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View Full Version : A humble request for discussion with afficionados of aquariums


Lazarus and the Gimp
04-09-2006, 08:46:16
After several fishless years, the family are now requesting an aquarium.

I fancied setting up a Lake Malawi biotope tank, chock full of rocks and cichlids, but I've been overruled. Instead we're looking at an Amazonian set-up, with soft water and a lot of planting.

I'm fairly rubbish when it comes to plants in aquariums. Any suggestions?

Funko
04-09-2006, 08:48:14
Are you getting a Stingray?

Lazarus and the Gimp
04-09-2006, 08:51:07
Given that they can reach 6 foot in diameter, no.

Mr. Bas
04-09-2006, 08:53:08
Cool, piranhas!

Lazarus and the Gimp
04-09-2006, 08:56:06
Again, too large and predatory.

It'll probably be mainly populated with Tetras and Corys. I'm not masochistic enough to try keeping Discus.

Funko
04-09-2006, 08:56:06
Puffer fish?

Lazarus and the Gimp
04-09-2006, 12:21:26
They need brackish water, so would only fit into an estuarine or marine set-up.

They've also got impressive teeth, and are prone to biting lumps off other fish.

JM^3
04-09-2006, 12:27:08
How about a Stingray?

JM

Funko
04-09-2006, 12:29:09
Originally posted by Funko
Are you getting a Stingray?

Funko
04-09-2006, 12:39:44
How about a pike?

Funko
04-09-2006, 12:40:15
Or a stonefish?

The Mad Monk
04-09-2006, 12:46:35
Or maybe a stingray?

The Mad Monk
04-09-2006, 12:57:50
I'm a bad, bad man. :(

As long as you take neon and cardinal tetras out of the equation, several angelfish may be added. Angels see the other two as...candy.

I've decided plants aren't worth the effort for soft water tanks, it's just too easy to throw the pH out of control -- the inevitable rotting plant matter will add enough tannins into the water that without an akali buffer, the pH will sink to a level nitrifying bateria find intolerable. Not to mention the plants. It's a vicious cycle, really.

On the other hand, "soft water" fish, other than discus and rams, don't have a real problem with hard water as long as the pH is low. I've read some reports, years ago, that suggested it actually benefits angelfish.

How large a tank are you considering?

Lazarus and the Gimp
04-09-2006, 13:00:35
Pike- too large, and best suited to a temperate tank.

Stonefish- Marine, I'm afraid. Probably also illegal to keep.

Funko
04-09-2006, 13:02:04
What about an electric eel, or a sea wasp jellyfish?

Lazarus and the Gimp
04-09-2006, 13:07:33
Originally posted by The Mad Monk
I'm a bad, bad man. :(

As long as you take neon and cardinal tetras out of the equation, several angelfish may be added. Angels see the other two as...candy.


I'm not a fan of angelfish, so neons and cardinals will probaly feature.



How large a tank are you considering?

Minimum would be 36'x12'x18. I've always used undergravel filters in the past, but I'm thinking of using an external filter this time, to permit a sandy substrate (with peat inserts for the plants).

Lazarus and the Gimp
04-09-2006, 13:09:02
Originally posted by Funko
What about an electric eel, or a sea wasp jellyfish?

Electric eel is a possible in this set-up, as it would suit the water. However it's likely to prove too predatory.

Sea wasp? Marine, and would require a colossal tank.

mr_G
04-09-2006, 13:25:36
a guppy

maroule
04-09-2006, 13:34:45
I can't believe nobody mentionned a stingray yet

Drekkus
04-09-2006, 13:36:42
Oooooh, another really long aquarium thread coming up!!!

fp
04-09-2006, 13:58:04
I think you should get a stingray, Laz.

Beta1
04-09-2006, 15:18:58
Laz obvious question - is your tap water hard or soft?

The worse thing you can do (in my opinion) is try and mess around with it to make it harder or softer - leads to more trouble with pH down the line and is massively more work than finding out what your water is like, then finding fishes that will live in it.

If you havnt done fish before dont try and start with malawis. The smaller shell nesting lake victoria chiclids are much more peacefull. Still plenty of other options - catfish, tetras (although ideally cardinals or neons), barbs etc. all do well in harder water. And thats without the livebearers.

If you've got really soft water - like monk said - plants can be a pain. If you can find a good source (ie not cheap imports), then rams are one of the most gorgeous soft water fish and are way cheaper (and smaller) than discus or angels.

And theres a few puffers that will be happy in freshwater all the way through their life- the south american puffer and the dwarf puffer for example. Dwarfs really need to live in a group without any other types of fish though as they can be a bit mental.

Beta1
04-09-2006, 15:20:20
Originally posted by The Mad Monk


On the other hand, "soft water" fish, other than discus and rams, don't have a real problem with hard water as long as the pH is low. I've read some reports, years ago, that suggested it actually benefits angelfish.

You can even keep rams in relatively high hardness if you have a planted tank with CO2 injection - the CO2 keeps the pH neutral, although this is a lot of kit just to keep rams.

King_Ghidra
04-09-2006, 15:25:01
Perhaps a stingray?

Nills Lagerbaak
04-09-2006, 16:02:01
Could you fit a shark in? Or maybe squid?

But in all seriousness, how about sea cucumbers and/or sea horses?

Or you could go for the ironic Angler Fish.

Lazarus and the Gimp
04-09-2006, 16:12:14
Originally posted by Beta1
Laz obvious question - is your tap water hard or soft?

The worse thing you can do (in my opinion) is try and mess around with it to make it harder or softer - leads to more trouble with pH down the line and is massively more work than finding out what your water is like, then finding fishes that will live in it.

If you havnt done fish before dont try and start with malawis. The smaller shell nesting lake victoria chiclids are much more peacefull. Still plenty of other options - catfish, tetras (although ideally cardinals or neons), barbs etc. all do well in harder water. And thats without the livebearers.

If you've got really soft water - like monk said - plants can be a pain. If you can find a good source (ie not cheap imports), then rams are one of the most gorgeous soft water fish and are way cheaper (and smaller) than discus or angels.


The water here is hard. I used to use Blackwater Extract to treat it for tetras, but in this tank I'll either buy reverse-osmosis filtered water (and supplement with collected rainwater) or rely on the tannins from plants and bogwood to provide a more natural process.

I've got a fair bit of experience with tropical fish- cichlids are something I've fancied trying for years.

Lazarus and the Gimp
04-09-2006, 16:15:49
Originally posted by Nills Lagerbaak
Could you fit a shark in? Or maybe squid?

But in all seriousness, how about sea cucumbers and/or sea horses?

Or you could go for the ironic Angler Fish.


All marine, I'm afraid. Marine tanks look spectacular, but are a lot harder to maintain than freshwater. The fish are more expensive, and you can't have as many in a tank.

Angler Fish are deepwater fish, so aren't a possibility. Sea Cucumbers are really boring. Shark are a possibility (possibly Dogfish), but along with squid are probably for specialists with huge tanks and wallets.

maroule
04-09-2006, 16:33:48
http://www.m-w.com/mw/art/stingray.gif

Beta1
04-09-2006, 17:15:52
fair enough then, if you can get RO thats great. Have seen plentyt of people try and adjust hard water to low pH using acid buffers and get really bad pH swings.

Still, have a look at the shell living chiclids - much less aggressive than mbuna and better in a smaller (<50 gal) tank

Lazarus and the Gimp
04-09-2006, 18:16:00
Ever had any experience with South American cichlids? I'm looking at an Agassiz's Dwarf cichlid as a potential specimen fish, but I've had previous bad experiences with cichlids (Kribs) becoming incredibly aggressive in community tanks, even when not breeding (and described as "community fish").

Beta1
04-09-2006, 19:02:35
I've kept rams which you can keep in almost any water if you can find UK/european bred stock. Wild caught ones are more colourful and better for breeding but will not tolerate hard water, the far east imported mass produced farm ones will live in anything for about a month, then die on you.

BTW there are a few plants that are good in soft water - I have a soft water setup at the moment.

Things like anubias nana will grow (slowly) and as its leaves dont really fall off you dont get the rotting problem.

Java fern is also pretty good.

Ideally you want plants that will grow well in low light conditions as if you go for high light plants you need to think about Co2 injections to avoid algae blooms and then if you do that you'll get pH swings in soft water.

OldWarrior_42
05-09-2006, 22:12:47
To take care of any bacteria problems arising from rotting plants, or other bacterial problems,go with just 1 plecostamus. No need for any catfish or any other bottom dwelling bacteria eating suckers.

The one plecostamus (ie ... sucker fish) will keep your tank sparkling and clear of bacteria. They also handle either hard or soft water,highly adaptable.

Or get a Beta. Or a Beta1.

Spartak
05-09-2006, 22:20:53
did we mention the stingray?

Beta1
06-09-2006, 06:08:35
hey I'm not cleaning anyone elses tank.

Another good scavenger are shrimp. I love having shrimp but they dont do so well in very soft water so I dont have any atm :(

Oerdin
06-09-2006, 06:41:22
There are fresh water shrimp sold at most good fish shops.

Beta1
06-09-2006, 17:12:43
yeah but they are happier in harder water than in very soft - something to do with their shells I've been told.

Resource Consumer
06-09-2006, 17:20:09
Laz,

I pretty much agree with Beta1. I use RO water and don't bother messing with it too much - I just chuck in about 10% dechlorinated tap water to add the traces. This works pretty well with me (except Rams - dreadful luck with them).

I would suggest using aquatic compost as a base, use undersoil heating too and then sand on the top. I have had not too much trouble with plants lately.

Resource Consumer
06-09-2006, 17:22:28
I mean, of course, undersoil underneath everything not in the middle

Beta1
06-09-2006, 17:39:38
Never tried aquatic compost. Always just grown plants in sand or layered laterite/sand. then again apart from swords I've never grown many heavy root feeders, and swords are fine with laterite and a few tablet fertilisers.

Current tank is very low tech - just anubias and java ferns growing on wood. Only problem there is one of the anubias keeps floating off.


Keith - if your still after Rams the best ones I got were from Wholesale Tropicals in bethnal green. Tropical and Marine in Mortlake used to have good European bred ones but I think the shop changed hands as I hadn't seen as many good ones in the months before I moved. Actually your RO system you might be better off trying to find someone that keeps them in the same conidtions - Rams seem more sensitve to changes in hardness than the hardness itself. I lost a couple moving them between tanks that at near identical pH but different hardness (infact moving hard>softer).

Resource Consumer
06-09-2006, 17:51:42
Thanks for the advice. I rememeber us discussing this before. I have tried absolutely everything to aclimatise them but my record stands at 6 weeks! Everything else survives.

Wonder if I might give up on them and try some of the Apistos instead. I think they might be a bit more hardy.

Resource Consumer
06-09-2006, 17:54:29
And one other tip for water quality - floating plants. Beta1 is the master of this but I do recommend amazon frogbit ahead of water lettuce - seems a lot less prone to rot in a covered tank,

Beta1
06-09-2006, 17:55:01
strange, I found that if you got them past about a fortnight then they were good for at least 6months to a year, and then the deaths I had were from fighting with mates after mating (2 females) and a suspected intestinal worm (1 male).

My male lasted a good year and a bit and by his size he was over two years old when I got him.

yeah water lettuce is best when the lights are a decent distance away. Otherwise it cooks. I actually found that if you got good fast growing plants stem plants, but ones that do not rely too much on roots then you can rapidly end up with a tank with zero nitrates, and judging by the filter I suspect I was getting most of my ammonia filtration through the plants.

Problem is if you want to keep the, growing at that pace you have to actually dose nitrates and CO2 or they stop growing and algae takes over. If the plants are growing well you wont get any algae though.

Resource Consumer
06-09-2006, 17:55:21
Price of place at present, by the way. goes to 7 peacock gobies - lovely fish.

Lazarus and the Gimp
06-09-2006, 19:13:49
Originally posted by OldWarrior_42
To take care of any bacteria problems arising from rotting plants, or other bacterial problems,go with just 1 plecostamus. No need for any catfish or any other bottom dwelling bacteria eating suckers.


Assuming I go with an Amazonian set-up, catfish are definites. Corys are my favourite fish, and I fancy having a fair-sized shoal of them to potter around the sand.

RedFred
06-09-2006, 19:42:59
Originally posted by Drekkus
Oooooh, another really long aquarium thread coming up!!!

Peace will guide our planet.

Japher
06-09-2006, 19:44:30
Waterworld!@

OldWarrior_42
07-09-2006, 08:48:05
Assuming I go with an Amazonian set-up, catfish are definites. Corys are my favourite fish, and I fancy having a fair-sized shoal of them to potter around the sand.

You can have all of them if that is your desire. I was just pointing out that you wouldn't need them out of neccesity if you had the plecostamus. The more, the merrier.

BigGameHunter
14-09-2006, 06:54:44
Bumblebee Gobies were really fun fish. They are small but oddly fast...they have a bladder type movement device that allows them to "flit" around the tank.
Rosey barbs were surprisingly hardy fish as well.

I miss my fish. Something funky got in there and killed them all in a few days.
I think Venom must have washed his ass in the water.

Lazarus and the Gimp
28-10-2006, 11:59:59
Well I bought the tank a couple of days ago, and I'm in the process of setting it up. This is what I got-

http://www.juwel-aquarium.de/en/vision.htm?cat=10

To fit the Amazonian biotope, I'm using a sand substrate with some big chunks of bogwood for decoration, plant fixture and to leak tannins into the water.

When the fish go in, they'll probably be a shoal of neon tetras, a smaller shoal of peppered corys, and at least one specimen fish. I think I'll go for a Geophagus (Earth-eater) cichlid- I've kept one in the past, and it was an easy-going fish that was pretty entertaining.

Beta1
28-10-2006, 15:22:42
cool, jewels are normally pretty good, just dont believe the crap about changing the filter sponges conintually.

Lazarus and the Gimp
28-10-2006, 16:41:28
I've spent the afternoon washing sand. Christ on bike, it's boring doing that.

Beta1
28-10-2006, 16:50:28
yeah sand is a nightmare like that - and it will still be cloudy even then.

I just stuffed my filter with floss, let it run overnight, washed the floss, stirred up the sand and then repeated until clear.

It will stay murky for ages though

The Mad Monk
29-10-2006, 06:44:46
I don't trust sand -- too easy to get dead spots where anaerobics can thrive.

Lazarus and the Gimp
29-10-2006, 20:55:51
I'm hoping that an earth-eater rooting around in it should minimise that risk.

Koshko
29-10-2006, 21:15:47
How about a miniature stingray?

MOBIUS
30-10-2006, 13:36:53
Would that be Japanese then?

Colon
30-10-2006, 16:09:18
How about getting a bigger aquarium so you can fit a stingray in it?

MOBIUS
30-10-2006, 16:30:19
Or even a stingray shaped aquarium?

Colon
30-10-2006, 16:34:47
You can also get a stuffed stingray so you won't need an aquarium at all.

King_Ghidra
30-10-2006, 17:31:21
Originally posted by Lazarus and the Gimp
I'm hoping that an earth-eater rooting around in it should minimise that risk.

is that the same as a bottom feeder?

Beta1
30-10-2006, 17:50:26
why do I sense a browncard coming on.

Oerdin
30-10-2006, 18:27:01
Maybe a stingray.

Lazarus and the Gimp
30-10-2006, 19:13:46
Originally posted by King_Ghidra
is that the same as a bottom feeder?

It's also a mouth-breeder.

self biased
31-10-2006, 03:19:17
that sounds interesting. though if i were to do a display tank, it'd be dart frogs and mantellas. i've set one up before with a friend when i was in the business. we put ten pairs in, and after a year and a half, i'm told there were over a hundred frogs in there.