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I think I want to try something new

5579 Views 28 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Dutch Dude
I have been on this forum for almost 2 years. I have concentrated on African rift lake fish. I suddenly have a urge to try a very small planted tank with a pair of SA dwarves, maybe in my office.

I have an 8g Biocube that used to house my nano reef. I have done a few filter modifications (as recomended on a nano reef forum I am also on) to increase turnover and maximize filtration. The reef hummed a long quite nicely. The only reason I upgraded to the 30g Biocube for the reef, was to add a few more interesting coral (that happened to be a bit large for the 8g)

Anyway. I have been toying with trying my hand at a small planted tank. My favorite LFS has a display tank with rams (not sure which species though I think they are M. ramirezi based on coloration) and another tank with some apistos (again not sure on the species, haven't paid them much attention). I do know that both groups have been breeding pretty successfully.

Here is my question. Given my tank, which species of dwarf would have the best chance of thriving? I nkow I will have to keep very close tabs on the water quality, but I am quite used to multiple weekly waterchanges on some of my fry and grow out tanks, so extra work is not a problem for me.

Also, what would be a good group of plants for this?

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If you still have your reef lighting for it, the wattage should be fine for whatever plants you want.

What's the footprint? That will be the limiting factor for the cichlids ... without knowing it am thinking only like a single blue ram or apisto borelli, maybe a male checkerboard ... something tiny.
Yes the lighting is as it was. I can always switch out the bulb for a different color temp. Its has 2x18w Dual Powercompacts. I want to say they are 10,000K and 460nm 50/50 bulbs)

I know it would have to be something very small. Maybe a single fish and a couple of amano or cherry shrimp. I was hoping to be able to have a single pair, but I realize it may just not be possible.

The dimensions of the habitable area(not including the space in back where the filtration is) are about 13inx13in with a height of 10in (water depth, not height of the whole tank with lid)
She's slipping over to the SA side...Watch out! :lol:

I don't think you'll be disappointed. :thumb:

I really don't think it would be a problem to house a pair of A. cacatuoides in that tank.

You'd just need to define the territories for the male and female with your decor, but that should be easy enough.

I do find the Bolivian rams more interesting than the Apistogramma, but it's all a matter of preference. Most would say that the tank is too small for Bolivians, but I have some that get along well enough that I actually might try it in a smaller area like that.

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cichlidaholic said:
She's slipping over to the SA side...Watch out! :lol:
Just dabbling really. No way I am giving up on my mbuna or peacock/hap tanks

You'd just need to define the territories for the male and female with your decor, but that should be easy enough.
What is the best way to do this? I have only used the rocks in the african tanks.

I do find the Bolivian rams more interesting than the Apistogramma, but it's all a matter of preference. Most would say that the tank is too small for Bolivians, but I have some that get along well enough that I actually might try it in a smaller area like that.
I have always thought the rams (regular and bolivian) to be quite attractive. I haven't really looked into the apistos, so I will have to see what species are available then check back on here for which of those would be the best choice.
I love my rams.

I have had a hard time finding healthy Apistos in my area, or I'm killing them...Take your pick, but I've always heard that the ones we get imported are prone to health problems. I'd really like to find some nice Triple reds from a breeder around here, but I think my husband might have me committed if I set up another tank.

I won't give up my mbuna, either, but you'll find typical cichlid behaviour in the rams, so it's very interesting to watch. They do have a bit more bark than bite, but of all the tanks I have going, I'd say I spend more time watching my 55G SA tank than any other tank. (I have one adult male that spawns with two females, and I've raised a spawn from them and they are growing out in the same tank...)

I predict you may want to devote a larger tank to them, once you get going with it. I think the whole male/female thing with the dwarf species is the biggest part of the allure. It's great watching the dynamics between them while trying to care for a large clutch of fry that seem determined to "wander out into traffic".

I've got Buenos aries tetras, scissortail rasboras, rosy barbs, cories and some of the goofy little balloon rams in with my Bolivians.

I'm seriously considering adding some blue rams to the mix, and just giving up on the breeding aspect of the tank and enjoying the show!

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Driftwood, plants, driftwood, plants. Maybe a flat river rock for breeding purposes for the rams if you do a pair. I deffinately wouldn't do bolivians in a 13" squared area ... but mind you I tend to be called ultraconservetive in my stocking.

Even the caucs would be too big ... though I know DCguy breeds them in 10 gal tanks. Personally I'd go even smaller, like apisto borelli (the other often quoted beginner apisto) and a small group of neons over the plants would be amazing. Not sure if have room for the neons though.

I would deffinately switch out the 50/50 bulb, while plants can use the antinic part of it, they don't use it as well as full daylight spec ... but 2 18w power compacts, I imagine you could grow just about anything in there ... a layer of Glossostigma in the middle kinda making a medow with driftwood on the sides and along the back would be nice ...

*eyes empty 20long*

um ... I might have to go shopping.
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If you do go with Bolivians, it would be really nice if you could make sure you get a male and female. (But no matter how much Blair and Ruurd coach me, I can only tell who is who when I'm watching them spawn! :lol:

If they get along, I think you'll be fine.

I would leave an open area in the center, that flat rock dwarfpike mentioned would go well there, and put plants in the back corners of both sides, as dense as you can so that if one is harrassed a bit, they can disappear, with a piece of driftwood to divide up the plants.

If it were me, that's all I'd put in there...Let them spawn and you'll be hooked!

A. iniridae stay pretty small. The males get about 2" and the females 1.5 (I think), anyway, they are one of the smaller species. So, maybe a pair of them would work in a small tank.

Plant the heck out of it, toss in some driftwood to break up line of sight, and offer a cave or two with rocks, driftwood, or coconut shells.

I think it will work.
I am getting very psyched about this now. I went into my favorite LFS and they have what they call "Angel bodied rams". They look like bolivians, but their body is almost spherical. Am I correct to assume these are much like the ballon mollies and other such mutants?
Yes, they are short bodied blue rams ... much like balloon mollies and dwarf gouramis ... though so far (they are still realitively new) they don't seem to suffer from the early deaths of the short bodied mollies and gouramis do/did.
MalawiLover, I confess...

I have 5 of the "angel" rams, and I absolutely love them.

There are several different types. Mine are the gold angel rams.

They are actually something I considered suggesting for you for this tank!

Here are some really crappy pics of mine - they are so shiny that it's hard to get a decent shot with my point and shoot camera...

A male:

The dominant male:

One that you can see the colouring a bit better in:

It's my understanding that they are line bred for the short bodied look, but I went into this with full knowledge that there was no telling where they actually came from, I just liked the look.

I have 2 males and 3 females, and find them a nice addition to a community tank. Not something I plan on breeding at all...But they absolutely sparkle and look great with lots of plants. The males are a little territorial but they can't really do any damage.

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I am definitey not planning on breeding them (I won't stop them, but I don't plan on doing anything with the fry...except maybe as tasty treats for my breeding groups of mbuna) I just want healthy ones. The school in the display tank at my LFS has about 12 members (they are in a 125 with some discus.) They have bred a few times in the last 3-4 months as well, so hopefully I can get a bonded pair. I think I will give it a go. We are already getting RO water for the saltwater tank, so I'll just get a bit more each week for these guys. I will get the plants in and the tank scaped first, then go get a pair.

I will take the bioballs the Biocube came with and switch them out for seeded balls from my Wet/dry tower when I get the fish. That way I shouldn't have any cycle.
By the way, just to clarify, I see huge differences between the "angel" rams and the balloon mollies, etc. that we see all the time. The body shape is more rounded from a side view, but to look at them face on (eye to eye, since they come stare out at you everytime you near the tank) there is NO balloon appearance to them. Their bodies aren't as "wide" as the Bolivians, they are very thin.

Between the seeded bioballs and the plants, you should be all set. Also depends on the gravel/sand you use ... for plants I use the Eco-complete planted stuff, with comes wet and seeded to boot.

Balloon is just the trade name for short bodied fish, but I agree that the rams seem differant than the previous balloon fish, less health issues. At first I thought it was just the mollies, compressing a veggitarian's long digestive track is a bad idea, but gourami's are insectivores and suffered the same problems as the mollies. Not sure why the rams don't seem to have the same issues, maybe becuase they aren't as compressed, like cichlidaholic mentions.
I was planning on using pool filter sand (which is in the rest of my tanks-so I have a good amount on hand already). In such a small environment do you think I would not have healthy plants in pfs without adding fertilizers?
If you use that high lighting and the sand, then you will need ferts ... usually. Generally anything above 3 wpg you need CO2 and ferts ... BUT ... you water volume is so small, a pair of rams very well might provide enough of both. If it were me, I'd try without (CO2 would lower the pH massively in such a small tank) and do waterchanges starting at once a week ... see if the levels can feed the plants ... might take some experimenting on your part to find the right balance.
I could remove one of the bulbs (the actinic) or switch them out for a more appropriate color temps.
Kim did shocked me! I know abouth her silly deformed Bolivian fry but now she actually bought deformed Rams as well :eek: :wink: I make a joke out of it but it is true,...balloon Rams are deformed Rams!

The tank is a bit small and with 8 gallons of volume you have only limited possibilities. Your new into SA but luckily an experienced fish owner. Rams are the more demanding dwarfs. Some other possibilities are Apistogramma. The A. borellii and A. cacatuoides are the most tolerant of them. Most domesticated Apisto's are les demanding but still need clean soft water. A. hongsloi and A. macmasteri are some nice colored examples of domesticated Apisto's. I expect the tank to be to small for a pair of Bolivians. It can be done but it needs to be heavy planted with lots of territorial markers and, possibility to take them out if the tank turns out to be to small.

On a tank of 8 gallon I would not recommend CO2. It is a bit risky when something goes wrong with the dose and I don't think you will need it. I would go for some slow growing plants that do OK on low light levels like Anubia's and Java fern. I would go for a sand substrate and occasionally use a liquid fertilizer. Some floating plants will be appreciated by the fish.
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Thanks Dutch Dude. I know there is always the possibilty of it just not working. I have a 15g that I use for fry growout that I can use as temp housing if it doesn't seem to be working. I plan on using R/O water (I already get some for topping off my saltwater tank). I like the look of the darker tanks and am going to be using some floating plants as well as planted ones. This should also help with the nitrates, though I still expect to do weekly (or twice weekly) water changes.

I am going to browse the "Tanks" section to get some ideas for the decor and plants. I will post a pic once I get the aquascaping done so you experts can help me make sure I have enough territory breaks.

The stocking will depend on what I can find locally.
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