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55 gal Native build

Discussion in 'General Cold & Temperate Water' started by Chalamot, Nov 30, 2011.

  1. Chalamot

    Chalamot Registered Member

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    So, I had been looking at converting my old 55gal reef into something a little easier to take care of while I'm in college, and I'd finally decided to turn it into a hillstream loach display. Except then I started to wonder why all of the fish we keep in our aquarium have to come from somewhere far away, and started to research native fishes, and thus, my idea for a 55gal native build was born. I already have an idea of what I want the basic tank design to look like, but as for plants, stocking list, filtration, etc, suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I'm really in love with the darters and pygmy sunfish, and also some of the minnow species, but I'm completely new to native fish, so I'm not really sure where to take it from there. I'm also unsure of stocking guidlines for a cold, freshwater tank, so I don't really know how many fish I can keep in there. Anyway, thanks in advance! :newbie:
     
  2. SubRosa

    SubRosa AC Members

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    Welcome to the world of NA fish! Your plan is pretty good, but Pygmy Sunfishes of the genus Elassoma are not suitable for a community tank. They do best in a small, heavily planted tank where they're the only fish. There are a couple of species of Enneacanthus Sunfish such as Blue Spots, Black Bands and Bandeds and two species of Lepomis Sunfish, Orangespots and Dollars that are better choices. The other Lepomis species are pretty aggressive and should be mixed with other fish with caution. Bandeds are considered endangered by several states so they may not be an option. Darters are great fish, but most species won't tolerate temps above the low 70s for any length of time. Swamp Darters and Orangethroats are two good choices if your tank will get that warm, but again Swamps are considered endangered here in PA so you should look into their status in your state. Other excellent fish are Shiners such as Rainbows, Yellowfins and Warpaints. A Rainbow Shiner is a very attractive little fish for most of the year and when they go into breeding colors you can play a joke on your SW friends and show them pics of the "newly discovered" marine fish! As far as stocking levels I maintained a 75 with 6 adult Orangespot Sunfish, a dozen Rainbow Shiners, a group Highland Swordtails and a Tadpole Madtom to clean up with no problems until the Sunfish spawned and got a bit aggressive. Even then the only casualty was the dominant male Swordtail and he pretty much got what he deserved! Anyway hope this helps!
     
  3. Chalamot

    Chalamot Registered Member

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    Alright, good to know. That's disappointing, about the sunfish. After a little more research today/browsing NANFA's archives, I'm not sure they'd do so well in my tank anyway. Yeah, I'm aiming for temps in the mid sixties, 70 at the highest, which might make a chiller necessary this summer. Oklahoma gets toasty about mid-August, lol.
    So here's the stocking list, tenatively:
    Fauna:
    3x Etheostoma caeruleum (Rainbow Darter)
    2x Etheostoma rufilineatum (Redline Darter)
    4x Etheostoma spectiabile (Orangethroat Darter)
    3x Etheostoma zonale
    6x Notropis chromosus (Rainbow Shiner)
    6x Chromosus Oreas
    and maybe Notropis zonatus or Tiaroga cobitis if I can find them/and legal status.

    As for plants:
    I still don't know. Probably Java moss and maybe Cabomba, or Anacharis, but I'm at a loss past that.

    The substrate's going to be mostly gravel and rocks, with some spots of fast flow. In the spots where the plants are going, I'll put down soil under some gravel or heavy sand, and I'll try to keep some open sandy spots as well, for the darters. Filtration will be mostly taken care of by the plants, hopefully, but if not I can hang my carbon filter on the back which should take care of any problem, lol.

    I'm also going to incorporate a small "bank" into the tank, too, in hopes of eventually adding a pair of Desmognathus monticola. But that wouldn't happen until at least June, maybe (probably) later. I'll just be laying the groundwork for that eventuality. I'm going to attempt to make it out of a shelf of plexiglass, so that it comes out just barely out of the water. I'll silicone some large river rocks that are cut so they have a flat side to the plexiglass, and then install it. I have some powerheads or a pump from my old reef that I'll use to make the flow, and I'll have my old 48 inch T5's lighting it up. And that's pretty much it. I'll post pics this weekend if I get to anything more exciting than clean-up of salt residue and resiliconing, lol.
     
  4. RisiganL.

    RisiganL. AC Members

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    Sounds pretty good so far! Just remember that feeding darters can be pretty tricky at times. They prefer live or frozen foods, and will most often ignore flakes and pellets. Keep us updated on the tank when you start building it!
     
  5. Chalamot

    Chalamot Registered Member

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    So, sorry for the long time no post. I've been really busy with enrollment, and haven't really had time to do anything with the tank, thus nothing to post about. But, I've managed to get the plumbing all worked out so the fish can enjoy quite a bit of flow, I'll post pics of what I have so far, provided I can figure out how, lol.
     
  6. RiVerfishgirl

    RiVerfishgirl AC Members

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    You shouldn't need a chiller if you stock accordingly. And perhaps you could put the tank near an air conditioner or vent to keep it from getting too hot?

    Orangethroated darters are a bit hard to feed. The only thing mine would eat consistently were TINY guppy fry. Though, they do not need extremely cold temperatures. They are one of the hardier species that can handle warmer temps and less oxygen.
    I do, however, NOT suggest the novice catching darters themselves necessarily since they can be hard to I.D. At the least go out, get some pics, post somewhere like NANFA and get the hang of identification before taking any home. Also, those on NANFA will scold you if you start bringing home darters unidentified ;).
    When not in breeding colors various species often look the same, and you could end up with an endagered or vulnerable species without realizing it. Your best bet for darters, as far as legality and ease of feeding is going to be to order captive bred specimens online, that are already used to eating prepared foods, somewhere like jonahsaquarium.com or zimmermansfish.com. You will also have the ability to attain a greater variety of species that you may not be able to find in your area. You can also order blackbanded sunfish online, and they would be quite suitable for your setup, as opposed to the pygmies, which are not true sunfish, and I can tell you from experience are difficult to feed, and as suggested need their own tank.
    Even liveaquaria has some natives, such as flagfish, that are easy to keep, do warm temps and will eat algae and anything else you give them.

    I'm of course not suggesting you don't also go out and see what you can net! That's part of the fun. If you know your tank is going to get warm in the summer, the best bet would be to go somewhere like ditches, swampy areas, and shallow lakes or ponds that get warm in the summer, since the fish in those areas will be more likely to be able to handle warmer temps, less pristine water, and lower oxygen levels. Whereas if you go to somewhere like a springfed creek, you may find some beautiful specimens, but many of those species may not be suitable for your warm tank. There are also often laws regarding collection in those places, since some of the most vulnerable species live in those type of areas. I know here in missouri you can not collect fish from spring branches without permission, though you can usually collect fish from waterways that they feed.

    As far as species, topminnows (a type of killifish) are a good starter fish since they will generally eat whatever hits the top of the water and are very hardy. I'm not sure what other killifish you have up there, but these species in general take to captivity fairly well.
    Someone else mentioned madtoms, and these are very hardy, but some can get large enough to eat your small minnow-like fish. Also, don't mistake something like a baby bullhead for a madtom....I only mention this because I have seen quite a few people do it, ending up with a fish that quickly outgrows their tank and eats everything.

    Right now I have a little group of blacktail shiners in my tropical planted tank that are doing well, and they survived and grew from fry in my practically unfiltered pond throughout the summer (and it gets near 100 degrees here, sometimes over, therefore the pond even in the shade can get into the 80s).
    So there are various species of shiners that can handle warm temps. I'm not that knowledgeable on shiners myself, but I do know some don't do warm less oxygenated water, so try to do your research and stay away from those and you should be fine.
     
    #6 RiVerfishgirl, Jan 11, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2012
  7. SubRosa

    SubRosa AC Members

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