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Re: [APD] My goldfish are dying

Melis and Vaughn,

What is the advantage of ADA aquasoil?  Where can I get it?

Disadvantages of laterite?  Seems to be the most common recommendation I have come across, until your posts today.  (As a lawyer, teacher and linguist, research is what I do for fun -- my husband thinks it's crazy but he listens politely when I tell him some cool new tidbit I just learned about water chemistry or fish biology or someone else's much bigger fish room!! -- so I am nearing 9 months as a new fish keeper, yes, but these 9 months have been filled with study.)

When I move my house and the tank next week, I will be doubling my lighting and adding CO2 for the first time.  Also, I ordered Walsted's book about a week ago, and am looking forward to it.  Her philosophy matches mine, but after starting with a simple set up on this (my first planted) tank, and having most of my fish die and my plants looking pale, ragged and small, I am now back to the drawing board.  (I disinfected the plants with bleach dilute, BTW).

My thinking about the undergravel heater relates mainly to the fact that I live at 8,500 feet elevation in the Colorado Rockies.  Although the goldfish like cold water, as I said the plants aren't too happy at all.  I thought warming up the roots might encourage better growth.  Even in summer, under beautiful blue skies, the daily temperature might creep up to 75 or 80 for a little while, but it always drops at night down in the 40s even in the hottest months, and it's always cool in the house.  I tried the first tank without it, but now I'm rethinking that.  Anyone with climate similar to mine and some experience here who could orient me?  If it's purely a waste of money, of course I won't bother, but if it might help, I am game to try it.

Does anyone know how much, IF AT ALL, a 25-watt undergravel heater would raise the water temperature in a 36 gallon aquarium?

In fact I do realize there are many ways of doing things -- precisely what is now driving me crazy.  With the dying fish problem, I could sort out people's comments on this and other forums based on what I know and what I have tried or not tried.  But with new schemes, like how to restart and enhance my planted aquarium, now I'm getting lots of different ideas and don't have a good way to sort them out myself.  So perhaps on this issue, I'll go offline and do my experimenting, and come back when I have enough base of knowledge to sort through the many ideas more effectively if what I try doesn't work.

I have good test kits (and use them weekly), but I don't have a pH meter -- in my mind, this would be a waste of money in my situation.  I know our pH is high (7.8) here, and that the hardness is also fairly high.  I know this last should keep the pH more stable than softer water.  I also know in the natural progression of any tank, pH will gradually drop slightly due to accumulations in the tank (which I figure could not be bad since it is so high to start with).  I will start testing hardness (GH and KH) just to know, but am I wrong for thinking my focus does NOT need to be on micro-managing the water for goldfish?  As long as things remain relatively consistent, they should do fine within the water parameters I have locally and have created in my tanks.  And they were for 8 months, but no one has suggested anything stemming from my water quality to make me think this is where the problem is.  I'm still not sure WHAT has killed my fish, but temperature and water quality do!
  not seem to be it.

I'm not going to try for fish that like acidic water any time soon.  I'll tackle one range of challenges at a time.

Thanks for the specific and thoughtful input.  Jamie
  ----- Original Message ----- 

  From: Donald Hellen<mailto:donhellen at horizonview_net> 
  To: aquatic plants digest<mailto:aquatic-plants at actwin_com> 
  Sent: Thursday, June 01, 2006 5:11 PM
  Subject: Re: [APD] My goldfish are dying

  Melis here (Don's wife)

  On Thu, 1 Jun 2006 13:13:24 -0700, Vaughn Hopkins
  <hoppycalif at yahoo_com<mailto:hoppycalif at yahoo_com>> wrote:

  >May I suggest that you not spend money on an undergravel heating cable, 
  >nor on laterite?  Neither is needed or especially beneficial for 
  >growing plants or keeping fish healthy.  It would help more to spend 
  >that money on good lighting, good test kits, including a pH meter, a 
  >pressurized CO2 system, and some ADA aquasoil or other good substrate 
  >Vaughn H .

  This, I think, is good advice. I would suggest you do
  more research about growing plants in aquarium setting.
  aquaticplantcentral is a good forum for further reading
  and research. Also one called plantgeek. 

  You may not realise there are more than one way of
  growing plants in the home aquarium. One that's been
  popular in europe quite a while and gaining adherents
  here is outlined in Diane Walstad's book 'Ecology of
  the Planted Aquarium'. Great book, explains how you can
  use soil topped with sand or gravel, sunlight and
  little or no filtration to achieve a planted tank that
  is nearly zero-maintenance. Fish and the food you feed
  them feed the plants, plants absorb and grow on the
  ammonia, nitrites and nitrates the fish create. Only
  maintenance is occasional topping up from evaporation
  and occasional pruning of your extremely happy and
  flourishing plants. No algae, no ammonia spikes, no
  expensive  CO2 equipment, no tanks every couple months,
  no risk killing your fish either if you get the CO2 mix
  wrong. 3-6 small water changes a year, blissful,
  low-tech fishkeeping. 

  Obviously I like and do these kind of tanks myself,
  love and highly recommend them. But don't set one up
  based on the above alone: do your research! Ideally,
  buy the book. Diane Walstad hosts a group on the
  aquaticplantcentral web site called El Natural

  I repeat: do your research. It will save you buying
  equipment you don't really need. 
  Imagination is more important than knowledge.
     -Albert Einstein

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