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Sand/substrate, algae, aeration/circulation, etc.

Fish warriors,

I am on the verge of completely redoing my 55 gal tall planted tank.  It is
in need of cleaning, and I'm thinking that several factors should be changed
in the process.  Here's the current details/problems:

#1. Flourite substrate w/sand on top.  The sand looks cool, but everything
(fish poop, food, etc.) all just sits on top of it and looks ugly (+
decays).  What's a better solution?  Just Stirring it up w/the flourite?
Smaller gravel instead of the sand?

#2. Circulation problems.  My Fluval 304 seems to do a decent job, but it
seems like water circulation could be better.  Powerhead?  Second filter?

#3. Aeration: do I need an air stone?  Fish seem to be hanging out @ the
surface quite a bit - are they wanting air?  I do not yet have a CO2 setup,
but I have lots of plants (don't they produce oxygen for the fish?)

#4. Algae: I definitely need more than my current algae crew, and want to
get some snails that won't eat my plants.  Aren't these the Malaysian Rams
horn Snails?  How many for a 55 gal tall?  And will they reproduce and take
over my tank?

Here's my current tank inhabitants:

1   Thin Line Loach (Botia striata)
2   Kuhli Loaches
2   Flying Foxes
3   Bosemani Rainbows
3   Orange Plattys
1   Gold Molly
2   Knight Gobies
3   Corys
5   Small Neons
3   Glass cats
6   Fancy guppies

Thanks a lot!  :-)

Over and out.... ... ..  .    .


beatsfrombeyond at mac_com