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Advice needed on re arranging rocks and substrate

Discussion in 'Tropical Discussion' started by jimmyjam923, Jul 8, 2019.

  1. jimmyjam923

    jimmyjam923 New Member

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    I am considering re arranging my 75g tank to provide some better caves and improve the overall look. I have had this tank set up for about 6 years. In that time the convicts, leporinus and dempsey i have had in there have done a number on the gravel sand mix and as such have filled in certain areas. I want to take the rock out and level out the substrate and then replace the rocks creating several new caves. I also want to end up with about 3 to 5 dempsey size american cichlids and 1 featherfin cat thats about 5 inches now. The leporinus will be removed as well. I have a aqueon 75 HOB and a API XP M canister, weekly water changes of about 15 to 20% are the norm and light vacuuming of the substrate where i can reach it.

    My questions are this:

    Should i anticipate problems trying to re level such an old substrate? (I dont deep vacuum the gravel and there is a layer of brown stuff built up-see picture)

    Should i try to do it all at once or maybe in stages?

    Should i maybe remove some of the large rocks with that many fish?

    Here is a before and after pic of the tank. Before is 6 years ago and after is today.. The fish tore up my plants so they have been gone for a while.
    The last pic is the layer of gunk in the substrate
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

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  2. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    That tank is not big enough for 3-5 Jack Dempsey sized cichlids. Jack Dempsey's grow to 10-12 inches long and 1 pr of cichlids that big will be all that tank can house.

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    There will be gunk in the sand under the rocks and you will need to gravel clean this out. It will take a few water changes to clean it up. I would lift out the rocks on one side and gravel clean under it. Then a few days later lift out the rocks in the middle and gravel clean under it. Then do the other side a few days after that.

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    You need to do bigger water changes too. I recommend a 75% water change and gravel cleaning the substrate once a week.
    Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it's added to the tank.

    You do water changes for 2 main reasons.
    1) to reduce nutrients like ammonia, nitrite & nitrate.
    2) to dilute disease organisms in the water.

    Fish live in a soup of microscopic organisms including bacteria, fungus, viruses, protozoans, worms, flukes and various other things that make your skin crawl. Doing a big water change and gravel cleaning the substrate on a regular basis will dilute these organisms and reduce their numbers in the water, thus making it a safer and healthier environment for the fish.

    If you do a 25% water change each week you leave behind 75% of the bad stuff in the water.
    If you do a 50% water change each week you leave behind 50% of the bad stuff in the water.
    If you do a 75% water change each week you leave behind 25% of the bad stuff in the water.

    Fish live in their own waste. Their tank and filter is full of fish poop. The water they breath is filtered through fish poop. Cleaning filters, gravel and doing big regular water changes, removes a lot of this poop and makes the environment cleaner and healthier for the fish.

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    Leporinus eat plants so you will always have issues with plants with that fish in the tank. And big cichlids dig so plants should be grown in pots with shadecloth over the pot to stop the fish digging out the gravel.
     
  3. seangee

    seangee Member

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    I don't keep cichlids but when I do a significant re-arrangement some my fish have a tendency to re-establish their social hierarchy which results in squabbling. My fish aren't aggressive so its not really a big deal for me, but may be something to think about.
     
  4. jimmyjam923

    jimmyjam923 New Member

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    What do you think about 30 to 35% every few days. I hate doing the 75% and having to mess around with turning the filters off. Probably paranoid but have had issues in the past restarting several after large changes...

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  5. Byron

    Byron Member

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    Smaller volume changes are not as effective as one larger change. As an example, changing 10% every day is way less effective than changing 70% once a week. With a Python changing water in large tanks is easy.

    On the filters, these should always be turned off during a water change, along with the heaters. The simplest way to do this is to get a short power bar (short cord) that has an on/off switch and plug the filters and heaters into this. I have one of these for each tank (or bank of smaller tanks) so I can just switch off the power bar and do the WC, then switch it back on. The lights are plugged into a timer directly plugged into the wall outlet so they remain on their schedule.
     
  6. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    You can get extension tubes for the intake on most power filters and this means the intake strainer is lower in the tank. This will allow you to do bigger water changes without turning the filter off.

    You can do whatever size water change you like. I just prefer bigger changes. But do whatever is easiest for you.
     
  7. AKfish

    AKfish Fish Fanatic

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    It's all based on water quality. If your not testing your water regularly you need to be. Most get lax and stop testing. There is no way you could possibly know how often or how much water you need to change without a test. It's simply impossible. If your keeping your nitrate at 0-40 ppm your doing just fine. I normally don't let mine get higher then 20ppm. I have a friend with a tank that hasn't had a water change in 3 months. No amonia issues no nitrite or nitrate issues. It is about the heavily planted tank and it's eco system. Here will really blow your mind. No filter heat or air in a 90 gal. The impossible is possible my friends lol. All the best luck my friend.
     
  8. AKfish

    AKfish Fish Fanatic

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    So sorry to post again. I keep forgetting stuff and double posting. If your tank was mine. I would pull some substrate out. Having too thick of substrate can promote nitrogen bubbles to form under it. Not good for fish or aquarium life in general. My rule of thumb is if it comes over the top or the plastic lip on glass tanks it's too much. That's about a half inch I would say for acrylic. Not sure if that's the amount everyone would suggest but that's what I go by without issue.
     
  9. Byron

    Byron Member

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    This is a dangerous misconception that some aquarists have, that water changes should be based on test results. It is certainly true that if tests show a problem then a major water change is usually part if not the while solution, but maintaining adequate water changes continually will prevent these problems in the first place. The more water that is regularly changed, the more stable the tank's biological system will be, and that means less problems along the way. And the fish will be healthier; waiting for nitrate to rise above some false number is too late, the fish have already been impacted.

    There are substances in the water that cannot be tested at all, and that most assuredly will not be identified by ammonia, nitrite, nitrate or pH tests. Fish release pheromones and allomones as their method of communication, and the only way to remove these is through substantial water changes. In a heavily planted tank with very few fish you should theoretically be able to get by, but I doubt any of us keep so few fish in heavily planted tanks.

    Nitrates at 20 ppm are now known to be dangerous for fish. The longer they are exposed, or the higher the level of nitrate, the more the fish are being affected. The best way to describe it is to say that the fish are being weakened physiologically, and this only leads to more problems and inevitably a shorter than normal lifespan.

    Once you have an established tank that is biologically stable, there is no need for regular tests. I have been carrying out spot tests for years, and the numbers are always the same test to test for each tank. It takes time for beginning aquarists to get this worked out, but without regular and substantial partial water changes it is not even possible in most tanks.
     
  10. AKfish

    AKfish Fish Fanatic

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    We all do things differently. That being said. Filters are unnecessary if using knowledge to set up. We all tend to over complicate things. Keeping fish is science, but not rocket science. Also testing water regularly is without a doubt something that should happen. PH crashes happen all kinds of things can happen. Making assumptions is always a bad move. Your water can change in a matter of hours for several different reasons. Assuming your water is ok will eventually lead to an issue where you probably will lose fish. Also there are several large well stocked tanks available to view on YouTube. Many have not had water changes in several months. Water never EVER gets changed in nature. Stability is truly king in the hobby. It's a impossible to change 70+% of your water and replace it with exactly the same water. By definition of a water change your changing the water. So use common sense and you will be alright.
     
    #10 AKfish, Jul 11, 2019 at 2:26 PM
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019 at 2:37 PM
  11. Byron

    Byron Member

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    This is not common sense by any stretch of the term. Water in nature is continually changing for the fish...which is what we are talking about. The water in which the fish lives is chemically the same, but it is "fresh" with every respiration the fish takes. This is not the case in any aquarium unless it is huge or somehow connected to flow-through water. The water is polluted continually and this pollution increases. No filter can correct this, only water changes.

    Water changes are not intended to replace the water with exactly the same water. The parameters of GH, KH, pH and temperature should be reasonably close. If the aquarium is biologically balanced to begin with, they will be unless one of these is being targeted for some reason. The TDS will be significantly lower in the fresh water compared to the tank water, and that improves fish health. The whole point of regular partial water changes is to keep TDS lower. Filters cannot achieve this.

    As for those tanks on YouTube...you cannot assume any of those work, nor can you assume the fish are healthy. I had a conversation with a marine biologist a few years back about a show whose name I cannot remember but it had the word "tank" in it and it described various aquaria set-ups. Most of those tanks failed after they appeared on the show because the clowns doing the show had no idea of science and aquaria. I am not going to put the health of my fish in the trust of an individual of whom I know nothing concerning his/her knowledge level just because he has the money to set up a website and call himself some sort of expert. Donald Trump indeed. And when they counter proven science as is the case with water changes, they clearly have no credibility.
     
  12. Metalhead88

    Metalhead88 Fish Fanatic

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    Big water changes are certainly the way to go.

    What problems do you have with restarting the filters? HOB filters are super easy to get going again..... just fill with tank water before turning them back on and they start right up.

    When I do my water changes, I do 75% no matter how low my nitrate readings are. I simply turn the power strip and that turns everything off except for the light that is purposelessly on another strip before I drain water.

    To go back to what this topic was originally about. I think that 3 - 5 Dempsey sized cichlids is asking for trouble. 2 can work and 3 would be pushing it hard because of territorial issues and bio load.

    You can still get your 3 - 5 cichlids in the 75, but they would have to be smaller guys.

    The rocks should go, they look very nice, but don't do much as far as cover goes for cichlids. It also takes up a ton of swimming room. It would be great for a community type of set up like what you had going on in picture 1.
     
  13. AKfish

    AKfish Fish Fanatic

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    I have to respectfully disagree my friend. Many lakes have no tributary stream or anything like that. And even a lake with streams/rivers leading into it. The river supports life and there for is not fresh or clean. Simply more already live in water. The only fresh water any stream/river/lake ever sees is natural springs or glacial run off. Might argue rain is fresh. And you would be right. But the water in the rain came from evaporated water meaning any disolved solids would still be present in he body of water. There is very seldom a source of absolutely fresh water in nature. If all bodies of water needed fresh new water to survive we wouldn't have most of the fish we do. It creates an ecosystem that is effective all on its own. Now add that people boat and jetski and do all sorts of things that introduce pollution at high and unnatural levels. How do fish still thrive in these waters? There is much more going on in your aquarium then you realize. And fish in general can withstand and adapt to all sorts f things you wouldn't imagine. Fish live in the cooling ponds at Chernobyl. As far as vetting your source of information. I'm all for that and suggest no one takes my word on anything as fact. I highly suggest doing your own research. But I will never quote or refer to someone I don't believe is credible. Who is credible or not will surely very from personal to person. I tend to listen to the owner of aquarium co-op, flip aquatics one of the largest shrimp breeder's in the US and basically anyone successful at breeding fish on a larger scale. The most sensitive fish in the hobby are baby anything's. So if a breeder has great success I take it they have a good understanding of fish health.
     
  14. Byron

    Byron Member

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    This has gone somewhat off topic, though the issue of water changes was raised by the OP and Colin wisely advised him as to what is necessary. When any member posts contrary advice that is inaccurate, it behoves us to point this out and correct it. And Colin, myself, and metalhead88 have now done this. I could respond to the inaccurate assumptions in post 13 but it isn't going to get any of us anywhere, so we'll leave it at that. If you would like to discuss nature and water changes I'd be pleased to do so in another thread where we can lay out the science.
     
  15. AKfish

    AKfish Fish Fanatic

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    Lol well any topic where you learn something is never a bad thing. Also that is one thing I have never understood about fishkeeping. Very few have an open mind. Most find one way that works for them and call it the "right" way. In reality there are many "right" ways. I would definitely caution against taking advice blindly from anyone. Especially one who seems to think they know all there is to know. Funny how we as a people do that. Yet we don't even know whats in our own ocean or if dinosaurs had feathers. All the research and many many millions of dollars. Still don't know anything. Yet we love to believe we do. My advice about life in general. Question everything. Those who assume there is nothing left to learn and do stop trying to learn or accept new ideas are what hold progress back in any aspect of life.
     
    #15 AKfish, Jul 11, 2019 at 4:54 PM
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019 at 5:07 PM

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