36 Bowfront build: going fresh after years of salty experience!

FishWife

Member
My family always had freshwater tanks when I was growing up in suburbia, along with the family dog.

So, in 55 years, I've moved and had changing seasons of life, etc. and in that time, my husband and I have been avid reef keepers (I mean TOTALLY into it). Where we are now, we know better than to even TRY a reef tank, but I'm pining for fishies. So, for Christmas, I bought me a little tank and I've gone all nostalgic. Returning to my roots, I'm going to make this a freshie!

First: yes. I know all about cycling and water changes and quarantine tanks and all that. (Not to sound arrogant; just saving you the questions.) I'm going overboard with filtration (canister Marineland) and will DEF have to upgrade the lighting from the cheapo fixture that came with the tank, and I have a lot to learn about freshwater plants, but that's not my first question.

My first question is this: how does this look for a FISH/INVERT list? Too many; won't get along...? That kind of question. Thanks in advance for answering!

Fish that I like the looks of... but will they coexist well? All are peaceful...

(Melanotaenia boesemani) BoesemanI rainbowfish
kuhlI loach
GuentherI Killifish also known as the Redtail notho
male betta
dwarf gouramI pair
nanus cory cat (or two?)
neon tetras (small school)
fancy guppies (just males? pairs/triplets?

Inverts:
shrimps
snails
 

junebug

Member
Please, for the sake of everyone's sanity, don't attempt to put a betta in a tank with DGs, and don't attempt to put DGs in a tank together. You will just end up with dead fish Also a betta + male guppies is a very bad idea.

Both Corydoras and KuhlI loaches are schooling fish and are going to need big schools. I'd stick with one or the other in this size tank (kuhlis for me but maybe you like cories better)

You're also going to want to look very hard at the water chemistry requirements for the fish you want to keep. Guppies for instance, like water a bit on the hard side. I keep mine in my tap water, which has pH around 8 and they love it. I'm not sure about the killifish, but the rest of the fish you've listed like neutral to soft water.

Also just an FYI, if you have shrimp in with anabantoids (betta and DG) or badids, your shrimp are going to get eaten very quickly.
 
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FishWife

Member
See, this is why I love the Internet.

Questions:

1. Don't put dwarf Gouramis (assume that's DG?) in TOGETHER? With each other? Just clarifying if that's what you meant. If it is, why not, please?

2. Nods on water chemistry; it's part of the reason I asked... THANKS!

3. About corys needing to school. When I was a kid we had one or two in our tanks as bottom feeders. Has something changed over the years?

Also: are all Gouramis created equal in terms of temperament? I read how peaceful they are everywhere...

AND: What community fish ARE ok with shrimps?

OK: :-X I'll wait for responses before posting again.
 

Kiara1125

Member
junebug, don't be so quick to speak for everyone else. Setups like these worked out great for me many times.

I've had male and female bettas in with dwarf AND pearl gouramis and there were never any problems. Same with the guppies. My male bettas [never had females with them] never attacked my guppies. I think a tank of that size should be fine for there to be no conflicts. As for the kuhlI loaches, I bought several and now there's one left who has lived alone for 8 years. She's big and she's happy - she's always out and about looking for food.

The shrimp should be fine. I had red cherry shrimp with my 8 female bettas in a 20gL along with some in my 10 gallon divided betta tank for males. They never had any problems, even baby shrimp survived.

removed

People are too quick to judge that bettas are too aggressive for anything else - that's not the case. Each fish is different and I've had some extremely nice bettas.

I don't know much about the killifish, but they should be ok as long as they're not the ones that get to be pretty big.

In general, the only thing I'd look out for is other fish eating the shrimp because it can happen. I had a molly that killed the shrimp that was in my betta tank. I mean, you would never expect that. I've never had problems with anabantoids and shrimp, heck even angelfish were fine in my experience.

Good luck on your tank! I would ove to see some pictures once you get the stocking in and arranged.
 

junebug

Member
FishWife said:
See, this is why I love the Internet.

Questions:

1. Don't put dwarf Gouramis (assume that's DG?) in TOGETHER? With each other? Just clarifying if that's what you meant. If it is, why not, please?

2. Nods on water chemistry; it's part of the reason I asked... THANKS!

3. About corys needing to school. When I was a kid we had one or two in our tanks as bottom feeders. Has something changed over the years?
Dwarf Gouramis (yes those are the DGs) are quite aggressive and don't traditionally get along with each other, or other like fish (including bettas. same family). It's not recommended to keep more than one in a tank unless you're fairly experienced with this type of fish. I wouldn't suggest it since you say you haven't kept freshwater fish for a while. Also due to their aggressive nature, they are on the list of fish I'd never keep with a betta.

I've been keeping bettas for 15+ years and I can honestly say that they do work in many community settings. But not with fish that are prone to nipping, biting, or otherwise attacking other fish.

As for Cories, they have always been schooling fish I'm guessing someone told you a bad thing at the pet store when you were a kid

Regarding gouramis, there are several peaceful species (along with the ones that eat anything that will fit in their mouth lol). Honey gouramis, for instance, are an excellent choice for a community tank, and they are just plain lovely fish.

Most fish will eat shrimplets in the home aquarium. Your adults will be able to survive most fish though As long as you're not too concerned about reduced baby survival rate, you should be okay keeping them with the majority of fish except the anabantoid family.
 
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FishWife

Member
So... inquiring minds want to know... where do all the LITTLE Gourami's come from? I mean... "male and female He created them...." Right? Are you saying don't keep 2 males in a tank? (I was thinking of a mated pair only for company).

Also... I think you all missed the neon tetra quotient? Are they nippers?

Good to know about Cories; never woulda thunk it! I'm a researcher, and my husband is the engineer when we've done the big salt systems, so I enjoy learning all this stuff.

One thing I'll admit right up front is that I'm looking for some color/movement/interest in my fish choices. Coming from salt to fresh, the color is going to be the biggest thing I'll miss. (Well, that an how doggone COOL the corals are... and how amazing the whole undersea world is as it unfolds as the tank seasons... and... and... and. :-X OK, I'll stop now. (sigh)

I WILL like fresh! I will like fresh... THANKS!

junebug said:
Most fish will eat shrimplets in the home aquarium. Your adults will be able to survive most fish though As long as you're not too concerned about reduced baby survival rate, you should be okay keeping them with the majority of fish except the anabantoid family.
So, cool! Save money on brine shrimp and no need to quarantine, even if I feed live.
 

junebug

Member
Lol that's my philosophy too. I don't mind losing baby shrimp as long as the colony survives.

As for the DGs, I would personally not even keep a male:female pair together. I've heard of people doing it successfully but they can still get aggressive with each other.

Neons are extremely peaceful, but I should warn you, they're notoriously sensitive and if their water isn't just right, they are prone to random dieoffs.

If you're looking for a lot of color (don't blame you coming over from saltwater) there are still lots of options. Any livebearer is going to be colorful and interesting to watch (with a few exceptions, but they're not commonly available in the trade).

You might take a look at fish native to Asia. For whatever reason, there are a lot of colorful fish there.

I will also suggest you take yourself down to your LFS and look at all the pretty fishes (be sure to leave your wallet at home lol). Decide which ones you like best, then go home and research.

~ this is also an awesome place to look at fish without the compulsion to buy before thinking

and this aqadvisor can help you look at what you want your water to look like once you've got a list of compatible fish
 

Jake98

Member
I enjoy both the marine and freshwater sides of the hobby. I enjoy saltwater for the corals, inverts, and the many symbiotic relationships shared in a reef tank. However I enjoy freshwater for the fish, I feel there are so many cool and interesting freshwater fish out there. If you have an affinity for the obscure oddball fish or aggressive fish freshwater is the way to go!
DG are very prone to DG disease, something to keep in mind when buying one. I agree with what has been said above they are tough little guys with a lot of personality, and generally very fun fish to have. For a short time I had a DG in a tank with leopard ctenopoma both equal size, and the DG would bully the leopard ctenopoma every chance it got. I have never had bettas in a community tank but I can't imagine they would not get along with guppies. Bettas are very prone to fast moving fin nipping fish so be careful there as well. Bettas are great fish, but they do tend to limit your stocking in a community tank. Corries are very fun fish keep a shoal of at least 6 with preferably a sand substrate. If you are interested in neons and cory cats maybe look into an amazon biotope. Maybe use some bog/drift wood and allow them to leach some tannins into the water, plant it with amazon specific plants, have a large group of neons as well as corries. Than find one larger compatible showcase species. The neons will provide the movment and color and your one larger fish will provide a cool interesting fish to watch.
 

junebug

Member
Oh! I just had a thought. Google German Blue Ram and see if you like that fish
 

Graphix

Member
Or electric blue rams
 
  • Thread Starter

FishWife

Member
Wow. LOVE the German Blue Ram. Hmmmm.... Cichlids....?

Can I start them in my little tank?
 

Graphix

Member
Dwarf cichlids, yes you can have them. Maybe 1 or 2 along with some schoolers and cories would be a nice setup.
 
  • Thread Starter

FishWife

Member
Excellent! We are planning a larger freshie next spring... c. 120-150 g if we like this smaller tank. I had NO idea that I might try cichlids. Off to research dwarfs! THANKS folks!
 

junebug

Member
Haha have fun, and keep us updated!
 

LyndaB

Member
Kiara1125 said:
junebug, don't be so quick to speak for everyone else.
Kiara, I can see that you are relatively new to the forum. Those of us who've been here for years know that the vast majority of members would've given the same advice junebug did. So, she's not "speaking for everyone else". She's giving an opinion based on hundreds of years of combined fishkeeping experience between members.

The best thing about this forum is that you are allowed to respectfully disagree with others.
 
  • Thread Starter

FishWife

Member
So now I've stumbled across the Walstad method and I feel like I just got my live rock back! We say "yes!" to inter-related chemistry of plants and fish! Woot!

Before I get too excited, though... Anyone here done the Walstead thing?
 

psalm18.2

Member
If you're going for 120g-150g why not go cichlids? They are super colorful and you can have a nice selection of fish. Bright yellows and blues etc. Cichlids are freshwater equivalent to salt color wise. Plus you could have fun creating rock caves and designs.
 

ricmcc

Member
I believe that Endlercollector and perhaps a few others are either currently maintaining, or intend to shortly maintain, Walstad tanks.
If you go that route, most of the larger cichlids and all of the Rift Valley lake cichlids will also be out; lots of other fish that would be lovely in a heavily planted tank, though. BTW, I would go with cardinals rather than neons, but that's just a matter of taste. With either, avoid angels if you decide to go Amazon themed.----rick
 
  • Thread Starter

FishWife

Member
Jake98;1711593 If you are interested in neons and cory cats maybe look into an amazon biotope. Maybe use some bog/drift wood and allow them to leach some tannins into the water said:
I really really like this idea, and it's now a plan. I've been reading Walstad's book off and on all day, and am loving the ideas. It seems like I could keep dwarf cichlids (loving the Rams) and possibly guppes (or neons) with cory cats in this 36. Then, if we like the whole thing, we could reproduce it on a larger scale, or go for African cichlids (which was always sort of my plan) in a more cave-oriented approach in the big tank.

I've been looking at water parameters and weighing options: seems like fancy guppies, nanus corries, and one (or a pair) of Rams may be where I'm coming out.

Below are pictures of the tank's progress today.

Here she sits: empty and waiting with no mistakes in her. Survived a brief water test only.


36 empty.jpg


This is the cheapo light she came with. I need to do something about it... don't know what. I have another thread going on that over at the "lighting" forum. I figure I either need to retrofit a decent reflector and some strip lights into this housing, or just mount an LED above the 3" X 28" transparent opening. Open to ideas here... looking at this fixture to set on top of that clear space?


36 light.jpg


Our old farmhouse floor is NOT level, so here we are shimming the tank stand...


36 leveling.jpg


And here is the AMAZINGLY great driftwood piece I found (the only decoration I'm planning to use currently):


36 driftwood.jpg


Water going in for full test, with heater installed! YAY: fishies again!!!! ow (it's snowing outside, and this is my present from me to me with love, so I couldn't resist the emoticon... apologies!)


36 filling-heater.jpg
 

Jake98

Member
That piece of drift wood looks great! Maybe I am missing something on the whole Walstad method. What makes this different? I briefly skimmed the wikipedia page about it and I'm not sure what's different or special about it. It just seems like you are taking an ecological approach to setting up a balanced aquarium. What makes this different than a planted aquarium?
 
  • Thread Starter

FishWife

Member
Thanks (about driftwood)! I love it, too.

I think it's a METHOD of planting, not anything different from a planted aquarium. Just a method for getting it done and maintaining in a balanced way. Also, low-tech approach; less filtration, water changes, etc. because plants do a lot of the work (as with live rock in marine systems). That's what I'm getting from her book so far. FASCINATING book. Serious science, but for lay people. Love it, really.
 

Jake98

Member
I don't mean to divulge too much from the topic at hand but does her book talk about replacing trace elements? Having a deep substrate will create a hypoxic environment were anaerobic de-nitrifing bacteria can thrive, the upper substrate levels will house your nitrifing bacteria. The aquatic plants will take up ammonium as well as nitrates. However this rate of uptake is often nutrient limited ie. phosphorus potassium and other trace elements are needed. I am not sure how quickly these elements are lost in aquariums so prolonging water changes may be just fine, chances are it comes down to the choice of plants you use
 
  • Thread Starter

FishWife

Member
Yes... as I've only skimmed that part of the book when purchasing it, I'm not yet sure of details, but trace elements/nutrients come from fish waste, extra food decay, and dying plant materials, I believe.
 

Jake98

Member
Many nutrients will come from fish waste, but other elements are not as readily expelled from fish. These elements can be found in the fish food itself however. Generally these elements are replenished by the influx of new water. Unlike marine fishes, freshwater fishes have extremely diluted urine(although they produce a lot of it!) Internally freshwater fish have a much higher internal solute concentration then the environment they are present in. Due to this fact they are constantly taking up water via diffusion. Much of the nutrients they take in are used by the fish and stored, freshwater fish have extremely efficient kidneys and do a great job at filtering fish waste. Some elements are of coarse lost through the gills(na+, cl-, HC03) and via excretion. Leaving some extra food in the tank as you mentioned makes sense as it replenishes some nutrients without adding more water. The book sounds interesting I might have to pick that one up and give it a read.
 

FishayFishay

Member
I would not recommended getting male and female guppies. I've had a 20 Gallon tank ruined by mixing them, they breed like CRAZY! After all, they aren't nicknamed the Millions Fish for nothing! Plus, male guppies are WAY more colorful than females, so I would say get a group of males, you may think I'm crazy, but guppies are one of the few fishes in which you can buy a group of males and have them live peacefully.
 
  • Thread Starter

FishWife

Member
Jake98 said:
The book sounds interesting I might have to pick that one up and give it a read.
Kindle is your friend: I got it instantly for 1/3 of the hardbound cover price, and no waiting! (Like Indigo, "I hate waiting.")

FishayFishay said:
I would not recommended getting male and female guppies. I've had a 20 Gallon tank ruined by mixing them, they breed like CRAZY! After all, they aren't nicknamed the Millions Fish for nothing! Plus, male guppies are WAY more colorful the females, so I would say get a group of males, you may think I'm crazy, but guppies are one of the few fishes in which you can buy a group of males and have them live peacefully.
Thanks; that's helpful! I actually was thinking that way already... though I have been reading that they then try to hump everything in sight... But their water parameter needs are more copacetic with the cichlids, so ehhhh. Turning around like a dog three times here, trying to get comfy with my choices. Lucky for me I live an hour from the nearest fish store, and it's snowing. I have time to consider my options, and an Internet full of information to wade through. And a great book to read, so... I'm set for a few days!
 

Jake98

Member
Good tip! Guppy fry provides a great free food source for your other fish.
 

LyndaB

Member
Lovin' that piece of driftwood! Me want! Sneaks into house in dark of night to steal it.
 

CyanidePie

Member
I think if you went for a heavily planted Walstad tank you could do a pair of rams, 2 schools of tetras (I'd go for rummynose tetras and cardinal tetras) and some cory cats.

Loving the driftwood!
 

junebug

Member
That driftwood makes my driftwood jealous lol!

I have a couple of walstad tanks, although one is about to be broken down. My 20gL breeder is a walstad though. I keep Malaysian Trumpet snails to aerate the substrate but that's probably not necessary in a true walstad, as you'd be using potting soil as opposed to "aquarium substrate". It's all about the dirted tanks

I also have several walstad-esque tanks with either EcoCompete or Flourite substrate.

This video series was really helpful to me when I first started putting those tanks together:

FYI the light in your photo says full spectrum on it. If it's also above 5000K range, it'll be perfect for growing low light aquatic plants if you do go the walstad route.
 
  • Thread Starter

FishWife

Member
junebug said:
That driftwood makes my driftwood jealous lol!

I have a couple of walstad tanks...

FYI the light in your photo says full spectrum on it. If it's also above 5000K range, it'll be perfect for growing low light aquatic plants if you do go the walstad route.
1. OK, great! SINCE you have Walstad, could you please 'splain about flow? Maybe 'cause all of my years in salty-land I'm warped (twitch, twitch), but don't you need flow in freshy tanks? Walstead writes: no airstones and no filters, 'cept the occasional AquaClear powerhead quick filter attachment to quickly remove tannis. Hmmm. Not even a Koralia 600 to move things around? What about aeration and dead spots?

2. How would I find out what K my light is?

Thanks in advance!
 

junebug

Member
1) Yeah, if you go exactly by what she says in her book, you'd have no filter at all, just a powerhead moving water around with perhaps a sponge on the intake for your "filtration". Personally, since I already have a bunch of filters and don't particularly feel like wasting a ton of money on new powerheads, and because my walstad tanks house livebearers which are messy fish, I use my filters. I just don't run carbon in them unless I have to medicate and then suck the meds out with something. I put sponges in mine and various other media. This way I get flow without interfering with the plants' nutrients.

2) On most of my lights, it's written on them. The writing on that bulb was too small for me to see precisely what it said though
 

CyanidePie

Member
In my opinion 6000K-7000K is the best spectrum for plant bulbs.gg
 
  • Thread Starter

FishWife

Member
junebug said:
1) Yeah, if you go exactly by what she says in her book, you'd have no filter at all, just a powerhead moving water around with perhaps a sponge on the intake for your "filtration". Personally, since I already have a bunch of filters and don't particularly feel like wasting a ton of money on new powerheads, and because my walstad tanks house livebearers which are messy fish, I use my filters. I just don't run carbon in them unless I have to medicate and then suck the meds out with something. I put sponges in mine and various other media. This way I get flow without interfering with the plants' nutrients.

2) On most of my lights, it's written on them. The writing on that bulb was too small for me to see precisely what it said though
1) I think I'm going to go for a Koralia Evolution 600 gph on sale for $30 and skip a filter for now. If her method works, this should suffice.

2) Here's my bulb: . Neither here nor on the bulb is the K listed... So...? Advice?

3) Another query: been over to the planted tank forums and read a LONG thread about the type of soil. I picked up Scott's premium topsoil locally (not potting soil) which has no analysis in percentages (but contains sphagnum peat moss for sure). The consistency was moist, and there were NO sticks, chunks of wood, etc. I put it into my tank and covered it with gravel, and am now second guessing myself. Because...

a) I put it in more like 2" than 1.5" (water refraction makes it tricksie, Precious, don't you agree?)
b) I didn't mix it with sand or any other "lightening" or "aerating" thing.
c) I didn't mineralize, bake, soak, stir, or anything: I just put it straight into my tank.

The GOOD news in all this is that I'm willing to redo AND I am in no rush. I could definitely plant out the tank and ride the adventure as is, or strip it and start over... I'm thinking to definitely wait on animal additions for at least a few weeks to a month. Thoughts?
 

Jake98

Member
Ah in her book she talks about not using filters, I see so this is how it deviates from the norm, that's cool. Anyways 600gph may be a bit much for only a 36 gallon tank. freshwater fish are accustomed to far less turbidity than salt water fish
 
  • Thread Starter

FishWife

Member
True... we'll see. I JUST placed the order for one! :-S That and a highly programmable LED light, some test kits, and a tiny nano internal filter (I just can't leave it alone... ;-) ) IF the Koralia is too strong, I'll angle it into a wall, or upward, or something.

I can also probably resell it on NanoReefs if it comes to that...
 

psalm18.2

Member
The power head can be attached to a sponge filter. That gives you filtration and current.
 
  • Thread Starter

FishWife

Member
Well, yes, if it's an AquaClear powerhead. But the Koralia is not that. But thanks!

I'm excited about tomorrow: I'm going to get some plants and start the planting process. Not too sure of the dirt I've put down, but have decided that the worst that can happen is that the plants die, and I can take that like a big girl! :-D

So, we got our plants last night, and this evening, I got around to planting them.

I had to do some work in taking out too much gravel, and lower the level of the topsoil in places. (Open tank surgery is *stressful*! But, we got it, and then I used my handy new tongs to plant the pretty greenery! Here's my first effort:


planted 12-18-13.jpg


(I must say that for all the whining I've done about missing salt water, this green-planted tank is really pretty compared to start-up salt tank with lots of ROCK as far as the eye can see and nubbly little corals on plugs. Ick!)

We don't have anything for movement. My nanofilter and pump (which will probably be too strong) come tomorrow, along with my cool new LIGHT! :d) I'm gonna have to manually stir it every couple of hours to equalize the water temps, but hopefully tomorrow come the goods!

Meanwhile, by means of a record of sorts, here's the plant list:

1 banana plant
Java Fern (in driftwood crevices)
3 Amazon Swords (large)
1 smaller Amazon Sword
1 Wisteria
2 Cabomba (Carolina Fanwort)
2 Val corkscrew
and some floating Hornwort
and one dwarf water lily... hope it lives!

FINALLY, our new LED Current light (with wireless remote... very cool) arrived. Here's the "after" shot. (I took out the Hornwort; it wasn't doing well and was shedding all over the tank and blocking light, etc.)


36 new light.jpg


First fish are in! I've had zero ammonia for a full week, and Walsted says fish can go in the first day... so: in they go! Eight neon tetras! Wow, nostalgia reigns!
 

junebug

Member
Congrats! Hope the neons do well.
 
  • Thread Starter

FishWife

Member
Thanks!

Update: all is good.

We did lose three of the tetras on the first three days. I don't know why. We have five that are doing fine to this day. The single other biggest negative so far is that our pH keeps rising in the tank. Our spring water is on the high side of neutral (7.4 or so) but this tank in just a few days can zoom up above 8. We are doing water changes pretty regularly, but are puzzled as to the cause of the spikes. All I can think is that it has to do with the soil that's under the gravel.

The good news is that the plants are LOVING that sub-soil. They are all growing. I'm going to post two pictures below, that are taken two weeks apart. Note the growth, especially of the plants in the back and of the water lily in the front. (You could barely see it when I planted it, in the first picture!)

Last night, we added five false JuliI corey cats and a ghost shrimp. All seem happy this AM.

So... December 18 (repeat of above):


36 new light.jpg


Today:


1-2-2014.jpg
 
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