Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   55gal South American biotope (http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/beginner-freshwater-aquarium/55gal-south-american-biotope-17529/)

Charlie 08-31-2008 11:52 AM

55gal South American biotope
 
Pretty recently, I came into the possession of a 55 gal fishtank. Right now, the tank is stocked with some fish (that it came with, from craigslist) so it's staying cycled. However, due to incompatibilities with the fish and wanting to do my own thing with the tank, I've decided to transform it into an Amazon/South American tank. Which will be quite a feat, since at the moment, it's unplanted, with rocks, and many other inappropriate decorations...

Does anyone have any experience for this? Right now I'm soaking some wood to use as driftwood in the tank (I've read around about putting wood in aquariums, most people have said to just soak the driftwood for a few weeks, as boiling/baking is unnecessary: anyone know for sure?), and considering some choices of fish. My current list of possibilities:

Blue/Gold German Ram (a pair)
One Angelfish
A school of either rummynose tetras, lemon tetras, black neons, serpaes, black phantoms, pristellas, or emperors.
A bristlenose pleco, whiptail catfish, peppered corydoras. I was considering moving my fish from my 20g into the 55g, as well--I have a striped raphael and oto in it, and since they're suited to the water conditions it would open up more possibilities for the 20g.

Which of these fish would be best suited for the tank, compatibility-wise. Assuming I can get the pair of gold rams, along with the angelfish, they're going to be the "centerpieces" of the tank. Right now I have 4 angelfish in the tank, and I'm going to take the most docile one of the group, and rehome the other 3.

As for plants, I was just gonna get some hornwort and swords to start out with. Does anyone know what plants would be suited for front/mid/back levels of the tank? I would LOVE to make it a beautiful, lush planted tank, so also advice on which fish eat plants and which don't would be nice.

Conditioning the water: what would be the best? I hear peat is good for the filtering of the water, where would I purchase it? How would you recommend to create the black-water effect? I was planning on using indian almond leaves that I purchased for my bettas, as they have the same effect I'm trying to achieve (lowering ph, dying the water etc).

And if anyone has experience with these kinds of tanks, I'd love to hear about any info you have.

okiemavis 08-31-2008 05:46 PM

Quote:

A school of either rummynose tetras, lemon tetras, black neons, serpaes, black phantoms, pristellas, or emperors.
Some of those are great choices, others aren't. With the angelfish, you need something that's not nippy or they will shred the angel's fins. The serpaes and black phantoms would be a poor choice.
Quote:

I was considering moving my fish from my 20g into the 55g, as well--I have a striped raphael and oto in it, and since they're suited to the water conditions it would open up more possibilities for the 20g.
I'd expect the raphael to try to eat the oto and possibly even the cories and rams at some point. The oto would be a great addition to the 55G though. Just make sure you get some more, as they should be kept in groups of 6+.

Quote:

Which of these fish would be best suited for the tank, compatibility-wise. Assuming I can get the pair of gold rams, along with the angelfish, they're going to be the "centerpieces" of the tank. Right now I have 4 angelfish in the tank, and I'm going to take the most docile one of the group, and rehome the other 3.
The cories, plecos, farlowella and non nippy tetras will all do well with those fish. I'd also recommend looking at adding some top dwellers to even things out. Hatchetfish are a cool fish, and they are south american.

Quote:

As for plants, I was just gonna get some hornwort and swords to start out with. Does anyone know what plants would be suited for front/mid/back levels of the tank? I would LOVE to make it a beautiful, lush planted tank, so also advice on which fish eat plants and which don't would be nice.
Well it really depends on your lighting and such. I'd recommend pygmy chain sword, rotala, vallisneria, bacopa, najas...

Quote:

Conditioning the water: what would be the best? I hear peat is good for the filtering of the water, where would I purchase it? How would you recommend to create the black-water effect? I was planning on using indian almond leaves that I purchased for my bettas, as they have the same effect I'm trying to achieve (lowering ph, dying the water etc).
Peat will the the easiest and most cost effective in the long run. You can purchase a large "bale" of it at your local gardening store for very cheap. Just make sure it's 100% peat moss, and doesn't have any fertilizers it in. The good stuff comes from canada I believe.

KarlS 08-31-2008 09:37 PM

I was wondering why the serpaes would be a poor choice?? I have a dozen and they work very well with my angels, I haven't had one incident with fin nipping... I find them very peaceful and they pretty much stick to themselves. As small fish go I really like the serpae tetras, especially if they're well kept because the red comes in so beautifully...

Charlie 08-31-2008 10:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by KarlS
I was wondering why the serpaes would be a poor choice?? I have a dozen and they work very well with my angels, I haven't had one incident with fin nipping... I find them very peaceful and they pretty much stick to themselves. As small fish go I really like the serpae tetras, especially if they're well kept because the red comes in so beautifully...

A lot of people say they can get nippy, you probably have a big enough school of 'em so they're not. I have danios in my angel tank and they don't bother the angels at all, either, so I guess it depends on the fish.

Quote:

Some of those are great choices, others aren't. With the angelfish, you need something that's not nippy or they will shred the angel's fins. The serpaes and black phantoms would be a poor choice.
I was leaning more towards rummynoses or pristellas, which I've heard are pretty docile, more likely the rummynoses. I love how the red would contrast to the plants.

Quote:

I'd expect the raphael to try to eat the oto and possibly even the cories and rams at some point. The oto would be a great addition to the 55G though. Just make sure you get some more, as they should be kept in groups of 6+.
Holy crap, really? I knew raphaels were piggies, but I didn't figure they could fit a cory in their mouth. Right now the 20g isn't at full capacity, I was going to add more oto friends for the little lonely guy. Would the raphael seriously eat them? I don't have to worry about it now, he's got some growin' to do, but...

Quote:

The cories, plecos, farlowella and non nippy tetras will all do well with those fish. I'd also recommend looking at adding some top dwellers to even things out. Hatchetfish are a cool fish, and they are south american.
I was looking at the hatchetfish (and farlowella) and the only problem with them is availability. Can't really find them around where I live, also concerned about finding a bristlenose, but I'm determined to get one of those. I'll look around a bit more for them before giving up, they seem like really interesting fish.

Thanks for the other suggestions, too. I'll definitely look into getting some peat. Also, question, what's the best way to use it? I was assuming I would take one of the mesh loose-filter media bags and pack some in there, then put the package into the filter. Would that work? How often would I need to change it, just with every water change? Sorry for all the questions![/quote]

Charlie 09-02-2008 05:03 PM

Well, I got peat. I was planning on just using it in the filter, since the gravel is already in the tank. However.. would it work if I pre-soaked the peat, and put a small covering on top of the gravel? Or does peat not sink like that? I would really like to incorporate the peat into the substrate without having to remove all the gravel from the bottom of the tank. Would this just be a total mess?


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