Substrate chioces

Pretty much explains itself really. If you have questions about tank set-ups, tank furniture, (caves etc) chuck them in here!

What substrate do you use in your tanks?

Sand
12
46%
Fine Gravel
5
19%
Coarse Gravel
1
4%
Nothing
7
27%
Other
1
4%
 
Total votes: 26

Tristan
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Substrate chioces

Post by Tristan » Mon Oct 04, 2004 2:48 pm

What are everyones thoughts on substrate and zebra plecs. A lot of ( if not all) discus breeders use bare bottom tanks for ease of maintenance/hygiene etc. What do you guys use for your plec tanks, sand gravel or bare bottom. I would be interested in everyones opinions and for a bit of fun i have added a poll.
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Rob
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Post by Rob » Mon Oct 04, 2004 2:55 pm

HI Tristan

I find the zebras do well in sand, although care needs to be taken to ensure that there is no methane build up under dead spots.

As for my fry, they are kept in a tank with no substrate to enable ease of cleaning.

rob

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Post by Des » Tue Oct 05, 2004 7:14 pm

Tristan,

I use a bare bottomed tank for my zebras for ease of cleaning and identifying uneaten food. However I have one quarter of the tank partitioned of with a 6" high piece of glass siliconed into place, with an undergavel system in place powered by a powerhead . I feed at the other side of the tank to the powerhead.
I always found that the water got polluted using natural gravel at the bottom since I use a lot of granular foods.

Regards,
Des :lol:

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Post by Tristan » Tue Oct 05, 2004 11:19 pm

I thought that might be the case as they are not the most greedy of fish. As they are in a species tank at the moment, i think that i will keep a no substrate policy for the time being. Has anyone got any thoughts about dither fish /tetras or anything like that? :D
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Post by Adam » Wed Oct 06, 2004 2:23 pm

I prefer bare bottomed tanks, all three of mine are set up this way. I have far fewer problems since I done away with substrate. I keep quite a few Corys and since moving over to no substrate their barbules have re-grown. Unless you use sand Corys barbules wil become eroded when they root around for food. It' far more hygenic as well, I remember stripping down one of my tanks a year ago and you wouldn't believe the amount of sludge I found. This was despite regular water changes and the gravel being "hoovered". The decor in my tanks consists of drift wood with a scattering of anubias grown on pieces of drift wood. The amount of time spent on cleaning my tanks has been drastically reduced.

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Post by Tristan » Wed Oct 06, 2004 3:59 pm

Thanks Adam, always interesing to see other peoples opinions. Do you not find that the corys get to the food before the zebras. In my discus tank the corys are very speedy when it comes to attacking prima granules. The zebbies on the other hand are laid back and i haven't actually seen any of them eat yet. Just don't want the zebbies to get out competed for food.
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Post by Adam » Wed Oct 06, 2004 4:57 pm

Hi Tristan,

Your're absolutely right, it's like a rugby scrum in my tank at feeding times. The Corys laze around most of the time until you put some food in the tank and then they suddenly come to life. The Sterbai are large and really tend to crash around when they feed, as you have correctly observed the Zebras are very timid feeders. I have managed to get around this to a certain degree by putting in a couple of sinking food tabs first. While the Corys are playing "aquarium football" with the food tabs I will then feed blood worms, I also feed at opposite ends of the tank at the same time. This is the only way I have managed to ensure that everybody gets their fair share of food.

Anyway the zebras will be going into their own tank soon, I guess this is the only real solution. Good luck with the prima granules, my zebras refuse to eat it as well. If you're not careful fish wil become "hooked" on one particular type of food. This happened to me many moons ago when I kept a tank of albino oscars, they would only eat live food or frozen shrimp and it was costing me a small fortune. On the advice of my friend the fish guru I "starved" them out for a couple of weeks and finally managed to get them on dried foods. I guess you have to be cruel to be kind sometimes.

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Post by Tristan » Wed Oct 06, 2004 5:15 pm

Adam,
I feed my zebbies bloodworm, mysis shrimp and prima, at first they would not tough prima but again i left it five days and sure enough the prima was gone by the morning. My discus were hooked on blood worm for a while, not the best thing, as it enhances black coloration in fish, good for zebras though. I have my zebras in a tank of their own at the moment and will probably keep it that way. Solves feeding problems.
How many zebras do you have?
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Post by Cascudo » Wed Oct 06, 2004 5:43 pm

In my 160 liter tank, I have still a coarse, black substrate and some places bright coloured fine sand.
It is said that the advantage of the black substrate is that fish feel more secure and that is enhances it's colours.
The big disadvantage is that it is too hard on bottom-dwellers. My cories (when still in this tank) completely lost their barbels because of the coarse substrate. I installed my new tank with very fine sand, and their barbels completely grew back. :D I don't notice problems with fish being shy because of the bright substrate.
The zebra's (by now practically alone in the tank) don't loose their barbels, but I have got the impression that they don't find it very comfortable, as they prefer to lie down on other surfaces.
If I had to install my tank again, I would go for the fine sand. I believe that it is more hygienic without substrate, but I find this unnecessary, mines reproduced fine with the substrate. Also I believe that the zebra's feel happier on substrate because it is more natural.
The tank should be more than a sterile breeding machine, it should also provide a natural environment for them. In nature they also live in organic matter and they are fine over there. And don't underestimate the function of substrate in breaking down nitrite and acting as PH buffer.

The zebra's (four) share their 160 liter tank with 3 Apistogramma cacatoides, some armano shrimps and 2 Dermogynus pumilis (but they will never meet as this are surface dwellers).
I still don't know if zebra's need dither fish. I think it is at least wise not having other bottom-dwellers or big, intimidating fish with them.
I had this before and they tend to show themselves considerable less and indeed are not competing well for food.
My experience was that they showed up considerably more after I removed the other bottomdwellers. At the moment though they don't appear so much either, maybe they know that their will be still food after the light turns off, or they need indeed more dither fish.

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Post by Tristan » Wed Oct 06, 2004 6:13 pm

Cascudo,
It sounds like you have some nice set ups there, i found that my corys are much happier on the fine sand, i started off with fine gravel but changed to sand after 'vanishing barbles'.
My other catfish appear to love the sand as i noticed slight abrasions on tehir underbellies with gravel, no matter how fine.
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Post by Adam » Thu Oct 07, 2004 1:43 am

Hi Cascudo,

Nice setup you have there. I too have heard that a dark substrate is beneficial for the fish and also enhances viewing pleasure. I can't say that I've noticed any difference in the behaviour of my fish since I got rid of my black gravel. I' m not totally against substrate, it's more of a maintenance issue with me. I am however seriously considering river sand in the new tank I will be setting up for the zebras. This I believe is more in keeping with their natural habitat, mind you I only plan on having a thin layer. Some interesting observations you have there on dither fish, will definately mark that one up for future reference.

Keep up the good work Cascudo.

Oh by the way Tristan I have 4 zebras at the moment. If all goes well I should have 8 by the end of the week, fingers crossed that the zebras I will be seeing on Friday are ok. I've seen some really tatty specimens recently.

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Post by Tristan » Thu Oct 07, 2004 9:41 am

Hi Adam,
yep i've seen some nasty specimens recently. I only have seven at the moment but will be getting some more soon as and when funds allow, my girlfriends job could be moving us up north so might need to hang on to the reddies at the mo. The trouble i have found is getting hold of fish of a decent size. Most of them are about 1" long and by the sound of things would take 3 years to become sexually active, still if you find a good supplier i would be greatful if you would let me know. :D

Tristan
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Post by Adam » Thu Oct 07, 2004 2:18 pm

Hi Tristan,

Luckily my lot are of a decent size, fully grown by the looks of things that's why I didn't mind paying £100 each for them.(ouch) Just as well my Mrs loves them as much as I do otherwise I'd be in deep doo doo by now :lol:

Three years to sexual maturity is about the length of time you're looking at. However someone told me that you can speed up the maturity process by keeping your fish at elevated tank temps and that this pretty much works for all fish. The downside is that you will also be shortening their life expectancy. Some of the far eastern fish farms do this, personally I would never do this as I'm a firm believer in letting nature take its course.
I will let you know if I find a good supplier, the fish I'm due to see on Friday are small, about an inch long. If you're after bigger zebras you'll have a job on your hands, I got lucky with my ones.

I shall keep you posted.

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Post by Tristan » Sun Oct 10, 2004 3:57 pm

Thanks, I would appreciate that. I am also a firm believer in letting nature take its course. I suppose, if we really wanted we could inject our zebras with hormone and they would breed instantly, (they do this with silver sharks in asia :shock: ), but i don't see much point. Part of the fun of fish keeping is seeing the fish act as they would in thier natural environment. :D
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Post by Adam » Sun Oct 10, 2004 4:54 pm

Funny you mention the subject of hormone induced spawning in fish. I was talking to the manager of one of the LFSs, http://www.enfield-middx.co.uk/homemarine/ , that I frequent and in our discussion about zebra plecs this very same subject came up. He told me that the Israelis are hormone producing zebra plecs and have been for the past two years but they are yet to appear in the trade. Can anyone find some info on this because I've come up with zip? This guy is extremey knowledgeable and trustworthy, I've known him for about two years now so I don't think he was talking bull****. I've also spent a hell of a lot of money in his shop so I get treated fairly. If any of you guys are into marines you must pay this shop a visit, they have even won a couple of awards. The shop also has a very good selection of F/W tropicals.

When I enquired about zebra plecs he said that he doesn't get them in. However he made a few phone calls and arranged for me to visit one of his suppliers in Sussex who specialises in south american species on the proviso that his shipment of zebras arrives on wednesday. If all goes well I should be making a trip to Sussex on Friday to hand pick some zebras. No idea what the prices are going to be, competetive I hope. Wish me luck!!

On my never ending quest for more zebra plecs I'm starting to feel like that guy from the yellow pages advert. You know the one, he's after some fly fishing book that he can't seem to find anywhere. Sorry for the UK only joke international friends. :lol: :lol:

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