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Hrm... wonder why I almost always see that these guys need a 20? Probably because of water quality issues, which - I've always done really well with maintaining a full stable cycle in tiny tanks, 5, 3, I even had some guppy fry in an insanely stable 1 gallon 'tank' at one point, lol! But I don't NEED any more tanks! I'm trying to shut down some of the ones I have so I can focus what time I have on my bigger one - plus no space for those I have already!

I'll try to ship you some of the dwarf loaches, I've told you this! Never shipped fish before, though. . . it's always the shipping that gets you, isn't it? Around $50 for overnight delivery. . . it's only worth it if you get a LOT of fish at one time, but you really have to be ready for the sudden increase in bioload. I've only had fish shipped to me one time - that was my Jelly Bean Tetra. They all came through perfectly, but I was super nervous about it!

I'm SURE you could do wonderfully with the Licorice gourami, and I'd love to see you get them. I'm assuming that you have those available locally? You have that fantastic fish shop fairly close to you. . .I'm so jealous! Have you ever asked them if they'd order in some of the other types of fish you're looking for? I bet they would!

Byron has ridiculously soft water, too - he also has to buffer his Gh up to help keep his plants thriving. If you post in the plant section, he'll help you out - he's very active over there, and I'm sure there are others that have the same problem that you do. . .

pretty little Licorice gourami . . . hmmmmmm! Decisions, decisions!
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Perhaps what you saw was for a group? Byron's profile says 15-20 gallons for a group, but that a pair can be housed in 5-10 gallons. The Parosphromenus Project echoes that as well. That site is a good read if you're curious about them, or just a nerd like me. Both of them recommend floating plants to help with water quality, so that helps a great deal with water quality.

I know from talking to Byron that he has even softer water than I do. His profile says licorice gouramis need water less than 8 dGH. He does his research so I am willing to believe him. So water quality isn't an issue. I still keep coming back to how endangered they are though. I'd kind of feel irresponsible keep them and not breeding them because of it. You know what I mean? It's a project I want to do someday, but it will have to be in the future when I have space for grow out tanks, etc.

That Fish Place is nice, but surprising I've only gotten my rosy and kitty tetras there as well as my Corydorus sterbai. My red lizard whiptail I got from the Wet Spot. That was my first time shipping fish. I think in total I spent $115 for three fish! That's part of why I'm waiting to order from there again until I get fish for multiple tanks. The worst part is one of the three disappeared within three days, never to be seen again. The rest of my fish (all the Boraras, the loaches, and the Darios) have come from a local lady that specializes in small fish. That has spoiled me in shipping costs (not to mention the free fish). When the weather is warm I pay $8. At the beginning of January it cost me $12 because of the weight of the heat packs. I don't want to order in cold weather again. I've lost 5 fish either as DOAs or within a few days of receiving them. Four of those were in the 2 cold weather shipments. We are talking 4 out of 14 vs 1 out of 38. Huge difference there. She does sells licorice gouramis though.

I wouldn't even begin to know who to ask to order fish in for me. The size of That Fish Place is just huge. It's not like when there was an LFS around here and I knew the owners and they knew me. The local lady I get my other fish from? She doesn't like kuhli loaches. They creep her out. lol I'll give her a pass though, because otherwise she has great taste.

If you sent me loaches though I couldn't joke about stealing your's! Your's are like movie stars! I've seen the videos.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Forgot to add. The one bag of TMS (aka sparkle sand) arrived today. Took me about 5 minutes to get it clean. I really like the color of it. I also saved that bio-magnetic clarifier that came with it. I'm convinced that thing is empty, but I kept it anyway. Even if it's not empty I doubt I will use it as I don't want to put something in my tank, unless I know just what it is and what it does.
 

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LOL! I've never used, but also have kept, those darn clarifiers, too! Don't know why I'm so compelled to keep the things, as I have absolutley no intention of ever using them. . . maybe some day I'll have a real NEED to clear a tank on the quick, and be desperate enough to 'trust' a chemical to do it for me? *shrugs* I opened one once, just to know - it's not empty, filled with a clear liquid. . .lol. Glad you like the sparkle sand! Obviously, I do too - and now I feel less nervous about giving a rave review - I was nervous that you'd hate it, and blame me, lol!

Thanks for the link. I'm curious AND a nerd. There are SO many amazing fish out there. . . right now I just need to keep focused on the ones I have, and to be fair - they've been pretty darn entertaining lately - even more so than normal! But that said, I do enjoy reading everything I can get my hands on. Even if I'm not going to keep them (any time soon), I love to learn about them. :D

Jealous of your local breeding gal - that's awesome, bummer that she's skeeved by loaches, but not *too* surprising, a lot of people are. Oddly enough, those people also tend not to like snakes very much ;) Worth giving TFP a call. . . I'd think! Define local? If I could get them shipped to you for that little. . . you're only 2 hours away! It might be worth a try. . .

. . . movie stars. . . heh.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
There can't be very much liquid in that clarifier pack. I even rolled it up like a tube of toothpaste to check if something was in there. I've yet to experience any sort of cloudy water that didn't go away quickly on it's own, with the exception of play sand that I thought was clean. Learned my lesson there after filling and siphoning a 40 gallon tank half a dozen times lol.

The rest of the sand still has not shipped. I got it from a different seller, because they actually combined shipping and were from PA. I figured it would get here faster. It might have if it ever left the warehouse. It might only be next week that I get to start changing things over. That might work for the better though, since next week is supposed to be warmer. That'd help if I'm ordering plants. TFP is also having a sale next weekend and somehow I managed to get a Saturday off out of luck. 25% off all the plants and fish, so I was planning to get myself some more cories. When I bought the tank I didn't see a huge variety of crypts, most just four different wendtii forms. I have to do so comparison shopping then because even with the discount I think I could get them cheaper online without going to too much trouble searching. The ones I have now all cost me a dollar a piece before the shipping was added on.

That lady is about 50 miles away. According to Google maps, an hour an 10 minutes or so. lol I actually thinks she likes loaches, provided they aren't kuhlis. I've never kept a snake, but my reasons are different. I've kept plenty of rodents and having a snakes would probably freak me out with a God complex or something. I'd wonder why some rodents get to live happily while I was buying others to feed. I'm a little weird though.
 

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Haha! I think we're fairly similar - I'd have trouble feeding snakes, too - feeding LOACHES, on the other hand. Well. . . that squirmy pile of cute just brings me to my knees every time!

Maybe your lil' bag is SO small/empty because. . . *snicker* it's only meant to clarify a 5 pound bag! *GUFFAW* I think its worked out well in a way, tho. Even if you have to wait patiently for the rest to arrive, you at least got a chance to be SURE you wanted it - and apparently PLENTY of time to cancel the order - before the bigger bag(s) arrive :)

So tell me how you've got your substrate set up, ALL about it. . . I'd love to hear your experiences in dirt tanks, as I'm *considering* setting one up at some point. . . you said you use the Miracle-Gro organic potting mix - is it just that with sand on top? I want details :)

Why am I the only one commenting on this thread? It's gonna be an awesome tank. I guess I'm just a dork - I LOVE watching other people's tanks grow!
 

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Haha! I think we're fairly similar - I'd have trouble feeding snakes, too - feeding LOACHES, on the other hand. Well. . . that squirmy pile of cute just brings me to my knees every time!

Maybe your lil' bag is SO small/empty because. . . *snicker* it's only meant to clarify a 5 pound bag! *GUFFAW* I think its worked out well in a way, tho. Even if you have to wait patiently for the rest to arrive, you at least got a chance to be SURE you wanted it - and apparently PLENTY of time to cancel the order - before the bigger bag(s) arrive :)

So tell me how you've got your substrate set up, ALL about it. . . I'd love to hear your experiences in dirt tanks, as I'm *considering* setting one up at some point. . . you said you use the Miracle-Gro organic potting mix - is it just that with sand on top? I want details :)

Why am I the only one commenting on this thread? It's gonna be an awesome tank. I guess I'm just a dork - I LOVE watching other people's tanks grow!
LoL Because Jes you like to talk. :lol: Everyone just sits back and listens and waits for the finish product and then comments.
Jes this is the soil

There are different ways of preparing it to use in the tank and how he is going to do it or how he has done it maybe different. I have used it by simply pulling out the big objects and then dumping it into a tank and wetting it a lil before putting a cap of sand over it.
Oh and I agree with ya Jes this is going to be an awesome tank when he is done with it. I may not be talking as much as you but I have been following it and will continue till he is done with the thread.
 

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Haha! No offense intended, darlin'!

Sorry I'm sooooo chatty ;) It isn't just that I like to talk, I just am really excited to LEARN, too. . . chances are that I'll never have ALL of the tanks I'd love to, so it's neat to learn from others' experiences, and get their POV - I'm entirely too eager to learn all there is to know about aquariums. And I'm sure the fact that I'm surrounded by a sea of 2 and 3 year-olds all day doesn't help much ;)

Not meaning to hijack the thread, but did you/do you like the soil better than sand? Or just the same to you?

I promise. I'll be quiet(er). . . try, anyway. I get too excited :D
 

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Haha! No offense intended, darlin'! Sorry I'm sooooo chatty ;)

Not meaning to hijack the thread, but did you/do you like the soil better than sand? Or just the same to you?

I promise. I'll be quiet(er). . . try, anyway. I get too excited :D
LoL I wasn't telling ya that you need to be quiet/quieter. Talk all you want!! I was simply answer your question about you being the only one committing.

I had good growth out of my soil tanks especially from my crypts at the time. I guess its all want you like or want.
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
You guys have way more faith in my ability to put something good looking together than I do, that's for sure.

I'm going to write a long book on the whole short history of the tank so you can get all the backstory, Chesherca. I think Boredomb knows it all too well since whenever I got overworried over nothing he was one of the people that needed to tell me to calm down. I always bug out with any new method, until I've done it myself. One of the reasons I do something new every time I set up a tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
The 10 gallon that I'm upgrading actually began back in late November. My grandmother's fish had all died and her tank was sitting empty in her living room. She's impossible to shop for, so I thought I'd set her up a smaller aquarium. Most of the things I needed were sitting around my place already so I was going to be free to just spend the money of plants, fish, and substrate.

I ordered plants for her from two people. First shipment arrived and it was way more than I ordered. I got hooked up with all kinds of freebies and extras. It was enough to plant her entire 20 gallon and I still had a whole second shipment coming. I didn't even know what was in it, but knew I was going to get a good deal. So I dug some more stuff out of the cellar (Ma got all the good stuff though) and bought some play sand. I threw it together with some driftwood and left it go for a few weeks while I tried to figure out some sort of concept. I swear that was what happened and that I wasn't just looking for an excuse to set up another tank. Anyway, here's what it looked like then.



So after a few weeks I had no growth. OK, that's probably not unusual, but I had back luck before with crypts. Having a high tech tank warps perception too lol. In that tank I can measure daily growth in inches! So anyway I decided to order myself some more plants and to give the crypts a boost.

I did lots of research and finally decided on the stuff Boredomb pictured. I did it slightly different than him though. I didn't bother to pull out any of the big chunks. It all went in after I ripped the tank apart. I did a two inch layer pressed down and then capped with an inch of play sand. Much swearing went into the tank until I learn how to fill it without blowing the sand around and making a mess with the Miracle Gro. More swearing went into the hardscape. I tried lots of variations, gave up tossed rocks in and random and jammed a piece of wood in there. lol Like most of my tanks that approach seems to be the one that worked.

Initially I had ammonia readings and the tank was actually cycling itself. I also had tannins, but they went away after the first water change. The ammonia took longer and was my first panicing. Everyone says soil substrate tanks should have fast growing plants and I didn't have any! I used seeded material from another filter and added floating plants and wa-la no ammonia issues since.

I thought I'd see lots of melt with the crypts when I changed over the substrate. I didn't see any. In fact they started growing well. A new leaf every six or seven days. About a week and a half after putting the Mi Oya in they were sending out daughter plants. The crypts loved the soil!

Compared to the plants in my grandmother's tank, mine grow much faster and larger. Her's have barely grown at all in Eco COmplete with added Osmocote+ root tabs. Her light is even a lot stronger than mine. That made an algae farm though. Floating plants got rid of all that. Which reminders me I need to get rid of some of those next time I am at her place since they cover the whole surface. My tank has yet to show any algae at all after about 3 months.

I haven't had problems with melt, aside from when I added the fish (two bronze crypts melted) and randomly one week that was accompanied by strange fish behavior. That was a very bad problem. For instance my remaining bronze crypt went from seven leaves down to two and still hasn't started regrowing. The other crypts have begun to regrow though. I had at first thought they were too shaded, but my grandmother's tank is even more shaded and it hasn't occurred. She doesn't have fish so I only do biweekly water changes and had skipped doing her tank that week.

Besides that the only plant problem was with the Java fern dying when I first got it. Once I started buffering my water though, the problem cleared up and now it's growing very well. I have tons of baby plants forming on all those bad leaves. The rest of the plants are growing well. The Amazon frogbit is growing very well, so much so that I have to remove some every week. Most times I forget to dose micros in this tank.

Oh there was one other time I freaked out. I had just ordered the fish and was waiting for them to come the next day when the soil started bubbling. Turns out that it was just built up CO2 from the organic breakdown in the substrate and nothing to worry about. It still does that. Doesn't even bother the fish. In fact when it happens they all make a beeline for the area just to check it out and see if there's anything for them to eat.

Just one random note to leave off this probably too long post. Two of my Boraras naevus came to me missing an eye. One is missing the left, and the other the right. They are the only two I can tell apart from the rest, but still don't have names.
 

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Hooray for books! Thanks for the information... hmmmm. How DO you keep the two layers from mixing, and do you HAVE to cap it with sand? I know from what I've read about various enriched substrates, that the effect goes off as they're depleted. Does this happen with soil, too? I guess. . .is it just that the plants seem to prefer soil, or is it that they're getting something 'extra' from the miracle grow? I've read so many different things on this, I've confused myself!

Boredomb is great as a voice of sanity, lol - he's helped me out in the same way over the last year. . . :)

WHAT happened with that weirdness? Was it the weather or the water?! I didn't lose any crypts - but my fish were freaking out for a week. . . NOT a big fan!
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
I haven't had a problem yet with the sand shifting down. I pressed the Miracle Gro down by hand before adding the sand, don't know if that helps with that. I have heard the substrate will condense further over time. To be honest I've never heard of the layers getting mixed up like you would think would happen though. I mean with the exception of being careless when rearranging plants. That's one thing you really can't do with a soil tank. You pretty much have to put the plants in and leaves them there.

You don't have to use sand, but you do have to use some sort of cap. I picked sand because it's said to be best for any sort of bottom dweller I would want. Eco Complete, Flourite, Oil Dri, and even gravel of the right size will work.

I know some types of mineralized top soil that people make can lower ph, which crypts appreciate. I went the lazy route, although I didn't have a choice. I would have had to wait until summer to try mineralizing. In this case it's more of it has the nutrients that you would otherwise have to dose as well as some small amount of additional CO2. It won't last forever, but it will last a whole lot longer than root tabs. I've seen pictures of a tank using this method that was still going strong after 3 years and no additional ferts.

lol Yeah I'm pretty sure I annoyed boredomb with all the questions. Redchigh too. He was a lot of help as well.

I honestly have no idea what happened, but I wish I did. My bronze and Mi Oya wendtii crypts melted for an entire week. Oddly enough the green gecko ones didn't lose a single leaf. If I had a clue I could hope to prevent it in the future. It sucks losing about a month's worth of growth. There's just so many things it could be though.
 

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I wished you didn't have to cap the soil as that would totally look cool!!
After my Devil Cat knocked over my basket of emersed plants into my tank all the soil went to the bottom and stayed. It looked cool, messy but cool. It was also a PITA to clean up. I wonder how long it would you have to soak the soil to get it to stay down??? Also if you manage to get it to this point could you actually run it this way?? Would it there be any problems in doing so?? I know some of the particles would get stirred up and but they would settle sooner or later i would imagine.

Anyways LoL neither of y'all annoy me asking questions! Am glad to help or atleast try to help the best I can. Though I learn more from ya then I think y'all realize.

Blackwaterguy have you every used Oil Dri?? Isn't that a clay based absorbent?? Thinking I have seen someone here that uses that and pics of it or it could be another place.
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
Are the floating bits the real problem or is it a case of too many nutrients being available? I kind of think it's the latter. I mean in MTS all the floating bits are removed, but it's still capped. I had just assumed it was because it would play havoc with water chemistry if it wasn't. Total guess though. I thought I had read something somewhere about if it was possible not to cap, but after an hour of searching the net I haven't found it again.

I've never tried Oil Dri or Safe-T-Sorb or cat litter. I've heard good things about them though. They all all clay based and the have high CEC rates and cheap prices. I heard it will low kh pretty fast. Not sure how long that buffering ability lasts. I know redchigh uses Oil Dri. Maybe that's where you saw pics on here?
 

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Are the floating bits the real problem or is it a case of too many nutrients being available? I kind of think it's the latter. I mean in MTS all the floating bits are removed, but it's still capped. I had just assumed it was because it would play havoc with water chemistry if it wasn't.
No the floating bits are not the problem other then just looks. Would the nutrients really be a problem since the plants will use them and you would be water changes. I figured it would be other things playing havoc in the water column like ammonia and nitrates ??? I really don't know but I just think it would be a cool look!
 

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Thanks for all this info, guys! I've really been trying to figure this out for some time now. I've been wanting to TRY a dirted tank, but I don't WANT to cap it, lol! I really want it to look . . .like. . . nature! I'm okay with MIXING the dirt with the sand, but I don't really want layers. And yeah. . . I WILL move plants. Eventually, I always do! I think I'm going to have to take another look in my Walstad book. I'm SURE this information is in there somewhere. . . I must have missed it! I'll post over where the plant gurus hang out, maybe they would know. . .

Neither floating particles NOR leaching of nutrients/toxins make any sense to me. Unless it ALL floats, which it doesn't, lol. Those bits will either settle or be filtered out over time. And the nutrients would have to be in the water column, I can't see how they wouldn't be - or how sand would protect from that happening. Could be wrong, but it doesn't make sense. Even ammonia and nitrates would eventually take care of themselves via the nitrogen cycle. . . I'd be more than happy to have it set up as plant-only for a few months just to be sure! :)

Really nice to get your personal experiences. . . thanks!
 

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Here a thought about Mineralized top soil.... could you leave it capless?? The whole reason of mineralizing it in the first place is for it hold on to the nutrients longer and release them slower right or am I thinking about that wrong??

Jes you can move the plants around after you plant them in a soil tank. You just SLOWLY pull the rooted plants up. You have to patient and watch the base of the plant make sure not to pull to fast or hard or else you will have one hellofa mess in your tank!! I moved my plants but not often just know it can be done and till you learn how you will probably have a mess in doing soo. LoL
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
Most just thinking out loud here, so keep that in mind.

Just the few floating bits I got annoyed me. I can't even get my driftwood to sink and it is waited down. I don't even want to think how long it would take for all the little bits to do it. I've netted them out but that still took forever. I'm thinking if you wanted uncapped than MTS would be the way to do it. No floating bits, plus you've already broken down the organics so there shouldn't be any ammonia spikes.

I know some people keep "mud" tanks, but those are serious plant keepers, they kind that are just as likely to have no fish as have fish. Might even border more on no fish. I don't think it'd be a problem in a plant only tank. I still think it would be a mess depending on the fish. In my head I'm picturing a puddle that looks clean with mud on the bottom. Water is all clear until you step in it and then it's a cloudy mess. I could just see the same thing happening constantly if there was any sort of bottom dwelling fish in there. Digging, rooting around for food, even swimming.

Jes-Why don't you want to mix layers? Just curious.

Boredomb-What plants did you move around? I know it's totally possible and have done it myself a few times. I think sometimes it will be an automatic no though. Anything with a huge root system would just pull out tons of the bottom layer no matter how careful you were. A stem plant with smaller roots though would be easy.
 

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*giggle* you read my mind - mud was the next thing I was going to ask about - that's it, I'm starting a thread! Doesn't Mika have a mud bottomed tank? I feel like I remember her actually digging up mud from the forest near her at one time. Valid point about the bottom dwellers. . . I'm not sure if it would bother me, though. Since it would be a 'natural' disturbance caused by the fish. Water changes might be a disaster, though! Or. . . depending on how you had your filter/bubbler working. Hrm.

I'm not OPPOSED to layering, exactly. . . just that. . .I PROMISE you, I would make a mess of it, the layers would get mixed eventually! It's more of an aesthetic thing, rather than a plant-growth thing. I think it'd look really cool, and wonder why nobody ever seems to do it :) Maybe the cap isn't so much to weigh down the soil, but to weigh down the plants?
 
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