Jump to content

What to do... with one of my display tanks


Recommended Posts

I haven't been contributing a lot around here lately, other than the occasional comment here and there, there's not much going on in my tanks, so I thought I'd share my current mental state regarding one of my tanks.

Due to cutting back on the Splendens activity for a while so I can look after the other wildlife in my house, one of my display tanks that was being used as a sorority for the HM girls is going to be available. Depending on what goes in there, I might still keep a few HM girls there, but a 350(ish)Litre tank seems a bit excessive for a handful of female bettas. And I'd like to make a bit of a feature out of it as it's 100cm(L)x70(H)x40 and looks stunning when it's at its best (which right now it does not).

The tank has an Aqua-One MG600 Metal Halide light over it, but because of it's height I've never had much success with planting in this tank, the light just doesn't seem to penetrate to the bottom. Tall things grow nicely (Val & Crypt Balansae that are up to the full height of the tank, and mosses do well), but everything else just sort of sits there and dies slowly (despite much yelling at the Lilaeopsis).

The other thing that bums me about this tank is the pH. After recommendation by a LFS I used Eco-complete as a substrate, and it seems to have had the effect of raising my already slightly alkaline pH even higher. It comes out of the tap around 7.2 but in that tank the pH sits up around 7.8. After I mentioned this to the LFS, they said "Oh yeah that's supposed to be used in conjunction with CO2"... Grrrrr... "I did tell you that I wasn't using CO2 when I asked about substrates".... "OH, I don't know why we would have sold that to you then..." (Rage face).

So, my feeling is that with the height of the tank it would be cool to make a feature of the vertical nature. If I amassed a tangle of driftwood and then had tall plants that I know will grow (like the Val and C. Balansae), coming up through that then you get a sense of that vertical nature. And then to add to that I thought a few angelfish with their vertical stripes, and general vertical nature would look great. BUT that damn pesky pH. (And my partner doesn't like Angelfish, but that's not going to stop me).

So... what do people think? Firstly, does the vertical notion idea appeal to others? It makes sense in my head, but that's not always an argument that something is a good idea. Do we think Angelfish would look good in that sort of setup? (I'm more of a fan of the wild looking Angelfish; silver, altum, macapaca-banana ... that I can never remember how to spell.) And what do we think about the pH issue and the eco-complete? Should I bite the bullet and rip it out? Replace it with something more neutral? Or pH reducing even? Or forget the angelfish, accept the pH and go for a fish that will live happily in that?

Is this the beginnings of the musings of a mad man?

:applaud::byebye::dance::D :lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Missed you around here, Adam!

I think the vertical notion idea sounds great - and definitely makes sense. :)

Personally, I would go for something that would happily live in the high pH.... cichlids pop into my mind, just saying.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another vote for the angels and the vertical look. If it looks too severe, you could always attach some ferns, anubius or mosses to the branches to soften it up a little...

You could mix up the type of woods and get a light and dark striped effect to match the angels stripes (what? Too much? NEVER!!! *lol* )

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Adam

Maby your partner would like Discus they love that vertical habitat and will contrast well with the the Plants you have mentioned and I am with MT if the PH is stable and that dosnt sound to high compared to Perth then dont worry about it. Cant wait to see pics when you hae settled on your choice



Link to comment
Share on other sites

altums or some nice discus would look great and suit the tank....

or with the MH lighting you could think about marine and a few corals..... a pair of nice flame angels... maybe a pair of cardinals or a tang or two... or a dragon wrasse (amazing pattern on that fish).....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's not at all out of the question to discard the Eco complete, it's just a slightly more time consuming process to empty, and reestablish with new substrate. But definitely not something I'm opposed to, just want to make sure that I've made a decision before I do it.

I had marine fish before and loved that, but think I'd prefer to stick with the freshwater for the time being.

Glad that the vertical concept appeals to people. I think if I'm going to do that and go with the angels, the Eco complete probably has to go, and replace it with something that's not going to raise the ph.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Red Sea Flora Base! I use it in all of my tanks. :D Buffers to 6.5-6.8 and it's been well over a month and I'm still not dosing my community tank with anything other than potassium (which I started doing a week ago..). It also won't leech ammonia. I combine it with natural river gravel/sand mixture. Usually about a 50/50 mix.

I have a tank with very similar dimensions but it's actually a bit narrower. I think it would look pretty interesting to mostly plant it out with vallisneria and chainsword, toss in a couple branch-y pieces of driftwood (gold vine perhaps) and pop in either a pair of angels or a pair of small discus and a big school of ember fire tetra.

Or! You could put in a little powerhead down one end and make a tall river bed style tank with some rainbow fish.

OR! Make a really interesting rock scape and chuck some little cichlids in there.

OR!! Make it a paludarium with some frogs and little fishies...

I have too many ideas and not enough space. :( Someone lease me a factory and some fish tanks...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Red Sea Flora Base... will look it up! What's the reason you combined it with gravel/sand?

You're welcome to come down here and climb into my tank to help with the reshape if you'd like... :lol:

PS. Is there a difference between Ember Fire Tetras and Ember Tetras?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I combine it for 3 reasons, 1 to keep costs down, 2 to add sand into the gravel, some plants rather like a sandy base and 3 to give it a more natural look with all the different colours through river gravel.

Depending on what you go with, I certainly wouldn't mind lending a hand, LOL.

No difference re the tetras.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I did some investigating yesterday and found myself scouting around a couple of the LFS looking at bits and pieces. And not being one to waste time, the tank is now fully re-scaped, refilled and cycling.

In the end I decided on using ADA's Aquasoil New Amazonia system, partly because I could get it easily and locally and partly because it also buffers the pH to slightly acidic. The disadvantage of this over some of the other substrates, like the Red Sea Flora Base is that it leaches a crap load of ammonia, so I'll have to wait a while and get jiggy with the water changes before I can restock the tank, but that gives me time to think a bit more on the fish.

AND because I know how everyone loves a photo, I've decided to turn this into a bit of a photo journal.

First thing I did was empty the tank (naturally), and slightly against ADA's suggestions I layed down a bed with some larger rocks and pebbles to help build up a hill on the left side of the tank.


Then laid down the ADA powders, powersand and aqua soil. The powersand was a little close to the surface in a couple of places, so when moving the aqua soil around it got exposed a little but I think it will be ok. I forgot to get a photo of this stage, so the next photo I have is after I'd setup the driftwood and tied some weeping moss to a few branches.


A little closer on the weeping moss


Then we set up the hose and wet down all the soil before sitting in off to one side and let it slowly fill while I started planting some plants.


I used the Crypt Balansae through and behind the driftwood. With Val along the back wall. I had a few scrappy bits of Staurogyne that weren't growing real well in my other tank (that just has a gravel substrate) so I whipped those out and put them at the end of the long horizontal piece of driftwood. Some scrappy bits of Lilaeopsis that also weren't doing well elsewhere, so thought I'd see what they'd do in here with the halides and the aqua soil. With a few chainswords off to the right (and one chainsword that looks a bit bulky and might be a larger sword variety towards the back of that group).

The next thing to do was just let it refill slowly. A small cloud had appeared down the bottom from moving some of the soil around after we'd started filling and it was interesting to see the water rising above that clear as crystal, with the muck cloud just sitting at the bottom. I don't know if you can see that in this photo or not, but it's there I promise.


And then it was full...



With a closeup on the scrappy bit of Staurogyne


Unfortunately some of the Val floated up during the filling and I had to replant it which caused a cloud of muck in the tank, but I've turned the filter on and it's clearing slowly. There are also thousands of micro bubbles rising from all over the tank. You can see them on the glass in the front of the tank.

Interestingly, the long piece of driftwood in the foreground has not been soaked, it's a piece we've been using as decoration in the apartment for ages and decided to add it to the tank. And it didn't float. Pretty impressed I was.

Edited by kermadum
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Day one and a full water change....

I decided to do a test of the water just for my own interest.

pH - 7

Nitrite - 0.25ppm

Nitrate - 5ppm

Ammonia - 1ppm

The water is completely clear today, and even a little bit of digging to get the Val to stay in the damn ground didn't cloud up the water. I'm really happy with how it looks and hoping that the plants fill in nicely.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess it depends on what you want to do with it. They recommend that you have it to a depth that is 1/3 the height of the tank at the back and sloping forward (though obviously that depends on the height of your tank. Mines about 3 inches deep at the front and up to 6 or 7 inches at the back.

There's some info here that you might want to look over before you do it.


The one thing that I would let you know, and you possibly already do but just in case, is that with Amazonia you need to cycle it before any fish can be put in with it. If you're putting it in an already cycled tank, it will still leach a huge amount of ammonia etc into the tank, and they recommend that you cycle the Amazonia in a separate tank and then move it to the one you're putting it in to.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another day, another water change... cycling in the first few days of Amazonia are more labour intensive than most, but I think it's going to be worth it (and hoping that's not blind optimism). With a new Metal Halide bulb in place and new fluoro's too, the lighting looks so much brighter than it's ever been. (A small tip for anyone buying an Aqua-One MG series Metal Halide light... throw away the bulbs and fluoro's that come with it, Aqua-one are stiffing their customers with cheap crappy globes in the shipped product, once you get new globes in there the light is fantastic - and I've spent months swearing that this stupid light wasn't worth the money, turns out it was).

I've added some Blyxa Japonica and Crypt Wendtii.

The Blyxa you can see in these photos, but the Crypts are only small runners behind those and are a bit concealed, but they'll grow.



There's a bit of die back on a couple of the Balansae, but I was warned that things might get a bit of ammonia burn, but would return to their full glory in a week or two. My vertical concept has been watered down slightly, but I've tried to stick with mostly vertical plants and grass type things to keep that sort of look (except the moss and staurogyne).

Water tests today...

kH - 2

pH - 7 (Don't know that I'm expecting a whole lot of change here until the waters been able to sit in the tank for a few days without a big water change)

Nitrite - Somewhere between 0 & 0.25

Nitrate - Somewhere between 0 & 5

Ammonia - 0.5

I've bought 100 Cherry Shrimp that I'll be putting in there once it's cycled which I'm looking forward to seeing in action. I suspect once I put the angelfish in there they'll eat them, certainly once they've grown, but I'm hoping to get enough plant life that the shrimp will still be able to maintain their population. I've heard of loads of people doing it with success, and loads of people doing it and failing. I'd like to be in the former. Please.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I decided to move the filter inlet pipe to the left hand back corner of the tank behind the driftwood and it sits better right in that corner leaving the other corner clear. But in the process I managed to disturb all the Val which floated to the top, and in trying to re-plant that I knocked over all the driftwood. Bloody hell!!

I've reset everything now and am doing another (smaller water change).

Water test today was interesting...

kH - 2

pH - 6

Nitrite - 0.5

Nitrate - Between 5 & 10

Ammonia - 1

So Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate are on the rise (which I guess means things are cycling) and pH is headed down (which surprises me a little bit, I didn't expect it to get quite as low as that).

I'll leave it for a few days now with no water changes and keep checking the water to see what happens.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Create New...