January 2013 TOTM: Rivercats’ 220 gallon Planted Community

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Full with halides 1



My passion for keeping fish and plants started in the 60’s. My father always had a tank or two and would collect local plants and even small fish. I’ve been totally enthralled ever since. I kept a 20g through my teens and after buying my first house in 1980 I went and bought my first large aquarium. At first I only did fish as I slowly reintroduced myself with aquatic plants. Since then I have kept planted tanks with a short 8 year period of having reef tanks. After getting the 220g tank for raising some imported fingerling koi I knew once they could go to the ponds I was finally going to do the planted tank of my dreams. I planned this tank for a year before finally starting its actual setup and believe good pre-planning is the first step in starting a good planted tank.


Tank: 220 gallon 72″Lx24″Wx30″H
Lighting: Coralife 72″ fixture 3×150 HID Metal Halide, 4x 39W T5, 6x1W LED Lunar light, all on timer
Running time is 10 hours for the T5HO’s with a 6 hour light burst for the Metal Halides
Filtration: Fluval FX5, Fluval 406 with Aqua Ultraviolet Advantage 2000+ 15 Watt UV Sterilizer
Heating: 3x 300W Fluval E Series
Powerheads: 2x 240gph Hydor Koralia Nano Pumps (for gentle added circulation due to tank size)
Substrate: 1-1/2″ Just Natural Organic Soil, capped with 1-1/2″ Eco-complete
Liquid Carbon Glutaraldehyde 1ml per 5 gallons daily


Water parameters:

KH: 4
GH: 4
PH: 7.2
Iron: .3
Nitrates 10 ppm
Phosphates: .5 to 1 ppm
Ferts: dosing PPS Pro daily

Plant list:

  • Limnophila Aromatica ‘Hippuroides’
  • Proserpinaca Palustris
  • Myriophyllum Tuberculatum
  • Nesaea Pedicellata ‘Golden’
  • Rotala Macrandra
  • Rotala Wallichii
  • Cabomba Furcata
  • Anubias Barteri v. Nana
  • Anubia Nana Petite
  • Bolbitus Heudelotii
  • Pogostemon Helferi
  • Java Fern, Lace (Microsorium pteropus v. Windelov)
  • Cryptocoryne Wendtii ‘Florida Sunset’
  • Tiger Lotus, Red (Nymphaea zenkeri)
  • Cryptocoryne Parva
  • Cryptocoryne Wendtii Bronze
  • Amazon Sword
  • Corkscrew Vallisneria
  • Fissidens Fontanus



  • 10 Veil and Super Veil Angelfish
  • 25 Rummynose Tetras
  • 25 Cardinal Tetras
  • 12 Longfin White Cloud Mountian Minnows 
  • 1 Pair German Blue Rams
  • 1 Pair Electric Blue Rams
  • 1 Pair Gold Rams
  • 1 Pair Bolivian Rams 
  • 3 YoYo Loaches
  • 5 Corydoras Sterbai
  • 5 Corydoras Panda
  • 5 Corydoras Agassizi
  • 6 Corydoras Melini
  • 6 Corydoras Julli
  • 8 Threadfin Rainbow Fish
  • 18 Otocinclus Catfish
  • 3 Whiptail Cats (Farlowella gracilis)
  • 1 Longfin Albino Bristlenose Pleco
  • 50+ Ghost Shrimp
  • Nerites and Malaysian Trumpet Snails


I try to feed my fish a varied diet. I use New Life Spectrum Thera-A, New Life Spectrum Small Fish Formula, Frozen Bloodworms and Brine Shrimp, Algae Tablets, along with cooked, de-shelled, peas and softened zucchini. I make sure to feed veggies every 2-3 days to keep my Angelfish from nibbling too much on my plants since they think my Rotala Wallichii is Angelfish candy.


I do a 50% water change weekly using an Aqueon Water Changer. It may be hard to believe but I don’t spend alot of time on the tank now that it’s established. I trim a little as needed, clean filters once a month, in which I use Filter Floss, Purigen, and Bio-media, and clean the glass every couple of weeks. The most time I spend is on the tank is in the morning when I feed the fish, add my daily ferts, and liquid carbon.


For the past year this tank has been my labor of love. I never have found it to be work and get great personal satisfaction at the progress I’ve made. The one thing tho that I feel is noteworthy is the fact I do not run CO2 on this tank. I only use a Liquid Carbon daily. Many individuals cannot believe I have a high light tank, tons of plants, especially so many non-green ones, get good color and growth, and not use CO2. This tank is proof that not only can it be done but that you can have a beautiful tank using just a liquid carbon.

Filed under TOTM.