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Restocking A Slightly Acidic, Softer Water Planted Tank

Author Topic: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank  (Read 10147 times)

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Offline Helen

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Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« on: September 19, 2017, 08:47:13 PM »
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I seem to be a little inept at getting my community creator tank details across, so I've attached a screenshot of the selection that I'm currently researching.

BN Plec, khuli loaches and harlequin rasboras are non negotiable, as they are the current inhabitants (though not in the numbers below).

I currently like the idea of fiveband barbs, dwarf rainbow fish and a pair of cyclids.

I think my aim is to have fish that are visually distinctive. But of course they need to actually be compatible tank mates.

Any and all comments , thoughts, ideas welcome.

Online Sue

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2017, 09:58:36 PM »
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Since you want to have a sizeable shoal of harlequins, how about another big shoal rather than several small ones? I used to be in the 'minimum numbers of lots of species' camp but I have switched to the 'lots of fish of a few species' camp. In my 180 litre I have 2 shoals of about 15 each of espei's rasboras (slender harlequins on here) and Daisy's ricefish. But I know a lot of people do prefer more species than me.

Any of the cichlids would work as bottom fish - just one species. Bolivian rams and kribs need to chose their own mates. The way to do this is to stand quietly in front of the shop tank till the fish forget you are there. Watch them closely. Males will chase other fish away but if a male allows a female to stay nearby without chasing her, get that pair. Cockatoo apistos are harem breeders so they can be kept as 1 male 2 or 3 females.

Offline Helen

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2017, 10:46:16 PM »
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I'm with you on the lots of fish, fewer species. I previously had Cardinal tetras and gouramis with my harlies.

But I'm trying to make an effort to do something a bit different this time.

And I'm avoiding the gouramis, I've tried a few types and I'm not sure they are robust enough in my tank. Though it is possible that they didn't like the building work. Despite covering the tank during work, there was a lot of dust around for a long time.


Offline Matt

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2017, 06:39:22 AM »
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It's possible that Bolivian ram and cockatoo cichlids would work together as pairs in one large tank with plants/rocks etc in so they can define territories.  They come from the same part of the world after all.  Cichlids communicate with each other through colour changes and movement much like humans do... in different languages depending on where they are from.  For this reason I would avoid kribensis if you want to do more than one species as they will speak a different language where "go away" could be interpreted as "food here" which would lead to constant punch ups between them.  I would do some specific research online for cockatoos and Bolivian rams to see if you are comfortable with mixing them. When I upgrade my tank (eventually!) I'm going to try mixing rams and checkerboard cichlids which exist together in the wild.

You have quite a mixed bad of fish there... then again i probably do myself but a few other thoughts...
Harlies, Fiveband barbs (and Tiger Barbs).  I sort of have these in one category in my head. They are all orange and black fish and not very visually distinctive as you say.  I have rationalised this in my mind as tiger barbs are the best looking but can be nippy so avoid, so go fiveband barbs instead, but fivebands only come in one colour whereas tiger barbs are also available in green and gold.  Harlies are smaller so you can have more of them and come in purple (quite readily available) and gold (these might have to be purchased online) - Harlies therefore win in my book.  I would consider mixing the colour types for a super interesting shoal. Again I'll be doing this eventually!

That would let you bump up the number of black neons to match cardinal tetras at 12 which would probably look better in my view.

I've no experience with dwarf raonbowfish but I think it's a good idea if only because they will be visually distinctive as you say. I also try to mix different behaviours of fish as I find this interesting to watch and this would tick this box for me too.

Just my thoughts... on your tank... so feel free to ignore me completely :))

Online Sue

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2017, 09:18:53 AM »
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Another thing to bear in mind is the behaviour of the fish. Some fish dash around (tiger barbs) while others pootle around (harlequins, cichlids). If you have fish that dash around too much, they'll intimidate the harlies and any cichlids you get later.
Of the fish on your list, cardinals are pootlers and probably black neons (they are not actually related to cardinals and neons so I'm not too sure about them). I also don't know about 5 band barbs, someone who has those will be able to tell you. I've had dwarf rainbowfish and they were sort of in between, not mad dashers but more active than my espei's rasboras which are closely related to harlies.

Offline Helen

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2017, 08:19:45 PM »
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Thank you, some good ideas. I like the idea of mixing different colour s in the same shoal. I actually got 6 copper harlies and 6 normal because the lad in the shop reassured me that they were the same fish (I asked in as many different ways as I could think of. I didn't ask about died fish, but my lfs is an MA and I don't think that's something I have to worry about with them. Please correct me if I'm wrong). I will look into different colour harlies.

When my oh pointed out the fiveband barbs in the shop, I hesitated because I knew they looked like another fish that would be less suitable. I had to come home and look up that it was tiger barbs.

I think I prefer the pootler fish to dashy ones. I have a bit of a soft spot for zebra danios, but they've not done well in my tank previously. I think it is because faster fish generally need more calcium and that is something I have very little of in my tank (I also struggle with some fast growing stem plants for the same reason).

I'll have to research black neons a bit more - I thought I was doing the colour thing looking at them.

I think I'll stick with just one type of cichlids. I'd rather not have too many bottom dwellers as I'd never see my kuhlis if they have serious competition.

Definitely more of a mixed bag than I've previously had.

Offline Matt

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2017, 08:42:35 PM »
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Zebra Danios prefer lower temperatures which may be why they have had a shorter lifespan than normal in your tank.  Temperature controls a fishes metabolism. They would have been on overdrive constantly being at tropical temperatures  :)

Online Sue

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2017, 09:32:26 PM »
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Re harlequins, there are three related species - Trigonostigma heteromorpha, T. espei and T. hengeli. They all have black triangles, and orange colour on the body.
T. heteromorpha are harlequins and have the biggest black triangle. There is also a colour variant called black or purple or royal harlequin (all the same fish!) which is nearly all black with an orange nose.
T. hengeli has a small triangle, an orange line above the triangle and mainly grey everywhere else. Their common names are copper rasbora, porkchop rasbora and hengel's rasbora. If your copper rasboras fit this description, they are not harelquins but they are closely related and should shoal together.
T. espei has a small triangle like hengeli but has more orange on their bodies. Their common names are slender harlequin, lambchop rasbora and espe's rasbora.
You'll find photos of all three here http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/search/trigonostigma

I got some T. hengeli last year - or that's what they were labelled as. But a year on they have much more orange than T. hengeli should so I think they are actually espei.


Cardinals, neons and green neons are in the genus Paracheirodon; black neons are in the genus Hyphessobrycon. This is the problem with common names, they sound as though fish are related when they are not  :)


I would avoid tiger barbs now you have the harlies. They can be very nippy fish and are best kept on their own. They do have the advantage that they come in three colours (orange with black stripes, very pale orange with white stripes and dark green) so you can have all three colours to make the tank look more interesting.

Offline Helen

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2017, 10:13:42 PM »
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Thank you for so much information. Looking at the photos and descriptions on Seriously Fish, I'm fairly sure my copper raspora are actually t. Espeii. But the lights are off now, so I can't check. (Seems a bit mean to wake them up just to look at what colour they are!)

I will have to be more careful when I go back. Possibly a case of being served by the "weekend staff".

If I do go for the fiveband barbs, I don't want to end up with nippy tiger barbs! 😯

And I'll have to look in more detail at the different types / colours of tetra. Though they are not the strongest contenders at the moment.

@Sue, you mentioned that T. Hengeli and harlies will shoal together ok, but not whether the T. Espeii would be ok? I would add that at the moment, they all seem happy shoaling together. I can see from Seriously Fish that T. Espeii seem to be perhaps 30% smaller. If I get more rasboras, would there be a preference for which ones? Are there any notable behavioural differences?

I'm just off to update my community creator...

Online Sue

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2017, 09:15:10 AM »
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Because the three Trigonostigmas are closely related, they should all shoal together. If you want more of them you could always get equal numbers of the two species. My espei (or hengeli whichever they really are) behave the way other people's harlequins do.
One thing that I and other people on here have found is that they don't like bright lights. Until I got some floating plants my rasboras stayed in the back corner. As the floating plants took over more of the surface, the rasboras came further into the tank, but always under the plants.

I wouldn't believe anything a shop said. Even the ones who know about fish can't know about every fish so I always assume none of them know anything, it is safer that way  ;D

Offline Helen

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2017, 10:05:29 PM »
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Because I've got lights that really are too short for the tank, there are two dark corners. And the rasboras (I can't call them harlies, if half aren't!) definitely hang out in the less exposed of the two dark corners. I'm hoping that as my Vallis grows back in more, it'll provide better coverage for them and so they'll move forward. I think there's currently too big an exposed space between the dark corner and where a plant (the name of which I've forgotten) provides plenty of surface cover.

Offline Helen

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2017, 06:25:30 PM »
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I think my "copper" raspora are probably espeii. I've managed to take a photo (sorry it's not great, had to use the digital zoom to avoid spooking them) of one definitely harlequin and one copper.

I think the body of the copper looks mostly orange, rather than grey with an orange line.

Online Sue

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2017, 07:15:08 PM »
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The fish on the left does look like mine. The shop tank was labelled Hengel's rasboras and they had harlequin rasboras and Espe's rasboras in two other tanks. It's only reading up on them since - and reading a description of them on another forum - that made me think again about which species mine are.

The photo is what mine looked like when I first got them. There is no orange line above the triangle, and there is orange on the body.

Offline Helen

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2017, 07:55:35 PM »
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I think they both look a lot like the photo in the "slender rasbora" profile. 😀 Which is labelled as espeii.
http://www.thinkfish.co.uk/fish/slender-harlequin.html

Online Sue

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2017, 08:07:47 PM »
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Mine do have a lot more orange on them than they did a year ago - they were still young and stressed from the buying process in my photo. The photos I've seen of hengeli have very little orange on them.


I don't actually think it matters that much which ones we have. Their requirements are the same, they will get on with each other. It's just if we add to the shoal it would be better to try and make sure we get the same rather than have yet another slightly different species  :)

Offline Helen

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2017, 08:49:57 PM »
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So I've looked up all the fish on my potential list. They are all either from Asia or south America - with the exception of kribensis, which are from Africa. They also mostly have the same type of habitat - except for the rams.

So I could add Fiveband barbs and dwarf rainbow fish and have an Asian tank (except for my BN Plec). I'd need to check the pH of my water, as the addition of the rainbow fish significantly reduces the range that is acceptable to all.

Or I could go for the mixed bag.

I think I should probably rule out the rams, as I don't think they would like my tank as much.

@Matt 's comment about different "languages" has got me thinking whether kribensis would be ok in the tank, even if they were the only territorial breeders. They are beautiful fish and would definitely be visually distinctive to all the others!

Although rasboras and fiveband barbs are similar shapes and colours, I think the bands on the barbs would be an interesting addition.

It's difficult to move away from a fish that I've decided I like! Except if it wouldn't do well in my tank.

I'll have to make sure that when I get another dozen rasboras, half are harlies and half are coppers (I'll have to go by appearance rather than name!)

Online Sue

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2017, 09:12:34 PM »
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With kribs, it's really only south American cichlids that should be avoided. Apistos, rams etc are bottom dwelling territorial fish like kribs and while the S American cichlids 'understand' each other, they won't 'understand' kribs - or vice versa.
In a big enough tank, it is possible to have more than one species of S American cichlid, but I would avoid having 2 apisto species. Something like an apisto and Bolivian rams could work. Bolivian rams are easy than rams because they have a wider tolerance of water conditions.

But kribs and upper shoaling fish from S America or Asia shouldn't be a problem. Seriously Fish suggests good tankmates include small characins (ie tetras), barbs, danios, and rasboras. It also says they are OK with other West African cichlids, if I could think of any  :-[

Offline Helen

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2017, 11:14:34 PM »
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So I think I've decided what I'm eventually going to restock my tank with (when I've got the substrate and plants sorted).

My stocking list will be:
1 BN Plec
14 X kuhli loaches
13 X harlequin rasboras
12 X espeii rasboras
6 X five band barbs
6 X dwarf rainbow fish
2 X kribensis

This will take my tank to 89% stocked according to the community creator. I know from past experience, that with my low nitrate, soft water, my heavily planted tank is better balanced with a higher fish stock. But because I can't maintain my tank as frequently as I'd like, I've switched a lot of my plants for slow growing ones. I know this will effect the optimum fish stock level for my tank.

I've also read (several times) the article that suggests that the community creator uses different (more generous?) stocking calculations to most other sources.

The other thing I'm not so clear about is which figure the 'tank volume' actually refers to. Is it the volume of water in the tank, or the volume of the tank itself. Ie, I have a 240l tank, but I'm in the process of removing a large amount of substrate. So where I used to have 170l of water, I'm not really sure how much more water I will have when I start restocking fish.

So taking into account plants and additional water I will have in my tank, is my proposed stocking level ok?

Offline Matt

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #18 on: November 18, 2017, 11:20:08 PM »
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It's normally advised to take 10% off your tanks theoretical volume to account for the decor, substrate etc. So this would put you fairly highly stocked.  BItut doable in your low nitrate water if you can keep up with weekly water changes.

Alternatively, it does strike me that harlequins and espeii are relatively similar fish... Could their numbers be reduced to create you some breathing space?

Either way I think your stocking list looks great and it will make for a really interesting tank  :)

Offline Helen

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #19 on: November 18, 2017, 11:21:09 PM »
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I thought I'd put my other question in a separate comment: the last one was about stocking levels. This is about fish compatibility.

I've had a few different conversations about how many kuhlis I could have in my tank and also whether kribensis would be ok in my tank with fish from other continents. I realised today that I need to join up these conversations. If I have 14 kuhlis, would they be ok with (and vice versa) a pair of kribensis? I have seen my kuhlis hunting on the substrate. Would  it be carnage in my tank with a breeding pair of kribensis (if I'm so lucky) and so many kuhlis?

Offline Helen

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #20 on: November 18, 2017, 11:37:31 PM »
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10% of tank volume for substrate etc is a bit low for my tank. As I said, I previously measured that I had 170l water in a 240l tank - giving me 70l of substrate etc, compared to the 24l the 10% rule gives. I would suggest that I'm taking out about 2/3 of the substrate.

Hmm, just done the calc and that would be relatively close to the 10% rule. I have a huge block of bogwood that is staying in the tank. But I suspect it is smaller than when I last measured the water volume. (I noticed that it has some interesting knots in the wood that haven't been there before)

I was aiming for a shoal of about 25 harlequin rasboras, but made the mistake of believing the lad in the shop who said that the espeii (labelled copper rasboras)  were just a colour variant.  I want at least one large shoal, because previously my harlies behaved differently when I increased  the numbers and I love watching all the different behaviours.

PS I won't be doing weekly water changes. It is realistic to say they'll be monthly.

Offline Matt

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #21 on: November 18, 2017, 11:46:30 PM »
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I wonder if khuli loaches truly are worth their full stocking value... They are very long and thin in comparison to a 'normal' 8cm fish.  What do people think?

I must say though that I would advise reducing the number of loach and rasboras if you are only certain of being able to commit to monthly water changes Helen.

Offline Helen

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #22 on: November 18, 2017, 11:50:19 PM »
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Even if it's a heavily planted tank? I previously had to add nitrates at water change to keep my plants happy for macro nutrients. And that can be done without the water change.

Offline Rustle

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #23 on: November 19, 2017, 11:55:12 AM »
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Hi Helen I am not sure how good they are but if you are lacking calcium. I happen to get these a few days ago for my assassin snails.

It's possible you have heard of them but if not they are called aqualibra mineral blocks. My snails are all over them and my female gourami likes it too.

Maybe worth researching.

Fish Community Creator Tanks - Assess Tankmate Suitability Tool
Cherry Barb (6) - Neon Tetra (7) - Harlequin Rasbora (11) - Honey Gourami (2) - Guppy (male) (3) - Otocinclus (5) - Japonica Shrimp (8) -
Note: The user may not necessarily own these fish, these are tanks that they may be building or researching for stocking purposes


Offline fcmf

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #24 on: November 19, 2017, 02:19:40 PM »
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PS I won't be doing weekly water changes. It is realistic to say they'll be monthly.
Have you done this before, Helen, and succeeded in having your fish reach/live beyond their respective life expectancies? Just intrigued as to how this went for my own learning's sake. I'd be concerned about soft water not having its KH replenished - cf Sue's experience of a PH crash when she had a period of reducing the frequency of her water changes to less than once weekly - and also about what else is going on in the tank that we can't actually measure for with our home-based test kits. For example, I have very soft water, usually low nitrates (<20 although they have crept up a little lately) and plants (albeit not very skilled at keeping them) but wouldn't risk anything less than a weekly water change as I'm aware that there is much more than ammonia/nitrite/nitrates which may impact on fishes' welfare.

Offline Helen

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #25 on: November 19, 2017, 02:21:43 PM »
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Thanks @Rustle . I'm not sure that's the right format to add calcium to my tank. One of the ways I add nitrates is with calcium nitrate granules. But I'm trying to set my tank up in a way that minimises the need for supplements. Fast growing stem plants have a high calcium requirement, so I've replaced all my fast growing plants with slower growing ones.

I'm also hoping that the need for supplements is a temporary one until my fish stock level is right. I'm not planning to have any fast swimming or shelled inhabitants that would particularly benefit from calcium blocks.

Offline Helen

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #26 on: November 19, 2017, 02:43:52 PM »
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Hi @fcmf . I've had my fish tank (and been a member of this forum and it's predecessor) for about 8 years. My tank has been through quite a bit, including a short move from one wall in the lounge to the adjacent one. And some serious neglect due to two pregnancies.  My smallest 2 legged pet is 2 next week and I've been rejuvenating my tank since June this year. So my the latest period of neglect was over a year.

Don't get me wrong, I am NOT encouraging the sort of zero maintenance regime that my tank had for perhaps 2 years. (Look up Diane Walstead if you are interested in micro environment tanks).

But I am aware that with a young family and a job, my tank won't get the kind of attention that is encouraged. So as I sort my tank out, I'm trying to set it up so that the lack of maintenance doesn't have a detrimental effect on the inhabitants.

I was utterly amazed that my tank did so well with the lack of maintenance. Most of my harlequin rasboras and all my Cardinal tetras seemed to die of old age (I'd had them for 3 years?) . My kuhli loaches are still going strong as is my BN Plec (though I suspect Bertie might have had his growth stunted by the lack of feeding. It was concern that he might starve to death that got me sorting my tank out).

I can only put down the lack of complete failure being down to my tank being so heavily planted, with lots of bogwood and the neglect including feeding. Even now the fish don't get fed every day, so I have to be careful not to overfeed them when I do feed them.

Offline Helen

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #27 on: November 21, 2017, 10:32:34 PM »
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Thanks @Matt for your comment on stocking levels Vs water change frequency.

I've been watching my 13 rasboras and thinking about whether my tank will look full with the other fish I'm planning.

I am now thinking that I will restock in a different order and adapt numbers based on how the water conditions change with each addition of fish. I was going to complete my shoals of rasboras  and kuhlis first, then get the new types of fish. What I now plan to do is get half the kuhlis and leave the rest of the rasboras and kuhlis until I've seen how the water conditions balance with all the other fish. If my tank is still behaving as though it is under-stocked, I will look at increasing the kuhlis and /or rasboras to the numbers I mentioned above - keeping an eye on the water parameters.

Offline Matt

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #28 on: November 21, 2017, 10:41:57 PM »
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Your plan makes a lot of sense Helen.  All the best with it.   :cheers:

It would be nice to hqve regular updates on your readings as I know most of us will want to know how the tank performs with its monthly water changes. 

Weekly water changes are always recommended. I must say that I do sometimes let my tank to two weeks without a change and theres never been any noticeable impact on the plants or fish even when theres been a lot of evaporation in that period.  It's entirely feasible that for those of us fortunate enough to have low nitrate tap water the frequency can be reduced... I only have a 64 litre tank though which probably puts me a greater risk in comparison to yourself.

Offline Helen

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #29 on: November 22, 2017, 04:48:11 PM »
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What sort of readings would you like to see @Matt? The ammonia is read constantly (by my Seneye) but if I get things right, it will only show variation when I add new fish.

I'm hoping to eventually balance my fish numbers and plants so that the nitrate is constant and doesn't increase or decrease between water changes.

I think it is other chemicals in the water that you are referring to, that might build up between water changes. And I'm not particularly intending to measure those (I'm not sure where I would start with what to test for!)

I guess the pH could give some indication, but that is doing interesting things at the moment. Because my Seneye takes a measurement every hour (I think), it is possible to see the daily variation in pH. And because I have my lights on a 5-4-5 (ish) regime (with a 4hr siesta) there is even more variation in the pH. Constant monitoring gives some really interesting data (if you're a techy geek like me!) See my Seneye post for more details.

Online Sue

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #30 on: November 22, 2017, 04:59:04 PM »
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You should not see an increase in ammonia when adding new fish unless you add a huge number at one go. With a heavily planted tank, the plants should be able to use the extra ammonia output as soon as the fish excrete it.


Plants also help with other chemicals and biochemicals, though the amount they take up depends on the plants species. I live in Teesside where there is a lot of chemical industry, and ICI (before they were forced to sell up) pioneered the use of reed beds to clean the industrial waste water.
All animals excrete a lot of biochemicals, and there are others from the breakdown of the tank waste (fish poo, uneaten food, bits of dead plant). The plants won't be able to remove all of this, and it will build up between water changes.

Offline Helen

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #31 on: November 22, 2017, 05:08:06 PM »
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Will there anything I can measure to show the effect on my tank of elongating the period between water changes?

Offline fcmf

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #32 on: November 22, 2017, 06:07:00 PM »
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It would be nice to hqve regular updates on your readings as I know most of us will want to know how the tank performs with its monthly water changes.
What a fantastic idea - it would be great to actually see this / a Walstad-type approach happening in practice - so much more meaningful and less "dry" than reading a book on it.

What sort of readings would you like to see @Matt? The ammonia is read constantly (by my Seneye) but if I get things right, it will only show variation when I add new fish.
I'm hoping to eventually balance my fish numbers and plants so that the nitrate is constant and doesn't increase or decrease between water changes.
For me, I'd love to just see the weekly ammonia, nitrate and nitrite readings, even if just as some sort of reassurance that "wow, that approach really does work in practice (as far as ammonia/nitrate/nitrite is concerned anyway) and I'm getting to live through / witness it as it occurs". While I know I could never succeed in it myself given my dire plant-keeping skills, and given that it would be typical that an adverse event would occur in my own tank if I delayed a weekly water change by a few days, it would be great to see it working in practice by someone else (who has the confidence to do so based on their previous experience), in "real time" so to speak.  :D

Offline Helen

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #33 on: November 22, 2017, 08:12:20 PM »
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@fcmf  just to be clear what I'm doing is NOT the Walstead approach. I do have her book and it is interesting, but I have never managed to actually read it all. It is as close to a chemistry text book as I have tried to read since leaving school and after reading some sections several times and still not understanding it, I accepted that my understanding would never be more than just high level and not detailed enough to implement properly.

I guess when my tank was neglected, it was as close to the Walstead method as I'm ever likely to get (but that wasn't really intentional). What I'm aiming for is very much middle of the ground. I am using the idea of setting up a balance between plants and livestock and I guess a light touch of the principals of the Walstead method to enable my tank maintenance regime to fit around my lifestyle. I am researching plants and fish that would be compatible with that and my water conditions and essentially hoping to create a micro environment. (Not dis-similar to what @Littlefish did with her river tank.)

Oh, and I should add that it's not going to start just yet. I've still got 2/3 of my tank with too much substrate! Because taking out the substrate and replanting requires approximately 2x100l water changes in fairly quick succession, I have to set aside quite a bit chunk of time. Which isn't easily done.

Offline Matt

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #34 on: November 22, 2017, 08:20:00 PM »
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I'd love to just see the weekly ammonia, nitrate and nitrite readings

This is what I was thinking of too :)

@Sue would hardness be affected by less frequent water changes too?

Online Sue

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #35 on: November 22, 2017, 08:28:32 PM »
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Only in one circumstance.

If water evaporates between water changes, the temptation is to top up the water in the tank using tap water. Doing this will slowly increase the hardness because while water evaporates, the minerals that cause hardness don't. With every addition of top up tap water you are adding more minerals to the tank.
Regular topping up should be done with pure water - RO, distilled, rainwater (if it is safe) - though once every blue moon topping up can be done with tap water. Open topped tanks particularly need regular topping up.


Offline Helen

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #36 on: November 22, 2017, 09:15:27 PM »
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If topping up caused the hardness to increase, would that also affect the pH? My understanding is that those minerals that increase the hardness also act as pH buffers.

Would that explain why over the neglected period, the pH of my tank increased slightly? (Less than 1 unit) And is coming down gradually with the big water changes.

I've not got my new hardness test kit yet (its in the post), but comparing my tap water and my tank water again is one of the things I need to do. My water company declares my tap water as very soft, and I'm sure it used to be only soft.

Online Sue

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #37 on: November 22, 2017, 09:51:36 PM »
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pH, GH and KH are all tied up together. If your tank hadn't been planted I would have expected the pH to drop because nitrate would have built up and nitrate is acidic; and with soft water the KH would have been used up quickly allowing the pH to fall.
But you did have plants, and a lot of them, so they would have used the ammonia and no nitrate would have been made. The small amount of KH in your tap water could have been enough to buffer the other acidic things in the tank that the fish excreted.

During the neglected period, did you add anything to the tank, or have any limestone/shells/coral in the tank?

Offline Helen

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #38 on: November 22, 2017, 10:17:55 PM »
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I've got quite a lot of bogwood, but that's been in the tank from the beginning. I have added some large grey pebbles. I can't remember when I added them, but it could have been just before the period of neglect. I can't see that they have eroded at all.

I did top up a couple times, though it was between 5-10 litres in total (and probably the lower end of that range). And my tap water doesn't seem to really have many minerals in it.

When I was dosing the plants, I used calcium nitrate, but haven't used that for a long time.

The pH clearly has a daily cycle, but it does gradually increase. I'm only talking about 0.05 - 0.1 unit over maybe 3 weeks and can only see it because of the accuracy of the Seneye.

Online Sue

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #39 on: November 23, 2017, 09:08:05 AM »
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The calcium nitrate would have increase GH - that's mainly calcium with some magnesium and other metals in trace amounts. So if you were not doing many water changes, that calcium you had added would stay there and this would affect the pH.

But I can't explain the current very slow rise in pH over time. pH is likely to change over 24 hours after the water being run, but not in a tank that's been standing for weeks.
I can only suggest you monitor it to the end of the year and see what happens durin g thast time.



Silly question - does the Seneye have to be recalibrated at intervals?

Offline Helen

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #40 on: November 23, 2017, 09:26:54 AM »
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There is the ability to 'trim' the Seneye readings, but I don't know about calibrating. I don't know how I would start doing that. But, the slides only last about 30 days and then need replacing. It is the slides that contain the pH and ammonia tests. From what I can see (without destructive investigation!) the ammonia and pH are like test strips with an optical reader.

Offline Helen

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #41 on: November 23, 2017, 09:28:45 AM »
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I'm going to copy the above comment in my post about my Seneye. Then that post can be a comprehensive review of using a Seneye.

Online Sue

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #42 on: November 23, 2017, 10:03:03 AM »
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I know that electric pH probes do need calibrating, but I didn't know if Seneyes did. I've just looked on tier website and they say
Quote
With a seneye device you should not need to use calibration as the replacement seneye+ slide does this.

Offline Matt

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #43 on: November 23, 2017, 09:17:56 PM »
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Hmmm, whilst this does count technically as a 'single point calibration'...

The slide may be manufactured to a high degree of precision so that it displays accurately the right colour for the right pH which the probe in the Seneye is looking for. But the probe itself may drift with time. Like our eyes get worse with age, the probe will start to read differently over time.

That said this will normally only happen over a very long period of time (not a week!).

The proper way to calibrate a probe is to use solutions of a known e.g. pH and see what the probe reads and adjust it at two points so take a reading with a solution at pH4 and at pH9 for example and ensure the probe reads 4 exactly and 9 exactly so all values inbetween should also read accurately.

Anyway... for the level of accuracy were after in the hobby Seneyes approach is fine... So you can ignore my rant!!

But I'll carry on anyway...  :isay:

We are interested in changes in pH more than the exact pH value.  For example  Seneye will tell you that your pH is changing rapidly as an indicator of something going wrong in the tank. It will also tell you if your fish are compatible by telling you the "reasonably precise" pH level.  If a fish is compatible with a pH range from 6.5 to 8.  And the Seneye says it's 7.3 you know you are good to go. If it says 7.9 you are a risk.  The fish will not suddenly die at 8.1 but it's life may be shortened, however this will aslo be the case at 7.9 just not by as much. As an opposing example, water companies test pH with dual calibrated instruments because they have to deliver water between two defined values. So in the above example if the pH was recorded at 8.1 they could be fined by their regulators... as such they want to be sure it's 8.1 exactly and not 7.99999 meaning they are within their limits.

I feel like I've got my rant out now  :isay:

Offline Helen

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #44 on: November 23, 2017, 10:08:00 PM »
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 :rotfl:

Offline Helen

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #45 on: November 23, 2017, 10:36:30 PM »
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Sorry @Matt for laughing at your rant.  :-[

So my last water change was on the 5th November. The peak pH seems to be between 7pm and 10pm and on the 6th was 7.56. This evening the pH was 7.80. So an increase in 0.24 over 17 days. (I'm not entirely sure if I would have picked this up with a liquid test)

I know that I am still "deep cleaning" my tank, so could it be a hangover of neglect?

The other thing that changed at last water change was the addition of more plants. And some algae growth.

Just thinking about it, I think the Seneye does have the ability for multi point calibration. On the page where I can 'trim' the values, it appears to have a sliding scale. Actually, looking at it again, it isn't multi point. The sliding scale is just the GUIs way of displaying the 'trim'.

Out of interest, the 3 things that can be trimmed are temp, pH and NH3.

Could it be the balance of CO2? In that the plants and fish don't produce as much CO2 as the plants use up in the light? Therefore the plants gradually use up the CO2 that was in the tap water. Because I have so many plants, I do have the filter outlet set for minimum surface agitation. Or would all the CO2 off gas in a 24hr period?

I feel some tap water tests coming on...

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #46 on: November 24, 2017, 07:04:24 AM »
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@Helen just to let you know that I have previously tested my tap water over a period of days and there was a difference.
When performing my water tests with the API test kit I would run a tap water "control" to help with colour comparisons. I was concerned with the pH results as the tap water was showing a result of around 7.0, whilst my tanks were showing a pH of 8.0 - 8.4. Without fully understanding the situation I thought it was something that I was doing with the tanks, started to panic, and followed that with multiple water changes on all tanks.
After taking a glass of tap water and testing it over a 3 day period, and discussing results on this forum, I think we came to the conclusion that, as I'm in a hard water area (17GH) the water company probably added CO2 to bring the pH to neutral at the tap. Bearing in mind that a glass doesn't have a large surface area, or water movement, it is likely that water in the tank would lose CO2 at a faster rate.
I think it's useful to be aware of what happens with your own tap water, but I hope that my experiences with mine helps a little.

Offline Helen

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #47 on: November 24, 2017, 07:29:10 AM »
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Thanks @Littlefish . Could you link that conversation for me, please?

My tank pH isn't changing much. 0.24 is one colour band on most liquid test kits.

Online Sue

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #48 on: November 24, 2017, 09:22:39 AM »
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What happens to the pH reading when you start a new slide? Comparing readings from the same time of day, do the new slide readings continue on from the old one, or do they start from a different value?

I'm wondering if the readings 'drift' upwards during the lifetime of a slide.

Offline Matt

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Re: Restocking a slightly acidic, softer water planted tank
« Reply #49 on: November 24, 2017, 09:20:35 PM »
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