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dieseldoc 03-14-2010 12:51 PM

Observations with Questions about plants and filtering
After spending a considerable amout of time reading through posts here and getting a better education than my LFS will give me I still have a few questions.
First I have to thank you people here for posting the link to Sweet Aquatics as it is saving me a lot of money compared to my LFS's on plants. Sweet Aquatics is about a 1/3 of the cost compared to any of the LFS's around here. My current order is (10) Dwarf Sag, (10) Cork screw Val and (5) Ludwigia Ripens.
A little about my tank..... It is an All Glass 60 gal. Hex. It is way over stocked thanks again to my LFS because they told me I could put 80 fish in it. But don't worry it does not have that many. It currently has approximately 46. I only say approximately because the fry are hard to count. For filtering I am running a magnum 350 and an under gravel filter. Decor currently consists of a rock, a ceramic castle and a mix of both plastic and live plants with a piece of drift wood. Because of the overstock issue I am doing 50% water changes with gravel vacuuming weekly like clock work along with water testing prior to the water changes. Current live plants consist of Ludwigia Ripens, Anacharis and Dwarf Val. I am slowly switching this to all live plants and ithis should be completed this week when my plant order arrives from Sweet Aquatics.
With all of that said my first question has to deal with the UGF and the magnum 350. Since I have read here that activated carbon and ammo chips are bad for plants what do I put in the basket of the magnum 350 and at the ends of the up right tubes for the UGF? I also understand that the roots from the plants could cause a problem with the UGF as they mature. So my first thought was to shut it down until I read further in this forum and found that this could also be a bad thing. Since abruptly shutting down the UGF could be a bad thing what if I slowly restricted the air supply over the course of a few months until there was no air reaching the air stones at the bottom of the up right tubes. What I am trying to do is eliminate the UGF with out doing the complete tear down.
Next I have some lighting questions. Currently this aquarium has the stock hood and lights. with 3 15 watt t-8 bulbs at 8000 k. With the current set up the lighting is more focused in the center of the tank creating darker areas to the front, rear and sides of the tank. I am wondering if it would be beneficial to the plants if I were to build a canopy that were more open where the lights are so the light spread out over the tank and is not so centralized like it currently is.
Thanks in advance for any and all comments, suggestion and opinions and wading though my long winded post.

Angel079 03-14-2010 01:07 PM

I LOVE SA plants their quality is awesome back since I first ordered there I ain't even going no where else any more now. I really only can highly recommend that place!!!

You say you have about 46 fish - What fish do you have in the 60g exactly?

The UGF I'd remove before adding the new plants that's not very beneficial for keeping live plants.
Also remove the ammo lock & carbon from your filter this will only filter out the nutrition the plants need to thrive.

I'd dial/ exchange at least 2 tubes there for some that are closer to 6500 Kelvin as that spectrum will be more beneficial to plants. You can find these t8's oftenm labled as daylight or ultimate daylight by brands like GE, Phillips, bright effects at stores like walmart, lowes, homedepot (just make sure you know the lengths you need;-))

Plants may not thrive as well in your dark areas then in the higher lid one's. Just play around with some tin foil from your kitchen use it as a reflector and see if that brightens up your dim areas some.

dieseldoc 03-14-2010 01:54 PM

Stock in the tank:
2 - Red Glass Rosey Barbs, 3- Zebra Danios, 4 - Blood Fin Tetras, 3 - Red Eye Tetras, 1 - Paleatus Cory, 1 - Green Cory Cat, 1- Pink Neon Glo Fish, 1 - Yellow Neon Glow Fish, 3 - Gold Zebra, 2 - Orange Twin Bar Swords 1 female and 1 male, 1 - White Balloon Moly, 1- Cardnal Tetra, 1 - Orange Twin Bar sword born in tank 1/19/2010, 6 - Long Fin White Clouds, 1- Sunburst Platty, 4 - mixed female Guppies, 1- male Snowflake Guppy, 3- Male Tequella Sunrise Guppies, 1- Orange Twin Bar Sword Tail born in tank 2/16/2010, 8 - that I have seen guppies born in tank 2/27/2010.
Water test results last week Tuesday were NH3/NH4 = 0 ppm, NO3 = 0 ppm, NO2 = 20 ppm, PH = 7.2 - 7.5, KH = 4 drops/60 ppm. And I do the water change right after these test reguardless of what the results are.
I know about removing the carbon but should I put any kind of media in the basket in place of the carbon and if so what should I use?
The way the light is currently The actual light fixture sits on top of the tank cover so the only place I would be able to put tin foil is on the bottom side of the tank cover. So that would put the light above the tin foil. Do you think there would be enough reflection off of the top of the water back to the tin foil to disperse the light back into the water evenly?

Angel079 03-14-2010 02:40 PM

HOLY CRAP! Your LFS is sure the best sales person I ever heard of!!!
Uhm not to offend but do you realize you have fish in there that need entirely diff waters as far as pH & KH? Like some need super soft water and other harder water, naturally these fish would never be found int he same waters and given your readings I'd take some out of this tank and back to the LFS. Also others/ a lot fish you have there need to be housed as group not one's or 3 of them but a true group 8+.

To replace the carbon you can either put just a fine foam filter pad in there to extract small particles from the water or leave it; pers I'd add a fine filter pad into it.
Right so you have this lil plastic box pretty much in which you have the florescent light tube sitting right? You can just put tin foil in it. I can take you pic's of my hood if that helps. Just anything shiny / reflective will help you there.

dieseldoc 03-14-2010 03:07 PM


Originally Posted by Angel079 (Post 344139)
HOLY CRAP! Your LFS is sure the best sales person I ever heard of!!!
Uhm not to offend but do you realize you have fish in there that need entirely diff waters as far as pH & KH? Like some need super soft water and other harder water, naturally these fish would never be found int he same waters and given your readings I'd take some out of this tank and back to the LFS. Also others/ a lot fish you have there need to be housed as group not one's or 3 of them but a true group 8+.

Hence the reason I have been reading as much as possible here and why I won't buy from them any more since I learn 80 fish in this tank is way over stocked. They told me all of these fish would work in this tank. I am learning this is not true. An expensive lesson - fish loss here and a fish loss there for no apparent reason other than what I thought was an over crowding problem.
So which fish need to come out? I may be buying a tank sooner than I thought. But I went to another site from a link on this forum and the calculator there said it was ok and the only issue there may be was cross breeding between the swords and the platty. It even recondmended the weekly 50% water change. And that is why the switch to all live plants as well because it would be better for the mixed bag of fish I have.

Please do post a pic of your light.

Byron 03-14-2010 03:36 PM

I'm just expanding on a few points Angel already mentioned, and perhaps a couple new ones that occur to me.

First, let's get the stocking issue resolved. Eighty fish in a 60g tank is not overstocked provided they are the right fish. Your existing 40+ fish is overstocked because they are the wrong fish to have together. And once you have live plants the water will be more suited to fish as well, so that gives you a bit of leeway.

"Compatible" fish means they share identical water parameter requirements (pH, hardness, temperature), they have the same general environmental needs (wood, rock, caves, plants,...whatever), and they have behaviours that are also compatible (peaceful, which means less stress so less chance of disease and problems). I could expand on this but won't at the moment. But I agree with Angel, some of the fish should go back to the store. Decide on what you want, then build with that in mind. With your tap water parameters, your aquarium will once biologically settled tend to become slightly acidic and soft (you have soft water now at 60ppm); the pH will be in the mid-6 range which would be ideal for soft, acidic water fish but not livebearers; the latter will not fare well in soft, acidic water. This is one way to decide on stocking, the fish have to suit your water.

Comment on the UGF: you cannot slowly stop it, it either has to continue or it has to come out and the gravel will need cleaning thoroughly. A UGF uses the substrate as the filter media, and water is drawn through it bringing oxygen and organics down to the bacteria. If that water movement is stopped for an extended period, and that means several hours only, the bacteria will be starved of oxygen and die. This creates terrible pollution that could easily kill every fish in the tank. There is some variableness in this, depending upon depth of the gravel, fish load, etc., but the risk is there. I would remove the gravel and wash it, and remove the UGF plate, then reset the tank; UGF's are not the best filter with plants though they can work. All this after you've (hopefully) taken some of the fish back to the store, when you decide which you want.

The external canister filter is perfect for planted tanks. I use basic media, the biological rock stuff like Fluval's Bio Max, plus the pads to polish the water (keep it clear). The plants do the major job of filtering (cleaning) the water.


Angel079 03-14-2010 03:41 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Picture of my hood attached below. As you can see I simply took the light out taped the shiny side of the tin foil on there, light back in turned it on. Worked WONDERS for my dim areas and its a quick simple fix :-D

Now the more complicated part lemme see if I can fiddle through your whole fish list there. For starers I will suggest to keep the fish out of there that naturally thrive in your water. The other's I'd really try return to your store for credit and amend the other's stock with that credit. Only other alternative is setting up a 2nd tank like a 55g and then sep them apart by water need / group sizes BUT then you will also have to work a lil with peat to lower your pH there a little (which is no big deal and very simple process I could also guide you through).

Fish to keep in your tank/water:

2 - Red Glass Rosey Barbs > Would up group size to 5-8
1 - Paleatus Cory, 1 - Green Cory Cat > Cory's should be also housed in groups 8+
3- Zebra Danios 1- Pink Neon Glo Fish, 1 - Yellow Neon Glow Fish, 3 - Gold Zebra > Glo fish are also Danio so all these naturally should school together there.
6 - Long Fin White Clouds - Perfect as is
This above list would be a good leveled out group sizes and stock size for your tank there alone.

2 - Orange Twin Bar Swords, 1 - White Balloon Moly, 1- Sunburst Platty, 4 - mixed female Guppies, 1- male Snowflake > The issue I see with all them they have fry like NO tomorrow so even if we adjust the stock in your tank it'll still quickly get overstocked again because of all the fry. You can avoid this by only housing males. But you should give it some serious consideration who will stay/ go there. Even w/out any of them here listed in the 2nd half your tank is fully stocked like I said up top so any of them staying means higher stock/ overstock.

Fish to return/ new tank:

4 - Blood Fin Tetras, 3 - Red Eye Tetras
1- Cardnal Tetra
Tetra's all thrive in softer slightly acidic waters so I'd suggest to get a 20-30g set the water up specifically for Tetra's used maybe and stock them each to a proper group size of 6-8 or return all these (or sell them to someone around you).

Puh now I hope I didn't miss any fish from your list lol:lol:

Angel079 03-14-2010 03:45 PM

2 Attachment(s)
FYI here's a good tool that will help you 'play around' with different stock scenarios it will tell you on the bottom how far stocked/ overstocked you are what these fish need as far as pH/ KH ranges and who may not be compatible with someone else.

And another thing that would be very beneficial now & later for a good water quality is a ton plants the order list you had posted in the OP I'd suggest rather 10 Ludwigia and 5 Corkscrew...Just as example what happens a few weeks later here's my 55g with Vallis & Ludwigia

redchigh 03-14-2010 03:56 PM


I might be totally wrong, but I think the livebearers would fit in a 10G or slightly larger, as long as you had a way to get rid of the fry.
(A powerful filter intake will solve your problem- you'll never see it happen.)

When you get your plants in, you shouldn't have to worry about a "mini cycle" as happens when the filtration method is changed since hte plants SHOULD absorb all the excess ammonia.

As for the filter media-
I have a HOB filter, and when I converted to a planted tank I replacced the carbon with filter floss.
Don't know if it would work in a canister, but wanted to maybe spit some ideas out there.

If the LFS won't take the fish back and you don't want to set up 2 more aquariums (1 for the tetras and one for livebearers) you could try aquabid.
PM me and I can send you some shipping supplies at cost, and give a bit of advice on shipping. :)

tx246 03-16-2010 06:35 PM

Im new to this and I had a UGF too. I had a cycled tank and wanted to put plants in without breaking down the UGF. I ended up breaking down the tank for 2 main reasons.

1. If you are successful at getting plants to grow, the filter grid will quickly become engulfed with roots. Now every time you try to move a plant, you will be pulling up your plate and substrate.

2. The inevitable power outage that will kill off the bacteria and pollute your tank.

I did keep the powerheads just in case my tank develops some dead spots as far as circulation goes.

I am a rookie at this stuff but I am basing the above on info provided by the better talent in this forum.

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