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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have never had live plants in an aquarium before, I only have experience with African Cichlids (Malawi Mbuna).

I'm going to be aquiring a 125 gallon from a coworker and I think I want to ditch the cichlids and do an american sunfish tank /w light planting, mostly anacharis (I'm going to catch fish locally that are used to the stuff) with some anubias and java fern on the driftwood.

I will be getting two 36" 2x39w t5 fixtures from a friend's reef tank (he's going mh). This will put me at 1.25 wpg.

My main question has to do with the use of hang on back filters. The guy I'm getting the tank from is also giving me a canister filer and a hang on back filter (don't know what type yet, I'm guessing in the 300-500 gph range). I also have a fully cycled aquaclear 70 from my cichlid tank (300 gph). I see most low tech planted tanks use no surface aeration but these fish are going to be messy and I'd like to have all three filters going.

Will these plants get enough co2 with two large hobs keeping the o2/co2 ratio near that of the air in my basement (1.25 wpg)? I'd like to avoid having to buy a second large canister to replace the hobs. Also, what bulbs would you recommend for this type of setup (36" 39w t5s)?
 

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Hello blump...

The first thing I'd do is research your fish and find out what they eat. If any part of their diet is plant material, then you'll need to research plants to make sure they're tough enough to survive in your tank with the fish.

Java fern is one and the varieties of Anubias may be others. If you have heavily planted tanks, then you'll need to keep aeration to a minimum. I've found that aquatic plants don't do well in high oxygen water. In a large tank like yours, a couple of airstones at opposite ends of the tank would likely be enough.

I use smaller HOB Aqua Clear power filters. With heavily planted tanks, you can use less filtration. Until your tank plants are established, a couple of Aqua Clear 70's at opposite ends of the tank would do a good job of filtering the tank water.

Lighting is pretty easy for growing low light plants. Three 6500 K, 40 watt, T12s would be sufficient. Most aquatic plants will grow well if you have lighting in the 1 to 2 watt per gallon of tank size range.

B
 

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The 2 across x2 deep bulbs may be more light than is comfortable but this tank is quite deep so it might be fine. T5 bulbs are much brighter than the T12s the watts per gallon guide refers to. I haven't bought T5s so cannot say what would be good. Perhaps using 2 10000K bulbs and 2 roseate bulbs would tone down the amount of light and provide a pleasing appearance, I do see that suggested here.

The fish need a lot of filtration as you well know. Filtration doesn't mean lots of splashing or even lots of water movement, it is more about the total area the bacteria have for colonizing. You can keep the water level high so the HOB filter doesn't splash a lot. Some people have extended the lip of the overflow so it doesn't splash as well. A ripple is good, splashing isn't.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'll be housing carnivorous fish in this tank. Depending on what I can catch, I'd like to get a good assorment of sunfish (bream if you're from the south). Pumpkinseed (aka Common Sunfish), Bluegill, Green Sunfish, Warmouth, Rock Bass, etc. Maybe some yellow perch too but they aren't as agressive as the sunfish. These fish are similar to cichlids in behavior, so I'm going to try and get 12 juveniles and try and make a stable community of about 6 adults. These fish don't eat plants but they may tear them up as they are very active. I know all about the fish, I've just never had plants before.

Maybe I'll just run the canister until they get big and go from there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I always keep the water level high to keep noise down. If there is just water flowing across the surface and not an actual waterfall, do you think I'd be alright? I'm just used to overkill on filters from my Africans.
 

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It would be worth checking out the forum at NANFA for info on keeping these fish, in particular whether a mix of them will work out. I'm wondering mostly about the warmouth and rock bass...

If you're not adding CO2 to a planted tank, the water will pretty much always be depleted in CO2 (not zero, but less than a non-planted tank would be.) Lots of surface agitation/splashing is going to increase the available CO2 instead of decreasing it.

ETA: Orange spotted sunfish are amazing as well. You don't tend to catch them as often because of their size, but if you try with small hooks in turbid, slow flowing water you'll likely find them.
 

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I'd give the plants plenty of time to establish before adding the fish- hopefully that will give them time to put out enough root systems and leaves to survive even when the fish knock them around a bit.

If Anacharis doesn't work (IDK, it's one plant I never do well with, though I think my hot temps probably are the underlying reason...) you might consider Vals instead.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It would be worth checking out the forum at NANFA for info on keeping these fish, in particular whether a mix of them will work out. I'm wondering mostly about the warmouth and rock bass...
I'm aware that those two are less aggressive than the other species I've mentioned (especially the green sunfish), but I've heard of it working out before. I was just listing species I know to be present where I'm going to try and collect them. I'm going to try and work with whatever I can get.

If you're not adding CO2 to a planted tank, the water will pretty much always be depleted in CO2 (not zero, but less than a non-planted tank would be.) Lots of surface agitation/splashing is going to increase the available CO2 instead of decreasing it.
So should I go for maximum aeration with bubbles and everything then? I was under the impression that the co2 from the fish and filter bacteria would cause co2 to be higher than the atmospheric concentration.

ETA: Orange spotted sunfish are amazing as well. You don't tend to catch them as often because of their size, but if you try with small hooks in turbid, slow flowing water you'll likely find them.
If I was trying to do this in my 55, that would definitely be my species of choice. However, the 125 enables me to keep larger, more well known species that would most likely beat up on the orange spots.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'd give the plants plenty of time to establish before adding the fish- hopefully that will give them time to put out enough root systems and leaves to survive even when the fish knock them around a bit.

If Anacharis doesn't work (IDK, it's one plant I never do well with, though I think my hot temps probably are the underlying reason...) you might consider Vals instead.
How warm are we talking here? I keep my cichlid tank at 77, I was planning on keeping this tank around there for awhile while they grow out.
 

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If you're not adding CO2 to a planted tank, the water will pretty much always be depleted in CO2 (not zero, but less than a non-planted tank would be.) Lots of surface agitation/splashing is going to increase the available CO2 instead of decreasing it.
Could you please explain this further? I have never heard of increased agitation being a good thing for a low tech tank? I'm just asking, thanks.:smile:
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I posted a thread about this on the NANFA forum, and people who have kept larger Lepomis species say that plants are doable with them, and there are some people who suggesting that I go with soil so I can grow all these other native plants. I'm not comfortable with having a nutrient rich substrate if a male sunfish decides to build a nest. What plants can I use with plain gravel that give decent cover with larger fish and are easy to maintain? This is going to be a fish focused tank, if I catch the plant bug I have a 29 I can get up and running...

Also, the lights I will be getting from a friend are two 2x39w 36" t5 fixtures that will be placed end to end on the 6' tank. Is this too much light to use without added carbon?
 

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I might try the light's at eight hours for photoperiod. *If algae begins to bloom, then reducing the photoperiod to six hours, or raising the light fixture may help.Can also place piece of window screen (not nylon), between light fixture and glass top to reduce intensity, unless the tank is to be open topped.
Problem might be (in my view) procuring enough plant's from the outset to heavily plant the tank and thus make it tougher for algae to thrive.
Before I placed caister on 80 gallon low tech tank, I used a couple Aquaclear 70's and kept water level high enough that there was no water fall effect, but slight rippling without breaking the surface,plant's did well.
Just some thought's.
 

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I'm not comfortable with having a nutrient rich substrate if a male sunfish decides to build a nest. What plants can I use with plain gravel that give decent cover with larger fish and are easy to maintain?

If you use a pea gravel substrate over the soil and keep it densely planted, then provide an open sandy (with no soil beneath) area you should be able to avoid this problem. These species will almost always prefer the open sandy bed to a planted rocky one.
 

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Problem might be (in my view) procuring enough plant's from the outset to heavily plant the tank and thus make it tougher for algae to thrive.

The beauty of keeping these kinds of native species is that you can procure plants from the same habitat that you're collecting your fish. There are tons of wonderful plants that can be utilized in the tank.
 

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The beauty of keeping these kinds of native species is that you can procure plants from the same habitat that you're collecting your fish. There are tons of wonderful plants that can be utilized in the tank.
Procurring some native species can be frowned upon by local conservation dept, and is a very good way to introduce unwanted parasites like fish lice,anchorworms,planaria,gill flukes,etc.
Would maybe carefully treat plant's gathered from the lakes,streams before introducing them to the aquarium.
One could make the assumption that wild caught species may already be harboring these paraistes but Is not something i would want in my tanks.
 

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Also, the lights I will be getting from a friend are two 2x39w 36" t5 fixtures that will be placed end to end on the 6' tank. Is this too much light to use without added carbon?
I think it's workable. Plan to put the faster-growing plants (like stems) directly under the bulbs and the slower-growing plants (anubias, java, crypts, etc) further away and this should help with algae control.
 

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One could make the assumption that wild caught species may already be harboring these paraistes but Is not something i would want in my tanks.

If your taking fish from the same water as you get the plants, its more than an assumption, its a near certainty. plus the species in question are unlikely to get stressed through the acclimation process.

Conservation might be an issue but many of the dominant species in that area are so ridiculously common that I can't imagine it being an issue. Doesn't hurt to make a few phone calls before gathering them up though.
 

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If your taking fish from the same water as you get the plants, its more than an assumption, its a near certainty. plus the species in question are unlikely to get stressed through the acclimation process.

Conservation might be an issue but many of the dominant species in that area are so ridiculously common that I can't imagine it being an issue. Doesn't hurt to make a few phone calls before gathering them up though.
Yes,I agree with respect to parasites that may already be present in fishes.
Is unclear to me at what rate parasites could re-produce, and or become problematic for fishes health in closed system.
Would much prefer fishes like.. Acara,Firemouth,Keyhole ,Nanacara,Multispinosis,all of which cause little damage to plant's (with consideration), but that's just me.
Have kept bluegill ,goldfish,bullhead's ,in galvanized stock tank's to use as bait for "Flathead" and "Blue cat's" and they are hardy with proper care.
never tried them in an aquarium .
In any event, I wish much luck with the endeavor.
 
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