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BWG 11-01-2012 01:19 PM

Advice on present for grandma
This year my grandmother's last fish (2 corys and a bnp) died. She had had them since I bought them for her eight years ago. Now she has an empty 55 gallon tank sitting in her living room. I'd like to get her fish once again, but I'm thinking about a smaller tank. I have a spare 20 gallon that I would like to give her, set up, and do weekly maintenance on. I've been talking with my sister and I think a basic plan, that won't get too expensive has formed, but I'd like some feedback on.

My sister would like to get some reticulated hillstream loaches. Personally I think an alage eater would be a great idea, as I'm not sure I can convince my grandmother to not leave the light on all day. Would an unheated tank and vastly oversized HOB filter suffice for them or would I need a powerhead as well? Given the tank size is about their minimum, would I be able to keep any other current loving fish in there or would that use up too much of the oxygen? Glowlight danios or a Microdevario maybe? BTW, I had wanted Celestial pearl danios for her, but my little sister is bossy and persuasive.

For the overall look I was thinking of a river tank with lots of rounded rocks of varying sizes (I have a nearby creek to get them from, hopefully they pass the vinegar test). Plants aren't naturally occurring I know, but I would still like to add some. I thought various anubias, mosses, ferns, or even Vals would be ok with the current. In other words a bunch of plants I know very little about. I know the light would need to be bright, but not sure how bright. I've never tried to actually grow algae. I'm also not sure what substrate, as I don't know if sand would get blown around.

Any one have any thoughts for me? Total revisions are welcome too lol. I'm just planning this out right now.

thekoimaiden 11-01-2012 03:47 PM

I've actually looked into a tank like this and plan to have a balitorid loach tank one day. I don't think a powerhead will provide what this fish needs (which are detailed in this article: Life in the Fast Lane). It doesn't need a whirlwind current like the powerhead produces, they like unidirectional current like in a stream. This is very hard to do in a normal aquarium. I have seen plans (on this page) to build a river manifold that will give hillstream loaches the current they need. If you decide to build the river manifold, the 55 gal will be a lot better than the 20 gal. The longer the tank is the better the manifold will work.

Your plant selection sounds good. Anubias and java fern can easily be tied to wood, so they won't get blown away. For substrate, I would do smooth gravel. Sand would be more authentic, but it would get blown around. Celestial pearl danio would not do well in riverine conditions. Those fish come from heavily planted slow waters. Some of the species I've put on the list to use in my riverine tank are Devario laoensis, Two-spot barb (Puntius bimaculatus), and pearl danio (Danio albolineatus).

BWG 11-01-2012 05:14 PM

I had seen the river manifold design and even looked at the profiles on that site before, but never the two articles you posted. That sort of design would certainly need the 55 gallon, as I think otherwise backflow might be a problem. On the Beaufortia kweichowensis profile here Byron lists 24 inches as the tank minimum. That made me wonder if it was oxygen that was more necessary than flow. I was unsure if a desgin like this riffle tank.

I might just have to scrap the idea of the hillstream loaches and get my sister to decide on something else. I was getting into a riverine designed tank though. Oh and I wasn't suggesting the CPDs along with them. I have seen it done online and the fish were living. Living and thriving are two very different things though.

I'll look into the fish you had listed though, just in case I can't convince her to change her mind. It's a joint present, with me doing all the research and work. I had only thought as far as rainbow shiners. They aren't local though, so would have been expensive.

thekoimaiden 11-02-2012 03:45 PM

River tanks are pretty awesome, but I know I'll have to wait to get mine. When I do it, I'll be looking at a 30 gal long; the tank is 3 feet long but only about a foot high. This will allow a lot of light to reach the rocks promote strong algae growth. Haha! Talking to you about this is making me excited to get my tank in the future. Personally, if you're looking for a low-maintenance tank, I wouldn't do the hillstream loaches. Everything I have read about their physiology tells me that flow is just as important as oxygen. In a lot of regards they are like keeping salmonids alive. Certainly not a casual project.

Maybe try to interest your sister in some of the other interesting bottom-dwelling species like the yoyo loach or angelicus loach. These would need the 55 gal, but they are certainly interesting fish to watch. There are also a lot of species of cory cats that have neat behaviors and colors like the adolfo cory or leopard cory.

BWG 11-02-2012 04:36 PM

I have managed to talk my sister out of a river tank. The more I researched, the more I came to the same conclusion. I will personally have one myself one day, but for a tank I'll sometimes only be around once a week to see it's too much. I might need two tanks for myself, one for darters and one for hillstream loaches. Maybe I just need a bigger house lol.

My mom wants the 55 gallon out of their living room, so I will be going over their to tear it down tomorrow. Yay free tank for me! Of course I need the bigger house, as I have no where to put it. My mom is alright with a 20 gallon though (my grandmother still has no idea). I have nearly everything for that setup aside from a heater (which I might not need), grow bulb (I only have a spare dual t5ho which is too much), and substrate (i only have pea gravel and pool filter sand).

I've talked my sister into the rosy loach. Now I just have to figure out what fish to put with them (and that I can talk my sister into) and I'm ready to set it up and find plants.

fish monger 11-02-2012 05:18 PM

The first question I would ask is what does Grandma want ?

BWG 11-02-2012 05:29 PM

She could never remember the names of what kinds she had before, now she's getting a little older. She just wants to watch, not really learn about what would work together. Does that sound bad saying that?

thekoimaiden 11-02-2012 09:44 PM

I don't think that's bad. I know my grandmother would feel the same way if I set up a tank for her. It is just entertainment for some people.

Seriously fish recommends Devario sondhii sometimes called fireline devario. Beautiful little fish. Kinda has colors like a neon tetra. Or some other Microrasbora species. Maybe something like the mosquito rasbora. Add a little color in there. Or really any rasbora. Harlequins are pretty and hardy.

Also congrats on the free 55 gal! Maybe that can be your riverine tank one day!

BWG 11-03-2012 01:06 AM

When my great grandmother was alive she was the same way. Someone else in the family bought her fish and took care of her aquarium. She couldn't tell you want kind of fish she had, but she could tell you exactly how each one behaved.

Those fireline devarios are really nice looking. I might have only seen them for sale one place though and overnight shipping from the west coast to the east coast is just brutal. There's a lady that lives a few counties away that specializes in smaller fish though and shipping from her costs me less than $10. I can ask if she'd ever get them in.

I have a big shoal of Mosquito rasbora in my 29 gallon and love them. I think any species of Boraras would be a good choice. I should probably get a heater for them though. With a heater though there are so many possibilities. My grandmother has the same water company as me, so I know she has soft and slightly acidic water. I'm not going to worry about a generalized biotope like I did with my aquariums. I just want to make sure I fill all the levels so she has plenty to watch and enjoy.

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