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Old 07-23-2017, 05:01 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Palm Harbor, Florida
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My 155 gallon freshwater planted bowfront tank - some of my questions answered.

I have posted some pictures of the tank in the new members forum, some questions about the sick fish I have in that forum, some questions about how quickly the couple who I hired to initially help set up the tank added fish in the getting started forum.

I decided that I would create a thread here because Jennifer, the wife of the couple mentioned above, was here today and answered questions that spanned all of these elements. I am also going to use this thread for updates and general discussion about the tank but put specific questions and some of the other forums when they relate to those forums more. I will probably pull the consensus back into this forum so I have everything in one place.

I will update this thread later with some of the information from my newbie thread, including basic information about the tank and the pictures from that thread, but for now you can see some of the set up and pictures along with the back story by clicking on my post in the newbie thread forum. I am still on the top half of the front page!

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Jennifer was here today, and we went over several things with the tank, the reasons she made some of the choices during setup and I got a bunch of questions answered!

On cycling the tank Ė I did not get a seeded media for my filter, there are both the physical and biological elements to the canister filter as normal. However, the CaribSea substrate is Eco-Complete, and that does have the bacteria we need. It was shipped and arrived at the store the day before they put it in the tank, they did not even open those boxes they brought it over for me. I know there is a concern with how long those bacteria can survive in this substrate, but I think the proof is in the pudding here. Testing has never had ammonia get higher than 0.20. Nitrates register zero in all tests but one, and that was the first test after the substrate had been in there two weeks and the fish had been in for five days. That time it registered somewhere between zero and 0.25 but closer to zero. Nitrates are holding steady between 3 ppm and 5 ppm.

We also have the fact that we have a fair number of plants in there, helping deal with the nitrates, and for the size of the fish tank the 36, now 35 juveniles I started with would have taken quite some time to pollute 155 gallons of water. As long as some of the bacteria in the eco-complete survived, there was something there to start handling the initial fish wastes. Jennifer says that like any tank it will take time to build up enough of the bacteria's in the canister and that which remains in the substrate. That was one reason for the comparatively small number of fish for the tank size (even at full grown I am barely using half the capacity of the tank).

Plants Ė All of the plants are looking pretty good. Today we pruned a number of dead/dying leaves from the smaller Amazon swords that were part of the first wave, but all of them are showing new growth now. I must admit once we pulled off the larger although dying leaves they look a little puny but as that is all new growth I am sure they will rebound. The large ones that were planted were doing very well, and had almost no pruning necessary. It looks like another couple weeks I am going to have a bunch of little Amazon swords to continue to plant along the back wall. We are still trying to decide on a carpet/grassy type of plant that is going to go in the front center and in a corner over on the right. At the moment the last intended tank is another type of Java fern, one that is bushy. We intend to situate those java ferns on a few of the rocks and possibly on the driftwood. We going to hold the course for at least another couple weeks before we add any plants.

I had not been able to identify several of the plants she had originally put in the aquarium, or at least had not been able to identify the correct specific variety of the crypts and the anubias. Jennifer went over those with me. There are two types of crypt in the tank, cryptocoryne wendtii and cryptocoryne lingua. There are two types of anubius, anubias barteri var. nana and anubias barteri var. angustifolia. She is about 90% certain on the species, she had gotten some stuff for her tank as well and there is a slight possibility that this is mixed up but she said she would email me if she misremembered. In addition to those we have the banana plants, dwarf onions, Java fern trident and Amazon swords.

Fish Ė We seem to of lost a Cardinal tetra, counting multiple times there were 13 instead of the 14 that there were initially. This took a while, fish do not seem to answer to roll call. She confirmed that the dots on a number of the fish were ich. However, she said I caught that very quickly. We had to search closely to find any dots on any of the fish and she said normally by the time people ask about or realize there is a problem that the fish have a lot more dots and more infestation. We think about half the fish in the tank are currently showing some stage of ich. However, they are all still eating well, playing in the current and otherwise moving around so she feels that I caught it early enough that we might be lucky and avoid any fish loss! (Except the missing tetra, and I honestly do not know when we lost that, we cannot find the body...)

The medicated fish food I have for the ich needs to be fed to the fish for a full month after the outbreak has disappeared. I am supposed to feed twice a day, no more than the fish can eat in about a minute. I am supposed to make sure that they are being fed, but to make sure I do not have extra food uneaten that is floating to the bottom of the tank. As mentioned above the bacteria that I want is largely in the substrate until it gets established in the filter - if the food decays down in the substrate well, there goes some of the bacteria because of the medicine.

We talked about the next stage, which at this point is at least a month away. We are not going to add fish until the ich has been gone for a full month. She is going to do some more research considering what we have and some of what we are thinking about getting, but we think we can add red cherry shrimp. We are also going to add one more species of rainbowfish, either four or six depending on exactly what we decide on and what size it will be. [Any suggestions? I would like to add another color.] She is going to keep an eye and ear out at the wholesalers and see what is available. I know that I could order and get anything I wanted, but if I choose amongst those locally available it will keep costs down. There is also some form of catfish that we are going to add, I forgot the exact name but it is a type that does not get much bigger than about 3 inches. The other future tank made for these guys will be zebra danios. Jennifer has had some experience with the zebra danios and rainbowfish before and says they are quite compatible in her experience.

On water changes: We are not vacuuming/doing water changes yet for several reasons. First, the testing is showing no real harm in the levels of ammonia or nitrites, they seem to be under control and the nitrates are currently decreasing with the current plan to fish load that I have. Second, most of the bacteria I have that is good bacteria is currently in the substrate, another week will give some more time to build up more good bacteria in the canister filter as well. Third, she wants another week or so for the medicated fish food to work. Changing the water can be stressful to the fish (in her opinion, it seems like opinions on here do not always agree) and she does not want any other stressors while we try to get in front of this Ich issue. Fourth, Jennifer wants the root systems of a number of the plants get a little more established before we start digging around in the substrate with the vacuum.

Although eventually as the bio-load increases, the fish grow and new fish are added I will need more frequent water changes, currently Jennifer does not feel that I will need to change the water more frequently than changing out about 20 - 25 gallons every 3 to 4 weeks. Remember that about 5 gallons a week evaporates, so this means changing 20 - 25 gallons and adding 20 gallons in a four-week period. From the reading I have done this is not as large of a water change as a lot of people recommend, but I also do not know if planted tanks just need fewer water changes assuming that the tests show the nitrate level is not rising.

All the water I add and all the water I use when I vacuum, change water is RO/DI water. I asked about the tapwater here and in John and Jennifer's experience if I want a nasty algae and bacteria problems go ahead and use the tapwater here. That is their experience with the tapwater in this area and freshwater tanks. I asked about trace elements that the plants will need and Jennifer says that with the fish in her planted tanks the last time she needed to add fertilizer was never when starting with one of these types of substrates. The substrate is very rich in minerals and should provide everything the plants need for longer that I am likely to have the plants, she is going on her 12th year was one of her tanks and the plants are thriving without fertilizer.
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