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Low light 80 gallon tank journal journey

1914 Views 11 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  jakinthebox
Hi all,
I've recently started to fix up my 5 ft x 18in x 18in and my better half is well and truly sick of hearing about equipment, water chemistry, plants and fish so I thought I might share my fishy journey with anyone who might be interested. I'll upload photos along the way and I welcome any comments or suggestions anyone might have.

History- I had the tank made to fit on top of a cabinet about a year and a half ago. I had great plans for it but after the initial basic setup I fell ill and wasn't able to continue. The occupants over this time were a Black Ghost Knife and 2 Bristlenose. I've always been a plant person (worked as a florist) and once I'd seen some beautifully planted high tech tanks I wanted to do something similar. However once I started research the fish I wanted to keep I realized that high level light just would not be suitable for them. But I wanted a planted tank with thick HC carpeting and plants that you could! It was time to re asses what was important and decide which was more important to me, plants or fish and the answer is..drum roll...THE FISH, duh!! So low light NPT here I come, all ready to go buy 2 T5's when Byron convinced me that even this is too bright for the fish I want to have. His tanks are pretty lush so instead I bought another T8 to add to one I already have.

Planned fish to add include apistogramma, farlowella catfish, rummy noses, neons, red phantom tetras, peppermint bristlenose (one of the original ones died), snakeskin guppies, rams and corys. I have some Aspitogramma, the peppermint and some rummy nose currently serving their time in a quarantine tank.

Since this tank is already full using soil for substrate would have been a nightmare and I don't feel confident enough to try it. I wanted something with some nutrients in it so chose Flourite because you never have to change it as it lasts the life of the tank. I'm using black Flourite for the bottom two thirds with black Flourite sand on top for the enjoyment of all the substrate digging fish. Rinsing was quick and easy, I tipped one bag at a time into a big tray and blasted it with the hose and tipped the water out. Constantly washing Flourite is totally unnecessary since your washing away good nutrients that you pay a pretty penny for. What did take a while was getting it in the tank without causing a massive cloud along the way. I'd pretty much succeeded by going extra slow when my Black Ghost got curious and found what fun it was to kick up dust. Figure eights, laps at break neck speed plus vertical and horizontal donuts were the order of the day. He had great fun, and I got frustrated!!! The tank got so cloudy I could not see to continue so had to call it a day. The next day the dust had settled but he was ready for me and began his aquatic acrobatics as soon as he found my hand in the tank, this became routine over the next 4 days it took for me to get the Flourite into the tank! Today I put in driftwood, but pics will have to wait until tomorrow cause my camera battery's flat.
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I'm so happy you decided to start a journal on this tank!!! Really looking forward to seeing it grow under your care. . . you're off to a good start!

*waits patiently for the camera batter to charge*
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Glad to have you along for the journey! :) There's something wrong with this camera battery- still flat aaarrrrgghhhh!:evil: Now looking for the card reader like a maniac, I'll be back with the promised photos just as soon as I sort out this technical issue. ;-)
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Take your time. . . I fail at updating my journal on a regular basis - and I already have the shots taken most of the time!!! You're in good company - but don't think I'll forget! Good luck with the camera troubles. . . looking forward to the next update!
I don't have much to say buy am just following along to see the pics. I want to see a tank like that sitting on a cabinet! LoL
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Problem solved, a faulty power point was to blame and I found the card reader so here are the photos from yesterday, I planted 50 thin val in two rows of 25 each right along the back then added the 3 main pieces of driftwood. Originaly a piece of Mopani was going in the centre but its been soaking for an eternity and STILL leaching very heavily so I substituted with the middle bit you now see in the photo since I'm probably going to be 90 yrs old before the mopani slows down! I'm happy with the look so far and Puppy (my Black Ghost) just LOVES it and spends a lot of time exploring the new wood with his nose. One thing bug's me though and that's the opening of the wooden long on the right., it is very obviously man made. The wood is way to thick to break off and I'm not sure using a jig-saw to cut it would look any better, suggestions anyone?

Two new inhabitants were added to the tank a pair of electric yellows who I had to move because their tank developed a leak. I'm a bit worried that the larger one has not lived with many smaller fish before but don't know what else to do so I'll see how they get along. Installed a new filter, the Eheim Pro 3e (I love the easy flow control) to work in tandem with the one already set up. Filter hoses/spray bars will be hidden and next I'm going to put in as many of the caves/tubes as possible and also the following plants I have in a bucket-

Echinodorus Amazonicus
Echinodorus Barthi and

Echinodorus Tropica
5 pigmy chain swords
Anubius Paco & Nana

I've also got some more plants coming in a few days, but will have to do some experimenting to see what will grow where since the wood casts some deep shadows I'll have to think about where to put the plants. I know I should have it planned already but I didn't really think past getting low light South American plants.

I intended this to be a South American tank both fish and plant wise and having never looked into it before it took me quite a while to find South American plants, I basically looked up every plant that I came accross and made a note of the name if it was native to South America. However I'm sure some have noticed already that there are some that don't belong, namely the Anubias and i'm not sure about the thin val (couldn't get solid information on this one) The Anubius is there because I couldn't find a native plant that will attach to driftwood, if I do it will be replaced. Originally I was going to have a Sagittaria subulata background and have 1 bunch (all they had) coming so as it grows the val will slowly be replaced by the Sagittaria. Then there's the Echinodorus Barthi and Echinodorus Tropica both of which are cultivars so I'm using some poetic license here!

I don't have much to say buy am just following along to see the pics. I want to see a tank like that sitting on a cabinet! LoL
I'll take a photo of the whole cabinet plus tank for you Boredome, I'm just glad someone out there is interested. I think my hubby is at a bit of a loss as to what to say when I burst excitedly into a room saying "Honey, THE NITRATES ARE DOWN!!!"

And for fun here's a picture of my Rose breasted cockatoo during the quarantine tank setup (from a few weeks ago). I busted her 'helping' me by picking off the silicone while my back was turned (no real damage done though) I said "Who's a cheeky bird then?" to which she promptly replies "YOU ARE!!"


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That looks awesome! As for the hole in the end of the wood. Umm why not stuck some kind of plant in there like I don't know Java moss or any moss, or Anubias???
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Haha, I love your cheeky bird! AND I LOVE YOUR TANK!!!
jakinthebox: said:
I think my hubby is at a bit of a loss as to what to say when I burst excitedly into a room saying "Honey, THE NITRATES ARE DOWN!!!"
This amuses me. I suspect our husbands could probably have a decent conversation on how LITTLE they care about such things . . . mine just replies with something like "Meh. Go tell your fish people, crazy woman..." You've come to the right place!

The tank is off to a great start - I really love all that driftwood. I'm trying to think of what I would do with the hole. . . I'm with Bored on this one. Some type of moss to soften the edge, and Java Fern or Anubias attached just inside could work really well. I'm sure you'll figure out something that will be perfect - figuring out how to incorporate these kinds of things is half of the fun! ^.^

You have a Black Ghost named Puppy? Good thing you got the camera sorted out, cuz' it sounds like you have a few new pictures to take!!!;-)

Great work so far! Really excited to see where you take this tank next!
I suspect our husbands could probably have a decent conversation on how LITTLE they care about such things . . . mine just replies with something like "Meh. Go tell your fish people, crazy woman..."
:lol: hehe! that sounds sooo familiar! Mine is like "woo hoo, -insert sarcastic remark here-" and does a motion with his hand like he's waving a flag. I also get a lot of lectures on how dangerous electricity and water is. :roll:

Yes, I have a Black Ghost named Puppy, he lives in the hollow log! His face looks just like a puppy dog IMO, just without the floppy ears and he behaves like a puppy too, he eats out of my hand, lets me pat him, wags his tail when he gets excited (sometimes his whole body when he really gets going) and sometimes chases his own tail so it seemed like an appropriate name. I am a bit concerned that he will outgrow this tank but at least it shouldn't be for a while so I'll cross that financial bridge when I get there. He's near impossible to take a photo of being black and nocturnal but I'll keep trying and one day I'll get lucky (thank God for digital cameras)

I like the moss/ plant just inside the hole idea, I might try some Anubias Nana Petite. I'll have to think about which moss to use, there are so many nice ones!. My plants order arrived today I got-
Heteranthera zosterifolia (Star Grass)
Sagittaria subulata
Hydrocotyle leucocephala (Brazillian Pennywort)
Hydrocotyle verticillata (Sheild Pennywort) - has dark red stems and light green bean shaped leaves which make a nice contrast.
Hemianthus micranthemoides (Pearl Weed)

Here's a picture of of the whole setup, (other picture is of the caves I'm adding) as you can see the tank is sitting on an entertainment cabinet which I picked up for $100 including delivery. There's a few about for cheap now because everyones getting flat screen tv's that dont need the big ones. I picked this one because behind the stained glass panels are movable shelves which is where the filters and equipment will go. No need to modify anything because there is already big holes in the back for electrical cords. It didn't cost anything extra to have the tank made to measure and delivery was again included. I left a bit of space on the sides so I have somewhere to put things down when I'm working on the tank or feeding the fish. I think when it has a hood then it'll really blend in with the cabitnet. The tv never gets used and I was just thinking how that could be a good spot for another tank......(maybe after this one!) There is one thing that really bugs me about this tank and that is the lid configuration, the way its made is with the lids running from front to back rather than left to right. Maybe its something that's done with larger tanks (this is my first bigger tank) but I've never seen the lids that way before so I didn't think to mention it when I gave the dimentions so if you do get a tank custom made don't forget to tell them how you like the lids. Personally I like to sprinkle the food along the front so I can see the fish feed. At least it's something that's fixable.


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Disaster strikes

My fish order appeared (courier did not bother to knock on the door) on my doorstep, or should I say what was left of my fish order. Opening the styro box revealed 3 torn fish bags and most of my fish dead or dying in the bottom of the box :cry: Out of the rummy nose only one was left in the bag, dead, 6 were dead in the box and 5 were still alive along with a bristlenose who is alive but has badly torn fins. Panicking I quickly scooped up the live fish with my hands and plonked them into the quarantine tank. The third torn bag still held its pygmy cories but in only 1.5cm of water. These little guys were destined for my fry tank. 2 bags were secure, one had a farlowella catfish (I ordered 2) and the other a wild caught neon green cory (I ordered 3) for whom I had set up a smaller seperate tank since he is wild caught. I am so sad for the poor fish, what a horrible end they must have had! I don't know how this could have happened, although one bag was broken at the side seam the other 2 had big holes in the middle like they were torn open but I could find nothing sharp in the box.Then I went to check on the status of the new rummys and realized too late that they have both white spot and velvet! Now my quarantine tank is infected:( I medicated with a half dose of Wardleys Promethyasul which says it treats for parasitic, fungal and bacterial and am thinking about getting a UV sterilizer as well. I tried to turn the heater up to speed up the process but there seems to be no temp change to the water so now I am heating the whole room instead. I have only ordered fish online twice and each time it has been a disaster, is this kind of thing likely to happen again if order from somewhere else in the future? Do fish orders often go wrong or is this the exception rather than the rule? I read lots of reviews about the company before I ordered and thought this was a reputable company. How can you tell if they are not? I prefer to spend my money in local brick and mortar stores but every time I try to order anything from the local pet store the same thing happens, they smile and nod whilst retrieving the 'To Be Forgotten ASAP' book, carefully write down my details and order then rush to do absolutely nothing. It recently took over 2 months of constant harassment just for them to get seed in for my pigeons.

Chesh I should have thought more about what you said about quarantine, for some dumb reason it never occurred to me that introducing new fish to the Q tank is risky for fish already in there. Now I'm super worried about my Apiso's :shock: although I am very relieved that I moved Cane, Cloe (spawning cockatoo cichlids) and their urn yesterday. I'm now going to have to think long and hard about exactly how I'm going to quarantine in the future, although its sure going to involve
(new fish+ Qtank) x weeks = not-so-new healthy fish + home tank.... THEN start at the beginning again

Sorry for the ramble and the gripe of my bad day, I leave you with a pic of the new farlowella catfish and some of my kribensis fry checking him out, you can see mum at the bottom.


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OHH NO!! :(
That's terrible!! I have only had fish shipped to my house once and it went nothing like that! Have you contacted the shipper (company) about the issue? Did you take pics of the fish in the condition of which they were shipped to show them? I am soo sorry this happened to you how awful! I usually have my LFS to order me fish and this doesn't happen to them either. It just sounds like the shipper was careless and you should address the matter asap with them. I hope the poor babies you did manage to save pulls through.
Hey Bore, I did take photos and contacted the fish company. They got back to me and are giving me a refund for the DOA fish and the missing fish, they said that sometimes if the bags are too full of air the air can expand and burst the bag but to me it looks like the bags were torn not burst. And if this is a risk then the fish should have all been double bagged for transport. They did not say anything about the sickness. I gues the bags could have burst from mishandling by the shipper, I tried calling but got an answering machine all day so I'm going to try again on Monday. As for the fish that weren't DOA, the bristlenose seems okay but his tattered fins bother me a lot, hopefully they will grow back uneventfully, the pygmy corys are tough little cookies and are zooming around the tank as if nothing happened, they are so darn cute! I lost 2 more rummys and the rest have not eaten yet. The neon green stripe cory is the most active and he looks very healthy but I felt bad that he did not have his other 2 playmates that I originally ordered so I went to the lfs and got him a bronze cory to be friends with until I can find some more of his kind. I'm really glad I did because those two are like peas in a pod now, they go everywhere together swimming side by side, its as if they are glued at the hip:) Its just a waiting game now to see how the other fish get on *sigh*
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