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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
It all started with a small tank, giving me the chance of making mistakes, learning and finding out I really like it:
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Very soon I started dreaming of something bigger giving me space to more sorts of fish species and experimenting with emerse plants. So then I got my (about) 30 gallon tank, 50cm x 80cm x 30cm so wide and shallow. I wanted something wide because I really liked the idea of having some sort of island in the middle where the fish could swim around, create room for different territory's for the fish and different perspectives for me. This was how I started:

Egg crates to protect the glass from the heavy load of the rocks
Rectangle Wood Floor Flooring Grille


The two elevated areas. I filled the bottom with expanded clay pebbles and put fine gravel on top.
Wood Staple food Gas Cuisine Soil


First plants. As you can see the wood is all dry,in the heat of the moment (it was quite hard to get a stable pile of rocks) I forgot that it would float, oops 馃檭. Luckily most pieces are stuck between the rocks...
I reused the substrate of my old tank which became a mixture of sand and dirt which I augmented with some mixture of sand and soil I bought in a LFS. I topped it of with a thin layer of sand. Not sure it this is enough to call it a dirted tank, but after my anaerobic fish killing substrate adventure I was a bit scared of using too much dirt.
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The result on day two, this was about five weeks ago


All the inhabitants moved to the new tank, including my blackworms
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After three days it was looking a lot better already
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
The beginning it all went quite well. Fish were happy, shrimp where happy and it was looking nice. I bought some more plants, found out that the palmlike plant was probably not going to like having it's feet wet and changed around the plants a little.

This was day 9
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In the following weeks I added more livestock so now I have:
  • 7 Whitecloud mountain minnows
  • 5 Danio margaritatus
  • 2 Apistogramma Borelli
  • 3 Otocinclus (were 5 but 2 just disappeared unfortunately)
  • 2 Dario Dario
  • 5 Amano shrimp
  • 3 Cherry shrimp
  • 3 species of snails (MTS, ramshorn and pondsnails)
  • blackworms

I bought the Amano shrimp cause I thought maybe the cherries would not go well with the apisto's. So I tried to move them all to a shrimp only tank, but I didn't manage to catch them all. Of the three left one was pregnant and the other one is pregnant now, so I'm curious to find out how there population will develop over time 馃槃

Not really visible on the photo but this was a couple of days ago, I'm having a bit of different species of algae
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It all wen't pretty well until a a couple of days ago. I did a water change, kind of just for sure because the tank is still quite new. I did reuse everything of my old tank, but I think it will take some time to find a new balance in this one. All of a sudden my amano and part of the fish became really unhappy. The amano all grouped together and stopped moving around and several fish were against the glass as if they wanted to get out. I had poured some of the water on the elevated area in the back corner, I noticed that the roots of the peace lily had started to rot and thought that it might be the culprit. So I removed the peace lily and as much of the roots as I could (I hope all) and have done daily water changes since. The fish recovered almost immediately and after a few days the amano forgave me as well. So I was very relieved. However since a few days I notice that my whiteclouds are becoming less active and eat less. First I thought it was because of all the live foods I fed, but since yesterday they are gasping a lot and today my galaxy rasbora's are gasping as well. I have restarted daily water changes but it doesn't seem to help a lot. I also have the idea the the gills of the other fish are a bit reddish (or is that normal?). Not really sure what to do.
I had a really low flow emerging from underneath the piece of wood in the rear angle, but I have moved my powerhead a bit to create more flow hoping it will help. I poked around and hardly no bubbles at all (one tiny bubble). I poked with a cotton in the substrate and smelled but hardly any rotten smell, just really faint in some areas. But it does look like a light version of my fish dying when the first substrate in my old tank went anaerobic.
Got the water tested at my LFS and no nitrites.

Is there anything wrong with my set up? Anaerobic conditions in the elevated part maybe? Is it the two missing oto's that are lying dead spoiling the water (I really looked for them but couldn't find a dead fish).

This is how it looks now
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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
By the way, I like to read the adventures of others and thought about sharing mine for a while. It's really fun to exchange ideas, adventures and knowledge. And great to have a place where people help each other out. No one I know has a NPT and the LFS's here have no experience with it as well. So now that I'm running into a new challenge and wanted to ask advice, I thought why not combining both 馃槑.
 

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Fish gasping at the surface is usually an indication of low oxygen in the water. I experienced this recently when my tank suffered an almost complete extinction event. Lots of ammonia and little oxygen. I did water changes, added an aerator to increase oxygen, and dosed with Seachem Prime to treat the ammonia. It took a few days to get everything back to normal but I was able to prevent the deaths of the remaining survivors.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for your reply's! No filter indeed, just a powerhead. I have no ammonia test, so not sure about that. Would the ammonia come from the assumed dead oto's? I did think about it, but I have loads of plants, emerse ones and floaters as well and they are doing fine so I thought they would consume it all. I have very little melting. And wouldn't the shrimp be even more sensitive to ammonia? Because when the fish started gasping they seemed to be doing fine. Yesterday evening some became a little inactive again but not all of them.

However the symptoms of the fish sure do look like what they describe for ammonia so I will keep doing water changes.
After the water changes the water becomes cloudy again, does that mean I disturbe the balance to much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yes it appears to me as well that the water change was the starting point. However, no chloramine in the tap water here and I've done multiple water changes before without any trouble. The tap water parameters are okay for the fish and shrimp.

Around the same time it all started I had added the apisto's. Could it be that an ilness got introduced with them and the water changes distupted the balance weekening the fish? Although that doesn't explain the unhappy amano's. It's a bit of a puzzle.

I changed 50% yesterday evening and did another small change this morning. I added frogbit yesterday evening and this morning I added a val runner from my shrimptank.
If it's ammonia hopefully that will help.

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I increased the water surface agitation and hope for the best now. Not so sure what else I can do because I don't know what's going on.

Oh and yesterday I added some blanched garlic since some people recommend it for resistance and appetite. It's quite disputed and it stinks but I did found out that shrimps are totaly crazy about garlic 馃槃
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I was away for one night and came back finding this:
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That is not good at all, and one of my apisto's was dead as well 馃槩. Kind of a sad start of my diary 馃槙

Look at the foam on the water. I think the two dead fish caused a fast deterioration of the water so I immediatly changed about 75%.

The other whiteclouds are still sort of gasping, but rarely on the water surface and active (some more than others). Galaxy rasbora's same story. What makes me doubt that this a water quality issue is that the shrimp are calmly walking around doing their thing. Wouldn't they be the first to go if it had to do with ammonia or something like that?
It could be that the shrimp were unhappy at first because of the water change with the rotting peace lily roots and that about the same time an ilness started off among the fish? 馃

When I bought the apisto's one was dead at the LFS. They just arrived the other day so I thought perhaps it's just the transport which caused it. But I think I got caught in wishful thinking wanting them so badly and I shouldn't have bought them.

But the problem is that reasoning it could be an ilness is not enough. If I don't know which one I still can do nothing about it
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thank you! Yes we can't fix everything unfortunately. In a last attempt I've decided to treat with esha2000 since I noticed that both my dario dario have a white dot. Now just wait and see again...
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Probably for the first time in this tank I see the whiteclouds hanging all together in the (weak) current. They loved to do this in my old tank were I had way more current. I hope this means they are doing better. I still see them gasping but never on the watersurface and this morning one of them was there frequently
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I'm a bit worried about the shrimp, esha 2000 is supposed to be safe for them but not everyone agrees to that. 3 Amano's are sitting in their not-happy-spot, one is walking around and I saw two cherries walking around to. Two more treatments days left and I will probably do a waterchange on day 4.

I love my Nymphoides sp. 'Taiwan', it is really taking of again
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In your first photo (2/16/23), I see lots of 'furniture' (rocks, wood, whatever) and relatively few plants. Light source just in middle of tank. I think the substrate producing excessive CO2 and consuming oxygen is probably killing the fish.
Attached is photo of my shrimp bowls. I recommend them as a starting place for beginners. Notice the large amount of substrate space devoted to plants. Two weeks into setup, I had to add aeration to keep the shrimp from dying. Decomposition of organic matter produces high levels of CO2 that can kill fish and shrimp. Once bowls are established and soil decomposition slows, I predict that there will be less problems.
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
If you haven't seen them in three days, you should probably conduct a search and recovery effort. Otherwise, you'll be doing water changes ad infinitum.
I have done that already because I haven't seen them since a couple of days after I bought them. When I had to catch some fast fish I even took out the big pieces of wood and my lavarock with anubia. But nothing... 馃し鈥嶁檧锔

I can't take out all the rocks without having to start over completely. That's quite a downside of this setup....

So yes I will have to do more waterchanges, but eventually they will be gone, I just don"t know when 馃檮. On the other side, snails eat dead fish, so I wouldn't be surprised if there is not much left by now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
In your first photo (2/16/23), I see lots of 'furniture' (rocks, wood, whatever) and relatively few plants. Light source just in middle of tank. I think the substrate producing excessive CO2 and consuming oxygen is probably killing the fish.
Attached is photo of my shrimp bowls. I recommend them as a starting place for beginners. Notice the large amount of substrate space devoted to plants. Two weeks into setup, I had to add aeration to keep the shrimp from dying. Decomposition of organic matter produces high levels of CO2 that can kill fish and shrimp. Once bowls are established and soil decomposition slows, I predict that there will be less problems.
Oh really! That is quite a new insight, I thought I could get away with the hardscape by adding plants like bucephalandra, java ferns and moss on it and some more in the middle of the hardscape (it's mainly a sort of walls). Also there is very little organic matter in my substrate.
But if this is the case I will buy some extra plants tomorrow. The lava rock with anubias can probably leave and I can put the anubias on the rocks. That will free some extra space to plant in the substrate. I wanted the lava rock in at first because it was in the old tank and had probably loads of bacteria on the surface but after weeks that'snot necessairy anymore.

I must say that the gasping seems to become less after the medication I added but it is not completely gone yet and on top of that it can never harm to add more plants. So definitely will do that

Do shrimp support low oxygen better than fish? Because they were fine when the fish were gasping.

By the way, the photo you mention only shows a small part of the tank. In one of the first posts there is an overview from the top. On that one it shows too little plants on the substrate but that is already more by now. But anyway, I will try to augment the planting surface, I think it's a good point :)
 

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I think part of your problem may be plant choice I see you mentioned Peace Lily which is considered a houseplant and a very poisonous one at that, it may have released toxins into the water, I would try and stick with aquatic plants if they are going to be emersed in water.

Jeanne
 
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