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Subscribe60 gal softwater planning
Refactor
 
Small Fry
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Registered: 16-Jan-2010
male usa us-illinois
Hello all. I've decided to return to the hobby many years wiser than I was the first time. I am planning on purchasing a 60 gallon tank for a softwater aquarium.

I plan on having it heavily planted, so any advice as far as plantkeeping would be greatly appreciated, since I had very little luck my first time around (though I was an impatient kid back then). Plant species, recommended anchoring styles, any knowledge you can share with me will be immensely helpful. I am reluctant to add any form of fertilizer as the Rams are very sensitive to nitrates as far as I've read.

First of all, stocking plans--

I'm not entirely sure how much I can get away with, but I figure this would be fairly safe:

2x Blue Rams (m/f pair)
15-20x Cardinal Tetras (to act as a dither shoal)
6-8x Ottos

Planning on having a Eheim 2113 for filtration, and fine, lime-free gravel for a substrate.

Unfortunately, with my current fish selection, nothing stands out as a particularly hardy species to start the cycle with. What would you recommend I do? I am in the midwestern US--would it be possible to come by ammonia additive for fishless cycling? How safe is this, and has anyone been successful doing it?

Also with regards to water quality, any tips for keeping the water acidic and free of harmful minerals would be greatly appreciated--any particular pH buffer you've found works well, or perhaps a few tips on how to effectively use peat additive in the canister filter would be greatly helpful.

Thanks a bunch in advance!
Post InfoPosted 16-Jan-2010 09:43Profile PM Edit Report 
FRANK
 
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Hi
Welcome back to the hobby!
Wow questions....

First, Fish less cycling:
http://badmanstropicalfish.com/articles/article14.html
You should be able to find straight ammonia in just about
any grocery store. You don't want it to have any additives
to make it smell better.

Water...
You should know your tap water qualities first. Draw a
glass of water and let it stand out for 24 hours to degas.
No kitty or dogie spit! Depending upon how "soft" you
want it, you can/should purchase an Reverse Osmosis Filter
(RO) and use a mixture of tap water and RO water for the
tank. That will soften your water without chemicals that
need to be purchased constantly.

Go to the Planted Aquarium Forum on this site and begin
reading at the top permanent threads and then skim the
other threads. You will have to decide on the type of
plants that you want to have in the tank. High Light,
Medium Light, Low Light. The least maintenance tanks are
the low light tanks. The high light tanks also require
more expensive lighting, and equipment to inject CO2.

The substrates used in the tank, now a days, are generally
"plant friendly" vs the old, regular, #2 or #3 grain, gravel.
Substrates such as SeaChem's Flourite is ideal, though
expensive. Some use layered substrates, a layer of
Laterite about an inch thick, and capped by a layer of
regular gravel also an inch to an inch and a half thick.
Use caution as some of the plant friendly substrates use
the "timed release" concept of some medications and release
nutrients into the tank for the plants over a period of time.
However, they "wear out" over a period of about a year, and
need to be replaced completely, annually.

That's a start...
Frank


-->>> The Confidence of Amateurs, is the Envy of Professionals <<<--
Post InfoPosted 16-Jan-2010 15:42Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
keithgh
 
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male australia au-victoria
I have two heavily planted tanks. The 5ft is 99% mixed anubias and a huge piece of serrated Java Fern.

The 45Lt is 90% mixed Crypts and a huge piece of Anubias Nana for the CRS.
The fish and more info is listed in My Profile

The substrate in both tanks is 1-3mm natural river gravel 3-4ins deep.
No Co2 the 5ft tank I use a locally made liquid fert 1/2 teaspoon every day.
The 45Lt I only use a mix of Seachem liquid fert.

The lighting for both tanks are on a timer 12hrs of twin lights one plant and one daylight tube.
I also do two water changes a week for the 45Lt both 15Lt and one 25% for the 5ft tank.

Filtration 5ft Eheim pro11 and fully UGF 3 risers
The 45Lt is a medium size HOB I also use a air wand under the heater and below the Anubias nana. This is the home for the CRS and they are breding like crazy

With good filtration plenty of and the correct maintenance you could push the cardinal count a lot higher

Keith

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Post InfoPosted 17-Jan-2010 01:05Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
Shinigami
 
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I have found pure ammonia at dollar stores and supermarkets. Shouldn't be a problem. If you can't find that, you could use something like a prawn/shrimp from the supermarket. Just chuck it in and wait for it to disappear...

--------------------------------------------
The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian.
Post InfoPosted 17-Jan-2010 04:22Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
Refactor
 
Small Fry
Posts: 3
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Registered: 16-Jan-2010
male usa us-illinois
Thanks for all the responses so far. I will definitely be cycling fish-less then.

I was considering going with a low-light setup, since that should be somewhat easier to maintain, but after seeing the numbers on my water I'm thinking I may have to bubble CO2 anyway to lower the pH, thus making a medium to high light setup a better option. What do you think?

pH: 7.8-8.0 (I want this at 6.5 or so... blah.)
kH: 240ppm (~13.4 degrees?)
gH: 15ppm

The general hardness looks great, but my pH is very high and very buffered if I'm interpreting this right, meaning changing it will be a lot of work. What would you suggest? I'm thinking maybe a peat additive to the canister in the power filter, but how would I know how much to add and how often to replace it? I just don't want to suddenly run out of tannins to leech and have the pH spike back to where it was, which would certainly be disastrous for the fish I am planning on keeping.

Thanks again!
Post InfoPosted 18-Jan-2010 02:10Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
Kellyjhw
 
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EditedEdited 18-Jan-2010 02:27
Hi there!

You might just want to go with African Rift cichilds. It would most likely be easier and cheaper to use what you have, than to constantly work at maintaining a lower PH.

TTFN --->Ta-Ta-For-Now
Kelly ;o}
Post InfoPosted 18-Jan-2010 02:20Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
Gourami
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male usa
If the PH is that high already, im guessing it will be around the same at the pet store you get your fish from. Chances are the store is not changing it, so the fish might already be used to it being higher.
Post InfoPosted 18-Jan-2010 05:33Profile Homepage AIM MSN PM Edit Delete Report 
Kellyjhw
 
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Oh good idea Gourami. Although some fishstores won't always give you their water parameters. It's a good try. I tried with a certain store and they were wiggly about it. I decided not to buy from them. The other 2 stores told me more than I wanted to know about their water parameters.

TTFN --->Ta-Ta-For-Now
Kelly ;o}
Post InfoPosted 18-Jan-2010 06:54Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
Shinigami
 
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Yes, Gourami brings up a pretty good point.

If you want really good control over the water parameters, you're going to need to get an RO water filter as FRANK mentioned. It's not cheap, but there's no better way to do it.

--------------------------------------------
The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian.
Post InfoPosted 19-Jan-2010 03:25Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
Refactor
 
Small Fry
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Registered: 16-Jan-2010
male usa us-illinois
Interestingly enough, we happen to have a RO filter for our drinking water. I tested it today, and the kH is still about 240ppm, where the gH is practically nothing (even less than the tap). What would cause that? Perhaps the RO filter needs looking at...

I could always use a distilled water/tap mix, but that's expensive to keep up with the frequent water changes I'll require for the Rams... And Gourami does have a good point about them being perhaps acclimated already to the high pH in the area. I will have to ask my LFS about their water parameters when I visit them next (sometime in a few weeks when I am back home).

Though I am concerned for the Rams' longevity in a high pH situation as I have read they are quite sensitive to water quality. Perhaps I should look at a different centerpiece fish? They are so pretty though...

Perhaps Kribs would be a good alternative, though I wonder about them with the Cardinals if they were to decide to breed... would the tetras/ottos be intelligent enough to avoid a breeding male Krib?
Post InfoPosted 19-Jan-2010 06:09Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
FRANK
 
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Hi,
The RO filters require that the membrane be replaced at
some interval depending upon the water it is filtering.
If you've not replaced it in a year, you might try that.
With the GH that low I'd say the filter is working just
fine. The filters are designed to remove the heavier
molecules such as Ca and Mg which is what the test kit is
looking for when you test for GH. KH is a measure of the
carbonate in the water (CO3).

Chances are that the LFS is not doing anything to their
water. Very few can afford to have individual water sources
for their tanks. Most will have a central filtering system
that includes a swimming pool type filter (sand filter) and
a UV filter, or a commercial floor mounted canister system,
with all the tanks in series. I doubt that they are
making any special accommodations for the "soft water" fish.

If your water, and their water are similar, then you just
need to take the time to acclimate them to your tanks.

Frank

-->>> The Confidence of Amateurs, is the Envy of Professionals <<<--
Post InfoPosted 19-Jan-2010 10:34Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
skystrife
 
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(apologies, but I managed to stumble upon my old account, which I had thought was long-lost. Turns out I was mistaken.)

Thanks for all of the replies so far. I think I will stick with my stocking options for the most part, then, maybe throwing in a few more cardinals, ottos, and a few BNs if I can swing a 75 gal and an Eheim 2215.

I think all of my general planning questions have been answered then--now to turn to the topic boards for more specific questions as they come in. I'll be posting a photo log of the build in the photo booth as well.

Thanks a bunch everyone!
Post InfoPosted 20-Jan-2010 04:25Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
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