So, I was looking for fry control for my platys the other night, and totally scrapped my idea of a betta sorority in a community tank, which was looking more and more like a recipe for disaster, when I discovered Bolivian Rams. Beautiful, hardy, peaceful, and personable, these fish will be perfect to hunt down those little bastards in my 38 gal community tank.
Problem is, I'm running eco complete substrate, and read that they need sand. That means that I'm tearing down my tank, preferably after I get some good roots on my new plants.
I've got myself crypt spiralis, jungle val, amazon swords, dwarf sag, rotalla, two anubias nana plants, and one other anubias I can't quite classify since I got it from a Petco tube, and ludwigia in there so far. They're slowly starting to grow roots and get acclimated to the tank. So far, they're all a bit scraggly, but the fish seem healthy enough.
Anyway, in order to do this overhaul, I was thinking black Tahitian Moon Sand, over a fair layer of eco complete to save as much BB as possible. I'll be saving water too, to help further seed the tank after this tear down, but I've never used sand before in any of my tanks, so I'd like some opinions from people who have, please.
Do I wash Tahitian Moon Sand prior to adding?
If not Tahitian Moon Sand, what's a good black sand to use that's more or less inert, and that'll allow my crypts and jungle vals to take off?
I'm hearing a lot about red clay. Should I mix that in with the eco complete layer under the sand, or leave it out entirely?
Do I push in root tabs for my plants by the actual plant, in the middle of the aquarium, off to the side...?
How do I clean sand during weekly water changes? I heard you can just stir a finger or tools through the sand to stir up detritus and siphon the water, but is there a more efficient way?
Also, I've heard good things about eco complete cichlid formula, so should I skip the moon sand all together, and just use this with my gravel eco complete?
Do I wash THAT? I'm seeing conflicting reports on cloudiness, and I don't wanna ruin my filter, or kill all of my beneficial bacteria. Plus, I'm also reading it isn't black-black....
Personally, fluorite scares the hell outta me, and I've no idea how to go about this stuff, being a newbie aquarist anyway. The thing is, this project has to be completed within the day. I have NO place to put my fish, besides right back in the tank.
9 black neon tetras
10 rummy nose tetras
3 female platys (one possibly pregnant already)
1 male platy (dying, so I'll euthanize him today, poor Romeo.
1 green spot puffer juvenile that's soon to go to my uncle's giant tank.
I'd like to put 2 to 4 Bolivian Rams in there, preferably breeding pairs, but if it seems like too small an aquarium, I'll stick with 2. I'm also going to throw some MTS in there to help keep the sand nice and aerated, so yay.
So, what do you fellow fish people think? Keep in mind, I'm still terribly new, and I've only been doing this a year, but I'm willing to put in the work. I just want a healthy tank that's comfortable for all my fish... and if the plants take off, so much the better. I'm a firm believer that a natural look is healthiest for your fish.