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Overstocking A Low Light Planted Aquarium?

PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2016 6:09 pm
by F15FreeEagle
Hello everyone

I will be setting up a low light planted aquarium, probably within the next 2 months, and am wondering what you all thought of this stocking list for it. I have 3 tanks running very successfully for 3+ years now (4, counting my quarantine tank) but have never had a truly planted tank before.

Tank size: 55 gallon.
2 power filters, 1 rated for a 30-60 gallon aquarium, the other for a 20-40.

I do 30-50% water changes (depending on which tank it is) every week in all of my tanks.

And the list of what I'm toying with:

6 Australian Rainbows (also known as Murray River Rainbow fish)
4 Guppys
4 Sailfin Mollys
10 Neon Tetras, or maybe Cardinal Tetras (haven't made up my mind which yet) but 10 of either
1 Dwarf Gourami
6 Oto Cats
6 Panda Cory's

AqAdvisor tells me this tank would be 123% stocked, and would have a filtration rate of 99%. But by their own admission, they OVERESTIMATE the stocking, and UNDERESTIMATE the filtration rate. And as I said, this would be a heavily low light planted tank, which there seems to be some debate on if you can overstock the planted tank. :shrug:

My biggest concern, if I were to go with this list to the "T," would be the guppys and mollys, as unless I got all males, I would most likely end up with a lot more guppys and mollys. :startled:

Everyone's opinion is welcome :D :twocents:

Re: Overstocking A Low Light Planted Aquarium?

PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2016 8:06 pm
by Skylane
I'm liking the tank size you got going on! Not sure on the sailfin mollies if they require certain water parameters, but your list looks pretty good. There is some really nice low light planted tanks, which I prefer to do in my tanks, as I don't tend to run co2 in any of my tanks, but thinking about it one day. I recently picked up some Pearl Gourami's and they are a classic labyrinth fish. l would like to hear more about what type of plants and sape you have in mind. Lots of decisions to make, good luck to your tank build! Oh BTW, I use liquid ferts and co2 in my tanks , and dual t5 bulbs with a built in timer, slow but good growth and I just put newer bulbs in by Zoo Med, a pink grow bulb and a ultra daylight, I'm happy with the colors of my fish and seeing some new growth as well on the plants!

Clem

Re: Overstocking A Low Light Planted Aquarium?

PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2016 10:14 pm
by C. Andrew Nelson
F15FreeEagle wrote:My biggest concern, if I were to go with this list to the "T," would be the guppys and mollys, as unless I got all males, I would most likely end up with a lot more guppys and mollys.


Of course you could solve that problem by getting all males (or all females). ;)

I think it's a good stocking list overall. The unknown, of course, it the temperament of the Dwarf Gourami. They are usually peaceful, but once in a while you come across a stinker.

Re: Overstocking A Low Light Planted Aquarium?

PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2016 6:33 am
by Crazygar
The busy nature of the Rainbows might stress out your Dwarf Gourami. Both inhabit the same area of the water column.

Rainbows are busy, active fish and while will work well with your current list, I fear the Dwarf Gourami might be the loser in this situation. If you can, remove the Gourami from the list.

Gary

Re: Overstocking A Low Light Planted Aquarium?

PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2016 5:22 pm
by C. Andrew Nelson
Gary has a good point. Imagine trying to take a leisurely Sunday drive on the Indianapolis 500 Speedway during a race. That's how the Dwarf Gourami will feel swimming with the Rainbows. Let the Rainbows own that part of the water column.

I understand, though, your wanting to have one elegant fish are sort of the "star of the show" (I'm actually working on a video on this topic for my YouTube channel). Perhaps you can come up with a different centerpiece or unique "character" that is eye-catching, yet resides in a different area of the tank.

Re: Overstocking A Low Light Planted Aquarium?

PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2016 9:24 pm
by F15FreeEagle
Hmmm.... That is indeed a very good point that I had not thought of...

Well... Andrew (or anyone else???) do you have any suggestions for a "center piece" in this stocking situation? I'm drawing a complete blank... The fish that do come to my mind would work with everything except for the neons haha

Re: Overstocking A Low Light Planted Aquarium?

PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2016 9:26 pm
by F15FreeEagle
Maybe a zebra plecko... Yeah right... That'll happen... :biglaugh:

Re: Overstocking A Low Light Planted Aquarium?

PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 2:14 am
by Diana
Check optimum water parameters for the fish. I use
http://www.seriouslyfish.com/
though I do not agree with all their info, it is one of the better sites for this sort of information.

The first 3 on your list are hard water fish.
The rest of your list are soft water fish.

The other concern is the extreme size difference.
As a rough guide it is better not to mix species with such extreme size differences. The smaller fish can be preyed upon by the larger. And even if the larger species is not notably predatory the stress on the smaller fish of simply living that close to a large fish can be too much.
The other problem I see is Guppy & Molly. Mollies can be very pushy, and most Guppies are not going to stand up to this. I have had one Molly claim all of a 4' long tank, not let any other fish in her territory, which was pretty much the upper half of the tank. Most are not this extreme, but it is something to keep in mind.

I would re-think this list. Some possibilities:

a) Smaller species of Rainbow Fish.
b) Only one species of Live Bearer.
c) No more schooling fish- Live bearers can be social. Or skip the live bearers and figure out a school of something OK in this sort of water.
d) While many Cories will handle a wide range of conditions, I have found the Pandas are more particular. They really do prefer soft water conditions. Suggest the more durable Bronze or Pepper Cory for a harder water tank.

alternate: Go with all softer water fish:
Gourami (perhaps a Pearl, maybe 2- they are less aggressive and larger, a better show fish in this large tank)
bigger school of Cardinal Tetras (15-20)
Panda Cories (a dozen)
Ottos (up to 6) or a single Bristlenose Pleco, maybe 2 (1M + 1F, and give him a cave)

A LOW LIGHT planted tank will not help with overstocking. If the plants are growing really fast (high light, CO2, fertilizer) then they can make a big difference in the water quality. But in low light they just sort of sit there, and do very little for you about removing nitrogen in any form.

Re: Overstocking A Low Light Planted Aquarium?

PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 5:01 pm
by C. Andrew Nelson
Diana wrote:The first 3 on your list are hard water fish.
The rest of your list are soft water fish.


Ever the voice of reason regarding water chemistry. You're right, I totally missed that. I was thinking temperament, etc. and it didn't dawn on me about water hardness. Guppies seem to be able to adapt (especially if your source has been breeding them in softer waters for a period of time), but the Mollies and the Rainbows do need the harder water. And of course the others on the list require softer water. :slapforehead:

Diana wrote:A LOW LIGHT planted tank will not help with overstocking. If the plants are growing really fast (high light, CO2, fertilizer) then they can make a big difference in the water quality. But in low light they just sort of sit there, and do very little for you about removing nitrogen in any form.


I can attest to that. I have a 20 gallon tank completely overgrown with Anubias & Java Fern and those low light plants they don't seem to do a darn thing towards removing nitrogen. (Pretty, though.)

Re: Overstocking A Low Light Planted Aquarium?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2016 7:37 am
by Crazygar
Yeah, I saw it but before diving into that, remove the Gourami (which really enjoys softer water to thrive).

Smaller Rainbows, like M.praecox (Neon Rainbowfish) might be what you are looking for. They can handle all the way down to pH6.8, schooling and very very colorful. But like all fish and Rainbows, exceptionally clean water is a must.

Gary

Re: Overstocking A Low Light Planted Aquarium?

PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2016 9:19 pm
by F15FreeEagle
While I do understand what you are saying, and in the "perfect world" this is what we would want, most of us do not have soft water. I've kept fish that "require" "soft" water without any issues. The key, I believe anyway, is acclimating them properly if they are coming from water conditions much different than the conditions in their "new" home.

I found this sometime back on Imperial Tropicals website under their FAQ, and found it interesting:


"Q: What kind of water are your fish raised in?

A: Most of our water is on the hard side and has a pH of around 8. We use soft water only for breeding the fish, but they are all raised in hard water.

Q: I have soft water with a low pH, will the fish be okay?

A: When you are fortunate enough to have soft water with a low pH, you should keep fish that like those conditions. Most fish from the Amazon and other parts of South America come from soft water conditions and will thrive in your soft water. On the opposite spectrum, most African cichlids prefer hard water with a high pH. However, if you don't have the ideal conditions for the fish you want, keep in mind that a stable pH, high or low, will be fine in most situations. If your water parameters are drastically different than ours, we recommend a slow acclimation period. If you are unfamiliar with the acclimation process, search Google, there are a few different ways to acclimate. Most domesticated fish will do good in hard or soft water when acclimated properly."

Of course there are several people that would disagree, (sounds like you may) but there are several that also believe this way. And as we all know, what works for some does not work for others. :)
"

Re: Overstocking A Low Light Planted Aquarium?

PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2016 9:42 pm
by F15FreeEagle
Along this same line, it is also my belief that trying to change the pH level (using things like PHup, pH down, etc) MAY do more harm than good. In my way of thinking, it is better to leave it alone and let it be "stable" rather than risking it fluctuating by using these products. The only chemicals my aquariums ever see are prime, and every great once in a while I'll use API stress coat.

Re: Overstocking A Low Light Planted Aquarium?

PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:35 am
by Crazygar
Whatever your pH is naturally is what you should aim for. Where I currently live, the water is liquid rock. Therefore I have a large thriving Rift Lake tank without anything other than adding DeChlor at water changes.

Whatever fish like that pH, that's the fish you want. We go by that one here.

Gary

Re: Overstocking A Low Light Planted Aquarium?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2016 10:03 pm
by Diana
Fish are adapted to the mineral and salt levels in the water, pH is lower ranking in the level of importance. If you measure the TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) this is more important than the pH when acclimating fish.

USUALLY soft water (water with very low minerals, low TDS) will also have a pH below neutral. Amazon, Congo, several Asian rivers. Generally rain forest rivers.
USUALLY hard water (water with high mineral levels, high TDS) will also have a pH above neutral. Many temperate zone rivers, lakes (extreme example are the Rift Lakes of Africa), bodies of water in more arid climates. Rivers and lakes in areas with limestone or related rock and the soils from this sort of rock will have higher TDS, and be hard water.

Water enters the fishes' cells through the gills and other exposed cells, such as the intestines. The exterior of the fish, covered with slime coating, does not allow water to enter the cells. The amount of water that enters the cells depends on the mineral levels in the water. You can look up 'osmosis' and 'osmotic regulation' to find out more details.

When fish are moved from hard to soft water they need to adjust their metabolism and have to work harder to get rid of excess water that keeps entering their body through gills and other exposed cells. Some fish cannot make this adjustment, and must be kept in hard water. It is hard for fish to make this adjustment. I would acclimate such fish over several weeks to a month. Not just a few minutes or hours.

When fish are moved from soft to hard water they need to adjust their metabolism, but it does not have to work so hard to remove the excess water. Less water is entering their cells. Many soft water fish can make this adjustment just fine. Slow acclimation is good. The problem that some soft water fish have when they are kept in hard water is this:
Fish get many of their minerals from the water. If they evolved in soft water their body is very efficient at getting the minerals out of the water and holding on to these minerals. They can die of too much minerals when they are kept in harder water. Soft water fish can evolve over just a few generations to be OK in harder water. This happens in fish hatcheries, which only breed from the survivors (duh) who are capable of living in harder water than their wild ancestors.

Determining the GH, KH and TDS of your water is the first goal.
If fish you like can live in these parameters, it does not matter so much what the pH is.
This does not mean the pH is totally unimportant. Just that other factors are more important.

When you research fish, look at their preferred water hardness. This should be the General Hardness.