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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all!

I am writing an essay about a South American blackwater creek biotope aquarium of a size of 66 UK gallons (79 US gallons).

The aquarium is stocked with…
• 10 marbled hatchetfish
• 10 rosy tetra (possibly more)
• 4 cockatoo dwarf cichlids
• 10 emerald catfish

(I will probably increase the stocking levels later on).

The tank includes some plants (Frogbit, Vallisneria, and Sword plants) but is not heavily planted. It contains plenty of wood, leaf litter, and a sandy substrate (this was recommended for the catfish, but I may have to change it for the plant roots).

I now have to choose, explains reasons for, and detail the maintenance of the aquarium equipment. I would be very grateful if you could please read the below and confirm if my choices are suitable. If you have any advice for one or more of the questions below, it’d be much appreciated! :D

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I am going to use an external canister filter capable producing slow flows (have found some of these online). I’m thinking of using sponge and ceramics as the filter media. Would you recommend peat at all? Or am I better off with just relying on the wood and/or blackwater extract for the tea-stained appearance?

One of my reference books recommends 300 watts for this size of tank. However, I have read in several sources that large tanks are better suited to two heaters in order to evenly spread the heat, so I’d need 2 x 150w heaters. A ‘large tank’ to a novice is like asking ‘how long is a piece of string’ – would you recommend one or two heaters?

All the recommendations online are for ‘subdued lighting’ and don’t seem to suggest a specific light or wattage – what would you deem a suitable wattage/lighting model (I have floating plants for the hatchetfish)? I would prefer a light incorporated into a tight-fitting hood.

Other than a slow flow, I haven’t found any recommendations for the aeration set-up. How many airstones, valves and what size pump would you recommend?

Note: do I need/would you recommend
• A UV sterilizer
• Carbon injection (I read this is not suitable for beginners)
• RO water (don't need specific water stats for this essay, but I know the local water ranges from slightly hard to very hard, and I'd need soft and acidic for this aquarium).

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Thank you for your help!

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236 Posts
I would start with the wood and see how you get on. If you find the colour is too light then use extract or peat filtration.

I would recommend two heaters, one at either end of the tank for better heat distribution. If a heater should stick on then it is unlikely to 'boil' the fish and if one should fail the other should be able to maintain the heat adequately enough.

I run two 4' 32W LED tubes (equivalent 40W T8s) and see reasonable growth on Swords, Mushroom Pennywort and Stargrass despite the floating plants, Blackwater and depth of the tank. The E. tenellus didn't fare well under these conditions. Make sure your Vallisneria is V. americana ;-).

Aeration via an airpump shouldn't be necessary if you use a spray bar to return the water from the filter and aim it to agitate the surface of the water.

UVs are always a nice idea but unfortunately UV breaks down tannins.

CO2 can lead to large pH swings during the course of the day and it can be argued that an Amazon biotope does not warrant it due to the sparsely planted nature. Using carbon supplements rather than CO2 tends to reduce the pH swings (dramatically).

RO is the easy way to soften the water. I mix it with tap water (1:1) to get the right GH & KH, obviously this varies depending upon what your tap water is like.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for all your tips, RSVBiffer! :-D I greatly appreciate your help - especially the info regarding the lighting, it's been a pain trying to find specific guidelines in books, etc.

Just had a look at the photos of your tank - very beautiful set-up you've got there. An interesting layout.:) Hope that the introductions are continuing to go well!
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