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Re: [APD] Help With My New Tank!! -- or - Bravely into the Shadows
A few comments, fwiw:
Discus biotope. I don't think the Discus biotopes have
plants in the substrate, more like lots of roots and fallen
plant materials from the forest above the river -- but the
true biotpers can confirm or correct that. But discus, like
most fish, are happy with plants in their world.
Wired dirt. The commonly available heating cables won't
make the substrate too hot. But heating cables will be
expensive unless you make your own and you are unlikely to
notice any benefit from them in terms of fish or plant
health. What benefits they might have will be totally
swamped by other factors like nutrient levels, lighting
levels and duration, CO2 levels, etc. There's tons of stuff
in the archives on heating cables. There's nothing wrong
with using heating cables but they usually aren't cheap.
Tube heaters can be gotten very cheaply. If you don't liek
the look fo them in your aquarium, you can put them in a
sump or plant around them. A sump might not be a bad idea
for 120 gal -- worth considering for long term conveniences
but certainly not a necessity.
All substrates change over time. Detritus collects,
bacteria grows -- which is generally a good thing -- the
substrate becomes a rich and fertile place for plants to
root. If you want minimum maintenance, you can try soil
under gravel for a substrate. For pros and cons of this
type of set-up, see the next two Issues of TAG. Or, if you
can't wait for the quarterlies (and who can wait when
you're ready to set up a new tank? :-) ), peruse the APD
archives. More or less the bible on this type of set up is
Diana Walstad's _Ecology of the The Planted Aquarium_,
available from fine on-line book stores, Diana's website,
the AGA website, Amazon, etc. A good book to have if you're
an aquatic gardener, whether doing soil underlayments or
With the terrific appetites of Discus, you might need to be
vacuuming the substrate regularly just to keep up wioth the
build up. That means you will have to be very careful not
to vacuum too deeply if you use an underlayment of soil or
Shadows. Glad to hear that someone isn't insisting that an
entire tank be be evenly lit. I find it a bore, tank after
tank, after a while. Light/shadow is one of the tools one
can use in crafting an aquascape. I'm not boasting about my
own abilities, just noting that contrast can be an
effective visual aspect.
The right selection and placement of plants can give you
nice areas of shade. But bulb location can also be used,
although wtih much less precsion and certainly less
Fluorescent bulbs, because the light source is spread over
such a large area (virtually the entire bulb), give off a
very diffuse light, making distinct shadow areas difficult
to create. You'd be better off with metal halide lamps to
try and create distinct shadow areas. Although I fear that
you will find such lamps more expensive in the long run,
less reliable in terms of color shift over time, and a bit
more difficult to deal with in terms of heat. The heat
issue is due soley to the fact that the heat is more
localized with MH bulbs so you have higher bulb temps. Some
folks confuse heat with temperature and say that MHs give
off more heat than fluorescents, which is not true. MHs
have about the same energy efficiency as the most efficient
fluorescent bulbs and watt for watt they simply do not give
off more heat. But with a MH, the heat is coming from a
smaller bulb and so the bulb has a higher temp. A match's
temp is many times higher than the surface of a fluorescent
or MH bulb, but the heat given of is much much less. You
won't notice the heat in a room but you can feel if if you
get close to the match. You need to accomodate the temp of
an MH bulb with your hood and when considering how close to
the water you place the bulb.
Hope that helps, at least a little,
Good luck, good fun,
--- Shalom Levytam <shalominc at yahoo_com> wrote:
> I have just subscribed to this mailing list so I hope
> this goes through okay...
> I am just starting on a new 120g tank which I hope
> will end up being a planted discus biotope.
> Unfortunately, there is a bit of a rush on this since
> I have small discus in a makeshift quarentine tank. I
> really don't think its good to have him in there for
> too long...
> I have been doing a lot of reading and so I have a lot
> of questions. Please bare with me.
> I guess the first place to start would be the
> substrate. I guess I should mention that while
> asthetics are very important to me, cost is even more
> of a concern. My original concept was to use a nice
> tan/yellow color sand for the substrate.
> Unfortunately, I can't seem to locate any such
> substrate anywhere. Silica sand / play sand don't
> seem to have the appeal I am looking for. Unless,
> anyone can suggest a better looking sand I might be
> forced to use black sandblasting sand.
> I guess besides asthetics the real question for me is
> should I use all sand or mix of other substrates. I
> recently read an article that suggested soil + sand.
> http://www.aquatic-gardeners.org/budget.html Is this
> a good option for plants? Does it prevent compacting?
> I'd rather have a substrate that did not change its
> properties after a few months. ie I don't want to
> always be fertilizing and such.
> Next the big debate, should I use heating coils.
> Based on what I have read I am interested in trying
> them if I can find them!!! Have not been able to
> locate any website that sells them. Do they still
> exist? My other big question about the cables is:
> Since I need a water temperature of 86degrees won't a
> higher temperature substrate be too hot for plants?
> Lastly, for lighting I was interested in have numerous
> spot bulbs for the tank. Something like the sun
> hitting the water through the trees. Varying areas of
> light and shadow. Maybe 4-8 bulbs. Is this
> possible??? What type of bulbs would I need? At the
> extreme I was thinking that I could even have the
> bulbs on a timing system to vary the look throughout
> the day. ie something like the sun rising then
> setting on the aquarium.
> Thanks in advance for any help offered,
> Do you Yahoo!?
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