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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
for my paradise fish! (current tank shot 10/16/20)

Initial setup:

It has safe-t-sorb (fired montmorillonite clay) mixed with some fine gravel for substrate. I'm considering adding leaf litter. Same corner box filter that was on Perry's old tank. Upped the air pump, right now the flow valve is all the way open trying to clear out fine particles in the water, but later I will probably reduce flow to make it comfortable for the paradise fish. That's it for equipment. No heater, no lights. Back wall of the tank has four layers of semi-translucent plastic taped across, to diffuse the window light.

Already I am loving this tank, and can't wait to put the fish in, see how he reacts to his new home (and, hopefully, to his new companion- I'm getting a female on sunday!) But of course, it has to cycle first. Very murky the day of planting:

Next morning:

It's really hard to get a good photo of. My camera can't adjust to sunlight the way my eyes do. Looks awesome in person. In the photo- meh.

Not much better with a backdrop- reflections.

Have to wait for after dark and throw a lamp on it. I need practice.

Anyhow, you can see the two featured plants are my crypt cordata-

and the aponogeton capuronii (pictured in the haze)-

Not too original, I used similar arrangement as the prior 20H, planting vallisneria on both short ends of the tank. On the filter end there's also crypt undulata, and on the other side a few crypt lutea mixed in.

I planted most of my ludwigia repens var arcuata in the background, but kept a few stems in reserve in the 20H (heated).

I also have in here java fern windelov, bolbitis fern, anubias nana 'petite', crypt becketti petchii, several small buces, and hornwort floaters. Oh, and there's more plants to add, still in the bin with Perry- several bolbitis, more windelov fern, subwassertang,

and of course, all the sweet potato and pothos (roots).

Um, I realize I may have made a mistake... . . . I rinsed the old substrate and put it back in the tank. It was very dirty. Black and sludgy at the bottom. I rinsed not until the water ran clear, but just lighter brown, because I didn't want to loose all the good stuff... but now I realize (after the fact!) that the sludge was probably from the safe-t-sorb breaking down- and I bet it will keep doing that. I knew it would happen, but I still like it so am probably going to get a new bag of it, spend a few weeks prepping, and then replace the substrate a fourth of the tank at a time. I'm not sure if having the older substrate in there harms anything? except there's fine mulm all over the plants leaves, and I already rinsed out the filter media once yesterday- even though I didn't want to stall the cycle- the media was clogged with fine silt. If that's the worst, guess I can just clean the filter out a lot more frequently, until I get new substrate in.
 

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That already looks great! I love the photos with the light shining through. Gives it a dreamy look since it's a little cloudy lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I put some sweet potato vine cuttings on the new window tank.

It's in second stage of cycle- I have zero ammonia, and nitrite spiking. Food I've been dropping in growing mold or fungus- ugh, I hate that part. But it's progressing, and the snails are chowing down. Perry is getting a daily gallon water change on the bin while he waits...
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Here's Perry in waiting - the new tank is still cycling- nitrities are even higher today.

And here's his new lady friend.

I brought her home yesterday. Kept the tank covered and room dim- she spent most of the time going round and round the perimeter of the tank, exploring all the boundaries it looked like.

Difficult to get a photos, but I tried anyway.

Today she is much calmer- now inquisitive and will cautiously come up to eye me through the glass.

She's much stouter in body than Perry, and more speckled than striped, and duller in color with a pale throat and belly. Charming in her own way, I think.

I thought she looked perfectly healthy in the store, but when I got her home, alarmed to see a white mark on her head- not fuzzy like fungus so I think it got bumped when the employee rather abruptly dumped her from the specimen container into the shipping bag. I hope she just grazed her scales- it does seem to be improving already on this second day.

I don't know if it is worrisome that the side of her head looks a bit reddish- I can't quite tell if this is part of her natural coloration or not. I didn't notice it until looking at the photos. Doing daily partial wc on her QT for the time being.

She ate flake on the second day I had her home, and then I gave her some mosquito wigglers. That made her colors intensify! She went about hunting them in the leaf litter, much more methodically than Perry ever does. Later I was using celery for dinner, so blanched a few leaves and minced them fine. Perry ate his, my serpae tetras in the 20H squabbled over theirs. I offered a few bits to the new female. She cautiously tried it, kept spitting out. I bet the flavor is new.

I should not get too fond of her already. The likelihood that my two paradise fish will just fight (or that Perry will harrass the female) is high- although the fact that she was not aggressive to other fishes in the shop tank makes me hopeful it will work out. Also having a tank with much larger footprint that they will both be introduced to at the same time. I really would like to find a second female- the chances of it working out are much better with a trio than just a pair- so Perry can divide his attentions- but this is the first I'd ever seen a female in person- so I doubt I'll come across another anytime soon.

Also, I also know she's already two or three years old. Some sites say the best to hope for a paradise fish is three years. Others cite five years as average, and eight with good care... I just can't tell how long I might have her.

Oh, and she likes the clay pottery cave. She creeps into it, rests for a while, slides out again. So I'm probably going to move it into the home tank with her, it will be her own space.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Things are still hazy. Nitrites climbed even higher- so it's coming along!

I know this is bound to happen, but it's still dismaying to see the plants going through shock. Hornwort shedding leaves like crazy- now just a bunch of threading stems with a few plumes on the ends. Crypts are melting, especially my lutea and undulata. Bolbitis ferns look awful, and vals are turning translucent, yellowish brown- melting, too. But I am hopeful- quite a few have bright new green peeking out at their base. There's new leaves sprouting in the center of the crypt becketti

New leaf in the center of crypt cordata (which otherwise looks particularly unhappy today)

and quite a few of the anubias nana petite also unfolded a new leaf each- so I hope most will recover

of all things, the ludwigia doesn't seem to mind the changes at all- seems fine as far as I can tell

I added a new plant! Found it at the same lfs as my female paradise gourami. Crinum calamistratum (onion plant). I've wanted one for a long time (it wasn't cheap. The shop guy said they rarely get them in, anymore). I put it in the foreground, to the left. I hope it has enough room. I know it won't be able to get tall in this tank, but I want it to go sprawling out tangling through everything!

Two left-side pics I took with different camera settings.

 

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Another great thread. Having gotten the idea from you, I've been using tufts of sweet potato vine in my Betta tank and in a shrimp bowl because they grow roots so fast and I hope their fast growth will take up nitrates.

Have you been able to keep sweet potato vine alive all year round?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Another great thread. Having gotten the idea from you, I've been using tufts of sweet potato vine in my Betta tank and in a shrimp bowl because they grow roots so fast and I hope their fast growth will take up nitrates.

Have you been able to keep sweet potato vine alive all year round?
I definitely think they help with nitrate uptake. I love 'em.

No, mine don't keep all year round, but that is because my tank location doesn't get direct sunlight in the winter. So for winter time, I move sweet potato vine into pots in a southwest window and instead put coleus cuttings on the tank. Coleus also grows roots out fairly quickly, prefers indirect light, and it keeps my cuttings very healthy thru winter until it's time for those to get potted up to go outside or spend the summer as houseplants. Then I put new sweet potato cuttings on the tank again for summer- it rotates around.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I showed my fishes to each other

I thought it might help them get acquainted through the glass. I moved Perry's bin downstairs to sit next to the females' ten gallon QT. Since the salvinia minima is starting to look poorly, and it would have even less light downstairs, I took all the floaters out of the bin and put them in the cycling tank. And because I had removed so much of Perry's plants, I put into his bin a small reserve sponge filter out of the 45, on a splitter from the same air pump that runs the QT. It was a bit of disruption for Perry, he hid behind the old filter media panel in his bin, so I kept a cardboard panel between the tanks, and left them alone for half the day.

Late afternoon, Perry was acting perky again, coming up to the bin sides looking interested, when a person approached. I slid the cardboard panel out to see how they'd react. They noticed each other right away. The female colored up- red tail and stripes showing! My photos are poor due to the low light and semi-translucent sides of the bin but here's what I got- female:

Perry displayed too, stunning fish. They swam up and down the sides eyeing each other and flaring, instensely interested.

I tried to get a few photos of them looking at each other through the sides, that was difficult to catch.


The female was curving her body towards him, and sometimes waggling her tail. I don't know what that body language means, but at some point they both just sort of stopped- each lying near the bottom on their side, facing each other, not moving. I wondered if Perry was feeling overwhelmed, or tired from the excitement? When I put the partition up again, the female soon relaxed, dulled her colors and swam around her tank again, kept coming back to the side where she'd last seen Perry, as if wondering where he went.

Perry remained very still on the bottom for much longer. Then he went and hid behind the old media panel again. I don't know if any of this indicates they will get along or not, but I'm giving them a good break for now and will see how they react again later. It's probably going to be several more days before the cycle in the new tank finishes; if they can get used to the sight of each other in the meantime, then I hope things will go smoother when I actually introduce them into the same tank.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The female's head is healed. She is very interested in Perry- emphatically tries to swim at him through the glass, so much I worry she may injure her face! I can't tell if she's just eager to be with him, or wants to attack.

He alternates between calmly eyeing her

and flaring his gorgeous tail

He quit hiding after the first day, and I haven't seen either one of them lie down again. Of the two Perry certainly seems less aggressive, but when it's time to put them together I will have a divider and a net handy, and keep the 10 cycled and running, in case it doesn't work (which would be such a shame, after all the effort). Their intended home, the 33 long, is still cycling- high on nitrites. Plants are growing back, though!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
still cycling...

Plants are doing better than I expected. The new leaf on crypt cordata was already there when I moved the plant, so I feared it would loose that and start over- but instead the leaf is slowly unfurling. It's adjusted well.

I also thought the change would be a bit hard on my aponogeton capuronii. Yes, a lot of the leaves are turning brown and melting, but a good number have kept their green, and there is a tiny new spear of leaf in the center. You cannot see it, but behind the capruonii near the substrate I have wedged the last piece of moss shelf I tried to make. It all died in the old 38, and most of it died in the 20H after the changes. There are just a few strands left on one plastic mesh shelf, which I moved in here for the heck of it. But I don't want to look at the plastic part, so I hid it.

Crinum has a new leaf emerging!

Crypt becketti is doing great

Crypt willisii holding on

Crypt undulata had the worst melt, it's also in a spot hard to get a photo of. But even that one has some new leaf growth.

Vals had such severe melt for a few days it was just a mess of brown yuck. Now springing back!

I thought ludwigia were doing fine, but new leaves on top of the stems are much brighter, showing me they had some adjustment to go through as well.

Awkward side view of that

Hornwort was so lovely, now it looks sparse.

Salvinia minima doing great, though.

Not sure why most of it seems clustered in the same corner as the filter.

New roots busting out on sweet potato vine all across the back of the tank.

I haven't cleaned up any dying plant mess because I figure the decay is feeding the cycle. It's sure feeding the snails (along with the bit of fish food I drop in each day). Ramshorns are multiplying. Well, if they start to decrease in numbers when the paradise fish go in, I'll know for sure they're getting eaten.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
It's all in buckets again :frown2:



Because of this: help are my tank seams ok?

I'm paranoid I guess. It could be nothing- or it could bust open several years down the road. I just can't live with the possibility- worrying about that every time I look at my tank, instead of enjoying it. I'm taking it in for a replacement today. It means all day work teardown and setup again.

The cycle had almost finished- nitrites dropped suddenly from being off-the-chart to less than 0.25ppm yesterday. I was ready and poised to do the big water change, clean up the plants, and introduce the paradise fishes a day later. Now it will be a bit longer. Better safe than sorry, though. It would always be on my mind if I didn't replace it now.

I've done something different with my paradise fish in the basement. Every day I put a few drops of water from each fish tank into the other- so they can get each other's scent and hormones or whatever. I am curious if it would be helpful for the introduction, and it does get a reaction. The female tries even harder to get through the glass and flexes her lips at Perry. The male doesn't extend his mouth, but flares his tail while turning colors pale. I am still wondering if this will work out... . . .
 

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That’s really disappointing. I trust you’ve arranged the replacement before tearing it down? But agreed better to sort now. As rewarding as aquariums are - the hobby certainly tests patience a lot of the time.

Good luck with it.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #16
That’s really disappointing. I trust you’ve arranged the replacement before tearing it down? But agreed better to sort now. As rewarding as aquariums are - the hobby certainly tests patience a lot of the time.

Good luck with it.
Yes- I asked the shop if they had another in stock before I took everything down and went in. I got the replacement around noon and spent the rest of the day setting it up, leak test for a few hours, making sure it was still level, replanting. Wow, I'm tired. I think it looks nice though, and there are no sign of worrisome gaps or bubbles in the seams. First tank was probably ok really but I'm not the kind of person who can relax about that kind of thing... . . Tomorrow after the tank settles- it's very cloudy again now- I will test it, see if the cycle got set back any, and take a few photos (plants are arranged a bit differently).

It was very stinky, btw. I am not sure if it is because I used fish food to cycle- that always makes a foul odor- or because the old substrate is a mess (but the plants love it, most have bounced back from their initial melt) and the sticks are starting to rot. I guess it was kind of a good thing to have to do this teardown, the substrate got a second rinse whether I wanted to or not, and I rubbed mushy layer off the wood pieces. Pretty soon I'm going to get a new bag of safe-t-sorb and prep it, then replace the substrate a fourth at a time. . . . and probably replace the wood with new pieces from my yard, too.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
take two

on my 33 gal window tank- took it in for the replacement, new tank checks out fine. Ready for a lot of photos? When I first got the replacement tank home, double-checked it was still level on the stand, wiped it down (dusty) and filled with half saved tank water, half new (a lot of the saved water was very dirty/foul from the disturbed substrate) and put all the plants in- just let them float or sink as will. Left it that way for hours, to verify no leaks (or air pockets showing up in seams). Crypt cordata had a small stone tied to a few roots, so it was a sinker:

Just because I could, I took a photo from underneath the tank, looking up thru the momentarily-bare bottom at a bunch of bolbitis fern. Bolbitis always looks rather dull or brown when backlit in the tank, nice to see that most of it is actually still green!

After half a day, when I was satisfied with the tank's integrity, I added the substrate and put the filter back in (they'd been sharing space in a bucket). Then started planting. Here's that same crypt cordata with its roots covered.

Results, after hours of work:

Here's my crinum replanted, in window light-

and with backdrop (cardboard panels temporarily propped behind the tank to get some better photos)-

The layout is more or less the same (well, I moved the sticks around). I took Lady's (female paradise fish) ceramic cave and took Perry's windelov ferns, out of their temporary homes. Tied ferns on the cave and moved it into the tank.

Most of the taller crypts are replanted here, short end behind the cave- I unthinkingly mixed some crypt becketti petchii in with the undulata. Oops. Wasn't looking close enough. Might separate them out later.

Crypt becketti replanted in the foreground-

Vallisneria are mostly all on the right end, where the light is better. I noticed before, the ones on left wide near filter, weren't too happy.

Another clump of java fern windelov I pulled from Perry's bin, in front of the ludwigia thicket.

Pic of righthand short end- vallisneria with ludwigia behind. Ludwigia repens var arcuata has done remarkably well with the changes, btw. I think it's happier in the unheated, window-lit tank.

I was really glad to see my aponogeton capuronii is no worse for wear, either. I expected to remove a lot of dead leaves when doing this tank-change, but the apono only needed two culled.

Up top: salvinia minia is looking fine- only a few brown leaves

Hornwort is starting to grow back

All the sweet potato vine cuttings now have strong white roots

Full angle shots- from the right side:

and the left:

View from my couch- with the backdrop still on

But this is how my camera takes it, with the usual setup (no backdrop, just three layers of translucent plastic- two on the back of the tank and one on the lower window pane).

Almost ready for the fishes! It's a good sign, I think, that my nerite snail (I forgot it was in here) crawled back down from the water line and is exploring at substrate level. I'm going to move this snail either into the 20H or the 45, though. It won't do the cold of winter.


Water parameters this morning: slight Ammonia spike 0.25ppm, Nitrite almost at zero less than 0.25, Nitrates 20. Not much of a setback!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Day before yesterday

I introduced my paradise fishes to the tank. They sparred immediately. I wish I'd filmed it, but my camera battery was dead. For a long time they went in slow spirals broadside to each other, fins and operculum flared, shaking their heads and thrusting tails at each other. Darting and dashing at each other, circling close. Locked lips and drifted down as they tested each others' strength. Didn't seem to actually be getting torn apart, so I let them try and settle it. When things appeared to be getting frenzied, I put a stick in the water between them. Then Lady followed Perry close around the tank, pushed him into a corner. For a long time he cowered behind the filter box.

Then a curious thing, she came up behind the filter box and just lay on the substrate, facing him, a few centimeters away. They rested like that just staring at each other- Lady breathing hard, Perry slowly beginning to flare his fins. She moves around the tank now exploring, darting to the surface, attacking and eating ramshorns. If Perry leaves his corner she chases him back. It went on and off again like that for hours. No more lip wrestling or circling, but Lady definitely seems to think its all hers-

As far as I can tell, there's no serious damage. Lady has a scrape on the top of her head, and a few scales missing on her right side above the pectoral fin.

Perry has nips on both sides, but nothing major. He seems very intimidated, though.

It occurred to me later, of course they are probably both stressed as much due to the new environment as finally meeting each other, so I put up background panels to dim the tank. Perry ventured out of hiding, and Lady promptly chased him back. The blur is his red tail- she's the shadow right behind.

I am doubtful, but I do hope they can work it out. I take it as a good sign nobody had their fins ripped yet, but it wouldn't be a happy situation if Lady kept Perry in the corner all the time, and he constantly felt stressed or is bullied from the food. I'll have to wait and see, keep a close eye on them, do frequent water changes for a while (I've heard this reduces the hormones and things fish release in the water to signal to each other, and can reduce aggression for angels- so why not for paradise fish too). Meanwhile, I've kept the 10g quarantine tank running in the basement, with snails and plants, so if it gets bad between them, I can move one fish out.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
They kept fighting. Lady continually kept Perry in the corner, if he ventured out to greet a human at the glass, or grab a bite of food, or surface for air, she zoomed over there and threatened him. My husband and I imagined what the fish might be thinking of the situation. I looked in the tank at him looking back at me and said

"What's the matter, Perry, are you okay? Is your new girlfriend being mean?"
Husband: "That's not my girlfriend."
Me: "What the hell is this? It was fine living next door, but I don't want to share her bedroom."
(No, I was never intending to breed them, if you're wondering.)

Once again I saw him spar with her, buffeting side by side, darting bites at each other. They both came away with more wounds. Lady now has injuries on her mouth, and two marks on her side.

Perry doesn't look as bad, but certainly is cowed.

Instead of putting her back in QT, I made a wall. Tank is now divided.

This is Lady's side-

And this is Perry's. Yes, I favored him, because she's the bully.

At first Perry would flee, tail low and pinched, when Lady zoomed at him from other side of the wall (they can see each other dimly through the mesh)

but once he realized she couldn't actually reach him, he seemed to relax

She's wearing much duller colors now, and no longer flaring her fins or making short, quick darting moves all over the tank.

He still often seems submissive when she tries to bite him through the barrier


and darts away when she threatens too much

She leaped over the first barrier I made, out of plastic canvas scraps stitched together. It wasn't stiff enough. I think she went over the top. I netted her back into her own side, went to the store, bought a new piece of plastic canvas, came home, caught her again and put her in a box of water while I removed suction cups from the first wall and fastened them to the new one. Also softened the suction cups first in hot water, because a few of them weren't holding well. New wall seems a lot stronger. Later I was really surprised to find Perry on her side. I guess he started to feel bolder since she couldn't bite him anymore, and wanting to defend his own space, got over the top? There was a quarter inch gap to the lid. I slid the barrier up all the way, and blocked the gap now across the bottom, with stones. It seems to hold. Haven't found anyone on the wrong side since.

(PS: the suction cups are actually clear/white. Not too noticeable when the tank is window-lit, but when I darken the background to get decent photos, they stand out. I masked over them roughly with photoshop just to avoid visual distraction in my pictures).
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Maybe I've been reading their body language or intentions wrong? This morning I found Perry on Lady's side again, cowering in a corner against the substrate. I netted him back to his own side, and blocked the bottom gap with another layer of stones (he'd pushed one aside). I wonder if he wants to mate, and she's just not having it.
 
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