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33 gallon long - Dicrossus filamentosus and friends

Discussion in 'South American Biotope Aquariums' started by doinkmobb, Jun 2, 2017.

  1. doinkmobb

    doinkmobb Member

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    Here's a sorta OK shot of my stand. I hope it gives you an idea of how it was constructed; I used 1"x4" wood for the main structure, 12"x1" for the shelf and six pieces of 2"x4" to bring the bottom and top of the main uprights together. I was able to stand on one section of the uprights and I'm 175 lbs (80 kilos), so it's more than enough to support the tank. The canopy is little too small, there's not enough room to get my hands under it and the light is to close to the water - I'll probably redo it.

    [​IMG]
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  2. finzz

    finzz New Member 5 Year Member

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    33XL has always been one of my favorite tanks for SA dwarfs, and your set up shows it off extremely well. Very nice!
  3. doinkmobb

    doinkmobb Member

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    So...this tank has been stripped down, cleaned and reborn. I really think the play sand was causing, or least contributing to sickness and disease, because when I scooped it all out, it smelled putrid. It was about 1" deep at most but I guess that's deep enough to harbor anaerobic bacteria and who knows what else. Personally, I'll never use play sand again. I can't say with 100% certainty that was why this tank wasn't thriving, but I don't want to repeat that experiment and have tons of fish slowly wither away.

    Pictures would be nice (sorry!), but you'll have to use your imagination right now: I have about 55lbs of Quikrete brand pool filter sand in it, with a variety of smaller branches and larger chunks o' wood. The sand will have a layer of magonlia and water oak (I think that's what they are) leaves, maybe a few long pine needles also. If I feel like adding plants, I'd probably do dwarf chain sword and red root floaters. Because the tank and the canopy are so short, I need to take the lighting waaaay down. I'm thinking a 20" Finnex Stingray should be bright enough. My previous 48" 54W T5 light was overkill.

    My surviving fish which will be transferred back to the 33 long v.2.0:
    - 3F/1M checkerboard cichlid (D.filamentosus)
    - 2 marbled hatchets (I'm done with these guys, can't keep 'em alive)
    ...and that's it
    I have three sickly neons, with various tumors and lesions which will need to be euthanized. Poor guys.

    In addition:
    - one pair or one harem of some flavor of Apistogramma
    - 3-4 more checkerboards
    - 10-12 pencilfish of some variety
    - tetras? Most likely, but undecided

    All I want is my fish to NOT die. In my 75 gallon, I've lost one or two fish, that's it. But this tank, man, nothing survived. I don't get it.
  4. gerald

    gerald Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    "Various tumors and lesions" might be Mycobacterium - unrelated to the play sand. All substrates, fine or coarse, will get anaerobic in time due to decaying organic matter. Fine substrates have less space for gas diffusion to occur, but they also have less space for fish food and poop to fall into, which creates anaerobic conditions. Coarse substrates can be a bigger problem than fine ones in that way. Depends in part on the foods you're feeding them. A dense bed of plant roots can help keep the substrate healthy, especially spreading plants like Vallisneria, Sagittaria, chain-swords, Crypts, etc. They pump small amounts of O2 into the substrate around their roots. H2S and related gases in anaerobic substrate aren't generally a problem unless you stir it all up when thinning plants or redecorating. In that case, you can siphon off some water and move the fish into a cooler before disturbing the bed, and return them the next day after water has equilibrated back to normal.
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  5. doinkmobb

    doinkmobb Member

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    Good info.
    None of my fish were thriving, but only the neons showed signs of disease. The remaining checkerboards and hatchets look healthy and are eating normally. I really have no idea what I did differently in this tank to cause so many problems.
  6. doinkmobb

    doinkmobb Member

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    Here's the new version of this setup. It's been up and running for a week, this is more or less how I want it. I'll throw in some more leaves most likely.

    [​IMG]

    Parameters:
    TDS - 42ppm
    pH - 7.8 (tapwater comes out at 7.8)
    GH - 2
    KH - 2
    Ammonia - 0
    Nitrites - 0
    Nitrates - 0

    I could chuck my fish back in, but the pH is high. I tested their holding tank, and it registers at a pH of 6. My test kit only measures down to 6, so it's probably even lower. That seems like a big pH difference, so I think I'll let the tank ferment for a bit longer.

    I removed the reflector in my T5 housing and it was still bright. I added about 40" of automotive vinyl on the fixture itself, blocking light but not touching the bulb. I'll see how this looks when I add fish and add more vinyl if necessary. I'm thinking I might just do red root floaters and that's it for plants.
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  7. dw1305

    dw1305 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Hi all,
    The pH will definitely fall over time. Personally I wouldn't worry too much about the pH difference, because you have a low conductivity value (42 ppm TDS) even small changes in the H+:OH- ion ratio will alter the pH.
    I'll be honest and say I preferred it with the plants.

    I'd definitely add a floating plant. If you put it in now, before you add the fish, you can play with the light intensity to make sure they are growing.

    cheers Darrel
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2018
  8. doinkmobb

    doinkmobb Member

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    Funny, now that I read what you typed about a pH difference, I realize I was worrying about the wrong thing - for some reason, I was thinking that the pH difference would be disruptive to osmoregulation. That would be conductivity/hardness. The holding tank is about 60ppm, so not much difference.

    I want a low(er) light setup and I'm not sure how the pennywort would do under subdued lighting...and I'm a little sick of seeing it in all my tanks. I can say that frogbit under subdued lighting did NOT work out. I'll see if I can find some RRF from a forum member or something.
  9. ButtNekkid

    ButtNekkid Active Member

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    Hi,

    That´s a beautiful tank! A bit more leaves and bunch of floaters and you´re good to go!
    I´ve found that Pistia and Salvinia work great together.
  10. Drayden Farci

    Drayden Farci Active Member

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    Looks great how it is, but I see why people like a little spark of green in the tanks. I have RRF for a small donation plus shipping if you're down for that. Priority likely $5 or so. I'm still waiting on my wood to stay sunken so I can start scaping it - not sure how the pieces I have will work. I think I need more thin branches than I have.
  11. doinkmobb

    doinkmobb Member

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    I put my remaining fish back in the tank on Wednesday night. Of course they are freaked out and breathing rapidly, not a big deal. The next day, still breathing a little rapidly, but otherwise acting normal. Friday - hmmm, still not quite breathing at a normal rate, how about a water change? Sat - OK, time for an air stone. And within an hour or so, respiration rates look normal to me.

    Just a guess - the bacteria, algal and fungal populations are not in equilibrium and depleting oxygen? Or producing too much C02? Or both? I don't remember having this happen in any other new setups.
  12. dw1305

    dw1305 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Hi all,
    It could be either depleted oxygen or higher CO2 levels, when you have the air pump running you've made the gas exchange surface larger, which will cause dissolved gas levels to equilibrate more quickly with atmospheric levels.

    The haemoglobin in blood binds with both O2 and CO2, how quickly these gases dissolve in and out of the fish (at the gills) depends upon the concentration gradient. When de-oxygenated blood arrives at the gill surface, it can only pick up an oxygen molecule once the CO2 molecule it is carrying has diffused back into the water column, more CO2 (or less O2) in the water column reduces the rate at which oxygen is picked up. These are the <"Bohr & Root effects">.

    When you don't have any plants you are reliant on microbial biological filtration, and that is an oxygen intensive process. If you have easily decomposable substances in the tank ordinary heterotrophic bacterial activity will further deplete that oxygen. Scientists measure this combined oxygen demand (the bioload) using the <"Biochemical Oxygen Demand"> (BOD) metric.

    Plants offer the advantages of:
    • Being massive net oxygen producers. When a molecule of CO2 is converted to carbohydrate, during photosynthesis, a molecule of oxygen is evolved. Increased plant biomass shows the difference between oxygen evolved and CO2 incorporated. On a global scale the coal reserves (we are now burning) show just how much CO2 plants have incorporated over the eons. Since the industrial revolution <"we've added ~120 ppm CO2 to the atmosphere>".
    • Although plants are part of the bioload when they aren't photosynthesising, a lot of the oxygen required for respiration is taken from the internal air spaces of the plant, which are fully saturated with oxygen at the end of the photo-period.
    • Plants take up all forms of fixed nitrogen (NH3/NH4+, NO2- & NO3-) from the water column and incorporate them into the photosynthetic proteins etc. in plant tissue. The ammonia and nitrite that doesn't enter microbial filtration doesn't deplete any oxygen.
    • Plants create a much larger volume of space where nitrification can occur. This is both on the roots of floating plants and in substrate, where the roots leak oxygen and carbohydrates, into the root rhizosphere creating zones of fluctuating REDOX values.
    • "Plant microbe" systems potentially have about an order of magnitude more biological filtration capacity than "microbe only" systems.
    cheers Darrel
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  13. gerald

    gerald Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Although plants can only produce O2 in the light, most will uptake and store ammonium even in the dark. The small amount of CO2 plants produce in the dark is mostly held with the tissues for reuse when light returns.
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  14. dw1305

    dw1305 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Hi all,
    Yes that is the one, even though plants don't have an equivalent of lungs they have a lot of internal spaces ("lacunae" which make up approx. 60% of internal plant volume) where gases collect.

    In evolutionary terms it makes sense, a plant that stores the CO2 (produced by respiration at night) will be able to make more efficient use of sunlight as soon as the levels of <"PAR"> rise above <"light compensation point">.

    cheers Darrel
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  15. doinkmobb

    doinkmobb Member

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    Current parameters:
    TDS - 50ppm
    pH - somewhere between 6.6 - 6.8 (down from 7.8 when I first added fish to the tank)
    Temp - averaging 79.5 F (26.4 C)

    Last week, I put a few sprigs of Brazilian pennywort in the tank in an attempt to combat the low oxygen or high CO2 imbalance. I also received some red root floaters from Drayden Farci (thanks man!) and they appear to be doing fine - I'm seeing new buds already. If they take off, I may remove the pennywort, who knows.

    Now this is really strange - the smallest female has been hanging around the air stone, acting like she has eggs or fry nearby. Tonight she was really colorful and aggressive, chasing everybody, including the hatchet fish. I looked around the best I could, but no eggs or fry to be found. What I did see was her swimming up the surface, examining bubbles from the air stone and then grabbing one in her mouth and bringing it back down among the leaves. She did this twice! I have no explanation, other than she thinks the bubbles are her eggs? Very weird. I turn the air stone off, and she comes off of high alert.
  16. Drayden Farci

    Drayden Farci Active Member

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    That's hilarious. Could be that her eggs were eaten already but she is still in her "mode" and will protect the space? I've seen my females acting like they have eggs before but cannot find them anywhere. With that said, they have been known to lay them in almost impossible crevices lol.

    I hope those floaters start producing flowers for you :) The ones in my 55 gallon with less light and nutrients are growing flowers, while the ones I sent you don't have any at the moment. They are my favorite floater for many reasons - the flowers being a big one.
  17. gerald

    gerald Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    My son's cockatiel sits for hours each day on a chap-stick, waiting for it to hatch.
  18. doinkmobb

    doinkmobb Member

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    I turned on the air stone again last night, and that female started corralling bubbles almost immediately. So weird.

    I'm inquiring about getting 20x Nannostomus marginatus and 5x more checkerboards from a semi-local shop about 100 miles from me. Hopefully the shipping shouldn't be too bad.
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  19. Drayden Farci

    Drayden Farci Active Member

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    Ground shipping at 100 miles should be like $30 tops for those fish.
  20. doinkmobb

    doinkmobb Member

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    A local Pet Supermarket is able to get me some N. beckfordi, so I'm going to go with them and hold off on the additional checkerboards for now.

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