Ideas to make little fish feel safer/hardscape

mrnegi

Hey all!
Some of you know my betta fish got sick recently and I'm sad to report he didn't make it =(

I have 10 Pygmy Cories and 6 Ember Tetras left in the tank. I recently replaced about half of the substrate with sand (previously EcoComplete), figuring the Cories would love it.

But almost a week later it seems like its the only place in the tank they DON'T want to be haha. Everyone stays on the EcoComplete side where I have a dying Amazon Sword and a mini bacopa forest. I used to have two big rocks on the side where the sand is now to create some cover but they are HUGE and take up so much space that I can't see whats going on in the tank really. Can't seem to find good hardscape that gives them some cover and still lets me see my fish. Any ideas? What do they like to hide in?

I've also noticed the embers tend to stay near the bottom, in the plants, and with the Cories. Anyone know what's up with that? Is the school too small for the tetras to feel safe hanging out in mid water? I've attached some pics, any suggestions for what I could do are very welcome!
 

carsonsgjs

Embers in particular will appreciate a planted tank, hence why they are staying near the plants - the cover provided makes them feel safe. Add more plants throughout the tank and they will feel more secure, so you should see them more. Add in some driftwood too and things should improve.
 

mrnegi

Embers in particular will appreciate a planted tank, hence why they are staying near the plants - the cover provided makes them feel safe. Add more plants throughout the tank and they will feel more secure, so you should see them more. Add in some driftwood too and things should improve.
You know, whenever I go to LFS I look for driftwood and never find any! I know they have wood and stuff in the reptile sections -- am I supposed to just use those ones? Or do I need to be looking for driftwood specifically for fish tanks?
 

BradleyH2O

A couple of things you should consider...

I recommend you trim the dead leaves off your plants, as their rotting will create ammonia.

If you’re looking for driftwood, I would get Maylasian, mopani or spiderwood. KGTropicals has pieces of Maylasian at a reasonable price
 

mrnegi

A couple of things you should consider...

I recommend you trim the dead leaves off your plants, as their rotting will create ammonia.

If you’re looking for driftwood, I would get Maylasian, mopani or spiderwood. KGTropicals has pieces of Maylasian at a reasonable price
Great tip! I'll do just that. It seems the only thing in the tank that is thriving is the bacopa haha.
 

mattgirl

Once you get 10 more posts you will be able to visit the buy, sell, trad, free section of the forum. Look for Mcasella over there. She has some nice drift wood at very reasonable prices.

I agree with adding more plants. Your corys aren't going over to the sand because they don't feel safe over there. It is just too wide open. Give them some cover over there and I am sure they will love digging through the sand.
 

mrnegi

Once you get 10 more posts you will be able to visit the buy, sell, trad, free section of the forum. Look for Mcasella over there. She has some nice drift wood at very reasonable prices.

I agree with adding more plants. Your corys aren't going over to the sand because they don't feel safe over there. It is just too wide open. Give them some cover over there and I am sure they will love digging through the sand.
Do you have any recommends on plants I could add? The only ones that seem to do well so far are bacopa. I am thinking of trimming and replanting the ones I have since they're getting so huge but Im a little wary about new stuff because of what happened to the sword.

Also, do you find plants do okay in sand? I think I may need to have a layer of Ecocomplete underneath.
 

mattgirl

I am thinking what you have are stem plants. I am also thinking stem plants get their nutrition from the water instead of from the roots like your sword would have so should do fine in the sand side of your tank. The one plant that does the best for me is the java fern. It isn't actually planted. Once you get some drift wood java ferns glued to it would look great.

Various crypts did well until my rabbit snails ate them. They are really struggling to make a comeback. Should you choose crypts you would have to add root tabs if they are planted in the sand.
 

BradleyH2O

Also, If you’re into doing the community tank thing and you had fish that swam at mid-water column or upper-water column, I bet the corys would swim all over. I have 7 corys and they don’t hide at all because I have a bunch of fish that swim over them. It makes them feel safe because they don’t have to worry about being preyed on from above
 

PAcanis

I would move some plants to the beach area.
And take your big rock outside, wrap it in a towel, set it on some concrete and whack it with a hammer. Make too big a rock into smaller rocks. Then sprinkle them around to help break up the beach area and not have one glaringly bright area.

ETA: Forgot about the embers.
I read somewhere that Embers will pick up some of the traits of their tankmates.
Mine used to school back and forth all nice when I had four green/bronze Corys that kept to themselves. Then I removed those and added a bunch of Habrosus.
The Habrosus will often swim with the embers, but the embers do not school nearly as well as they did.
 

mrnegi

I am thinking what you have are stem plants. I am also thinking stem plants get their nutrition from the water instead of from the roots like your sword would have so should do fine in the sand side of your tank. The one plant that does the best for me is the java fern. It isn't actually planted. Once you get some drift wood java ferns glued to it would look great.

Various crypts did well until my rabbit snails ate them. They are really struggling to make a comeback. Should you choose crypts you would have to add root tabs if they are planted in the sand.
I love that idea, that'll be perfect! I think you're right; stem plants are the way to go and I think Java Fern will be the perfect addition too. I had one more question which has been bugging me: how you do keep your plants secured? The java fern is perfect since it'll be secured to rock, but my bacopa are constantly trying to float away and I have a feeling the sand won't hold them like the eco would.
Also, If you’re into doing the community tank thing and you had fish that swam at mid-water column or upper-water column, I bet the corys would swim all over. I have 7 corys and they don’t hide at all because I have a bunch of fish that swim over them. It makes them feel safe because they don’t have to worry about being preyed on from above
Yeah that was the idea with the Embers but I think maybe I don't have enough or its to do with the plants. The store I usually get my actual fish from is closed for a while and I'm a little skittish getting them anywhere else since I dont have a QT tank so might have to wait to add more.
 

mattgirl

I love that idea, that'll be perfect! I think you're right; stem plants are the way to go and I think Java Fern will be the perfect addition too. I had one more question which has been bugging me: how you do keep your plants secured? The java fern is perfect since it'll be secured to rock, but my bacopa are constantly trying to float away and I have a feeling the sand won't hold them like the eco would.
I don't know how to keep them down either so I just basically let them float. I've tried securing them by tying them to little rocks. I've inserted them in the hole in a piece of ceramic media and buried it in the sand. I've cut an X in a bottle cap, inserted the end in the X and buried the bottle cap. No matter what I do eventually the end always rots off and leaves the plant floating. If you find a way, Please let me know :D.
 

Thunder_o_b

You know, whenever I go to LFS I look for driftwood and never find any! I know they have wood and stuff in the reptile sections -- am I supposed to just use those ones? Or do I need to be looking for driftwood specifically for fish tanks?
I use the reptile wood from Petco and Pet Smart, and never had any issues.

The 150 tall.

EDIT: Remember to boil the wood first. You never know what got on it in the store.
 

Rose of Sharon

So sorry to hear about your betta!!! :(

Just a suggestion...

For decor, you could add a small terra cotta cave or plant pot. They make really nice hiding spots. You could always attach something to it, like java moss, if you want to give it that overgrown planted look. (Just make sure to clean it well.) :)
 

mrnegi

So sorry to hear about your betta!!! :(

Just a suggestion...

For decor, you could add a small terra cotta cave or plant pot. They make really nice hiding spots. You could always attach something to it, like java moss, if you want to give it that overgrown planted look. (Just make sure to clean it well.) :)
Yeah he hung in there for a good while but its part of the deal of having pets.

Okay all I hit the LPS and managed to find some Mopani wood and two great looking Java Ferns. I set everything up (and added some new Halequin Rasboras) and sure enough! Everybody is exploring everywhere and enjoying the whole tank, and now it looks like a real tank with fish I can actually watch. So pleased with the result.

Thanks everybody! Huge help as always.
 

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