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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys,

I've been a lurker for quite some time and really love watching the progress of your tanks. So I finally got the courage to signup and post my current setup. Hopefully I can get some advice on how I can better my current situation.

I have a 55g tank that has been up and running for about 5 years now. It has had plants before but they would always just die off and be replaced with new ones. This was due to insufficient lighting and not keeping an eye on the water parameters.

So I finally took the plunge and got the bare essentials to hopefully keep my plants alive, and potentially allow them to grow.

Stock Overview:

Here's a breakdown of what I'm working with...

Tank: 55g





Filters: 2x Whisper 40i's

Lighting: 2x Flora Sun 25 Watt Bulbs + Dual Lamp T5 HO @ 78 Watts



Suppliments:
Flourish Excel + Big Als Multi Purpose Plant Food Supplement



Fish:

1x Polypterus Senegalus (This guy was paralyzed from his front fins back, but somehow is recovering and eating like crazy)

3x Electric Yellow Cichlid

1x Bolivian Ram Cichlid

1x Demasons Cichlid

1x Unknown Cichlid (white body with blue stripes)

Found This Photo Online, this is the guy that gets picked on, anybody know the species?



1x Vampire Shrimp

4x Mystery Snails

I've had alot of problems with the Demasons picking on the unknown cichlid so I think i'm going to take him back in the next few days so that there is peace in the tank.

I didn't think the Polyp was going to make it so I got the cichlids but now that he's getting better I'm going to have to make a choice on what to keep or else everything will become food when this guy gets bigger.

The Vampire Shrimp has been around for 2 years and he loves to hang out in his 2 caves fanning for food all day.

Plants: I have no clue, I hope to get some good pictures tommorow and hopefully you guys can help me identify them. Then we can figure out what will grow well and what I probably should take out.

Substrate: Unfortunately I was not aware that there are special substrates for helping plants grow more efficiently until it was too late. Hopefully this won't be a huge hurdle, but I'd love to get your opinions on that.

Weekly Routine:

Daily: 1 Cap full of Flourish Excel + Lights on From 10am to 9pm

Every Thursday: 50% Water Change + 3 Cap Fulls of Big Als Multi Purpose Plant Food Supplement.

There's not much else I do to the tank, I also gravel vac with the 50% change and top off the tank every few days because I'm working with no top.

I would love to know what can be added or changed to my routine & equipment to help improve the well being of my tank and stock.

I will get some pictures of all the plants tomorrow morning and hopefully we can figure out what were working with. I'm looking forward to sharing my newly formed passion and hopefully I can post some successful progress shots over the next few months.

Thanks for looking,
Mario
 

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Honeycomb Master
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Welcome to TPT, Mario!
I think this is the first time i've seen someone donate to a forum before they've even posted a few times. Very cool! You must be pretty dedicated.

Plants: I have no clue, I hope to get some good pictures tommorow and hopefully you guys can help me identify them. Then we can figure out what will grow well and what I probably should take out.
By looking at the pictures, it looks like you have a few "non-aquatic" plants. The dark green bushy looking ones (4 of them?) in front of the driftwood look to be non aquatic. Did these come in a tube without water? Unfortunately, some house plants are advertised as being aquatics. A closer picture would help identify it though, just to make sure it's a non-aquatic.

Substrate: Unfortunately I was not aware that there are special substrates for helping plants grow more efficiently until it was too late. Hopefully this won't be a huge hurdle, but I'd love to get your opinions on that.
It's incredible what a good substrate will do, so i highly recommend purchasing some that is specially made for aquatic plants. This doesn't mean you have to take all of your current gravel out - you can either put a layer over it, mix some in (as long as the colors are similar.. if it's like black and white, then don't do it :flick: ) or just put it where you're going to place plants. Eco-Complete, ADA substrates, and flourite have all gotten mostly positive reviews here.


Do you have any problems with the cichlids eating the plants? I had electric yellows a while back, and they devoured all my plants. Maybe i just had vegetarian fish. :hihi:

Anyway, i hope this helped a little - and good luck!

AzFishKid
 

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Discussion Starter #3
AzFishKid : Thanks for the reply.

It's sad to hear that some of the plants may be non aquatic, unfortunately they were all sold as water plants. I don't know if they did this on accident or purposely. I'll make sure to remove the non aquatic ones as soon as we can identify them.

Thank you for the suggestion on the substrate, I gave it some thought and it does seem like a good idea to mix some in with my current gravel. Do you know of any good places online where I might be able to purchase some lighter colored variations of Eco-Complete, ADA substrates, or flourite?

As for the cichlids they dont seem to bother the plants at all. The only plant that has some trouble with the fish is the Bold #4 Below. They like to swim inside of it for some reason.

Here are the pictures as promised to help figure out what I'm dealing with, forgive the quality, I'm still trying to figure out the whole water photography thing:







Regarding #03, is the grass int he middle the same as the outer ones? You may also be able to see there is a thinner longer grass behind the wood.















I can't believe how easy it is to get sidetracked when taking photos. You'll be taking a pic of a plant and a fish will swim by and for the next 20 minutes you'll chase it around the tank trying to get a clear shot of it lol

Here's a couple of in focus shots I managed to get while being distracted:





Other Questions:

1. I noticed some of the plants like #06 are long stems held in a bunch. Are these better to separate or keep held together?

2. Similar to the one above #04 and #09 are these better kept int he big bunch or cut them into smaller pieces and plant throughout the tank?

3. Do you guys recommend any online retailers for plants? I'm mainly looking for some nice looking mosses that would stay fairly low and spread nicely throughout the tank.

If anybody has anything else to add I'm always looking for ways to improve the tank.

Thanks for looking,
Mario
 

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I hate to be the guy with the bad news, but planted tanks and Cichlids don't go together real well because of the special parameters and substrate needed for Cichlids. If you want to start a planted tank, I believe you are going to need to switch your fish species or just stick with a cichlid tank without plants. If this is wrong, please, someone correct me.
 

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I hate to be the guy with the bad news, but planted tanks and Cichlids don't go together real well because of the special parameters and substrate needed for Cichlids. If you want to start a planted tank, I believe you are going to need to switch your fish species or just stick with a cichlid tank without plants. If this is wrong, please, someone correct me.
It has been done very successfully.
 

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It really depends on the species of cichlids, and the plant choice too.
I personally wouldn't recommend doing any of the Rift Lake fish in a SA parametered tank. Most Rift lake fish will require a high pH and gH, which some plants don't like.
Also, some of the Mbuna from Lake Malawi will eat/nibble the softer and finer leaved plants, and are notorious for up-rooting them.

The only problem I have with people is when they do a South American set up and have the Rift Lk fish in there because 'they're colourful'.

Good plant choices for keeping in a tank with some Rift Lake cichlids include Anubias, Java fern, and vals.

Also, not sure how long that wood has been used, but if its fairly new, it will leach tannins in the water, lowering and acidifying the water, which is more than fine for most tetra species and the like, but would be unsuitable for the Africans. If its been used for the five years already like you've said your tank has been up and going, than it should be fine!
 

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Honeycomb Master
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1. I noticed some of the plants like #06 are long stems held in a bunch. Are these better to separate or keep held together?
You should plant each stem individually. They'll look at lot better when they grow if you plant them one by one.

2. Similar to the one above #04 and #09 are these better kept int he big bunch or cut them into smaller pieces and plant throughout the tank?
I have never attempted to plant a carpet plant like those (#4 looks like glosso, #9 HC maybe?), but i heard it fills in better if you plant each little tiny stem one by one using tweezers. People have had success planting the whole clump together as well.

3. Do you guys recommend any online retailers for plants? I'm mainly looking for some nice looking mosses that would stay fairly low and spread nicely throughout the tank.
Most online plant stores in the US won't ship to canada because of laws and regulations. You may have to find a LFS (local fish store) or an online store that is based in canada.

Regarding #03, is the grass int he middle the same as the outer ones? You may also be able to see there is a thinner longer grass behind the wood.
Looks like it.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the clarification guys.

I think you guys have convinced me to take back all the cichlids and just leave my birchir if it's going to be that difficult.

The wood has been around since I got the tank in 04 so it should be fine. Thanks for the heads up though.

If anybody could help me figure out if some of my plants are non aquatic so I can remove them I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks,
Mario
 

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Honeycomb Master
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Fortunately, it looks like all of your plants are true aquatics except for #3.

I think you're going to be much better off having plant-friendly fish. So you're making the right decision imo.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
AzFishKid : Thanks! Your a huge help :D

I took #06 and planted them individually. Hopefully they get healthy and begin to grow.

I also decided to leave #4 and #9 in a bunch, I'll save myself a headache from trying to separate them.

I have removed all of #03. I noticed the land plants have thick roots, where water plants have thin stringy roots.

I went to my local lfs and they don't have any Eco-Complete, ADA substrates, or fluorite. Does anybody know any CDN places where I may be able to grab some?

Are plants able to grow without the special substrates? I'd really like to get some but I gotta find it first.

Thanks again,
Mario
 

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Big Al's has the substrate you'll need. I used flourite and gravel mix in most of my tanks and love it. It is sometimes difficult to plant thinner stems, but overall it is a good choice.
 

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Are plants able to grow without the special substrates? I'd really like to get some but I gotta find it first.
Plants that suck in nutrients by their roots honestly won't do very well in just normal gravel. Plants such as java ferns, mosses, and anubias are a few plants that are usually tied to driftwood because they don't suck in nutrients by their roots (to my knowledge).

I forgot about another option - you could buy root tabs. They're basically little pill-shaped things that you shove into the gravel that provide nutrients to the plants. I'm not sure if this would take the place of a plant substrate though.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
dewalltheway : Thanks for the link. I will definitely use that on my next tank, but it looks like it would be very messy to try and apply it to my tank without doing a ton of work.

sewingalot : Thats great news, thank you!

I just placed an order for 2xSeachem Fluorite 7 Kg. hopefully it'll be enough.

AzFishKid : Thanks again, hopefully now I'm on my way to getting some plants to grow. It always seems like there is something else lol
http://bigalsonline.ca/edealinv/ser...664&siId=1317251&catParentID=18061&scId=18061
 

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Thanks again, hopefully now I'm on my way to getting some plants to grow. It always seems like there is something else lol
Unfortunately, this is a very costly hobby and it does seem like there's always something else that you need to get.

Just ask Craigthor, i'm sure he's spent a couple grand on his little ADA glass tanks. :hihi:
 

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You're off to a good start. It's probably worth getting some root tabs, and if you've got the money pressurized CO2 would be great.

As for the fish, I don't know how the african cichlids will do. I'm not much of a fan of them anyway; the senegal is great though, there are several other species from the same genus (Polypterus) that stay fairly small. Leopard ctenopomas are very nice as well and come from the same region.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
FSM : Thanks, everybody here is making the process much smoother.

If the Seachem Fluorite isn't enough I'll grab some root tabs as well. I don't really have much room for a co2 tank around the room right now but hopefully one day I can find a system small enough that I can use.

I have decided I'm going to return the cichlids and stick with the poly for now. I just checked out Leopard ctenopomas and these are some amazing looking fish. I've never seen one for sale before but I will definitely do some more research on them and see if I can find some.

Thanks,
Mario
 

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I would send you some plant trimmings, but it's not worth dealing with the laws and regulations lol. I don't even know if i'd be able to.

Hope you got all your questions answered - don't be afraid to ask. We're all here to help each other.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
AzFishKid : haha thanks, yeah the CDN customs and laws can be a pain. I'm sure there are some locals I can find on here that may be willing to sell some trimmings.

The next step will be to receive the fluorite and return the cichlids. I'll post another update once that's all done.

If anybody has anymore advice I'm always open to suggestions.

Thanks,
Mario
 
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