When you want to minimize water changes without killing plants or fish... - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-16-2016, 07:41 PM Thread Starter
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When you want to minimize water changes without killing plants or fish...

Hi folks,

In my continuing quest to breed loricariids, I would like to set up a tank that can simulate a transition into the dry season without killing either my plants or fish.

The long term goal is to feed the fish heavily until they're fat and sassy, allowing the dissolved materials in the water to accumulate at the same time. When the time is then right, I'd do a series of large water changes with low TDS cool water, and hopefully trigger spawning. Pretty standard stuff.

The problem comes along in terms of wanting to keep a respectable plant mass growing at the same time WITHOUT using a nutrient rich soil.

I can't find a nutrient rich soil here that doesn't send my KH through the roof, and I also want a VERY low KH environment (<1). Peat has worked great for that, but the plant would like something to grow with.

Can't do EI because the large water change requirement would send my TDS cyclically all over the map, and would largely negate the bioaccumulation concept by design. I don't mind doing small water changes to keep nitrates in check, but the emmersed plants are doing a respectable job there too.

Any suggestions on how to proceed?

I've been thus far using PPS-Pro solutions, and throttling demand based off nitrate and phosphate level testing to come up with some middle ground dosing macros. Not sure how to "throttle" micros, though just recently noticed something about FE testing to represent that. Using the 1 ml/10 gallon dosing guides on the solutions sent my nitrates through the roof in test tanks, so not a fan of blindly following that guideline.

Tank is blackwater, with heavy immersed and emmersed growth. Somehow I have a magical tank that has a cubic foot of peat in 100 gallons of RO water, KH<1, and yet pH over 7. No CO2.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-16-2016, 07:48 PM
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What Loricariids are you trying to breed?
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-16-2016, 07:55 PM Thread Starter
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Otos of various varieties, with some pygmy corys in there as possible co-spawning trigger fish. The only spawning reports I've found that were supposedly repeatable were published in Amazonas magazine, and regarded an oto (o.flexilis) that is known to be a little different from the ones I'm keeping (diet etc, comes from areas that don't have as much plant mass too apparently). Probably different spawning patterns, but worth a go.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-16-2016, 08:41 PM
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Ahh, Otocinclus. I haven't dabbled with Otos so I am not of much help there. Try asking on PlanetCatfish, lot of general catfish experts there (even if they haven't bred Otos, maybe they can mention something about their natural habitat and natural spawning activity).

Just did a quick search, I haven't read through these, but they might have some interesting info
Otocinclus flexilis: How Cold Is Cold? - PlanetCatfish.com
Otocinclus Breeding - PlanetCatfish.com
Breeding Otocinclus cocama (+ spawning) - PlanetCatfish.com
Breeding Otocinclus - PlanetCatfish.com
FishProfiles.com - Breeding ottos

This one talks about keeping Peppered otos with Peppered corys having the otos less shy
PlanetCatfish.com - May ? 2009 ? Catfish of the Month ? www.planetcatfish.com

As for Corydoras pygmaeus, it just takes the basics to get them to spawn. Simply condition with high protein foods (takes up to 2 weeks) and just do cooler water changes (some say 10*F cooler, but that is too much in my opinion and some fish don't tolerate that well, just go for 5-6*F cooler). Usually that is all it takes to get them to spawn. Larger groups do help as well though, as happier fish more readily breed. If they are just really happy in their tank, they will breed (Daily!) without the you doing anything. If that doesn't work, simulating droughts during water changes, keeping water level low (25% or less) for one to a few hours, can trigger spawning also. Best thing of all with pygmy corys is that they don't eat the eggs or fry! (not sure if they would eat the oto's though! but the eggs would probably be too big for their mouths)


I don't think Otos spawning requires really precise water chemistry/parameters, from the sounds of it, they are just a little trickier than corys, but what do I know! But it is good to document all the water parameters in case you do find it evident of what does indeed trigger spawning in Otos.

The substrate, can't you just use inert substrate? Plants (depending how sensitive the species is) should do fine with the fluctuations in parameters and nutrients. The colder temps may be another thing though. Otos and corys should do fine with the water changes (as long as it's not too cold for the corys range), after all it does put them in the mood to spawn.

But for best results, for both plants and fish breeding, it would probably be best to dedicate toward one goal, either set up for optimum plant growth or gear the tank to grow tons of algae and microorganisms and replicate the otos and corys natural environment to have the best chances of successful spawning and rearing of fry. If breeding otos is your main goal, you could still do hardy plant species and that wouldn't compromise breeding efforts in comparison to balancing efforts toward breeding and growing plants.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-16-2016, 09:50 PM
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You could try sand for a substrate, or silt from a river or lake nearby over a thick layer of peat, or use the substrate from an already established tank that's loaded with mulm and detritus, I would expect it to have enough nutrients to support growth for a while at least


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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-17-2016, 06:59 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks folks, most obliged.

WaterLife - I actually chose the pygmys for their delicacy around fry, as well as their general regional suitability. They seem to get along with the otos fine, and do draw them out of hiding a bit:
http://youtu.be/eZqHGfSExkQ

Thanks tons for the links too, but alas I've read them all (plus many more). Though it's not rare to find reports, it's very rare to find setups that people can repeat (I've been trying for over a year). It's also very rare to find people who take "fresh" or virgin otos and intentionally get them to spawn. Most spawning reports are incidental, where people get an initial spawn by fluke and keep them going.

I've never heard of fry surviving at pH>7.5, and the Amazonas report was included. He used fish he collected from the wild, and just simulated a grow out per the local conditions. Started with almost RO water, fed heavily for a bunch of months until conductivity was well over 1000, then triggered a spawn with cool clean water.

I've also been in touch with a researcher that's breeding 0.vittatus at the UofF, and he says those spawn more readily at ~81F. There's little understanding of the identification of various species, let alone their habits, so it doesn't surprise me that it's a dog's breakfast of info out there too.

I going to be setting back up some dedicated "simple" tanks that I'm using for breeding too, but this one is in the family room so I prefer it to look nicer. Don't care about a bit of algae here or there, just want to be able to dial more or less the correct fert regime in.

theatermusic87- good thought, but there's a bit too much ice out here right now. I'd also be scared of bringing something in that would devastate a colony (dragonfly larvae etc), and even if successful, it might not be readily repeatable. Worse than no results would be results I couldn't duplicate

Think I'll just stick with the plan for now, unless anyone can point out a flaw. I'll monitor nitrates and phosphates for macro dosing, and keep an eye on plant growth. I'll set something equiv up for micros (1ml PPS micro solution per 1 ml PPS macro sol'n), and start testing iron to see if there's a correlation.

Thanks folks!
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 02:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamTill View Post
... Tank is blackwater, with heavy immersed and emmersed growth. Somehow I have a magical tank that has a cubic foot of peat in 100 gallons of RO water, KH<1, and yet pH over 7. No CO2.
You have a 100 gallon tank with a cubic foot of peat in it? How exactly? Is it in a nylon sack? Under substrate? Just loosely poured in?

I recently purchased a cubic foot of peat and right now am looking at it (most of it) next to a 40 gallon breeder. In a tank 2.5x the size of this 40g (i.e. 100g) it wouldn't be that much, really, and your alkaline ph is not surprising.

By "Tank is blackwater" you mean the water is stained tea color? pH >7 is not what most breeders would label "blackwater." If peat is saturated to the point that it sinks on its own accord, i.e. not weighted down, then your pH will no longer decrease. Then having the live plants in there (you say heavy immersed growth) and live fish in there just serves to increase pH. This is not even taking into account substrate, most types increase pH. If peat itself is the substrate, forget about it already, ain't no way you'll replicate acidic, truly blackwater conditions.

Peat is temporary, a few weeks tops, once it's saturated enough to sink it's spent. Dispose of it.

Years ago I produced hundreds of gallons of water ~3.5 pH. Now THAT'S blackwater. Smelled like Lysol Disinfectant. I got it that low by filling 10g tanks with 1/2 peat and 1/2 rainwater... and then waited ~10days for the peat to sink, then siphoned the water off the peat. If siphoned water was replaced with rainwater on top of the saturated peat I could pull out maybe a 6 or 6.5 but nothing stronger.

If you want blackwater acidity change that peat. Peace.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 11:05 PM
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Hi
To make this achievable you need to decide between CO2 enriched fully planted aquarium or a breading biotope. These are two different models.

I think you are more interested in the breeding biotope style, with dark peat water, almost no KH and no CO2. Plants donít grow fast in such conditions so there is no need for fertilizers.

At most what you could do is to add little K2SO4 for K when you do water changes. And, if you use only RO you need little CaSO4 for Ca. The peat supplies N, P and traces.


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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-22-2016, 03:10 PM Thread Starter
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jaliberti - it was used as a substrate, yes. Given the relative lack of info on blackwater setups, I'm sort of guessing a little and working by feel. Nice to know that there's still a long way to go before really getting into the acid side of things. As long as I'm below 7.5 right now, I'm good. I went to the peat for it's lack of addition to the overall tank KH, so that'll do for now. I need the plants right now as food and spawning sites, so I can't get too much darker or even 4 T5HOs aren't going to cut it.

Edward - I'm definitely setting this up as a breeding tank more than anything else. The otos need plants as spawning sites, and the tank needs to be at least somewhat attactive since it's in the main part of our house, but that's the extent of my real desire for its planted-ness.

I've found the swords in particular start to suffer if I don't supplement something, so I've been fertilizing moderately.
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