South American Cichlids • Plant Recommendations

Discussion regarding only South American Cichlid species. (Oscars, Geophagines, Discus, Apistogramma, Green Terrors, Angels, Severums, Pikes, etc.)

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Plant Recommendations

Postby ncm13579 » Sat Jan 16, 2021 1:05 am

I am currently planning on stocking a 75 gallon tank with 2 keyhole cichlids, 4 bolivian rams, 10 black phantom tetras, 3 upside down catfish and 4 zebra loaches. I have already purchased 2 filters (aquaclear 110 and eheim 2217). I plan on using pool filter sand (approx. 1.5") for the substrate.

I was wondering what type of live plants would be good for this tank. Anyone have any recommendations for good plants species for this specific tank?

Also, how many pounds of PFS would you recommend to purchase?
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Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2021 7:44 pm
Location: New Jersey

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Re: Plant Recommendations

Postby Auballagh » Sat Jan 16, 2021 10:24 am

Your stocking choices present some unusual opportunities. None of the fish you are interested in are particularly invested diggers. And outside of an occasional nip or bite now and then, they will/should not be very interested in eating your plants.
So.... sand. This is indeed a wonderful substrate for digging, active, plant-destroying cichlids. Unfortunately, it's just NOT a very good medium to site substrate growing aquatic plants in.
Nope. Without the benefit of those cichlids and other active diggers sifting, churning and moving that sand? It's gonna pack down over time, tighter and tighter. In some cases sand in an aquarium will pack down so tight that an actual, anaerobic layer will form underneath it.
That's Bad.
Plus, sand is almost completely bereft of any organic nutrition needed for your plants. It's inert.
Also Bad.
-
So, in cases where you have destructive (non-plant eating) cichlids or other fish? I recommend keeping substrate-growing plants sited down in the aquarium, in actual planters. The plants are happy and safe, and Pool Filtration Sand ()PFS) is used as 'regular' substrate in the rest of the tank for the destructive/digging fish to play in.... everyone wins!
-
Questions:
- Do want a heavily planted planted aquarium, with substrate growing plants?
- Is it possible the relatively peaceful/calm (non-destructive) cichlids you are interested in now, may be swapped out sometime later with less reliable species (diggers!).
- How important is that PFS to you? If you have to have it? That could mean no substrate planted plants in there (though you could still go with potted plant thing).
-
Send more info! And, let's see if we can set up something nice you'll be happy with. 8)
Find What You Love And Let It kill You!
What matters most is how well you walk through the fire...
- Charles Bukowski -
User avatar
Auballagh
 
Joined: Wed Jan 29, 2003 7:05 pm
Location: Virginia Beach, VA. US of A

Re: Plant Recommendations

Postby ncm13579 » Sat Jan 16, 2021 4:10 pm

Auballagh wrote:Your stocking choices present some unusual opportunities. None of the fish you are interested in are particularly invested diggers. And outside of an occasional nip or bite now and then, they will/should not be very interested in eating your plants.
So.... sand. This is indeed a wonderful substrate for digging, active, plant-destroying cichlids. Unfortunately, it's just NOT a very good medium to site substrate growing aquatic plants in.
Nope. Without the benefit of those cichlids and other active diggers sifting, churning and moving that sand? It's gonna pack down over time, tighter and tighter. In some cases sand in an aquarium will pack down so tight that an actual, anaerobic layer will form underneath it.
That's Bad.
Plus, sand is almost completely bereft of any organic nutrition needed for your plants. It's inert.
Also Bad.
-
So, in cases where you have destructive (non-plant eating) cichlids or other fish? I recommend keeping substrate-growing plants sited down in the aquarium, in actual planters. The plants are happy and safe, and Pool Filtration Sand ()PFS) is used as 'regular' substrate in the rest of the tank for the destructive/digging fish to play in.... everyone wins!
-
Questions:
- Do want a heavily planted planted aquarium, with substrate growing plants?
- Is it possible the relatively peaceful/calm (non-destructive) cichlids you are interested in now, may be swapped out sometime later with less reliable species (diggers!).
- How important is that PFS to you? If you have to have it? That could mean no substrate planted plants in there (though you could still go with potted plant thing).
-
Send more info! And, let's see if we can set up something nice you'll be happy with. 8)


I have actually read that keyhole cichlids often enjoy sifting through sand as it is something that is a part of their natural habitat. I would like to stick with the PFS for both aesthetic and cost purposes. Also, it is possible that the tank stocking gets switched around to some species that sift through the sand in the future. I have done some research and some people have actually attached live plants to pieces of driftwood with rubber bands until the roots grow more. I would like some live plants but don't want it to be too overcrowded so it doesn't need to be heavily planted. And I have also done some research on flourish tablets that some use to provide nutrients to plants that may not naturally be there in the substrate. I've read good reviews about the seachem flourish tablets.
ncm13579
 
Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2021 7:44 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: Plant Recommendations

Postby Auballagh » Sat Jan 16, 2021 6:13 pm

Alrighty then! I see the PFS is gonna be kinda important to the look, and feel of this aquarium?
Definitely not a problem!
- Non-Substrate plants: Anubias (there are a LOT of different types), Java Fern and Java Moss are all great species of plants that you can tie on to driftwood pieces. The coarse/rough surfaces of lava rock and even Mountain Lace Rock pieces could be used to advantage as well. As you mention, rubber bands are a definite option to use in affixing the plants. The Japanese in the 'Nature Aquarium (Takahashi Amano!) use actual, polyester-based thread for that work.... My own choice? Skinny, plastic zip-ties! I personally found that the rubber bands didn't usually last long enough to get the plants properly rooted onto the object. The thread because, well... geeze, man. The skinny zip-ties worked great, were almost invisible and could be pretty easily removed when I was ready - and the plant looked like it had properly anchored itself on.
-
- Potted, substrate-growing plants. I admire your thoughts of using the tabs and stuff to properly nutrify your plants. And yes.... it COULD work. But, well, I'm a pushover for what works best for the plant - and is easiest to set up and maintain later. So, for pots I recommend using those smaller-sized glass, bulbous-shaped goldfish or even Betta bowls. (Small top opening, larger internal size). I filled mine with high-grade potting soil. Yep. And then topped that off with around 2 inches or so of small particle, natural-colored gravel. Those things work really good! And, if you're gonna use larger-growing Sword Plants and stuff? (Nitrate Vacuums!) Those are just the ticket for getting enough organic material with the potting soil, to properly feed those nutrition pigs. You pot up the plant outside the tank, with wet potting soil. Small diameter gravel is packed-in/placed on top, and you may need to use lead plant weights initially until the plant roots itself in to the pot safely. And, it's actually pretty easy to site those things behind driftwood and rocks in the aquarium. I found that the rounded glass shape of the pot, with brown soil/root contents just blend into invisibility. With really good grow lights? Healthy, fast growing substrate plants like that are gonna make a huge difference in the look and feel of your aquarium. Plus, if things need to be moved around a bit - or moved into a larger tank? Potted plants make it incredibly easy to do so. And did I say that they tend to help A LOT in bringing down those Nitrate levels in the tank? Plus, I wound up selling some of mine later. Whew, one of my established, big sword plants went for a cool $100 bucks. Oh yes! :)
Find What You Love And Let It kill You!
What matters most is how well you walk through the fire...
- Charles Bukowski -
User avatar
Auballagh
 
Joined: Wed Jan 29, 2003 7:05 pm
Location: Virginia Beach, VA. US of A

Re: Plant Recommendations

Postby ncm13579 » Sun Jan 17, 2021 3:08 am

Auballagh wrote:Alrighty then! I see the PFS is gonna be kinda important to the look, and feel of this aquarium?
Definitely not a problem!
- Non-Substrate plants: Anubias (there are a LOT of different types), Java Fern and Java Moss are all great species of plants that you can tie on to driftwood pieces. The coarse/rough surfaces of lava rock and even Mountain Lace Rock pieces could be used to advantage as well. As you mention, rubber bands are a definite option to use in affixing the plants. The Japanese in the 'Nature Aquarium (Takahashi Amano!) use actual, polyester-based thread for that work.... My own choice? Skinny, plastic zip-ties! I personally found that the rubber bands didn't usually last long enough to get the plants properly rooted onto the object. The thread because, well... geeze, man. The skinny zip-ties worked great, were almost invisible and could be pretty easily removed when I was ready - and the plant looked like it had properly anchored itself on.
-
- Potted, substrate-growing plants. I admire your thoughts of using the tabs and stuff to properly nutrify your plants. And yes.... it COULD work. But, well, I'm a pushover for what works best for the plant - and is easiest to set up and maintain later. So, for pots I recommend using those smaller-sized glass, bulbous-shaped goldfish or even Betta bowls. (Small top opening, larger internal size). I filled mine with high-grade potting soil. Yep. And then topped that off with around 2 inches or so of small particle, natural-colored gravel. Those things work really good! And, if you're gonna use larger-growing Sword Plants and stuff? (Nitrate Vacuums!) Those are just the ticket for getting enough organic material with the potting soil, to properly feed those nutrition pigs. You pot up the plant outside the tank, with wet potting soil. Small diameter gravel is packed-in/placed on top, and you may need to use lead plant weights initially until the plant roots itself in to the pot safely. And, it's actually pretty easy to site those things behind driftwood and rocks in the aquarium. I found that the rounded glass shape of the pot, with brown soil/root contents just blend into invisibility. With really good grow lights? Healthy, fast growing substrate plants like that are gonna make a huge difference in the look and feel of your aquarium. Plus, if things need to be moved around a bit - or moved into a larger tank? Potted plants make it incredibly easy to do so. And did I say that they tend to help A LOT in bringing down those Nitrate levels in the tank? Plus, I wound up selling some of mine later. Whew, one of my established, big sword plants went for a cool $100 bucks. Oh yes! :)


Thanks for the help. I think I will definitely attempt the anubias, java ferns and/or java moss as I have heard good things about them in tanks with sand and driftwood. I was a little worried about the zipties being sharp if I cut them short though. I may try the polyester thread, but have also read about moss cotton thread that dissolves later, typically after the roots have attached. I may also try a single sword plant since they are beneficial to the tank, but they can get quite large. Do you have any suggestions from where I can purchase these types of plants online from a reliable source? I know petsmart and petco have some live plants, but they always look like they are in terrible condition. I don't really have any LFS near me so most of my fish and live plants will have to be ordered online.
ncm13579
 
Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2021 7:44 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: Plant Recommendations

Postby Auballagh » Sun Jan 17, 2021 3:41 am

This looks good!
- Zip Ties: Use a single-sided craft razor to cut your zip-ties flush with the locking device. Smooth cuts that way, and they'll work fine and not hurt anybody in there with them. :)
- Terrible Looking Plant Purchases: Quarantine! Grow 'em out in a separate, plant only tank. Prune out the weird leaves. When good stuff comes in - minus hair algae, etc.... - then you know you have succeeded. Site the plant in the tank!
- On line plant purchases: Quarantine! Just like fish, you are never sure of what you may get from someone else's tank. Barring that, your Amazon Sword (if healthy), will grow leaves at a prodigious rate. Problems with it, will soon disappear when you provide healthy conditions for it to grow in, and you prune those old (nasty) leaves off of it.
- Sword Plants: No - they aren't going to wind up being Audrey II in your aquarium! Yes, they grow prolifically. And yes, they can get big. But.... they are also susceptible to pruning. Remove the old leaves. Remove the extra large leaves.... The plant will only be as large as YOU allow it to be.
-
Sounds like you are on a good track with this tank, and It's gonna be nice one. Send pics!
Find What You Love And Let It kill You!
What matters most is how well you walk through the fire...
- Charles Bukowski -
User avatar
Auballagh
 
Joined: Wed Jan 29, 2003 7:05 pm
Location: Virginia Beach, VA. US of A

Re: Plant Recommendations

Postby ncm13579 » Sun Jan 17, 2021 4:58 pm

Auballagh wrote:This looks good!
- Zip Ties: Use a single-sided craft razor to cut your zip-ties flush with the locking device. Smooth cuts that way, and they'll work fine and not hurt anybody in there with them. :)
- Terrible Looking Plant Purchases: Quarantine! Grow 'em out in a separate, plant only tank. Prune out the weird leaves. When good stuff comes in - minus hair algae, etc.... - then you know you have succeeded. Site the plant in the tank!
- On line plant purchases: Quarantine! Just like fish, you are never sure of what you may get from someone else's tank. Barring that, your Amazon Sword (if healthy), will grow leaves at a prodigious rate. Problems with it, will soon disappear when you provide healthy conditions for it to grow in, and you prune those old (nasty) leaves off of it.
- Sword Plants: No - they aren't going to wind up being Audrey II in your aquarium! Yes, they grow prolifically. And yes, they can get big. But.... they are also susceptible to pruning. Remove the old leaves. Remove the extra large leaves.... The plant will only be as large as YOU allow it to be.
-
Sounds like you are on a good track with this tank, and It's gonna be nice one. Send pics!


I'll probably post pics once I get the tank up and running. It might be a while though... still waiting on the tank stand.
ncm13579
 
Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2021 7:44 pm
Location: New Jersey


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