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Questions re new tank

JessJess Member Posts: 4
Hi All,

Sorry in advance if this is a bit of long post, but I have been doing lots of research and want some feedback.

So I recently managed to score a 180L fish tank on gumtree and wanting to make it a real feature. Tank setup up currently involves an external canister filter, light and air pump. I am wanting to make it a planted tank given the many benefits of having plants and have been told to do a plant cycle to get my tank ready (makes sense to me and gives me a good opportunity to see if I can keep the plants alive and cared for before I start adding fish).

The current light I have is a fluro with a slight purple shade (pretty sure it is a colour enhancing tube) and runs the full length of the tank (1.2m), now I will probably have to change the tube as I read that they should be changed every 6-12 months and I don't know how old this one is. Wanting to know if the same lighting will be sufficient for low maintenance plants or whether it is worth getting a brighter tube or LED (I do have a small budget at this point though).

The tank also didn't come with a heater and so I am thinking of picking up two 200W Aqua One heaters (with one set slightly lower as a backup), does anyone know if they have the failsafe backup/ won't overheat as my sister lost her fish that way.

When it comes to getting the plants, I am thinking of the Java Fern on driftwood (a fair amount) central, with some anacharis bunched together to the side and clumps of anubias (maybe nana?) in the foreground. Trying to keep the plants in the category of hard to kill and low maintenance. I do have the option also of my substrate being either cleaned white playground sand I bought from bunnings or some of my dads leftover gravel (fairly fine - maybe 1-2mm). Which option would work better with the selected plants and do I need anything else besides a bit of Seachem Flourish? Also, if I go with the sand, how do I air it out to avoid gas pockets without damaging the plants (don't want to accidentally damage any root systems or move them around too much)? I know online suggests MTS but I once ended up with them accidentally in a tank and they overtook it, was not a fun experience and I would prefer to avoid a repeat.

When it comes to stocking (once the tank is cycled and I am comfortable with the plants) I am thinking of stocking the tank in stages with:

7 Cherry Barbs (apparently these aren't aggressive like other barbs)
4 Julii Cories - the ones sometimes referred to as leopard catfish
2 Bristlenose plecos
7 Platies
2 Pearl Gourami (I have read it is best to get females to avoid aggression)
2 Pictus Catfish

Just wanting to confirm that these would all get along with each other and the plants and that I am not overstocking my tank. Also, would the Cherry barbs school? Otherwise would the Cardinal tetras be better if I want a group of schooling fish?

Thanks in advance for the help - I can't wait for the day it is all set up!!

Comments

  • animal_expert01animal_expert01 Member Posts: 380
    Welcome!
    Cherry barbs will school.
    I also think pictus cats are too big for your tank.
    Good luck!
  • JessJess Member Posts: 4
    Thanks! I really love the pictus (my dad has a 4 meter tank with them), is there anything similar to a pictus that doesn't grow so big?
  • Heintz.GHeintz.G Moderator Posts: 1,363
    Hi Jess and welcome,

    Lighting wise Led is the go these days,

    2 heaters really is not that necessary buy 2 if you want and keep the second as a spare.

    Fish wise is a bit harder, you have fish in your list that prefer hard water and others that prefer softer water here's a link for you and the species you have mentioned, read through it and pick what you really like and want.

    http://www.badmanstropicalfish.com/profile.html
    Sometimes when I reflect back on all the beer I drink I feel ashamed. Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and all of their hopes & dreams.
  • JessJess Member Posts: 4
    Thanks - if I can't afford the LED straight away would the plants be alright for 6 months with a new fluro tube? (Gives me time to save and see if I am going to continue with the planted tank).

    I will look into that link too, I have seen a bit about hard and soft water (never previously heard about it when keeping fish). How do I measure this as pretty sure it doesn't come in the universal kit. Also, what do I do if the tap water is too hard/soft??
  • Heintz.GHeintz.G Moderator Posts: 1,363
    edited September 2016
    Plants I would get for the light you have would be low light plants, Anubias, Java Fern, Java Moss (which all need to be tied to wood or rocks Not planted in the substrate).

    Substrate plants I would recommend would be Vallisneria and Cryptocoryne wendtii "brown" which tends not to melt as bad as other types Crypts.

    Test kit wise, I find the API fresh water master test kit to be ok and not that expensive.
    Sometimes when I reflect back on all the beer I drink I feel ashamed. Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and all of their hopes & dreams.
  • animal_expert01animal_expert01 Member Posts: 380
    Sorry nothing that looks like pictus cats are avalible although there are many other cool catfish species some ones you could house in your Aquarians are bronze Corydoras, peppered Corydoras, bristlenose catfish and clown Plecos.
  • FraykFrayk Member Posts: 1,009
    Welcome Jess, good questions = good advice from good people in the know, please keep up a progress report on your project and good luck, btw imho steer clear of Bunnings white playground sand as a substrate. Thumbs up - smiley face. cheers.
  • clickmeclickme Member Posts: 132
    edited September 2016
    hi jess

    welcome and awesome journey you are planning.

    as mentioned those plants will be fine with a fluro. this tube may well be worth the investment - about 6000 / 6500 K tube. ebay.com.au/itm/like/152063669156?lpid=107&chn=ps

    also consider these - some fun options on ebay - either one like this $60

    or 3 like this $12 ea delivered. this is just a funky idea. as long as the tank is not too deep.

    sounds like the lighting will be more for show than helping plants grow in a high tech setup. so these should be fine.


    i also agree that gravel would be better than the bunnings sand, whilst the sand has its uses, the gravel may be the way to go. ideally i would use a combo. 1" sand first for rooted plants (they can benefit from a sandy type layer), top that with 1" gravel as you have described. this height of substrate (2 inches) will be fine without issue of noxious gas build up in the substrate. spread the root plants in the substrate as plant roots take oxygen to the substrate.

    consider rooted plants for foreground, mid and background, some excellent suggestion already made by you and others. roots aerate substrate.

    personally I think annubias are more mid or background plants. but thats just me.

    consider placing a few fertiliser pellets in the substrate near the rooted plants. actually many ways to consider ferts for rooted plants. i use the dino pee and dino dung range. I also make my own dino dung. the flourish is a great product but budget or no, the dino stuff is very very good and cheap.


    MTS is prolly not a good option. a substrate of 2 inches should not give you trouble. if you are concerned consider an undergravel filter.

    If you live in a cold area heaters are important and a backup maybe worth considering. if you make sure they are thermostatically controlled, you should have no probs. I lost fish in a big tank with heater dying on me and water temp got to 10 degrees before I became aware. this was only recent. I have ordered 2 of these - under $10 delivered. and I bought some plastic protectors for them.

    seriously limited budget for me, everything is on a shoestring.

    lastly i would look around for a foreground plant, something simple, someone here may have and idea, nothing coming to me now. Also do consider some mosses. java moss for example would work in the setup you have in mind.

    do report you progress as Frayk said and do ask questions.

  • JessJess Member Posts: 4
    Thanks for all the suggestions.

    I am going to Aquotix hopefully this weekend to organise the light (although those lights you found of Ebay clickme looked pretty good so might get one of those instead) and see how much I will need to set the tank up with a good variety of low light plants. I hadn't thought of the Java Moss so thanks for the suggestion - will see if I can add it to the tank somewhere. I am a bit nervous about rooted plants - are any of the fish I have suggested likely to dig and/or uproot them??

    Once I get the cabinet back from being stained I will definitely throw up a before picture Frayk and clickme and update with progress shots.

    Also clickme - I hadn't heard of dino pee before and I looked at their website and apparently it should be applied every day. Are all fertilisers like this of just dino pee? I haven't found much info online as to how often to fertilise - always say its dependant on whats in your tank and the lighting setup.
  • Heintz.GHeintz.G Moderator Posts: 1,363
    Another good liquid fert is API leaf zone or Seachem flourish.
    Sometimes when I reflect back on all the beer I drink I feel ashamed. Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and all of their hopes & dreams.
  • clickmeclickme Member Posts: 132
    Jess said:

    Thanks for all the suggestions.

    . I am a bit nervous about rooted plants - are any of the fish I have suggested likely to dig and/or uproot them??

    Also clickme - I hadn't heard of dino pee before and I looked at their website and apparently it should be applied every day. Are all fertilisers like this of just dino pee? I haven't found much info online as to how often to fertilise - always say its dependant on whats in your tank and the lighting setup.

    Re plants - carefully plant the rooted plants thru the gravel layer into the finer sand layer. The Plecos are a worry, they dig like dozers, but careful scaping and a couple of rocks and all will be fine. If u don't go with rooted plants definitely no sand, gravel only, and consider under gravel filter and gravel vacuuming

    No, fertilisers are different. Some say daily some weekly. Not all are complete ferts. But it depends on what you want to achieve.

    Your ideas and plans are great, don't get too caught up on plants and ferts yet. Stick to the flourish for now, dose weekly, but cut back after a while, no need to dose forever. I got to a point I only fertilised when I did a water change. You will know when that is.





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