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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I haven't set it up yet, but I am getting a 20 long this week and have decided to go dwarf cichlids. My original stocking is planned at -
4 - Apistogramma cacatuoides Double Red
4 - blue rams
6 - Pseudepiplatys annulatus
6 - pygmy cories
(possibly) - 6 cardinal tetras

I would like to thin it down to a pair of the apistos and a pair of the rams. Being my first set up though, i do not know if they will tolerate each other. I like the killies for the upper level as opposed to hatchets, and the killies come from similar pH and hardness as the apistos. I went with the pygmy cories as I figure i will need some sort of clean up crew and they should do a nice job without being able to eat any fry or eggs. Finally, the tetras just because i like them.

For set up - I will have a sand bottom and make it decorated with river rock and drift wood as well as plants. I have tons of java moss i can cover everything in as well as several swords and some sort of crypt. If you guys think it would be a good idea, I can add what we call 'duckweed' in my area. This should secure plenty of breaks in line of sight and I will make sure to create plenty of caves for creature comfort homes.

The filtration coming with the tank is a whisper 40, lighting i assume is stock, to which I might simply add one more light strip I have sitting around. Given the extra light, algae may come into play, but i will wipe that off the glass. If rocks, etc get covered, I will throw them in the tropheus tank for a day, then back in the apisto tank.

Well... Is my first tank planning off to a good start or have I decided to mix and match too much? All comments are welcome, but please have referecnes to back up any info. Thanks!
 

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If you plan on thinning out to two pairs you've got about a 50/50 chance of the two pairs tolerating eachother depending on where they decide to setup their territories and how many plants you put into the tank - I think it could work and say go for it, but be prepared to choose between the apisto's or the rams if things go awry.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm fine with choosing just one dwarf. What about the rest of the stock list, any opinions on if it's good or bad?
 

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Make sure you add lots of caves! I've never had rams, but I currently have Cockatoos, the double reds (you can see pictures the link im my signature). I've got a 1m/3f ratio that seems to work great in my 30 gal. I do have 1f that hangs out with my guppies, she's not even interested in spawning. The other 2f have spawned and I've even gotten some fry from one of the girls. I have 4 caves in all in my tank, 1f won't use a cave at all. I also have lots of plants marking off the territory. I know my male would never tolorate any competion in the tank, he's the king. My boyfriend has 2m/4f in his tank (125 gal) and they are both submissive, one more so than the other. They won't even spawn, not sure why. If you go for more than 1 female, I'd aim at 3. That way the aggression between them is evened out, they will fight over the male. When my 2 spawning girls fight, the other one seems to always come over to see what's going on. Then one of the spawning goes after her while the other goes back to her cave and waits for the male to show up again. And, no one has ever been hurt while fighting, it seems to be more of a "I'm prettier than you" thing. Hope this helps.
 

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Algae comes into play in a planted tank when you have an imbalance of some sort. My first question would be one of lighting. How many watts per gallon will you have over your tank? I would recommend eco-complete as a substrate. It will help your plants tremendously and looks nice, too. I would advise against duckweed, which becomes a pest. Java fern and anubias would be another good addition to the tank. I would also recommend Excel to get some carbon to the plants without doing CO2. I would probably add 3 or 4 otos when the tank is more established to help with the brown and green algae.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I don't know how many watts I'll have. His hood will presumably come with a 20w light, but I won't know until it shows up. The spare I have has a 15w bulb. I'll say 35w total, but i could be off by 5w up or down.

I would rather not have the duckweed myself, I just saw some pictures with these drawves with duckweed on top of the tanks and thought maybe it was a more natural setting that people were using. I'll try the excel, I believe i have used it before but moved on to tabs that go under the roots.

I thought someone might mention ottos. What about a medusa pleco? Too much poo? not enough food for it to survive? I have one in a 75 and it's really not necessary in there with the BN plecos taking care of most of the unnecessary algae.
 

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First off, you didnt mention cycling the tank, im going to assume you will do that for about a month before adding any fish (other than cycle fish of course)

As for the tank itself.

Your going to want to be in the 2wpg range to grow those plants. Any more, and your going to have massive algae problems. Too much less, and the plants wont grow. (although a 20L is pretty shallow, so you may get away with 1.5wpg). Its true that you can scrape algae off of rocks and glass, but you cant really do it to plants, and significant algae growth will kill your plants off.

Now, on to your stocking list...
pygmy cory's - im fine with those
cardinal tetra's - will work great as well
killie's - I dont know about those, most killie keepers have killie only tanks. Im not saying it wont work, but I would add 6 of another smaller tetra species like neons instead....or up your cardinals to 10-12 instead. Since the 20 long is a shallow tank, I think the tetras will appear near the top more than you think.
Cleanup crew- gonna agree with an above poster, add some oto's after the algae starts to keep things clean. An algae eater or crew are almost necessary for planted tanks.
Cichlids - too many. I would do a harem of the apisto's, and leave it at that. 4 will never make it, unless you are really, really, really careful, and I dont think you will squeeze even a pair of rams in there either, rams are timid, and need a calmer tank.

In total, your tank looks overstocked to me. I might go with a trio of apisto's, 6 pygmy corys, 6 oto cats, and 10 cardinal tetras. To me that looks like a better list.
 

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If you use eco-complete as a substrate, you won't need root tabs. The root tabs are not the same as Excel. The former is fertilizer while the later is a way to essentially provide C02 without going the pressurized or DIY C02 route. The Excel can also help keep the algae away, for a number of reasons. I think naegling's stock recommendations are good ones.
 

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Everything looks good, Just keep in mind in a 20 long you will probably only be able to get by with 1 pair or a trio of one type of dwarf.

I do not recomend eco complete as a soft water planted tank substraight!! Currently I have 40 lbs in my 55 gallon tank and it is buffering up!! My ph is 7.6 and my hardness has increased by almost 2 degrees, I am trying to counter act this with peat in the filter, and coconut caves for my cacatoides/bristle nose pair. I would recomend florite black or, like I am going to do in my 20, ADA products. For more info on planted tanks go to Aquaticplantcentral.com it is a great resource and I have learned a ton from it. Also Excel is good but it uses a formaldhyde type substance for its carbon source which is why it is good for algee control. I am moving over to the brightwell aquatics products as soon as I run out of my seachem stuff. Any way I look forward to seeing your tank.

Curt
 

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there are a few types of eco-complete, some are for south americans, and some africans. The south american one should not be adding any hardness to the tank. The african one should be doing this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Sounds like all good suggestions. I'll try the excel for sure, but I doubt I will go with eco-complete, I just prefer the look of sand. I want my plants to live, but honestly if I'm replacing cheap plants every couple of months that will not bother me.

I would like to try the killies and rams. I have a spare 20 I just use as a holding tank so if it does not work they can go in there or they can go to the LFS. I'm hoping the rams make their territory first because I will be buying adults, and the apistos will be juvies.

Also, this is my first and I may find the rams more enjoyable and the apistos will have to go. I'm not opposed to taking out either one at this point. Thanks for all your suggestions and when I get it set up this weekend and then fish in two weeks, I'll post some pics.

One last thing to naegling23, I will not be cycling the tank for two months. I have extra media in my filters all the time for just such occasions, and some of the plants and driftwood are coming from established tanks that will be covered in bacteria.
 

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excel seems to be a good product, just make sure you dont have any val in there, from what I hear excel kills it off. Sand is a fine option, just make sure that it doesnt pack in around the roots too much. True, you can always replace the plants, but as they die, they are going to release a lot of stuff you dont really want into the tank, causing algae blooms etc.

On your fish list, you are free to do what you want of course, its your tank. But I would recommend picking one type of cichlid. If you really want the rams, then go for them. Monitor the aggression level, and if you think the tank can handle it, add the next fish. Could a 20 long handle two pair of GBR's? Possibly, though thats squeezing it just a bit. Could it handle two pair of apisto's? Again, squeezing it, a trio should work, or a pair of rams. If you really, really want to try both, 1 pair of GBR's and 1 pair of apisto's may work.

I have both apisto's and rams in my tank. They are different sizes and shapes, and I can verify, that there is aggression between the rams and apisto's. Its not as bad as interspecies aggression, but their territory is their territory. I also find the apisto's to be more aggressive, and the rams to be more timid.

The key to any cichlid tank is letting the fish have their territory, and filling the "dead space" in the tank with other fish, like tetras. If you give the cichlids enough space, you get to see some really cool behavior, better colors, better fish conditions, and your fish live, which is the big key in all of this.

Im just trying to give you the heads up, im glad to hear that you have a plan if this doesnt work out, actually, im very glad. My only concern is that I think you will be falling back on that contingency, and I really want your tank to work, its so much better for everyone if that happens.
 

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I was speaking of the planted Eco-complete -- not the cichlid Eco-complete substrate.

While eco-complete looks like sand to me (in my tank), another option is Seachem's Flourite, which comes in a black sand. I find these substrates specially made for plants are really worth it. You reduce the amount of fertilizer you need, your plants are easy to plant/stay down, and you boost plant growth for the lush look that we want our planted tanks to have. Replacing plants all the time is a drag (been there, done that).

While I've also been told about Excel killing vals, no one told my vals that . . . :) I use small amounts daily in addition to pressurized C02 and my vals are fabulous!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I'll look into the eco-complete. I'm planning on a black backgruond so that will determine if I like the look of it in contrast to the background.

naegling23 - I'm glad to hear your advice is coming from experience and not just a hypothesis. But, I'm a school teacher and I'm going to be like my kids and even though someone says dnt do it, I'm still probably gonna :wink:
 

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nevermind about the stocking, apistomaster on another thread stated that a pair of GBR's and a pair of apisto's will be fine in a 20 long. I will forever yeild to their advice.

So, your good to go.

I wouldnt put more than 1 pair of each in there though.
 

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naegling23 said:
there are a few types of eco-complete, some are for south americans, and some africans. The south american one should not be adding any hardness to the tank. The african one should be doing this.
The current problem with the Eco buffering up is where it is mined. There is more calicum in the newer bags of eco because of the shaft that was opened. My LFS has been experianceing the same problem as have a couple other people I know. It is a great substraight but it has been buffering up lately. I am going to try to get a hold of caribsea to confirm that that is what has happened. but My plant guy at the LFS said he talked with them about it already.

Curt
 
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