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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-11-2017, 07:20 AM Thread Starter
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A Congo Biotope, maybe I think

Alright so I've been thinking for months about doing a biotope. More of a challenge than just a theme and also reins me in on new tank ideas. Several weeks ago I decided I had to go for the Congo. Mostly because I picked up a Leopard Ctenopoma and adore his personality.

For now it's a std 20 gal tank and I may go pick up Rich's (my son named the ctenopoma Rich) partner that is still hanging at the lfs. I haven't decided as there's so little information on them and I don't want to end up with two 30 gallon tank next year for aggression issues.

I have my hardscape starting, driftwood is soaking still waiting on my cap for the flourite black. Finally decided I'd go with an Cichlid mix by Caribsea sight unseen I hope it's what I was wanting. Internet shopping for this stuff soooo hard! But I live quite literally over 200 miles from anything other than Walmart (not a joke it sucks). I've also snagged some Lace Rock while traveling last week. Boy it's a toughie to clean! I've been soaking it since I got it home and putting the scrub one a couple times a day and I'm still finding new holes and more mud! I like the excitement!

I plan to go with obviously some anubias, but very minimal as it seems to be overdone in my opinion plus it's not quite the look I am going for. Also some Crinum Calamistratum that I actually stumbled on at my lfs in their crayfish tank they had two but one was pretty much eaten to a nub and as I don't know much about the plants I couldn't bring myself to spend the $11 on something I have no idea on its return from the dead rate. I'm still looking for some Bolbitis Heudelotii to tie off on the driftwood as research says it does alright like that lol. And I'm considering a Vallisneria as a background but I can't find anything reliable that puts it in the right part of the Congo river (basin low current) that the Ctenopoma may roam free.

I've got Synodontis Nigriventris hanging out in another tank with Rich already but was only able to get two I'm hoping for at least one more.

Alright now here's a list of things I'm hoping for some opinions and input on so help me out!

Another tall but unobtrusive background plant other than vallisneria but staying true to the biotope or maybe some knowledge on which vallisneria is true to my tank?

African butterfly fish pros and cons?

Do I get Rich his pal back from the lfs or do I not risk it, I am confident it's a now or never decision?

Is there ANY moss available from that region!? I can't find a thing on any moss there, there's gotta be moss lol it's a lowland jungle swamp River lol help!? If not well, I don't particularly like moss most the time anyway I'll find another method for my look lol?

I think that's the dire stuff I'm hoping for input on....

And my fancy pants first pic of the tank with water and a plate that's still there from filling it. Lots of potential lots

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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-11-2017, 07:51 AM
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Get 100 gallon tank, get ropefish (and other fish you want) :-D Actually I have bushfish growing out and I'm going to buy butterfly fish too, so we're in same place. Butterfly fish need spaces with really low flow and will occupy top part of the tank. Don't see any cons to them. About plants - I have to admit, that even though with fish I carefully chose what suited my African tank (blue gularis are nice too), but plants are just whatever looked good...

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-11-2017, 10:40 AM Thread Starter
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Get 100 gallon tank, get ropefish (and other fish you want) :-D Actually I have bushfish growing out and I'm going to buy butterfly fish too, so we're in same place. Butterfly fish need spaces with really low flow and will occupy top part of the tank. Don't see any cons to them. About plants - I have to admit, that even though with fish I carefully chose what suited my African tank (blue gularis are nice too), but plants are just whatever looked good...

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Rope fish are definitely something I'm interested in but also definitely don't have space for right now. I'll be moving again in a few years (or sooner, I hope) I'm reluctant to even get a 50. Super cool fish though I've always admired them when I've seen them around over the years.

Butterfly fish is one that will probably get in a few months. I thought long and hard on something other than the ctenopoma(s) and almost decided Congo tetra rather than the butterfly. But I think I'm better waiting until I have a final tank for full growth on the ctenopoma then I'll maybe get a nice school of the Congos grow them out a bit before getting them in the big tank rather than the smaller school I'd have to do in this tank.... But the butterfly fish can take top tank attention in the mean time and (I think anyway) do well in the 20 and by my reading if I chose to add another butterfly down the road I probably wouldn't have too much hassle.

I do though currently only have a HOB filter for it and immediate plans are another much better HOB filter. I hadn't actually thought about that with the butterfly... I'll have to check into it or wait for feedback from someone more knowledgeable than I about a butterfly with HOB??? Anyone?

I'm always up for learning about new and best ways to keep everyone happy and healthy in a tank, especially this one as it'll be my first fully planned in advance tank.

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-11-2017, 09:01 PM
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With Congo tetra I would wait - I had them in my tank (from signature) and it was too short, really they need long tank, those are big tetras! So your idea to get congos after you get bigger tank sounds good (they grow quickly). Ctenopema grow slowly, they can be kept in 20g for quite some time (I have some for like 2 months and they're growing... just not quickly, my ropefish would eat them in one bite, even blue gularis would!), butterfly fish probably could live their whole lives in 20g. So for now I would get ctenopoma and butterfly fish (just an advice ).

Hob filters usually are making more gentle flow than canister filters, so it should be OK for butterfly. I have a HOB filter on 27 litre tank (around 7g) and it has maximum of 1200l/h (317 gph). It is BIG (that's absolutely great, so much biomedia) and it can easily be adjusted so the plants and surface are slightly moving, yet water is crystal clear. I would guess you can get the right flow for every fish from a HOB, it just have to be big enough to hold biomedia for the bioload you have.


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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-12-2017, 05:55 AM Thread Starter
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I'm very glad to hear from someone else growing out a ctenopoma that I'll have time, I've seen info in my research saying they grow very fast but everyone I speak with says they take their time. And Rich... Well honestly I think he's the same size as a couple months ago lol.

Butterflies here I come! My sister told me that they are creepy looking... Hahaha jealous I can't wait to be ready to hunt them down to add in a few weeks.

Whew on the Congo Tetras! I'm glad I didn't set my heart on them for this tank! I wasn't sure how fast they grew but figured I wanted a solid school in the large tank down the road and adding newbies with the tank as a whole might make them lunch!

As for my tank progress, I'm starting to see some nitrate readings and am thinking of dumping my Chinese algae eater in it, he's only a couple inches and honestly I won't be crushed if I get a spike and lose him... I purchased him under a misidentification and didn't realize it until he started being a dick... Anyone want the aggressive little brat? Pay shipping he's yours, he's definitely fat and happy but I don't like him and none of the lfs want him either.

The driftwood hasn't sunk yet although I finally got around to putting the plate on it instead of under it to keep it under water lol that should help. I'm also getting that oh so lovely snotty looking growth on the dw where I had to do some trimming sooo glad that stuff cleans up easy and clears up pretty quickly. This morning after work I was finally satisfied with the lace rock cleaning regime and went ahead and sunk it in the tank too. Checked shipping progress on my substrate cap and so long as its similar to my idea I'll have that in on Thursday or Friday. So I should FINALLY get to start putting it together!

And today I scored a couple more synodontis nigriventris so I'll have five in the tank if no one kicks off on me. I've not lost a single fish on this recent return to aquaria, almost 5 months and not a single death... And I even dropped fish early in the cycle on both my other tanks and didn't seed the tanks, bad fish mom I know.

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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-12-2017, 06:02 AM Thread Starter
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Couple pictures of the lace rock now that it's done chilling in my sink!

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 04:04 AM Thread Starter
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So I have discovered that I have synodontis eupterus... Which I need to rehome and get the nigriventris that were intended, anyone willing to pay shipping I'll buy supplies and send them your way... For now until I can get that ironed out my tank is on a semi hold. About ready to order some more plants though! Fish are in the water even the eupterus for now.

Most exciting part for me is that my crinum calamistratum is already propagating new sister plants and at the rate they are growing I'll be full on them pretty quickly will probably try my hand at pulling and planting one this weekend to see if it'll go on it's own, I have one little sister already growing roots!

Ooo if you're interested in the eupterus there's a total of 5 though one way mauled by a CAE (also needs a home or I'm flushing him) and he's missing a pectoral fin that I don't believe will grow back but doesn't seem to bother him at all.
I'm located in NV, US. Like I said they are free if you pay shipping. I'm willing to keep the injured synodontis if it's discouraging to someone interested in the other four. Couple pics of these guys needing homes. And heck if your not opposed to a priority shipping rate on the fish I'll even pay the shipping! Just can't convince myself to pay two day or overnight to give away fish I already paid for.

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 11:59 AM
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Most of the Congo River basin is softwater very few if any plants, mud to sandy bottom. Most of the pictures I've been able to source include have plenty of plants on the bank but little actually in the water.

As for moss none really around though there is a Cameroon Moss that could be loosely associated.

Below is my West African Tetra tank along with a few other odd balls from the region.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 04:17 PM Thread Starter
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Most of the Congo River basin is softwater very few if any plants, mud to sandy bottom. Most of the pictures I've been able to source include have plenty of plants on the bank but little actually in the water.

As for moss none really around though there is a Cameroon Moss that could be loosely associated.

Below is my West African Tetra tank along with a few other odd balls from the region.
I like that you've got the open top! I'll be adding butterfly fish so it wouldn't be my best play. But I'm looking more for the shallows and low flow around all the islands not the rapids. It's based around the ctenopoma acutirostre which needs the cover for his predatory and some what shy ways.

And yeah.... Substrate I ordered didnít exactly fit my image I put a thin layer over the flourite though as everyone had to move to the new tank earlier than I'd wanted because of the buttheads picking in each other in the temp tank and they were making a cloudy mess with the flourite. And I'm still seeking the look I wanted to begin with definitely wanted a less "pretty" and more of a muddy colored sand.

If I can't rehome the lfs mistake though I may bag the biotope in this tank and just get everyone a bunch of easier to source plants for cover and flush the biggest problem the CAE (who was NOT supposed to even be in this tank was supposed to be flying fox for a betta tank) and unfortunately probably the eupterus too if I cannot find them homes though they have been granted more time than jerk face to live in here.

I guess in the long run this may end up less of a Congo basin biotope and more or a ctenopoma suited habitat, though I'll still try to remain true to the continent of Africa at least. And THANK YOU for clarifying in the moss situation. It's been making me buggy trying to find one just seemed there had be something!

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 04:20 PM Thread Starter
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And is that black water for the tetras that you have? I'd love to see a few more pics of your tank! They are supposed to be a good tank mate for the ctenopoma and I've been considering some down the road when he gets his permanent home.

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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 10:45 PM
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I've got a journal here with a few pictures though if you are on any of hte facebook groups I've got some recent pictures and video. I use a lot of botanicals in my tank.

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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-21-2017, 02:16 AM Thread Starter
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I've got a journal here with a few pictures though if you are on any of hte facebook groups I've got some recent pictures and video. I use a lot of botanicals in my tank.
I'm not but I assure you that I will be looking for some! I tend to avoid FB other than family and friends updates since I moved to nowhere land lol

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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-04-2017, 11:40 PM Thread Starter
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So amazingly I've been able to continue finding what I wanted for this tank. I've decided to go with the full 55 gallon for more stable parameters when I get to that point.

As for now I went ahead and picked up the other ctenopoma and also was notified of a small elephant nose that needed rehoming (he's about 3") so I grabbed him. He's doing amazingly well albeit a little thin which I assume is why he was being rehomed but he's coming along nicely so far for me.

The ctenopoma are great friends and have turned into quite the little ingenious piglets about stealing the elephant nose food so I'm still working out best ways to keep them out of it lol. They've learned to hand feed and feed from a dropper which is helping keep them distracted at least for a little while.

I still have the feather fin cats (synodontis eupterus) and they are pretty easy to discourage from stealing food though as they won't go near a net. And they are available to anyone that wants them also.

Did a bunch of research as to how to keep the CAE from going after my fish and apparently they do well on a high protein diet so I just make sure he gets a chance to chow on everyone else's food and it actually had tremendously reduced his aggressive behavior he's been pretty peaceful since I started that although I still don't want him and would prefer to rehome him before he goes jerk mode and ends up a cat treat. Actually been fairly relaxed and oddly peaceful though probably a bit territorial about his favorite hole. Everyone seems to give him his space but he'll let the cats close and even in his cave now. I still drop a couple algae pellets a week for everyone and they are gone by morning so someone likes them!

I got a deal in a load of Anubias and so this tank has quite a bit while I also loaded up another low light nano tank with some too. I've found a good place to pick up some Vallisneria and bolbitis also so I'll probably order a fair share of that to start growing out for the larger tank also.

I know this tank I a bit randomly placed, but everyone seems happy with it and there's plenty of hidey holes and cover. And the 55 will be more appropriately scraped for appearance.

I run about 6 hours with the lights on, and it gets ambient lighting the rest of the time, which in its location is very very indirect from a window across the room. Even the danios I currently have in it to keep bb higher in the filter aren't too disappointed as I know they prefer more light.

The filter has been upgraded to the fluval c3, and when I move to the new tank it'll get a c4 to join it.

I am looking for lighting suggestions as I can't make even a narrowing of choices for the 55... I need something that isn't too bright, but still bright enough to grow low light plants like anubias at the bottom of the tank 21" down. At this point I feel that my best bet might be something like the fluval 24/7 programed to give very brief "high noon" periods but will also allow for more subtle light most of the day. Any thoughts? I've also spent a while thinking about the stingray.



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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-11-2017, 06:17 AM Thread Starter
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I was worried going out of town for 5 days with the elephant still needing a guard from the ctenopoma piglets to get enough to eat... But he came through it no worse for wear though my tank barely made the five days lol. Filter was screaming for cleaning and my water was cloudy lol I think my fish sitter over did it a bit but I guess that's par for the course when you stress the elephant not getting enough to eat lol.

The elephant is suddenly getting much braver than he was also. Either he's happy I'm home or he's finally gotten comfortable in the new tank! He's all over the place even when the light is on. Though he still scurries away to his favorite cave if he sees me standing near lol I guess he's always ready for a meal since it's where I feed him at.

Weirdest thing though... I'm pretty sure I've lost a catfish... Should have four cruising around but I in the past two days have only been able to find three.... And for a few days before vacation I was thinking maybe one had disappeared... No way he jumped unless he did it during a water change as there's only a tiny hole... If he did though with the two dogs and a cat I'd have a slim chance of finding him before one of them and none of them would leave any evidence.

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