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FAQs on Freshwater Biotopes

Related Articles: Biotopes - Part 1 by Alesia Benedict, Biotopic Set-Ups, Aquascaping for Beginners; Twenty Tips for Realistic Aquaria by Neale Monks, Aquascaping Adventures in Aquascaping by Timothy S. Gross pH, alkalinity, acidityTreating Tap Water, Freshwater Aquarium Water Quality, Freshwater Maintenance

Related FAQs:  Freshwater Community, African Biotopes, N. American Natives, Amazon Biotopes, S.E. Asian Biotopes, Planted River Biotopes, Small System Biotopes & Treating Tap Water for Aquarium Use, pH, Alkalinity, Acidity, Freshwater Algae Control, Algae Control, Foods, Feeding, Aquatic Nutrition, Disease

How would this look in your living room or office? Fab in mine! At the 08 Interzoo show.

Brackish to Freshwater; lost Violet Goby; Fire Eel sys.       8/8/18
Hello Crew.
I lost my Violet Goby today. He was in the tank when I did his water change last night, but when I went to feed him this morning, I couldn't find him. When I did find him, he had gotten out of the tank and wiggled into my closet. He was very dried out, but I tried floating him in the tank in a net all day - but he was gone.
<How cow! That's bad news indeed. Sounded a great fish.>
I've decided I'm not going to get another one, at least for now, and to convert that tank back to freshwater. I sent you a post a few days ago about compatibility between my BGK and a Fire Eel I will be getting from my friend this Saturday, and instead of putting it in with the BGK, I'm going to put the Fire Eel in the goby's old tank. My question is, how sensitive are Fire Eels to salt?
<Not especially, but they don't want brackish. On the other hand, a trivial amount is actually quite therapeutic, and a safer treatment for Whitespot and Velvet than the alternatives. Certainly, the addition of 1-2 gram salt per litre of water has been standard operating practise in Europe when keeping Spiny Eels of all kinds, including these.>
This tank is low end brackish, SG 1.005. Do I have to completely rinse out the tank, sand, filters, everything and start over, or can I replace the water, or a portion of the water, to drop the salinity as low as it can go without destroying the biological filter that currently exists in the tank.
<A succession of water changes will be fine, which I'd do across a couple of days to allow the filter to adapt. Keep adding a little flake or something to keep the filter bacteria ticking over. Once the salinity is 1.001 or less, you can add a Spiny Eel without problems. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Brackish to Freshwater      8/8/18

Thank you!
<Most welcome! Neale.>
Re: Brackish to Freshwater      8/8/18

Thank you!
<PS. If a Violet Goby jumped out of your tank, a Spiny Eel will definitely do so. They are notorious escape artists. Double check every hole is sealed off with plastic mesh, filter wool, or something else that lets air through but nothing else! Cheers, Neale.>

tilted tank: fast flowing fresh water fishes idea      8/23/16
I recently saw South American bumblebee catfish at my LFS and started researching their needs. According to my research, they come from moderately quick flowing streams with bare stony bottoms (no aquatic plants) with overhanging vegetation on the banks. Also, it seems, they are difficult to breed in captivity.
<Hi Meghan. Bear in mind that closely emulating nature, while a laudable goal as a rule, is not necessarily desirable in every instance. This is a good reason amongst many others for a species tank. In other words, a setup designed around a specific animal catering to its needs, rather than the typical "one fits all" approach usually seen. A more standard planted
aquarium is suitable for several species but not necessarily ideally suited to one species. An extreme example would be some large, predatory fishes (or for the daring, big mantis shrimp and such). I am a huge fan of these, especially done the way you seem to be leaning towards: a biotype tank! An Amazon style tank with native animals and plants from a specific area is awesome. :) So, this seems to be what you are thinking of and should read about further. >
The recommended set up for them in a home aquarium seems to be vastly different from their conditions in nature. Lots of aquatic plants and a sand substrate.
This got me thinking - maybe they're hard to breed because of these differences, and maybe they (and other fish that come from similar natural settings) would do better in a specially built "stream" instead of a traditional glass aquarium.
My idea is to take a long, shallow plastic tub (the "stream"), elevate one end, and add drain holes at the opposite end. Then set it inside a larger plastic tub (the reservoir). Situate it so the water exiting the stream pours through a basket filled with a layer of filter floss over a layer of filter foam. The water then drips through the bottom of the basket and into
the reservoir where it is pumped back into the stream tub at the elevated end. Add a few shallow "pool" type areas to the tilted stream to keep water in the stream (and keep the resident fish alive) if the electricity fails and the pump turns off as a safety net. Add an aquarium heater (if needed for the chosen livestock) in the reservoir section. (I've attached a sketch
of my basic idea for clarity.)
<This sounds to me like a bit of a Rube Goldberg device; needlessly complex and too many things in motion, if you follow me. What you are basically thinking of here is a "raceway" setup, used often in marine tanks, such as for growing coral, or sometimes Tridacnid ("giant") clams. You can find a wealth of info on the subject and there is little reason the same principles cannot be repurposed. The long and the short of it (ha!) is that you have a long, usually shallow, tank, maybe 8' long, 4' wide, 1' or 2' deep (obviously you'd want this scaled down quite a lot!).
There is a walled-off chamber on each end. One end has drains (standpipes, usually) leading to a sump (which you reservoir in your design). All the heaters, pumps, filtration, and other unsightly gear is located there for accessibility and so on. Then your pump pushes water from the sump back into the other end of the tank into the chamber, which overflows into the main raceway/body of the tank. The limit to the flow rate is the speed of the overflow plus the power of the return pump, and this can also be increased simply by adding powerheads or similar. The ones I see are usually acrylic and purpose-built or even concrete (in commercial breeding operations) but there is no reason you can't DIY this with some ingenuity.>
Put about 2 inches of organic garden soil into the bottom of the reservoir tub so tall aquatic plants can grow up and overhang the edges of the stream. Also add tropical plants in pots (on top of "feet" to prop them up out of the water) along the sides of the stream for extra overhanging vegetation.
<There are many neat ways to set up plants like this, sky's the limit but consider the amount of light they receive and how you will provide this yet allow the "riverbank shade" you'll want.>
The overall goal is to create a stony stream with 4 - 6 inches of water depth with overhanging plants along the "banks."
I have a large, shallow tub that holds about 30 gallons (currently housing feeder guppies) that is perfect for the reservoir and a three foot long, narrow, shallow one (designed for holding gift wrap rolls) that holds about 12 gallons that could work for the stream. I also have a box of pond pumps, powerheads, tubing, pipe, etc to play with.
<I love pond pumps in aquaria but they can add a LOT of heat to a smallish system, unpredictably, so monitor that closely.>
Do you have any advice to help me with my build?
When it comes to livestock, my local water is very hard and the pH is around 7.5 - 8.2 depending on the time of year.
<This needs to be stable and consistent when it enters the system, please see WWM for info on pH.>
I was thinking of stocking dwarf Neocaridina shrimp in the reservoir and maybe bumble bee catfish in the stream.
Are there any other aquatic critters (or plants) you recommend?
<Part of the enjoyment of a dedicated setup like this is making a plan for stocking in advance, then slowly adding things as you go along. With a biotype like this, I cannot recommend strongly enough that you check out public aquariums for inspiration. They present natural biotype systems as a matter of course due to the educational (vs. strictly ornamental) purpose of public aquaria. Also look up paludariums, they embody a lot of the concept you are after here and would allow a nice mix of animals (I have a friend who raises Amazonian frogs in a setup like this). Hope this helps!>
Thank you for your time!
- Meghan Miller

River type setup (Crayfish with Hillstream fish, snails) 10/26/10
Hi crew! With the acquisition of a very large tank for my crayfish around the corner I am now able to look at the future of the 55g home they have been in up till now. I recently found a design I like for a 'river flow' bulkhead that got me wanting to tinker and experiment with it. I don't plan to go over the top with flow to the degree that Hillstream loaches prefer, however I aim to replicate a single direction in the water flow with a noticeably strong current to benefit some temperate species I previously acquired. I hope this will encourage fish to swim in the current, as oppose to aimlessly around the tank. I will be placing large rocks in the tank to provide 'low flow' areas for resting places when needed and for the shrimp to gather. Here I have a list of what I would like to put in there and already own, I ideally want temperate species so I can integrate my apple snails and WCMM into the setup. Please could you give me some input into the compatibility of the listed species with a flowing river setup, and/or advise me toward a more suitable species should I have made error in choice. I am quite prepared to keep the snails/shrimp in their current tank should they dislike current. Tank size; 55G 3 sponge filters on manifold to 2x500GPH (ish) powerheads to be rigged with DIY flow 'diffusers' WCMM (have available) Danios (have available) Kuhli Loaches / Cory Cat's Apple Snails (Pomacea bridgesii - have available) Vampire Shrimp Yellow cherry shrimp Red cherry shrimp Amano shrimp (have available) Thanks for reading! Stu
<Hello Stu. The short answer and the most reliable one is simply not to mix crayfish with snails or fish. Snails at least will be viewed as dinner, so they're a non starter. Shrimps will also be viewed as live food, even quite large shrimps, and especially so when they're moulting. Fish are a gamble, but bottom-dwellers like Kuhli Loaches (which actually need warmer, stiller water than subtropical conditions) will certainly be on the menu. Minnows and Danios might work, but there's a real risk if they get within pincer range, especially at night. So to summarise, this isn't a brilliant idea. As for a Hillstream type scenario without the crayfish, yes, Danios and shrimps should get along. Danios tend to bully White Cloud Mountain Minnows so they should not be kept together. Kuhli Loaches and Atys/Atyopsis fan shrimps need to be kept around 25 C, which is much warmer than Hillstream or subtropical conditions. Apple snails rarely do well in captivity for more than a year unless you tailor the tank to their needs and allow them to aestivate for a few months per year. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: River type setup 10/26/10

Hi, Thanks for the fast response!
<No problem.>
I should have been more clear, I am very bad at putting across things in text.
The Cray is only with minnows, Danios and shrimp atm, I am getting a new tank solely for the Crays and shrimp.
<Crayfish *will* eat the shrimp first chance it gets.>
I am purely looking at what to add to the 55 tank the Crays will be leaving if I make it into a high flow tank. I had previously moved the snails following an incident discussed on WWM.
<I see.>
So I will give Corys and Kuhlis a miss, I plan to have a FW DSB in this tank, at 22 C so the snails hopefully should be less inclined to need an aestivation period,
<Wouldn't bank on it. The simple fact is that apple snails rarely live more than 12-18 months in aquaria, and often less if nipped by crayfish and fish. Do see the excellent AppleSnail.net site. Better to keep the snails alone, or failing that, remove them each year for a few months and rest them in their own vivarium.>
however should they want to they can burrow or leave the water onto some floating wood, even lay eggs if they please. Is this understanding correct?
<More or less. But don't expect baby apple snails to thrive without some
degree of care. They're small and easy prey for crayfish. I've reared apple
snail babies, but always in their own tanks.>
Are you able to advise me to a sand sifting temperate (22C-ish) species that will aid with the DSB for me to consider?
<I shouldn't bother, though at 22 C you have a wide selection of Corydoras species to choose from, as well as some of the Whiptail cats and nemacheiline loaches.>
Is there such a thing as a cool water 'filter feeding' shrimp?
<No. Filter feeding anything tends to be on borrowed time in aquaria, whether fan shrimps or little clams. Some people keep fan shrimps alive by feeding them finely powdered flake food or liquid fry food, delivered via a pipette. But without that sort of feeding every couple of days they eventually starve to death. Few live more than a few months in captivity. Those that do thrive are usually in large, mature, well-planted tanks with at least some of the detritus and micro-organisms they like to eat.>
Or would I be better off going with Kuhlis, vampire shrimp and upping the
target temperature from 22C to 24C?
<Up to you. I wouldn't be keeping either of these species in a Hillstream aquarium.>
The aqadvisor app shows no conflicts at 24C, although my understanding was the minnows don't like 22+,
<White Cloud Mountain Minnows will be fine up to 24 C through summer, but yes, they're happiest cooled down a bit in winter.>
and the whole idea of this tank is to provide a better home for the minnows and snails which I now know where not ideal to tropical conditions, hence why I am looking at cooler water and flow (if the snails tolerate flow?) Link ro AQresults
<Nothing came through.>
With regards to the Danio / Minnow combo, I will just move the Danios with the Crays into the larger tank when it arrives and leave them out of this high flow build.
<Danios will likely end up crayfish food. Let's be crystal clear here, crayfish and fish do not mix. While crayfish are mostly herbivores in the wild, they are very able to catch small fish in aquaria, usually at night. Many have tried this combination, and very few have succeeded. Crayfish need their own quarters where you can provide them with the green foods they need.>
I should point out however that in my scenario it is the minnows picking on the Danios, although not enough to prevent them spawning, yet.
<I see. Well, the usual thing is for Danios to bully the Minnows, at least once the Danios are big enough. Bear in mind Zebra Danios are twice the size of White Cloud Mountain Minnows.>
Thanks for reading!
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: River type setup   10/26/10

Thanks again for the fast response.
<No problem.>
I do not intend to make a Hillstream aquarium at all, merely to borrow the high flow in one direction idea a Hillstream tank uses. Which from my understanding is the only type of tank a filter feeder should be kept in, and beneficial to WCMM, is this incorrect?
<Filter feeders don't really care about how strong the current is, provided there is at least some current. They'll often go and stand in front of the filter outlet. What they can't abide is still water conditions, e.g., a small air-powered sponge filter.>
Is it not correct the adding brine shrimp and daphnia on regular intervals with give filter feeders sufficient food? (my lfs has a good stock of live foods) If not I will give them a miss.
<Filter feeders really do need filter feeder food; a marine aquarium shop will have such products, though liquid baby fish food works well too.>
If the snails are not bothered by the fish I assume this removes the need to be removed for aestivation? If not I have several hospital tanks running for such occasions either way.
<Not so much another tank as a container with some peat or moss into which they can be placed.>
I do follow the applesnail.net site, however I found nothing regarding whether they are ok in a flowing setup, apart from that if the snail has a syphon it is typically from stagnant water. This leaves me in a pickle as the name of the snail is 'snail under the bridges' if I am not mistaken, which would indicate that they are found in inland rivers.
<Apple Snails are indifferent to water current, and will be fine in a tank with strong currents, provided it isn't so turbulent they can't move about easily. Turnover rates 6-8 times the volume of the tank will do no harm.>
Will they be ok in high flow, assuming they get the necessary yearly break you advise on? The minnows and snails are the species I want to tailor this display tank for, I don't mind removing the snails should they need it yearly and have the spare tanks ready for such occasions.
<Most welcome.>
Just to clear up, I know the risks with crayfish, they are nothing to do with this tank, other than they will have previously been in it. Please can we keep the crayfish warnings at a minimum :) I have maximum respect for what you and the crew do and what you know, however this topic is about what I can do to improve the quality of life for my minnows and snails in their own enclosure and it is becoming more about my crayfish, which where only mentioned as background information in the first place.
<Hmm'¦ in your last message you said you'd "just move the Danios with the Crays into the larger tank" and that would seem to suggest the Danios and the Crayfish would be cohabiting, which would be a very bad idea. I'm a simple man and can only react to whatever is written down in front of me. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Native (Austr.) fishkeeping; Ancistrus repro; the WWM BB? Hi Neale, <Silvia,> Just after we came back from our little fishing trip our daughter came down with a bad flu. Even a 16 year old loves to be spoiled sometimes. She is now recovering but still stays for another day or two at home, just to be on the safe side. It seems there is a bad bug going around. Well, it is winter after all. <Sounds as if you all had fun! Viruses notwithstanding.> I think I might join a forum at sometime. The idea with the Native/ Australian section sounds good but I am by far an expert in those things and I am not very reliable when it comes to time spending on the computer. In addition I wouldn't have a clue how such a section would work. <Please do get in touch with Lynn, and maybe asking her if you can help moderate such a section.> The Corys are doing well. The Bristlenose is sitting on eggs again since Sunday. He is so predictable and so reliable. I don't think I will take the fry out for space reasons. <It's often fun to let the fish "do their thing" even if you only end up with a handful of fry. After all, they breed so often, it's more fun just to see their biology and marvel at Nature's handiwork.> Cheers Silvia <Cheers, Neale>

Zaire River Biotope Tank 2/13/08 Hello WWM crew, A little over a year ago I asked a question about the feasibility of housing two Polypterus palmas together in a 75 gallon aquarium, and at the end of your response you asked to see a picture of the set-up when it was complete. Well, the set-up is complete now, so I am sending you this picture. As you can see, the aquarium changed a bit between planning and actual set-up. For instance, I was unable to find any Polypterus palmas. But, I did stick to the West African idea to the point of making this aquarium a Zaire River biotope tank. The tank now houses five different kinds of fishes: six Phenacogrammus interruptus, two Ctenopoma acutirostre, one Pantodon buchholzi, one Xenomystus nigri, and one Synodontis brichardi. The tank also houses three kinds of plants: Anubias barteri var. nana, Anubias barteri var. angustifolia, and Bolbitis heudelotii. Also, I used pure peat moss for substrate--an idea I got off your web site. I enjoy this aquarium a lot, and I thank you for helping to make it a success. Travis <Travis -- absolutely love it. Making me jealous already. Some lovely fish in there... a mix of pretty things and oddball things. I'd be interested to know how the tank matures re: social behaviour, algae, etc. Anyway, good luck with it! Neale.>

Re: Non Planted FW aquarium. 11/30/07 Hi Neale, <Bryan,> Well the tank is done, it turned out great (I'll send a picture as soon as the water is in it and the plants are planted) I picked up a lot of 20 Red Mangroves off of EBay, it only cost 15 bucks including shipping! <A sweet deal! Do read Anthony Calfo's great primer on mangrove husbandry in aquaria, here -- http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mangrovetrees.htm .> Anyway, it is time to add the water and get the tank cycling, the problem is I cant find any info on the Sg requirements of the fish I plan to keep: Dwarf Mudskippers, Endler's livebearers, and Fiddler Crabs. do you have a suggestion for a good happy medium of salinity for this group? <Anything from SG 1.005 upwards to SG 1.015 will be fine.> I am thinking of maybe adding some of the blue-legged hermit crabs that you said could tolerate 1.010 and up, would the mudskippers, fiddlers and Endler's do good in 1.012-1.015? <Yep, they'll be fine. HOWEVER, Guppies need to be acclimated very carefully, especially "fancy" varieties (there's a scientific paper about how fancy guppies are less able to thrive in seawater than wild/feeder/cross-breed guppies -- a clue to the fact selecting for colours and finnage doesn't always benefit livestock in terms of physiology). If you can, set the tank to SG 1.005 first, introduce the livestock, and let it run for a few weeks at that. After a couple months, gradually raise the SG a bit at a time until you get to SG 1.010 after, say, two to three months. This will bring along the filter bacteria and the fish perfectly well. Mudskippers and Fiddler crabs can tolerant virtually instant salinity changes, but Guppies not so much and filter bacteria not at all. There's also some reports than mangroves don't always like sudden salinity changes. Presumably this isn't the case in the wild, where mangroves surely experience salinity changes, but in captivity at least they don't like dramatic salinity changes.> also, are there any corals that I could keep in that range of brackish water? <Not really. If there are any corals that naturally inhabit mid salinity brackish water I'm not aware of them. The problem is that variable salinity environments tend to be silty, which is what corals don't like. Instead, brackish water habitats are the realm of scavengers able to process the vast amounts of organic detritus that wash out of rivers. So you have lots of bivalves, crabs, shrimps, polychaetes, etc. Lots of snails (Nerites, predominately) are in the trade if you can identify them properly. Someone wrote me recently that they obtained some brackish water ragworms, Namalycastis senegalensis, on eBay. Others have kept Actinia equina in high-end brackish systems but I suspect for long term care these need fairly high salinities. A store near my home has Asian mangrove horseshoe crabs, Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda, and these do very well in (large) mid-salinity systems provided they get enough to eat. So there is scope for adding inverts to brackish systems. Just not corals!> Thanks again! Bryan <Cheers, Neale>

Planted river tank  3/6/07 I'm looking to set up a planted river system, with a 55gal set up and a canister filter, a nice fluor plant light on top, and, if I can get the chemistry right, some little frogs or something, depending on how it all works out.  I am interested in seeing the water gently gurgle over some kind of "river bed" into a pool, but I'm a little concerned about the substrate washing away and the whole thing turning into a shallow pool.   Everything I have read about substrates suggests that I should forget about trying to slope it.  I don't want to use just gravel, it doesn't seem to be attractive enough.  My question is, what kind of substrates are suitable for a semi-aquatic tank, i.e. other than gravel. <Mmm, most everything that won't dissolve too much, and/or adversely affect water quality...> I know I could probably use some big flat rocks for the "river bed" but this leads to my second question, are any types of concrete/mortar suitable for aquatic environs? <Mmm, only if cured properly, adequately...> I've read that plain old Portland cement is ok if it's soaked for a certain time, and this would probably really help.  It seems that peat would wash away and float all over.  Any advice would be appreciated. Ramsey Hussain <I think that most faux rock looks... too faux. I encourage you to look at the works of Amano, Takashi... and the websites of Dennerle, Tropica... and to consider building (with glass panels, Silicone adhesive... supports for the rock you have in mind (to save space, cut down on maintenance worries, to support the "stream" portion here. Look to your LFS', sand and gravel businesses nearby... for rock. Bob Fenner>

Re: Setting Up A South American Tank Hi sorry about all the questions but I want to set this tank up right the first time. My question is about water parameters. I wanted to know what the ideal water parameters we're for a tank containing 2 freshwater angels, 2 blue rams and 9 Rummynose tetras. As far as ppm total hardness, ppm total alkalinity/buffering capacity, pH and anything else important. Thanks for answering all my questions, I hope I'm not a pest. --Sbatiste < In the wild these fish come from warm soft acidic water. The pH should be between 6 and 7 with the total hardness less than 100 ppm. Get these right and the others things will take care of themselves. All these fish are available in domestic form. These can take a much wider range of water parameters than their wild counter parts.-Chuck>

What to feed newly caught lake fishies? NANFA.org  - 4/24/2006 Hi there... I did an internet wide search and came up empty handed on what to feed the fish we caught out of our local lake. We'd love to be able to keep them in an indoor aquarium or our outdoor 90 gallon pond; but I have yet to find what to feed them... We caught 10 spot-tail minnows, and 1 brim. (bream?) <Can likely be easily trained onto pelleted "pond" or aquarium foods... do seek out high/er quality of these... as some do a good deal of polluting>   Also.. could you tell me possibly whether they would survive better indoors or out? <Mmmm> We live in Alabama.. and the pond is made of black plastic with very little shading right now (newly installed)... <Well, best to be where conditions are more like their natural habitat... but stability is very key. If your house isn't too warm... versus the pond being too small and/or shallow... I'd keep them indoors> Anything else you might be able to add (or point me in the right direction) as to water temp/food/plants... <Do look up the website NANFA (.org) A treasure of useful information on natives, their captive care> for our new fishies would be wonderful! Thanks so much for your time and attention regarding our newbies! ~Jennifer Darnell <Welcome to the wonderful world of aquatic life keeping. Bob Fenner> Cool water Companions - 04/04/2006 Hi, <Hey, Nate!> I am looking for some companions for some white cloud minnows.  My tank is currently about 68 degrees.  I have a heater, but I understand the white cloud minnows don't like anything above 72.   <Right, best to keep it cool.> Right now I have a 75 gallon with about a dozen minnows, so I have room for more fish.  I was thinking of maybe adding another dozen minnows.  For other cooler water companions.   <Indeed!> I understand I can add guppies, swordtails, platies and mollies (should I bump the temp up to 72 for these guys?)   <Actually, I'd skip on these and go for something a little "cooler" (pun heavily intended) like Goodeids or Skiffia.  Don't mix species from the same genus (for example, Ilyodon xantusi can mix with Ameca splendens, but not Ilyodon furcidens).  You can find a number of Goodeids available on http://www.aquabid.com now and often through local aquarium clubs.  In fact, if you're in the SF Bay Area, I know where you can get a few different species pretty easily.  Goodeids are big, beautiful livebearers that not only prefer but ultimately *need* the cooler temperatures that you're working with.  You could probably be okay with some of the less heavily inbred swordtails, maybe mollies as well, but the best bet for fun fish is the Goodeids.  You can also swing something like giant or zebra Danios, as these fare quite well in cooler water.> Are there other fish that like this temperature range (maybe a few bottom dwellers).   <Bottom dwellers - yeah - try to locate Etheostoma species, if you can; these are North American natives, kind of goby-like and very cute.  Some are *quite* colorful.  I believe there are a number of North American natives available at http://www.jonahsaquarium.com .  For something more "common", your basic weather/dojo loach will appreciate the cooler temps, as will some of the more delicate and bizarre "Hillstream loaches".  There are even a few Loricariids that can be found in cooler streams.> I am most interested in hardy, colorful fish.  Thanks. <Ilyodon xantusi, Ameca splendens, zebra Danios and weather loaches would make fine additions for active, colorful, fun critters.> Nate Terry <All the best to you,  -Sabrina>

Freshwater: Bio-topes and Water Color 10/28/05....  AKA Landfill Theme from Steve the Joker Hi, <Hello Steve.> I am making every effort to make my take as natural as possible. I am having trouble achieving the murky brown of the local river. (It is right by a dump, so I think the leakage may be a factor.)  <Well if that's the case I wouldn't try to emulate polluted bio-topes. Thought the brown color could be caused by other factors such as sediment and weathering caused by the river bed or even plant/algae growth.>  Instead, I seem stuck at a greenish yellow. I think it is because of the frequent water changes. <Water changes are important your green water is caused likely by an algae bloom or nutrient accumulation, continue with the water changes..> Can I use river water for the water changes? It does not get more natural than that.  <I would not use river water, even tap water is more reliable.> As an alternative, I get some of the river bottom mud and a wand mixer (I have a Costco coupon this month). <<Ooooh!!  Costco, my favorite!  MH>> <No I wouldn't recommend that, without knowing what's in it, it is far to large a risk.> I think the mud will interfere with the filter though. But if the fish are happier I will do it. <No, try some peat moss, it will stain the water, is safe, and will possibly give you the look you want. Are the fish in your system from this local river, if not you may not want to copy this eco-system, as natural as it might be, it may not be natural for your specimens.> Let me know, <See above.> Steve <Adam J.> 

New theme for my tank 8/7/05 Hey guys, you rule! <Thanks> I just need some advice about my 30g tank. in it I've got... 2 platies 2 zebra Danios 2 white cloud minnows 4 neon tetras 3 Glowlight tetras 2 pearl gouramis 2 small clown loaches I know my tank is overstocked and I plan to offload the loaches to my LFS when they get too big. so no problems there. and I started off by wanting a central American theme, but now I find I have a lot more Asian fish. so I want to change to an Asian theme. only thing is, I cant find any information on what my tank should look like. I know I need floating plants but that's all I know. what gravel and decorations do I need??? also what lighting is required?? thank you james <James... please learn to/use your spellchecker... takes a bunch of time to fix folks mis-spellings, poor grammar... There is input for what you're looking for on the Net under some live plant companies sites... and books... Do look for both on the Net and Takashi Amano's works in print. Bob Fenner>

South East Asian Tank Hello people <HI Mike how are you today?> I'm currently in the process of planning a South East Asian themed aquarium. And since you seem like knowledgeable folks I'd be grateful if I could run the current set of ideas past you for your thoughts. <You are too kind> I've read general info on these topics across your site (and many others), but it is really useful to hear others opinions on specific setups. <I think so as well.> Nothing about this planned setup is set in stone yet -- it's literally at the drawing board stage, <Very smart to plan it out in advance.> but any advice you can give to help avoid problems in the future would be much appreciated. So here goes'¦Juwel Rio 400 system -- I've not read anything on your website about these (so far! Its rather large'¦)<Bigger is usually much easier to take care of then smaller> but it's a very basic aquarium 'package' that's very popular in the UK  (http://www.juwel-aquarium.de/uk/index.html). Size: approx. 151 x 62 x 51 cm Volume: approx. 400 litres filter / heater - fairly large (8 Litres) internal basket filled with poly pads, active carbon sponge and coarse / fine filter sponges - driven by a pump (1000 litres/hour). A 300W heater is also located in the filter basket. lighting - two 36 watt fluorescent tubes (fitted with reflectors). Internal layout - substrate of fine gravel or sand mixed with an additional "plant friendly" media such as peat or laterite, bogwood and a few pebbles. <There are some marvelous plant mediums out right now you are lucky to be doing this.> Plants being considered, Cryptocoryne affinis Cryptocoryne crispatula Cryptocoryne wendtii Cryptocoryne willisii Nymphaea lotus Eleocharis parvula Ceratopteris thalictroides Hygrophila polysperma Limnophila sessiliflora Vallisneria spiralis <Very nice selection and should give you many different textures and heights.> Fish, Dwarf Rasbora Rasbora heteromorpha Pearl Gourami Trichogaster leeri Clown Loach Botia macracanthus Glass catfish Kryptopterus bicirrhis Flying Fox Epalzeorhynchus kallopterus A few areas I'm already concerned about Pump power, too strong for this setup? <I don't think its too strong if you can disperse it into different areas, if its all coming out in one place could be a problem.> Could be downgraded to 600 litres/hour. <Might be necessary unless you find a way to send the current out from two places.> Lighting, sufficient? <I personally would prefer a bit more lighting.> The tank is upgradeable to carry another 2 tubes with reflectors bringing total to 4. <I think the more light the better.> Glass catfish, out competed for food? <I'd suggest you buy one of them that's a little big larger and I've had friends tell me they do better in pairs.> Overly boisterous clown loaches? <Start them out very small they will grow quickly.> Stocking levels, these have been hard to determine because of the potential size of the loaches and not knowing how long they will take to grow (assuming they achieve anywhere near full size) I've read eventual sizes anywhere from 10-50cm. Any suggestions for numbers & ratios of fish species? <My big concern with the clown loaches is that I've seen them pull plants up.> Clown loaches/plants, The plan is that hopefully the plants will establish when the loaches are small and being protected with a few (perhaps sizable) pebbles should manage to survive -- any loach that reaches anywhere near a foot is going in another tank. <Good way to address that.> I'm not planning to use any Carbon Dioxide injection apparatus, mainly because I can't afford the better equipment and cheaper models appear incredibly hit and miss to me - I'd rather not take the risk. The filter pump will be positioned to create little to no surface disturbance. <you have to have some surface movement or you won't provide enough oxygen for the fish at night.> Possibly running an air stone during the night to maintain oxygen levels -- if I need to'¦? <I don't think surface movement is going to be your problem so much as total current. I think if you use some kind of adaptor to split the current you'll be able to take care of this.> I actually have a smaller Juwel tank (54 litres/similar filter/heater on smaller scale) that I can use for quarantine. <Very smart, don't forget to quarantine your plants as well.> Sorry for such a long meandering set of questions, thanks very much for your time. <Great questions Mike, Let us know how it goes, MacL> Mike

A Sweet New Setup > Hi, <Hello! Ryan with you> > My name is Jeff. I am new to the hobby. <Welcome!> I am at work now but came across your website. <Shhhh....I'm at work too.>  I love your articles and reasons behind what you say.  I have visited lots of sites and forums and everyone has different answers.  I gravitate towards your knowledge and I hope you can pass some my way. > I have a 200-gallon tank. Can you help me in setting up the best filter setup? The dimensions are 60ins L x 24 ins W x 30 ins D. > > I was planning on using 2- Ac 500 and a filstar-XP3 .I saw that you said a wet dry or Fluidized sand filter would be better?  What size sump and pump would you recommend? For heating I was going to get either an EBO Jager or Visi-Therm > A rare earth magnet- hammer float for cleaning the glass. > I was looking to set up an under gravel jet system to prevent dead spots. > Two Maxi Jet 1200 for added circulation > I have 80 lbs. of crushed coral. > For decoration I was planning on buying   Lava rock > What would be the right mix of colourful cichlids that will get along in a tank my size; and how many can I put in. > Thanks > <Jeff- Great tank!  200 gallons is the perfect amount of space for cichlids.  It's great to see someone new jump on in, most simply get their feet wet.  Cichlids, while generally very hardy, thrive in good water quality.  I encourage you to select a good beginner's fish.  If you want a monster in your tank, try a Dovii.  As for color, African cichlids stand out.  You could easily house a community of cichlids from Lake Malawi, or go with a few larger fishes.  I am particular to Cyphotilapia frontosa, from the deep waters of Lake Tanganyika.  You could easily house 2-3 females and 1 male.  Recently. I have seen a few bred for even more dynamic colors.  I recommend checking out: http://www.aquatiqterrors.com, a great sounding board for cichlid info. > As for filtration, I've found that a nice size wet/dry in addition to a regular water change schedule is best.  Skip the undergravel filter.  Try a Wet/Dry rated for 250+ gallons, should be rated 750 gph or more.  Combine this with a 10% weekly water change, and you're golden.  Best of luck! Ryan> > Jeff

Sweet new setup pt. 2 Hi Ryan, I forgot to mention. I was offered the following for sale: Steven Taiwan colony (G1) Group of 7(4 inch) $175  <Beautiful!  A wonderful colony of Africans.  Not sure about the pricing in your area, but I would certainly check out internet sellers as well.> Tom Herman Fluidized Bed Fluidized bed, 40 gal sump, Grundfos pump, and all fittings.$550.00 excellent condition and working order. The pump supposedly outputs around 990GPH. I did some research and people were concerned with the sand .  What is your opinion?  <Wet/Dry is a much more simple and debatably effective way of filtration.  Keep it simple, and you'll enjoy it more.  Best of luck! Ryan> Thanks. Jeff

Asian River Biotope Hello WWM Crew, <Howdy> I'm planning an Asian River Biotope aquarium.  I'd like some help/advice from you. <Okay> This system will have 2-3 goldfish, several white clouds and zebra Danios.  For plants, I plan to use crinum, water sprite, crypts, Hygro and maybe one or two dwarf lilies. <I would skip the goldfish... not good choices for size (large), messiness> I plan to use a Rubbermaid 150 or 300 gal stock tank as the container.  I can get these cheaper than glass or acrylic.  I also like the view from above.  I'm not worried about this being an open top system.  Most of my systems are open and I provide caves and other hiding spots for those that need. <Yes> This is all easy enough to do, but I'd like to add a waterfall (something I was against in the past.)  I just want a soft steady flow of water, down some rocks (real or plastic.)  I'd like the water from the waterfall to join the rest of the water, with as little splash as possible. <Okay> I believe that I need to keep some distance between the lilies and the waterfall, so that the leaves aren't constantly splashed.  I'm unsure of how to do the waterfall itself. <Can build a "structural trough" much like outdoor falls (Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/h2ofallconstr.htm with a bit of pond liner, stacked rock, a powerhead (with intake screen) and length of flexible tubing> I know I could use a small water pump and some vinyl or pvc tubing.  If I went that route, how would I keep the pump clear and at full power? <With an intake screen... likely will come with the submersible pump or powerhead> I wouldn't want to have to constantly service this unit because it was always clogged. <Me neither> I'd be fine without a waterfall on this system, but this seems like a fun challenge. <I'd add it for sure. Do take a look at Tropica and Dennerle (.com)'s site re the possible other livestock (plants and fish) you might use here. Bob Fenner> Any help you can provide is appreciated. Thanks

Re: waterfall question Hello Mr. Fenner and the rest of the WWM Crew Thanks for your fast response to my message.  I suppose using some of the larger Dania's instead of goldfish would make this system easier to manage. <Yes, for you and the rest of your livestock> I'll definitely look at your waterfall faq section, and try to build one into this system. ------------- Maybe you can help me with one more thing.  I was at a Petco not too long ago and they had a plastic waterfall on top of a large aquarium.  It was on top of the back glass like a power filter.  A tube brought the water out of the tank, the water slid down a series of plastic trails and then went back into the tank.  I haven't been able to find anything like that online.  I plan to call the store today to see if they'll tell me what the name of it is. <Am sure they will if it's available.> If you've ever seen anything like this and could tell me what it's called, I'd appreciate it. <I have not seen this. But will post your query to the WWM daily FAQs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/daily_faqs.htm and someone may well chime in. Please look there the next few days> Thanks again for all of your help <Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>
Re: waterfall question
Hello Mr. Fenner, I called the Petco, and learned that the waterfall is part of a display system.  It's the MARs Cascade Display System by Marineland. http://www.marineland.com/products/commercial/retail/mars_cascade.asp   <Oh, yes. I wonder if they (Marineland) would sell you a copy?> I thought the molded plastic waterfall would look nice on a 55 gal tank I have. I'll think about how to make something similar after I finish the Asian biotope aquarium. Thanks again for all of your help

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