Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   setting up an amazon biotope/habitat aquarium (http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/beginner-freshwater-aquarium/setting-up-amazon-biotope-habitat-aquarium-90466/)

pandamonium 01-12-2012 09:55 PM

setting up an amazon biotope/habitat aquarium
 
hi everyone,

i have been browsing through all kinds of fishkeeping sites lately and was interested in starting up an amazon habitat. since i am going back to school shortly, i can't start it now but i wanted to make sure everything was set. that way i can probably start to set up this tank beginning in the summer. for now this is what i had planned.

tank: 40-55 gallon
filter: maybe rena xp1 or a fluval. i have looked at eheim but they seem pricey
substrate: sand

fish: i want the fish to be from the amazon and its tributaries. i have looked at a bunch and i have narrowed it down to a few although i would love suggestions.
-hatchetfish
-neons with possibly serpae or lemon tetras
-a suckermouth catfish (bushynose, gold nugget (L177 i think), butterfly, or zebra. one of them)
-a pair of german blue rams
-honeycomb catfish (oil catfish)

plants: i have a 10g tank now that has all fake plants but a LFS i visited had displays with live plants and i would like to try it. from what i looked up i wanted to use a few amazon plants.
-echinodorus tenellus. they said it was a midground plant. is this true?
-stargrass. i dont know much about it :(
-cabomba. i have heard it is more difficult to keep, especially since i am not well-versed in plants.

so i was hoping you guys could throw some suggestions my way about lighting i should use or other fish species i should look at. basically anything would be awesome :)

oh and one last thing. when i look at a lot of display tanks with amazon species (neons and angels especially), they are rarely blackwater tanks. always very bright, even though they are well planted. why is this? i have read that the species need dimmed lighting either from floating plants or tannin-stained water.

any help is greatly appreciated :)

EDIT: with lighting, i guess that would depend on the plants i used or the fish preferecnes so i am not sure of that yet.

Christople 01-12-2012 11:39 PM

I would get lemons instead of neons because to me they are nicer, plants have a few requirements: lighting, nutrients, and Co2 injection. Lights are very important, plants use blue and red light mainly so a good starting point is 6700 kelvin rating.

Jwest 01-13-2012 01:47 AM

I have bit of an amazon biotope but i cheated a lil on the plants. I really like neons in large schools. I have 38 right now hoping to get up to 50. The red on them really pops when they are in large schools. Plus large pet store chains like petsmart and petco sell them for $1.00 ea sometimes. If you do have a petco near by I would go there if you haven't picked up a tank yet. They're having $1.00 per gallon sale on all tanks. For plant's I would recommend amazon swords. Place some root tabs next to them and they will grow pretty big under the right lighting. That's just my two cents.

bigfish93 01-13-2012 11:40 AM

I am setting up a 40 gallon tank right now and I was in the same situation as you. I wanted to get an Eheim filter but they were to pricey so I was gonna settle on a fluval. Then I came across this site, futurepets.com. I bought the Eheim Pro 3 UltraG65 (2071) for $150. Sure, it is still a little more expensive than a fluval or rena, but the few extra dollars for a far superior filter is definitely worth it in my opinion. The filter arrived at my door step in less than a week, and that was with the standard ground shipping. Definitely worth checking out if you haven't bought your filter yet.

angella 01-13-2012 12:16 PM

Have you seen the black neon tetras? I have a school of 15 neon tetras that I ADORE :) The black ones look cool too though, just throwing that out there for ya.

Byron 01-13-2012 05:23 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum. I'm delighted at another Amazonian fishkeeper joining us.:-D I have 7 tanks at present, and most are geographically Amazonian. The photo attached is of my present 70g flooded Amazon forest habitat and the 115g Amazonian Riverscape; both use the natural method which means minimal light and no CO2. I'll offer a few suggestions here to get you started.

First, filter. A good canister rated to the tank size is adequate. I have Eheims on two tanks and Rena XP3 on the 115g. Eheims are more expensive, but the benefit here is that they will likely last much longer without problems. My two Eheims have been running non-stop for 12-15 years with never an issue. Rena does not yet have that sort of track record, but I am nonetheless happy with its performance after 2 years. In product reviews Fluval come third to the Eheim (first) and Rena (second). For media, I use the Fluval ceramic disks and biomax as it is cheaper but otherwise identical.

Light: sufficient for the plants intended, but no more. And always include floating plants. As you correctly said, Amazonian fish are mainly from very dimly-lit waters. And 90% of these waters are shaded by forest canopy, overhanging ground vegetation, or floating aquatic vegetation. Light does make a difference on the well-being of the fish. You can read some background on light and planted tanks in the 4-part series "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium" stickied at the head of the Aquarium Plants section. Over a standard 55g, a single or dual 48-inch T8 tube fixture would work.

Fish: From your list, I would forget Serpae Tetra. These are often nippy, and some will create havoc at worst, and restrict your selection of fish because of their nippiness. We have fish (and plant) profiles, under the second tab from the left in the blue bar across the top. Many species are included. If the scientific or common name is used in a post exactly as in the profile, it will shade, like Serpae Tetra, and you can click on the shaded name to see that profile.

Plants: Echinodorus species, several are in the profiles. The pygmy chain sword is an excellent substrate cover, you can see it in the photo of my 70g. The similar plant in the 115g is a related species, probably Hellanthium bolivianus. When I acquired it back in the 1990's it was Echinodorus quadricostatus, but the smaller chain species of swords have undergone a major botanical revision and are now Hellanthium with only two or possibly three species.

pandamonium 01-13-2012 08:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bigfish93 (Post 949338)
I am setting up a 40 gallon tank right now and I was in the same situation as you. I wanted to get an Eheim filter but they were to pricey so I was gonna settle on a fluval. Then I came across this site, futurepets.com. I bought the Eheim Pro 3 UltraG65 (2071) for $150. Sure, it is still a little more expensive than a fluval or rena, but the few extra dollars for a far superior filter is definitely worth it in my opinion. The filter arrived at my door step in less than a week, and that was with the standard ground shipping. Definitely worth checking out if you haven't bought your filter yet.

i will definitely look at that site. being a college student means i can barely afford food haha :) thanks for the suggestion!

Quote:

Originally Posted by angella (Post 949359)
Have you seen the black neon tetras? I have a school of 15 neon tetras that I ADORE :) The black ones look cool too though, just throwing that out there for ya.

i have and they are so cool. my roommate bought them at school and they seem to be a bit braver and hardier than the neons i bought. apparently they are a different species altogether? at least that is what the LFS owner told me.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Byron (Post 949624)
Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum. I'm delighted at another Amazonian fishkeeper joining us.:-D I have 7 tanks at present, and most are geographically Amazonian. The photo attached is of my present 70g flooded Amazon forest habitat and the 115g Amazonian Riverscape; both use the natural method which means minimal light and no CO2. I'll offer a few suggestions here to get you started.

First, filter. A good canister rated to the tank size is adequate. I have Eheims on two tanks and Rena XP3 on the 115g. Eheims are more expensive, but the benefit here is that they will likely last much longer without problems. My two Eheims have been running non-stop for 12-15 years with never an issue. Rena does not yet have that sort of track record, but I am nonetheless happy with its performance after 2 years. In product reviews Fluval come third to the Eheim (first) and Rena (second). For media, I use the Fluval ceramic disks and biomax as it is cheaper but otherwise identical.

Light: sufficient for the plants intended, but no more. And always include floating plants. As you correctly said, Amazonian fish are mainly from very dimly-lit waters. And 90% of these waters are shaded by forest canopy, overhanging ground vegetation, or floating aquatic vegetation. Light does make a difference on the well-being of the fish. You can read some background on light and planted tanks in the 4-part series "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium" stickied at the head of the Aquarium Plants section. Over a standard 55g, a single or dual 48-inch T8 tube fixture would work.

Fish: From your list, I would forget Serpae Tetra. These are often nippy, and some will create havoc at worst, and restrict your selection of fish because of their nippiness. We have fish (and plant) profiles, under the second tab from the left in the blue bar across the top. Many species are included. If the scientific or common name is used in a post exactly as in the profile, it will shade, like Serpae Tetra, and you can click on the shaded name to see that profile.

Plants: Echinodorus species, several are in the profiles. The pygmy chain sword is an excellent substrate cover, you can see it in the photo of my 70g. The similar plant in the 115g is a related species, probably Hellanthium bolivianus. When I acquired it back in the 1990's it was Echinodorus quadricostatus, but the smaller chain species of swords have undergone a major botanical revision and are now Hellanthium with only two or possibly three species.

thanks byron for the comprehensive answer. before posting my question i looked at your tanks and they look amazing! i will definitely consult the sticky and do some more research on lighting. i have some questions though.
-so far i found that there is a rule that says there should be 2 watts per gallon of water for planted aquariums. is this true? it seems really bright for fish who like dim waters.
-will floating plants interfere with light requirements for the bottom-dwelling plants?
-what floating plants do you suggest for an amazonian aquarium? i looked at amazon frogbit and 1 other i think it was hornwort. i have had success with hornwort in the past but i am unsure if i want it in this tank.
- i just came to the thought of aquarium substrate for plants. there is a store near me that models its tanks after the work of takashi amano, the aquascapist. however, its really expensive and i was wondering if there are cheaper ways of providing substrate. fluorite i think is common in most stores. is that good enough?

thanks again everyone for your help. this definitely helped me narrow my options :)

Byron 01-13-2012 10:50 PM

Quote:

-so far i found that there is a rule that says there should be 2 watts per gallon of water for planted aquariums. is this true? it seems really bright for fish who like dim waters.
Forget this "rule," it is not reliable. This did sort of work back when we all had regular T12 fluorescent tubes over our tanks, and for basic tanks around 20 to 100 gallons. But with the various lighting options within fluorescent tubes today this is completely unreliable. And, it was excessive even previously. Watts is only the measurement of energy a tube/bulb uses to produce the light. The newer T8 tubes (thinner than the T12) are more efficient at emitting equal or more light than the T12, and use less energy to do it. Then there are T5 tubes which are more efficient, though they produce too much light in many cases for freshwater. As an example, my tanks with fluorescent fixtures (all T8) have less than 1 watt per gallon, and no one is going to tell me the plants are not growing well.

Quote:

-will floating plants interfere with light requirements for the bottom-dwelling plants?
To some degree. However, one factors this in to the equation. As you've seen, I have floating plants in all my tanks; I consider it mandatory for the best health of the fish.

Quote:

-what floating plants do you suggest for an amazonian aquarium? i looked at Amazon Frogbit and 1 other i think it was Hornwort. i have had success with Hornwort in the past but i am unsure if i want it in this tank.
Amazon Frogbit [I have poor results with this, perhaps due to my tanks being covered; this plant seems to like air circulation more than others], Salvinia, Water Sprite, Duckweed of course though I wouldn't use this solely as it is less suitable on its own. Brazilian Pennywort a stem plant does extremely well floating. In all my tanks I use Water Sprite and Pennywort mainly, with some Duckweed, and Frogbit though it barely survives.

Quote:

- i just came to the thought of aquarium substrate for plants. there is a store near me that models its tanks after the work of takashi amano, the aquascapist. however, its really expensive and i was wondering if there are cheaper ways of providing substrate. fluorite i think is common in most stores. is that good enough?
I have used every substrate type except soil [won't get into that]. Sand, fine gravel and enriched. Flourite is the substrate in my 70g. The others have sand or gravel. The same species of plants grow equally well in all of these. Which only goes to show how un-important the substrate may actually be.;-) I used Flourite in the 70g because it was to be heavily planted as a flooded Amazonian forest, and I thought the benefit of the enriched substrate seemed suited. I'm somewhat disappointed; after nearly 10 months I am not seeing much of a difference. I won't waste the money on this again. I can't say other manufacturers are better/same as I haven't tried them. But given that plant roots assimilate nutrients from the water, always, it seems pointless to spend hundreds of dollars on one of these when plain sand with liquid fertilizer or substrate tabs for large plants will do the same. Another issue is roughness; Flourite and Eco-Complete are both rough, and substrate fish do not fare as well over these. I took my corys out of the 70g about 5 months after the Flourite because I sensed trouble; and given their behaviour now over sand, I think it was right.

Mr. Amano's style of aquascaping creates beautiful works of art. They are not natural aquaria, by which I mean replicating natural aquatic habitats. I have never gone hi-tech because I do not want to subject the fish to that much light (which is essential), nor do I want the expense and increased nutrient issues of CO2.

I have previously always used fine gravel, and I still think it is the best plant substrate. Over the past couple of years i have set up tanks with playsand, and I do prefer this look for most applications. Fine gravel is very effective in riverscapes such as SE Asian for loaches (Botia sp.) and Central American livebearers and cichlids.

pandamonium 01-15-2012 12:07 PM

ok i will look up T8 tubes for sure. i am looking at buying a tank through petco right now for their $1 per gallon sale. i think its a 36 inch length so ill have to lok for something along those measurements. luckily the lfs has a large selection of them. ill look up the lighting in your tabs and see.

ill definitley search up those plants. i have a lot more time now than before. the pennywort, is it the same species that is sold in grocery stores? i know many produce markets have a pennywort that they sell. or is this a different species?

haha wow i did not think that substrate would impact the growth so minimally! so then it is safe if i use sand or gravel? i want the bed of the tank to be sand but should i have gravel underneath that?

Byron 01-15-2012 01:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pandamonium (Post 951349)
ok i will look up T8 tubes for sure. i am looking at buying a tank through petco right now for their $1 per gallon sale. i think its a 36 inch length so ill have to lok for something along those measurements. luckily the lfs has a large selection of them. ill look up the lighting in your tabs and see.

ill definitley search up those plants. i have a lot more time now than before. the pennywort, is it the same species that is sold in grocery stores? i know many produce markets have a pennywort that they sell. or is this a different species?

haha wow i did not think that substrate would impact the growth so minimally! so then it is safe if i use sand or gravel? i want the bed of the tank to be sand but should i have gravel underneath that?

Never mix substrates, by which I mean different grain sizes. Sand will always sink to the bottom, being smaller grains, and the larger gravel will be on top. All sand to about 2 inches overall is sufficient.

No idea what the "pennywort" may be in the supermarket, but I doubt it is our beautiful aquarium plant.


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