Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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EnergyAZ 12-22-2009 03:37 AM

New poster & some general questions
Hello all

I have had a 55gal tank I have been keeping for about 5 years. I enjoy fish keeping, but not too much of a fanatic. I prefer low maintenance and probably dont keep up on my tank as well as I should. That said, most my fish live to full maturity and I havent had too many die on me over the years so I guess I do alright. I suppose you could say I am an 'average' fish keeper. :lol:


4 clown loaches; 1.5", 2", 4.5", & 5" (2 small ones replaced a 7" one that died recently)
1 opaline gourami; 5"
1 yellow/orange gourami; 5"
1 redtail shark; 3" (replaced a 6.5" redtail that died a few months ago)
1 african leaf; 4.5"
2 yellow danio; 1"
1 dinosaur eel; 4"
2 fresh water crabs; each about the size of nickel
1 sailfin pleco; 6.5"

I really dislike my pleco and wish I never got him. Of course, I got him to help control algae which he is shockingly ineffective at doing. Sure, he sucks on the glass but appears to do very little to keep algae at bay. What he is really good at is creating enormous amounts of unsightly waste. He is ugly and fouls up my tank waayy too much - he has got to go! The crabs seem to do a much better job with janitorial services! :evil:

I really love all the other fish, and even the crabs! They all have their funny little quirks, and in general, seem to have a happy community tank going.

I have always intended for this tank to be planted, but never had much success. My tank originally came with a single light strip which I had since upgraded to a dual bulb ballast. I would add various plants I would find at the pet store whenever I visited, they would just slowly die and rot. I left good enough alone for a while but recently re-inspired to get a nice lush tank going.

Some questions:

1.) While I have iron enriched substrate and plan to supplement liquid fertilizer, I would like to go as natural as possible..aka no CO2 injection. Do you think my current fish stock could provide enough CO2? Or do you recommend I add a few more? (As of now, I have 43" of fish in a 55 gallon tank. I realize the 1"-per-gallon rule of thumb, but does that apply to mature & fat fish? I also anticipate my loaches, red tail and eel to continue growing)

2.) I hear plecos can really damage plants. Aside from the waste this thing creates, I dont want him eating and destroying my plants so now I have 2 reasons to get rid of him. I could throw him in the trash, flush him down the toilet - but that just seems wrong. Any suggestions how to get him off my hands? Would a pet store take him?

3.) This is your standard run of the mill 55gal tank. I just bought some new bulbs today (40w Aqua-Glo, 40w Flora-Glo) and about 10 Anubias plants of various sizes which I hope work out as I understand them to be low light & relatively hardy species. I will continue to slowly add more low-light/hardy plants such as java fern, etc until I have the tank where I want it. Will this bulb configuration do the job? Do I really need to swap new bulbs every 8-10 months as suggested on the packaging, or can I replace as needed whenever they burn out?


kimberlie 12-22-2009 06:12 AM

if you want to stop algea building up in your tank, try this Fish Tank Supplies | Aquarium Supplies | Tank Guard
i've been using it for a while and it seems to work really well

LisaC144 12-22-2009 08:24 AM

Yes, any fish store would gladly take your pleco. Please do not flush him or simply through it in the trach. Any fish deserves better than that! Even if you don't particularly care for him.

bearwithfish 12-22-2009 08:56 AM

you could put him on craigs list even!!!! please dont flush him the fish may be a pain to you but the suffering that he will endure is horrifying......

Angel079 12-22-2009 10:24 AM

Let's go over this one step at a time - But first of WELCOME TO THE FORUM

Often certain fish are bought in hopes to battle algae, most people incl the Sale rep at the fish store don't know that certain fish only eat certain algae or non at all. That's the problem you're facing. So my suggestion, trade him in for plants at your LFS.

Secondly adding chemicals to a tank who's obviously out of balance which is why you're having algae to begin with is really not a good idea. It will temporarily mask the issue, but in the long run, assuming you want to keep a nice planted tank for yrs to come, its much more advisable to eliminate what is causing your algae. That said to better assist you there: What does the algae look like, green slim? dark green brownish lil bushes? Green Hair strings? Describe it the best you can and/ or take a picture for us.
I just recently had a terrible outbreak in my 55g with 4-5 different types and battled it successfully, so there is hope.

For plants: No you do not need CO2, the stock you have will do just fine. For good plants growth you need TWO things and they need to be balanced 1) Light 2) Fertilizer. The lights you currently have will work for some plants (low light as you realized already) add some comprehensive all in one liquid fertilizer tot he water as well (available in your LFS).
How are your anubias planted? Often people burry them in the gravel which hinders their growth as they ideally should be planted attached to either a rock or driftwood. That's also the same way to plant Java ferns.
Now bulbs should ideally be replaced 1x year. So when your time is up for your current bulbs, replace it with a daylight bulb. These are rated at 6500K and are the spectrum plants need for successful growth. You can either buy these at the LFS for about $15-20 or you go to Lowes, Homedepot, Walmart and pick one up that's named Daylight (available by Phillips, GE, Bright Effects and Lows knock off brand) and you spent $3 for 2x4ft bulbs :-) Same thing, same effect on plants but cheaper. Feel free to check out my tanks to the left under the tap "Aquariums" and look at the plants there, all these are set up with the very names homestore bulbs and no fert's and see for yourself how that works for me.

Planted tanks are often set up TOO COMPLICATED meaning too much "messing with nature" less is more and all it needs for a nicely planted tank is BALANCE between lights & fert's & fish :-)
FYI since you mention Iron, plants need far more then only Iron, they also need trace elements and micro nutrition, which is why I suggested the comprehensive liquid fert above already;-)

EnergyAZ 12-22-2009 03:37 PM

Hello everyone - thanks for your replies!

1st of all - I do want to reitterate that I would NOT flush or otherwise dispose of the pleco. But the only fish stores in my area are the large retailers like petsmart & petco and not sure if they would accept my pleco even though he is totally healthy. Craigslist is a good idea and I will give that a try - free to a good home!

The algae is green spot & and there are 2 main factors I think are contributing to it. 1.) Not enough plants to absorb nutrients and 2.) tank is adjacent to a window that gets a lot of late afternoon sun directly onto the tank. My wife frequently forgets to close the blinds in the late afternoon while I am at work & as result I get algae blooms fairly frequently.

I figure if I can stock the tank with plenty of plants to help absorb nutrients created by the fish it should help cut down on the algae? Not to mention give the fish a more natural feeling home!

I have never been big on adding chemicals, my tank has been very stable for a long time now and fish seem healthy and grow nicely. So I dont want that to change, if anything I am wanting plants to contribute to the natural ecosystem with as little chemistry addition as possible. Glad to know my current stock of fish should supply enough CO2!

I forget the name of the stuff, but I laid down a layer of iron rich substrate under my regular gravel. It was designed for aquatic plants so I imagine there is more than just iron in the substrate - still will fertilize on reglular basis - the only 'chemical' I plan to add to the tank.

I had pinned the Anubias plants under rocks & driftwood as opposed to bury in the gravel like a standard plant. I did this for aesthetic purpose, not realizing the Anubias would suffer if burried in the gravel. But I do have a lot of space to fill - what kind of low light plants can be safely burried into gravel?

And thanks for the tip about bulbs - wow, I could have gotten 5 year supply of bulbs vs. what I spent for 2 of them at the pet store! :oops:

Angel079 12-22-2009 07:19 PM

Just ask them, won't hurt some petco/ petsmart owner are actually pet people believe it or not :-D

Green spots, almost like dust? Yea from what you're describing you got too little plant nutrition and too much light in your tank. What fertilizer do you use and how often? And what lights do you have on there (wattage and hrs per day on)?
As for the glass, ask you wife for a unused kitchen sponge with the scrubby pad on one side and wipe down your glass BEFORE water exchange, just be sure to not "dip" the sponge into gravel/ sand and then wipe it over the glass that can scratch it for ya :-)

There's 2 common problems people with algae fall for and they're fatal: 1) They stop ferts all together and 2) don't add enough plants
Between the stocking of the tank, the lights one has and the plants/ ferts needs to be a proper balance. Is that balance out of order > Algae :-)
In your case I'd suggest any fast growing plants such as Vallisnaria, Camboma, Ludweigia, Hygrophilia, Pennywort (these are also all planted into the gravel) etc
Here's a good plant site if you don't know locally where to get them Sweet Aquatics

I'd pers absolutism not recommend chem's nor CO2 to the system you're describing. Yes you have a lil hick ups right now, but eliminate these and you'll do just fine in the long run. Chemicals added can either mask the problem for the moment and/ or competently throw your balance out of wack. Neither case is a good solution for the long run IMO :-)

The problem with enriched Substrate is, it only helps those plants that are "root feeders" like Swords, but most commonly used plants gain their nutrition from the water around them via leaf's not the roots ;-) which is why I pers don't use these type enriched substrates.

I'm glad we can help, that what this forum is here for (and why I pers Love it here :-D )

MoneyMitch 12-22-2009 08:06 PM

welsome to the forum. from the sounds of things you and I are alot alike in terms of aquariums lol, although i keep up on my w/c and have learned from here how to properly care for my plants and they no longer die off slowly.

your lighting is going to be sufficent for most all plants out there even though you threw away alot of money on those "aquarium" lights when a normal walmart striplight is just as good. but back to your tank, your substrate sounds great for most any root plants such as the many diffrent types of swords and ferns (i think about the ferns) out there. plants need a balance of light and nutrient (theres like 15-20 diffrent things that need to be in balance) all it takes is for one of those things to be out of whack and your going to have problems with algae or dyeing plants or both.

i suggest you start simple by getting a few swords and java ferns and start there. these are the most hard to kill nice looking plants out there not to mention they require little maintenance. if those fare well then you can look into more diffrrent plants. sadly i dont have much experience with other plants cause im just in the start of my plant venture aswell but angel is a great girl for that kinda info, not sure if im repeating here cause im too lazy to read but just thought id put in my two sense feel free to pm with any questions. HAPPY FISHKEEPING!

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