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Re: schizoid tank

On Sun, 20 Dec 1998, cwells wrote:

> I
> have a 120 gal tank (2X2X4') that I have been starting to set up with an
> attempt to grow plants but at the same time I would love to put some ( 4
> or so)  Altum Angles, add some of  my gold nugget & zebra  plecos or
> instead some Discus.  As a result I have
> started pulling the tank in what I'm afraid is two different directions
> at once:

As you describe it, this isn't really a schizoid tank.  It's a fish tank
with a few minor neuroses.

For your first serious attempt at growing plants you should probably avoid
the pleco's and discus and instead start with less expensive and less
demanding species so that you can tailor conditions to the needs of the
plants, not to the needs of the fish.  When you stock the tank, the first
fish that you need to think about are algae-eaters.  There's a long list
of possibilities.  My favorites are siamese algae eaters (Crossocheilus
siamensis) and american flag fish (Jordanella floridae).  Check the
archives for other alternatives.

> For the fish I have put together a good filtration system.  29 gallon
> sump with bio balls feeding four marineland biowheel 30's on the back.
> The water is pumped by a 1200 gal/hr pump (at 4' head = 700?) and makes
> a nice flow over the top of the water by a spray bar across the back of
> the tank.  Nice for the fish not so good for CO2?

Not so good for CO2, but I understand that you can make it work.  I can't
really envision how the biowheels figure in here - they seem unnecessary
given the big sump w/bioballs.  I haven't done this but I understand that
to make this work with CO2 you need to make sure your sump is sealed to
avoid CO2 loss, and to lower the spray bar below the water level to avoid
surface turbulence (which promotes CO2 loss).

> For the plants I have purchased flourite gravel,  made my own under
> gravel heater (with help from the Krib),  I'm toying with the idea of
> CO2 and am not sure what I will do for lighting but it will be more than
> ample.

You need to work on this part a little more.  This list gives my view
of the planning steps you need to use to start your setup:

1) what you want from your tank and how much time and energy you want to
put into maintaining it,

2) what plants you want to grow to meet your goals and as a sidelight,
how you want them arranged,

3) lighting for the plants you select and the maintenance time you're
ready to commit to the tank.

4) CO2, the need for which is determined by your choice of plants and your
light levels,

5) substrate, of which there are several choices - including none

6) fertilizer to match your choice of substrate,

7) circulation (necessary) with or without regular filtration (only
necessary under limited circumstances);

8) other techno-gadgetry i.e. pH controllers (if you use CO2) and heating
cables (if you have a substrate).

The first item is by far your most important choice.  If you want a lush,
dazzling tank like the ones most often featured in books and magazines
then you will need to commit a lot of time and effort to maintaining the
tank. If you want a more subdued look (which can be equally lush) then
less time will be required. If you want a few plants to offset your fish,
then relatively little maintenance will be needed and relatively little
success can be expected.

As with almost all things, your increasing experience will allow for a
a gradual reduction in the necessary time and effort.

> So.... Am I asking for trouble with temps in the 80's, messy fish and
> trying to grow plants at the same time on my first real plant tank?  Is
> there any synergy in what I want to do or am I just making a compromise
> tank?
> Any thoughts on what would improve my approach are most welcome.

Yes, I think you're asking for trouble.  Certainly it can be done (at
least as far as the angels and discus go... I'd probably avoid the
pleco's) but it is best done by someone who already has experience with
growing plants.  Keep in mind that a "serious" planted tank is fairly
demanding; if you try to maintain demanding fish in the same tank then
you'd better be real good at the balancing act.

Good luck.

Roger Miller