Recommendations/Ideas "natural habitat" style setup? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-25-2014, 06:32 PM Thread Starter
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Recommendations/Ideas "natural habitat" style setup?

Hey all,

I've convinced "the boss" that we have room for a larger tank in our basement living room, so long as it looks nice and is up to snuff. Her only requests are that its clean and has "large, colorful fish" in it.

My requirements involve heavily planting and active fish (preferably with good "personality"). I was thinking 2-4 main "show fish", and a small school (or 2 smaller schools) of different smaller fish. Most importantly, I would like this to be a "natural habitat" style set up.

I'm not concerned about a strict biotope (all these plants can be found in the same stretch of 50 feet of this particular stream bed etc etc), but rather I would like to get fish that naturally occur in areas with heavy heavy plant cover. For example, I see angles a lot in heavily planted tanks, and they look great, but most of what I can find suggests that they are more often found in blackwater streams with more stick and rotting leaves than live plants. This would be counter to what I am trying to achieve. I'm not concerned that every single plant comes from the exact same portion of the river/lake as the one the fish come from, but I would like it to be realistic.

For room layout reasons I was thinking a 65 gallon as its the largest I can find in 36" length (36x18x24 or so) for reasonable prices. 55's are also on the table if the extra length in the footprint is important (mainly if the length would be important i.e. separating pairs over distance, or something). I hate that 55's are so narrow front to back, and thus I could be talked into a 75 if it would afford me additional awesome fish combo possibilities.

So far I've only found a couple good examples of what I'm trying to achieve:

1) a krib /community tank. Supposedly they are oft found in areas on clear streambeds that have an abundance of plant (anubias) growth. Kribs look great, and a pairing would also give some of the personality and activity that I would be looking for. that would seem very natural to me and

2) some rainbow fish reportedly come from lakes with clear water and extremely abundant vegetation. Though this might need a larger aquarium than i was planning.

I would like to explore more possibilities. Bonus points if plants from the area (or suitable "similar" plants) are low light and low tech requirements.

Anyone else have any other good ideas? Thanks in advance, all.
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-25-2014, 07:08 PM
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if you have the option, go with something other than the 55. I love my 55g, but at times I wish it was deeper. It works for where I have it right now.

I seriously love my Bolivian rams. So much character, great color and very active in the tank and do well in a community type setting.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-25-2014, 07:16 PM
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i woud go with 75 gallon with good amount of driftwood
and many difrent anubias on the wood and in soil , for stock perhaps 2-4 discuss, a german ram, bolivian ram, apistos and a school of cardinal tetra?
short of the plants they are all south american fish

if not anubias maybe a bunch of difrent cryps

Last edited by Darkblade48; 02-26-2014 at 02:45 AM. Reason: Back to back posts
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-25-2014, 07:25 PM
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love my kribs
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-26-2014, 03:08 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks all. I don't want to do a 55, as I hate the dimensions. On the other hand, if 4 feet is more useful than 3 feet (at roughly the same volume), and "the boss" says that a 75 is too obtrusive, than 55 is what I'm stuck with.

Ram's are another good idea. Thanks for that. They moved up to the shortlist along with Kribs.

I'm not really into discs to be perfectly honest. And everything I've seen for them suggests that they are usually from more of a wood heavy, plant-less, blackwater stream type location (same goes for angels, which were on my list for possibilities, but I can't find much evidence to suggest that they are common in heavy plant cover type areas). I've seen them done beautifully in a planted tank, but if in nature they are found in areas lacking in plant growth, putting them in a heavily planted tank goes against what I'm trying to achieve. I haven't been able to find many pictures of them in the wild in plant heavy areas, but if you have some, please share!
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-26-2014, 03:19 PM
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55's suck. get a 75 and tell her it's a 55. as long as she's got your nuts in a vice grip you may as well fib a little.

i'd recommend at most 2 pairs of kribs. I have a single pair in my 125 and even that seems small for the amount of area they cover.


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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-26-2014, 03:38 PM Thread Starter
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The volume is not the issue. The extra half foot of width taking up precious living space (of which there isn't much) is going to be fairly obvious to me. In a perfect world everything would fit just right, but I don't know that I can afford the extra room that a 75 takes up. I am up for much of anything, but I wanted to include 55 as an option in the event that a 4 foot long is more suitable for some situations than a 3 foot long (I still really like the shape of a 65 for some reason.)

And I assure you, no nuts are in no vises. The size limitation is my doing.

But yeah, If i went with Kribs, I was thinking 1 pair as the main centerpiece. Start with extra, hoping to get a pair, sell the remainder. Fill in rest with appropriate dithers and interesting schools if can be found.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-26-2014, 03:42 PM
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Personally I'd go with a 40 breeder over a 55 gallon.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-26-2014, 04:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stpeter View Post
The volume is not the issue. The extra half foot of width taking up precious living space (of which there isn't much) is going to be fairly obvious to me. In a perfect world everything would fit just right, but I don't know that I can afford the extra room that a 75 takes up. I am up for much of anything, but I wanted to include 55 as an option in the event that a 4 foot long is more suitable for some situations than a 3 foot long (I still really like the shape of a 65 for some reason.)
a 75 gallon is only 2 inches deeper than a 55. i don't see the reason for anyone to buy a 55 ever

and yes i would agree that i would choose a 40b over a 55 even....
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-26-2014, 05:23 PM Thread Starter
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Lets take a step back.
I agree with you all. I don't want a 55. Lets pretend I never said 55.

a 75 is 48x18x21 where as a 55 is 48x12.5x21. That 5 to 6 inches difference front to back could be a big deal to me depending on how the rest of the room shakes out.

I only suggested that 55 be an option because

1) I already have one
2) its 4 ft wide as opposed to 3, I've heard it argued that linear distance can be useful to give fish more perceived territory.
3) it may fit in the layout of my basement better than a 75 due to that extra 5 inches front to back. One wall that it could go in has a doorway that is less than 18 from the corner. I don't want to have the tank sticking out into that doorway.

Commonly 65s are tall 40 breeders. This is the direction i am leaning as i like the footprint better than either the 55 or the 75.

So..

Anyone else have any suggestions (with evidence if possible) of fish that come from a dense vegetation habitat that I could set up in a 65g? 75 gallons are also acceptable if the reasoning is good enough. So far Krib and Rams are on the board. Any others?

Thanks all.
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-02-2014, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by stpeter View Post
Lets take a step back.
I agree with you all. I don't want a 55. Lets pretend I never said 55.

a 75 is 48x18x21 where as a 55 is 48x12.5x21. That 5 to 6 inches difference front to back could be a big deal to me depending on how the rest of the room shakes out.

I only suggested that 55 be an option because

1) I already have one
2) its 4 ft wide as opposed to 3, I've heard it argued that linear distance can be useful to give fish more perceived territory.
3) it may fit in the layout of my basement better than a 75 due to that extra 5 inches front to back. One wall that it could go in has a doorway that is less than 18 from the corner. I don't want to have the tank sticking out into that doorway.

Commonly 65s are tall 40 breeders. This is the direction i am leaning as i like the footprint better than either the 55 or the 75.

So..

Anyone else have any suggestions (with evidence if possible) of fish that come from a dense vegetation habitat that I could set up in a 65g? 75 gallons are also acceptable if the reasoning is good enough. So far Krib and Rams are on the board. Any others?

Thanks all.
ah, i see. i had to look that up again, i thought there was only a couple inch difference. my bad

if the 75 won't work in your room i think you should go with the 65 over the 55, better footprint plus more water. that extra foot of room from the 55 would be nice, especially for the schooling fish, but i think the 3' long 65 will still be plenty. and if your tank is heavily planted your fish should be happy no matter the length of the tank.

i vote for german blue rams. best fish i have owned to date. get a bunch of juvies and let them pair off and keep one or two pairs. just give them lots of dense foliage and plenty of places to hide - mine liked hiding in the crevices of my driftwood (especially at night)

my last stocking was a pair of gbr, a school of rummy nose tetra, some amano shrimp, and some otos. good looking tank imo. maybe even some cories would be cool in there then again i think these fish don't exactly meet your expectations since some of them are from south american waters like the angels you mentioned, but they sure did love to hang out in my plants!
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-02-2014, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by stpeter View Post
I only suggested that 55 be an option because

1) I already have one
Use the 55 you already have, and spend the money you would be using to buy a three-footer on a stand that can hold a 29 underneath for a sump/growout/shrimp paradise
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-04-2014, 12:46 AM
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Scientifically the heavily planted fish vs. blackwater fish distinction might be a bit difficult to make since there are probably a lot of fish that are comfortable in both environments. If you're really serious about this you should talk to someone(s) who have gone on fish collecting trips (try getting in contact with your local fish club - they probably can point you to someone) and talk to them about the environments and what they found and fish crossover between environments. This is a really interesting question!

Edit: Also get Bolivian Rams, they rule.
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-04-2014, 02:05 AM
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If you decide on kribs, I would try to get one of their cousins instead of the normal kribs. The pelvicachromis taeniatus is very similar to a normal krib, but I think they are a lot more colorful and they come in a couple different color morphs depending on where they were collected. I had a pair of pelvicachromis taeniatues "kienke" and they were probably the best fish I have ever had. I stuck them in a 16 gallon bow front temp until I could make space in one of my other tanks, but they bred in there and got along with the other fish (a school of blue emperor tetras, a clown pleco, and a beta). Also, although they do cost quite a bit more initially, I was able to get all of my money back selling the young at our local auction, on our local fish forum, and by trading them in for store credit at the lfs.
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-06-2014, 08:48 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input everybody. I like the ideas floating around.

I may use the 55 I have, though it is very unlikely for a multitude of reasons. When the time comes, I'll play around with placement and see if the 3 foot or the 4 foot will work better for my room, as it seems that either one will play nicely with the ideas so far fish wise.

The blackwater vs heavy plant still has a sticking point for me.

One of the reasons I'm leaning towards kribs is that I've read and seen evidence that they are found in a huge range of habitat types (blackwater soft streams to the hardwater coastal delta). This opens up a lot of possibilities and it seems like I would be hard to get it wrong. I also like that the major plants in their world is Anubias variates, as they are easy to grow and can make for some interesting layouts. The downside I've run into is that I would also like something smaller to school in the middle to top zones of the tank that would also be area appropriate. The best I can come up with for a krib set up (that is readily available) is congo tetra; which I'm not sold on yet.

I've seen some video and pictures of blue ram collecting/observing trips that support heavy plant areas, but it seems to me to usually be chaos of floating plants and drifting plant masses. This can probably be made to look very good, but its not really a look I would like to create.

Rainbow fish (boesemani mainly) stick around as a possibility, though i feel that the "personality" doesn't seem to be there as much like with the dwarf cichlids (new world or old)

I think what its going to come down to is the water. Since i recently moved, I have yet to test the tap water at my house, as I currently have no need to. I think the plan will be to test the water, see what its like, and see what kind of fish will be happy with that. It will make it easy in the long run to avoid having to mess with the water chemistry too much (hard water, soft water, alkaline, acidic, etc etc.)

Thanks again everybody. Whenever this crazy idea starts to come into real form, you will be first to know... as I'm sure I'll have a lot more questions regarding the rest of the setup!
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