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My NPT Fishroom

6988 Views 21 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  NayR:D
At the request of another member and for fun, I thought I would post some pics of my fishroom. All the tanks are more or less natural planted tanks.

First my 150 gallon. This is a relatively low light setup (due to the height of the tank) with 2 48" T5HO bulbs and 2 T8 bulbs in a cheap shoplight. I'm growing crypts, anubias, java moss, java fern, hygro polysperma, hygro difformis, ozelot swords (from a mother sword plant in another tank) mainly.

There is a 38 gallon grow out tank underneath.

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I'd love to have my own fish room. I used to have apistogramma cacatuoides and even wound up raising a few from eggs. I even had one of three females morph so it could mate with the other 2 females. It was incredible to watch. I sure miss them.
Next my 80 gallon + 20 gallon x 3 setup.

These tanks are my "ugly" tanks. I try different plants out and house mostly dwarf cichlids. I don't worry much about algae or aquascaping.

First the 80 gallon is an acrylic former fish store tank that is divided into 4 20 gallon sections. It has an overflow box. Recently I bought some used drilled 20 gallon tanks from a fish club member. I built different height stands and plumbed them together so that water would flow passively from one to another. A pump is in the last 20 gallon that pumps water back upto the 80.

Up top I have a 24" 2 bulb T5HO and a 48" 2 bulb compact flourescent. The tanks are open top. Underneath I bought 3 clamp lights and put 100 watt compact flourescent bulbs in them. I thought I would try it as a low light setup. Each light and bulb combo was less than $10 so I thought it was worth a try.

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Finally, my rack of 30 gallons.

I have 4, and 3 of those are divided in half with home made dividers. The dividers and the 80 setup are all an attempt to maximize space for dwarf cichlids and minimize maintenance. These are also "ugly" tanks that are functional for trying to get dwarf cichlids to breed. When I set these up I bought a variety of plants and I've just kept what works. Not all plants will grow with the soft water in these tanks.

These are soft water tanks with TDS 80-150. The 80 gallon setup is getting soft as I'm using RO water for water changes now.

3 have 36" 2 bulb T5HO lights and one has a 24" 2 bulb T5NO light.

I'm happy to discuss more specifics if anyone is interested.

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You have some very nice tanks there. Where do you find the time to tend to all of them.

My wife thinks I spend too much time on my 75 and 10 and this is 2 to 3 hours once a week.
One big help is my pump attached to tubing from a python water change system. Drop the pump in a tank. Pump the water out to the utility sink in the next room for a water change. Take the pump to my garbage can reservoir and pump in the new RO water. I usually change water 2 tanks at a time and I can do 2 in about 15-20 minutes. Longer for the bigger tanks obviously. I'm hoping to spread my water changes out as the plants continue to grow, hence the NPT setups. I would love to get little critters to grow in my tanks to provide live food for the fish.

I use a dry erase board to keep track things.

Breeding fish keeps me excited and interested. I think I have reached the limit of what I'm willing to maintain though.
Wow, Jeremy! This is awesome! You have great set-ups! Do you find that the dwarfs breed easily in the 15 gallons (30 split) tanks? I see you have hornwort in them, any other plants you can list for me that you have found to be good with soft water?

I will consider you to be my advisor on my dwarf tanks!! If that's ok? Maybe I can run some ideas by you. I have a 15g set up already, waiting for them to arrive, here is a picture:

This is mostly a holding tank, as I am working on the specs for a 29 for a permanent home. It has black diamond blasting grit for the substrate. I've been told it's supposed to be completely inert - well, not for me. It raises the PH considerably. I ran a water softening pillow in it, and have it down to GH 0, KH ~20, and the PH is hard to read... looks like about 7.0.
Here's the idea I'm toying with - let me know what you think - instead of using just the black diamond sand on the 29, using a layer of peat, and maybe a layer of miracle grow organic, then cap with the black diamond sand. I have tons of the sand left, so I'd really like to use it. I have NO money for anything else right now. :) What do you think?
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Advisor? I'm pretty new at breeding fish though I have had some initial success. I have been keeping planted tanks for several years and I know what works for me. I have read a lot about keeping planted tanks and dwarf cichlids, but I'm just short on experience on the breeding side of things. That said I'm happy to try to help, and I know some good resources.

So I haven't had any cichlids breed in my 30's yet. They have been running since Oct/Nov. I have had harlequin rasboras and fundulopanchax gardneri N'sukka (killie) breed in them. I have one pair of a. cacatuoides and I've had 2 pairs of pelvicachromis taeniatus (Lobe (sold them) and nigerian red (my favorite west african cichlid)). When I took the Lobe out of their tank they had just laid eggs, but I didn't try to take care of them. I have about 50 or 60 p. taeniatus moliwe fry in the 80 and a grow out tank, so I want to find them new homes before I add more p. taeniatus fry. My p. taeniatus spawned in a 20 gallon section of my 80 gallon. My a. cacatuoides spawned in my 75 gallon display tank. My nannacara anomala have laid eggs in every tank they've been in, but I never see free swimmers. My pseudocrenilabrus female is holding eggs (they're mouthbrooders) in a 20 gallon section of the 80.

For all my NPT I use a base of plain topsoil covered with plain aquarium gravel. This has worked for me. I probably wouldn't use a peat base because I would worry that you would have difficulty controlling the pH and it could get too acidic. I haven't used miracle grow. I basically follow Diane Walsted's book's advice on substrate. Plain topsoil works for me and the pH stays around 7.0. I add driftwood and I'm just experimenting with adding peat to my RO reservoir to acidify the water. This way I can easily control the pH of the tanks without things getting out of control. Maybe you could try thoroughly rinsing the sand to try to limit its effect on the water hardness.

Your tank looks cool. It looks fine for breeding one pair of apistos. You might get a. cacatuoides to spawn with a KH of 20 but I have never been able to get apisto eggs to hatch in hard water like that.

OK plants that have worked for me in soft water (TDS 80 - 200):

egeria densa
crypt wendtii
hygrophila polysperma
java moss
moss balls (I tore one apart and made a mat that seems to be working fine)
sagittaria subulata
hemianthus micranthemum (spreading slowly across the bottom)
bolbitis heudelotii
hydrotriche Hottonii flora (doing very well)
various anubias

plants that are living but not thriving:

hygrophila difformis
hygrophila augustifolia
java fern
narrow leaf chain sword
dwarf hair grass
marsilea quadrifolia

Hope that helps.
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Hey Jeremy,
A fish room? Filled with NPTs? And you're breeding in soft water? Wow! I'm really impressed.

But I'm wondering what would happen if you cut back on the water changing? Have you tried it? I have Corys and Angels breeding regularly in a 55 NPT that hasn't seen a water change in more than eight months. The ph started around 7.3 with super-soft tap water. The ph eventually leveled off to around 6.5 with me artificially augmenting the hardness to keep the plants healthy.

Just trying to save you some time. Regardless, nicely done! :)

Wow even your "ugly" tanks look great. Nice job.
That is great, thanks! I just noticed that you and I are about the same...
I have a high tech 75 gallon display (there's a journal on here too) and I have almost 400 gallons total.
My other tanks are 1 29g high tech Angels, 4 29gs for other things, but none of them are completely set up, but some of them have fish in as holding right now. I just got most of them. I also have 1 55g African cichlid, 5 tens (3 are mounted on the wall) 3 20s and a 2.5.
AND, I'm in an apartment!
But I'm wondering what would happen if you cut back on the water changing? Have you tried it?
That is the plan. I'm gradually spreading out the water changes, but I want to make sure I have good robust plant growth before I neglect water changes too much. I'm also paranoid about lose my fish as many of them are hard to find, and I take it hard when a fish dies.

Wow even your "ugly" tanks look great. Nice job.
Thanks. I do trim them, mostly to spread plants to other tanks. They have more algae than the pics show, but the duckweed and the other plant growth keeps algae in check for the most part.
Everything looks really good. I'm still waiting for the weather to warm up a little so David can send me the Apistos. I have the 15g ready for them, but maybe by the time the weather warms up I will have the 29 which will be their permanent home ready. I'm thinking about top soil topped with sand. Is that in line with NPT? I had planned on doing Miracle grow organic, but I already have topsoil, and I was reading about what kind you're supposed to use. It's been sitting outside in the rain and snow for about a month now. I wonder if it's ok to use, or if I should get a new bag?? What do you think?
I like topsoil. It has worked for me. Topsoil getting wet shouldn't make a difference.

I've never used sand. I've heard apistos enjoy it, but it can be more difficult to work with.
Wow! Your tanks look wonderful. I especially like the breeding tanks.

Thanks for listing plant species that can grow in softwater. I'm sure others will find this information useful.
Thanks! The whole setup is still relatively new, but it is going well so far.

I'm so glad I heard about your book. I read it and it has enabled me to set up this whole fish room. Without the info in your book, I would never have set up so many tanks (too much maintenance) and I wouldn't be having all this fun. BTW, I recommend your book all the time.
That's true.. he recommended it to me! :)
Since you're here, maybe you can answer a question for me? For the layer on top of the topsoil, would it be detrimental in any way to use sand (Black Diamond blasting grit - made of coal) instead of gravel?
Jeromy - nice fish room! I have a fish area too that uses air-based filtration or air stones. I know that air is supposed to be a no-no, but it is working well for me. When you have several tanks, it is the best option even if it not "ideal" for plant growth.

I don't do any water changes on my planted tanks. They are all open top, so water does evaporate quickly - especially in the winter when the house air is much drier. I do the old fill the bucket routine. I have two buckets. I use a fountain water pump to pump the water from a bucket into the tanks. As the water in the bucket empties, I fill it up. That way the process keeps moving and I get some exercise!
Great tank! Ive looks at your pics a dozen times id really like to have something like this one day, theres so many fish id like to keep that cant be house together i could easily fill a room ahaha :) saving it for my move to the states in a few years time.

I like the jungle looking ugly tanks there great!

I see you have apistogramma cacatuoisdes! My favourite cichlid along with the electric blue jack... The jaguar oh and a tiger oscar or a aulonocara hybrid haha i could go on haha! Anyway whats your set up for the A.caca?? They like soft water right? So do you acheive this if you have extremly hard water?
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