Here's my 42 gallon goldfish hex tank of controversy, pics taken this morning.
Here's some of the key "controversial" points of my tank, with commentary:
- 2 Airstones run 24/7 on a Tetratec DW 96-2 deep water air pump (one of the strongest available to end customers)
- Commentary: I do have to increase CO2 injection due to the airstones, but not by that much. It's a small price to pay for the benefits of the airstones, which is mainly higher and more stable DO at all times. Because the tank is overstocked and covered (and has a high BOD), airstones are a necessity.
- Plants and goldfish together
- Commentary: Fancy "egg shaped" goldfish tend to be more docile in temperament than the common varieties, and they tend to leave plants alone. I would only avoid very fine leaved or grasslike plants.
- "Helper" bacteria products added
- Commentary: While many people believe these to be "snake oil" or "useless," I don't share that belief for 100% of the available products. While some of these products may indeed not add much (if any) benefit, there are those made by companies who spend big bucks researching various strains of beneficial bacteria that keep organic waste low, especially in high or overstocked tanks. Despite what their marketing may or may not claim, good bacterial supplement products are not intended as "instant tank cyclers" (Bio Spira is an exception), and they should not replace weekly water changes.
- Overstocked tank. Includes 5 goldfish (Crown Pearlscale, Black Moor, Red Cap Oranda, Ryukin, and Calico Telescope), 1 male betta, + large "cleanup" crew - SAEs, ancistrus, dojos, snails, otos, balitorids, and ADF frogs.
- Commentary: While I will probably need to eventually get a bigger tank or reduce some of the fauna, the regular addition of plenty of helper bacteria, added to strong filtration, plus the addition of the anaerobic nitrate filter all help keep ammonia and nitrite at 0 and nitrates below 20 ppm at all times.
- Salt (NaCl) is added to the water column at a level of .10%
- Commentary: I have found when I was starting out that salt does indeed act as a general tonic and stress reducer for fish. .10% is a very low level and does not appear to have any adverse affects on any plants or fish in the tank, even the scaleless ADF frogs and dojo loaches.
- No tap water is used. 5 stage RO water reconstituted with Reagent ACS compounds and Seachem Alkaline Buffer is used - NaCl, K2SO4, CaCl2*2H2O, MgSO4*7H2O
- Commentary: Despite overwhelming majority opinion that this is unnecessary, it's my personal choice. My own personal conclusion is that I believe there is a degree of validity to the assertation (despite the context in which it was posted) that there is no analysis of impurity content in AG grade chemicals (a point that seems to cause very heated debates) and my tap water. It also gives me more precise control.
- Actinic power compacts supplement metal halide
- Commentary: Actinics are believed to stimulate chlorophyll fluorescence. It also helps create a "cooler" look to the 6500K MH lamp by simulating a blue sky.
- Weekly testing
- Commentary: I have found with weekly testing that at least every other week I will be a bit off in some of my levels. I like knowing that my levels test the same from week to week (even if there is a more or less degree of "inaccuracy" to the test kits themselves). I test after each water change: GH, KH, Potassium, NaCl, Nitrate, and Phosphate.
Since the tank is overstocked no nitrate and phosphate dosing is necessary. Nitrate levels stay between 10-20 ppm and phosphate levels stay between 1 - 1.5 ppm.
I "accidentally" ended up with a male and female ancistrus. They will not stop making babies.
I use quite a variety of commercial products.
Fertilizer: Seachem Flourish
, Flourish Excel
, Flourish Potassium
, Flourish Iron
, Flourish Trace
, and Fresh Trace
(all dosed per label)
"Preventative" treatments: Seachem Prime
, Seachem Stressguard
, Kordon Ich Attack
(herbal product kills fungus and parasites only) (once per week)
"Helper" bacteria once per week: Microbe-Lift Special Blend
, Microbe-Life Thera-P
, & Seachem Stability
(once every other week); TS Biolabs Immune-Plus
, TS Biolabs Liquid Gravel Vac
, & TS Biolabs Nitromax
(once every other week); Acquamarine Nitrate Reducer, Phosphate Eliminator, Aquarium Clean, & Ammonia & Nitrate Eliminator
(once per week) (UV unit is turned off for approx. 56 hours after bacteria is added)
Vitamin supplement: Boyd Enterprises Vitachem
(2 mL once per week + 10 drops on food at each feeding), TS Biolabs Aqua Flourish
(once per week)
Feeding: Every other day - Bio-Blend Goldfish
, Bio-Blend Bottom Feeder
, Bio-Blend Betta
, Tetra Color Flakes
, Hikari Mega Tropical
Equipment: Aqua Clear 300
, Eheim Pro II 2128 thermofilter
(each w/ Eheim Ehfimech
, Ehfisubstrat Pro
, & Seachem Purigen
), Aqua-Medic Nitratreductor 400
, Aqua-Medic Reactor 1000
, Coralife 18 Watt Turbo-Twist UV
Lighting: MH/PC Prism Pendant: 250 Watt metal halide
with PFO Iwasaki optimized ballast
) + 2x32W Actinic Power Compacts
CO2: 20lb tank with digital mass flow controller
. CO2 levels kept at 20-25 ppm.
Substrate: Eco Complete
Aeration: Tetratec DW-962
pump driving two Rena Micro-Bubblers
RO: Custom - Spectra Pure 5 stage unit
with the RO membrane replaced with a Kent Hi-S membrane
. Spectrapure Chloramine cartridge replaced with Spectrapure Semi-Conductor Grade Mixed-Bed Resin Cartridge.
Water changes - 40-50% weekly
Water parameters - GH: 6 dGH (4:1 ca:mg ratio), KH: 8 dKH, pH: 7 - 7.10, Potassium: 20 ppm, Nitrate: 10-20 ppm, Phosphate: 1-1.5 ppm, Iron: .1 ppm (dosed daily), NaCl: .10%
Plants: cryptocoryne wendtii, echinodorus osiris, aponogeton madagascariensis, vallisneria spiralis, anubias barteri v. nana, cabomba pulcherrima, egeria densa, alternanthera reineckii, lysimachia nummularia