Converting Tank into Habitat community tank for Angels in a 55g.
My goal is to transform my current community tank into a habitat community tank for angels.
I am not sure where to begin, I was looking around the forum's but I didn't find anything worth while on what exactly consituted an angel's habitat in terms of plants, gravel or sand, etc.
I have had the current community tank now for about 2 years. This was my first tank, and if I have done something horribly wrong - please tell me I want feedback.
Any suggestions? :-D
Current Tank Stats:
Tank Size: 55g
Filter: Flluval for 75g.
3 Small Angels
7 Full Size Lemon Tetras
4 Full Size Zebra Dianos
2 Small Striped Rapheal Catfish
3 Ghost Shrimp.
3 Medium Size Siamese algae eater's
Java Fern - Doing well.
Lace Java Fern - Doing well.
Corkscrew Val - Never did well, always very stunted and seems to lose its leaves and I find them floating on the top quite often.
Gravel: Small pea size Natural color.
Special Notes about current tank: I already have a CO2 reactor(powered from yeast in a soda bottle) for the plants. I installed the CO2 system due to the Corkscrew Val always seeming stunted. It didn't help much at all.
well... keep them in groups... loosely planted tanks, furnished with large--leaved plants and roots that protrude into the tank from above.
umm.... remember they get up to L 6" H 10" if cared for correctly.
Welcome to TFK!
What kind of lighting do you have on the tank? The java fern will survive in extremely low-light conditions but the vals need a bit more going on. Someone more versed in plants will have to confirm this, but I think CO2 is pretty much overkill unless you've got the lighting and fertilizer to make it worthwhile.
First comment on the natural habitat of angels. Slow moving streams and flooded forest, very dimly lit, heavy vegetation (aquatic or marginal) and/or branches and roots; leaf-littered substrate. A few weeks back I posted a video of angels in one of their habitat streams.
Angels occur in shoals (groups), and in a 55g you could have 4-5 angels along with some "dither" fish like a group of suitable characins, small catfish (Corydoras, Farlowella, Whiptail, small species plecos). "Suitable" meaning large enough not to be eaten and peaceful enough not to nip the angels' fins. If you check through the characins in our fish profiles you will find several that are mentioned as suitable with angels.
The pattern on wild angels indicates their habitat: they remain among roots and branches, marginal vegetation reaching into the water, where the vertical stripes on their flanks blend in and provide camouflage. This can be achieved in an aquarium through small branches placed vertically in the water, vertically-growing plants like swords, sagittaria, vallisneria. These refuge places should be surrounding the tank with an open space at the front. The angels will feel "at home" and secure. In spite of being a cichlid, they can be quite timid when placed in pristine environments that do not provide the feeling of instinctive security.
Their preference for slow or quiet water indicates that filtration should be minimal; a good canister filter or sponge filters work well. A Fluval that can be aimed against the end wall to reduce the flow impact will work well. And their preference for dark or dimly-lit waters means the lighting should be subdued, which can partially be achieved by floating plants which also naturally occur in their habitat. A dark substrate, black or dark brown small-grain gravel will replicate the dark substrate of their native waters; your natural gravel will probably work fine. In this environment they will sparkle.
Adding some Echinodorus (swords) to your present plants would work. What lighting do you have? Assuming fluorescent, one tube or two, and full length (48 inches)? And what type of tube(s) at present? There is no need for CO2.
I currently have 1 full length tube, it is what came with the tank 2 years ago and I have never changed it since it always worked....
How often do you need to replace tubes? Which tubes should I buy, any online vendors?
I also have contemplated getting a new hood that will allow 2 tubes... good idea?
You mentioned floating plants? Which species of plant would that be?
Thanks for everyone's advice thus far.
The older T12 tubes [the "T" number refers to the tube diameter, so the higher the number the wider the tube] which were "the" fluorescent tubes for decades burn out faster than the narrower newer types, like T8 and T5. When to replace is debatable depending upon whom you ask. With T12 tubes almost everyone agrees 12 months is max. With T8 tubes, the narrower normal fluorescents, some think 3 years is max. Many think they can last until they burn out naturally. I'm skeptical of this opinion though, as the intensity of all tubes does diminish steadily. I have all T8's now, and I have decided to try the 3-year replacement plan. Provided the tubes are good, this is probably fine.
For a 55g that is 4-feet in length, I would use one tube. Remember I said angelfish like dim lighting. I have two tubes on my three larger tanks but I also have thick floating plants, and the tanks are wider than a 55g and the 115g is a foot longer. When I had a 55g I had one tube, and it worked fine, even with less efficient tubes back then. As for tubes, I would use one with a Kelvin rating around 6500K, this is full spectrum, some call it daylight, daylight deluxe, enhanced daylight... as long as the kelvin is around 6500K. You can buy tubes at hardware stores made by Sylvania, Phillips or GE that will work fine and be much less expensive than special tubes made for aquaria. Of these, the Hagen Life-Glo 6700K and the Zoo Med Ultra Sun 6500K are the best I have used; they are just more expensive--but I got a bunch of Life-Glo at 1/4 cost from a store that was closing so I stocked up.:-) I would just get a good tube like those I've mentioned and use the existing single-tube fixture. It will probably wear out some day, mine seem to last 12-15 years, and by then there will undoubtedly be new types available for consideration.
Plants: Echinodorus (swords) will do fine in this setup. Crypts for the bottom (unless you want to be authentically Amazonian, as crypts are Asian plants), and pygmy chain sword Echinodorus tenellus is a fine bottom cover plant. Floating plants include Ceratopteris (Water Sprite) that is ideal, it grows like a weed and produces dozen of daughter plants from the larger leaves. I bought one some 15 years ago and I still have it in two tanks all from successive daughter plants. Pennywort, a stem plant, grows very beautifully when left to float. Most stem plants will grow floating.
P.S. When you see fish or plant names shaded, that means you can click on them and go to the fish/plant profile for info and photos.
Also, a belated welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping.
Thanks alot for all your current advice.
So other than new lights, can you guys point me too a fertilizer (Supplement) or should I even worry about that?
Here's a very good link on Angelfish Biotopes-
Vallisneria are great for Amazon tanks, even though they're not really amazonian. However, the amazon DOES have lots of grass-like plants that are unavailable in the trade... So including vals will definately fit the 'look'.
Same way with crypts. Crypts as byron said aren't south american... but there are lots of terrestrial plants that are submerged and keep their leaves until the water level recedes, so crypts can reflect this.
These plants are also from south america, and would be nice for angels.
ERIOCAULACEAE SP. (if you can find it. Rare.)
HYGROPHILA SP. (Pretty much anything EXCEPT difformis.)
Rubiaceae sp. 'Pantanal'
STAUROGYNE SP. (If you find this, let me know. I want some. :))
Egeria Densa (Very easy to find, and easy to grow. Grows everywhere, so technically fits in any biotope. :))
You probably will need a fertiliser. I don't use them, but I'll need to start soon. I'm probably going to get flourish comprehensive or Kent's Pro Plant.
On another topic all together - How is current tank stocked?
By the way, great article...
I really thank you guys for answering all my questions.. :)
On your present stocking: I would return the Rafael catfish and Siamese algae eaters, perhaps in exchange for other fish when you decide. Rafael's grow to 9 inches or more, and SAE to 6 inches; these will have a major impact in a 55g tank. Algae should not be an issue in a balanced planted tank, but you can always select some of the much smaller SA algae fish if you want, like otos, Farlowella, some of the small pleco species (4 inches max, not the common pleco which can attain 18-24 inches).
The angels are together and will grow into the tank, but as they are still small, you could add 2; a group of five would be fine. The lemons are good; depending upon how authentic you want to be with your angel biotope, the zebras (Asian fish) could be returned and replaced with another shoaling tetra, in a group of 6+. And for the bottom interest, a group of Corydoras, with a pleco or whatever?
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