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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

I joined this forum because I am on a mission to make a nice display tank for my favorite fish on earth, the Congo puffer. I don't have it yet...that will be a challenge all it's own.

I am an avid plant guy, keeping Polyscia, Pachira, Hoyas, and Ficus in the house, and a multitude of tropicals in my vivariums...below is my Phyllobates terribilus viv.



No problems here...I be lovin me some plants. BUT...I have yet to have luck in an aquarium, and I guess it is no surprise to you folks that no added CO2 has probably been the issue. I have tried a couple times, with little luck, except for one flowering A. nana a few years ago...big whoop. I have a 38 gallon tank that just cycled, and yes...I am using PLASTIC. I hate it...and it has to stop. I hope (I know) you guys/girls can help me. It is the only aquarium I have going. I am more of an amphibian guy...but I want to do this fish justice.

Because the Congo puffer (Tetraodon miurus) is a burrower that explodes out of the gravel to inhale the hapless passer by, I plan to put no plants in the substrate. I just bought an amazing large piece of african driftwood that will make a great centerpiece, and I just want to plant it up...a sort of aquatic Pride Rock, if you will. The plants don't even have to be special...Anubias, Java fern and Riccia would make me happy, for Pete's sake. I have Riccia on the flow log of my waterfall in the above viv and a smaller one.

There is a double strip light on the tank, and I am filtering it with an Aquaclear 70. I am guessing, using T8 bulbs, that I'll have the equivalent of about 2 watts per gallon.

I just read the article by Ben Belton, and it was sweet, but I have to be honest...it got somewhat technical when it came to CO2, and I glassed over a little. In the article he mentioned Flourish by Seachem being used in small to medium tanks to add CO2. Would my tank qualify for this, if I stuck to hardy plants? I really hope to keep my CO2 addition method as simple as possible.

The puffer will be the only fish in the tank, and will grow to about six inches. His eating habits will not be orderly, and I do not know if the "fallout" from his carnage will help or hurt the plants.

Any thoughts or plant suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much.
 

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Welcome Smashtoad! Your vivarium is gorgeous. It sounds like all you're looking to have is Anubias, Java Ferm, mosses....epiphytes. You won't need alot of light for those, and your CO2 and fert needs will be based on your lighting. More light leads to more needed nutrition.

Flourish is a micro-nutrient mix. Flourish Excel is the "carbon supplement". For the epiphytic plants, Excel might be just fine with a very light dosing of ferts (Marcos as well as micros) now and then. You might also look into DIY CO2 (sugar+yeast method) . While that can be messy and high-maintenance, it's cheap in the short-run. Pressurized costs ALOT to set-up, but once it's there, you'll only spend money once a year or so for re-fills and almost no maint.

Hope that helps.

-Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Davemonkey,

Thank you very much for the kind words and info. I may try Excel and see how it goes. I mentioned Java fern and Anubias because I know what they are. If I find other plants that are as hardy as they are, my lineup may change somewhat. Anubias gracilis is very attractive, as it the Phillipene variant of Java fern...I wonder how hard these are to find?

Anyway, I really don't see me going the DIY route. If you could recommend a decent CO2 unit in the comparison of quality vs complexity vs price...I would definately check it out.

Thanks again.

Also...I have decided to pull the gravel and use pool filter sand for the puffer.
 

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Your vivarium is gorgeous!

There are many Java fern (microsorium) types and anubias types, as well as mosses that will work fine in a set-up like you describe. I've seem many gorgeous tanks with these alone. Like Dave said, if you can keep your light lower, your CO2 & fert needs will also not be as great. If you search microsorium and anubias in the plant finder you will find many choices and see what their growing needs are. You can even broaden that search with google. You could also use bladderwarts and pellias.

For mosses here is a great website:
http://www.aquarminy.yoyo.pl/ang/flora.html
 

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Discussion Starter #5
So would you consider 2 watts per gallon already low enough? It will be roughly 16 inches from light to substrate...tank width/depth is a standard 13 inches. This piece of Mopani wood is big, about 20 inches long, and will jut out over the tank at about a 30 degree angle, so plants growing towards the top of the wood will get within four or five inches of the light.

Do you guys have a tying medium you prefer, and what is the best way to fashion a net to attach Riccia with?

Thanks again for the kind words...that terribilis tank is the one I used to convince my wife that herps and fish could be used to beautify the home. So now that I have sold her...I gotta stock up!
 

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You can super glue the plants to whatever you want them to stick to. Use the gel kind. If you look at my 10g shrimp tank with rocks you'll see that all the mosses etc. in there are super glued.

For the riccia you can use that wedding netting, comes in all colors. Or you can get a bath scrubby type netting - all colors. Wrap around the riccia and under rock and you're done.

2 watts per g. is medium light and might be fine. (since it's hanging that will help.) You'll have to watch the plants to see. The plant tabs work for substrate feeders. They are very slow to release into the water column. Since all your plants are water column feeders they might not be your best choice.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
You can super glue the plants to whatever you want them to stick to. Use the gel kind. If you look at my 10g shrimp tank with rocks you'll see that all the mosses etc. in there are super glued.

For the riccia you can use that wedding netting, comes in all colors. Or you can get a bath scrubby type netting - all colors. Wrap around the riccia and under rock and you're done.

2 watts per g. is medium light and might be fine. (since it's hanging that will help.) You'll have to watch the plants to see. The plant tabs work for substrate feeders. They are very slow to release into the water column. Since all your plants are water column feeders they might not be your best choice.
So...a lufa? Wrap it over the Riccia, against the rock, and then under the rock or wood to hold it down, right? Then the Riccia will grow through it? Sweet. I am not familiar with the wedding netting, but suppose my wife might know. Super glue? It cures underwater, I take it? And should I soak this driftwood for a while before attaching plants to it?

I may attempt to carpet the wood and a few larger stones with Riccia, and then have one other plant species for accent. That would be simple and elegant. But what is that species...it needs to be big and showy, and very hardy. I love the "Philipene" java fern, but like cryps too. Some of the Anubias are nice as well...decisions, decisions...

Anyway, thanks so much for your help. I will try to use Excel, some ferts, and the double strip.
 

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I would soak my wood until it sinks. It does 2 things. 1st - gets waterlogged and sinks (da!) & 2nd any fungus or anything that may grow will get out of it's system and not in you tank.

Good luck. I'll stay tuned! :D
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Well,
Objective 1 accomplished, although this was supposed to be objective 2. I stumbled onto this guy in a LFS today, and couldn't believe it. Its only the third one I've seen alive in my life, and I'm 42.

I went ahead and got him because he's young, and appeared to be in good shape. However, the 9 juvie Julidochromis marlieri that are in the tank now better make a statement about cichlid intelligence and watch their backs until Saturday when I can pull them!

 

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Discussion Starter #11
here is a link with a guild to attach riccia using a bath sponge
http://www.projectaquarium.com/plantedAquariumArticles_SecureDwarfRiccia.aspx
Nice...thank you very much. Could not have been simpler. These forums are a freakin gold mine.

I switched the tank over to sand today...temporarily placed the driftwood, and threw a nana in for fun, as I don't have my Java fern or Anubias yet. I made three Riccia rocks, just to see how they would do before I make more...and it raised a question:

Considering I have around 2wpg (maybe a little less)...can I get some opinions on whether or not the Riccia will thrive 14" below the lights? It isn't exactly a low light plant, is it? I'd love to buy a T5 or CF fixture, but this double strip wasn't cheap, and this is the only 36" tank I have.

Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Well...the puffer should have been left at objective #2...he died. Mini cycle or something killed him...but the bottom line is the tank was just too new for him. It was cycled in my mind, but after talking ad nauseum with a friend about it...we have come to the conclusion that the tank needs to be well established (maybe 3mos) before trying another puffer. So...

My new piece of mopani is great, but tannin rich. I wrapped some rocks with Riccia under a lufa (which worked great), but I just don't know yet if I have the light to support it. Would Taiwan moss maybe be a better choice, and where in the heck am I gonna be able to find Java fern "Phillipene"?

Anyone had luck with "Aquatic Magic"??? The Malaysia thing spooks me somewhat, but I would REALLY like to get all my plants in one shot from the same source, and they seem to have more of what I'm looking for that anyone else.

Sorry for the book...just thinkin out loud.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Well...I'm back. The tank is maturely cycled, and there are a dozen zebra danios that just can't wait to meet the new puffer! Anyway...wpg is about 1.5. I have added some Tetra flora pride, and the gel super glue trick suggested by Tex Gal worked like a charm.

Here is the tank...still somewhat cloudy from a recent water change and the planting (A. barteri, A. Afzelli (in the back), and Microsorum).



It doesn't look like much (I HATE that intake tube...does anyone make them in black???) compared to some of the masterpieces displayed on this site, but hopefully in a few months things will fill in on the right, and the left was left open for the puffer to bury himself, using the rocks as cover (he should be about their color)...and that brings me to my question:

At this wpg...what would you guys suggest for a fert routine to maximize growth? With the wattage this low, I am assuming I need to be careful not to over-fertilize? And the java fern looks ratty to me...lots of browning leaves. I am hoping that after acclimation it will sprout new growth and look better...but I have to admit...the jury is still out on how much I like java fern. In some pictures I've seen it looks beautiful, and if I can't attain fairly similar results...I'm pullin it. I seem to have good luck with Anubias, and find them very attractive. A heavy grove of two or three Anubias species would suit me fine.

Any opinions are appreciated.
 
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