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RockMongler

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  1. Did you (or perhaps a nearby neighbor) do any chemical treatments in your yard in the last few days? Say, grass fertilizer, or a pest treatment for ants/termites/grubs? I would suspect, given the volume of plants you have in the tub and the relatively low number of fish, that it might not have been the ammonia/nitrite/nitrate, but some other contaminant that got into the tub. But, that might be harder to properly test for. That is what I would suspect outside of extreme temperatures.
  2. Sadly, measuring more than the basics is often chemically complicated. Most quantitative (ie, actual number) identification processes for things like separating sodium vs potassium in solution are multi-step lab processes, because Na+ and K+ both behave very similarly in most chemical reactions, as they are both alkali metals. That's why we tend to measure things like GH (measuring ions with a +2 charge, like Ca+2 and Mg+2) and KH (measuring CO3-2 and HCO3-1) as an aggregate, rather than looking at individual elemental/polyatomic ion species. I don't know if you could simplify a process like that down to something you have soaked in a cotton pad on a piece of paper with useful coloration tying into a certain concentration. Having much more than pH be even remotely accurately measurable from a strip is pretty impressive to me, to be perfectly honest. Equipment that can do quick, easy identification of elements in a sample tend to exist in commercial and university research labs, and have a price tag to match their rarity (and a lot of those might not play nice with solutions). And having spent some time playing with analytical instrumentation like that myself a bit in grad school, they are also often super finicky. That we can get "Just the basics", (seemingly) idiot proof, quantitative data from an automated machine like API is selling for ~$1200, on its own is also pretty great. Hopefully the cost of units like that will come down in price to the point that almost anyone would be able to keep them in their homes.
  3. They are a native north american species, so they get ignored by a vast majority of fish keepers (in the US, atleast) because "Oh, that's just a regular back yard fish" ignoring that any species we keep is from someone's back yard. From what I've seen looking at them previously, they are probably going to want cooler water than a lot of tropical species, as their native range extends from northern Mexico to southern Canada. They also get moderately large (6 inch body length, with record wild caught getting up close to 9.5 inches), so you'd want a larger aquarium to accommodate them. Best bet would probably be a species tank, unless you want to get into experimenting with possible roommates yourself. Feeding, you'd probably need to do lots of frozen/freeze dried/live food at first, and see if you could push them over towards prepared food in the long run. Overall, I'd wager they probably take care similar to any larger cichlid species but with slightly cooler water. Sadly, for most north american native species, they aren't super well kept in the hobby, so there simply isn't a lot of wisdom out there on how to care for them. You might also run into state/local rules that limit your ability to keep native species in your care. Which is a shame, because there are a lot of cool native north american fishes that would be awesome to keep in tanks. But, native species tend to be expensive and difficult to keep because it is so niche, so people stay out of it.
  4. It probably has to do with water quantity/salt quantity in the frozen food. The one with more water or salt will have a lower density, and therefore float better.
  5. With a lot of plants, you could probably push up to 75 total tetras easily (as long as you don't introduce them all at once!) and probably beyond. (I would lean more on the advice of forum members with more experience with larger tanks, however). You might want to investigate tetra compatibility a bit more; I mostly just listed off all the smaller-ish tetras that popped into my mind right away. I know some can be a bit more nippy than others, but most small tetras are super chill. You could also get a reasonable number of corys, otos, and some (smaller) plecos as well.
  6. Perhaps think about a small (body size, not body count) tetra community tank in the 75 gallon. A heavily planted tank with things mentioned in other posts, populated with hordes of tetras! A large tank with a horde of neon, cardinal, rummy nose, lemon, neon green (and any other ones in that size range that are community safe)! Most of the smaller tetras tend to be very sociable, and will school with their own species, and shoal with other species. I'd also get a bottom dwelling crew of otocinclus and corydoras. Many fish stores I have visited have a large neon/cardinal tetra planted tank, and despite being common fish you see everywhere, seeing them in large numbers in a planted environment is always a sight to behold. I personally think a large number of smaller fish is far more interesting to watch and enjoy than a few larger fish. With larger numbers, you can start to see some of the fish's social behavior really start to take shape. As for filtration... I'd consider doing some sponge filters, ideally hidden behind the larger piles of plants, perhaps with a hang on back for some water movement/water polishing.
  7. One thing to remember about any indicator (which is the chemical that changes color depending on pH) is that they tend to be very chemically reactive. There are tons of them out there, and some you can even make at home (For example, red cabbage can be used to make an indicator that is blue at ~7 pH, green at basic pHs, and red at acidic pHs). It could very well be that the chemicals API uses in their liquid pH tests and the chemicals in the co-op indicators are different, and may have differing reactions to other chemical species floating around in the water being tested, besides just looking at H+/OH- concentrations. Most indicators used for aquariums tend to have fairly narrow ranges where they change colors, and I can imagine it not taking much else in the water to throw them out of whack. It could be as simple as the indicator used by one gets thrown off by iron content in water, vs the other one is completely unaffected by iron in the water (or any other thing that could be dissolved in your tank water).
  8. I use the water from my fish tanks to water my patio plants. It's definitely a great idea.
  9. Rinsing new stuff in tap water should be fine, as long as you have treated water in your tank. The amount of water left after rinsing something compared to the volume of water in your overall tank system will be just fine, and shouldn't hurt your tank. I've never used Purigen myself, but the whitish haze in your tank might just be because of a bacterial bloom. How new is this tank? Is it cycled?
  10. Sounds like a case of live and learn (or, learn and carryon)! Some species are more apt to jump out of tanks, making lids necessary. I haven't kept panda garras myself yet, but I do have hillstream loaches. And from what I've read and seen videos of online, is hillstream loaches do more than just jump out of the water; they will climb up the glass. It's an adaptation they have so that during times of less flow in their natural environment, they can climb from isolated pool to isolated pool looking for the perfect place to hang out (with some species doing it a lot more than others). A quick look at panda garras online tells me they have a similar skillset, and are known to climb up glass, and out of a tank. Its one reason to be careful of rimless tanks with no lid. They definitely are aesthetic, but if you have climbers or jumpers, they are a liability. I know it feels awful to lose an animal in your care, but don't let it get you down too much. Keeping fish is not always easy, and good advice can be tricky to come by for many species.
  11. Yeah, I've been playing around with it a little bit, making a different spreader bar, etc. With the current spreader bar I have on the power head, alongside making sure the power head intake isn't clogged with snails/algae, I am getting something that resembles what I want. Your setup is much more ideal because everything can be so much more diffuse on both the intake and output side, but after kind of messing with it for 6 months or so, I've settled down and am happy enough with the flow (especially considering the time and money investment not being terribly high on the streamflow manifold). What really ends up being tricky for any setup like what we are doing is the aspect ratio of the tank. It's hard for the water to get that smooth side to side flow in such a short length. The more I've sat down and watched during feeding time how food particles get moved around the tank, though, the more I realize the setup I have with the rather turbulent water on the right side (with both a hang on back filter and the powerhead), does get a fairly nice, smooth laminar flow through the hygrophila towards the large sponge intakes on the left. The small pieces food I drop in on the very turbulent right side will get pulled into the water column by all the mixing, then get smoothly slid across towards the more gentle flow by the sponge intakes. I think given how relatively small my tank is for a hillstream setup, I couldn't get much better (especially not without tearing up everything and really disturbing all the livestock). At some point, I might build yet another spreader bar (I would need to get more joints/caps, because I still have available straight tubing, but there has been a shortage recently because the great freeze Texas had a few months back ruined a lot of plumbing) that would spray the output directly back towards the glass on the right side as you propose. Also, within the intakes on the left side, I have drilled many holes through the PVC pipe that is covered by the intake sponges, so water is being taken into the stream flow manifold from many levels within the tank. Attached is what I think I kind of have going on within my tank, only really highlighting the plumbing within the tank. Because I have the current spreader bar spreading water flow perpendicular to the length of the tank, I get a super turbulent area, but then I get relatively clean laminar flow towards the sponge intakes past the highly turbulent area. I think for my livestock it works out well, because the WCMM will spend sometimes playing around in the turbulent area, but spend a lot of time shoaling in the more smooth, slow flow in the rest of the tank. The hillstream loaches seem to really like the high flow turbulent area (especially because of the small pile of cobbles). The invertebrates just kind of hang out everywhere in the eternal search for snacks.
  12. May Update! My hygro is really growing in! I cut back the java moss because I kind of had a death bloom in it; the java moss started dying from the inside out, getting to the point where I could suddenly see the piece of wood underneath. I got rid of quite a bit of the java moss, and started new supergluing some to the wood. I also finally got around to permanently mounting the subwassertang to the one stick on the right side of the tank. That spot is very popular with the shrimp, and my anubias right below it is about to put out yet another leaf. My java ferns are... existing. Not particularly thriving, but not really dying back either. I'm quite happy how everything is growing in. However, I definitely need to get a DSLR for taking pictures. I just can't quite get my phone camera to play nice. My WCMM are doing quite well, but still not seeing any fry. I might take the two females, and a few of the males into my other tank that is currently experiencing green water to see if that would get me any fry. The hillstream loaches are getting really settled in. They aren't super skittish anymore, and they seem to have maybe broken off into two pairs (or, at least I can hope that's the case). Only real addition I want to make right now would be getting ahold of an anubias nana petite to put in the one rock on the left side. It has a really nice little spot I could just drop it in.
  13. Nice looking build. For those of us who aren't super familiar with the metric system, I did some number crunching, and the visible portion of the tank is ~34 gallons, with the total being a little over 42 gallons. What do you plan on keeping in it as far as livestock goes? I've done my attempt at a stream flow tank with a stream flow manifold in a 20 gallon wide (~76x30x30 cm), and while I think my livestock is very happy, I've still not quite gotten the side to side flow I want. I have hillstream loaches, white cloud mountain minnows, and red cherry shrimp (and a lonely otocinclus), and my setup gives me some super high flow areas, along with some lower flow areas that they can chill out in, so everyone can have what they want if they move around the tank.
  14. I third the staghorn algae ID. I got rid of it by reducing light, and increasing flow in my tank.
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