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Old 03-17-2014, 04:05 AM   #1
chelleomi
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Goldfish Low-Tech Planted 120G


Hi all! This is my first aquarium journal!

I've been keeping goldfish for 11 years and recently lost two of my fish, leaving one sad guy left. I had my comet since 2003, and a common since 2006, so it was rough. But worst of all, Fifi the Fantail that I adopted the same time as the common, was now alone! I thought about adopting out Fifi and tearing down the tank but I really enjoy keeping goldfish, so I thought I would adopt some from ill-informed goldfish owners to prevent them from being flushed! I found someone on Craigslist who was trying to get rid of 9 goldfish he kept in a TEN GALLON tank, and picked them up. They are a mix of commons and comets, and even though my boyfriend made me make a solemn vow to try to adopt some of them out, we all know the likelihood of that happening...

What I hope to do instead is convert to a heavily planted aquarium, maybe with some aquaculture built in, to handle the goldfishes' waste needs. Instead of doing a complete teardown, because I have livestock that is important to me, I hope to introduce a soil underlayer slowly. I've started doing this by introducing peat compostable pots with 1" inch soil and 1" gravel that contain plants. I have submerged other soil so that they do their initial leaching before introduction to the fish (per Diana Walsed's Planted Aquarium). I have layered this soil with gravel in disposable plastic water trays, so that when I am ready to introduce it to the tank, I can cut a flap from the side of the tray and (hopefully) slide the soil/gravel layers intact onto the bottom of the tank. I may also start some plants partially emerged on these trays so that their root systems are intact when I introduce them into the tank as well.

For the aquaculture, I was thinking of buying aquaculture pots and attaching them to the back rim of the tank with hooks. I would then fill these with some leftover gravel I have and hopefully grow lettuce to feed the fish with! In that case, I'll have to take off the lids and turn off the heater. The heater is on right now to boost their immune systems after their introduction to the tank.



Specs:
120G 60"x16" footprint
Eheim 2215 Canister filter
Aquatop 10W UV Inline sterilizer (only in for the introduction of the fish)
Finnex Ray 2 7000K 48"
Fluval M300 Heater
Currently 1 airstone

Substrate:
Current: Gravel, crushed coral, eco-complete planted aquarium
New soil: Black Gold potting soil

Flora:
Creeping Charlie
Anubias Nana
Hygrophila salicifolia
Java fern
Eleocharis montevidensis (I think)
Unknown plant with 2mm thin, 2-3cm long willow-like leaves
Elodea

Basically, I'm looking for guidance as to how to get plants to grow well in a low-tech type environment, with the needs of the goldfish in mind. I think with this number of fish, they should be able to get the CO2 pretty high without adding CO2 but then I start to worry about oxygen deprivation for the fish... which is why I am hesitant to turn off the airstone before I get healthy plants to replenish the oxygen. But then the plants needs more CO2 to grow bigger, etc. I have Excel but do not currently dose at the recommended level. The anubias, java ferns and hygro have survived in the tank for years with zero supplementation but they all reverted to miniature forms it seems like. I am hoping the soil will provide the necessary nutrients to grow bigger without dosing in a bunch of supplements.

Also, anybody have any advice on tricks (or different plants) to prevent the goldfish from uprooting them? They've uprooted three of my newly potted plants today alone! These young goldfish are significantly more vigorous than my senior goldies were!
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Old 03-17-2014, 11:49 AM   #2
xjasminex
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Good Luck!!!
Its can be a rough road with goldfish and plants but it can be done!

Im subscribed and i am always interested to see what other peoples planted goldfish tanks turn out like!
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Old 03-17-2014, 03:14 PM   #3
chelleomi
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Thanks!!!

The goldfishes had a party last night and tore out the hygro and java ferns that were planted in the pots... Guess I have to get them in there deeper. I have the 10 gallon that the golds came in, I thinking I'm going to grow some of the hydros emergently in a pot saucer to get some root structure going and transfer that to the tank. It sounds messy, but hopefully if there is enough root mass, I won't get too much dirt kicked up.
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Old 03-17-2014, 09:38 PM   #4
chelleomi
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Specs have been stable since the introduction of the potted plants 8 days ago, and since the new goldfish 3 days ago.
NH3 0
NO2- 0
NO3- 5-10
pH 7.5
GH 6
KH 5

After reading the Walstad chapter on Substrates, I was real paranoid about the pH going acidic if the soil I added was acidic and having all sorts of heavy metals leach into the water but that hasn't happened. The GH and KH have both gone up one degree since the addition of the soil though. In my test tank with submerged soil & gravel where I am trying to grow some emergent plants, the water that was initially used to wet the soil was very high in GH, but the pH and KH were the same.

I have one question about the chart Walstad uses that shows newly flooded terrestrial soil, though... I wonder if that water had been changed over the course of the months they tested it, or was it the same water and those carbonates and metals,etc that leached into the water were eventually used up, and thats really what we are seeing in the chart. If so, I guess all the leaching that newly submerged soils would give off would be fixed to some extent by water changes?
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Old 03-18-2014, 01:13 PM   #5
Phil Edwards
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It's going to be fairly difficult to introduce a full soil substrate without tearing down the tank, but using potted plants like you are is a very good alternative; especially with substrate sifting fish like goldies. I wouldn't worry so much about nasties building up in your tank or released acids causing issues. You're not putting enough raw soil in there to make a big difference and the crushed coral in the substrate will buffer a lot of acids.

If you want to put a bunch of soil in there in one go mineralizing it first would be a good idea. Sift all the big particles out then do three or four rounds of letting it sit completely saturated for a week then spread out to dry, rewet, dry, rewet, dry. This process simulates the wet/dry cycle wetland soils go through and does a good job of reducing the large majority of nasties raw soil puts out when saturated.
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Old 04-01-2014, 02:03 AM   #6
chelleomi
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Ok so we are off to a rough "beginning" here with the new goldfish additions. My poor old man fantail has a bit of finrot on his tail, and what with the somewhat rapid change in temperature from the new goldfishes old tank to the new tank, I think they thought it was breeding season. They were chasing each other all around and unfortunately Fifi's tail got beat up. I think there are also a few that have a taste for rotting fin, which I read can happen.

Anyway, I set up a divider in the tank to separate Fifi so that his tail can recover to its former glory. I'm also going to identify the most aggressive fish and try to rehome them, because 1 goldfish/10 gallons is fairly overcrowded.

The elodea, the java ferns and the anubis are the only plants that have survived. I bought some crypts and so far they seem uninterested in them. However, they are still tiny. I don't want to add regular plant fertilizer like Florish because I don't need nitrogen and I probably don't need phosphorous. I wonder about potassium.

Any advice from other people with fish heavy tanks about ferts that they add?

I really don't think my problem is CO2, as there aren't really that many plants in the tank to begin with to eat all the CO2 and I dont have a heavy algae infestation...
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Old 04-01-2014, 02:07 AM   #7
lauraleellbp
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I remember Steve ended up having the best luck with rhizome plants since they could be tied down rather than rooted in substrate:

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...hlight=birdman
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Old 04-02-2014, 03:56 AM   #8
chelleomi
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Thanks! His tank looks great!

I've tied some of my anubis and java ferns to drift wood and lava rocks. One thing I've taken away from his posts were about Rex's dry ferts. So I ordered some bulk chemicals online and we'll see how the plants respond in a few days. I'm actually a biochemist in training so weighing out chemicals and calculating concentrations is like second nature, but this whole ecosystem thing is more confusing for me...

Lauralee, your tanks are actually one of the reasons I started a tank journal. Your tanks are amazing! I had some high-minded plans about how I was going to aquascape my tank, but my goldfish ripping up and eating everything sort of ruined that idea... Oh and the fact that they don't grow. I was hoping for the real low tech approach, but we'll see how the dry ferts go.
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