New 55g planted community tank
Hello everyone! This is my first post. Im starting a 55 gallon planted tank and any advice would be appreciated. I am using eco complete and flourish excel. I have a 200W visa therm heater and Whisper Power model 60 filter. My lighting consists of a Marineland 48-60 in double bright LED system. (i work at philips so supplementing with an extra flourescent is no problem.) Currently everything is cycling and im about to purchase 4 zebra danios to help the process. The plants I am about to order consists of anubias, ferns, java moss and cryptos. Future fish include german blue dwarf ram cichlids, sunset gouramis, guppies, swordtails, corys, octocinclus cats and rainbows. I would like to achieve full ground cover so im thinking about dwarf baby tears. Ive got driftwood, custom slate rock caves and ceramic cichlid caves on the way. Any advice is greatly appreciated! This is only my second tank and im still very new to this but ive done a lot research. Thanks in advance and sorry for the long post.
Hello and welcome to the forums!
Before buying any fish, there is some more research you need to perform.
The first place I would start is to read this handy guide to cycling a tank. You really want to cycle the tank before adding any fish 'to help it along' as the cycling process causes irreversable damage to the fish. It's also not a good idea to get fish for the sole purpose of cycling a tank, you should only get fish that you actually want to keep for their entire life. This process will take 4-8 weeks. The only safe 'shortcut' is seeding with already established filter media but you're still looking at 2+ weeks.
For selecting fish, you will need to know your pH and GH at a minimum, but also knowing KH is helpful. GH is the general hardness of the water, and KH is the carbonate hardness. You can get those numbers from your water utility (either their website on the water quality report or by calling).
These numbers are absolutly critical in determining what fish you can keep! The list you've put together has some incompatabilities in this regard (hard, basic water fish mixed with soft, acidic water fish).
Once you know those numbers, we can help you narrow down options for stocking your new tank.
Wow Thank you for the quick reply. Ive got the 2011 annual water report already. Total Carbon range is 2.1 - 3.1 ppm, PH is a steady 7.5 across all boards, nitrate is 1.1 ppm, alkalinity total is 85.2 MG/L and total harness is 130 MG/L. (very hard water here in kansas)
I'll have to disagree on that assesment ;)
mg/L = ppm
17.85 ppm = 1 degree
130 mg/L is converted to 7.3 dGH. That's right below the line for 'soft' water. I'm sure a lot of places (I know it is here at TFK) list water parameters for fish in terms of 'degrees' of hardness, which is what dGH is.
0-8 dGH is generally considered soft water.
I would avoid livebearing fish for the most part. These are platys, mollies, guppies, endlers, etc. They need moderate-hard to hard water.
If somehow I'm wrong in my assesment, I'm sure someone else will correct my error =)
Noisy Kricket, welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.:-)
As a general guide to a natural or low-tech planted tank, have a read of the 4-part series "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium" stickied at the head of the Aquarium Plants section.
Now to some issues you mention specifically, beginning with the substrate. I gather you already have the Eco-Complete. Corys do not do that well over this, it may be the sharpness or it may be other things as well. Flourite is similar, I had to remove the corys from my tank with Flourite. I am also very disappointed with the lack of any perceivable benefit of these over plain sand or fine gravel.
Second thing is Excel. I do not recommend this or similar products. API CO2 Booster is 1.6% glutaraldehyde (rest is water). Seachem's Excel is the same but a slightly higher percentage. This chemical is toxic. It is used to disinfect medical and dental instruments and as a chemical preservative. Considered a hazardous substance, skin irritant, toxic if inhaled, etc. You can read more here (which comes from a link on the API website):
It kills cells, and is used in products that attack viruses and bacteria. So, it may well affect bacteria in an aquarium. It will kill some aquarium plants outright at normal dosages, Vallisneria is one. If dosed at high levels, it will kill fish.
I've no experience using LED systems so can't offer anything on that. The mentioned plants are all low-light. If you have the plants in from the start, it will help with the "cycling," but i would recommend adding some floating plants which are especially good with this. Not to mention that all forest fish prefer a "roof" over them anyway.
Geomancer, thank you for the insight on the water properties! Im going to do some more research on it. Currently im compiling a list of fish with the KH and PH levels into an excel spreadsheet. Ill have a more detailed list of compatible fish in the next day or so. My only request is to be able to keep the german blue rams which looks ok so far. The rest is just for color or my wife and son. Thanks for the heads up Byron. Everywhere i read such as drs foster and smith it never said anything about flourish excel being toxic. I will definetly look into this and same with the eco complete. I was thinking of maybe putting a thin layer of fine sand or gravel on the top. What do you think? Lastly a few suggestions on floating plants would be great as I have not done any research on them. Thank you both for the info so far. This is a great forum and im glad to be here.
Very surprised Byron didn't point this out for you but dwarf baby tears are a high light plant and probably wont do well unless your tank is very shallow or you use a high light system and CO2. I've been looking around for carpeting plants and have settled on pygmy chain sword- fast growing low light very hearty and my LFS said it will be available mid july
For floaters I love my dwarf water lettuce and water sprite and I plan on getting naja grass and amazon frogbit
Yes, substrate plants can be hit and miss due to light. Some members here have managed this plant, others not.
Floating plants are to me essential with forest fish, those are good suggestions. They are in our profiles.
Problem with mixing substrates is just that--they mix. And the smaller particles go to the bottom, so sand would be under the EC on top. Corys will not like rooting around in this.
Thanks again you two. Im switching from dwarf baby tears to pygmy chain sword, Varkolak. Those were great suggestions, thanks. Im still going over what fish to buy...Im down to just the blue ram and Pristella Tetras. Suggestions on this would be great as well. Looks like soft water at 78 - 80 F.
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