Stocking sanity test for large tank

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jake72

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Jan 28, 2019
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This is a project that is still about 12 months out but i wanted a sanity check on planned stocking. The tank is approx 8ftx4ftx21 (l,w,h) or a bit over 400 gallons.
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The plan right now is to use torpedo beach or crystal river - an off white substrate by caribsea.
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The target temp is 81 during the winter and 83 during the summer (some fishes need a seasonsal temp change) and the target tds is 60 (but this might be adjusted a little).
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tank will have a sump and will likely use a drip system at 1gph for water changes - and maybe once a month or so vaccum up plant waste - maybe twice a month depends on water condition.
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Right now i'm aiming for low-tech tank since i worry that co2 in a warm tank might cause issues; still it will be heavily planted with quite a bit of driftwood.
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The planned fishes are approx 20 sterbai,
25 rams (mix of gold, electric blue, german blue, ...),
6 to 8 geo - likely winemilleri,
4 or 5 pleco - mostly l204 but perhaps a pair of gold nugget.
40ish cardinal tetra
40ish antoher tetra - probably lemon or gold tetra - or runny nose.
one other dwarf cichlid - probably macmasteri (m/f/f?) or brevis but perhaps some other dwarf cichlid (suggestion? need to do a bit more research here)
 

jake72

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Adding Wyomingite Wyomingite who is far more knowledgeable than my self in hope of comments or feedback on feasibility.
 

NoahLikesFish

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25 rams kinda sounds like a war zone but it could work keyhole chiclids are my favorite dwarf chiclid becsuse they aren’t tiny and don’t need low ph to thrive
 

Wyomingite

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Oct 16, 2008
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Wonderful Windy Wyoming
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Ivan
This is a project that is still about 12 months out but i wanted a sanity check on planned stocking. The tank is approx 8ftx4ftx21 (l,w,h) or a bit over 400 gallons.
-
The plan right now is to use torpedo beach or crystal river - an off white substrate by caribsea.
-
The target temp is 81 during the winter and 83 during the summer (some fishes need a seasonsal temp change) and the target tds is 60 (but this might be adjusted a little).
-
tank will have a sump and will likely use a drip system at 1gph for water changes - and maybe once a month or so vaccum up plant waste - maybe twice a month depends on water condition.
-
Right now i'm aiming for low-tech tank since i worry that co2 in a warm tank might cause issues; still it will be heavily planted with quite a bit of driftwood.
-
The planned fishes are approx 20 sterbai,
25 rams (mix of gold, electric blue, german blue, ...),
6 to 8 geo - likely winemilleri,
4 or 5 pleco - mostly l204 but perhaps a pair of gold nugget.
40ish cardinal tetra
40ish antoher tetra - probably lemon or gold tetra - or runny nose.
one other dwarf cichlid - probably macmasteri (m/f/f?) or brevis but perhaps some other dwarf cichlid (suggestion? need to do a bit more research here)
Sorry, Jake, I've not felt well the past few days. I actually started this post earlier but nearly fell asleep the last three times.

So I always say footprint Is the most important thing with cichlids, but in this case I have to wonder if the width of the tank will keep you from seeing most of the dwarf cichlids (rams and apistos) as they form territories. I'm wondering if they just won't come to the front. This is more of an aesthetic point rather than a functional observation of stocking capacity. As for stocking capacity, I'd also consider the rams and apistos together instead of saying X number of rams and Y number of apistos, to decrease competition for cover and prime territory, which could lead to aggression between individuals and possibly even aggression between apisto and ram males for prime spawning points. I think fewer would mean larger territories and increase the likelihood you'll see them all. As for the number of dwarfs, I'd consider the rams and apistos together. It will be a 32 sq. ft. footprint and I'm assuming you're going to have a reasonably large open area for the geos. Let's consider an 18" x 18" territory per male dwarf which allows for 13 males rounded up, at 2.5 sq feet per male (rounded up from 2.25 for ease) if the tank is 100% planted with no open area. Female apistos will form smaller territories that overlap with the males' territories, unless it's a pure pair bond in which they'll share a territory. I think rams form pair bonds and are less harem based, if I remember right. Apisto behavior varies greatly from pure pair bonds to harem breeding. That open area for the geos is territory that no dwarf is going to want to take due to a lack of shelter and any dwarfs that get pushed there are probably going to be stressed. If you figure a ~2' x4' open area at 8 sq. ft., that gives you 9 male dwarfs for the remaining 24 sq. ft. area. I'd hand pick my dwarfs, rams and apistos, targeting 9 or 10 males and an appropriate number of females per male, with a 1m:1f ratio for rams and a 1m:1f to 1m:3f ratio for the apistos depending on species. So your looking at 9 or 10 male dwarfs and from 9 to 15 females depending on what species you choose and the distribution of males between the rams and apisto (i.e. if you choose 4 ram and 5 apisto males or 6 ram and 3 apisto males, etc.).

I love the look of the winemilleri. Everything I've read says they stay on the smaller side for geos (5" +/-), so I'd definitely go on the higher side with the number. At 400 gallons, I think you could even go up to 12 or so with one of the smaller 4" to 5" species of geophagines in this set up, especially if you reduce the dwarfs as I've suggested based on the open area. I've read that in larger tanks even the larger geophagine species stay away from plants and don't dig them up as long as there is an adequate area of open sand for them to sift through. I saw pics of a large school of Satanoperca in a 180 gallon with a huge planted area around the open area and they never dug up the plants according to the author of the article. I can't find it but it was in TFH or Practical Fishkeeping several years back.

If you go with gold tetras (assuming Hemigrammus rodwayi), and you want the gold color, don't go with captive-bred individuals. Captive-bred individuals are a somewhat boring silver color. The gold color in wild gold tetras is derived from a cutaneous immune reaction to a trematode parasite. The skin secretes guanin as a reaction to the parasite infection and the substance secreted, guanin, is what produces the gold color. Captive-bred individuals aren't exposed to the parasite, and therefore don't secrete guanin and become gold like wild-caught fish.

Other than the changes I've said I would make for the dwarfs, I think you have a solid stocking plan there. Are you making the tank or buying it?

WYite
 
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jake72

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@Whyomingite thank you so much for your feedback. Yes the rams are definitely M:F and it sounds like your suggesting a reduction to around 20 dwarf cichlid as a collection depending on size of open area.

One of the limiting factors i am finding is the temp requirement of the rams. I wonder if i should consider something like threadfin acara or if they will compete too much with the geo and intimidate the rams due to increase in size. So maybe 12 geo 8 threadfin and 16 rams. The tank might be too warm for threadfin not quite clear to me their preferred temp range.

What I found with my 40B (which has 3 nanacara (m:f:f ) and 3 cockatoo m:f:f (picture attached) is the fishes do in fact come to the front when hungry. The female cockatoo actually hang out in the front all the time with the nanacara ranging a bit more between back and front. The female nannacara while significantly stronger than the cockatoo use display aggression rather than force on the cockatoo. In the few cases outright confrontation has occurred they will pin the cockatoo but not damage them (pin and release) after which all aggression cease but 95% of the conflicts are resolved with a bit of tail wagging.

I am actually extremely fond of the nannacara and would go with them if they could handle the warmer temps required for the rams.

I am aware of the harem vs bonding behavior in the apisto and have experimented with both types (I've been running experiments while in my condo to pick up knowledge before i implement these larger tanks). Unfortunately a lot of the nicer apiso require blackwater which is not a target for this larger tank though i will use soft (and likely slightly acidic) water.

I will increase the natural barrier in the non-geo open areas (i.e, drift wood and rocks) to encourage the rams to find suitable breeding area that is not completely covered with plants. Also as I have gained knowledge of plants behavior in my 120 and 40 I will do a better job of landscaping with more lower growing plants in the front area and taller ones in the back. I posted a picture of the 120 above and 40 now but the thing is that from my perspective these have been experiments since i was starting at ground 0 to learn more about impact of substrate types and fish behavior. Sadly there are so many species with different behavior and so much fud out there it has been difficult to fully extrapolate the behavior pattern of some of these fishes.
-
Also thank you for the comment on gold tetra. I'm wondering if lemon would be a safer bet (not so much wild vs tank raised but long term colouring esp if they end up breeding in tank). I will likely use wild cardinals as they have proven far healthier and i have located two reliable sources. The only other tetra i have experimented with have been white fin rosy tetra (candy tetra) and they are not suitable for this tank but they will probably go into the sister tank.
-
Anyway thank you for the feedback and hopefully you are feeling better.2.jpg

Sorry, Jake, I've not felt well the past few days. I actually started this post earlier but nearly fell asleep the last three times.

So I always say footprint Is the most important thing with cichlids, but in this case I have to wonder if the width of the tank will keep you from seeing most of the dwarf cichlids (rams and apistos) as they form territories. I'm wondering if they just won't come to the front. This is more of an aesthetic point rather than a functional observation of stocking capacity. As for stocking capacity, I'd also consider the rams and apistos together instead of saying X number of rams and Y number of apistos, to decrease competition for cover and prime territory, which could lead to aggression between individuals and possibly even aggression between apisto and ram males for prime spawning points. I think fewer would mean larger territories and increase the likelihood you'll see them all. As for the number of dwarfs, I'd consider the rams and apistos together. It will be a 32 sq. ft. footprint and I'm assuming you're going to have a reasonably large open area for the geos. Let's consider an 18" x 18" territory per male dwarf which allows for 13 males rounded up, at 2.5 sq feet per male (rounded up from 2.25 for ease) if the tank is 100% planted with no open area. Female apistos will form smaller territories that overlap with the males' territories, unless it's a pure pair bond in which they'll share a territory. I think rams form pair bonds and are less harem based, if I remember right. Apisto behavior varies greatly from pure pair bonds to harem breeding. That open area for the geos is territory that no dwarf is going to want to take due to a lack of shelter and any dwarfs that get pushed there are probably going to be stressed. If you figure a ~2' x4' open area at 8 sq. ft., that gives you 9 male dwarfs for the remaining 24 sq. ft. area. I'd hand pick my dwarfs, rams and apistos, targeting 9 or 10 males and an appropriate number of females per male, with a 1m:1f ratio for rams and a 1m:1f to 1m:3f ratio for the apistos depending on species. So your looking at 9 or 10 male dwarfs and from 9 to 15 females depending on what species you choose and the distribution of males between the rams and apisto (i.e. if you choose 4 ram and 5 apisto males or 6 ram and 3 apisto males, etc.).

I love the look of the winemilleri. Everything I've read says they stay on the smaller side for geos (5" +/-), so I'd definitely go on the higher side with the number. At 400 gallons, I think you could even go up to 12 or so with one of the smaller 4" to 5" species of geophagines in this set up, especially if you reduce the dwarfs as I've suggested based on the open area. I've read that in larger tanks even the larger geophagine species stay away from plants and don't dig them up as long as there is an adequate area of open sand for them to sift through. I saw pics of a large school of Satanoperca in a 180 gallon with a huge planted area around the open area and they never dug up the plants according to the author of the article. I can't find it but it was in TFH or Practical Fishkeeping several years back.

If you go with gold tetras (assuming Hemigrammus rodwayi), and you want the gold color, don't go with captive-bred individuals. Captive-bred individuals are a somewhat boring silver color. The gold color in wild gold tetras is derived from a cutaneous immune reaction to a trematode parasite. The skin secretes guanin as a reaction to the parasite infection and the substance secreted, guanin, is what produces the gold color. Captive-bred individuals aren't exposed to the parasite, and therefore don't secrete guanin and become gold like wild-caught fish.

Other than the changes I've said I would make for the dwarfs, I think you have a solid stocking plan there. Are you making the tank or buying it?

WYite
 
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Wyomingite

Fish Wrangler
Oct 16, 2008
816
566
100
53
Wonderful Windy Wyoming
Real Name
Ivan
@Whyomingite thank you so much for your feedback. Yes the rams are definitely M:F and it sounds like your suggesting a reduction to around 20 dwarf cichlid as a collection depending on size of open area.

One of the limiting factors i am finding is the temp requirement of the rams. I wonder if i should consider something like threadfin acara or if they will compete too much with the geo and intimidate the rams due to increase in size. So maybe 12 geo 8 threadfin and 16 rams. The tank might be too warm for threadfin not quite clear to me their preferred temp range.

What I found with my 40B (which has 3 nanacara (m:f:f ) and 3 cockatoo m:f:f (picture attached) is the fishes do in fact come to the front when hungry. The female cockatoo actually hang out in the front all the time with the nanacara ranging a bit more between back and front. The female nannacara while significantly stronger than the cockatoo use display aggression rather than force on the cockatoo. In the few cases outright confrontation has occurred they will pin the cockatoo but not damage them (pin and release) after which all aggression cease but 95% of the conflicts are resolved with a bit of tail wagging.

I am actually extremely fond of the nannacara and would go with them if they could handle the warmer temps required for the rams.

I am aware of the harem vs bonding behavior in the apisto and have experimented with both types (I've been running experiments while in my condo to pick up knowledge before i implement these larger tanks). Unfortunately a lot of the nicer apiso require blackwater which is not a target for this larger tank though i will use soft (and likely slightly acidic) water.

I will increase the natural barrier in the non-geo open areas (i.e, drift wood and rocks) to encourage the rams to find suitable breeding area that is not completely covered with plants. Also as I have gained knowledge of plants behavior in my 120 and 40 I will do a better job of landscaping with more lower growing plants in the front area and taller ones in the back. I posted a picture of the 120 above and 40 now but the thing is that from my perspective these have been experiments since i was starting at ground 0 to learn more about impact of substrate types and fish behavior. Sadly there are so many species with different behavior and so much fud out there it has been difficult to fully extrapolate the behavior pattern of some of these fishes.
-
Also thank you for the comment on gold tetra. I'm wondering if lemon would be a safer bet (not so much wild vs tank raised but long term colouring esp if they end up breeding in tank). I will likely use wild cardinals as they have proven far healthier and i have located two reliable sources. The only other tetra i have experimented with have been white fin rosy tetra (candy tetra) and they are not suitable for this tank but they will probably go into the sister tank.
-
Anyway thank you for the feedback and hopefully you are feeling better.View attachment 229780
I think you'd be fine with the threadfins if what I've read is accurate. They're supposed to be peaceful and the max is supposed to be around 8". With the exception of dwarfs, my experience with a SA cichlids is fairly narrow and generalized without a real broad base in terms of variety of species, though. Having always lived places with hard water, I've just fit fish to my water rather than try to adjust the water to meet the fish's needs. I have played with an Essequibo River basin biotope set-up several times over the years, though, so this is one species I've researched pretty thoroughly. I'm actually still considering it, just on a smaller scale in a 90 gallon instead of my 225 and these guys don't fit in.

I've always hated that about the gold tetras. IME, they're hardy and a school of them is simply unbelievable, but I've opted away from them the past few years simply because they don't seem to be as available any more and have been expensive, at least in my neck of the woods.

WYite
 
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