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Hi from Belgium

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,186
Location
Germany
Which stones would you suggest for a apistogramma aquarium (or any other fish that need soft water with a lower ph) or just no stones at all?
I use river pebbles from the River Rhine, as I live 10min from the riverbanks. The river might be hardwater, the pebbles along are mostly granite and quarz-mix, which are inert. But to be honest... I barely use them. Right now there are maybe 5-8 in the tank, most between 5 and 10cm in diameter. The tank could very well go without them.
Do seriyu rocks keep raising the GH & KH even after a long time being in the tank?
Yes, basically until they break apart, which takes decades. The softer/more acidic the water, the more is dissolved from them.
My nerite snails are 3 months in my tank with the cacatuoides. I like the way they keep your hardscape and glass clean tbh... I thought my tank with the macmasteri could only benefit from it too besides the otocinclus. I would buy some sort of snail sticks if I buy some nerite snails in the setup with the catappa leaves & softer water so they don't get soft shells & die because the water is too soft.
Clean tanks are dead tanks. I only clean the front glass, otherwise I leave the aufwuchs for the fish. Ad be it Nannostomus, Hemigrammus or Dicrossus, all of my fish love picking at it for food particles. Aufwuchs eaters that keep everything clean are the last thing I want, because then I'd have to feed more, especially when I'm gone for some days. Right now the tank is in a state, I can leave for a week and my fish sitter only has to top up with RO for evaporation.
And no, Nerite snails and Otocinclus are competing for food. So please no more snails. They are simply not suited for these conditions.
The otocinclus are also 3 months in the tank but I've already had several deaths last month and a half.
(5 out of 8 died unfortunately) I do check if their white bellies are swollen so they get enough food, but the otocinclus where I had multiple deaths don't eat any food I give them such as blanched zuchini or algae wafers. The other 5 otocinclus in my new setup with the macmasteri eat both blanched zuchini & algae wafers.
My lfs told me that otocinclus are the best algae eaters to keep in small 60L tanks in combination with nerite snails. He said that other algae eaters might try to eat the eggs of the apistogramma's at night.
Very sorry to say so: You've fallen into the classic trap at the store. (But no worries, everybody steps into one of them at one point at the beginning) You don't need algae eaters and if any, not from the start. Ever seen Otocinclus laborously slurping on any surface? They are often not feeding, but looking for food, that isn't there. If they do that on rather clean looking surfaces they are already in survival mode. Do you know how many Otocinclus a 60 Liter tank can sustain without permanent additional feeding? Two. In numbers 2. For a species appropriate group of ten you already need a 250 Liter+.
Plus, as I said, these species are not Algae eaters, they are Aufwuchs eaters. subtle but important difference. They need a combination of bacteria, infusoria, and some algae. Usually I'm not a brand person, but as there is no alternative to my knowledge: I'd get "BacterAE" by GlasGarten which is a powder for Biofilm growth on surfaces (not the intended use by the manufacturer, so just experiment with very small doses), which will be helping. Also "Protogen" by Hobby, which grows infusoria. Try half the dosage on the pack.

And yeah... about the eggs... of course nocturnal plecos will go for them. They are also mostly not strict vegetarians.

I do feed my cacatuoides fry cyclops so maybe thats similar to artemia and will also create a layer for the otocinclus?
saltwater or freshwater cyclops? Or frozen? I mainly mentioned Artemia because they just sink at one point because they die off in freshwater. So frozen cyclops: Do it!
 
Last edited:

darua

Member
Messages
31
I use river pebbles from the River Rhine, as I live 10min from the riverbanks. The river might be hardwater, the pebbles along are mostly granite and quarz-mix, which are inert. But to be honest... I barely use them. Right now there are maybe 5-8 in the tank, most between 5 and 10cm in diameter. The tank could very well go without them.
I don't really like the look of pebbles in an aquarium tbh...
But I'm thinking of lowering my KH & GH with demineralized water from the from the grocery store in combination with regular tap water for water changes (don't know what the perfect balance is, just thinking out loud atm). I know RO water is used more often but demineralized water is cheaper and getting a RO system seems a bit overkill I think.
Clean tanks are dead tanks. I only clean the front glass, otherwise I leave the aufwuchs for the fish. Ad be it Nannostomus, Hemigrammus or Dicrossus, all of my fish love picking at it for food particles. Aufwuchs eaters that keep everything clean are the last thing I want, because then I'd have to feed more, especially when I'm gone for some days. Right now the tank is in a state, I can leave for a week and my fish sitter only has to top up with RO for evaporation.
And no, Nerite snails and Otocinclus are competing for food. So please no more snails. They are simply not suited for these conditions.
I agree that clean tanks are dead tanks but to find the right balance between a good looking tank with enough nutrition for the fish without algae taking over is not that easy as a beginner... That's why I'm always afraid of having too much algae that it will take over and your tank is lost, I've been battling brown algae in my cacatuoides tank the last 3 months (almost the entire lifespan of the new setup after the fish got introduced). I'm trying things with changing the outflow of my filter, liquid fertilizers changing the amount of some elements or decreasing the lights even though I only have 3,5 hours of light.
Very sorry to say so: You've fallen into the classic trap at the store. (But no worries, everybody steps into one of them at one point at the beginning) You don't need algae eaters and if any, not from the start. Ever seen Otocinclus laborously slurping on any surface? They are often not feeding, but looking for food, that isn't there. If they do that on rather clean looking surfaces they are already in survival mode. Do you know how many Otocinclus a 60 Liter tank can sustain without permanent additional feeding? Two. In numbers 2. For a species appropriate group of ten you already need a 250 Liter+.
Plus, as I said, these species are not Algae eaters, they are Aufwuchs eaters. subtle but important difference. They need a combination of bacteria, infusoria, and some algae. Usually I'm not a brand person, but as there is no alternative to my knowledge: I'd get "BacterAE" by GlasGarten which is a powder for Biofilm growth on surfaces (not the intended use by the manufacturer, so just experiment with very small doses), which will be helping. Also "Protogen" by Hobby, which grows infusoria. Try half the dosage on the pack.
Ok, your advice seems logical to me. I won't buy any snails for my macmasteri tank or add any more otocinclus in the cacatuoides tank to replace the dead ones (which is what I initially intended).
saltwater or freshwater cyclops? Or frozen? I mainly mentioned Artemia because they just sink at one point because they die off in freshwater. So frozen cyclops: Do it!
I do use frozen cyclops but only +- 3x a week but I've seen there's only no more fry left of the cacatuoides after 3 weeks, maybe 2 of them so I'll have to wait if the newly laid eggs will hatch to feed them cyclops.
My female macmasteri also laid eggs today so I might also add frozen cyclops when those eggs hatch.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,186
Location
Germany
I don't really like the look of pebbles in an aquarium tbh...
Funnily enough, most of them are under the leaf litter. I know they're there. The average onlooker has trouble finding them.

But I'm thinking of lowering my KH & GH with demineralized water from the from the grocery store in combination with regular tap water for water changes (don't know what the perfect balance is, just thinking out loud atm). I know RO water is used more often but demineralized water is cheaper and getting a RO system seems a bit overkill I think.
I thought that too. But you will find: Distilled/demineralized water from the store is pricey. A liter of RO from my RO unit, broken down from the water bill, costs about 3ct. A 5 liter canister from the store costs between 1,50 and 2 € right now, if you go to a discounter like Aldi or Lidl. If I bought the water I need a month only for topping off would be 25-30€, not to mention the whole getting to the store and dragging it up the stairs. A cheap RO unit is 50-60€. 2 months and you got the money back for the unit.

That's why I'm always afraid of having too much algae that it will take over and your tank is lost, I've been battling brown algae in my cacatuoides tank the last 3 months (almost the entire lifespan of the new setup after the fish got introduced).
And that's the mistake of most beginners. In the first 6-10 months lifetime of a tank algae come and go by themselves. There is no need to take action. Clean the glass, let the rest just do its thing until it is gone. Of course the store clerk will tell you ohterwise, because he can sell you things.

Only exception I make: Cyano bacteria. Because they can become dangerous.

Ok, your advice seems logical to me. I won't buy any snails for my macmasteri tank or add any more otocinclus in the cacatuoides tank to replace the dead ones (which is what I initially intended).
Good decision!

I do use frozen cyclops but only +- 3x a week but I've seen there's only no more fry left of the cacatuoides after 3 weeks, maybe 2 of them so I'll have to wait if the newly laid eggs will hatch to feed them cyclops.
My female macmasteri also laid eggs today so I might also add frozen cyclops when those eggs hatch.
I'd feed them nonetheless. The Otos need food now. Not when the Apistos have hatched. 1/4 of a cube is enough. Defrost, rinse, into the current with it. The fish will definitely eat it all.
 

darua

Member
Messages
31
I thought that too. But you will find: Distilled/demineralized water from the store is pricey. A liter of RO from my RO unit, broken down from the water bill, costs about 3ct. A 5 liter canister from the store costs between 1,50 and 2 € right now, if you go to a discounter like Aldi or Lidl. If I bought the water I need a month only for topping off would be 25-30€, not to mention the whole getting to the store and dragging it up the stairs. A cheap RO unit is 50-60€. 2 months and you got the money back for the unit.
At my local shop it costs €1,10 for a 5 liter canister demineralised water. I think RO water from my lfs was €3 - €5 for 5L, not sure what the exact price was but for sure more than double/triple the price. Don't you've a lot of waste water with a RO system & you need a place to hang it properly?

My only doubt about demineralised water is that (as far as I read) it contains practically no minerals and RO water contains a bit more minerals than demineralised water. I hope that won't hurt the fish or plants if I mix it with tap water at least.
And that's the mistake of most beginners. In the first 6-10 months lifetime of a tank algae come and go by themselves. There is no need to take action. Clean the glass, let the rest just do its thing until it is gone. Of course the store clerk will tell you ohterwise, because he can sell you things.

Only exception I make: Cyano bacteria. Because they can become dangerous.
Ok but when you've brown algae taking over all your plants and you see after months it's not going away by itself, there is something not in balance. You don't need to pay for expensive products because it solves the problem only temporarily imo if you don't fix the real cause. Luckily my lfs doesn't offer me all sorts of products, we were mainly looking to solve it naturally because it clearly occurred at a particular spot in the tank.
I'd feed them nonetheless. The Otos need food now. Not when the Apistos have hatched. 1/4 of a cube is enough. Defrost, rinse, into the current with it. The fish will definitely eat it all.
Defrost it before putting it in the tank? I tried to give 1/3 of a cube at a time and I held it at the outflow of the filter so it was spread everywhere and melted immediately in the water. Feeding cyclops daily or keep it at a few times per week?
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,186
Location
Germany
Don't you've a lot of waste water with a RO system
Considering the water you buy is made basically the same way (yes they simply use industrial size RO systems), it doesn't make a lot of difference. The amount of waste is 1:2 in my case.
& you need a place to hang it properly?
Nope, it is in a small box when not used and when I need it I hook it to the shower faucet. The canisters take up more space.

My only doubt about demineralised water is that (as far as I read) it contains practically no minerals and RO water contains a bit more minerals than demineralised water. I hope that won't hurt the fish or plants if I mix it with tap water at least.
The fish are adapted to that type of water. And you don't have to remineralize a creek in the colombian rainforest. The animals get all they need from their food, provided you feed a good variety. Plants... well, there are not many aquatic plants in the wild. I don't add any fertilizers to my tank. TDS just measured today: 25mg/l. So basically nothing. Still plants grow great. I add leaf litter regularly to the tank, let it decompose: Tadaaa - nutrients.

Ok but when you've brown algae taking over all your plants and you see after months it's not going away by itself, there is something not in balance. You don't need to pay for expensive products because it solves the problem only temporarily imo if you don't fix the real cause. Luckily my lfs doesn't offer me all sorts of products, we were mainly looking to solve it naturally because it clearly occurred at a particular spot in the tank.
You might be surprised, but adding a fast growing plant like Ceratophyllum or Hydrocotyle and letting it float does wonders. Often the imbalance comes from an oversupply of a nutrient. You remove them by removing the plants that grow in. A very common mistake is starting with too little plant mass and using plants that are easy but slow growing. Anubias, Java fern... not what you choose when you want a plant to use up excess nutrients.
Also... nobody said it would be gone quickly if you don't do anything.

Defrost it before putting it in the tank?
Ever wondered what's in the water they freeze the stuff in? The water is not contaminated really, but a lot of phosphates and in case of artemia also a lot of salt. Of course in small amounts it's fine, but daily or other-daily feedings make up quite a lot, which makes waterchanges necessary more often. Defrosted and with a bit of rinsing that problem is a non-problem.

Feeding cyclops daily or keep it at a few times per week?
Every other day and in rotation with other possible Otocinclus food-items.
 

darua

Member
Messages
31
Nope, it is in a small box when not used and when I need it I hook it to the shower faucet. The canisters take up more space.
I might need to consider a RO device if it's that easy. For my 2 60L apistogramma tanks I might not need it that often but I'm planning to setup my final tank, a 260L by the end of march with blue acara's and they would also benefit from softer water and a lower ph.
You might be surprised, but adding a fast growing plant like Ceratophyllum or Hydrocotyle and letting it float does wonders. Often the imbalance comes from an oversupply of a nutrient. You remove them by removing the plants that grow in. A very common mistake is starting with too little plant mass and using plants that are easy but slow growing. Anubias, Java fern... not what you choose when you want a plant to use up excess nutrients.
Also... nobody said it would be gone quickly if you don't do anything.
I doubt if i should add any plants to my tank with my macmasteri, for me the way it looks is perfect as it is but i doubt there won't be a surplus of nutrients in the tanks in time with only java fern & anubias in the tank. I could maybe try Ceratophyllum as you propose.

For my tank with the brown algae I was looking if amazon frogbit or Salvinia minima from a friend would solve the problem and use up excess nutrients...
Ever wondered what's in the water they freeze the stuff in? The water is not contaminated really, but a lot of phosphates and in case of artemia also a lot of salt. Of course in small amounts it's fine, but daily or other-daily feedings make up quite a lot, which makes waterchanges necessary more often. Defrosted and with a bit of rinsing that problem is a non-problem.
Don't you rinse away all the cyclops in a second?
Every other day and in rotation with other possible Otocinclus food-items.
I'm doing algae wafer or blanched zuchini right now but I'll also add cyclops in the rotation, thanks!
 

Ben Rhau

Apisto Club
Messages
586
Location
San Francisco
Do you know whether it's algae or diatoms? In either case, excess nutrients are probably not the problem. Algae can grow in extremely low nutrient environments, but plants cannot. And algae tend to proliferate when plants are not doing well.

Plants usually don't do well because there's too much light relative to how much CO2 is available. I know you tried decreasing the duration of the light. Have you tried decreasing the intensity? Both by dimming the light and by adding floating plants. Or by just blacking out your tank for a few days.

You could modestly improve CO2 availability by increasing circulation, but I don't prefer that method with apistos, since they like the water to be still.
 

darua

Member
Messages
31
Plants usually don't do well because there's too much light relative to how much CO2 is available. I know you tried decreasing the duration of the light. Have you tried decreasing the intensity? Both by dimming the light and by adding floating plants. Or by just blacking out your tank for a few days.
I tried decreasing the light, I switched from 4 hours to 2 hours for 3 weeks and most of it was gone. I can't dim the light because I'm using a Twinstar B-Line the v1 without a dimmer for that tank. I can dim it if I buy a separate dimmer...

I lost my alternanthera cardinalis because of the heavy decreasing of duration of the light.

But I'm thinking about adding amazon frogbit or salvinia minima, not sure if that's a good plant to (try) solve my issues or not.

My CO2 is now around 45 bubbles/min.
Do you know whether it's algae or diatoms? In either case, excess nutrients are probably not the problem. Algae can grow in extremely low nutrient environments, but plants cannot. And algae tend to proliferate when plants are not doing well.
My plants keep growing well such as my rotala rotundifolia and my hygrophila corymbosa, my monte carlo also keeps the bright green color but doesn't spread that much as I would've hoped.
Maybe because there used to be lilaepsis in front of it until last week or I should trim my monte carlo but then it floats everywhere in my tank when I try that.
You could modestly improve CO2 availability by increasing circulation, but I don't prefer that method with apistos, since they like the water to be still.
I'm using a eheim aquaball 60 and switched recently from the outlet that produces oxygen bubbles with a quite heavy circulation (don't know the exact name) to a spray bar to see if it helps.
A small (white) layer seems to appear on top of my water when I made this change and some oxygen bubbles seem to be stuck under my surface.
 

darua

Member
Messages
31
Brown algae = diatoms in most non-english speaking countries.
I don't know the difference but here you can see it on my lilaeopsis that I've removed and a bit on my rotala (picture was taken after I've cleaned the biggest part).
 

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Ben Rhau

Apisto Club
Messages
586
Location
San Francisco
Brown algae = diatoms in most non-english speaking countries.
Yes, just wanted to make sure it wasn't BBA or something else. In the photos, it definitely appears to be diatoms.

I tried decreasing the light, I switched from 4 hours to 2 hours for 3 weeks and most of it was gone. I can't dim the light because I'm using a Twinstar B-Line the v1 without a dimmer for that tank. I can dim it if I buy a separate dimmer...
I didn't catch earlier that you're using CO2. High tech tanks are out of my realm of experience, but that is a bright light. I think it's well worth having a dimmer to control that variable.

If the diatoms aren't going away after several months, I highly suspect it's due to light intensity.


But I'm thinking about adding amazon frogbit or salvinia minima, not sure if that's a good plant to (try) solve my issues or not.
Those are both fine and they will all block light. You may want to buy several kinds of floating plants to see what you like and how easy they are to maintain. I would avoid duckweed (Lemna minor). I personally think the Salvinia plants are the easiest to deal with. I use both natans and minima in my tanks.
 

darua

Member
Messages
31
it definitely appears to be diatoms
What's the main difference between diatoms and algae?

Those are both fine and they will all block light. You may want to buy several kinds of floating plants to see what you like and how easy they are to maintain. I would avoid duckweed (Lemna minor). I personally think the Salvinia plants are the easiest to deal with. I use both natans and minima in my tanks.
I'd prefer using floating plants and keeping the light intensity, I would like to try and go to 5 hours of light each day so I can enjoy my tank more than 3 hours a day...

If I dim my light too much it won't help either I suppose because I'm also adding CO2, liquid fertilizers from ADA and my plants need the light to grow and consume all the nutrients (I think?)

If nothing seems to work I can try and use the dimmer that's on my other tank right now but there is also no sign of algae (yet) and I'm using it full force and not really dimming the light even though I only have Java fern & anubias in that tank that don't need that much light as far as I know.
 

Ben Rhau

Apisto Club
Messages
586
Location
San Francisco
What's the main difference between diatoms and algae?
I just wanted to know which kind it was. If it were black beard algae, for example, it's harder to get rid of and you would need to kill what's there. When people say "brown algae" I'm not always sure if they're saying "it's some kind of algae and it's brown," or "it's diatoms" as Mac said. Diatoms often go away on their own, but if not, there's a light problem.

I'd prefer using floating plants and keeping the light intensity, I would like to try and go to 5 hours of light each day so I can enjoy my tank more than 3 hours a day...
You can obvioulsy do what you want, but reducing light is the easiest thing to control. If you lower the intensity enough, you can have it on longer. Since you already have a dimmer that's not even being used. I would personally try that in addition to floating plants. The plants will take some time to grow enough to cover the surface, so the effect won't be instananeous.


If I dim my light too much it won't help either I suppose because I'm also adding CO2, liquid fertilizers from ADA and my plants need the light to grow and consume all the nutrients (I think?)
Dimming the light WILL help, and having added CO2 will simply ensure that it's not limiting. You don't need to consume all the nutrients. There are people who use EI, which intentionally doses every nutrient in excess. Not stressful at all. The plants will just grow a little slower with less light.
 

darua

Member
Messages
31
I also overlooked the CO2. Sorry, now I can't halpt anymore. Wrong type of setup.
The whole idea of that tank was to have a planted CO2 tank, the apistogramma's came in later to have a very beautiful fish that stands out.
I would do it different now, that's why my most recent setup is way different.

You got to try things & learn from it I guess.
 

darua

Member
Messages
31
You can obvioulsy do what you want, but reducing light is the easiest thing to control. If you lower the intensity enough, you can have it on longer. Since you already have a dimmer that's not even being used. I would personally try that in addition to floating plants. The plants will take some time to grow enough to cover the surface, so the effect won't be instananeous.
Ok, but isn't it dangerous to let floating plants cover the entire surface so it blocks too much light and the plants beneath it will suffer?
 

dw1305

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Messages
2,791
Location
Wiltshire UK
Hi all,
I tried decreasing the light, I switched from 4 hours to 2 hours for 3 weeks and most of it was gone. I can't dim the light because I'm using a Twinstar B-Line the v1 without a dimmer for that tank. I can dim it if I buy a separate dimmer...

I lost my alternanthera cardinalis because of the heavy decreasing of duration of the light.
I'm not being funny but you need a much longer lighting duration than four hours, I use twelve hours (the duration of a tropical day ) and I wouldn't recommend any-one uses less than eight hours. For example Christel Kasselmann also uses a 12 hour light period <"https://www.christel-kasselmann.de/buecher-2/aquarium-plants/">.

I'm not a CO2 user, but plants can only make use of that extra CO2 if light and nutrients are available.
If the diatoms aren't going away after several months, I highly suspect it's due to light intensity.
Yes, they are often found in new set-ups and some species are favoured by low light levels. It is really difficult to make generalisations about diatoms, because they are pretty much universal wherever liquid water occurs and whatever the circumstance are there will be a diatom adapted to grow there.
But I'm thinking about adding amazon frogbit or salvinia minima, not sure if that's a good plant to (try) solve my issues or not.
Either is perfect. You can use them both as a nutrient sponge and as a net curtain. One of the reasons I like a floating plant is that they have access to atmospheric CO2 and high light intensity.

Have a look at <"https://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/what-is-the-“duckweed-index”-all-about.73647/">.

cheers Darrel
 

Ben Rhau

Apisto Club
Messages
586
Location
San Francisco
Ok, but isn't it dangerous to let floating plants cover the entire surface so it blocks too much light and the plants beneath it will suffer?
If you haven't already, you may want to ask for help about your diatom issue on the UKAPS forum, which has a lot of plant experts. This forum tends to focus more (not completely, but more so) on the fish's needs.

The floating plants will make the fish feel more comfortable, and you can have control over the light intensity for the plants below.
 

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