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unconventional planted goldfish community tank


yannachka
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hey all! i wanted to share my very unconventional community tank for my goldfish. i have always loved my goldfish and i love pushing boundaries to see what works and doesnt. i do want to throw out some info/disclaimers before i post photos 🙂

tank info

  • 90 gallon (210 on standby, just no space to put it currently. the second floor wont support it and im currently house shopping so no point in reinforcing if im going to be moving anyway)
  • filtration: 2x fluval fx6, 2x zeiss filters, lots of plants
  • 75-76F during the day, 73ish at night (you can see my little desktop fan working)
  • ph: 8.4 out of the tap (liquid rock here), gh and kh are high as well. gh last time i checked was around 16 drops.
  • 50% water changes 2x a week, ill do a third one if i feed super heavy one day. nitrates stay around 40ppm. ammonia/nitrites are always zero (i know people will ask)
  • running co2, (low nitrate) ferts, and pretty high light

with all of that out of the way i wanted to give some background. this started as a goldfish only tank but as i would downsize and tear tanks down, id just add the fish in temporarily while i find them a new home. the ones that i saw were doing well stayed. since the water is so mineral rich and hard i generally stick with species that do well in those parameters but i do have some oddballs in here.

i took most of these while doing a water change last night so pardon the bad quality. full tank shot is included. stand was built by me as well and basket is temporary for some mystery fry i brought home from work. i just did a trim yesterday as well, usually the plants reach the top and i find that i trim them every 1-2 weeks.

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top of the tank

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growing pothos, peace lillies, sweet potato, corkscrew val, red mangroves (which love my water no surprise) and a few others im sure im missing. two fluval 3.0 as lights and im likely going to hang a grow light above since the plants growing above the hanging fluval arent doing to well. its getting too cramped so im going add another planter i think to spread the plants out.

diy planter: i bought these rubber/plastic holders from the home section in target and used a soldering iron to drill holes. using stratum and fluorite as the substrate for them. you can see the roots growing out. the fluval fx6 outputs are pointed to skim the back of the tank so the planters get fresh flow. its attached by a hook to the top glass and i superglued some pretty strong suction cups to the back that sticks on the glass. one of them came loose which is why the left one is hanging wonky, ill fix that soon.

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tank inhabitants, i haven't measured them in a while so most of the measurements are ballpark ones done by sight based on what they used to be:

goldfish, these range from 2.5/3" all the way to 7" which is my largest (arthur). these are a mix of phone shots i took last night and some photos i grabbed with my camera previously.

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this is ryan

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carlos

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arthur and the smallest one benji

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this is the same goldfish, he is colored differently on each side which i think is cool

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this fat guy

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Edited by yannachka
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now on to the unconventional stocking. lets start with plecos/catfish.

i used to breed albino bristlenose so this girl is a leftover from the colony before i sold them all off. she's nearing 5" and is fat and massive. 

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her next to the bulldog rubberlip i have

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i dont recommend plecos with goldfish but as long as you have enough hiding places and feed enough (more than you think), i have never had any issues with them going after the goldfish slime coats. most people aren't willing to do the water changes that come with feeding more.

here is a male super red from a colony of those i used to breed. i kept one male. him and the albino regularly breed but i dont see any fry (yet). too many predators in the tank which i am perfectly fine with. i do see him fanning regularly though. he is smaller than her at about 4ish". i am sad i got rid of this colony, got them originally from a breeder and they bred pretty true to a bright, solid red. they showed little to no black in the body.

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female green dragon bristlenose i was planning to breed (before i took the tank down). she hangs out here for now and is the size of the super red.

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now the more controversial ones. im growing out this adonis for someone, i do have long term plans for him once he reaches 12-16" already so long term care is not a concern. it is about 4" without the lyretail. the white you see on the driftwood is where i tried to grow moss that the plecos devoured. apparently its the plant that does not do well in here.

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my last pleco is a royal im growing out. i will be keeping him long term but like i said, i have a 210 lined up for these guys. i find that since im keeping them in lower temps they aren't growing as fast which im fine with. he is about 3-3.5".

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my whiptail, look at that fat belly. java fern is the other plant that falls apart in all of my tanks for some reason.

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the long tail

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i have 3 raphael cats (2 striped one small spotted). they're pretty fat too.

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a trio of sumo loaches (a great coolwater option) although they did take out all of my nerite snails.

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lastly lets move on to the general stocking

this is waffle. she is nearing 5 years old and used to be in a tropical tank. she was a b**** though and terrorized everyone so as a last resort i moved her here. much calmer and is very peaceful now. my theory is the lower temps and the big fish keep her in check. absolute sweetheart now. she is developing some cataracts but that is normal i think for her age.

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this is ollie, she's a 3.5" red fin compressiceps i got from a breeder. she was in a dedicated tank before i moved her in here to hold her and found that she was actually more confident in this tank. in the dedicated tank she hid most of the time but here is is constantly out front and begging for food. i may move her back to her own tank but i enjoy her behaviour here.

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knight goby, he will be moved to brackish in a few months but our water is so hard here he does perfectly fine fresh. this is a phone shot followed by a camera shot so you can see how vivid his coloration is. also acts like a puppy and eats everything he can. he is my newest addition and has been in for a couple months.

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this is a dragon goby, he was an impulse buy i have to admit. i have always wanted one and when i saw my lfs had a healthy one in stock i jumped on it. he is eating well and has gone from about 1.5" to nearing 6". he hides out in a driftwood cave and comes out for food. he will be moved to brackish long term alongside the knight goby, likely when i tear down this tank to move it since there is absolutely no way to catch him till then. loves to eat anything he can.

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a pair of 2 large snakeskin gourami. these guys are actually very good tankmates for goldfish as long as you can keep plants in the tank. they love hiding spots and plants but will come out regularly for me and spend most of their time out in the open. the hiding spots and plants make them more confident. they like very clean, well oxygenated water. mine are about 6-7" and are a pair. named sam and susan. they move too fast so i only have a blurry photo of sam.

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lastly, i have a black ghost knife im growing out. he is still smaller at about 6/7" and spends most of his time hiding out back. he comes out at night regularly and he will be kept with some angels and rainbows long term. i think the goldfish are too boisterous for him but i do see his head peaking out anytime i feed and each time he looks bigger than before haha. no photos of him, sorry but his name is frankie.

a breeding group of panda platies from an old tank. they breed in here but no fry survive unsurprisingly.

 

i really wanted to share this tank here since id likely get torn apart if i posted it elsewhere. all the fish are happy and healthy. i definitely do not recommend anyone really try this unless you want to be a slave to those water changes like me but it works and gives me an excuse to spend time in the tank twice a week. very unconventional and the moment i see a fish isnt doing well they will be pulled out. i have had this going for over a year now (not this exact stocking) and ive had a number of these fish for years. let me know what you all think.

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Edited by yannachka
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I like that you said that you would get torn apart posting this anywhere else. So you know everything I want to say that are against the rules of this forum.

If you feel like your tank is successful and you like it, that's great since it's yours and for you to enjoy.... but maybe not the best idea to post it in a forum full of people who are going to melt down seeing it. 

Just to clarify, that's all in 1 90gal tank right?

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you have a valid point, im on mobile so excuse any typos/mistakes. i would hope people here are mature enough to not have a meltdown but i will clear out some concerns. 

 

i definitely do not recommend this for 99% of people since it is work and a pretty expensive tank (fx6 arent cheap). these are also fish i have raised since they were small so i know their individual behaviour pretty well and can tell if something is off pretty quickly. i have tanks in storage i can set up if i see that a fish is not doing well. ive been keeping aquariums for a while and have had this specific tank set up for close to 1.5 years now with no issues for the fish. i hope the photos show the good health of them and their general outgoing behaviour does as well. all are getting plenty to eat and have plenty of hiding places (there are 5 dedicated caves for the plecos and cats on top of the natural caves i made with driftwood  

this isnt long term, like i said i have a 210g on standby waiting to be set up but i dont see the point in tearing this down, setting that up, and then tearing it all down again to move. this will definitely not be sustainable once all of the goldfish start reaching arthur’s size and the two giant plecos start becoming giant, i know this, i already have contingency plans for them and the materials to do so right now if needed.

most of the fish (minus a couple) are temperate so they do perfectly fine in 76F water. will they grow faster kept at 80? absolutely but power growing is no longer my goal. i test the water 2x a week and nitrates rarely go above 40ppm, if they do its because i fed a lot of repashy and i do a water change to fix the issue. i only saw nitrates jump up to the 60-80ppm range once and it was after i fed an entire large ziplock bag portion of repashy. havent had an issue since. ammonia is also always 0 as well as nitrites. i do think the fact that i have a pretty moderately and thriving planted tank going with goldfish says something to my ability to keep an aquarium when people usually struggle. id be more than happy to post some photos of other tanks i have set up right now as well to ease your mind 🙂

 

lastly, (not a jab at you at all) but there is a serious double standard when it comes to breeders (i was a breeder, still am, i was part of this group) being allowed to have tiny overstocked tanks but people blow a fuse when they see a display tank stocked similarly. its perfectly alright for breeders to keep bettas in jars because they’re there to make babies or 10 plecos in a 20g but 5 plecos in a 90g is suddenly the end of the world. by the first fts you wouldn’t be able to tell that half the fish are in the tank because of how densely it is planted and the amount of hiding spots there are to accommodate each fish. thats not directed towards you, its towards the entire hobby in general. its especially prevalent in the betta community where a minimum of 5g is preached unless you are breeding, then its fine to keep them in 1 gallon for 6-12 months for their breeding cycle. rams need a 20g long minimum unless you are breeding, then 5-10g is okay. just a lot of double standards that irk me personally. my specific water chemistry also lends itself well to these fish, the knight goby and dragon goby would fall apart on the west coast but we have liquid rock so they do well in fresh here, most local people i see are keeping africans or saltwater for this reason. dont even get me started on africans. it is perfectly acceptable to have a crazy overstocked african tank that is always toeing the line of collapsing but my tank is suddenly crossing the line lol.

 

anyway, sorry for the long rant. just know that the health of the fish is the most important thing and each individual fish is healthy in the tank. i have the means and ability to fix that if it takes a turn for the worst somehow but so far its been good. i got long term plans for each fish in here (they wont all be moving to the 210g, just the smaller plecos, goldfish, and gourami) with the means to do so now if i wanted. i plan to go back to breeding bristlenose so ill likely be pulling those to breed in breeding tanks in the future. the platies breed constantly and the fry make a great natural food source for the rest of the fish as do the bristlenose fry. if you have any questions id be more than happy to answer them for you. i think people should be pushing the boundaries of aquariums to see what does and doesnt work, its the only way to learn. im experienced enough to have a good handle on this tank in particular, every other tank of mine is wildly understocked lol. 

 

edit: i did want to add, most photos were taken last night (not the camera shots) so you can see the nice fat bellies and healthy intact fins on the fish. i have zero issues with plecos going after goldfish, i personally believe this is caused by people not feeding theirs enough and them not having enough protein in their diet. 

Edited by yannachka
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I LOVE your tank and I can’t decide which part is my favorite - the planter, the goldfish, or the “unconventional” species. You take great pictures, too.

Not to mention, a large planted goldfish community tank is my dream! This is providing lots of inspiration. 🙂

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7 minutes ago, Alexa said:

I LOVE your tank and I can’t decide which part is my favorite - the planter, the goldfish, or the “unconventional” species. You take great pictures, too.

Not to mention, a large planted goldfish community tank is my dream! This is providing lots of inspiration. 🙂

i appreciate that thank you. i do wanna put some disclaimers: i only recommend what i have if you’re experienced and can read/keep fish well. its also definitely not long term. getting that out of the way, it is very doable keeping goldfish with plants. you just need to be smart about scaping the tank and be more stubborn than the goldfish. i run co2 currently but didnt for the first year, i just wanted to propogate out of the tank and wanted faster growth so i set it up. the diy planter was my cheap and easy way of growing emersed plants. ill make a more visually appealing version for the 210g, probably with glass siliconed to the actual tank. if you have any questions feel free to ask!

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I intentionally didn't mention the MANY things that I wouldn't do as by your very long justifications you already know what you're doing that is widely frowned upon.  I seem to have incurred a little bit of your wrath by barely mentioning it too you so I'm guessing you have heard all this before. 

 

That being said, I suggested that this maybe wasn't the best place to post it because many beginners or less than advanced hobbyists come in for ideas and advice. Your tank, which might be great for you, which I did say before you kinda went off, gives many examples of things 99.9999% of fish keepers should not do.

 

I'm not going to get into everything I cringe at and just remind you that the purpose of the forum is to be helpful. By the way saying "not a slam on you" before slamming me is like saying "no offense" right before saying something offensive.  And while I may be a breeder, you assume many practices that I wouldn't do and also frown on.

At least we both agree no one else should keep the types of fish, amount, or for long term what you have in your very unique tank.

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I love the hanging "planters" at the top and have similar for my tanks. I want to do more of that and appreciate the additional plant inspirations.

The "spiral val"? I have seen that at a garden center. I think it was named something different, but I have been wanting to add some reed/grass-like things to the tops of my tanks in back. @Streetwise was just talking about marginal plants that can be grown emmersed, and I am in the same camp, loving the plants as much as the fish.

If I could, my apartment would look like an indoor jungle--most people already think it is over the top, but I mean a REAL jungle, lol. Light is the limiting factor. I need to invest in attractive grow lights next...

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1 hour ago, Mr. Ed's Aquatics said:

I intentionally didn't mention the MANY things that I wouldn't do as by your very long justifications you already know what you're doing that is widely frowned upon.  I seem to have incurred a little bit of your wrath by barely mentioning it too you so I'm guessing you have heard all this before. 

 

That being said, I suggested that this maybe wasn't the best place to post it because many beginners or less than advanced hobbyists come in for ideas and advice. Your tank, which might be great for you, which I did say before you kinda went off, gives many examples of things 99.9999% of fish keepers should not do.

 

I'm not going to get into everything I cringe at and just remind you that the purpose of the forum is to be helpful. By the way saying "not a slam on you" before slamming me is like saying "no offense" right before saying something offensive.  And while I may be a breeder, you assume many practices that I wouldn't do and also frown on.

At least we both agree no one else should keep the types of fish, amount, or for long term what you have in your very unique tank.

when i said “not a jab at you” i really did mean that, that is why i addressed points you never brought up so i apologize if i came off that way. i was trying to type it all out while in the waiting room for an appt and should have worded it differently. im glad we are on the same page as breeders, unfortunately 90% of breeders fall into the other category which is why i was calling that double standard out. even when i was breeding bettas i still kept the males in (halfway) divided 10s and my plecos bred in 40 breeders. its one of the things in the hobby that really irks me in general. i would be totally justified in keeping some tanks i see as long as i clarified that i was a “breeder” as if that gives a pass to keep a fish in an undersized tank for 12 months for their breeding cycle.

i do highly disagree on the experts not posting their setups comment though, this forum is for beginners->experts and i think it is valuable for people who know their fish to post what they keep and how they do it. we shouldn’t be excluding experts just because a beginner may look at a tank and try it themselves. i tried to put as many disclaimers and as much information as i could to dissuade people who may not be equipped to handle heavy stocking like this but i also add those same disclaimers when someone is trying to start their first african cichlid tank as well. i dont believe it is fair at all to be excluding experts here. 

 

id be very interested in the many things you have to say, i genuinely love chatting with breeders (and fishkeepers in general). i can guarantee that most of the things ive already heard though and they aren’t an issue. long term? will def be an issue but we know i already got that covered. there are a few fish i wanna move out of there sooner rather than later and if house shopping takes longer than anticipated they’ll be going into some 40s or 75s i got stored in the basement. this wasn’t an intentional stocking for the tank, more so me downsizing and rearranging while using it as a temp holding tank that turned semi-permanent if i saw the fish doing well.

i moreso wanted to show what is possible given good water chemistry, good scape planning, and some ingenuity. i guarantee this tank would fall apart in a month if i didn’t set it up how i did. i also wanted to lowkey humble-brag about my fully planted goldfish tank since most comments i see about goldfish are that it is impossible to keep them with plants, which as you can see isn’t true. same with keeping goldfish with plecos. all of the fish, for now, have plenty of space and plenty of places to get away to if needed. each catfish has a dedicated cave and some of the larger nocturnals created their own in driftwood pockets i made where they wanted to. like i said their health is upmost important to me and they’re all very healthy. if that changes so will the tank. 🙂

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26 minutes ago, Brandy said:

I love the hanging "planters" at the top and have similar for my tanks. I want to do more of that and appreciate the additional plant inspirations.

The "spiral val"? I have seen that at a garden center. I think it was named something different, but I have been wanting to add some reed/grass-like things to the tops of my tanks in back. @Streetwise was just talking about marginal plants that can be grown emmersed, and I am in the same camp, loving the plants as much as the fish.

If I could, my apartment would look like an indoor jungle--most people already think it is over the top, but I mean a REAL jungle, lol. Light is the limiting factor. I need to invest in attractive grow lights next...

i actually got into the hobby way way back because of plants! i went to an aquarium and saw a freshwater display that was planted, then happened to see some plants in a petsmart and got to talking to an (experienced) employee who said it was possible. opened up a whole new world for me! ive kept every single tank at least lightly planted, even my blackwater and lake tangayikan tanks (it was used to hold some calvus + ollie the comp when i was breeding them). i know lots of people cringe when people try plants with africans but luckily calvus dont bother them usually haha. 

 

the spiral plant is called corkscrew rush, i picked it up from a local pond nursery. 

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