Input on 55 gallon planted stocking with Bolivian Rams
I've been interested in keeping a tropical community tank probably over 5 years now. I've always had loads of different pets and tanks (I just recently took down my 20 Long with African Clawed Frogs I've had for 6 years) and now I finally have the opportunity to setup the big planted tank I've always wanted.
Over the last few months I've done quite a bit of research, planning, forum hunting, bio reading, etc; (hours and hours, kind of obsessive really =P, I suppose I sort of over-plan when it comes to my pets) on lighting, filtration, heating, substrate, plants, ferts, fish, you name it.
After all of that, supplies have all almost arrived, and I'll be setting up in the next couple of weeks. I have a basic idea of what fish I want to eventually add and how many of each (not at once of course), but I'm looking for some input from people more experienced than I. Research can only get you so far.
This is what I've come up with:
55 gallon planted
-48" T5 light fixture, with proper bulbs (did my homework on daylight and plants needing both red & blue spectrum, etc; )
-Eheim Canister filter
-x2 200w Heaters
driftwood, accent rocks & slate terrace wall with drift wood going down almost the length of the tank like a big garden with eco complete substrate, caribsea super naturals sunset gold sand will be along the front half
For Plants I'm thinking of adding:
(plus more, still looking)
As for as fish go:
- x10-12 Neon Tetras (first fish I'd add)
- x10-12 Rummy Nose Tetras or Ember Tetras (both not 100% on, Looking for schooling fish that add some good color along side the Neons)
- x10 Sterbai Corys
- 1 Pair? of Bolivian Rams (Not sure if I should go with a pair, 4-6. I've been reading mixed input on this, some say a pair only, others say they do better in a small group)
- Possibly some other high dwelling fish. It would be the last thing I put (months down the line). Been reading that a few Pearl Gourami would work well (1 male to 4 females) as Pearls are one of the more peaceful Gourami (Just a thought, considered hatchets as well, but I'd be more looking along the lines of something other than a schooling fish).
That's the basic concept of what I've been planning to set up. Nothing has been started yet aside from purchasing supplies. I'll be starting on hardscaping in the next week or so. The Bolivian Rams and the Corys are my favorite of the stock. Everything else could be subject to change depending on advice.
I'm extremely excited for this upcoming tank and if anyone has any advice, comments, or questions, all are welcome and wanted.
Any feedback would be wonderful.
Thanks for for your time!! :-D
I can't offer any advice on Rams, but it sounds like you have researched your tank well and really know what you want in terms of plants and fish. Good call on the T5s, I have yet to make the switch.
Looking forward to seeing some photos as this project progresses! With all those plants and driftwood it is sure to look amazing.
Hopefully I'll have some progress in the next week or so, at least with hardscaping and planting. Pictures to follow!
Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.:wave:
Heaters and filter sound fine [Eheim are very well made]. The light might be an issue though. T5 comes in NO (normal output, if you can find this) and HO (high output). The latter is more common, and all else being equal (same spectrum, length) a T5 HO is about 1.5 times more intense light than a T5 NO or a T8. You mention bulbs in the plural, from which I am assuming more than one tube; are they 48-inch tubes? Without diffused CO2 you have to watch the light, as too much will be more than the nutrients can balance for the plants to use, and algae can become troublesome. Sometimes duration can help, less to keep the balance closer, along with a good cover of floating plants (Water Sprite is ideal for this, I have it in almost all my tanks).
Plants sound fine. Here I will mention our fish and plant profiles, second tab from the left in the blue bar across the top of the page. If the name is used identical to how it appears in the profile, it shades, example amazon sword, and you can click the name for that profile.
To the fish. You don't mention water parameters (GH and pH) but if memory serves me you have fairly soft water (the GH) in NY. So you should be fine with the soft water fish you mention. Brilliant Rummynose Tetra (Hemigrammus bleheri) is best in larger groups; in your 55g I would go with 15+, they will be much more of an interest. This is the best characin for "schooling" or shoaling, and they remain together swimming the length of the tank almost constantly.
Bolivian Ram, Mikrogeophagus altispinosus, is a nice smallish cichlid for community tanks, perhaps the best of all of them. But as it notes in the profile, they are best either singly (one fish) or in a bonded pair. Bonded means the fish must select their own mates, so if you want a pair, carefully observe them for a time in the store tank. It will become obvious if there is a bonded pair; buy them.
Generally I don't advise combining gourami and cichlids, mainly because they are so much alike. Males are territorial. However, the Pearl Gourami is one of the calmer of the medium gourami so it may work out. I would suggest one male with two females. I think it explains why in the profile.
Be careful mixing substrates, they tend to mix together unless they are well divided somehow. Water currents and gravity move the substrate around, more than one might expect.
Yeah, I second the substrate mixing. Especially when you vacuum the gravel, all of it will eventually mix. I tried to top my eco complete with sand and it's just made a mess.
Thanks for all the input! (It's much appreciated) Also, thanks for the tips on the fish and plant profiles =) I had actually already been browsing through them. Before I signed up for this forum I had found quite a bit of useful information from older posts on here (Numerous Google searches have led me to posts of yours Byron. They've been extremely helpful! So thank you!).
In regards to the lighting:
The fixture I got is the T5 HO that you mentioned. With two 48" tubes. I didn't realize that it made much of a difference. I actually didn't even see the normal T5 ones while browsing. I had planned to do quite a bit of floating plants in the tank (I love the look of Water Sprite). I suppose I'll have to keep an eye on it, mess with the timers, and see what happens (I'm unable to return the lighting). If I can't keep it under control I'll have to work something else out with that.
In regards to the substrate:
I had heard the same things about mixing different substrates. Though I had found numerous DIY posts about people creating a well built wall out of slate or the like to create a terrace or rock wall, sealing any small gaps with aquarium silicone, and having little to no spillage. I like the idea of having eco complete to benefit the plants and still having a nice sandy bank for the corydoras.
In regards to water parameters:
My pH is actually different from every source of water in my house. I found that kind of odd (I tested each source 3 times to make sure I wasn't failing). My sink was at around 7.3, my outside hose was at 8.0+, the water from my tub was at 7.0. I'm unable to test my GH at this time since I realized the Master Test kit I bought did not come with the hardness test. I'm currently waiting for that one to come in with my last supplies order.
In regards to the fish:
My first thoughts were to just have the pair of Bolivian Rams. Every Bio I read on them said single or bonded pair but after reading more posts from people, Quite a few of them said they're better in a small group. I'd prefer the pair, but the experiences others had caused me to second guess myself. (thank you for clearing that up!). A pair it is. I'll have to stalk my local fish store's stock for a while =).
I find the Rummy Nose Tetra's to be a beautiful fish. Their flash of red moving through out the tank is just perfect. I had been torn between those and the Ember Tetra (I love the orange color). But I prefer the size and schooling behavior of the Rummys better. Thanks for the suggestion, I'll probably go with the Rummys.
The Pearl Gourami were just a thought really. I've heard mixed reviews on them as well. I've heard that even though a very peaceful Gourami, many people end up with an extremely aggressive little fish. I may just forgo them completely. Might be too much of a compatibility risk for me. I was more or less looking for something other than a schooling fish to add a little variety to the tank.
Have you thought about harlequin rasboras and/or black neons?
Also, you could try flourite black sand, or some other Black sandy plant substrate...
As for plants, you Have quite a few broad-leafed green p"ants.. You might want to break them Up with Crypt Wendtii 'Red', cabomba caroliana, Echinodorus var 'Vesuvius', And Proserpinaca palustris..
To be honest, even though Harlequins are so popular, I'm really just not a fan of them. I don't like they way they look for some reason. The Black Neons are awesome looking. They have great contrast. I was looking for more color than they have though, was why I skipped over them initially. Could be something I use down the road though, Thanks!.
I'll have to check out the fluorite black sand substrate. I picked the Sunset Gold from CaribSea supernaturals for the grain size/texture. It seemed to be pretty uniform and smooth with the grains being 0.25 - 1mm. It had a deep goldish color rather than that obnoxiously bright white sand I see in so many tanks.
The plants I had listed in my initial post were just a rough idea of some of the ones I had looked up that were moderately easy to care for. I'm still in the process of browsing. All of the ones you listed above are gorgeous though. I love the reddish tints of Crypt Wendtii 'Red and the Proserpinaca palustris. And the shape of the Echinodorus var 'Vesuvius' is amazing. I love it. I'll most definitely look into grabbing that one for the tank
Thanks for the suggestions!
On the substrate, I would not waste your money on so-called enriched substrates like Eco-complete or Flourite. I have had the latter in my 70g for over 15 months and it has been very disappointing. My plants (same species, same conditions) in the other sand and gravel substrate tanks are just as good. You still have to dose liquid fertilizers so I can see no benefit for the expense, which is considerable.
I know I am always suggesting play sand, but it really is good. It is the least expensive substrate you can get ($7 a bag here, maybe less in the USA), and two bags will more than do your 55g. And it is authentic in appearance to the sand in Amazonia. Corys love it. I'm going to be replacing my Flourite tank with playsand when I get to it.
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