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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all - I was referred here by elgecko, who apparently hasn't been active here for a while but maybe someone recognizes his name. I'm not presently keeping any aquaria, unless you count a fishbowl that used to have a betta and now just has lucky bamboo and some sort of thing that was sold to me as a water lily but probably isn't. However, I kept a number of setups as a kid, including a tank of corydoras, loaches, frogs and gourami, and also an oscar with some surprisingly long-lived feeder goldies. Since then, my attention has turned more towards exotic plants (particularly carnivores - I know elgecko through a carnivorous plant forum.)

Introductions aside, I was hoping that someone might be able to fill me in on resources for Central American aquaculture - retailers, species guides, etc. I live in Olympia, Washington, but will be designing and building an indoor water garden for my dad's home in Panama City, Panama. I am trying to find some low-maintenance insectivorous fish or invertebrates to help control any buildup of mosquito larvae in the water. Any information on aquarium suppliers that ship to Panama (or even better, are local) would be awesome. I'm also looking for recommendations on species - particularly native or regional ones. Aquatic plants, too - I already have a few ideas in that respect but aquatics aren't my strongest subject in botany.

I haven't settled on a plan (as I don't have precise measurements yet) but by my understanding the room is about 14' by 10' by 8' or so high, with a drained concrete floor sunk six inches. There is a three-foot-wide footbridge that connects the two wider edges of the room, set slightly to one side. The ceiling and one short wall is glass; the opposite wall is concrete and has a window leading to the kitchen next door. The other two walls are entirely or partly open to the common areas of the house. My dad is very partial to water, so while there will be plenty of plantings, the majority of the square footage will be water - I'm thinking 80 to 110 square feet. The shallowest pools will probably be four to six inches deep, with the deepest possibly three feet if I can find time and budget to cast some concrete forms. I would like to have some terracing and a few waterfalls with pools of various depths, but also plan to have some slower-moving waterways as well. The house is air conditioned to between 72 and 82 degrees F, as far as I understand, and receives partial to full sun for most if not all of the day. Cloud cover varies by time of day in Panama - rarely is a day entirely clear or entirely overcast, except in the event of storms. I'm not sure what the ambient water temperature will be - I plan to have them leave a large bucket of water out and take thermometer readings from it to get a better idea, but I'd guess it'll be about the same as the room temperature once there are some plants and possibly a shade cloth to cut down on light. I'd prefer to not need to temperature control the water.

Thanks in advance for your help.
~Joe
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hehe. Thanks. You wouldn't happen to know anything about forming concrete, would you? A while back I saw a really good article on building a dart-frog enclosure or some sort of paludarium that had a great treatment on how to make sturdy, nicely textured walls from concrete and aggregate, but I haven't been able to find it since I started researching this project.
~Joe
 

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Alot of the livebearers are insectivors, as are Congo Tetras (they go postal for crickets!). Any of the toothcarps and what not are too. If you look at a fish from the side, take not of the position and shape of their mouth. Swordtails, Guppies, etc, all have upturned mouths designed for feeding from below. This will help them grab mosquito larvae, midges, etc.
A tetra is more evenly placed mid-face, and therefor is deisgned to eat from right infront of it.
Corries, well, you get my point.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm aware of the distinction in feeding habits - what I'm unsure of is where the various common fish are native to and also which ones are more tolerant of heat. (Living in the Pacific NW, hot temperatures are usually the least of my concerns.) Tetras always sounded kind of touchy and I never got into them. Unless someone has discovered foolproof tetra keeping techniques since I stopped reading aquarium books, I'd rather stick to something more bombproof, since I won't be around all the time to keep an eye on things. I'm thinking guppies or mollies but would prefer something native - anybody know these dwarf Central American Cichlids I've been reading about?
Thanks Jason - that gives me some great ideas about detailing. I don't think I can do the whole thing in polyurethane. I was going to go with formed concrete, but if I use polyurethane to form the shelves and detailing it should be much easier.
~Joe
 

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I don't have anything for you besides a warm "welcome".
I also needed to subscribe to this thread in case you will post pictures of what sounds like a really cool project. ;) Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Oh, when there's pictures I'll be sure to make a thread. I'll probably make a little web page documenting the process, as the whole thing will be a big-time learning experience.
~Joe
 
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