Australian Coastal Stream Riparium - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-31-2019, 08:48 AM Thread Starter
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Australian Coastal Stream Riparium

This thread is going to be both a place for me to organize my thoughts about the planning and setup of this tank, and then once I have all the pieces it will become a journal of the build and hopefully long, lush life of this tank.

For this tank we have 2 goals:

1) Create an aesthetically pleasing display tank for my living room with a natural looking underwater area, aquatic plants, and emersed growing plants. This should attempt to be a faithful recreation of a scene we might likely encounter in one of the many coastal streams or billabongs of Australia and New Guinea that our target fish species, Pseudomugil Gertrudae inhabit.

2) Set up the tank in a way that mixes lush planting with the ability to either breed the fish in-situ, add a breeding mop, or else easily catch trios to breed ex-situ in a seperate tank without destroying the aquascape. (and these are fast, small fish)

I absolutely want some emergent growth, and some mangrove-style roots in the underwater portion for the fish to swim between, ideally with a nice growth of biofilm. I also plan to create a plenum on one side to create a raised shallow area representing the riparian zone with my marginal plants, and then a deeper river zone with aquatic plants. Here is my plan for materials, equipment, plants, and livestock.

Substrate:
Top soil with bentonite clay powder sprinkled on top in the areas I want to have heavy plantings and especially the riparian zone
Safe-T-Sorb cap mixed with a small amount of crushed coral
Sand mixed with seasoned river gravel(from my other tank) in the deepest riverbed portions

The plan is quick and lush plant growth, especially of emergent plants and algae biofilms in the underwater portion that will support a rich micro-biota to supplement the fish's diet. The other goal is a natural looking substrate that mimics the transition in subtrates from the muddy riparian zone to the stony river bed.

Equipment:
This is where I will need some help. I was thinking of just using an Aquaclear with bio and mechanical filtration all in one. Or else maybe installing a corner matten filter? Does anyone have any experience with these in heavily planted tanks? I'm worried that removing the sponge to clean it might just destroy the whole tank.... I want it to be unobtrusive but also easy to maintain. I haven't thought of canister filters because, well, I've never actually used one and I don't know what would work here and be in my budget.

This tank will be going in my living room in front of either an east or west facing window so it will get indirect sunlight and possibly an hour or so of direct sunlight. This is the main draw of this tank and I purposefully want to set it up to take advantage of the natural light available in my apartment. Natural light should assist in growing plants and algae (with some control, guidance) and also, in my opinion, fish and plants look the BEST when viewed in daylight. I also have theories that they display better colors when given access to *some* sunlight and that it is probably beneficial for many fish (not all obviously, probably not nocturnal fish).

It will also have 1 or 2 homeless despot LED shoplights hung over it for supplemental lighting. I have used these for a lot of my tanks and they are cheap, bright, and effective at growing plants. They may not have the perfect spectrum or fancy features but hey, they're $14 for a 3' light and I have some that have been running for over a year now.

Hardscape:
As I mentioned earlier, I am planning on contructing a plenum, or a raised platform, for the riparian zone of the tank, similar to a many paludariums. I will likely make this by piling up lava rock, cutting pieces of egg-crate lighting diffuser, zip tying them together to create a platform, placing that over the lava rock, and then covering the whole thing in nylon window screen mesh to stop substrate and root intrusion. The tank is 17" high so this platform should be about 9" tall to allow 2 inches of substrate, creating a marginal zone that is 5-6" deep, which is shallow enough for many marginal plants that do not do well when submerged too deeply. I have already created a proof-of-concept of this in my 55 gallon and the substrate has not rolled down the hill, provided I created a few retaining walls to hold it, and also don't use too steep of an angle. I think I will paint the front of the tank to hide this, or perhaps allow a thin layer of substrate to obscure it, though I worry about detritus collecting there.

In addition to the uneven elevation, I also plan to have some mangrove-root style driftwood. Possibly spiderwood which my LFS has an affordable selection of. (though I'm not a fan of the two-toned look) they also have manzanita so I may get lucky and find some good pieces. I may just buy a mangrove root online, I believe tannin aquatics sells them. I will also have algae-covered river stones from my 55 gallon tank that have been seasoned with aufwuchs and bacteria. This in addition to sand and mulm from the same long-established tank, and the dirted subtrate, will help start the cycle and get this tank growing.

My hope is to have all of the marginal planting actually in the raised substrate of the riparian zone, but I may have to utilize hanging riparium planters from riparium supply (aquaverdi now i guess?). I will also probably arrange some house plants near the tank to emphasize the jungle-y look.

That brings us to

Plants:
I already have most of what I want to grow in the underwater portion.
Multiple Valisneria Species (though I am still looking for Val. nana)
Crypt. Wendtii
I want some water weed type plant and I already have Cabomba and Mayaca Sellowiniana which both look the part but neither are even plausibly Australian. I can easily get Ceratophyllum and maybe get Myriophyllum which are both more faithful to the biotope.
I am looking to get some type of lilly or lotus for the deepest water portion, suggestions here would be helpful. I can easily get red tiger lotus at the LFS but any others i would have to special order.

Marginal plants I also need more help.
I know the aesthetic that I want, I'm just not sure which plants would work in my setup. I want plants that grow in constant standing 5-6" of water and emerge with rigid above-water growth. Some species I was thinking of were:
Pontederia Sp.
Polygonum Sp.
Limnophila Sp.
Hygrophila Angustifolia
Parlor Date Palm
Bacopa Monnieri
Crinum Pedunculatum
Some kind of rush or grass? Eleocharis? What would work here and not topple the tank with 6' foliage?
If anyone knows of anything available that is endemic to australia or at least naturalized.

Inhabitants:
At least this one is simple
Pseudomugil Gertrudae
Neocaradina Shrimp

That's all. I hope to breed the rainbows and have a large group playing aorund in between the plants and roots, that's the goal here.

Anyway It's 3am and I've been researching plants too long so I think it's time to end with an inspiration photograph and sign off. Thank you if you read this far and if you leave a comment or suggestion!



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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 12:39 AM Thread Starter
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Small update. I'm moving tomorrow but I've still been thinking about the plans for this. Liquid Creations seems to have most of the plants that I want, Blyxa, Pogostemon, Persicaria/ Polygonum, Limnophila, Staurogyne Spp. I'm gonna set up an order tonight probably and get a nursery tank growing to convert these submersed grown plants back to emersed (lol) I got some emersed looking Blue Hygro from the LFS today. Funny how I am trying to find people selling the "easier" to get emersed grown version of plants but everyone only wants to sell me sebmersed cause that's what they think I want haha. People forget that most of our common (and especially all the pretty ones) "aquatic" plants grow in very shallow water most of the time.

The current plan is to order (numbers being stems/ plants not bunches):
3x Blyxa Japonica
1x Pogostemon Yatabeanus
2x Pogostemon Quadrifolius
3x Limnophila Aromatica
2x Limnophila Aromatica mini
2x Heteranthera Zosterifolia
1x Sphaerocaryum Malaccense
1x Persicaria/ Polygonum Sp. Kawagoeanum

Some of these will grow fully submerse, some will grow partially emersed. I will be testing out converting them in a 15 gallon aquarium covered with plastic wrap to maintain humidity and slowly lowering the water level to encourage emergent growth. I believe all these plants are true marginals so being planted in shallow water should be more natural to them than being completely submerged and the "aerial advantage" should help them take off once they have converted from their submersed leaves. Not all of these will be used but I wanted to test a lot of species to see what will look best long term. The rest that I don't use will be used in other spaces or traded to the LFS for credit to buy more driftwood.

I also still want the Pygmy Date Palm but I think I will actually just grow that in a separate pot and place it next to the tank, it, like Cyperus Alternifolius, will likely outgrow the 30 gal quickly from my research, even being "pygmy".

Anyway I'm tired and gotta move tanks tomorrow so that's all the updates for today.
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Last edited by SwampGirl; 09-01-2019 at 12:56 AM. Reason: added more plants
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-02-2019, 04:51 AM Thread Starter
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Just a small update but in addition to moving today i placed an order for the exact list of plants in the above post. They should arrive this week. I also have cambarellus dwarf crays coming the week after that. Tank is still bare so no pics yet.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-02-2019, 01:14 PM
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Is the aim to only keep accompanying species that would exist in the natural habitat? Where were those photos taken?


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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-02-2019, 04:56 PM Thread Starter
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The aim isnt an exact biotope but more in the spirit of a natural looking representation of the habitat. Thats why i am using dwarf crays rather than full size endemic crayfish that are not compatible with the rainbows. I also can't find only australian plants but the goal is to use genera that occur in australia.

Those pics are from the ANGFA website from collection points of Pseudomugil Gertrudae, i would have to check to comfirm exact creeks.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-02-2019, 05:00 PM Thread Starter
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Also i would love to keep Ambassis glassfish, particularly the sailfin perchlet but they are very difficult to find available in the US.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-04-2019, 05:10 PM Thread Starter
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Plants arrive tomorrow! Tonight im going to set up the emersed nursery and a submersed nursery (maybe together in a 15 or in seperate tens. Im really excited about the mayaccense. I saw some pics on a blog of it growing emersed and its exactly the look i want. I now wish i had ordered more of that. Ill post pics if i get anything finished tonight but i still have to finish clearing out my old apartment and move more tanks!
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-04-2019, 05:12 PM
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This sounds really cool! Are you an Aussie, and a little homesick for your local fauna and flora?

If it is truly an Australian tank, it should have at least one thing that will kill you if you mess with it.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-04-2019, 07:57 PM Thread Starter
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Streetwise, no! I'm an American who just happens to love Australian fauna. I've never actually been there. Idk if i'd want a true Australian biotope because I'm not sure how they get the water to stay in the tank when its upside down!
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-06-2019, 02:56 PM Thread Starter
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Okay this is going to be a rather large (picture-heavy) update.

The plant order arrived yesterday before I had anything set up so I took some pictures and then set them aside for a while.



Blyxa Japonica


Limnophila Aromatica


Sphaerocaryum Malaccense - Really excited about this one!! I wish I had thought to order more.


Polygonum/ Persicaria Sp. Kawagoeanum


Pogostemon Quadrifolius


I didn't get pics of all of them I guess but I got everything listed in the earlier post. I really liked the shipping method it was simple and effective and I might steal it when I send plants out next.

After I came home from finishing up our last day of moving, I set up a 10 gallon plant nursery in my bedroom (I'll probably have to set up another soon).



The pots are set up as follows:
- Nylon window screen over the holes
- Small layer of Safe T Sorb to stop dirt leakage
- 2-3' inches organic potting soil (Nature's Care brand which I think is by Miracle Gro)
- Safe T Sorb cap.

I will probably put some species tags in there because I am already getting them all confused. The tank just has an HOB with mostly mechanical media, a heater set to minimum (I don't think plant only tanks need to be heated, no?) and a circulation pump to keep water moving across the leaves. There's nothing but plants in there so I'm going to pretty heavily fertilize it without much care. I may dose some excel just at the beginning (but I want this to be low tech and buying seachem products regularly is not, in my definition, low tech!)

A lot of these plants were trimmings so I want to develop good roots (hence the soil planting) and get them growing. Once I have enough to start experimenting with them, then I will try lowering the water level and playing around with emersed growth in varying humidities (aiming for 'next to a window in my bedroom' level humidity) I will also probably construct a platform from lighting diffuser to raise some of the plants up already like the Blyxa to get them growing closer to the surface.

It will probably be at least a month of growing out, setting up the final tank's aquascape, accumulating driftwood, etc. I'm sure I will post regular updates of my fiddling. That's what I do like about these nursery set ups with plants in pots, you can endlessly reconfigure them without tearing anything up.

Anyway thanks for reading!
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-15-2019, 04:37 AM Thread Starter
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Unfortunately all of my Australian fish have since died so I am scrapping this project and the thread does here. I will still be making a biotope riparium but a native Michigan one instead, which I will start a different journal for.
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-15-2019, 06:43 AM
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thats too bad. I was looking forward to this tank. I can't wait to see the next one.

75 gallon planted tank. About to stock.
10 gallon QT

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75 gallon tank journal
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-15-2019, 08:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SwampGirl View Post
Unfortunately all of my Australian fish have since died so I am scrapping this project and the thread does here. I will still be making a biotope riparium but a native Michigan one instead, which I will start a different journal for.
What happened to the fish?
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-15-2019, 04:20 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aquanerd13 View Post
thats too bad. I was looking forward to this tank. I can't wait to see the next one.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveKS View Post
What happened to the fish?
As I was moving in September, i removed a lot of water lettuce from the top of the tank that I set the getrudae's up in to hold them until this tank was complete. I'm not sure why they did, but one day I woke up and found they had all jumped out the top. My main hypothesis is that they got spooked by something (they were very skittish fish) and, not having the surface of the water completely clogged by floating plants, jumped right out onto the floor.

And have no fear, I will be starting the thread for the "new" tank today, and I have already made more progress on that project than this one ever had (and all the lessons learned from this one, like putting a lid on your very jumpy fish!)
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-15-2019, 11:52 PM Thread Starter
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If anyone is interested in following the new tank journal I have started it here:
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/s....php?t=1298843
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australia, biotope, pseudomugil gertrudae, rainbow fish, riparium

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