My 20 gal amazonian biotope project

Koglin

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Day 1:

Today I splurged the money to get a new tank setup!

I've been busy setting up for a while, so I will update water parameters and my plan to treat when I have more time.

The overall goal is to create an amazonian river biotope with a fishless cycle for a group of at least 16 pygmaeus corydoras. I just really, really, like these little guys.

The setup:

20 gallon long, w/ flip top glass lid

20 gallons RO water (according to the label, more info. on this later)

Fluval 30 hob filter - pumps up to 125 gph, and I chose it largely due to it being adjustable, and having a huge capacity for my filtration. I'm running an intake sponge 1st mech> slightly less coarse sponge 2nd mech>Purigen (not going b/w amazonian)>2 sided poly for chem>fluval ceramic rings (some from my established tank) for my bio media bag.

The lighting was the biggest cost. I wanted something I could recreate more natural lighting with. So I got a coralife led seacape for fw/sw. It has w/b/rbg led banks for a spectrum of color choices, variable color intensities, and a 30 min. ramp cycle times to increase/decrease lighting so it can simulate sunrise/sunset. I actually got an upgrade after the one I bought had the wrong product in it (someone had stolen it), and they were out when I went back, so the manager gave me 30% off to upgrade to this one which was $80 more than the first one. Still though, saved about 60 bucks on a $180 light.

To start I'm going to try an 11/13 light cycle. Since I want to mimic the Amazon, these hrs may change after more research. Currently I have all spectrum intensities turned down. Sunrise starts at 9, and will ramp to 70% intensity by 930 (tank is in front of a window I'm getting a dark out curtain for). Sunset will begin at 730, and the white leds will turn off by 8. The rbg will turn off by 9, and I will have a deep midnight blue left when the rbg turns off at 9 (fading the brightness just a liiittttle longer).

For substrate I'm going to stick with the pool filter sand, as it is already working well with the pygmy Cory's I already have. I pulled out a bunch of the silica by spreading it thinly in a pan and rolling it around to separate the silica beads. For the tank, I cleaned 28 lbs. of it, to create a 2" floor for rooted plants. I'll update the filter sand water parameters from the bag later when I update my water info.

Got an aqeuon adjustable heater, and for this tank I thought I would try a tetra whisper air pump. I installed a flow control valve near the pump so I can turn it down, attached to a 6" buried airstone.

Over the next few days, I will be delving more into low light moderate flow plants typical of the amazon that the pygmy's would enjoy. I wanna get more fancy than java moss and dhg (although I'll have some java moss in there too from my other tank). Can't wait! I found a slew of information regarding plants for the biotope, but still need more research before deciding. Luckily I have a bit due to the cycle.

For now though, I have it set up and threw some catappa leaves in there. In the wild pygmy's would typically encounter decaying leaves, so I figure them decaying in there during the cycle might help. There is also some java moss floating in a little quarantine box. It kept coming off of my driftwood in the other tank, so not sure exactly what I'll do with it yet, not going out for my wood until my other plants are decided.

Attached a pic. from right when I finished earlier, added a few more catappa leaves after the pic was taken. Sorry about the foggy water, I had just leveled the sand - you know how it goes. Will be cleared up by morning.

More to come over time, I'll update my water and substrate parameters later, for now I need a shower -.-'

Also open to suggestions for plants, I don't mind high maintenance, but don't want to get a co2 system at this time. Have to wait a while for that.
 

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Lajos_Detari

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I think you might want to get some middle and top level fish since Corydoras will mostly stay at the bottom.







For plants but may not be from Amazon:

Slow growing, low light and hardy plants : Anubias Nana, Java Ferns

Fast growing plants : Cabomba, Anacharis Elodea, Hornworts.
 
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itiwhetu

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These little guys will just hover in the middle of the tank, have you got a little bit of first light hitting the tank if so they will spawn. I ran clown killifish above mine and had an increasing population of both, it was a cool tank,.
 

Tegz

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Day 1:

Today I splurged the money to get a new tank setup!

I've been busy setting up for a while, so I will update water parameters and my plan to treat when I have more time.

The overall goal is to create an amazonian river biotope with a fishless cycle for a group of at least 16 pygmaeus corydoras. I just really, really, like these little guys.

The setup:

20 gallon long, w/ flip top glass lid

20 gallons RO water (according to the label, more info. on this later)

Fluval 30 hob filter - pumps up to 125 gph, and I chose it largely due to it being adjustable, and having a huge capacity for my filtration. I'm running an intake sponge 1st mech> slightly less coarse sponge 2nd mech>Purigen (not going b/w amazonian)>2 sided poly for chem>fluval ceramic rings (some from my established tank) for my bio media bag.

The lighting was the biggest cost. I wanted something I could recreate more natural lighting with. So I got a coralife led seacape for fw/sw. It has w/b/rbg led banks for a spectrum of color choices, variable color intensities, and a 30 min. ramp cycle times to increase/decrease lighting so it can simulate sunrise/sunset. I actually got an upgrade after the one I bought had the wrong product in it (someone had stolen it), and they were out when I went back, so the manager gave me 30% off to upgrade to this one which was $80 more than the first one. Still though, saved about 60 bucks on a $180 light.

To start I'm going to try an 11/13 light cycle. Since I want to mimic the Amazon, these hrs may change after more research. Currently I have all spectrum intensities turned down. Sunrise starts at 9, and will ramp to 70% intensity by 930 (tank is in front of a window I'm getting a dark out curtain for). Sunset will begin at 730, and the white leds will turn off by 8. The rbg will turn off by 9, and I will have a deep midnight blue left when the rbg turns off at 9 (fading the brightness just a liiittttle longer).

For substrate I'm going to stick with the pool filter sand, as it is already working well with the pygmy Cory's I already have. I pulled out a bunch of the silica by spreading it thinly in a pan and rolling it around to separate the silica beads. For the tank, I cleaned 28 lbs. of it, to create a 2" floor for rooted plants. I'll update the filter sand water parameters from the bag later when I update my water info.

Got an aqeuon adjustable heater, and for this tank I thought I would try a tetra whisper air pump. I installed a flow control valve near the pump so I can turn it down, attached to a 6" buried airstone.

Over the next few days, I will be delving more into low light moderate flow plants typical of the amazon that the pygmy's would enjoy. I wanna get more fancy than java moss and dhg (although I'll have some java moss in there too from my other tank). Can't wait! I found a slew of information regarding plants for the biotope, but still need more research before deciding. Luckily I have a bit due to the cycle.

For now though, I have it set up and threw some catappa leaves in there. In the wild pygmy's would typically encounter decaying leaves, so I figure them decaying in there during the cycle might help. There is also some java moss floating in a little quarantine box. It kept coming off of my driftwood in the other tank, so not sure exactly what I'll do with it yet, not going out for my wood until my other plants are decided.

Attached a pic. from right when I finished earlier, added a few more catappa leaves after the pic was taken. Sorry about the foggy water, I had just leveled the sand - you know how it goes. Will be cleared up by morning.

More to come over time, I'll update my water and substrate parameters later, for now I need a shower -.-'

Also open to suggestions for plants, I don't mind high maintenance, but don't want to get a co2 system at this time. Have to wait a while for that.
Can't wait to see what it turns out like good luck!

I've got a 20g high that is my constant work in progress

Will be adding some eel grass and hair grass and perhaps some hard scape too around the spiderwood.

Trying to get a bonsai look on the driftwood waiting patiently for it to grow out.
IMG_20200929_210007-01.jpeg
 
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Koglin

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Just a quick update on water: all the ro gallons I bought are at 6ph, 0am, 0ni, 0na. Waiting on the kh test kit I ordered before I start treating it other than the dose of prime I put in. Once I can get the kh test kit in so I can monitor my changes, I'll update my plan adjust the water.

The parameters of my pool filter sand 60-120ppm total alkanity, 7.2-7.6 ph, 1-4ppm available chlorine. I went through a crazy amount of time prepping it though, will start testing more after a couple days of light feeding to kick off the ammonia to see how it's all starting to come together.

Will update again after I pick out plants and driftwood/decor, thanks for the replies! I cannot WAIT to read more about the plant suggestions and a few more I've seen in other tanks. Now for some responses:

@Lajos_Detari at first I was thinking about reducing my pygmaeus cory shoal size and get 6-7 carnegiella strigata (marbled hatchetfish) since they would mostly stay right in the top level, and can also be found in the madeira river where the pygmaeus is often found, but I dunno. My current pygmy's sometimes break off from the small group to go play in bubbles and have their own antics all over the middle level, they swim a lot vs. scooting about like most corys. I'm kind of obsessed with them. I thought maybe some pencil fish would be cool too, I hope to stay a bit understocked though and they get bigger than the marbled hatchets.

These little guys will just hover in the middle of the tank, have you got a little bit of first light hitting the tank if so they will spawn. I ran clown killifish above mine and had an increasing population of both, it was a cool tank,.
That would be AWESOME if they spawned, and pygmaeus don't really eat their fry either so that helps with caring for how tiny they are. Love their personalities, they look like tiny airplanes when their just chilling on leaves etc. I was considering getting a small 6 gallon cube tank to try getting them to spawn, but think I'd rather have them in the tank and make it safe for fry if I can make the magic happen in there instead.

@NCaquatics @Lajos_Detari thanks for the plants suggestions! Definitely want some swords and i really like java ferns. Haven't heard of some of the others but will look into for sure. Same with the eel grass that was mentioned.

@Tegz that is some awesome driftwood! Is that malaysian do you know? What kind of substrate are you using? Hope your plants speed up how ya want, really dig the layout. Also, what's that taller plant in the back left of the photo?

Thanks for the replies all, and especially the suggestions ^.^ Will update later on.
 

Retired Viking

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Since you are working with RO water you may want to pick up a TDS water hardness pen. I have a TDS-3 pen to measure the ppm as you mix the RO water. They are not expensive and very accurate. I picked up mine from e-bay for around 10 USD. I also use a ATC PH-009(I)A pen to measure the PH levels.
 
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Koglin

Koglin

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Since you are working with RO water you may want to pick up a TDS water hardness pen. I have a TDS-3 pen to measure the ppm as you mix the RO water. They are not expensive and very accurate. I picked up mine from e-bay for around 10 USD. I also use a ATC PH-009(I)A pen to measure the PH levels.
Oh that's too cool haha. How have I not encountered these pens yet?? Thanks for the advice, I really want one now after reading more about them and how they're measuring. Too neat.
 

Retired Viking

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Oh that's too cool haha. How have I not encountered these pens yet?? Thanks for the advice, I really want one now after reading more about them and how they're measuring. Too neat.
When I first tried them I tested them on city well water 244ppm and city lake water that goes through an RO process lowering it's hardness to 134ppm and the pen showed the exact same reading as posted on the city site then I tested the RO water I bought and it tested right on the money again as to what the provider showed the hardness at 3ppm.
 

Lajos_Detari

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Get a few pieces of driftwoods especially the big driftwoods instead of the small ones.
Big driftwoods will make big impact on your tank visually and easier to decorate the tank though they are more expensive.

A big group of Pygmaeus cory is nice to watch.
But it's good to add some middle or top level fish so that your tank won't look so empty.
 
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Koglin

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Just a quick update..

Sadly, my uncle passed away this week. I will be going out of town for a while to attend the services, so for the time being my amazon (medeira river) biotope project will be put on hold until I get back.

Luckily, my roommate was willing to take care of my other tank for me, she's on the forum.

So if you see this Kate, thanks again!

Will update after I get back to my home state and go out driftwood / plant shopping.

Thanks again for the plant suggestions everyone, and the pen suggestion, I've got some nice ideas on the direction I'd like to go as far as setup etc., but until I can get back to it I gotta quit obsessing on my ideas.

Take care and be safe out there'

P.S. @Lajos_Detari - you've convinced me lol, I am now back to the idea of shrinking my pygmy group a bit and wanting to get a small group of marble hatchetfish since their water conditions are close to each other and they can both be found in the medeira river
 

Lajos_Detari

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P.S. @Lajos_Detari - you've convinced me lol, I am now back to the idea of shrinking my pygmy group a bit and wanting to get a small group of marble hatchetfish since their water conditions are close to each other and they can both be found in the medeira river
Sorry to hear about the passing of your uncle.
By the way, you don't need to cut many because the Pygmy Corydoras are quite small.
 
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Koglin

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I'm about to write another update for my biotope project, but first I wanted to say this:

I appreciate the condolences from everyone regarding my uncle Clyde, he lived a long life (especially considering he had down syndrome) to the age of 66.

Fun fact about Clyde: my whole life he had a mounted Crappie on his wall that beats the KS state record for length (but it was caught so long ago that KS didn't record all that yet, so the taxidermist only recorded the length of the crappie on the plaque. KS will not accept it as an entry since the weight upon catch cant be verified since the taxidermist used has long since closed, so we couldn't get any weight record for it. I pushed the topic for a few years when I was younger).

He also caught a lot of bluegills, bass, catfish, and walleyes over the years. Clyde always knew what he wanted to go after when we would hit the lake, and he would catch it too.

Just thought you all might get a kick out of that.
 

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