Orinoco River Basin Biotope Aquarium - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-28-2006, 11:10 PM Thread Starter
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Orinoco River Basin Biotope Aquarium

I plan on setting up a 90 gallon Orinoco basin biotope aquarium in the next few weeks. I plan on using:

8 bags of EcoComplete as a substrate
6 T5 bulb light fixture
CO2 injection using a gas cylinder that shuts off at night
2 Powerheads with sponge filters for slow water movement

For Livestock:

5-7 Keyhole Cichlids
15-20 Rummy-nose Tetras
5-7 Black winged Hatchetfish
5-10 Otocinclus
1 Clown Pleco
5-7 Aeneus Corydoras

I know I want to plant a large grouping of Amazon Swords, but I'm not sure about ground cover and I would like a red pigmented plant or two and some different leaf shapes and textures, if possible. Also, I plan on having a good amount of driftwood for aquascaping.

For water conditions, I plan on keeping the pH around 6.5-7.0 and pretty soft - I have an RO unit at my house from a previous saltwater hobby.

I really would like to stick closely with the biotope concept, so are there any fish that don't belong here? Also, any plant advice would be great.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 03:13 PM
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You don't say whether or not the T5s you'll be using are normal output (28 Watts probably for a 4 foot tank) or high output (54 Watts). But if they are HO, I would say that's too much lighting. An authentic Orinoco biotope would not be that bright, and amazon swords really don't require high light. I'd suggest no more than 4 HO T5s.

But I think the tank would be very nice. Those seem like good fish (I'd have to do some reading to tell whether or not they are all from the Orinoco). For planted tanks, keyholes would be a good choice of cichlids. Not as colorful as rams, but good community fish and hardy. Eco-Comp would be a good choice.

I'm not sure I get the point of the powerheads. Are you not planning any kind of filter? I think you'd be better going with a canister filter and a spray bar.

Best of luck.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 05:08 PM Thread Starter
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I was planning on HO T5's, but I don't plan on leaving all 6 on for 12 hours. I was thinking about limiting 2 of the bulbs to only around 4 hours at midday, and maybe cut down the total photoperiod to 10 hours.

As for the powerheads, the sponge prefilters will be the only filtration I plan on using, but will have a HOT magnum for situations where I may need mechanical filtration. If I used a spray bar, wouldn't I lose a lot of CO2? Also, what would go into the canister filter? Biological media? Or is it more for mechanical filtration to remove particulates?

As for the fish, I just found out today that there are three different species that are all commonly sold as rummy-nose tetras. I'm looking for the false rummy nose tetras, Petitella georgiae.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 05:15 PM
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Ahh Mochajava, ya ninja posted me!.

Six HO T5s will work OK, if you hang them high enough. Actually, swords do better in bright light, but grow humongous. You'll want a least two banks so not all run during the full photoperiod. The only problem with that much light on a tall tank is everytime you look at it, you get blinded. I solved that by making a "screen" which is a faux hood around the front of my tank. I put my moonlights on this screen since my Tek light has no decent place to mount them. And I can take the screen off in a couple of seconds.

Four HO T5s, or five would suffice too, if you use parabolic reflectors on each tube. And some lights tubes are less bright than others. For instance, the Aquamedic Plantas are a lot less bright than the GE Starcoats. And the Giesemann 6000K is a lot dimmer than the GE Starcoats. One each of Aquamedic Planta, GE Starcoat, and a AM 10000k X Two would make a very nice light.

I agree, you will want at least one large cannister filter like an XP3 for that volume of water. And you will need glass covers unfortunately with the hatchetfish, which are jumpers as you probably know. I also really like the Hydor inline heaters. They aren't too expensive and plumb in easily. Good luck with the new 90G!

Edit post Ninja.The CO2 will work fine with a spraybar. You just keep the turbulence down by pointing it down a bit. CO2 is cheap anyhow.





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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 07:55 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice. I called my LFS, and they also like the Rena XP3, so I ordered one. I've also heard good things about the Hydor in-line heaters and the XP3 from unirdna - we work in the same office. Actually he is more comfortable with Eheim, but says Rena has a good reputation.

The light fixture that I am buying is made by Sunlight Supply. It's pretty pricey, so I hope it is a good one. You can control the lights 2 at a time, so the composition of my photoperiod will be pretty flexible.

I have a list of plants that I am considering - any input would be much appreciated.

Red Hygrophila (Alternanthera reinecki)
Rose Amazon Sword (Echinodorus Osirus)
Pygmy Chain Sword (Echinodorus tenellus)
Broad-leafed Dwarf Amazon Sword (Echinodorus latifolius)
Brazilian Water Ivy (Hydrocotyle leucocephala)
Water Millfoil (Myriophyllum elatinoides)
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 09:21 PM
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Sunlight Supply makes terrific lights made in the USA. Is it a Tek? I wish I had popped for the 6x54 setup instead of a 4x54 myself... I really like the Aquamedic Planta/10000K combo, but the Plantas aren't as bright so a 6x54 is perfect for a 90G.

The Hydrocotyle is a great algae buster. I bought it for that, but like it so much it may end up staying. At least it top trims easily. A nice sword that doesn't grow too huge is the Echinodorus parviflorus... I have heard it called a "compacta" sword. Yet with light and CO2 it swallowed over 1/2 of a 26 gallon tank. But I didn't know about trimming roots or the tops at the time.





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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 10:33 PM Thread Starter
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Betowess,

I'm pretty sure the light is a Tek. Do bulbs come with it, or do I buy them separately? If I have to buy the bulbs, I'll try to go with the combination that you suggested.
I'm glad to hear about the Hydrocotyle, since it looks very cool, helps control algae and it fits within my biotope limits. I think Vallisnaria grow in the Orinoco basin, would that work in this tank? I need to have some open space for the cichlids, and vals have always had a way of taking over areas where other plants are and eventually displacing them.
I really liked the look of your tank. What plants are in there?
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-30-2006, 02:33 PM
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I also recommend a canister filter, and as far as the fish, Betowess is right about needing a cover for the hatchetfish.

As far as the substrate, I could be wrong but the Orinoco Basin's substrate is sand isn't it? Maybe you could put sand in the front and Eco Complete in the back so that the EC isn't visible. Have you seen tanks that have sand as well as another substrate and how they are divided?

-Craig
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-30-2006, 02:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mochajava_666
Betowess,

I'm pretty sure the light is a Tek. Do bulbs come with it, or do I buy them separately? If I have to buy the bulbs, I'll try to go with the combination that you suggested.
I'm glad to hear about the Hydrocotyle, since it looks very cool, helps control algae and it fits within my biotope limits. I think Vallisnaria grow in the Orinoco basin, would that work in this tank? I need to have some open space for the cichlids, and vals have always had a way of taking over areas where other plants are and eventually displacing them.
I really liked the look of your tank. What plants are in there?
The Tek doesn't come with lights. I would go one each of Aquamedic Planta, Aquamedic 10000k and GE 6500K Starcoat, if it was me. And the GEs are pretty cheap too. That would be a sweet light. The Plantas are hard to find at this moment apparently there was a fire in a warehouse in Colo. But that should be remedied fairly soon. Re my plants in the tank. Many are Asian, but a few SA. I'll post that later as I have to run. Cheers.





Three Tanks...Eheim 2128 & XP3-90G, Eheim 2128-65G, Eheim 2232-25G.... Tek 4x54 watt T5-90G, Aqualight 96watt PC 65G low tech, 65 watt Aqualight-25G.... Hydors-90G & 65G ... Flourite in 90, 65, & 25 Gallons, .... Auto Water Change/Auto dosing on 90 & 65 gallon..... AGA member......
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-30-2006, 05:38 PM Thread Starter
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According to this link, the Orinoco basin substrate is mainly mud and peat, with sand more prominent further upstream.

http://www.beg.utexas.edu/geoenvirn/...main/basic.htm

I ordered a canister filter, and have found out the hard way about hatchetfish jumping out of the tank, when I had freshwater aquariums in the 70's and early 80's before I switched to a coral reef tank. I'm now back to freshwater, since I'm involved with freshwater ecological research at work. Also, after snorkeling in a coral reef near Cancun, I realized that my saltwater corals were tiny, even in my 180 gallon tank.

I set up a local biotope tank last year. Local for me was lakes around Madison, Wisconsin (Yahara River watershed). That setup is as follows:

75 gallon tank, CO2 injection (DIY with a cylinder), 3 T12 6500 K, maxi-jet 600 powerhead with a sponge prefilter. Water is 50-50 RO water and Tap (which is very hard). Substate is top soil on the bottom mixed with calcite clay and diamond pro, covered with #15(?) flint.

The plants are P. Illinoisensis, elodea, stargrass, Vallisnaria (which has flowered several times), Eurasian millfoil, hornwort, and duckweed. I'm fighting an algae problem caused from some neglect and fish overstocking - I was working a lot on my reef tank at the time. Right now, I'm not losing plants to the algae, and I think I've turned the corner - algae growth has dramatically slowed down, and my plant growth has picked up.

I'm glad to see all of the new insights on how to make most plants flourish. Back in my freshwater days, undergravel filters in addition to overhanging power filters with activated carbon were commonly used, and really didn't give the plants a chance to grow well and consistently.

Of course, today, the internet can make up for a lot of bad advice given out at large chain pet stores (which still happens), but I haven't found much on biotope tanks.
Mongabay.com and belowwater.com have been the most helpful for my Orinoco biotope information. My overall favorite general aquarium site was wetwebmedia.com when I had my reef tank. I'm not sure about how helpful they are for planted aquaria.

Has anyone come across some other good info - either websites or books on setting up biotope tanks?
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-30-2006, 06:34 PM
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Really a beginers book, but Peter Hiscock does some basic setups in his Encyclopia of Aquarium Plants and the sequel which seems a bit redundant called Aquarium Designs or something like that?. The latter list various biotopes and I'm sure one is SA, but, I wasn't all that impressed with the book. The first book is very useful, however, some of the plants shown were emersed.

BTW, I just remembered, the Hydroponic place I bought my Tek did include four of the GE starcoats, so I suppose it depends on the dealer.

Regards plants in my tank there are around 18 or 19 varieties.
Front right Blyxa aubertii... behind that is Limnophila aromatica
Groundcover front right is Marselia which is starting to really spread finally.
Tall strap green leaves in middle is Crypt. balansae as are some brown varieties on the front left. There is a Crypt. wendtii green Xtall which is happily extra short for me!
Next to the L.aromatica is some Ludwegia repens. Christmas moss and weeping moss on bogwood. Just getting established.
Small green bush on left is Pearlweed.behind that center is the Brazilian pennywort. Far back left is Eustalis stellata (narrowleaf) Also there is some Anubias barteri var. nana hidden under the pennywort. Tiny plant middle front is rotalla mini courtesy of Craig (Wolfenexx). Also some Ludwegia brevipes and far front left Crinum calemistratum. Hard to see as its just getting established. There is also some Ludwegia arcuata starting to grow.





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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-04-2006, 01:02 AM Thread Starter
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Eco-complete - Hold the Water?

For Biotope information, I had both of those books by Hiscock checked out of the library a few weeks ago. They were helpful, but I was hoping for something a bit more specific.

Belowwater.com has a 60 minute VHS video (with no sound) "Fishes of the Rio Orinoco". What a great resource that would be if I were able to buy it. They have an order form that you have to use for any communication, but I haven't heard anything after I filled out the order form three times. I'll probably try again in another week. I really want that tape.

My eco-complete arrived. That's a lot of water to ship. I'm pretty sure Unirdna told me that he has tried using the eco-complete with the water and also after rinsing the water out and didn't see much of a difference if any. Isn't that water pretty dark? That would lead me to thinking that it's loaded with humic acids and other forms of dissolved organic carbon.

I was thinking of draining the water out - I can add it back later in small doses if I want to elevate the tannins and humic acids, right? I want to recreate a clearwater stretch of the Orinoco basin, not the dark headwaters. I assume that there still should be a lot leaching out of the new substrate if I don't give it a rinse. I think I'll run some basic water chemistry analyses (like organic and inorganic carbon, chloride, sulfate, alkalinity, ammonium, nitrate, orthophosphate, total nitrogen, total phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iron and manganese) on that water and see what I get. Maybe I'll end up using it like a fertilizer or water conditioner.

Also, I read somewhere that the two main bacteria involved in the nitrogen cycle (Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter) are dormant when in the water column, and don't become active until they have been attached to a substrate. If it's not the chemicals nor the living stuff in the water that's so great, why all of the water? Obviously, I'm missing some point, or I would think they would stop selling it that way.

Is there a general concensus on how to handle the eco-complete?
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-04-2006, 01:38 AM
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Cichlids don't mix well with tetras or cories (except for kribs and rams).
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-04-2006, 02:13 AM
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I Visted the Orinoco drainage a few years ago. It was really varied, but I do remember not seeing many plant in the main body or side channels besides floating plants like Phyllanthus fluitans, Pistia stratiotes, Lemna minor and Sawgrass. Lots of tree roots and mangrove like areas. We visted an area near the mouth which was really black water and very soft. The ph was so low that mosquitos could not breed in the water!



In the middle section of the Orinoco(Llanos) it was very sandy with lots of wood. This part of the river changes alot with the season. Wide and covering lots of banks during the wet season and confined and shallower with lots of sand bars during the dry season.... but still very dark!



The upper orinoco drains the end of the Andies and flows into the LLanos(middle section). This is where the orinoco really starts and is still dark until you get into the smaller mountain rivers and streams that feed it. These small rivers and streams are very cold... similar to trout streams in the Western united states! There really is not that much vegiation below a few feet.... and most of it is really seasonal. Most of the plants grow emersed.




I hope that helps....

Cheers, Whitepine

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Last edited by whitepine; 06-09-2007 at 02:40 AM.
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-04-2006, 02:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldfishcrazy11
Cichlids don't mix well with tetras or cories (except for kribs and rams).
And Apisto cacatoides & viejitas do fine with my Corys and tetras as well.

The Eco water with bacteria is generally considered marketing hype. There may be fines it it. Ecocomplete may raise the GH/KH a lot at first, but is "suppose" to stabalize shortly. I don't trust it much as I use to, but that's probably because of a bad experience with a bad batch of the stuff.

Nice pics of the river Whitepine!!





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