Fishless cycling and fish brainstorming

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I have used Excel for about 20 years. I also did one high tech planted tank with pressurized CO2 and that tank did not get Excel as there was no need. It is important to know that there are some plant species which do not do well with Excel. So if you want to use it, you need to avoid those plants. I also only add the Excel once a week after water a change. I have never dosed it daily.

I have heard the arguments against using Excel. The problem is that my experience using it tells me those arguments lack any merit. I have very healthy fish living long lives in tanks where I have dosed Excel regularly. But let's use a bit of common sense here. If eexcel were harmful for fish or inverts when used as directed, would there not be numerous reports all over the internet about the nyriad fish it has killed and tanks it has trashed? I cannot find them.

Also, Tom Barr a known plant expert seems OK with Excel. While he prefers not using it in large tanks, Ihave used it in my 150 gal clown loach tank since I moved the fish into it from a 75, which also got Excel. Finally, Have a read of this thread in its entirety
https://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/flourish-excel-yes-or-no.29085/

My first bottle of plant ferts was SeaChem. I never finished it because I switched to Tropica ferts which I am still using some 22 years later. Over the years the changed the branding etc. Tropica is one of the oldest suppliers of plants to the hobby. The info on their site is excellent.
https://tropica.com/en/
 
Thank you Naughts and Essjay!

I don't have much experience in keeping aquariums so I was hoping somebody might be able to tell me if the movement on the water surface from the filter and air pump is problematic for my frogbit/Limnobium laevigatum ?
As suggested to me, the frogbit will be a good indicator as a fast grower but I don't know if it can do well with the level of surface movement.

I attached links to clips of my aquarium on Youtube, as to my knowledge only photos work here. The clips together are under two minutes so I'd appreciate if anyone can take the time :]



 
I have used Excel for about 20 years. I also did one high tech planted tank with pressurized CO2 and that tank did not get Excel as there was no need. It is important to know that there are some plant species which do not do well with Excel. So if you want to use it, you need to avoid those plants. I also only add the Excel once a week after water a change. I have never dosed it daily.

I have heard the arguments against using Excel. The problem is that my experience using it tells me those arguments lack any merit. I have very healthy fish living long lives in tanks where I have dosed Excel regularly. But let's use a bit of common sense here. If eexcel were harmful for fish or inverts when used as directed, would there not be numerous reports all over the internet about the nyriad fish it has killed and tanks it has trashed? I cannot find them.

Also, Tom Barr a known plant expert seems OK with Excel. While he prefers not using it in large tanks, Ihave used it in my 150 gal clown loach tank since I moved the fish into it from a 75, which also got Excel. Finally, Have a read of this thread in its entirety
https://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/flourish-excel-yes-or-no.29085/

My first bottle of plant ferts was SeaChem. I never finished it because I switched to Tropica ferts which I am still using some 22 years later. Over the years the changed the branding etc. Tropica is one of the oldest suppliers of plants to the hobby. The info on their site is excellent.
https://tropica.com/en/
Thank you, it's really intresting to hear about your experiences with both products. I'll definitely research a lot more before trying any liquid CO2
 
Would these be compatible species? Brainstorming some ideas for my tank when it's cycled.
  • 5 Longfin Zebra Danios
  • 15 Ember tetras
  • 1 Whiptail Catfish

Not set on this idea at all but it's what I'm about to research some more. For my tank I'd like a main school of nano fish who might swim in the middle-ish area of the tank. Then a cleaner fish who would chill near the bottom or on the glass/hardscape, (not substrate fish like cories I have lava gravel and aquarium soil under the sand). I would also like some other interesting fish that would swim or hang out nearer to the surface or top level of the tank (why I chose the danios in this combination). Not set on those numbers of fish either, as I'm not quite sure where the balance is between not overstocking and having too few fish in a group/school.
 
On the surface disturbance, I think I would consider it more than adequate. The surface disturbance in my 40g video below. This was right on the mark, it didn't drive out CO2 and it didn't cause the cories to be impacted by CO2 during the night (which had been the issue). So I managed the balance just right. You want the nightly recovery of CO2 to provide what the plants require during the next day.

That brings up the matter of balance. Those of us with low-tech or natural planted tanks do not use added CO2 of any sort. There is enough naturally produced if you have fish being fed, and this occurs in the substrate. You aim to balance light (which involves the intensity, spectrum and duration) with the nutrients available for the plants' needs. Plants will photosynthesize full out if these requirements are met. But as soon as one of them is no longer sufficient, photosynthesis will slow, and may even stop, depending, and then "problem" algae has the advantage because it is not as fussy over light or nutrients. I worked the balance given the lighting I had and the fish load and minimal plant supplementation so the lights were on for 7 hours each day, no more or algae became an issue. But this balance can be affected in a number of ways. If you are going with the natural approach, the aim is to have as much of the nutrients "natural" as possible, so they are used by the plants and not causing algae issues. This tank was a 40g "breeder" with dimensions of 36 by 18 inches (length/width). It held 40 Corydoras, 12 Petitella bleheri, two Characidium fasciatum, 1 Rineloricaria parva, 1 Rineloricaria "red lizard," and the last of my quite old groups of Nannostomus beckfordi (5) and N. eques (6). These species had been with me during the previous decade or more and were beginning to reach death by old age (the latter that is, hence the small numbers). This tank was extraordinarily balanced. The sand substrate was never cleaned or messed with by me, and if you stirred it up, there wasn't much to see. I always found this in tanks with Corydoras, and that intrigued me.

To your fish ideas. This tank is not long enough to provide sufficient swimming space for Zebra Danios. This is a very active danio. You would also need more, around 9-10 minimum, but that doesn't matter as I woldnot include it here in this 30-inch/75cm length tank. You have soft water so you options are almost unending. The Ember Tetras are quiet fish, and 15 is a good number. Consider some of the pencilfish in the genus Nannostomus. N. eques swims at an oblique angle at the surface. N. marginatus is a nice little fish, as are the similar in behaviour newer red species being discovered. What about the smaller hatchetfishes in the genus Carnegiella? And there are some very beautiful small tetras being collected these days, we have had a couple mentioned in recent threads.

I'm certainly not suggesting all of these species together, but the individual species in adequate numbers are worth considering. Hopefully you like some of them.

To answer your question on group size, the fish will without any question fare better the more there are of that species. We have scientific studies proving this. A group of 10 is a good number to aim, some may need more, but if you want the fish to be in good health they must have sufficient of their own. It is not a question of how many fish can the tank hold, but the goal is to provide the best environment for the health and well-being of the fish species. That is your bottom line. My 40g had a lot of fish in it, but it ran for years without issue because the fish had what they expected.
 
My tank only a few inches bigger than yours @rebe I am planning 18 Cory, 1 small BN, and one group of tetras, either 12 black phantom, or 12 white tipped can't remember rest of name. I need my tetras to be the type where there is a lot of interaction, especially the males. I got no upper third fish but stuff it for now.

My tap water is KH 10 and GH 16 pH 7.6 but I am established on 80% RO and KH is 4, GH is 6 and pH about 7.4

Heavily, heavily planted.
 
On the surface disturbance, I think I would consider it more than adequate. The surface disturbance in my 40g video below. This was right on the mark, it didn't drive out CO2 and it didn't cause the cories to be impacted by CO2 during the night (which had been the issue). So I managed the balance just right. You want the nightly recovery of CO2 to provide what the plants require during the next day.

That brings up the matter of balance. Those of us with low-tech or natural planted tanks do not use added CO2 of any sort. There is enough naturally produced if you have fish being fed, and this occurs in the substrate. You aim to balance light (which involves the intensity, spectrum and duration) with the nutrients available for the plants' needs. Plants will photosynthesize full out if these requirements are met. But as soon as one of them is no longer sufficient, photosynthesis will slow, and may even stop, depending, and then "problem" algae has the advantage because it is not as fussy over light or nutrients. I worked the balance given the lighting I had and the fish load and minimal plant supplementation so the lights were on for 7 hours each day, no more or algae became an issue. But this balance can be affected in a number of ways. If you are going with the natural approach, the aim is to have as much of the nutrients "natural" as possible, so they are used by the plants and not causing algae issues. This tank was a 40g "breeder" with dimensions of 36 by 18 inches (length/width). It held 40 Corydoras, 12 Petitella bleheri, two Characidium fasciatum, 1 Rineloricaria parva, 1 Rineloricaria "red lizard," and the last of my quite old groups of Nannostomus beckfordi (5) and N. eques (6). These species had been with me during the previous decade or more and were beginning to reach death by old age (the latter that is, hence the small numbers). This tank was extraordinarily balanced. The sand substrate was never cleaned or messed with by me, and if you stirred it up, there wasn't much to see. I always found this in tanks with Corydoras, and that intrigued me.

To your fish ideas. This tank is not long enough to provide sufficient swimming space for Zebra Danios. This is a very active danio. You would also need more, around 9-10 minimum, but that doesn't matter as I woldnot include it here in this 30-inch/75cm length tank. You have soft water so you options are almost unending. The Ember Tetras are quiet fish, and 15 is a good number. Consider some of the pencilfish in the genus Nannostomus. N. eques swims at an oblique angle at the surface. N. marginatus is a nice little fish, as are the similar in behaviour newer red species being discovered. What about the smaller hatchetfishes in the genus Carnegiella? And there are some very beautiful small tetras being collected these days, we have had a couple mentioned in recent threads.

I'm certainly not suggesting all of these species together, but the individual species in adequate numbers are worth considering. Hopefully you like some of them.

To answer your question on group size, the fish will without any question fare better the more there are of that species. We have scientific studies proving this. A group of 10 is a good number to aim, some may need more, but if you want the fish to be in good health they must have sufficient of their own. It is not a question of how many fish can the tank hold, but the goal is to provide the best environment for the health and well-being of the fish species. That is your bottom line. My 40g had a lot of fish in it, but it ran for years without issue because the fish had what they expected.
So interesting to read and hear all of your knowledge!
In regards to the surface movement, I was actually more concerned that it would be too much and interfere with the floating plants. I'd read in a reddit post (reliable I know) that too much surface movement can "get the frogbit too wet" which makes little sense unless they mean only the top of the leaves or if the plants become overturned. If I need to I could make a guard of sorts with suction cups and thin plastic tubing that would act as a barrier. I'd rather not add that eyesore unless it's actually necessary though.
I'm not able to view your video of your 40g tank, it says that it's private. If it's a simple fix I'd still love to see the video!

Thank you also for the feedback on my fish ideas. Good to know about the zebra danios! After I finish responding here I'm going to look into the fish you suggested. I completely agree with this:
It is not a question of how many fish can the tank hold, but the goal is to provide the best environment for the health and well-being of the fish species.
As a beginner, I have a long way to go in terms of learning about the different fish species and their needs. So I think something I'll need help with in the near future is to figure out which fish could live happily together with enough space and numbers. Researching individual species is easy enough but there isn't a simple rule for mixing different fish, who might occupy different tank areas. The "One Inch Per Gallon" rule for fish stocking is only helpful in some scenarios. The catfish you suggested earlier, the whiptail, has length that is disproportionate to its bio-load. So the "One Inch Per Gallon" rule wouldn't apply properly in this scenario. I think.

About the CO2 stuff, would you recommend getting a drop checker to monitor the levels? Or just leave it be unless there are problems
 
My tank only a few inches bigger than yours @rebe I am planning 18 Cory, 1 small BN, and one group of tetras, either 12 black phantom, or 12 white tipped can't remember rest of name. I need my tetras to be the type where there is a lot of interaction, especially the males. I got no upper third fish but stuff it for now.

My tap water is KH 10 and GH 16 pH 7.6 but I am established on 80% RO and KH is 4, GH is 6 and pH about 7.4

Heavily, heavily planted.
That sounds really good, I definitely need some updates once the fish are introduced!
 
Should I keep or discard these yellowed frogbit?
I can't see any roots on them (yet anyways). I only received them a few days ago so it could just be nutrient deficiencies. I would rather not have dead/dying plants floating around and decomposing though. The other frogbit plants are a little yellow but they do show signs of growing and I should have seachem flourish for them at the beginning of next week.
 

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So interesting to read and hear all of your knowledge!
In regards to the surface movement, I was actually more concerned that it would be too much and interfere with the floating plants. I'd read in a reddit post (reliable I know) that too much surface movement can "get the frogbit too wet" which makes little sense unless they mean only the top of the leaves or if the plants become overturned. If I need to I could make a guard of sorts with suction cups and thin plastic tubing that would act as a barrier. I'd rather not add that eyesore unless it's actually necessary though.
I'm not able to view your video of your 40g tank, it says that it's private. If it's a simple fix I'd still love to see the video!

Thank you also for the feedback on my fish ideas. Good to know about the zebra danios! After I finish responding here I'm going to look into the fish you suggested. I completely agree with this:

As a beginner, I have a long way to go in terms of learning about the different fish species and their needs. So I think something I'll need help with in the near future is to figure out which fish could live happily together with enough space and numbers. Researching individual species is easy enough but there isn't a simple rule for mixing different fish, who might occupy different tank areas. The "One Inch Per Gallon" rule for fish stocking is only helpful in some scenarios. The catfish you suggested earlier, the whiptail, has length that is disproportionate to its bio-load. So the "One Inch Per Gallon" rule wouldn't apply properly in this scenario. I think.

About the CO2 stuff, would you recommend getting a drop checker to monitor the levels? Or just leave it be unless there are problems

I have never used "guards" because you want the floating plants to expand itself. I had Water Sprite in several tanks and one plant will grow side to side in no time, with many daughter plants you can use if you want to thin the parent plants. You get better water movement naturally.

Don't waste money on a CO2 checker. There will be CO2 occurring naturally, I never had issues. I did learn early on that there are a lot of companies telling us we need this and that but we don't. Keep it simple, there is much less to go wrong. Use nature, but don't meddle in it to upset things.
 
Should I keep or discard these yellowed frogbit?
I can't see any roots on them (yet anyways). I only received them a few days ago so it could just be nutrient deficiencies. I would rather not have dead/dying plants floating around and decomposing though. The other frogbit plants are a little yellow but they do show signs of growing and I should have seachem flourish for them at the beginning of next week.

Once they start browning, they are done. They are adjusting to a new water environment. Use the Flourish Comprehensive Supplement, but don't overdo it or there will be problem algae. You also have that plant substrate which does things, one reason I don't like them.
 
Once they start browning, they are done. They are adjusting to a new water environment. Use the Flourish Comprehensive Supplement, but don't overdo it or there will be problem algae. You also have that plant substrate which does things, one reason I don't like them.
So be wary of yellow frogbit and discard ones that start to go brown? And as to overdoing it with the Seachem Flourish, would too much be following the instructions on the bottle, should I use a bit less?
 
I gardened in dirt for many years before I got my first tank. The basic principles are similar for both. But there are difference obviously. But I understood the basics of working with land plants before I tried aquatic ones. AT my peak I had a high light CO2 injected tank. I ended up spending more time working on that ank than any three of my other tanks and maybe more. So in the end I took it down. sold my co2 system and every since have only kept low to medium light plants. I add Excel when I do a water change is it. But according to SeaChem Excel dissipates after 24 hours.

One big reason have jungle tanks is that it lets me keep more fish because plants help us have healthy tanks as well as provide hiding places for fish (and food for some as well). While I like the plants and the benefits they can provide in a tank, I am first and foremost a fish keeper. My high light tank meant that I spent a ton more time on the plants than the fish. I really did this for myself not for the fish. They would have been fine in a planted tank that needed a lot less attention.

I still count 8.5 planted tank. The half is a 20L tank with a dozen black shultzei corys I am trying to spawn. The tank has two not big anubias and a small Java fern. I only add some trace elements as ferts and nothing else. It is a low light tank. SIx of the corys are part of a growout contest my fish club sponsored. Unfortunately I will not make it to the juding at the Sept. meeting as I have a space in the vendor Room of the Keystone Clash and will be there on my club's meeting night. I normally never enter contests, but the price of the 6 corys was excellent and being in the contest was a great way to end up with six more corys.

I normally do not participate in fish related contest as is clear from the fact I refuse to enter any of the ones here (or on any other site). I do not show my fish either. But, I was willing to do so to get the extra fish. I also do not normally power feed anything. But in this case I made an exception. Oh well, I guess it works out that I still have not truly entered and participated in a contest relating to fish.

Only one person has to like how any given tank looks, and that is its owner. I do not need a "blue ribbon" to tell me if I like how my tanks look. Nor do I feel it is my place to judge anyone else's tank. I will only offer an opinion, if asked, on if the tank is fish safe etc. I may suggest one add plants, but I would not tell them how create a look that will make them happy.

Right now I am staring at my inwall planted 75 gal. There are now twoanubias that have reached the surface. normally I cut them in half and meake anew plant. Now I will just sell them.

Btw, if you wanted to make yourself feel inadeqaute as an aquascaper, go here and poke around https://showcase.aquatic-gardeners.org/ there you will see what is considered to be the best of the best when oit comes to planted tanks.
 

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