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Planning on Brackish Set-up--getting mixed opinions!
All the research I'm doing is making my head spin!
My set-up now is a 30 gallon freshwater with mollies, platies, loaches, chinese algae eater, juvenile pleco and a rainbow shark.
What I'm planning: Moving the loaches and rainbow shark to a smaller 20 gallon freshwater;
Keeping mollies and platies in 30 gallon and adding a Dragon Goby, slowly acclimating them to brackish.
What would I need to do with the Chinese Algae Eater? I bought him on a whim really, so he's not that much of a loss..I originally thought he was an Oto catfish. Would I need to move him to the 20 gallon, risking the territorial compatibility of the rainbow shark?
If I change both substrates to sand, how will that affect the juvenile pleco, and which tank should he be housed in?
Most important question, since I cannot find a set-in-stone answer: What is a reasonable salt amount to ensure the happiness and health of the mollies, platies and soon-to-be dragon goby? How do I go about doing this? (Measurements, etc.) Marine Aquarium salt mix, right? I read the Dragon Goby needs SG of around 1.004--but I have NO IDEA what that begins to mean. Can someone help?
I'm determined to get this right, which is why I always ask my questions here. I've wanted a Dragon Goby for 4 years now, and the only available place they are sold here is Walmart (cant afford shipping online) and I'm pretty positive without ever seeing them there (they're a state away, hour's drive, but a friend phone me) that they are being kept in an overcrowded freshwater tank, so I need to establish a very comfortable home for it, possibly keeping the 20 gallon empty as a quarantine tank first.
Given your present fish, unless you intend on getting rid of several of them (either to the store, another aquarist,...) or getting a much larger tank, I would not consider brackish and more fish requiring very different water from everything you now have.
None of the present fish are brackish. The molly will (likely) manage in brackish, but this is not needed, the fish is a freshwater species as noted in our profiles of both molly species.
Re the present fish, the Chinese Algae Eater will almost certainly cause trouble as it matures; this fish can get quite nasty as many other members here have noted previously, and no matter what you do I would get rid of it.
You don't indicate the loach species, but assuming this is a Botia or similar species, and unless this is a dwarf, it will need a 4-foot tank, and possibly much larger than that if a large species like the Clown Loach. A group of 5-6 minimum for any of these loaches. Moving these and the rainbow to a smaller tank is not the way to go; the 30g may be too small as is. One must consider the mature size of fish, and they need space as they grow to avoid being deformed internally (stunted). Stress is also a big issue with this.
Please resolve the pending issues for the fish you have before venturing into another quite different realm.
That will resolve present issues. With respect now to the Dragon Goby, this fish attains 2 feet in the wild, though in aquaria is usually 12-18 inches. A 4-foot 50g tank minimum is recommended for one fish, with a sand substrate (like to dig). There is varying opinion on the degree of aggressiveness/predation, but most agree this is not a community fish and best alone.
On the goby water, hard with a pH around 8 to start. Then most sources suggest specific gravity of 1.005 to 1.010, achieved with 1% salt using marine salt. Not being a marine aquarist, I'm not sure of the exact amount to achieve this, but I have read 7-8 teaspoons per 10 gallons.
As far as the kuhli's, they have plenty of hiding places but mostly prefer the corners of the tank. With my most recent additions they have all migrated to the opposite side of the tank and hang out on the bottom of a fake plant behind a rock. I do the normal recommended lighting, 9-10 a.m to 10 p.m. and I have a regular fluorescent bulb, no fancy lighting. They seemed to burrow fine under the gravel I had previously but some of it was jagged and I was concerned about injuries, plus I noticed one of them losing a lot of color (he was solo at the time, so i contribute that as a stress factor.) This morning when I turned on the light I noticed my largest at the front corner, he started spazzing out, slithering up and down frantically and bumping his nose on the sand. This is my first time working with sand substrate, could it have compacted to much for it to burrow or is it irritating his skin?
if this helps :)
I would suggest this is more likely stress from the change. Presumably you took the fish out to change the substrate, and many fish do not like being netted:-), some react more than others. I know my corys were most displeased when I changed the substtrate a few months back, and it took several days to get them back to normal. They simply hid in the back as your kuhlis are doing in that photo.
Having seen the photo, I would also suggest floating plants. These are amazing at calming fish, since it is natural for all these forest fish to have a "roof" above them, be it forest canopy blocking light, overhaning vegetation, roots, branches and vines, or actual floating plants. Adding floaters would probably settle all the fish considerably. I use floating plants in all my tanks, no excpeptions. A single Water Sprite, or even some stem plants allowed to just float. Floating plants are also excellent at maintaining increased water stability.
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