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Old 08-15-2013, 12:32 PM   #1
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amazon river biotope

hi,

i'm going to make a 40g amazon river biotope tank. So far I only have the tank (90cm x 40 x 40). Today I traveled 30km each way to an actual factory (where they make the tanks) to pick one up. The build quality is flawless, although I was a big disappointed to find several tiny air bubbles stuck inside the 10mm glass, on all facades. Well, i'll just have to live with that ha.

I'd like to use a light colored sand substrate, some leaves ontop of that, some wood (the kind that looks like long fingers) and a few plants. It's going to be blackwater, as close as I can get to one of the blackwater rivers in the amazon.

Firstly i'm not sure what kind of substrate to use. I'm going to have a pair of cichlids in there, and as I know they love soft water. I have a plentiful supply of TDS 0 water as I have a reverse osmosis water filter in my home. What kind of sand can I use? I have found something called 'ADA nile sand'.

My main concern is, I don't know what kind of 'sand substrate' is suitable. It can't be a crushed coral, as that would harden the water. I need a substrate that is suitable for freshwater, soft water.

Any ideas? I'll be posting lots of pics during the process. So far the two images i've attached are kind of what I am going for.

The other question I have is, should I use a wave maker? It's not a huge tank, although it's is almost a meter long. I'm wondering if a small wave maker would help mimic the flow of a river. Thanks for advice and lots of photos coming once I get started.
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Old 08-15-2013, 10:58 PM   #2
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Mix your RO water with half tap or use Seachem Replenish. You can put Laguna peat granules in a filter bag in your filter to soften and darken your water. Mopani wood will release tannins too.

For sand, I use pool sand from Fleetfarm. It's quite white, so this may not suit the look of your tank.

What type of fish will you put in the tank? Certain color substrate can either enhance or take away from the beauty of the fish.
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Old 08-16-2013, 12:24 AM   #3
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One pair of cichlids, some corydoras and some tetras. A bit wary of tap water lol, since i'm in China. The cichlids might be 'blue rams' which like really soft water.
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Old 08-16-2013, 12:35 AM   #4
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Silica sand is a nice tan/white color. Might suite your needs.
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Old 08-16-2013, 12:38 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baobeiiiiiiii View Post
One pair of cichlids, some corydoras and some tetras. A bit wary of tap water lol, since i'm in China. The cichlids might be 'blue rams' which like really soft water.
Wow, China! Cool.

Anyways, regarding tap water, I use a 2 stage filter system that cleans out the water before it hits my tanks. Check it out:

Many Hats of Me: Aquarium Water Change System

A pair of rams is a good choice, but they are tiny at 3 cm max. A light substrate will make them more visible in your tank. A school of Rummynose tetras are really pretty and they will love the soft water environment.
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Old 08-16-2013, 12:46 AM   #6
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I've found ADA La Plata sand, looks quite nice, will have to see if I can find some pics of aquariums using it.
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Old 08-16-2013, 05:49 AM   #7
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Ok, today I went out to a fish/flower market in Shanghai. I only went there initially to get 2 big bags of ada nile sand, but they had mountains of drift wood, and other types. I picked up a few pieces and put them together on my table.

How does it look? This is just made up of three pieces of driftwood, but each is quite long and had complex features. The space i fit it in on the table is the same as the tank dimensions, 90x40x40. Happy with the color of the nile sand, but i'll be putting some leaves ontop of it in places.

I can easily go back to get different pieces of wood (or a different kind of wood entirely). They did have some wood which had those spindly roots (rhododendron root, however the downsides to that are 1) it floats and 2) it might be poisonous.

Let me know what you think, this is just a quick mock-up (the tank is in another apartment, won't be able to play with it just now.
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Old 08-16-2013, 07:09 AM   #8
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That is a beautiful driftwood arrangement. You may want to soak it in warm water for a bit to get a sense of how much tanin it will release. Some driftwood such as mopani requires a lot of soaking before any use in an aquarium due to tanins.
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Old 08-16-2013, 07:18 AM   #9
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Cheers, what I can do is rinse it in the shower, then fill the tank with tap water to let it soak, drain the tank, repeat a few times. Don't have any container big enough to put it into boiling water. The bottom piece of driftwood is actually mostly hollow underneath, i think that makes a nice cave for a pair of cichlids.
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Old 08-16-2013, 09:16 AM   #10
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Can it fit in your oven? My concern are bugs and pathogens still in the driftwood. BTW, I think it looks great.
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Old 08-16-2013, 10:51 AM   #11
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I wish i had a 90cm long oven

I need some plants in this biotope. I'd rather not have to make a layer of soil in certain places, so I'd like to attach some plants to the driftwood, and perhaps a few floating plants.

If anyone knows of any plants/moss (ideally native to south american rivers) that can be tied to the driftwood, please let me know. I also think the plant in this photo is very beautiful, the floating plant, but I have no idea what it is called.
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Old 08-16-2013, 11:18 AM   #12
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You can try soaking your wood in potassium permanganate solution in a baby bath. Don't use your bath, since it may stain it. It will kill off any organics.
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Old 08-17-2013, 02:55 AM   #13
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picked up a few plants, floating Limnobium laevigatum and some Anubias, here's some pics, the anubias is easy to attach to driftwood. They also gave me some Pistia stratiotes for free, but they told me the roots won't grow to more than like 3cm.

Not sure if i'll go for the anubias, it isn't found in south american afaik, however the floating plants in the pics are.
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Old 08-19-2013, 08:59 AM   #14
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Ok here's a pic of it in the tank, i was very rushed for time, so the water is still murky with sand. I'll be lowering the vertical piece of wood a bit. Then there will be leaves etc on the sand etc.

The floating plants look alot better in rl than in photos, the roots really do glow. The lamp is just temporary, obviously too small.
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Old 08-19-2013, 02:52 PM   #15
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I kinda like half the tank being dark and the fish would too adds to the natural look! All is looking good though and almond leaves on the bottom will bring this tank to life! Good job so far
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Old 08-20-2013, 04:45 AM   #16
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Might as well post a couple of pics now that the water isn't murky with sand. Joeysdiscus, I kind of like the idea you have about keeping only half the tank lit up.

It's hard to find almond leaves here lol, i'll try. The light might have to change since i'll have a few plants on the left side, once i drain it i'll put some amazonia soil towards the back corner.
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Old 08-20-2013, 11:49 AM   #17
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Quote:
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Might as well post a couple of pics now that the water isn't murky with sand. Joeysdiscus, I kind of like the idea you have about keeping only half the tank lit up.

It's hard to find almond leaves here lol, i'll try. The light might have to change since i'll have a few plants on the left side, once i drain it i'll put some amazonia soil towards the back corner.
I get mine off of eBay surely they can deliver to you??? I love that dark side look may have to steal it now for my next show tank
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Old 08-27-2013, 09:08 AM   #18
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Here's some pics with a few plants, plus a short shaky youtube video. I'll still be adding almond leaves, maybe some kind of moss for the drift wood and also a kessil A150W Amazon Sun light. If anyone has any suggestions to improve the tank i'm open to ideas, it's a work in progress. Should there be more plants etc? Perhaps more tall grass like plants along the very back of the tank. I moved the piece of wood in the foreground a bit to make more open space to the left of the tank.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?featur...&v=KSzOCdtb2sY

Apologies for it's shakiness etc, one day when the tank is closer to completion i'll put the camera on a stand and make a proper video. I think youtube's 'fix shake' feature made it even worse lol.. Quite possibly the worst aquarium youtube video ever. See it in 720p, else the fish aren't clear

Quick question, i added a very very low power wave-maker. Do tetras like semi-fast flowing water? It's ridiculously under-powered though, can't feel any current with my hand when it's only 20cm away from it.
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Old 08-27-2013, 04:54 PM   #19
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I think you should add some plants on the darker side of the tank. To me it looks empty, but everything else is perfect, especially the DW sticking out of the tank.
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