My 38 gal Low-Tech Adventure - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 67 (permalink) Old 08-23-2018, 04:09 PM Thread Starter
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Nate's 38 gal Low-Tech Adventure

Hello all, I guess this will be the first entry into my progress journal. I started keeping fish in high school --- WAAAY back in 1994....woah. Was heavily into cichlids, including oscars, firemouth, breeding convicts, etc...but never really got into planted tanks. Too much time/money commitment. Anyway, I had a long break during the past twenty or so years, with kids, jobs, etc. But now the kids are getting older and expressed interest in keeping fish. SO I SAID YES!!

Decided on a relatively easy setup from PetSmart to get us started, and spent some mula on the substrate, hardscape, and better lighting. SO, here's what we have so far:

Eco Complete Substrate
BIO-Wheel Filter
Aeration
18W, 7500 K, 920 lm, NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light
6W, 7500 K, 380 lm, NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light
Cycling with: Top Fin Bacteria Supplement Aquarium Cycling Water Conditioner for one week, followed by introduction of one cherry barb the past week and more bacteria supplement.
temp: 78F
pH: ~6.0
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: Kit arriving soon
Nitrate: Kit arriving soon

Current plants (TopFin specimens):
Two Amazon Swords (Echinodorus amazonicus)
Two Windelov java fern (Microsorium pteropus)
Dwarf hairgrass (Eleocharis parvula)
Cardinal plant (Lobelia cardinalis)
One Congo Anubias (Anubias congensis)
Two Anubias (Anubias barteri)

Current fish:
One male Cherry Barb

Ok, so my current thoughts. I think the plants are stressed. I'm noticing some curled down leaf tips on the anubias, and the new leaves on the swords are sort of dark colored. I'm not happy with the low pH, probably means something is wrong with my tap supply. Not enough dissolved buffer ions. I have Thrive and Flourish Excel arriving today, so I plan to start dosing that. And I have SeaChem buffers arriving tomorrow to adjust pH to 6.5, which is what I'm hoping to keep it at. So that's the story so far.

Any suggestions on dosing the Thrive and Excel?

Thanks, and looking forward to using this great forum.
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Last edited by nbgolds; 10-15-2018 at 10:40 PM. Reason: (UPDATED 10/15/18)
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post #2 of 67 (permalink) Old 08-24-2018, 01:07 AM Thread Starter
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Update: ok, so I got a liquid pH test kit (API) and it turns out my pH is 7.6! Really? I guess that’s why you don’t rely on test strips from your work lab from 2010...lol.

Ok, so I dosed Thrive at 4 pumps (for 38 gallons) and the Excel at four capfuls. I’ll add one capfull if Excel per day after this. I might dose Thrive twice per week.

Im planning to do 30% water changes weekly (Saturdays).

I’m also adjusting my light cycle to full light for 4 hours in the am (6am-10am) followed by blue LED until 5pm, and full light from 5pm-9pm. That’s 8hrs of full light per day.

Any suggestions?


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post #3 of 67 (permalink) Old 08-25-2018, 05:30 PM Thread Starter
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So the tank seems well cycled. No fish currently, so I decided to add 19 drops of Dr. Tim’s Ammonium Chloride solution, to bring Ammonia to 0.25 ppm (8/23).

24 hours later (8/24) ammonia dropped to zero, Nitrite was also zero. Happy bacteria!

Still wasn’t happy with pH of 7.6.

Yesterday, 8/24/18, added 4 g of SeaChem Acid Buffer. Changed pH from 7.6 to around 7.4. This am, added another 4 g of Acid Buffer, and pH dropped to 7.0. I’m happy with that. I guess Denver water keeps the tap supply at pH 7.5 or greater.

I’ll need to add around 1 g Acid buffer each week with my 30% water changes to maintain a neutral pH.

Time for fish this afternoon!


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post #4 of 67 (permalink) Old 08-26-2018, 07:37 PM Thread Starter
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Fish additions: six cardinal tetras, a bristlenose pleco, and a clown loch. Plant additions: a huge anubias for $12.99 from my LFS, and a nice bunch of bolbotis. The clown loach is hiding like crazy...hope that’s normal...


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post #5 of 67 (permalink) Old 08-26-2018, 07:38 PM Thread Starter
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post #6 of 67 (permalink) Old 08-26-2018, 09:28 PM
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You may want to reconsider the clown loach. These fish are more social, doing better in groups of 5 or more and properly cared for, can get to around 12". Here's a good article on them - https://www.practicalfishkeeping.co....s-about-clowns

It's better not to have to worry about dosing for PH values every time you change water. So many fish will adapt to a wide range of PH values. My tanks run about 7.5, and I keep several species of tetras, cories, endler guppies, and an angelfish, along with some shrimp. I've also bred plecos and guppies a while back. Is there something special you'll be keeping to warrant this worry about PH?
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post #7 of 67 (permalink) Old 08-27-2018, 12:54 AM
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I agree with SueD: I'd reconsider the clown loach. They're happiest in groups, get *big*, and you don't have a tank big enough for either condition. If I can suggest, your tank is a good size for either Kuhli or Sidthimunki loaches.

I also wouldn't worry about PH: you'll only wind up chasing it up and down and stressing your fish -- and yourself. The fish you buy are probably acclimated to your local water and, if you have any concerns, you can always drip-acclimate them.

Sounds like a good start overall, though!

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post #8 of 67 (permalink) Old 08-27-2018, 05:21 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the responses, Sue and Irish! Good advice on the clown loach and also the pH. I was hoping to target a neutral pH, to target more of the mid-range for most of my plants and fish I’m hoping to keep. Rather than hovering around the upper limits of healthy conditions. I’ll think about what to do on the water. I may just stop using the buffer, and do small water changes to slowly bring it up to pH from my water supply. The clown loach seems much happier now, closer to evening he/she stopped hiding and was cruising the tank. Stunting is definitely a concern, I know, with this tank. And the social aspect of not being in a schoal is a concern. But how many people actually keep clowns in 100+ gallons, so they can reach upwards of 12” on length? Not too many hobbyists, I’m sure. But we’ll think about it. We may find a new home for him/her sooner or later. 🙂

Regarding Kuhli Loaches: do you think they’d be ok with my Eco Complete substrate?

Sue, how are the LFSs out in Franklin, MA? And your water pH? I lived in Newton, MA for three years, although I wasn’t into keeping fish/plants during my time there. 😉 One time we needed to boil our water for a week straight, after a contamination in the Sudbury water supply...I think, that’s what it was. Fun times.


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post #9 of 67 (permalink) Old 08-27-2018, 07:18 AM
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I agree with the above - great tank, probably not the best stocking. Sure, loads of people keep clown loaches in sub-par conditions, but loads of people keep massive goldfish in tiny bowls, it doesn't mean you need to do it too.

What other stock are you considering? At 38g you've got a fair amount of choice. Gouramis could look good?

Not sure on the Eco Complete with bottom feeders in general, but it could be fine with larger cory species if you wanted a nice shoal.
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post #10 of 67 (permalink) Old 08-27-2018, 02:14 PM Thread Starter
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Agreed, thelongsnail. Good point about keeping goldfish in bowls, etc. I’m considering my options for the clown.

As for other potential stock: I’m thinking two dwarf gouramis, some other dither fish (ie maybe a few more cardinals and some black tetras), possibly some corys, but haven’t decided. Any suggestions?


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post #11 of 67 (permalink) Old 08-27-2018, 05:45 PM
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Nice simple setup
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post #12 of 67 (permalink) Old 08-28-2018, 04:47 PM
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Sounds like it's going to be lovely and colourful!

I've not got much personal experience with gouramis aside from losing some dwarf gouramis to iridovirus and the remaining ones being a bit nasty, but these were kept by my family when I was a kid. With 38g you could probably go a bit larger, a pair of pearl gouramis perhaps? Dwarf gouramis would look great with the cardinals though.

Cory-wise, bigger would probably be better with your substrate, bronze/sterbai/peppers are all on the larger size, though none will do well with pH swings if you keep treating your water. All should be fine at a pH of 6 though I believe. A shoal of 6+ would be great to watch, although it might be best to run all these numbers through aqadvisor.

Looking forwards to seeing more pics!
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post #13 of 67 (permalink) Old 08-29-2018, 06:28 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thelongsnail View Post
Sounds like it's going to be lovely and colourful!

I've not got much personal experience with gouramis aside from losing some dwarf gouramis to iridovirus and the remaining ones being a bit nasty, but these were kept by my family when I was a kid. With 38g you could probably go a bit larger, a pair of pearl gouramis perhaps? Dwarf gouramis would look great with the cardinals though.

Cory-wise, bigger would probably be better with your substrate, bronze/sterbai/peppers are all on the larger size, though none will do well with pH swings if you keep treating your water. All should be fine at a pH of 6 though I believe. A shoal of 6+ would be great to watch, although it might be best to run all these numbers through aqadvisor.

Looking forwards to seeing more pics!
Thanks for the reply, Thelongsnail! I think the dwarf gouramis would indeed look great...I love their coloration. I like your idea of a schoal of bigger cory cats. I love peppered corys, so I may look into that.

For Aquadvisor, I plugged in 5 corys, 12 cardinals, 2 dwarf gouramis, and my bristlenose pleco, and I was at about 88% capacity with plenty of filtration. That may be what I go with...and I think I may indeed trade in the clown loach, assuming the LFS will take him/her back.


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post #14 of 67 (permalink) Old 09-01-2018, 10:33 PM Thread Starter
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Tank update: Today we said goodbye to Pennywise the Clown Loach. Back to the LFS to find a more suitable home in the future. They were great, too him/her back with no problem.

New stock: five more cardinals, bringing our total to ten. A nice shoal of five Sterbia Coryís, Of varying sizes. They are fun to watch, and already cleaning up excess food that sinks to the bottom.


Future stock: five or six black neons, and two dwarf gouramis.



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post #15 of 67 (permalink) Old 09-01-2018, 10:57 PM
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A question on those PetSmart windelovs, did they come in a plastic tube? I got a couple of those and only realized on the second one that it wasn't one rhizome, but a bunch of them tied together with thread. They seemed to do better for me disentangled and attached to multiple points.
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