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Beto EE

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Algae and plecostomus  in the aquaria

Algae is something you will find in any aquaria at some point. It can even be healthy after a tank is fully cycled. It start to be a nuisance when it appears constantly and often for two reasons. The first because of higher phosphate concentration in the water. And the second because of too much light. 

The problem I encounter the most is because of some phosphate and maybe a little extra light. But is manageable with water changes and glass cleaning in the aquaria(every four days in heavy stocked fish tanks, and every ten days in fully stocked aquaria.)

But one thing that takes a lot of time in cleaning the aquarium (primary if you have several fish tanks) is algae in rocks, decorations, and driftwood.

I have seven aquaria, and cleaning them top to bottom all take up to an hour and a half(using a hose siphon and an internal water pump). If I had to clean algae in rocks  decorations, and driftwood, it will increase the time thirty minutes up or more. So obviously I opt for no plastic decorations, white or clear color rocks, or driftwood in the fish tanks.

All of this is truth in all but one exception. And that is unless a have a PLECOSTOMUS fish. I have one in a tank, but is not the common plecostomus, but a bristle nose.

Everywhere there is a pleco, no white honeycomb rock get slime algae around it. And driftwood does not develop hair algae neither. You may find some algae in the glass still.

There is a downside tough. That is plecostomus poop a lot, and you can see all the detritus in the substrate surface (usually if you have light sand color. Gravel is not a problem)

I have otocinclus cat fish in thirty gallon planted aquarium, but they are good at cleaning algae from plants surface, and not for decorations, rocks, etc

The planted aquarium

Over six months ago I decided to try live plants in the fish tanks. Initially I had no idea there was special substrate for a planted aquarium, and my first choice was to try small size gravel.

In the beginning when you explore information thru the internet, there are many websites explaining about easy plants for novice planted aquarium keepers. In my case and initially with a gravel substrate, the amazon sword plant did always good especially when fertilizer tablets were used, but never to the point of exploiting in growth. Staurogyne Repens is a carpet plant that did ok, it never colonized a big area and few of them died, obviously because gravel was not the best substrate for it.(still I got some little plants that did not die). I tried hairgrass and for a while it managed to survive, but didn’t do it. Glossostigma Elatinoides was more delicate and it died fast.

Liquid carbon, substrate tablets, and liquid fertilizer was used as well as T5 lights, and the plants were just dying or barely surviving. I increased the light time to the point where the 29 gallon aquarium had a critic algae bloom(some fish even died) and at that point it was clear something was wrong. The conclusion in my mind was to try a good, and rich nutrient soil

First I placed the three planted aquariums inside a room where they can get natural light from the windows.(not direct sunlight tough, but at least the light spectrum gets in) Secondly I run with a timer T-8 aquarium lights for 7 hours. You can increase or decrease the time if you want to, or use more powerful lights like LED or T-5 , but always watch for algae, because that is a sign of too much light. Depending on your natural light conditions you can go from 0.5 watts per gallon of water to 1 watt per gallon in your lighting system.

“Most important thing is the soil”. That is the phrase I heard in many youtube videos referring to a planted tank. My choice was to get flourite from seachem. So to use the less amount I planted some plants in glass containers, adding a fertilizer tablet in the substrate with each of them. I use liquid carbon every day too, and weekly doses of liquid fertilizers when a water change is done.

Well patience is a virtue says the adage. Now I’m waiting, but everything seems to be doing just fine.

On a final note. If you spend money taking care and time in a planted aquarium is because you worry about your plants, so don’t add just any type of fish(especially barbs, big tetras, and most cichlids). If you like those fish you can have them in tanks with no plants. Some fish are soil diggers, and the substrate for plants is clay base in many cases, so any big violent disturbance will make your water cloudy and messy for up to 2 or 3 days. Some other plant soils like eco complete from caribsea are made of volcanic rock, but that soil is very light in weight, and any soil digger fish like many cichlids will unroot easily your plants, at worst make of your plants a delicious salad.

Some websites tell you barbs are ok, they are not, they eat your plants, I’ve seen it.(ask my gold barbs)

My personal choices for a planted aquarium are espei rasboras, ember tetra, cardinal tetra, rummy nose tetra, black neon tetra, glowlight tetra, pristella tetra, and black phantom tetra. Seems like the tetra family shines in this spot.

You can even try a planted nano tank as I’m doing too. In a 10 gallon I got six dwarf strawberry rasboras(they look like chili rasboras tough), and when the cherry and black carbon shrimps multiply I will add some of them there too.

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Freshwater aquarium fish species experiences. 

First and most important is that I do 30% water changes weekly, and the tap water here is around 7.2 Ph. And still I found during my experience that some fish are stronger than others and get not sick as some others. But that is relative too. Because it depends if a fish was previously with a weak inmune system where you got it, or if it was a weak specimen, etc. 

Lots of guppies had been raised here in the aquarium. Long ago I read in a saltwater fishing book that fish are like humans, some stronger than others. So you may get confused if the first fish from certain specie died prematurely, but after that the next you got all lived for years! 

Still here are the fish so far I found stronger! 

Betta. They like small places. I have one in a plastic marina breeder modified as a permanent house for her. The water flows constantly, and she had been living eight months there. These fish are tough. As long as the water is clear and in good conditions, the fish will be happy. In their natural environments, they had been found in spits of water waiting for more rain to come to their rescue. 

Angel fish. They never gave me any problems, and I got them when they were tiny specs. 

Silver dollars. A school of five I got when they were very small. Their grow rate is fast!. They can be mixed with cichlids and other fish. But don’t get them if you have a planted aquarium. They are vegetarian piranhas! No plant will survive with them around. And I mean none! 

Gold barbs. A better sentance should be all barbs or cyprinids, because I have espei rasboras. The famous zebra fish too had been almost indestructible. So barbs and cyprinids are in my experience the group of fish with the greatest health of all. The problem with barbs is that they eat plants. So barbs is better to have in an aquarium with sand substrate and no plants, or with Java moss, anubias and ferns because they don’t like those plants. 

Betta Fish

Cocoa Turquie
Cocoa Turquie the veil tail betta.

Bettas can’t live with anybody but alone. Not in vain is the burmese fighting fish. There are some beautiful fin shapes with higher prices. The crown tail is one, but there are some others. You can find some expensive ones for $15 to $25 usa dollars. In a small 5 gallon tank with a sponge air filter one fish can live his life like a sultan.

Freshwater Angelfish

Angelfish.
Zebra and Black Veiltail Angelfish.

And I mean Scalare and not Altum species. I got a gold and zebra angelfish when they were babies about six months ago, so I think they have to be around 9 months old. I have seen bigger angelfish, but I read somewhere that once they reach close to the one year age, they still grow, but slowly. This specie is elegant, and is a cichlid! They require a tall tank because of their shape. While african and other south american cichlids need more horizontal space to swim because of its elongated shape, angelfish move more in a vertical manner. I believe a 40 gallon tank(3 ft long) will be ideal for them, or a bowfront close to 30 gallons too.

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