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Ideas For My New Brackish Tank? :-)

Discussion in 'Brackish Forum' started by fi_sjo, Feb 24, 2011.

  1. fi_sjo

    fi_sjo Member

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    Hi all,

    I'm planning on setting up a brackish tank soon (missus wants a puffer!). I like the idea of setting up a biotope (as much as possible, hence my other thread for natural habitat photos), but I appreciate everything is a compromise. I've picked up a Seabray tank which is 18x12x18 high.

    I'm looking to house a single F8 puffer (a small one!) and some bumble-bee gobies. I'd also like to have the aquarium planted.

    I've been looking at the various substrate and plant options. Right now from what i've read on this site (stickies, etc. -thanks!), it seems I want a flourite type bottom substrate with something else on top. For the above stocking, what would be the ideal substrate? Just a light sand to go ontop? Perhaps with a mesh/gravel tidy to seperate the two layers. I'm also wondering how deep i'd really need to make the substrate, but yes without a plant stocking list I suspect this will be impossible to answer accurately. As the tank isn't particularly big I don't want a 3-4" deep substrate so can anyone tell me if i'm asking too much from this setup? :)

    As far as lighting goes, i'm doing a DIY T5 build into the hood comprising of two 36W T5 compact tubes. Haven't decided yet on which tubes to go for, but initially was thinking perhaps an Interpet Daylight and Interpet TriPlus? I think these tubes are discontinued though.

    I'm thinking it's a lot of light, and will need to be filtered or require a fair amount of CO2 and fertilising.

    Another area i'm not sure on yet is water. My tap water is hard (15 degrees IIRC), with a pH around 7.8. I do have an RO filter for my marine tank, so am not adverse to using RO and supplementing. I am wondering how feasible it will be that RO water with 25% sea water equiv. will provide enough buffering along with the substrate above. I've not mixed up anything yet to test so am in the dark somewhat.

    Filtration-wise, i've got an Eheim 2224 canister filter I was intending on using. In the past i've used these on marine tanks purely to hold some phosphate remover and polyfilter, and back when I was keeping freshwater tropical i'd use them as biological too, but not sure if and how people use them for brackish setups today.


    Any thoughts/comments on my ongoing plans welcome :)

     
  2. Carlovel1

    Carlovel1 & Oddballs

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    I think there are not many plants suitable for brackish water and for those that are, majority need very little light. I don't think Seachem Flourite substrate will work in brackish water, in fact any plant substrates. Gravel/sand should be ok. IMO Co2 is not necessary, a bit wasted. And the lighting should be around 1-2WPG so doesnt need super bright lights.
    Why not have some live brackish plants and some plastic/silk plants instead?

    What is the capacity of the tank (sorry, I'm not good with dimensions)?
     
  3. fi_sjo

    fi_sjo Member

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    Approx. 10 gallons
     
  4. fi_sjo

    fi_sjo Member

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    Tank has now grown to a Juwel Rio 180 (litres) :)
     
  5. nmonks

    nmonks A stroke of the brush does not guarantee art from

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    180 litres is a good size for a mixed species aquarium. You could certainly keep a figure-8 puffer in there, and with luck, some tankmates as well, figure-8s *sometimes* behaving themselves in busy community tanks. Alternatively, you could keep a small group of South American puffers in a freshwater community with fast tankmates such as yo-yo loaches, tiger barbs, bleeding heart tetras, and so on. I've done the latter more than once, and if you choose the companion species carefully, the SAPs don't do any serious harm. Unlike the majority of puffers they aren't aggressive or territorial, and fin-biting is simply a bad habit of theirs, particularly when hungry.

    Neither figure-8s nor BBGs need much salt, and SG 1.002-1.003 at 25 C would be ample. That being the case, any plant species that enjoys hard water should do perfectly well. Among the ones worth trying would be Vallisneria, Hygrophila, Amazon swords, hardy crypts like C. wendtii, Sagittaria, Java ferns, and Anubias. There's a good topic on brackish water plants here:

    http://www.fishforums.net/index.php?/topic/143235-planting-brackish-aquaria/

    There's no pressing need for CO2 because the hard water plants tend to be able to extract the carbon they need from carbonate hardness. On the other hand, bright light is always a plus, and may be essential for some plant species. Use a standard aquarium substrate of your choice; there's no need to add crushed coral or anything like that. Good quality marine aquarium salt mix will provide enough hardness to the water.

    Cheers, Neale

     
  6. fi_sjo

    fi_sjo Member

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    Thanks for your comments Neale (great book btw, highly recommend it!).

    What are your thoughts on the laterite/flourite+sand substrate approach for a brackish tank?

    This tank is definitely going to be brackish. I'm hoping to have a mixed tank with a F8, perhaps some orange chromides too.

    I've still got marine tanks and have done freshwater for many years (including species tanks with freshwater puffers).
     
  7. nmonks

    nmonks A stroke of the brush does not guarantee art from

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    Thanks for the kind words!

    By all means use these. I happen to like using plain pond soil with gravel, topped with either gravel or silica sand. But the thing with planted tanks is that there are lots of different ways of achieving good results. Aquarium plants are weeds, and given even halfway decent conditions should thrive. Most problems come from lack of light more than anything else.

    A good combo that works. Do try and find the wild-type orange chromides; although a bit less colourful outside of spawning, their colour changes at spawning time are amazing.

    Cheers, Neale
     
  8. fi_sjo

    fi_sjo Member

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    I think one thing that's puzzling me is the natural environments for these animals. I suppose the curve ball is that some of these species travel through the various environments; estuary, river and swamp, so to create an actual biotope (for a specific animal) is perhaps impossible!

    I think i've decided on JBL's Manado product for the bottom half of the substrate, but am still undecided on the top layer.

    [​IMG]



    I've been looking at the range of substrates from CaribSea. Here's a few i'm contemplating:

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Grain sizes are 0.2-0.4mm, 0.2-1.2mm and 1.0-2.0mm respectively.

    I do have some crushed coral incase it needs buffering a little.


    I'm thinking that river systems probably have larger gravel/stones than swamps. I want to keep small gobies though, including some sand-sifting varietes, so i'm thinking i'd be better off with a sand substrate. I'm not sure if plants get on well with very fine/dense sandbeds to perhaps #2 above would be a reasonable compromise. The gravel tidy i've purchased has 2mm holes in it, although it's purpose should be to stop the lower substrate coming up rather than the upper layer going down :)

    I'm aiming for a slightly brackish setup, SG around 1.004-5. I don't know if this would tend to be a river system or a swap system.

    I'm also thinking it'd be nice to have some floating plants, but I think this may create a conflict with regards to oxygen requirements for puffers and other livestock and this the required surface movement.


    Any thoughts welcome :)
     
  9. myenigmaself

    myenigmaself Member

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    I have a tank with F8s, BBGs, and Orange Chromides, so here's my two cents.

    I LOVE the look of a planted tank, but my puffers chewed up every single live plant I put in there with them. Hornwort, Java Fern, Anubias, Anacharis, Java Moss, and they particularly liked the Vallisneria. I have java fern, java moss, and a surface pond plant growing in my sump, but anywhere the puffers can get at the plants I haven't had anything last longer than a few weeks. My solution was to use fake plants in the main tank. Kind of a bummer, but once some algae started growing on them they looked half natural.

    As for species selection, I think yours sounds wonderful (although I'm a bit biased). The chromides provide a lot of movement and color, the gobies fill in the edges of the tank, and the puffers ooze with personality. I also have a few other species in with mine, but the F8s-BBGs-Chromides are the core of the tank. My chromides do like to school sometimes, and they seem to do better in groups of 3 or more. I started with 3 and ended up with 10. Great fish. They can be territorial sometimes, so make sure you've got the room for them. My 10 are in a 55G.

    Best of luck to you!!
     
  10. nmonks

    nmonks A stroke of the brush does not guarantee art from

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    One thing you might reflect on is the salinity of the system. For a low-end system, 10-20% normal seawater salinity should be ample; i.e., SG 1.001-1.003 at 25 degrees C, depending on the species being kept. At these low salinities you should find an extremely wide variety of plants will thrive.

    I have a windowsill tank at about 1.002 that houses some Limia nigrofasciata, Tylomelania spp. snails and cherry shrimps, and all three are breeding happily. But there are also some Vallisneria in there, and these are not only growing but flowering, a relatively uncommon thing to see in aquaria. Watching these flowers mature, fertilise one another (apparently underwater) and then develop into new plants is pretty neat. Vallisneria are common in low salinity brackish waters and have no problems at all adapting to slightly brackish water.

    The good thing about healthy plants is that algae problems are minimised. Even with direct sunlight, algae control is something I need do only every few weeks when pulling out a few clumps of green "moss ball" growths of Spirogyra-type things. These are actually quite pretty, but they do clog up the box filter after a while.

    Cheers, Neale
     
  11. Carlovel1

    Carlovel1 & Oddballs

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    JBL Manado is a top layer substrate, I think what you mean is JBL Aquabasis
     
  12. fi_sjo

    fi_sjo Member

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    Thanks for your comprehensive reply. Does your 55g include the sump volume or is that seperate? My tank is 180 litres / 47 US gal / 39 UK/imperial gal.


    Thanks Neale. I really am hoping to be able to keep some plantlife (hopefully i'll end up with plant-friendly puffers!).


    No, I did mean Manado. JBL list this substrate to be used as a single or bottom layer substrate but don't seem to list the Aquabasis on their website anymore. I only looked at the Manado as it claims to not affect pH, where Laterite and Flourite may do so from what i've read? I'm not sure though.
     
  13. myenigmaself

    myenigmaself Member

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    No, that volume does not include my sump. All together it's around 80G (84G of aquarium volume, but the sump isn't filled all the way). Good luck!
     
  14. fi_sjo

    fi_sjo Member

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    Hm. I wonder what I can get away with bioload-wise. 180 litres, estimate 10% loss through substrate but a good few litres added with a large external filter.

    Thinking half a dozen bumblebee gobies, 1-2 F8 puffers and maybe 2 or 4 orange chromides? Would mind a couple of small oddball gobies in there too, perhaps a knight goby.
     
  15. fi_sjo

    fi_sjo Member

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    Ended up finding some JBL AquaBasis (thanks Carlovel1!) to use as the foundation substrate and bought some Unipac 'Congo' sand to go on top. Average grain size is 1.0mm like so:

    [​IMG]

    I was trying to find a compromise for the plants and animals, hopefully this is it!
     

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