Shell dwellers and plants? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 06:13 PM Thread Starter
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Shell dwellers and plants?

I'm planning to set up a tank for neolamprologus multfasciatus (aka multies) this weekend. Anyone know if I can keep any rooted plants in the tank? I'm guessing they're probably inclined to dig them up while they're moving sand around.

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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 06:35 PM
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These fish are so small that I dont think the problem would be that they would disturb the substrate so much that plants are not possible [I have geophagus with plants- when there is a will, there is a way ]...
More, the problem is the environment that they require, water that is hard, alkaline: 7.8–9.0pH ( actually, they recommend getting as close to 9.0 pH as possible without exceeding this number), hardness 15-25H. This limits your plant choices.

Maybe others have suggestions of plants that will work under these conditions?
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 06:47 PM
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I kept a planted Tanganyikan tank full of shellies and cyprichromis once upon a time. I had rock work with Anubias and Boblitis attached, and a fair amount of val and dwarf sag planted in the sand. I probably replanted dwarf sag a few hundred times over the years it was up and running, but most of the stuff out of the front stayed put. I basically had an open sand area with snail shells in the front and center and that was where most of their activity took place. I didn't find them to dig haphazardly much at all, they seemed to be on a quest to protect (or steal) shells and move any pebble their OCD demanded.

Looking through my old tinypic and imgur uploads and banging my head that I can not find a picture of this tank, but sure I do on my home PC and can upload later. I do recall why I broke the tank down though. It was a 125 display in my shop, and built into the wall with a painted back. Whenever there was spawning or aggression, it was SO difficult to catch fish out of, and cyprochromis were very prone to jump while trying to catch others. I grew out some lamprologus, julies, and T moori at different points but I was never able to have harmony for long. Finally decided it would be a more pleasant endeavor to just have community fish in it. With a planted tank of just shellies though, I think you'll love it! One of the coolest fish to just watch there is in freshwater.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 07:27 PM Thread Starter
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Ah good point, thanks Discusluv! I hadn't considered the effect of pH and hardness on the plants.

Bump: Thanks so much for the advice Blue Ridge Reef! I would love to see your pics if it's not too much trouble to dig them out. I have vals, bolbitis and anubias on hand so I'll try a couple out and add more if they seem to fare well. This tank is indeed just intended for the shellies. Speaking of which, is a 40 breeder a good size for a colony of 10 multis? I know the area of the bottom of the tank is the most important factor to them and a 10 gallon seems like it might be a bit too small or a colony of 10 fish + their eventual fry.

I'm glad to hear about your experience with tank-mates too because I have seen julies recommended to go with shell dwellers in a few different places, sounds like that is not always a great idea. I will definitely stick to keeping it a one species tank.

I've considered shellies a few times over the past few years but seeing them at the Shedd Aquarium a few weeks ago just made me fall head-over-heels in love with them. Even my non-aquarist family members thought they were the coolest fish ever. Which is saying a lot considering how many species that aquarium has on display.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 07:56 PM
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I've never kept my own tanks quite as high as 9, but the Tang tanks generally hung around 8.4-8.6 and hardness over 12. I'm sure there are plants that grow in peat bogs that would hate this water but I don't recall that I tried any plants that suffered (other than temporary crypt melt). Might not want to try too much of any one type until you've seen it can take the water for a few weeks, but I think you'll find most plants commonly found in the hobby won't mind. I don't believe I've never had Anubias so well in any tank as in Tang tanks. Stem plants also seemed to grow noticeably daily -and that was before adding pressurized CO2.

An aside, but a poster here when I joined had an amazing planted Malawi tank. His user name was @travis, but it appears the photo hosting site no longer is displaying his photos: https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/1...-tank-56k.html If I can find some of his photos, I think you'd be excited about the possibilities of a hard water planted tank. His was breathtaking.

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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 09:14 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Blue Ridge Reef View Post
I've never kept my own tanks quite as high as 9, but the Tang tanks generally hung around 8.4-8.6 and hardness over 12.
This is super helpful, thank you for sharing your parameters. My water pH is naturally 8.0 and hardness is 12 so thankfully I'm almost in range as-is. This makes me think any plants that are doing well in my other tanks might adapt well to this one. Now I'll need to think about the best way to bump the pH a little bit without going too far.

I wish photo hosting had been cheaper when forums were in their heyday - so much information has been lost due to broken links and websites shutting down
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 09:38 PM
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Now I'll need to think about the best way to bump the pH a little bit without going too far.
I used Texas holy rock in that tank, but there are tons of calcium carbonate rocks you can use. Or just a packet of crushed coral in the filter.
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I wish photo hosting had been cheaper when forums were in their heyday - so much information has been lost due to broken links and websites shutting down
No doubt. Feels like the 100th time I've searched and searched for something, finally found it, and the images were kaput.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-14-2019, 02:55 PM Thread Starter
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I used Texas holy rock in that tank, but there are tons of calcium carbonate rocks you can use. Or just a packet of crushed coral in the filter.

I think I'll try a small amount of crushed coral and see where that gets me, I found these sponge filters with a little compartment for mechanical filtration and I already like them a lot just with ceramic/bio balls in them for other tanks: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I think 2 of these plus a big sponge filter rated for 125 gallons in the middle will be alright for now. I have an EHEIM classic canister filter running in the tank above it (it's a double 40 breeder stand) and would prefer to have another one for the lower tank but I don't have the space for a second canister there right now and I'm running so much electricity between lights and filters for all my tanks that I'm trying to be more mindful of energy efficiency.

I am thinking I may be able to partially hide the big sponge filter in a fake cichlid rock I've had sitting in storage. The rock is made of some type of foam so I think I can carve out a spot in the middle for the filter. This would also split the tank up into two open areas, and from what I'm reading this may be helpful for the less bold female multis to establish their own territories on the outer edges that aren't as popular with the more fiesty females.

So I have a bit of a dilemma now - I ended up finding a local breeder of another shell dweller species (Lamprologus ocellatus var. gold) and he's offered to sell them to me for an extremely good price. Funny how that works! I'm seriously considering pulling out my double 20 long stand and setting up one tank for each species.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-14-2019, 03:54 PM
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Anubias, Val, and dwarf Sag also worked well in my multi tank. In fact, one of them abandoned its shell for a large anubias and never went back. They all seemed to like swimming through the small jungle of plants.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-14-2019, 04:06 PM Thread Starter
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That sounds adorable lol! I think dwarf sag would be a good addition to try out, I have some that doesn't really love the amount of light it's getting in another tank so I will try it in this new setup and see how that goes.

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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-14-2019, 04:57 PM
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When I was researching plants for my hard water tank, I came across several crypts that come from limestone areas and prefer harder water--C balansae, C. usteriana, and aponogetifolia. Apparently these are occasionally used for Malawi tanks.
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-14-2019, 06:46 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you, this is very helpful! I love the look of C. balansae. And my track record with crypts has improved lately.

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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-14-2019, 10:50 PM
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Well, I've found a few pics here and there of that Tang tank, but none when it was really coming along. All seem to be when pretty new but I know I have better (later) ones in some folder somewhere. Will add those if/when I run across.
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-15-2019, 05:43 PM Thread Starter
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Oooh this is really cool! I love the combination of camboba and dwarf sag(?). I think I'm definitely going to get a couple of large rocks too, the added dimension will look good in a 20 long I think because it's easy to accidentally make them look flat. Especially for those like me who are not the greatest at plant placement in the first place lol.

I added sand to the 20 long yesterday, I'm debating if I should add another bag. It's about 1.5 to 2" deep at this point. Also I saw a few people using seashells in addition to escargot shells in videos about shell-dwellers on Youtube which I thought looked really cute and the fish seem to like them even more than escargot shells. I happen to have a lot of seashells that I'm collected from the beach in Florida over the years visiting my parents. I think I will re-boil some of them just to make sure they don't have sand/salt/ocean detritus stuck in any recesses. I'm not worried about pathogens because they have been sitting around in a box for 2+ years.

Also I am going to need to put a background on this tank. Trying to decide between black or blue. My living room walls are a peat/sage color and they add a dingey greenish tinge to my aquariums that I hate!

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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-15-2019, 06:01 PM
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Quote:
More, the problem is the environment that they require, water that is hard, alkaline: 7.89.0pH ( actually, they recommend getting as close to 9.0 pH as possible without exceeding this number), hardness 15-25H. This limits your plant choices.

Quote:
I think I'll try a small amount of crushed coral and see where that gets me
Crushed coral with CO2 injection will increase your harness but it will not increase your PH above 7 so you would probably need a mixture of potassium and sodium bicarbonate to reach this PH target. I think it is best o use a mixture of sodium and potassium because animals do need sodium and too much potassium can be harmful to fish. But your PH and GH is not your only issue.

iron in fertilizer is generally not stable in high PH water. The only forms of iron fertilizer that will work at that PH is iron gluconate and Iron EDDHA. Gluconate is rapidly consumed by bacteria and will need to be dosed ever couple of days or so. EDDHA can easily color the water red. Some other micro salts may also not be stable at that high PH.
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