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gardenman

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  1. There were a lot of products in the "good old days" that no longer exist. The old Aqua King and Super King filters were great. They made tank upkeep pretty simple as they were top down filters. You could layer filter material in them and then just peel off the top layer as it became soiled. Once every couple of weeks you'd have to stop the filter and plop in new layers of material, but that wasn't bad. There's still market for them. They moved a ton of water. A Super King is up on eBay right now for $400 which is an absurd price. They were well under $100 band new. There used to be a mesh diving bell (for lack of a better word) freeze-dried tubifex worm feeder that had a weighted bottom and a long string. There was either a removable bottom or a hole in the bottom (depending on the model) and you'd plop in a cube of Tubifex worms and drop it to whatever depth you wanted in the tank and the fish would crowd around to feed on the worms. Most of the Mom and Pop fish stores in my youth used to sell them out of a box near the checkout for like $0.29-$0.69. I can't find them anywhere now. They were great because you could feed catfish at the very bottom of the tank or hatchetfish or other top dwellers near the very top just by how far you let the feeder sink. The old Nektonics undergravel filters had a protein skimmer built right into the uplift tubes for the marine aquariums. They were pretty handy and effective. A lot of the old stuff is gone for a good reason, but there was some pretty good stuff back then also that's gone these days.
  2. "Looking at a new tank and wondering if anyone has thoughts on making one from scratch as I want to do a 48 by 24 tank and not seeing one made for that size." Many, many years ago the University of Delaware put out a small booklet on marine aquarium keeping that included plans for a DIY undergravel filter. (The Nektonics UG filters were the rave at that time for marine tanks. If you kept marine fish back then, you needed a Nektonics UG filter.) Their homemade version of one used fiberglass or acrylic corrugated roofing panels that were cut to fit the aquarium. Then they used a fine toothed circular saw blade to cut slots in the filter plate for the water to flow through. The slots were cut across the corrugations, but just through the peak of the wave of the corrugation, if you catch my drift. Then they glued in lift tubes every foot or so along the back of the filter. They put spacers under the filter plate to ensure there was water flow under it and there you had a quick, easy, homemade UG filter that they felt was comparable to the Nektonics. I've been intrigued by the idea of building an undergravel filter that used split pieces of PVC pipe to create an air channel under the gravel. Kind of like a long open bottomed snake under the filter plate. In a smaller tank the airline would go down on one side of the tank into the inverted "U" shaped channel, travel along that channel to the outlet on the other side of the tank and then emerge through a discharge I like to think that would create more current under the whole filter plate and also provide more time for an oxygen exchange due to longer contact time with the water but I'm not sure if the newly inserted air wouldn't just rise above the air/water friction layer and zip out without disturbing the water under it. A way around that would be to use a long, very long, series of airstones spaced under the inverted "U" structures to agitate the water and inject the air at the same time.
  3. You're talking substrate sifters and I'm thinking Geophagus or Malaysian Trumpet Snails, but you're talking about the inanimate kind. I far prefer the living types. They may not be as precise, but they're more fun to watch.
  4. I buy the Aquaneat ones from Amazon and they don't need an airstone. They have an air distribution plate in the bottom that works pretty well. Over time the airflow will slow because they leave a long stem on the bottom of the air distribution plate that gets easily clogged. It's an easy thing to fix though. The following photos show how to fix the issue. That bottom weighted portion has two halves that can be pried apart. Then when you flip over the top you can see the long stem that bottoms out and ultimately blocks the airflow. I use an old pair of nail clippers to shorten that stem and then just reassemble everything and you're back to full airflow once more and forever more. It won't get clogged again with that long stem shortened. It's a fast, easy fix. The hardest part is prying apart that bottom shell. Just make sure you shorten that part that's on the bottom and not the top. I don't know why they make that bottom stem as long as they do, but that's the only real problem I've found with them.
  5. That's a lot of plants in a 5.5 gallon tank. That's a lot of plants in a 55 gallon tank. You've got some very quick growing plants in Hornwort and some very slow growing plants in the Anubias. Dwarf aquarium lilies aren't all that dwarf. They're dwarf compared to a pond waterlily, but pretty big in a 5.5 gallon tank. You're making a tank that will require pretty much nonstop maintenance to keep the faster growing plants from choking out the slower growing plants. Can it be done? Yeah. It could work. I'd be more inclined to focus on fewer plants with the same rate of growth. All Anubias in a 5.5 gallon tank wouldn't be a bad idea. Your betta may need a weedwhacker to move around if you slip up on the maintenance for even just a few days with that many plants in that small of a tank. I'm weeding out duckweed, red root floaters, water sprite, and even java fern on a weekly basis and some of my tanks still resemble a jungle more than an aquarium. Your tank could look great when it's planted with those plants, but once established, yikes! Keeping up with it could be a real challenge for you.
  6. In general, Silver Dollars and Tinfoil Barbs would be the first two fairly common, larger schooling fish to come to mind that would be relatively safe with an Oscar. They're generally big enough and tough enough to hang in there with an Oscar. A 320 gallon tank gives you a fair amount of room for them. If your Oscar is already a big Oscar the opposite direction might work also with a school of very small schooling fish. A big Oscar may just decide the small fish aren't worth the trouble to chase them down and eat them. And a lot depends on the personality of your Oscar. Some are pretty chill while others are more aggressive. Hiding spots tend not to be effective with schooling fish. Schooling fish tend to stay moving rather than hide. You more want obstacles for the Oscar to have to go around to catch them than places for them to hide. Of course, Oscars tend to like to rearrange tanks to suit their views on proper tank design, so that's not always so easy to achieve. You may set everything up exactly how you want it only to find your Oscar has completely different views on the ideal tank setup. Ironically enough, large goldfish, like those for ponds not the fancy ones, can make decent companions in an Oscar tank. Large Shubunkins, Comets, and the like can handle sharing a tank with a big Oscar pretty well. Try to avoid those with long flowing tails, but the bigger pond type goldfish can generally get along pretty well with an Oscar. Water temp and water quality becomes more of an issue, but they're possible tankmates.
  7. As is often the case, it depends. There are some Oscars who are pretty mellow and there are some who are crazed killers. If you've got a pretty mellow Oscar who's just a happy go lucky guy who loves his pellets and doesn't care about anything else in the world, you could probably get away with it as long as the other fish weren't small enough to be eaten. In my limited personal experience (I've owned three Oscars) mine have tended to mellow out as they get older. A breeding pair of Oscars could be more trouble as they'd stake out a territory in the tank and guard it but a single Oscar in a 200 gallon tank with tankmates who were too big to be eaten, could work. I'd trust an Oscar more than say a Midas Cichlid or Red Devil as the others tend to stake out a territory and try to kill anything that enters it. In my personal experience, Oscars aren't as territorial. The bigger, older guys just largely go with the flow. Schooling fish like discus (and angelfish somewhat) could have a pretty good shot at survival as long as a pair didn't form and try to claim part of the tank as their breeding ground. If they did that and tried to drive off the Oscar, he might view it as a challenge and you don't challenge a big Oscar unless you're bigger and meaner and neither of your options are. Now keeping a pair from forming and trying to claim part of the tank may be your biggest obstacle. Fish are going to do what fish are going to do. Even then, with the right Oscar, a very mellow guy/gal, you might be okay in a 200 gallon tank. He might just give them that part of the tank and keep the rest for himself. Oscars aren't one of the most aggressive fish in the aquarium world by any stretch. They tend more to the mellow side than a lot of the rest of the cichlid world, especially as they get a bit older. If you have the right Oscar, you could probably get away with it. I had one that kept a pet goldfish for over a year. For whatever reason he chose not to eat that goldfish and they swam side by side for over a year. Oscars are pretty smart fish and you can't really predict what they'll do, but that's both their strength and weakness in your situation. With a lot of cichlids and other fish, you know the pairing you're looking at won't work. It might work with an Oscar, if you get the right Oscar. You just can't say for sure. I'd be more comfortable trying it with an Oscar than most other large, aggressive cichlids though.
  8. If I was betting I'd say it was food related. There was a video from a discus breeder a few years back who raised his baby discus in a 125 gallon tank, but kept them all pinned into one small corner of the tank to get optimal growth. It was his belief that the baby fish would waste too much energy and burn too many calories searching for food in the whole tank if he let them roam free, so he kept them confined to a very small portion of the tank, but the tank still had a large water volume to dilute wastes. It was kind of weird seeing this big, long fish tank with about twenty baby discus all clumped together in one little corner of the tank. He was very successful though as a discus breeder and had huge discus on display. If your fish are roaming the whole 75 gallon tank looking for food nonstop they're probably not getting enough food to trigger optimal growth. The other fish may be out-competing them for the food also. Put it in human terms, if you had to walk ten miles each day before you got a meal, and then when you got there only a small amount of food was available and there were faster people than you racing for the food, you'd be pretty skinny. That could be the situation for your angelfish and parrot fish.
  9. I'm using some 2 ft long Barrina 6500 K T-5 LED fixtures on my 20 high and they're really bright and good. They also make them in a four and eight foot length. You can daisy-chain them together. I'm using four on my 20 high and they light it great. The four foot long ones (ideal for a 55 gallon tank) cost under $50 at Amazon for eight of them (less than $7 each) and you can add or remove them as your light needs increase or decrease. All eight at once (they're reportedly 2,200 lumens for each fixture) would likely be too bright but you'd have that option. You'd want to build a hood for them to hide them and help direct the light, but they're a cheap and so far anyway, reliable option. I use a smart plug to turn them off and on.
  10. Chew is kind of an iffy verb for fish. Oscars will mouth food, and create a mess as they process it, but I'm not sure I'd really call it chewing. Plecos kind of chew with their sucker mouths, but is it more chewing or scraping? Fish, even those with teeth, don't typically grind food with their teeth which is what we typically think of as chewing.
  11. I bought six baby Super Red Bristlenose Plecos over a year ago from Catfishtown on eBay and he sent seven all of which lived. I put six caves (3 of 1" PVC with end caps and 3 of 1.5" PVC with end caps) and they've bred three times so far. and I've now got over thirty of them in my tank. Here's a photo of about twelve or so nibbling away on the tubifex worms pressed against the glass. They eat like crazy. Mine love meaty food (shrimp pellets and tubifex worms) and green beans. I put in about thirty or so shrimp pellets every morning and then three or four cubes of worms in the afternoons. Every other day they get some green beans and they go through a full can of beans in a week. They'd probably eat more if I put more in. They're really nice little fish.
  12. I lost a big 22" Arowana and also an Oscar once to jumping where they jumped up, hit a solid glass cover and killed themselves. Conventional tank covers give fish next to no jumping room and if they're prone to jumping they will hit the glass, possibly injure themselves badly and even die. To prevent that I've started making my own tank covers out of the 3/4" PVC trim boards that are nine plus inches wide. Here are a few photos of the one on my 30 high. The PVC will never rot or decay and the fish get about 8" of jumping room before they hit anything too solid above them. I just use a sheet of clear acrylic atop the trim that I caulk in place. You lose a bit of light transmission by the lights being higher, but you save the fish. It's especially good if you're trying to keep butterfly fish, hatchet fish, archer fish, or the like. The PVC can be pricey but it works like wood, never rots, The surface of it is white which makes it a nice reflective surface on the inside and is paintable on the outside. Construction is super simple. You just cut the boards to the size you need, glue them together at the corners, add some trim PVC (I used PVC quarter round molding) to hold the acrylic and you've got a tank cover that's safer for the fish, easy to work in, looks good, and does everything you need a cover to do. And you can make it whatever size you need. I just use a saber saw to cut out the door to whatever size I want, add a pair of cheap small hinges from Walmart, use some scrap, leftover PVC to back up the door to block excess light leaking out around it, add a knob for the door, and it's done. The fish have room to jump and are less likely to hurt themselves jumping. They cost me around $50 to make depending on the price of the PVC at the time. I've got that type of cover on my 30 high, 20 high, 50 gallon, and 10 gallon quarantine tanks. I wouldn't use anything else these days. Holes for things like heaters or HOBs are easy to cut out using a saber/jig saw.
  13. The type of Repashy largely depends on what type of pleco you're getting. Some plecos are largely carnivorous. Give them an algae based Repashy and they'll ignore it. My Super Red Bristlenose plecos are a combination of carnivore (they adore freeze-dried tubifex worms pressed against the glass) and herbivore in that they'll devour canned green beans. They pretty much ignore the algae in the tank though and leave that for me to scrape off. Some are more wood eaters and will ignore anything not wood based. A pleco isn't a pleco. Their diets vary from all plant to all meat to anything in between. Once you decide on which type of pleco you're getting then you can focus on the right type of Repashy for that pleco.
  14. Parasites and pests are less of an issue when going from saltwater to fresh. There's not a lot that would transfer over. I would probably test them in fresh water for a few days. Fill a largish container with fresh water, check the ph before, plop the rocks in and then recheck the ph a few days later. If the rocks will affect your ph you should see a difference in a few days. I wouldn't worry a lot about salt leaching from the rocks as most freshwater fish have some tolerance for salt and may even find low levels beneficial. Depending on how large your large is, if you opt to boil them then a barbecue and a large metal trash can can be your best bet. As long as they don't affect your ph though you should be okay.
  15. I have four planted tanks with water sprite in them. It thrives in two of them dies in one, and barely hangs on in another. All four tanks test nearly identically and have similar lighting. They even have the same fish and substrate. Aquatic plants just do what they do. Anubias and java fern are tank agnostic. They grow well in every tank. Water sprite is iffier in some. Jungle val is even iffier. Even duckweed grows differently in different tanks for me. Java Fern, Java moss and anubias are the most reliable plants that grow anywhere for me. Red root floaters thrive in my 50 gallon tank, barely survive in my 20 and die elsewhere. This is life with aquatic plants. All get the same water, have similar if not identical substrates, the water tests similarly, similar lighting, but vastly different results. If a plant doesn't do well for you try something else or move it to a different tank. Aquatic plants are a bit weird.
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