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Old 07-23-2013, 11:16 PM   #1
QuoVadis
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(Non-cichlid) African Biotope


I will be turning my 55g into an African Biotope oddball tank. The entire tank will be designed with an elephant nose fish in mind. I bought one previously, but it just could not compete with my botia loaches in my community tank, and starved to death, even though I fed it live blackworms every night. I have never been so sad to lose a fish I had for so short a time, and I want to give the species another try in better circumstances. So because of this the entire tank needs to be rather sedate, deliberate feeders. I will be getting my elephant nose among the first fish in the tank and I won't really add many other fish until he is feeding well. (I'm not worried about the cycle because I have an mature filter ready to go in, and I can put some fish from other tanks in initially to make sure it is ok.)

So here is my stocking list. I have never done a true biotope before other than a native tank, so I'd appreciate some feedback. It will be somewhat planted, but mostly dominated with driftwood.

1 Elephant nose fish - (another possibility is getting three or more, since they do well in larger groups, and having less other fish, but since they are kind of expensive I'll probably stick to 1)
1-2 African Butterfly fish
1 Leopard Bush fish
4-5 True Upside down catfish
1-2 African filter shrimp

Those are the fish I'm pretty set on, but here are some I am also considering, but would like some feedback on.

African Dwarf frogs (would these guys get eaten? If there is a reasonable chance they won't I'd like to get some)

1 African Knifefish - (heard mixed things on whether these are compatible with EN because of being electrical fish - most seems to say they would be fine, it the BGK that would be a problem)

3 Kulhi loaches - (These are from a tank I am taking down, so they could go in here or the other 55g community tank with lots of Botia, rainbowfish, tetras, loaches, etc.) Even though they are not African I am considering putting them in here because they are so laid back. What do you think?)

A school of congo tetras - I like these guys, but I'm afraid they will be too aggressive of feeders? Anyone have experience with them in this type of tank?

A Senegal Bichir - obviously I realize that if I get this guy the ADFs, Kuhlis, and maybe congos, shrimp, and UDC would be out.) Anyone have thoughts?
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Old 07-23-2013, 11:53 PM   #2
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I don't think a 55g is big enough for any of those fish really...

Elephant nose grows to 9-14 inches
Butterfly Fish 4-5 inches
Leopard Fish 6-8 inches
African Knifefish - 8-12 inches
Senegal Birchir 10-14 inches

The 12 inch width on a standard 55 really limits the size fish you can keep. IMO, you need a bigger tank.
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Old 07-24-2013, 03:47 AM   #3
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Well I have done a lot of research on the elephantnose, as well as talked with a lfs guy who actually really knows his stuff, and from everything I have learned I think the elephant nose should be fine, as long as the tank is not over-crowded. Nine inches is really the absolute captive max on them, most stay smaller than that. I have ye o find even one report of a captive EN over 8-9 inches. Most max out around 6, even in the wild that size is common. The butterflyfish should be fine, and it is almost unheard of the leopard fish to reach 8 inches. Five inches-ish is much more realistic, and they grow etreemly slowly. The main reason I put both the knifefish and and the bichir on the tentative because I was curious what other people had to say about the compatibility. True African knives stay smaller than other knives, usually about 6 inches, sometimes up to 8. The bichir does get bigger, and is a messy eater, and would limit other fish options, so unless something changes I'm not planning on getting it.That is why the bottom list was of fish I am only *considering - I am probably not adding most of them. After doing some more research tonight I'll probably be sticking with the top list + some ADFs, and MAYBE some congos, if someone can comment on how aggressively they feed without competition.
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Old 07-24-2013, 03:53 AM   #4
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Could you possibly upgrade to a 75? I think with the extra room, it would help out your other fish as well.
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Old 07-24-2013, 04:00 AM   #5
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I have an African Butterfly. It's one of the coolest fish that I've ever seen. Good luck with this tank. I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out for you
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Old 07-24-2013, 04:26 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Indychus View Post
I don't think a 55g is big enough for any of those fish really...

Elephant nose grows to 9-14 inches
Butterfly Fish 4-5 inches
Leopard Fish 6-8 inches
African Knifefish - 8-12 inches
Senegal Birchir 10-14 inches

The 12 inch width on a standard 55 really limits the size fish you can keep. IMO, you need a bigger tank.
Not sure where you're getting your numbers from but some seem to be over exaggerated.

Gnathonemus petersii (elephant nose fish) - 9-10 inches
Pantodon buchholzi - 4-5 inches
Ctenopoma acutirostre - 6 inches max for most specimens
Xenomystus nigri - 8 inches max for most specimens
Polypterus senegalus - Depends on the genetics but most captive bred specimens (the ones available at most stores) max out at around 8-10 inches with some rarely getting to 12 inches.

Quote:
Originally Posted by QuoVadis View Post
I will be turning my 55g into an African Biotope oddball tank. The entire tank will be designed with an elephant nose fish in mind. I bought one previously, but it just could not compete with my botia loaches in my community tank, and starved to death, even though I fed it live blackworms every night. I have never been so sad to lose a fish I had for so short a time, and I want to give the species another try in better circumstances. So because of this the entire tank needs to be rather sedate, deliberate feeders. I will be getting my elephant nose among the first fish in the tank and I won't really add many other fish until he is feeding well. (I'm not worried about the cycle because I have an mature filter ready to go in, and I can put some fish from other tanks in initially to make sure it is ok.)

So here is my stocking list. I have never done a true biotope before other than a native tank, so I'd appreciate some feedback. It will be somewhat planted, but mostly dominated with driftwood.

1 Elephant nose fish - (another possibility is getting three or more, since they do well in larger groups, and having less other fish, but since they are kind of expensive I'll probably stick to 1)
1-2 African Butterfly fish
1 Leopard Bush fish
4-5 True Upside down catfish
1-2 African filter shrimp

Those are the fish I'm pretty set on, but here are some I am also considering, but would like some feedback on.

African Dwarf frogs (would these guys get eaten? If there is a reasonable chance they won't I'd like to get some)

1 African Knifefish - (heard mixed things on whether these are compatible with EN because of being electrical fish - most seems to say they would be fine, it the BGK that would be a problem)

3 Kulhi loaches - (These are from a tank I am taking down, so they could go in here or the other 55g community tank with lots of Botia, rainbowfish, tetras, loaches, etc.) Even though they are not African I am considering putting them in here because they are so laid back. What do you think?)

A school of congo tetras - I like these guys, but I'm afraid they will be too aggressive of feeders? Anyone have experience with them in this type of tank?

A Senegal Bichir - obviously I realize that if I get this guy the ADFs, Kuhlis, and maybe congos, shrimp, and UDC would be out.) Anyone have thoughts?
A senegal bichir would do great in a 55 gallon but as you said, the smaller species would definitely be out of the question.

Ctenopomas, elephant noses, and african butterfly fish can be territorial within their species so unless you have a larger tank, I'd only get one of each.

The upside down catfish are aggressive eaters and might not let the elephant nose get it's fair share. Same with the congo tetras.

You bring up a good point about the african knife and the elephant nose. You could probably get a better answer from MFK about their compatibility but my gut says they probably wouldn't do well together.

I'd go with one elephant nose, the senegal bichir, and one leopard ctenopoma and that's it.
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Old 07-24-2013, 05:29 AM   #7
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I have been doing more research all night, and I am considering ditching almost all the fish (except maybe a ABF) and getting a small school (5-6) of Elephantnose (assuming I can get my lfs guy to give me a discount on a larger order). There is so little good information available on the web, but the best I've heard seems to indicate that they are a lot like loaches that get territorial and nippy with only a couple, but love being kept in larger groups. I know they get larger, but since they are slim fish (very different than say even 9 inches of goldfish, or even bichir), if kept as the sole inhabitants I think it may work well. EN have larger brains compared to thier bodies than humans do, so they are extreemly smart fish and have complex social structures, thus the need for larger groups.

This is kind of what I want to go for, and my tank already looks similar with the drift wood, etc.:
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Old 07-24-2013, 05:38 AM   #8
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If you want a larger group of them, get a bigger tank. A 55 gallon isn't suitable for six full grown elephant noses. They also need pristine water.
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Old 07-24-2013, 04:52 PM   #9
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Why specifically? If there are not really any other fish, I think the bio-load would be ok, especially since the main plants are going to be frogbit and water hyacinth, which both block light and suck up nutrients like no other. Since I have read multiple places that a 55g is ok for elephantnose, if proper school numbers (e.g. not 2) are provided and the tank is not overloaded, why wouldn't this work for a group? (For example, I wouldn't put even a single yoyo loach in a anything less than a 3 ft. tank, but there is no reason you couldn't keep a group of yoyos in that same 3ft tank, AS LONG as bio-load wasn't too much, and there weren't a lot of other fish). IME I have always had more luck keeping fish that naturally school "crowded" by some peoples standards, rather than under-stocked, with fewer of their own species to school with.
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Old 07-24-2013, 05:09 PM   #10
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I plugged six, 9 inch elephantnose fish (the most realistic max size) into Aqadvisor and even with some ADFs and shrimp thrown in it does not say the tank is overstocked. (I think Aqadvisor is great for beginners and is a good guideline, but my longest running, favorite and healthiest tank is overstocked according to it. IMO it it is a little conservative for someone who is an experienced fish keeper. But I guess that's what it says though when it comes up as "overstocked" - do not attempt unless you are experienced.)
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Old 07-24-2013, 05:15 PM   #11
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It sounds like you've got a handle on this... I've never kept any of these species except the senegal birchir, the rest of the sizes I posted came from various sources during research I did for a similar project. My birchir grew to around 11 inches and seemed very cramped in my 55. I eventually moved him into a 90 and he seemed to do much better.

I'm also interested in the congo tetras, so hopefully somone will post up their experiences with them.
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Old 07-24-2013, 08:52 PM   #12
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Personally I hate 55 gallons for "large" fish. At 12.5" width there simply isn't enough room for these fish to feel comfortable. I feel much better with tanks that are at least 2x the length of the fish to allow for swimming space. This would be especially true for schooling fish. How do you think a school of neons would fare in a 2" wide tank? I second the opinion that a 55 gallon is too small. Water quality isn't necessarily the issue as one could hook a sump to a tank and increase the water capacity 100-fold and the tank may still be unsuitable for a particular fish.
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Old 07-25-2013, 01:43 AM   #13
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Yeah, a 55g isn't what I would pick out as a first choice, even just from the aquascaping perspective, but it was given to me for free with a lot of very nice, expensive equipment, so I'm going to work with it. They are slow growers, and if it seems too crowded in a couple years I'll probably upgrade, but even if I don't, it's big enough it will work, even if it's not the ideal shape, especially because everything else will be designed around their needs, (soft sand and deritus substrate, a layer of floating plants to diffuse light and absorbe nurtients, zero compition for food, lists of driftwood and low light plants for cover, and an extra powerhead driven sponge filter for the superior biological filtration

Last edited by QuoVadis; 07-25-2013 at 02:20 AM.. Reason: typo
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