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55g tank - fish and plant stocking ideas?

Postby ererer » Tue Mar 02, 2021 6:22 pm

Hello all. I have a 55g planted soft blackwater South American tank with Cardinal tetras, a few small groups of different species of Corydoras, and 2 pairs + 1 lone male of Apistogramma Hongsloi. I'm planning to rehome the tetras and corydoras in a 29 gallon, and setup separate 10 gallons for the each pair of apistos. The lone male will probably end up in the 29g tank as well. My well water is 7 dkh and 7.4 ph. I also have roughly a dozen multies in a 10g tank. I'd like to turn the 55g into a Tanganyika community tank, focused mostly on the multies. I'd like to get ph up to 7.8-8 and increase gh/kh, though the multies I currently have are in just my well water.

My thought is to put rockwork on one end of the tank, and leave an open sand bed in the middle and on the other end for the multies. I'd like to add a pair of Julidochromis to occupy the rockwork area, currently I'm leaning toward transcriptus. I'd also like a small school of fish to occupy the middle and upper area of the tank, I'm thinking either Cyprichromis leptosoma or Paracyprichromis nigripinnis, with my preference being for the nigripinnis if I can find them. I prefer smaller fish to larger fish generally, I usually avoid anything much over 4".

I'd also like to have some plants - currently, I have amazon sword, two varieties of crypts, chain sword, and java fern that I'd like to try. They are doing fine in my water currently.

Some questions:
1) Currently I'm using just HTH pool filter sand for my multies. What's the best way to keep a stable, elevated ph and hardness? Based on this article, my thought is to make a mixture of baking soda, epsom salt, and marine salt to add during water changes: https://www.cichlid-forum.com/articles/ ... mistry.php. Can I add this directly to the aquarium while changing water? Or do I need to premix it in a separate container and then add to the tank from there? I'd prefer it if I could add it straight to the tank during the water change, just for simplicity and being able to not use buckets for the water change.
2) Thoughts on stocking? I'd like to have a nice, thriving mutli colony where if not all, then at least a decent amount of the multi fry survive. My LFS is happy to take extra fish for store credit if I end up with too many (fingers crossed). I'd also like to have the julis and the cyps/paracyps breed successfully as well, if possible.
3) Thoughts on my plant choices?

Thanks!
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Re: 55g tank - fish and plant stocking ideas?

Postby noddy » Tue Mar 02, 2021 7:16 pm

Just a note on the Cyps. If the tank is 48" long it would be o.k for a non jumbo type.
As far as you preferring smaller fish, Paracyps will grow larger than non jumbo cyps.
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Re: 55g tank - fish and plant stocking ideas?

Postby ererer » Tue Mar 02, 2021 7:37 pm

Yes, dimensions are standard Aqueon 55g tank - 48" x12" x 21".
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Re: 55g tank - fish and plant stocking ideas?

Postby Auballagh » Tue Mar 02, 2021 8:24 pm

I like your stocking choices, but can't comment on the Cypichromis - haven't kept them before.
I CAN offer some ideas on your plants though!
- I'm not a fan of siting substrate-growing plants in sand. It packs down too tight over time and Is just too inert organically to provide any nutrition to the plants. And, adding fertilizer tabs or treating the water with any liquid supplements is just ASKING for an algae bloom or seriously cloudy water.
This thread in the S/A section will help to better explain the sand problem and some recommended solutions,

https://www.cichlid-forum.com/phpBB/vie ... 0&t=453503

Java Fern will anchor down and actually grow pretty well on coarse surface rocks. Lava rocks are a good first choice, but Mountain Lace Rock is less coarse, much lighter in color and works very nicely as well. Sandstone is another rock type I've seen used successfully with non-substrate rooting plants. I would strongly recommend trying some Anubias plants as well. There are some very nice varieties you could go with to add some different textures, sizes and leaf shapes to the mix.
And lastly,
- If you're serious about those plants - they get a vote too! It really is a balance. And to succeed long term with plants, you're going to have to make some decisions for the aquarium that will keep the plants healthy and growing properly, as well as for the fish stocked in the tank.
- Provide good quality lighting and set your lighting up with a timer for a minimum 12-14 hour, on-off cycle.
- No half-measures! By that, I mean you need to really put some plants in this tank. A lot! Or sooner, probably than later... mean ol' Mr. Algae is definitely gonna be paying your aquarium an unwanted visit! :(
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Re: 55g tank - fish and plant stocking ideas?

Postby ererer » Wed Mar 03, 2021 12:21 am

Auballagh, thanks for your suggestions. I read the thread you linked as well. I really like plants in a tank both for the aesthetic, as well as their ability to remove ammonia and nitrates from the water, and increase oxygen.

I currently have safetsorb topped with pool filter sand in my 55g. I use osmocote+ pellets in the substrate that get changed every 4-6 months, usually when I start seeing signs of nutrient deficiencies in the heavy root feeders. I have liquid ferts, homemade macro and micro mixes, but I haven't really noticed a difference dosing or not dosing them, so I haven't in a while. Occasionally I'll add 5ml of the micro mix. I haven't noticed any problems with bacterial blooms or cloudy water, I do have a little bit of BBA and GHA occasionally. Here's a pic:

IMG_20210219_183254.jpg


I'll definitely use java fern, I've had good luck with simply using super glue gel to attach them to rocks. I've only kept anubias nana and anubias nana petite, I don't think they are the look that I'm going for. If I can find the right leaf shape in a different variety of anubias, I'll likely reconsider. I've also been keeping süsswassertang in with my multies in the 10g, I'll probably add that to the 55 as well. I may also try a floating plant, like water lettuce.

Here's the 10g currently:

IMG_20210302_231239.jpg


As far as substrate for the rooted plants, I'm thinking of using rockwork to create "planter" beds in the back of the tank to fill in with a proper plant substrate, and hopefully discourage the shellies from rescaping those areas.

I have a 48" Fluval 3.0 on the tank currently; since it's my only 48" tank, I'll keep using it. I currently run a 13 hour photo period, but only about a 6-8 hour peak in the middle, so I don't get too much algae.

My biggest concern and the biggest unknown for me with plants really is how they will handle higher ph and gh/kh. Currently my ph is 7.4, I'd like to bump it up to 7.8-8, and increase hardness. It seems that these varieties have worked for others, so I'll do my best to try acclimating them and keep my fingers crossed.
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Re: 55g tank - fish and plant stocking ideas?

Postby Auballagh » Wed Mar 03, 2021 7:59 am

That's a good-looking planted tank! Sounds like you're on top of this, and I like the plan. :)
You may want to consider using glass or plastic, small/shallow food-serving plates for the planted areas. I haven't had much luck using Flourite without CO2 pushing the issue for those plants. And with the use of Safetsorb (Kitty Litter) I would expect more of the same problems. I've never used that stuff as aquarium substrate, (do you sift it first to remove any dust and finer particles out before siting plants down in it?). Diana Walstad and her use of high-grade potting soil topped with small diameter gravel informs me, and has worked great as substrate in all of my Low-Tech (non-CO2) planted aquariums. For your application with those Tanganyikan shellies, topping off the small-diameter gravel with another layer of pebbles and little rocks, may help to discourage those little guys from digging down into the planted areas, esp. if you provide plenty of PFS around their shells to work in.
With your plant choices, the ones that gave me the toughest time in adapting to the harder/high PH water of the Tanganyikan-themed tank were those Cryptocornes, esp. the more red-looking varieties. After planting, most died outright with a few that sort of hung in there in grudging fashion. Given time they may have adapted and thrived, but I lost patience with them before that could happen.
- The Amazon Sword is one that will definitely sulk at first, then adapts and actually seems determined to take over the tank! I've had to use pots to provide enough substrate to keep those nutrient hogs growing well, because they always seem to exhaust the shallower substrates pretty fast.
- Another substrate grower that seemed to grow well in hard/higher PH water, was some variety of eel grass I tried. Mine grew out from a single stem, and was another potted plant 'boomer'. Two others I placed in shallow substrate just lost vigor after a couple years, and didn't work out long-term.
-
For my 33 gallon Tang Tank, I pre-mixed the fill water for water changes in a 32 gallon Rubber Maid trashcan. My additives were just about the same as what you are using, and I pumped the water into the aquarium from that plastic trash can using a pre-filtered, submersible Mag-Drive 5 with a length of vinyl hose. After partially filling the trash can, (25 gallons) I usually ran it in re-circ mode for 10 minutes or so to ensure dechloramine and everything else I'd added to the water was mixed-in well. Worked great! :)
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Re: 55g tank - fish and plant stocking ideas?

Postby Fogelhund » Wed Mar 03, 2021 1:27 pm

On the flipside, I've never had algae bloom problems, at any point in Tanganyikan planted tanks, and I've kept them for thirty years now. Most success with Cryptocorne plants... I guess I'm the polar opposite of Auballagh. Crypt wendtii red is absolutely thriving. I use sand... just sand.

I'd post pictures, but the forum is archaic.. if you want pictures, send me an email... [email protected]
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Re: 55g tank - fish and plant stocking ideas?

Postby Auballagh » Wed Mar 03, 2021 7:23 pm

Das' Wasserhund, has definitely got his own roll going with the planted Tang Tank thing.
And, oh man... I really wanted that red Cryptocorne wendtii to work in my tank! :x
Supposedly one of the aquatic plant 'easy ones', those red leaves would have looked great as a contrast against all of that white and green.
But, nope....
And as they say, "Your Own Mileage May Vary." And what the heck, if I was in the bizness of setting up another planted tank? I'd definitely give those Red Crypts another go!
Just wouldn't put 'em directly down in that PFS.
Nope. :roll:
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Re: 55g tank - fish and plant stocking ideas?

Postby ererer » Mon Mar 08, 2021 4:52 pm

Sorry, more stocking questions (I appreciate the help, I know that this forum is full of stocking questions).

Noone locally is breeding Julis or Cyps, but there's an online auction going on for PVAS which is a couple hours from here, and one of the local club members is driving down to facilitate our local club participating in the auction. One listing is for a "breeding group of Julidochromis Transcriptus 'Bemba'" with 9 individuals ranging from 1" to 4" in size.

I've read in a few places that rearranging the rock work or moving a pair could cause the pair to break up. Is this something I should worry about with introducing the group to a new tank? Also, I've seen a lot of recommendations about not keeping multiple pairs together, but also that offspring of a pair will help raise fry, and so it seems like keeping a group that's all related together is okay, as is the case with this group. Is that the case? If so, will I likely need to remove the offspring once they grow up to adult size, or will it just depend on the fish?

Would it be okay for the time being to keep this group of 9 in a 29 gallon (30" long x 12" wide, x 18" high) species only tank? Unfortunately I haven't found anyone breeding cyps/paracyps locally, though there is someone in Lexington Mass. that breeds both but doesn't have any available at the moment. Or would it be okay to keep this group in my 55g along with a group of multies, then add the cyps/paracyps when I get them?

Eventually I'd still like to have the 55g stocked with a group of cyps or paracyps, multies, and then some number of J. transcriptus, though if it's 2 or 9 or don't really care, whatever works best for the tankmates - though having a group of Julis I imagine would be more interesting than just a pair, just not sure that there would be room enough in a 55g tank that's not species only.
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Re: 55g tank - fish and plant stocking ideas?

Postby ererer » Wed Mar 10, 2021 9:55 am

I've found an online vendor for P. nigripinnis, so hopefully I'll have a group of those within a few weeks. Waiting on weather to warm for shipping. I should have either a group of J. transcriptus or J. ornatus this Sunday. There's also a group of 5-6 J. Ornatus juveniles in the auction that I'm considering instead of the J. transcriptus. No collection location provided for this one, but there's no bids on this group yet whereas there's already bidding on the transcriptus. Which one do you recommend getting?

Also, is there a recommended order in which to introduce fish to the tank?
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Re: 55g tank - fish and plant stocking ideas?

Postby Fogelhund » Wed Mar 10, 2021 12:50 pm

ererer wrote:I've found an online vendor for P. nigripinnis, so hopefully I'll have a group of those within a few weeks. Waiting on weather to warm for shipping. I should have either a group of J. transcriptus or J. ornatus this Sunday. There's also a group of 5-6 J. Ornatus juveniles in the auction that I'm considering instead of the J. transcriptus. No collection location provided for this one, but there's no bids on this group yet whereas there's already bidding on the transcriptus. Which one do you recommend getting?

Also, is there a recommended order in which to introduce fish to the tank?


Good quality yellow ornatus are a pretty nice fish. If they don't have much yellow, I'd prefer transcriptus. Behaviour wise, there isn't much difference, so it just comes down to whichever one you like the looks of best. There is no better, or worse choice.
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Re: 55g tank - fish and plant stocking ideas?

Postby DJRansome » Wed Mar 10, 2021 5:56 pm

If you cycle with ammonia, I like to introduce them all at once.
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Re: 55g tank - fish and plant stocking ideas?

Postby ererer » Wed Mar 10, 2021 7:36 pm

DJRansome, thanks for your recommendation. I keep extra media in my filters, so I use that to start cycles in new tanks. I check ammonia and nitrates regularly for the first several days and water change as necessary.
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Re: 55g tank - fish and plant stocking ideas?

Postby DJRansome » Wed Mar 10, 2021 10:40 pm

Then if you will cycle with established media that cannot support the entire future bioload then I would add the paracyps first and wait a month for additions.

If you can only get the julidochromis now, then it appears there is not a real choice.
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Re: 55g tank - fish and plant stocking ideas?

Postby ererer » Thu Mar 11, 2021 8:46 am

I have enough extra aquariums that I can house each group in a species only tank until I am ready to add them to the 55g community tank.

After staring for a while at pictures of J. ornatus and transcriptus, I've decided to get the group of ornatus juveniles in the auction. So the final stock list is:

1) N. multifasicatius - 5 adults, 2 juveniles, 3 fry
2) J. ornatus - 5-6 juveniles (1"-2") (seller isn't sure if there are 5 or 6 in the growout tank, there are at least 5. He'll include the whole group when he breaks down the growout tank)
3) P. nigripinnis - 8-? juveniles (1.5"-2")

How many nigripinnis do you suggest I start with for this 55g setup? I figured at least 8, but not sure if a group of 10 or 12 would be better, or too big. I know that I'll likely need to remove some of the ornatus once a pair forms.
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