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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

I am setting up a 30 gallon (36Lx12Wx16H) in my office and want to keep some dwarf cichlids from Lake Tanganyika, a pair of shell dwellers, Lamprologus stappersi, and a pair of cave dwellers, Julidochromis transcriptus. There will be fine sand in about a third of the tank with shells for the shell dwellers, and a pile of rocks for the cave dwellers in the opposite corner of the tank. I am planning to have gravel in the other two thirds of the tank to hopefully encourage the shell dwellers to stay in the part of the tank with sand.

I would like to have some plants in there, anubias and java fern on the rocks come to mind right away. I was thinking I could have an area with valisneria creating a "divide" down the middle of the tank with larger gravel to discourage digging them up. I attached a quick sketch of my general idea for hardscaping.

Water will be very hard and alkaline, and there will ultimately only be 4 adult fish under 3" in the tank, and maybe a few fry scooting around.

Does this seem doable, or will I just be asking for algae problems with a sparser planting like this? Would I need to add nitrates to keep the plants healthy with such a low bio-load? Maybe root tabs in the area the vals are planted? Any other plant suggestions would be welcome.

Thanks for any thoughts you have.
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Not 100% the vals would make it, they do okay in hard water but I'm not so sure about Tanganyika hard. You could most likely make anubias and java fern work. I think there's a species of aquatic bolbitis that can survive. That being said, yes, you run the risk of creating an algae machine. The combo of slow growing plants and the higher temps can definitely spawn a great deal of algae. I think it's doable, but the manual algae removal may get tiring.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
My water is pH 7.5 out of the tap, 170mg/l Alkalinity, and 160mg/l Hardness. I will be getting tank raised fish, almost certainly not F1, and likely a few generations removed even from that. Neither species is known for being super difficult to make happy (not talking about Tropheus here) so I could likely raise the pH, KH, and GH a bit without putting it through the roof, if that makes keeping the vals more likely to succeed.
 

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If they are tank bred/ raised in your area I'd still add some holey rock or crushed coral but you should be okay with vals. Just when you get into the high 8s low 9s and corresponding hardness that it gets pretty difficult.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Would the vals help with keeping the algae issues down to a dull roar, they can be pretty fast growing right?

Any hardy stem plants that would do well in the harder water that could help outcompete the algae? Maybe a stand of something between the rocks and the vals along the back wall?

Thanks for the input.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
What would you consider a good pH to aim for, for plant health? I was thinking I could put a little crushed coral in the Eheim classic, and use baking soda to get to low 8s? Would that be too high?
 

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Anacharis Val and hornwort are all you can keep. Mabye get bacterAE and find some cool algae from a river or pond and cover your shells in algae. Most African chiclid biotope aquariums do this. It provides fry food and food for adults

Also, a rift lake fish needs rift lake water like how a hillstream fish needs hillstream flowing water. Dont put a fish in a enviroment it isn’t adapted to survive in
 

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Also, a rift lake fish needs rift lake water like how a hillstream fish needs hillstream flowing water. Dont put a fish in a enviroment it isn’t adapted to survive in
It can vary widely once they are adapted to city water and have been bred and raised in it. If you are doing wild caught, F1 or biotope born/ raised than I agree. I've seen my fair share of shellies adapted to low 8s no problem from my own biotope born, though they did not breed and they were adjusted down very slowly. You'd be surprised at the adaptability of most african cichlids.
 

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Id say 8 and up is what they need, if they aren’t breeding (African chiclids readily breed) usually the fish aren’t in good health
Not debating concepts. I'm VERY familiar with cichlid breeding habits and how to keep them from breeding/ encourage them to breed. Just because they aren't breeding doesn't necessarily mean they aren't in good health. The same as just because they're breeding doesn't mean they are in good health. Besides, this thread isn't about this topic.

Sorry for the hijack OP
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I have been mulling this one over and might just go full planted with this tank. As much as I like Shellies and Juies, this will be a tank in my office, and about 6-8 feet away from where I sit. So the only way I can fully appreciate small inhabitats with interesting behavior will be to roll away from my desk a lot, and they are interesting enough that I may do it too much, which is not conducive to the main function of the room, hehe. A planted tank will probably be more enjoyable to glance at from across the room, and less interesting fish will lure me away from my work less often during the day.

I will have to look over my options for a low tech planted tank. I have never taken the plunge, but have been tempted many times. Last time I was looking at low tech methods, I think the Walstad method and Tom Bar's Onyx sand/leonardite setups were popular. New aquatic soils, that I know nothing about, have come on the scene since then.
 

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Have you thought of doing something like keyhole chiclids or mabye do a macroalgae scorpionfish tank? Saltwater with macroalgae and soft coral and fish is really easy and you don’t need a sump or skimmer or anything. You could mabye do like 3 scorpions, which could be a fuzzy lion a orange banded and a leaf scorpion or you could substitute one of those fish for a hawkfish. Mantis shrimp are cool too
 

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Completely understandable. Offices are perfect places for walstads- I've done quite a few for businesses. Start up is sometimes a nightmare if your cap fails and you're gone for the weekend what you come back to can make you cry- not even going to sugar coat or lie. I'd say 30-40% of my walstads had some sort of issue- algae, anaerobic bacteria, excess organics but most of it was ignorance on my behalf and inexperienced. That being said- 60-70% of them were top off daily and water change 2-3 times a year after initial start up (around 2 months to work the kinks out). So many options lol. Good luck!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
@Plinkploop I was leaning toward a Walstad tank; I definitely like low maintenance. I have read that they can have pea soup/hair algae breakouts but, if you can tough it out, they stabilize.

Does mineralizing the soil help minimize that?

My ideal animal stocking would be a something like 12 threadfin rainbowfish, 12 dwarf corydoras, 5 otocinclus, a smattering of cherry shrimp and, of course, the inevitable snails. But I have read acclimating dwarf corys and otos can be tough and they can have high mortality rates. I might be better off with a little hardier species.

Edit: Oh and, once the ideal tank was well established, 3 chocolate gouramis would make it perfect!

@NoahLikesFish I am leaning heavily toward a tank that requires as little fussing as possible, so salt is out. I am firmly of the opinion that no one owns a saltwater tank; they all are owned by a saltwater tank, instead.
 

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I've never mineralized my soil, per se, but I used thin layers of worm castings, peat and my own compost. I've found oto to be near impossible in walstads. Shrimp do great, snails do great and they will generally do a good job on the algae. It's definitely all about having the patience and iron stomach (as you watch plants melt away- usually they come back though). That's if it does happen. I've had some lucky tanks that I didn't have any algae blooms other than diatoms. I think you might be able to get away with a group of 6 salt and pepper or panda cory with this type of set up, but it might be pushing it a bit.

Trio of chocolate gourami, 12 threadfin and maybe 6-8 salt and pepper cory might work. Just be careful to cap a little on the heavy side in the open area where the cories might start digging around a bit. I, personally, haven't used cories in my own walstads- mystery snails were my go to for bottom feeding in my personal walstads. I also had worms lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Another thought I had was to put rosy barbs in the tank. They were the first fish I ever got, 24 years ago when I set up my first tank, a 20H. I still like them, and they would be a little bigger and nice looking from across the room. Also cheap!

I know rosy barbs are notorious plant eaters but, if I could stick to plants they don't like, then they are a pretty hair algae eater in the tank already and, along with an ancistrus and snails, I might have a decent setup. It would depend on how limited I am in plant selection, trying to work around the barbs' tastes.

Edit: Obviously no threadfins or chocolate gouramis with the barbs, the barbs would be way too boisterous for such delicate fish.

Trio of chocolate gourami, 12 threadfin and maybe 6-8 salt and pepper cory might work. Just be careful to cap a little on the heavy side in the open area where the cories might start digging around a bit. I, personally, haven't used cories in my own walstads- mystery snails were my go to for bottom feeding in my personal walstads. I also had worms lol.
Watching a flat worm get tangled up in a shrimp's legs for a moment until the shrimp gets free is definitely a sight!
 
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