think, but there are two smaller and one larger versions; I would choose the XP2 for your 55g. I have Eheims on my other tanks, for more than 12 years now. Good filters, reliable, very similar design and operation to the Rena series, but more expensive. When I needed a new filter in July I went with the Rena XP3. I'd buy it again. Less expensive than Eheim, and more readily available at least here where I live. And I like dealing with stores rather than online simply because it is easier to exchange things if there is a problem, getting media, etc. On the media, I use the Fluval media which is the same basic thing as Rena's but half the cost to buy.

I know nothing about available RO units as with my water I've never needed them. I know there are other members here that use them, I'm sure they'll have suggestions and advice.

Byron.
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Old 10-29-2009, 04:22 PM   #108
 
Awesome, Awesome.. Ok, Now I've got an idea of whats what and can now start compiling the final draft of my list (plants, fish, lights and ect.) I will start now and probably be posting again later tonight with the list of plants and fish so I can get an opinion of how true to life my biotope is. Your very knowledgable and I'm always amazed at just how much you know! Genius... Thanks!
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Old 10-29-2009, 06:15 PM   #109
 
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Awesome, Awesome.. Ok, Now I've got an idea of whats what and can now start compiling the final draft of my list (plants, fish, lights and ect.) I will start now and probably be posting again later tonight with the list of plants and fish so I can get an opinion of how true to life my biotope is. Your very knowledgable and I'm always amazed at just how much you know! Genius... Thanks!
Scarcely up to that level , but thanks just the same. I sincerely do hope I'm being of some help. I will be offline after a bit, and probably not online tomorrow. I've already given you plant suggestions so you can start with that this weekend. It's fun setting up a new tank. Enjoy.

Byron.
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Old 10-30-2009, 07:48 PM   #110
 
Here is my List of fish as of now

2 Bolivian Rams (Pairs if possible)
13 Neon Tetras
7 Black Neon Tetras
6 Silver Hatchetfish
4 C. Sterbai
5 C. Aeneus
6 Black Phantom Tetra

Hopefully thats not too large of a list, It will happen gradually over about 2-3 months time adding first the neon tetras, then the black phantoms, and so on as time goes.. Bolivians will probably come after black phantoms. Still working on my plant list, can you recommend a nice looking red plant to offset all the green?
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