Tear down/Restart. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-01-2015, 06:31 PM Thread Starter
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Tear down/Restart.

So my kid dumped 2 whole bottles of fish food into my tank. Why i havent put it on the wall yet I have no idea. Too busy with work I guess. Just gonna move it up for now. Anyway, after many water changes, gravel siphoning, 2 of my beloved cichlids passing and repeated filter cleanings to clear up lack of flow. Ive finally got the water cleared up and liveable again. But its still not quite there. In the last few days Ive decided to switch to planted. I know this will require a full tear down, and what not. I just need some recommendations on substrate. Im using sand as a cap, but what is good to put underneath it ?
I dont want to have to supplement nutrients to make up for what the sand lacks. Ive ordered sand and my lights. Holding off on a few things like substrate and plants and more fish so i can collect some info.
Setup is a 10 gallon, currently raising cichlids as i always have.
Suggestions on hardy ppants would be nice as well.
Thanks in advance !
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-01-2015, 06:45 PM
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I don't know much about cichlids but don't alot of them like to dig? If yours are diggers I can see alot of issues doing a sand cap with topsoil, which is what I think you are referring to? You could always do sand substrate and plant java fern and anubius on driftwood leaving your substrate clear.

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-01-2015, 06:55 PM Thread Starter
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Some of them are diggers, yes. Persistent ones at that. But I've weeded them out, and the dreaded vegetarians, and moved them into my other setup for now. If I do sand only my fear is that the plants wont take root. Plus i like the look of sand over topsoil which will then give me more options as to what i can plant, correct ? Or am I going to need Co2 for more variety ?
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-01-2015, 06:58 PM
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In a cichlid tank with "diggers" I would recommend hardy plants that can be attached to driftwood or rocks. This way you can still have the sand bottom you want without any worry about what goes below or if your fish dig it up. Has worked well for me in the past.

Bump: Sorry, I made no plant suggestions.

Anubias or Java Fern Varieties are a good start.



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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-01-2015, 07:01 PM
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Some folks who keep cichlids put their plants in clay pots with a root tab.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-01-2015, 07:14 PM Thread Starter
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Ive heard that as well. Root tabs are just supplementals i take it ? Something you add to your tank to help your plants root ?
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-01-2015, 08:04 PM
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I've got a big planted tank w/ cichlid diggers!
inch of dirt on the bottom, 1/2" sand, 1-3" gravel, depending on what the fish do with it.

The fish are in charge. They remove and plant the plants where they want them. Some of my chiclids seriously plant them!! they'll take cuttings of my stem plants, and then push them into the gravel!!
I have my tank about 2/3 planted. It started as 1/2 planted, but plants have moved to the dark side. This way the cichlids can choose their environment, somewhat.
I have planted everything over the years, and you'll see in my pics, I've only got a few species growing... but it works. It's reached equilibrium. Tank is about 11 years old now.

Fish are, 2 tapajos eartheaters, 2 Jurapari eartheaters (and they do move the gravel!), 1 severum who is quite a gardener, a school of clown loaches, and some siamese algae eaters and plecos.
(Can't see many fish in the pics.. They're camera shy)

The diggers mostly like to dig around rocks, looking for food that has collected around them. And, they only like to dig down a couple inches.. There have been a few times when one morning I'll wake to a cloudy tank and find a big hole in the mud. But that's only happened a couple times in the many years of this tank. The swords have a good root system that prevents too much damage, I guess.

Had to get 3 shots, to get the whole tank.. (220gallon)

Edited to say, I trimmed the tank a few days before that pic.. Otherwise there's usually more stem plants, lilly pads, and wisteria.
Edited again to say, there is only dirt under the planted 1/2 of the tank. I silicone'd a strip of plexi-glass down the middle of the tank, under the gravel, to keep the dirt on the light side.
Edited a 3rd time to say, when my dirt was fresh, the swords reached the top of my tank! it's definitely time for a re-do, but that's not going to happen any time soon...
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Last edited by wicked1; 12-01-2015 at 08:15 PM. Reason: see body of message
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-02-2015, 05:00 AM Thread Starter
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You are literally the perfect guy to ask then. Ive raised alot of different cichlids in a LOT of different tanks. Lol So I've seen the effects of their efforts when it comes to gravel moving, especially larger ones. But in all my aquarium experience Ive never actually stepped into planted tanks. I really want to now and I think my spare 10 is a good controlled start. I see all these posts on how you should avoid pretty much every cichlid in a planted tank other than discus, south american dwarfs, and the west african dwarfs. But I really would like to stick with the fish Im used to. I was just wondering if they would totally annihilate all my planting efforts or if I could stop burrowing with a layer underneath the sand. From what your saying it sounds like once its established even if they did get any deeper than the sand, some hardy plants could probably recover pretty easily.

Apparently it can be done, and look good when its finished. You have a great setup, hopefully you get around to doing it sooner rather than later, haha. Thanks for all the info.
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