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My 4 foot community tank


Jaime
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Hi all! Here goes my first post.

After many years since I last kept fish, I have set up a 4 foot tank which has been sitting in my dad's garage for about 10 years. (after a 2 week test fill in a "safe" location). Anyway, after putting in too many fish to quickly and losing most of them :) (like the amateur I thought I'd left behind), I have settled to watch my 4 remaining tetras and doing daily tests while the tank finishes cycling. Can't beleive how much I'd forgotten about keping fish, and how much more there is to learn! (most of which I found in this forum. Great stuff!!)

Well, lesson learnt (the hard way). Ammonia is now 0 and nitrite on its way down so not much longer to wait.

Here is a couple of pics (If the pics don't work I'll try to work out how to post them) :) :

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LOL. Well the pics worked in the sense that you successfully posted them. But you realise there are some oldies on this forum right? :) Can I suggest that 800 x 600 would be a better size that won't strain my astigmatism too much? :)

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LOL. Well the pics worked in the sense that you successfully posted them. But you realise there are some oldies on this forum right? :D Can I suggest that 800 x 600 would be a better size that won't strain my astigmatism too much? :D

Hi, I do appreciate there are oldies on this forum. Since I joined there's one more!! LOL :)

I think I may have it now. Here goes again.

Fish so far are:

4 x surviving Glass Tetras

4 x male guppies

2 x peppered corydoras (added today)

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Ahh... much better.... thanks for that. :whistling: It's a good sized tank. You'll be able to do a lot with it. So what are you plans for it? There's an offer of free plants in the Classifieds forum. They would be a good addition. Is it a pure gravel substrate? Did you add anything to it? Ooh, is that an undergravel filter I see? Hmm... not so plant friendly. Well, you could use plants that attach to rocks and driftwood instead. What kind of lighting have you got in there?

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Ahh... much better.... thanks for that. ;) .....

Thanks for your comments Bettarazzi. My plan is to have an "interesting" community tank. The Mrs loves angel fish so I'll have to get a couple of young ones. I was also thinking about bristlenoses, congo tetras, swordtails.

On the nice to have list but probably won't happen due to their temperament/behaviour are fish like silver dollars and the beautiful golden panchax. Of course I'd love to have a try at discus as well. All of the sudden the tank doesn't seem that big! :P

To answer your questions, yes its pure gravel substrate and yes there's an undergravel filter. I had read that UG's weren't so plant friendly (after I bought it) but to be honest since I used to use one years ago I got it without giving it a second thought. I was in fact planning to plant the tank more heavily. I'd welcome any advice. As for the lighting, it's a 4' fluorescent tube Sylvania aquastar (1000 kelvin). As for the other hardware, there's a Fluval 205 and 150W heater and a Universal background. Below are a pics of a few of the tenants so far.

Cheers.

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Is the powerhead on the UGF standard or reverse?

Thanks. It's so hard to take things slow. Can't wait to have it looking like the picture in my head! :P

The powerhead is standard though I've since put a a DIY diffuser on it as there was way to much water movement and the fish were struggling on that side of the tank (even though it's the smallesr powerhead I could find)

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If you're planning to plant it heavily you could get away with using the Fluval only without bothering with the undergravel. The Fluval is rated for 200 L. A standard 4 foot holds about 240 L. I reckon the Fluval could do most of the filtration and the plants can do the rest. However a single fluoro tube isn't going to be sufficient lighting. My suggestion would be to get a 3 tube T5 ballast at a minimum or better still get a 4 tube one. That will give you plenty of light which will give you more flexibility in terms of the plants you can use.

Have a look at this light fitting from guppysaquariumproducts.com.au. It can be suspended from the ceiling or sit on top of the tank. My only question about them would be about the colour spectrum of the tubes. You want to make sure they're strong in the red and blue areas.

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Thanks Bettarazzi for the advice. Tell me, what do you think is the reason for UG's not being plant friendly? Is it the water movement through the substrate, or the water space underneath? Would simply turning off the UG be an option, or would this not be advisable once its been running a while? Also, do you think the pure gravel substrate is OK for plants or would something else be more "plant friendly"?

As for the light, it is strong in the blue and red spectrum and the plants I have so far seem OK, although it's early days yet. (the light is on a timer and is on for 8 hr/day)

Regards,

Jaime

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I think it's the water movement through the substrate. You can still get quite a good effect from using plants which don't need to root into the substrate. I think most stem plants won't mind, there's anubias and java fern that you can tie to driftwood, and you can have java moss growing on rocks. I'm not sure what the effect will be if you simply turn the undergravel off. The aerobic bacteria will die and possibly release a lot of toxins. But you do have a canister filter going as well. I dunno. Maybe Callatya will enlighten us. There won't be any point trying to add anything to the substrate if you need to keep the undergravel going because it will just get sucked through and be deposited on top of the plants instead of staying at their roots. But there are liquid additives which you can add like Seachem Flourish and Flourish Excel.

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I agree with Bettarazzi. Ghengis, Wade in at your leisure. :P

Berrarazzi, thanks again for your input. It's a little scary turning the UG off now that the tank is stable. I may have to live with the current setup for now and keep using some plant food as you suggest. Anyone else have an opinion on the subject?

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I'll admit it. :)

I had a UGF on my first tank that I monitored like a hawk for about 8 months, and I turned it off every night for the first 6 because the silly bubbly thing used to keep me awake. Then someone mentioned that I shouldn't and that everything was going to drop dead, so I started leaving it on and sticking a pillow over my ears. In the time I was doing it, I had no problems with spikes or die-off, but I suspect that probably came partly from the fact that I was doing it from the get-go and there is only so much the bioflter bacteria can multiply during the day and any population over what could be sustained on no flow would just die back at night, so it kind of (kind of) balanced out. It helped that I was understocked at the time too. :)

Given your current stocking, the fact that it is a reasonably young tank, you have some fast growing plants and a secondary filtration system, I think you'll be OK. You'll get some die-back but I'd be a bit surprised if you noticed it in the readings, even with that large of an area. If you are worried, reduce the flow a bit first, try and kill off a smaller number of bacteria over a longer time. If you cant do that, turn off one uplift at a time, or switch to an air pump and then tap that down. When you turn it off, you have a lot more play than you would in something like a canister where the water stops completely and there is a small volume of water for the number of bacteria present. You have much more water with a UGF, and it is flowing and staying oxygenated because of your secondary filter whereas in a standard HOB or canister it would be still and slowly being sucked of all it's O2.

Part of the problem with switching off an older established UGF is that normally people go to switch them back on at some point. Even young ones tend to build up what is affectionately known as 'tobacco juice' underneath and it really is that foul. The gravel is usually clogged to some degree and depending on how well they are cleaned and maintained, things can get fairly unpleasant down there.

If you don't want to use it and you intend to plant heavily, I'd suggest pulling the plates out now before you get started. This will stop more mulm building up down there where you can't reach it and give you better control over your substrate. It also means that rooted plants aren't going to wrap themselves around the plate so if you need to move them, you aren't pulling against a big piece of buried plastic.

If you pull it, you might get a spike as that does disturb things and the detritus that has built up under the plate will hit the other filter and put a bit more pressure on it. Still, if it is a choice of now or later, I'd do it now. It'll be more disruptive later down the track when you are trying to juggle higher stocking levels and more plants on top.

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Hey Callatya, thanks so much for your detailed comments :lol:

When Bettarazzi said you might have something to say on the issue he wasn't wrong!

I'm afraid you may be right. The best thing to do is to bite the bullet now and remove the UGF.

It'll be messy but i think well worth it in the long run. And I thought it was going to be a relaxing weekend!

Cheers,

Jaime

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Good idea. I think while you're putting it all back together again you should take the opportunity to add some peat and maybe laterite to the substrate. That's assuming that you don't want to replace your gravel substrate altogether and use one of the ADA or Seachem substrates instead. :lol: That gravel looks kinda large. 3mm gravel would be better but not as good as one of the specialist plant substrates. Just depends on your budget really.

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Thanks again Bettarazzi. I do agree with you the gravel I am using is quite large, but it's what I had at the time and to be honest, I know nothing about substrates. :whistling: If I were to add peat and laterite to the substrate, what ratios of each would be recommended? I assume these are available at any LFS? Also, taking into account I already have some fish, would the changes to the substrate alter the water chemistry to any degree dangerous to the fish? If I were to go the whole hog and replace the substrate altogether with ADA or Seachem, how much would that be likely to set me back?

Cheers,

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Jaime, try this link.

http://home.infinet.net/teban/substrat.htm

I stumbled on this while looking into lighting for plants. Haven't actually read the whole thing, yet, 'cos it's quite large, but

it does seem to be pretty concise and in depth. I'm no substarte expert either, so this may actually be a load of bollocks,

but it might help...

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Thanks Ghengis.

I hope it's not bollocks as I notice there is also a link to it in the Aquatic Plants & Aquascaping forum. There a lot to read so I think I may hold off on changes till I know more. :whistling:

Cheers

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All the best with your setting up Jamie ! :lol:

I have just started setting up a new tank (only have the water and gravel in so far), and there's so many things to think about isn't there ...( and a few conflicting ideas)

I'm thinking of going more with fake plants than lots of real ones at this stage... for a couple different reasons..

Can't wait to see your tank when it's completed with fish in it ! :D

Edited by Jules
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Where do you buy the peat moss? I have never seen it before. Do you add it under the gravel? Laterlite? or whatever it is called is that the crushed rock that absorbs amonia?

Yes the peat moss and laterite you add under the gravel. If you're trying to improve an existing setup, you can buy laterite balls that you can push into the gravel near plants that need it. Otherwise you have to start again with the tank. Peat moss you can get at garden centres. But you need to make sure there's not too much fertiliser added. And you have to go through it to make sure there are no foreign objects particularly metal. If in doubt just give the peat a miss.

More on substrates here. http://www.aquatic-eden.com/2007/04/substr...d-aquarium.html The author is against laterite but I've never had problems with it clouding the water. But I'm not constantly pulling my plants out either.

Edited by Bettarazzi
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All the best with your setting up Jamie ! :P......

Hey Jules, thanks. I've just read your thread in this forum. Good luck with your new tank as well. Have to say though I was pretty impatient when I set up my tank and lost many fish. The only ones that survived the ammonia and nitrite spikes were 4 glasss tetras (see picture above) of which I still have three. They are cheap fish as well so perhaps you coud try these to cycle your tank.

I agree, there's a lot to think about! Best I can advise is to be patient and do your homework. This forum is a great start.

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