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Setting up 1st planted tank - with fish in it already

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Been lurking for a while.

On my 2nd tank and have upgraded from 20lt to 425lt. :) 5 gal to 120 gal.

The 4x2x2 ft tank came with African cichlids and i added a coyple of plants and they ate everything green in the tank. I got rid of the fish. Traded them for store credit and got glow light tetras.

So I now have a planted community tank concept.

Plants in tank:
1 anubias on driftwood
1 thin Val, decimated by cichlids so it's about 5 cm high now
1 Dragons breath or something , after i bought it i found out it's only a temporary aquatic plant :(
1 small java fern
Remains of java moss

Fish in tank:
5 small rosy barbs
2 adult rosy barbs
3 silver hatchet fish
5 small peppermint catfish
6 pink danios
6 glow light tetras
4 small silver bala sharks

Been trying to add java moss to driftwood so I tied it up with fishing line. Fish have stripped it of all it's leaves in a day.

So to get java moss going on driftwood doi need to add a heap of plants at the same time so each plant has a better chance of surveil or just add one plant at a time and they get sick of plant eating?.

My substrate hasn't arrived so I can't put that in yet.

1 40w fluro that came with the 2 nd hand tank.
Would like a low tec low light planted tank with java fern, mosses, anubias and vals.

I'm thinking of getting a fluval 4 ft plant led for the tank instead of getting more fluros or supplementing fluro and led. Cmments on this plan appreciated.
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Premium Member
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1,368 Posts

Well, I can understand that you got excited and got everything before doing realizing the implications of having fish right at the get go and/or the interaction between the fish and plants, we've all been there :)

But, here are some concerns you have to think about...

you now have to worry about adding your substrate in while you have fish -- especially if you ordered something like aquasoil or similar that will leach ammonia into your system.

If the fish is going to eat your java moss, it'll forever eat it I believe. You'll probably just have to find an alternative or figure out which fish and see if there's something else you can feed it blanched veggies or something.

If you're sticking with those plants, and staying with low tech, then you can probably get away with your existing light. Run that for a while and see if your plants are doing okay or growing too slow for your tastes. Does it at least stretch the whole length of the tank? You get too much light going and before you know it, you'll be forced into running medium tech when you get algae blooms.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·

The fluro runs the whole length of the 4 ft tank. It's on an 8 hr cycle ATM.

I'm keeping the 2 plants I have in pots of substrate ATM. The online substrate order is delayed because they say they ran out of stock. So it might be a few weeks before I get substrate. Anyway, I hope they honor the order and it's not too long to wait for it.

I have microwaved zucchini in every few days for the peppermints. The rosy barbs seem to be the main culprits at eating whatever I put in for the catfish and plants.

Thinking they might not last long term.

Low tec just means without co2 n ferts right? And low light I presume.

11,717 Posts
Rosy barbs may be eating the plants, but when I kept them they were willing to leave the plants alone as long as they got other plant material, like cooked vegies.
I have not kept Bala Sharks with plants, they are too big for my tanks. But I understand they are also plant eaters.
Bala Sharks get to a foot long, and can be fast moving, skittish fish. They can startle, dart the full length of the tank and kill themselves crashing into the end. Best in a tank 8-10' long (3 meters), so the ends can be planted as a cushion, and they will still have room for their fast cruising.

12,433 Posts
On another note. If you really want to move back and keep African cichlids, it is a matter of choosing which to keep. There are those we live on algae in the lakes and they would be expected to eat veggies. But then one can choose some of the open water swimmers who live on bugs and rarely go to the bottom. Just a thought if you are still running through which fish to keep. There are many misconceptions on the Africans and one is that they all eat algae. The mbuna group seem to be more prone to this which may be natural as they do live in around the rocks where it is more common. Protomelas types seem to not bother plants.
I find plant eating may be partly a "learned " habit. I have had cichlids who did not eat plants but when I added fish who did they seemed to learn they were good! Very much a trial and error as the fish background may vary as well as their natural urge.

5,927 Posts
Not because it looks cute. It has good reflectors. Not too much for low light/low tech.
If you find you can't get good plant growth/w one bulb this will get you a fixture that isn't expensive. In Home Depot also you can find Phillips twin pack of 6500K bulbs for
$10. But if you don't mind the cost and want more visible light go/w one each of Zoo Med's Coral sun and Ultra sun bulbs in T8
for this fixture.
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