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Work in Progress

Fresh, Salt, & Pond fish. Aquatic inverts, jelly fish, shrimp, octopus, etc.

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Forethought
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Mar 04, 2010 7:06 pm
Location: Manhattan, KS

Work in Progress

Postby Forethought » Fri Mar 05, 2010 6:59 pm

I originally found Sybil's Den through conducting research on fox ownership (surprise surprise). While I hope to be able to be a fox's pet someday, I also realize that it isn't really feasible at the current moment, as I definitely need to get more established before considering it. I’ll be graduating college this semester, so we’ll see where I’m at after I get situated. On the upside, though, these forums do allow me to vicariously enjoy your experiences with your foxes!

However, as these are the fish forums, and not the fox forums, you're probably wondering why that was posted here, no? Well...I may not have any foxes, but I certainly do have an aquarium! I figured, "Hey, someone might enjoy pics of it, as I appreciate those of your foxes." I treat my aquarium as a permanent work in progress, once I've finished improving one aspect of it, I move on to another. The most recent stage of this improvement was the addition of live plants, and the additions that come with them (improving lights, DiY Co2, ferts). As I’ve been pretty successful with that, I’m looking to improve the filtration as my next step by implementing a sump. That probably won’t happen for a year or two though, as I plan on upgrading to a much larger aquarium and converting my current one into the sump.

My aquarium has had quite an interesting history as well. I’ve had an outbreak of ick before I learned to use a QT tank to keep my main tank healthy, which with loaches is pretty dangerous. Catching and identifying that early really saved me there. Also, the aquarium been moved from different apartments across town (which was…fun…by the way).

The last eventful thing that happened in their lives was two years ago, when Kansas got hit by a major ice storm. We lost power for two weeks, and I was doing everything I could to keep them alive. Not only did I use my car to power the old air pump, but I also was constantly filling up those “indestructible” water bottles with hot water and putting them in the tank to keep the water warm. Eventually our neighbors, the Cats for Christ campus ministries house, got power back on. They were kind enough let me run an extension cord to power the heater and the pump to my aquarium (oh and a space heater so we wouldn’t be freezing as well). When our power finally DID come back on, I made sure to bake them an apple pie and some snicker doodles as well as compensating them for the power usage.

I’ve currently had it for four years, with 2 losses – my dwarf gourami and bolivian ram. Ironically, neither of the losses in my aquarium was from any of the previously mentioned events. My gourami just up and died one day, without exhibiting any irregular behavior or anything, I have no idea what killed him. The ram always seemed stressed though, and I know that he eventually got sick from that, but I wasn’t able to determine what was wrong with him before he died. I’m honestly not sure if I could have done much for him either.

Currently, the fish I’m keeping in my aquarium are as follows:

Bala Shark
Clown Loaches
Danios
Otocinclus Catfish
Pictus Catfish
Serpae Tetra
Siamese Algae Eaters
Upside Down Catfish
Yoyo Loaches

So as you can see it’s a community tank with a pretty high bio-load. I’ve been keeping a pretty strict schedule of water changes every two weeks, which has been working out splendidly. Though honestly, by the end of that two week period several of the plants are generally trying to crawl out of the aquarium. One more thing of note: when I ordered in my live plants, I dipped them and cleaned them but still managed to get the dreaded black brush algae in my aquarium. However, as you can see from my pictures below, I’ve been winning the battle against it. Siamese algae eaters, increasing Co2, using root tabs instead of fertilizing the water column, and using flourish excel have proved to be more than a match for it.

Hopefully I haven’t bored you too much with my mega-long introductory post, just wanted to say hey to all you Sybil’s Den posters, and keep it up with the foxy stories. Here are some pictures of my aquarium, from what it was originally, to what it is today.

P.S. I might go ahead and model the sump in solidworks and upload some drawings and the design parameters that I want it to be able to fulfill for potential feedback or oogling. Also, there’s a chance that I might be an engineer. I'd like to think that there's a possiblilty some one could mistake me for a regular person. ;)
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renwaldo
Posts: 134
Joined: Mon Feb 01, 2010 8:44 pm
Location: Surrey, B.C. Canada

Postby renwaldo » Fri Mar 05, 2010 8:48 pm

That is a beautiful aquarium!
What's your secret to keeping so many plants alive like that? We've been having a hell of time with our plants in the fish dept. They've all been slowly dying ever since we put them in.
RIP Martino, I'm sure Olivia misses you.
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Forethought
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Mar 04, 2010 7:06 pm
Location: Manhattan, KS

Postby Forethought » Fri Mar 05, 2010 11:50 pm

Honestly? Research, research, research. I had made an attempt to lightly plant my aquarium once before in the past, but it didn’t turn out nearly so well. While the Cryptocorynes I put in there fared decently, the rest slowly died off. I did a lot of research after the fact and learned that I had several issues with my initial setup.

First, making sure to get the proper lighting intensity for the plants you have is an absolute must. The reason my crypto’s originally did alright was their tendency to prefer lower lighting levels. Bringing my lighting up to approximately 3 watts per gallon (varies depending on the plants you go with, I found this was a good median lighting level) was a huge help to the overall growth of my plants.

Second, I made sure to plant heavily the second go round. If you don’t, the plants won’t be able to use up enough of the nutrients in the water to outcompete the algae in there. It also helps to get a nutrient-hog to quickly strip out the phosphates and nitrates to even the playing field for your plants. I use amazon frogbit for this purpose, which is an invasive (but not illegal in Kansas – check your noxious weed list before you import any plants) species. Note – if you do end up getting an invasive plant species for your aquarium, make sure you destroy it properly if/when you remove some or all of it. That was just the one I used as it’s exceptional at removing any excess nutrients, there are others out there that get the job done just as well though.

Also, having some sort of algae eating fish really helps. Some algae will always be there, so it’s nice to make sure it won’t accumulate on your plants. Generally I’ve seen otocinclus catfish and Siamese algae eaters used for many planted aquariums. The otos are always really gentle; the SAEs will eat much more, though. Obviously a pleco is kinda out of the picture, I’ve seen it described as, “Trying to weed a garden with a bulldozer.”

To keep your plants healthy in the long run, you need to keep them fertilized as well, making sure to give them both macro nutrients (phosphate, nitrates, and potassium) and trace elements. Some of the commercial fertilizers only supplement some, so be sure to cover all your bases. I initially used a fertilizer which you just added to the water column, but recently I switched to using root tabs which has made a noticeable difference on the algal presence on the sides of the tank in each water change.

Co2, whether you’re using a DiY system (ludicrously cheap) or otherwise, really spurs on plant growth as well. The one caution I have with a DiY system is that the fluctuation of Co2 you get out of it can cause slight PH swings, which can stress your fish out if it’s not controlled. I use two 2-liter bottles and stagger which one I change every week so there is always a fairly steady supply going to my tank.

Also, when getting your plants, make sure they match up to your water parameters, be it tap or reverse osmosis or otherwise (I just use tap). Originally I sat down and went through one of the aquatic plant store’s list, looking for plants that I liked and that matched up pretty well and made a list of plants that would potentially work. Conveniently, I had a landscape design major roommate, so I had him help me out with aesthetics. I essentially gave him an acceptable list, and we sat down together to pick stuff out that’d look good and work well together. Tall plants for the background, shorter ones for the front that require less light to go in front of them if they got too tall, all the standard landscape layout stuff.

One last thing, depending on what fish you keep, your plants might be at risk of becoming the next salad bar in your house (if you notice a lot of little marks on them, this could be killing them). I know that I have several that do, but my plants outgrow any damage done to them, and honestly, I'm not at all concerned with supplementing their diet with a little plant matter. I've had great luck with my water sprite and myrio though, they propagate like crazy.

I think that covers most of what I've done so far, and I'm sure I could keep improving some of it. Hopefully some of it helps you out; if you need more specifics don't be afraid to ask!
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BB
Posts: 1419
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 5:09 am
Location: Darwin,Australia

Postby BB » Sat Mar 06, 2010 3:20 am

Great tanks! I used to have a really lush aquarium once but now it is a struggle to keep plants going. I reduced from six tanks to three at the moment and have numerous ponds and pots with fish.
I have two of my aquaria outside so I struggle with algae quite a bit. I had to switch to plastic plants (which I always avoided) in one tank as I couldn't keep up the plants to my blue acaras taste buds. :roll:
The other outside tank has live plants in it and the way I boost them is to get a 4liter container, two cups of sugar and two sachets of yeast. Well, basically CO2!) But I'm not doing it regularly so that's probably half my problem...
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Forethought
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Mar 04, 2010 7:06 pm
Location: Manhattan, KS

Postby Forethought » Sat Mar 06, 2010 2:30 pm

Thanks! Six tanks is really impressive, that's quite a bit of work to upkeep (but a lot of enjoyment)! The yeast method is exactly what I use as well, I was honestly kind of baffled when I found out how cheap and easy it is to setup and keep going.
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BB
Posts: 1419
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 5:09 am
Location: Darwin,Australia

Re: Work in Progress

Postby BB » Tue Mar 29, 2011 6:23 pm

I'm not quite sure if you are still on here, Forethought, but with the CO2 system, do you keep it on 24 hours or do you remove it when the lights switch off? I'm trying to get more seriously into planting, but this seems to be one thing which I cannot find (on youtube for example)

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