Down by the vlei

Discussion in 'Aquascaping and Member's Setups' started by heliophyla, Apr 17, 2018.

  1. heliophyla
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    heliophyla Noob

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    Now that we have had some rain in Cape Town and there is water in my rainwater tank it felt OK to start my new aquarium.

    Tank Dimensions
    65 cm x 45cm x 40cm

    Substrate
    PFS amended with some worm castings on the bottom and Florapol

    Filtration
    Hamburger Matten Filter with 300l per minute pump driving it.

    Lighting
    48 W CFL grow light (Daylight). I bought this a while back for a hydroponics project I changed my mind about so interested to see how it does for an aquarium.

    Plants
    Nymphaea lotus
    Hairgrass
    Vallisneria (from the Kirstenbosch nursery)
    Lagarosiphon species unknown ( I think, got it from the Kirstenbosch nursery)

    Fertilisers
    Prof Dirk's Druppels

    Background
    A piece of cardboard while I decide if that is the right colour.

    This tank is a project tank to do some of the things I've always wanted to try. The tank inspiration is pictures like this

    [​IMG]

    as well as the black water tanks on the Tannin Aquatics website.

    The tank is put together so that it is easy to make changes. The filter is a removable unit made by Graham of Gapedi Tanks.

    [​IMG]

    The tiger lilies are planted in pots to keep them smaller and so that I can easily remove them. Three is probably too many for this tank.

    [​IMG]

    And here is the tank planted up one week in. The stone is just to keep the one piece of wood down.

    [​IMG]

    So far I'm very happy. There is more flow in the tank than expected and I like the dark tannin look. This will reduce gradually with water changes to a more reasonable level. The plan is to let things grow and settle for a while before adding fish. There are mosquito larvae in the tank so nature is already at work. It would be great to have some emergent vegetation for a riparian look.

    However, I may have to cover the tank as one of my cats walks along the rim in order to drink the water and he isn't above a spot of fishing.

    Livestock

    A vlei needs catfish. I'm hoping to find some microsynodontis considering the size of the tank. Then for the rest I'm thnking killifish but it depends on what is available. Maybe clown killies and a school of lampeyes or if I get them something like A. bivittatum. The main thing with the killies would be to stick to species that won't hybridize.

    There are so many wonderful African fish available on other continents we don't seem to get here. Sigh!

    Frans Lanting water lilies.PNG

    Filter small.jpg

    Hardscape.jpg

    Planted cropped.jpg
     
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  2. heliophyla
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    heliophyla Noob

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    I'm not why the pictures are showing twice. Maybe someone can tell me what I did wrong?
     
  3. heliophyla
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    heliophyla Noob

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    So here is an update. The wood at the left hand side was still popping up like a cork after three weeks taking out all the plants with it so I removed it. It developed the most awesome fungus which was crawling with bloodworms. The emergence of nature in this tank has been fascinating. Some of the plants were growing in a basin outside and I thought I cleaned them very carefully but I still ended up with pond snails, fresh water limpets, tiny little white worms and a little white things that are similar to daphnia but not quite.

    This made me realise just how much fish affect a tank in terms of eating all of the other water life.

    I have a few decisions to make with this aquarium. Do I drop the water level a bit and put in some emergent plants. The water flow in the tank is doing exactly what I hoped. It moves diagonally across to the other end of the tank and then round the sides back to the filter giving me a very nice laminar flow. The lilies are growing right in the path of the flow though and it has caused all the leaves to twist up around each other.

    I'm trying to decide if I should change the outflow to a spraybar, move the lilies or move the filter outlet so that it is much lower. I'm getting a group of clown killies on Saturday and the internet literature says that they don't like flow. Moving the outlet lower will give them a quieter top layer to the tank.

    I'm reducing the tannins in the tank with water changes. I want some black water look, just not quite this much. Although this will never be a tank of the month I'm really enjoying it and hope to end up with a very lively African swamp.

    upload_2018-5-21_8-10-36.jpeg

    upload_2018-5-21_8-11-24.jpeg
     
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  4. Hendre
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    Hendre Plant menace

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    Any updates? :)
     
  5. heliophyla
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    heliophyla Noob

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    So here is what it looks like now.

    upload_2018-6-14_20-52-23.jpeg

    I untangled the lilies and moved them further apart. I also redirected the flow from the filter down the back wall of the tank instead of diagonally across the middle to stop the lilies tangling up again. The Lagarosiphon grew nicely for a while and then suddenly all melted. Will try it again when I have more light.

    Two weeks ago I got some clown killies and the flow in the tank was throwing them around. Even the smallest little pump I had was too strong so I made a very rough air lifter which seems to be gentle enough. The fish are much happier but the flow isn't strong enough to distribute the warm water from inside the filter to the tank hence the heater being visible out against the back instead of being nicely hidden inside the HMF.

    I'm considering going back to a powerhead inside the filter and then try to diffuse the flow with a spraybar and see if that is ok with the fish.

    I'm loving the killies. For such little fish they are amazingly aggressive. I had an endler in the tank before the killies went in and had to rescue him because the killies were ganging up on him and chasing him around the tank. I expected the males to spar with each other but I am amazed at how much the females beat up on each other. I'm thinking of adding shrimp as well but some people (google info) seem to think that they will eat the eggs if the killies breed so I'm not quite sure about it.

    The tank needs more light so I'm looking at getting an LED unit. I'm trying to decide between this

    [​IMG]
    https://www.newsobo.com/en/displayproduct.html?id=261937064317888

    or a Zetlight Lancia. The Sobo light is a good price. R895 at Hartlands, but I can't find any information about it whereas the Zetlight seems to be more tried and tested. If anyone has any experience of the Sobo lights I'd love to hear about it. Also people's experiences with shrimp eating or not eating fish eggs.

    I'm enjoying this tank. It needs to get more swampified but I'm working on it. The next step is to get a riparian section going and once I have more light denser vegetation all round.
     
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  6. heliophyla
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    heliophyla Noob

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    So here is what the tank looks like now. Somewhat boring but the bottom is NOT covered in cyanobacteria. I had an infestation. I tried lowering the temperature to 22 degrees and adding nitrates. I improved the flow by replacing the air lifter with a pump and a spraybar which directs the flow down the back pane and down the surface. I have plant movement right to the front of the tank but this just encouraged the stuff. The lighting was changed to the a Zetlight. I tried adding Excel but it made the lilies melt. Eventually I tried Chemiclean and it seems to have worked. No cyanobacteria for two whole weeks.

    The clown killies seem to be OK with the flow in the tank as is which is great. I also added a few cherry shrimp to scavenge in the tank as any food which gets to the bottom just stays there.

    The tank is running on 6 hours of light a day, I do a 10 - 20% water change a week using rain water. The fish are happy and active. I love watching the killies swimming amongst the twigs, it just looks so right so I'm planning a rescape with more of the branches.

    upload_2018-8-20_7-46-25.jpeg
     
  7. tyronegenade
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    tyronegenade Specialist

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    Put a mop in the tank. They will plaster it with eggs. Take the mop out after a week and let the eggs hatch from the mop (if you pick the eggs, they die). I had good success rearing 10 fry to a 2L ice-cream tub. The fry are very small and need infusoria at first. A large wad of java moss etc... in a tub will tide them over until they are big enough to take baby brine shrimp (this takes about 1 week). Once the fry are about 12-15mm long they can go back in with the parents.

    You will certainly get fry appearing spontaneously in the tank as well but in my experience if you leave the fry to their own devices you only ever get males (the females getting out-competed or eaten).

    These things breed like rabbits but you have to keep a hand on them else you end up with only males after a while.
     
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  8. heliophyla
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    heliophyla Noob

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    I do see them spawning but haven't seen any fry yet. I think the tank needs more dense planting before the fry will survive. I will try your mop idea though as soon as I'm sorted with food for the little ones. It would be great to have more of them.
     
  9. TheGrissom
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    TheGrissom Green fingers

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    If you happen to get fry I would be keen to get some from you. I have a solitary female at the moment - the only survivor from a dozen fish (6 pairs) bought in December. Got them all quite young, within a month most were dead, by 3 months only the female was left
     

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