Catfish Mountain - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-10-2017, 02:15 PM Thread Starter
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When I was young, raised a redtail until he ate everything in my tank except 2 corydora that were too quick for him too catch. I continued to raise him (Sylvester) until he outgrew my 150g. So began my affinity with catfish.

Fast forward over a decade, here I am building another catfish tank.

Tank - aqueon 65 gallon - 36x18x21tall
Stand - home built
Filtration - (2x) sunsun 303b filters
Lights - (2x) finnex 24-7 (2x) 9 watt leds
CO2 - forced injection directly into sunsun
Circulation - (2x) korilla 240gph


15 Cory catfish. Mixed variety, all "lower class" species. (Green, albino, peppered)
2x whiptail catfish. (Frank, and Stein)
4x (eventually more) neon tetras
75+ red cherry shrimp


I actually don't know some of the plants in my tank, here's what I do

Limnophila aromatica
Altherherii reneckii ((ehh?? Red plant))
Money wort
Tiger lotus
Dwarf Baby tears
Anubias Nana petite
Amazon sword

Hard scape;

Lots of mopani driftwood
Carribsea super naturals sand substrate
At some point I'll put a rock in

I divided the tank between low light (left) and high light plants on the right, and planted all the shade monsters (an Amazon sword, lotus) on the left too shade my anubias

-- the tank has been running "fish only" for about the 2 months . Yesterday, I planted it. Here are the pictures, with updates too follow
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Last edited by Anchor; 08-10-2017 at 05:34 PM.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-11-2017, 12:42 PM Thread Starter
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Yesterday I made some DIY root tabs and screwed up, dissolving about half of an osmocote plus tab directly into my water column.

Luckily right before I did this I tested my water parameter and my nitrate was about 20. Today, after letting everything fully dissolve and swirl around, my nitrate is definitely higher than yesterday, closer to 40. Also now have a very slight ammonia reading.

I used osmocote plus outdoor indoor and took crushed calcium nitrate, at about a 6:1 ratio, and froze it together. Inserted into the sand. I put 4 "tabs" in place

I'm glad I didn't get overzealous, or ide have dead animals for sure.

---- water change. ---

Current water parameters,

PH. - 7
Ammonia - 0
Nitrite - 0
Nitrate - 30
Gh - 10
Kh - 8

CL 0
BR 0

I do believe the water readings were taken at my ideal co2 target but my co2 system isnr nearly tuned in yet. I'm hoping to develop some sort of better co2 system for my shrimp (to keep parameters more stable) but allowing me to run the co2 closer to "high" without wild pH swings caused by dumping it out at night. Something as simple as turning my solenoid on 20 minutes every 2 hours, might benefitt them.

I am not a chemist. If it's clear I'm making a mistake, missing something, or whatever, feel free to guide me
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-13-2017, 09:20 PM Thread Starter
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I've decided to try out a constant water change method.

I made a DIY overflow out of a HOB filter case. Put a little pump in it, and a 2 inlett hoses.

I tapped off the cold water forr the bathroom sink and run it into the HOB case, at a rate of 5ml per 20 seconds. This should be about 40 gallons in 7 day span.

The waters dripped over a large pillow of activated carbon for the chlorine. going to also prime at .75ml a day into the HOB case. Not sure with the carbon if it's necessary, or will be effective. I have a chlorine test kit.

Waste water runs out of the side of the HOB case. I run the waste water right outof my window for now but only temporary until I figure something else out. if the original drain clogs on the opposite side, slightly higher, is another that drains into a safety bin (tote) I plan to add under the tank

In the future I want to add a safety shutoff, an electrical sensor in the carpet maybe and a solenoid

i used all non metallic fittings, and the bulkheads are homemade and work great. 1/2" conduit nuts thread right onto NPT fittings.

I'm going too try and get a tds meter and also watch my nitrate as an indicator for if what im dgoing is working.

We'll see, my tanks not even really established yet so it may take a while to get everything tuned. Right now it's running on the front (visual) side so I can watch it make sure nothing's getting out of hand

I based my drip rate off nitrate addition of 20ppm over a week with a current level of 30, I think I should hit roughly the same equilibrium as doing a 50? change. But I'm not sure. Guess I'll find out.

I can't find much information on anyone doing this so I'm kinda just making my own theory as I go. If anyone has some good reading or advice post it up


Yes I know my needle valve is backward. Don't fit the other way.... Oops..


I'm also having problems with all my neon tetras. 1 in particular is pale and the others are lumpy. I think they have NTD but I don't know how to tell indefinitely.

It's my understanding this cannot affect my other fish, (corydora, whiptails and cherry shrimp)

Not sure what to do with them or how to tell
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Last edited by Anchor; 08-13-2017 at 11:28 PM.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-15-2017, 10:54 AM Thread Starter
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Yesterday during testing I had a few problems with my little device. Mainly the drains suck, and I wasn't happy knowing I wasn't able to pre-treat the water well enough.

I revamped the water inlet a little. It now goes thru a carbon filter, and is stored 4.5g at a time, in a bucket, with an aerator. This should allow me to pre-treat all my water pretty effectively.

I designed a better mouse trap for the overflow and level control but haven't built it yet. Maybe today.

I also called my water company and they told me they "never use chloramines" so that concern is gone.

neon tetras -- these guys are all still hanging in there. I don't know what to do with em other than keep tthem wet.


I noticed some plant growth from a few plants, the ones with the DIY root tabs especially, shot up a little bit.

Co2 fluctuations big time due to water and aeration changes... Hopefully i can get things settled before algae strikes. Was pretty low concentration all day yesterday.

EdiT ----

I completed my level control, and fresh water mixing tank.

Basically, it's 2 level controlling overflows (I think it's called eschopps style or something) next to each other. 1 is responsible for adding new water, one is responsible for draining the "old" water.

The reason they are next to each other (inside of another, actually) is if something goes wrong (loose my overflow tube prime or hose is blocked or whatever) the "fill" just overflows into the "drain" side.

It's up and running, minus my secondary emergency drain.

I used such small hoses so the flow in the hose would be high, to keep from getting airbound from off gassing

My TV sits in front of this whole ordeal and hides itt from view
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Last edited by Anchor; 08-15-2017 at 04:33 PM.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-16-2017, 01:50 PM Thread Starter
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It's been nearly a week these neons have been acting funny. I decided it may have been just extreme stress, because they camee from a quieterr tank with more hiding spots.

So I decided to get 7 more....

Rookie move - not sure why i did that exceptI wanted my little Buddy in there to perk up and I thought shoaling with friends might do the trick.

Now I have 9. I woke up to a dead neon. Unfortunately my little Buddy didn't make it. Found him sunk to the bottom of the tank instead of floating which I found odd.

Sinking suggests He might be the first fish I've accidently gassed. Are neons sensitive to co2?

This whole thing is stupid i know better to do what i did.


pH 6.8
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0.
Nitrate 15

Everything and everyone else look really healthy.

Going to drop co2 a little lower today, see if I notice any difference between anything else.

I'm ok with not getting peak growth if everything is happy....

My water change drip system is working really well so far. I haven't remeasured my flow again to see if it wandered but it looks the same as I set it.

I have not dosed nitrates (except on initial planting) in this tank.

It dawned on my yesterday that if I change things around ever so slightly, I could use the drain side of the exchanger, as a hospital and acclimation tank, and also it should preheat my incoming drips to the tank, all without a drop of water being shared between the two. I just need to add a single piece of tube, and I'll be done.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-16-2017, 09:30 PM Thread Starter
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I took the time to draw my design out on paper, Would love some feedback on any ppotential problems or thoughts I could incorporate in it

Zero moving parts
Zero electricity
Sets water level constant
Automatically drains if overflow tubes, or either tube, are blocked or broken
Preheats aquarium water using old water
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 09:29 PM Thread Starter
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Vacuumed the sand off, did about a 10g w/c.

Tested my nitrates were 15 again. Pretty good I'm happy with that. Normally I struggle to keep nitrates low. The catfish really make a mess and I like to feed them lol

My anubias, hc Cuba and the little aromatica are doing well. Everything else looks like crap. Pretty sure I can save everything yet, but some plants really didn't like the de-snailing process...

Adding a few more root tabs later today.
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