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Discussion Starter #1
So..... here's what I have going so far.
10 g red cherry shrimp tank
75 g community tank

and last but not least, a 10 g fry tank with about 25 jack dempseys, of which I'd like to keep about 10-12. I know from experience that as these guys get older they enjoy digging like crazy, which is okay with me, not so okay for the plants. My first aquatic love was the jack dempseys -- crazy colors and awesome personality, and planted tanks are definetely my choice now, so I want to combine the two. I was planning on having a lot of floating plants and ferns in a rockscape with plenty of large rocks and large hiding placing, but I'd also like to have a few stems. Any suggestions on tank size, plants, rocks to use, etc.? Any known ways to protect plants from fish that like to dig?? I was thinking of using a pot the roots can grow out of, planted in the substrate, then surrounding the base of the potted plant with a bunch of larger rocks the dempseys wouldn't try to move. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated and pictures will be forthcoming once I have the tank purchased and ready to go.

Thanks!!

Nate
 

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Couple of thoughts...

A dozen dempseys, yikes, heavy bioload. 180g, would it be sufficient? I'd probably go for 2' front to back, give them depth along with width...it'll look silly when they are tiny, but you know how they grow!

For plants, you could create a really nice scape using all plants that are able to be tied to rocks, and it'd keep the tank low tech, too. Various anubias, bolbitis, java ferns. I could at this point scape a tank with almost nothing but various anubias - petite, yellow heat, nana, barteri, lanceolata are in my collection. Add a couple others that are long and tall like the lanceolata, and it'd be a nice and totally moveable scape!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I was going to get a 180 gallon with two built in filters and then add a wet/dry sump I already have. Still 180g might be a little small.....

Definetly want mostly attachable plants to rocks, wood, etc. but like the idea of using a lot of plants that'll be movable.... still not ready to move the dempseys in, need to save up a bit more $ for the tank yet....
 

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In my opinion, 180gal would be plenty for a dozen Dempsey's as long as you have good filtration and biological filter. Potted swords or other potted plants would work the way you described protecting the bases with large rocks.

I can't wait to see this come together! I've always been a large cichlid fan. Oscars were my first love, but Jack Dempsey's are right up there!
 

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If you start them while the JDs are small, Amazon swords, good sized Crypts - any stem/rhizome that develops a robust root system under gravel will be OK, at least for quite a while.

Beyond that, floaters & ferns/mosses tied to stuff, as others have said...
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Unfortunately, I will not not be able to purchase the tank I need for this for awhile. I attend Drexel U. and they upped their tuition this year!!! Hooray!!! So basically, the extra couple thousand I had saved up for my half of my baby Jack Dempseys to move permanently into a nice big tank has been permanently put on hold (at least for the dempseys I had been raising) to pay tuitition. Responsible of me? Yes. Did I enjoy being responsible? For like two seconds. This past weekend I sadly took 24 3 inch long dempseys to be sold at my LFS. BUT THE DREAM LIVES ON.....
 
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