Chris's 36 Gallon Brackish Tank

ChrissFishes01
  • #1
Hello! This is just a build thread for my (relatively) new tank. It's been going for around 3 months, I think - I started with the idea of having just one Figure 8 Puffer, but found the tank far too similar to my Green Spotted Puffer tank. So, I put in a small female guppy, just to see how he'd react - and he didn't give her a second look, even when she was eating on his clams during feeding time. So, I decided I'd do a lightly-brackish community tank, and plant it with some salt-tolerant plants.


36 FTS 3-2.jpg

I chose a coarse sand for the puffer, since they like to blow the substrate around while looking for food. I went with black to highlight the green on the puffer’s back, and the green/black combo with the plants is always nice too. I used two pieces of Mopani to “scape” the tank - I stuck them in there in a position I found pleasing and called it quits. I’ve never been much of a scaper, lol.

Once I found that the guppy did well with the puffer, I added a male and a second female. Then, a week or two later, I added a trio of platies. The tank was still freshwater, as I figured I’d just acclimate the whole tank to low-end brackish once it was stocked to make it easier on everyone. At this point, I noticed that the puffer had come down with a little bit of ich, and one of the platies had some spots as well. So, I went ahead and began increasing the salinity of the tank, and that took care of the ich after around 8 days. After the ich was taken care of, I introduced a trio of balloon mollies as well as around 8 ghost shrimp. I expected the shrimp to be hunted down in a few days, but the puffer doesn’t really hunt them. He ate one when I dumped them into the tank, but I think he figured out they’re hard to catch, and I keep him well-fed enough that he doesn’t have a chance to get hungry enough to try too hard. The shrimp still give him a wide berth, but spend plenty of time out in the open. They make great additions to the tank.

A few days ago I added 4 Black Racer Nerites, as I was getting some algae on the glass of the tank. Nerites are one of the few snails that I know of that’ll do well in brackish and have a small enough foot that they can protect it while they’re stuck to something. One of the snails didn’t make the acclimation, unfortunately, but the other three have done well. The puffer pays a lot of attention to them, but I haven’t seen him pester them too much. Today, I added in a trio of Limia Nigrofasciata, the Humpback Limia. They’re roughly as brackish-tolerant as platies, and I was surprised to find them at my LFS. They’re a common Limia, but definitely still pretty rare in your average LFS, I’d say. I ordered 8 Bumblebee Gobies, and they’ll be here on Thursday. I’ll be done with stocking after that - I probably went a bit heavy, but I think it’ll work out fine with how heavily I’ve got the tank planted, and how I tend to maintenance my tanks.

I’ve got a pretty wide variety of plants, including:
Crypt Wendtii
Crypt Wendtii Red
Crypt Tropica
Red Amazon Sword
Jungle Vallisneria
Marimo Moss
Anacharis
Anubias Nana
Anubias Golden
El Nino Fern
Java Fern Windelov
Golden Pothos (growing out of the top of the tank)

Everything except for the Pothos is doing well so far, although I may get rid of the Anacharis. I like the plant, but it’s just so hard to keep planted! It’s almost more trouble than it’s worth. I’m always looking for more brackish-tolerant plants, too, so if anyone has suggestions, hit me up! I especially love Crypts, but am finding them to be incredibly slow growing under brackish conditions. All the plants are growing slower than they do in freshwater, but the Crypts are especially slow - I did start with small plants, but still.

The tank is filtered by a sponge filter and an Aquaclear 50, but I plan to remove the HOB once the tank is more established with a few more plants. Don’t need the HOB sucking up babies! I just have a generic Top Fin heater in the tank right now - I’d like to get a nice Fluval or Aqueon heater, once I can find the models I want in stock. For lighting, I’m using a 30” Finnex Stingray, and plan to stick with that light. I love it! It’s perfect for that low-medium light range in this tank.


Maintenance in this tank consists of weekly 50% water changes, and the occasional glass scraping. Frequent re-plantings of the Anacharis have been a requirement, too, and I need to whip out the super glue and attach some Anubias to the driftwood more permanently - I’ve just been lazy. I have some sponge and cuttlebone in the HOB, but haven’t been running any chemical/physical media. I may add some carbon to help with the tannins, but I’m undecided. I don’t especially hate the tannined look, but I’m not necessarily a fan, either.

So far, this tank is just fun for me. I love seeing how organisms react in situations we may not necessarily expect them to be in - plants and the common livebearers in salty water, for example. I bred some guppies in full saltwater, and had a blast with that. I just kinda play with this tank, and of course love the Figure 8 Puffer, the reason the tank even exists. This one is actually fairly brave, even compared to my larger GSP who tends to flip out if I approach the tank too quickly. I do a lot of saltwater tanks, and have several breeding projects going that tend to be a bit higher pressure, in a way. Plus, I work at a pet store, so I’m around tanks 24/7. Having a tank I can just enjoy is a nice change of pace!

I'll be sure to post lots of pics and vids!
 
TheAnglerAquarist
  • #41
I love puffers too, within a few months I went from my gateway puffer (pea puffer) to figure 8s, then a GSP, and before I know it there's a fahaka in a 150 gallon tank in my living room!
Man, fish keeping is addicting! I already want pea puffers a month and a half after getting my 29 gallon community
 
ChrissFishes01
  • Thread Starter
  • #42
I love puffers too, within a few months I went from my gateway puffer (pea puffer) to figure 8s, then a GSP, and before I know it there's a fahaka in a 150 gallon tank in my living room!
I will have a long-term fahaka one day! They're awesome, although I'd have a tough time deciding between a Fahaka or a Dogface... Oh, to have a 180!
Video just went live!
 
ChrissFishes01
  • Thread Starter
  • #43
So, I thought I'd post a quick update on what became of this tank.


I had to remove all of my fish and tanks from my apartment so that it could be treated for pests - the pest company used tear gas as part of the treatment, so I couldn't simply cover the tanks and keep them in here. I ended up losing a lot of fish, unfortunately.


Instead of keeping these guys in a 36, I decided to rehome the majority of the surviving livebearers and move the tank into a 20 long - I only kept 3 molly fry and (accidentally) 1 platy. I plan to rehome any females I get, and just keep a few males in here for variety and activity. I kept the puffer (of course), and all of the BBGs, as well, and ended up with a fairly decent stocking, IMO.


I'm not using any live plants this time, although I'd like to revisit it in the future. I actually found a baby Crypt Wendtii growing in the 36 behind all the wood, several marimo balls, some anacharis, and a few bits of moneywart, so it seems that some individual specimens had rooted and were growing to some extent, However, as a whole, I'd say that the plants definitely did not thrive in this case. Instead, I've opted to use some silk plants. I'm not a huge fan, but it gives some cover for the fish and some decor for me to look at. I also used some dragon stone, instead of the driftwood, to try and avoid all the tannins in the water this time.

FTS:

Bumblebee Gobies:

Super Secret Meeting of the Gobies:

The puffer has an eye infection, unfortunately, so I'm starting the tank on erythromycin to try and help treat that.
imgur.com
 
ChrissFishes01
  • Thread Starter
  • #44
Glad to report that as of today the puffer's eyes are completely clear! One round of erythromycin (and a good environment) did the trick.

A thought - we use salt for therapeutic effect in freshwater tanks, so I wonder if the same could be applied for brackish tanks? Obviously, there's already salt present, but I wonder how resistant bacterial infections/parasites/fungal infections would be to increased/lowered salinities. Obviously, some fish will handle swings better than others (Green Spotted Puffers, Monos, Scats, etc. would probably be fine from freshwater up to saltier than marine, at least short-term, while F8 puffers and BBGs might do okay in freshwater but would likely struggle in even mid-end brackish long-term) but it may be worth a try sometime. I can't find any research or anything on it, although I'm sure I'm just not looking in the right places.

Brackish disease isn't usually a problem anyway, since most brackish fish are purchased in FW and then acclimated, so I guess at the end of the day, keeping fish in a good environment is really all you need in the first place. Still, I'm curious!
 
ChrissFishes01
  • Thread Starter
  • #45
So, a week or so on, and I've seen no signs of the eye infection in the puffer - so relieved! Everyone else is doing well, too. I ended up adding some Golden Pothos back to the tank out of curiosity to see if it'll do well this time. We shall see.


You can see his snaggletooth, if you zoom into this mouth, lol:

These guys are beginning to mature nicely:

And I think I've two different species of bumblebee goby in this tank - these guys with the darker yellow are slightly smaller than the other 6:
 
TheAnglerAquarist
  • #46
So, a week or so on, and I've seen no signs of the eye infection in the puffer - so relieved! Everyone else is doing well, too. I ended up adding some Golden Pothos back to the tank out of curiosity to see if it'll do well this time. We shall see.


You can see his snaggletooth, if you zoom into this mouth, lol:

These guys are beginning to mature nicely:

And I think I've two different species of bumblebee goby in this tank - these guys with the darker yellow are slightly smaller than the other 6:
The gobies are my favorite. So cute
 
ChrissFishes01
  • Thread Starter
  • #47
The gobies are my favorite. So cute
They're one of my favorite fish, too! I love my puffers, and I think a healthy molly is one of the prettiest fish out there, but the gobies have so much personality. They're always the first ones to swim up, perch on the glass, and ask for food, lol
 
TheAnglerAquarist
  • #48
They're one of my favorite fish, too! I love my puffers, and I think a healthy molly is one of the prettiest fish out there, but the gobies have so much personality. They're always the first ones to swim up, perch on the glass, and ask for food, lol
Besides the puffer they are my favorite, forgot about the puffer haha
 
ChrissFishes01
  • Thread Starter
  • #49
Alrighty then - new additions! As well as cold-blooded murder.

That's right, murder.

Remember how the Figure 8 used to let ghost shrimp live in the tank? Not anymore! I put 6 in there to use as feeders for other tanks and only managed to get the tail end of this encounter:


Looks like I don't have to feed the puffer for a few days.

I also picked up a pair of Golden Wonder Killifish. I didn't plan on it, but they were there, they were cheap, and I could see both males and females in the tank. I just have pics of them in the bag right now, but they look even better now that they've settled into the tank!

Male:

Female:
 
ChrissFishes01
  • Thread Starter
  • #53
Decent? Those are fantastic pictures! I do have a question, what do you feed your gobies?
Thanks!

These guys take about anything meaty - bloodworms, mysis, brine, plankton, and they'll pick at flake food and pellets if they're hungry. From what I've heard, not all of them are so easy to feed, so I got lucky with my group.

Definitely cool fish, though! They're the bravest in the tank (other than the mollies) and are probably one of my favorites right now. They're all the time getting into some kind of trouble, lol.
 
BPSabelhaus
  • #54
Those white with calico pattern Mollies are pretty!

As for plants, welcome to the club. Chaeto and sea lettuce would be your best bets, though the salinity might be a bit low. I keep mine between 1.018 and 1.020 no. Currently I have 6 red mangroves growing very, very slowly lol. Can’t keep macros in the tank as the Endlers eat it faster than it grows lol I may try some pickleweed growing out of the sump (terrestrial plant that is salt tolerant) but freshwater plants above 1.005 gets a bit iffy. Same with ghost shrimp. They and apple snails made it to about 1.010 before the snails vacated the tank and the shrimp died. Amano shrimp otoh did fine at that salinity. Now that it’s closer to marine I keep hermit crabs instead.
 
ChrissFishes01
  • Thread Starter
  • #55
Those white with calico pattern Mollies are pretty!

As for plants, welcome to the club. Chaeto and sea lettuce would be your best bets, though the salinity might be a bit low. I keep mine between 1.018 and 1.020 no. Currently I have 6 red mangroves growing very, very slowly lol. Can’t keep macros in the tank as the Endlers eat it faster than it grows lol I may try some pickleweed growing out of the sump (terrestrial plant that is salt tolerant) but freshwater plants above 1.005 gets a bit iffy. Same with ghost shrimp. They and apple snails made it to about 1.010 before the snails vacated the tank and the shrimp died. Amano shrimp otoh did fine at that salinity. Now that it’s closer to marine I keep hermit crabs instead.
Yeah, I've heard of people trying Chaeto down to the low 1.00X's, but I'd imagine it just kinda makes a mess in the display. Same with Ulva - I've grown in to feed to fish before, but I doubt it'd be enjoyable to move around in a display setting, personally.

Sounds like a cool tank you have! Do you have a thread? My very first (poorly made) Youtube video actually had some saltwater guppies in a macro tank. I eventually had some ich issues (poor QT protocol), but all the fish survived the ich.


In other news, I just caught the Golden Wonder Killi with a molly in its' mouth. I didn't think they were small enough to be at risk, but I was wrong. I figured he'd go after the BBGs, but I guess the mollies were more convenient. I've also noticed him beating on his female quite a bit - is this normal behavior? I've read that they can be a bit ornery, but I didn't expect them to be plain aggressive.


IMG_20211218_152636398_HDR.jpg
 
ChrissFishes01
  • Thread Starter
  • #57
10 gal Endler high brackish tank. | Members Fish Tanks Forum | 504068

Pics are pretty current. The mangroves grow very slowly. Two of my propagules have been opening their first leaves for about 5 weeks lol
Very cool!

I haven't really ventured down the mangrove road yet - I had a couple propagules a few years ago but I ended up accidentally killing them with a salinity swing. Out of all the fish, inverts, and corals I had, they were the only thing that died, lol. I'd love to get some for my Green Spotted Puffer tank, but I'd want to do a suspended light fixture - not easy in an apartment. Soon, though!
 
ChrissFishes01
  • Thread Starter
  • #59
Unfortunately I've lost the male Golden Wonder Killi. Totally my fault. I set up a 5 gallon bucket with a cycled filter in the floor next to the tank, and filled it maybe 2/5's full. I figured it'd be too far for him to jump out - and yet, he did. I find him pretty dried up on the carpet, still moving just a bit. When I dropped him back into the bucket he came around for about a day before dying yesterday evening. I hate accidentally killing fish :(

On the bright side, the 20 gallon is much calmer than it has been in quite some time. He was quite the terror - the female looks less beat up and fatter already, and the little molly who almost got eaten is swimming around like nothing ever happened.
 

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