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Re: NANFA-- New pumpkinseed set-up Q's and native frogs

 Ray Wolff a very active Native Fish Nut lives in Wisconsin Rapids his
phone number is 715-424-0259 give him a call he love to help
.............I used to Live in Madison  but got tired of the winters and
moved to Florida ! TTYL 

Robert Rice 

The Misers guide to Native fish keeping
Robert Rice

A  lot  of  us  would  like to Native keep  fish.  We  enjoy
watching   and  learning  about our local species  but  just
don't  want to spend the kind of money the folks at the  pet
store  tell us we need to just for a basic tank.  I  have  a
solution, treat those fish the way they deserve. Treat those
fish the natural way. You can have an inexpensive attractive
tank  that  is not high maintenance. Contrary to  what  they
tell  you  a  power  filter on the back of  a  tank  is  not
necessarily  the best way to run a tank  on  a  budget.
Power filters do a good job of pulling wastes and debris out
of the water but do not do a good job of Biological
filtration which is much more important. Think  about  it ,
how good for a tank can it be to  have  the water  run
through a sponge full of fish wastes all day?  So follow  my
step by step plan and you will have a clean  tank the envy
of the neighborhood.

First  off stop buying retail. If you really are on a budget
keep  you  eyes open for used tanks and hoods at  a  garage
sale  or  the  local paper. I make it a rule to never  spend
more  than 1$ a gallon for used setups. A setup must include
a tank and hood with lights. For tank stands I bridge the
tank between cinderblocks  covered  in sheets, curtains,  or
whatever  looks nice.  Half   used chemicals  like pH up or
down or whatever go  right  in  the garbage You do not know
the age or usefulness of these chemicals so get rid of them.
Besides we are on a budget and can't afford the extras ,
right? Now comes the placement of this tank. Anywhere is
fine as long as you stay away from windows and heat vents. I
have kept rows of tanks in my basement, garage and carport.
The second thing to do is to decide weather this is a tank
for shiners and darters or a sunfish tank. If it is a darter
/shiner tank  you will need a powerhead and a undergravel
filter. The place to buy your undergravel filter and  the
gravel  is  ,surprise, the chain  hardware  stores (Lowes,
Menards, Home Depot etc.) They have 50 pound bags of river
pea  gravel in a variety of colors  for  about  2  -3
dollars. They intend it for landscaping purposes . However
with a scrubbing with  the hose  you've  got  your gravel.
They also sell  a  variety  of plastic grids used for light
covers and what not for about 1-2  dollars. Take one of
those, cut it to fit and punch  a  hole for  the  powerhead
intake tube and you are in business.  Of course  old
undergravel filters and old powerheads are  usually
available  for a song at garage sales. So  keep you eyes
peeled  If  it's a sunfish tank,  all you need  is a  gravel
bed. Here's the trick you need a thick gravel  bed. I  like
about  6  inches  be it for  shiners,  darters,  or sunfish.
This gravel bed performs a very important  purpose and
without it you will have a high maintenance tank.  This bed
provides   homes for the good guy bacteria  that  break down
fish wastes. This biological filtration breaks down wastes
and keeps the water fresh and pure. So get that gravel bed
going first.

Next  step after you put 6 inches of gravel and the optional
powerhead   setup. It's time to get creative. First  off, go
ahead  fill up your tank you might have to add one chemical
. Nowadays you just cant  let water  "age" like the old
days. The chemical complexity  of chloramine  makes water
unsuitable for  fish  until  it  is completely removed from
the water. You could call your  water company  and find out
if they use chloramine. Perhaps  they just use chlorine. If
so you can then avoid the chemicals by letting the  water
age 72 hours. If not use something  that removes,.
chloramine,  your choice of  brands,  but  make it
inexpensive.  OK you have your garage sale tank  setting on
those  charming  cinder  blocks. You  placed  it  away from
windows  and heat vents. It's full of water and  gravel and
looks  pretty good. Congratulations you are a third  if the
way there.

It's  time  to take a look around and find a place tocollect
some  plants.  EEEK  you say collect plants  !  Yepwithout
suitable  vegetation this whole mix will not  work and  you
would  be  forced  to purchase (yuk) some more higher  tech
equipment.  Find  some rooted plants that  aretolerant  of
lower   light   and  grow  well in  cooler waters.  In  the
Native   category watersprite, cabomba, elodea, and giant
val, come to mind. In the non Native category  several types
of swords and Java fern  fit the bill. You don't have to
"collect" all of them borrow  a few from  another tank or
from a friend. You  will  need  3 plants  per gallon
ultimately. However for now 1 per  gallon should get you
started. Go ahead and plant them in the tank.  With that
thick gravel bed the plants should be easy to bury in the
bottom of the tank, completely covering their roots.  It's
getting close to fish time.

Now  you  have waited a few days, set things up on a  budget
and  are  pretty proud of what you've got going on.  If  you
have the powerhead option, turn it on. The lights should
stay on  at least 10 hours a day. Biology should start
kicking in and  things  are starting to cook. Find the
healthiest  tank you  can find and beg , borrow or steal a
handful of gravel.  Take the gravel and put it in your tank.
The old gravel will "seed"  the tank. The good guy bacteria
will have the inside track on things. Now that you have done
the above it is time to  add fish. You can add fish but not
many and not to fast.  Start with either 1 sunfish or 4
darter/shiners. That's it.

OK you got your tank, your plants and your fish and suddenly
your  tank gets cloudy, what's wrong ? Nothing, you  are  on
the  right  track. The cloud is caused by a bacteria  bloom.
The  seeded  bacteria has found a new home and has  gone  to
town. In a few days things will clear up . You have your few
fish, your few plants what next ? Stick by your guns and  do
NOT give in to your desire to feed the fishes three squares
a  day.  This  set up is dependent upon a more natural  food
schedule . Feed 2 times a week and that is it ! No more,  in
nature fish get a large meal once a week or so and spend the
rest of their time nibbling on plants and what not. Simulate
that  at  home. Besides who wants to pay for all that  extra
food  anyway ? If all is going well after 2 weeks it is time
to  add  a few more fish. Remember how many you added  a few
weeks  back  ?  Add the same amount this time  and continue
every three weeks or so until you reach the 1 sunfish per  3
gallons or the 1 shiner/darter per gallon limit.

Now   comes   the   extremely  difficult,   time   consuming
maintenance of this setup. Twice a month use a gravel vacuum
and  remove  20%  of the water while vacuuming  r  of  the
gravel. A gravel vacuum for those who don't know is a siphon
with a big end and a small end .The big end gets pushed into
the  gravel  and  the little end goes into the  bucket.  The
gravel pulls up about halfway up the big end and then  falls
back  while  the dirt heads to the bucket. For a  20  gallon
tank  this will take about 10 minutes. Exhausting isn't  it?
At  some  point algae will build up on the tank. Go  to  the
grocery  store  pick  up  one of those  plastic  brillo  pad
looking  dish scrubbers. The ones without any soap or
chemicals on them please. When it is necessary, use it to
wipe the glass  clean.  That's it your tank maintenance is
If  the  plants prosper and you don't get to crazy with  the
food and the fish you are home free. With a little luck your
natives  will thrive and perhaps even spawn. This  low  tech
setup  has served me well I have kept and bred a great  many
species  in them with little expense or problems. I hope  it
does  the same for you . Until next time good luck and  good