I got all the stuff to dirt my 46 gallon tank today, but I have fish in the tank.They are philippine ghost angelfish. Awesome fish. They are very healthy, and I'm worried something (bacteria or parasite) might be introduced with the dirt. Those of you with angelfish know when things go bad with angels- they go really bad.
I had a plan, but I wanted to see if anyone else has tried this with angels before I do it.
Take half of the tank water and put it in 5 gal buckets.
Put fish in buckets as well.
Drain tank and removed everything inside.
Add dirt and gravel.
Fill and drain tank several times, while scooping off anything that is floating.
Add original tank water back to tank.
Place plants in substrate.
Add fish, and finish filling tank.
Will this work or will I have to wait longer to add fish?
Thanks in advance for your help, Sherry.
I did basicly the same thing when I dirted my tanks, I'd try and let the tank settle and filter as long as you can before adding the fish back in. My tanks were pretty cloudy when I was finished, all my fish were fine but it probably wasnt to nice for them. But if time is an issue it shouldnt be a problem, worked for me.
Did you have a problem with an ammonia spike? I heard the dirt causes this. I don't think my angels will make it if this happens.
I would add the dirt first without the gravel to make it easier to scoop up the floating stuff. Once you get all the floating stuff then cap it. Also I would cap it with flourite or clay pellets instead of gravel. They absorb and hold plant nutrients instead of having them float around in the water column. This is called Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC). The plants will then access the nutrients from your substrate. Dirt also has a very high CEC. Your plants are going to love it. Put in some Dwarf Sag or Echinodorus tenellus and watch the bottom of your tank turn into a green carpet.
Nothing wrong with saving the water and holding the Angels in 5 gallon buckets. But I would be more concerned about an ammonia spike in the bucket(s) than in the newly dirted tank. You don't have to keep them in the buckets for a long at all. In fact once you get all the floating stuff and cap the dirt you can add them right away. (explanation below) The Angels won't care if the water's cloudy. They come from muddy rivers in South America - not fountains in Rockefeller Center.
What kind of water do you use to fill your tank and make water changes? If the new water comes from the same source as the old I don't see why there would be a problem using "new" water. In fact the Angels might prefer it (although some old water might be a good idea). Its true that the dirt may cause ammonia spikes but the beneficial bacteria is attached to the surface area of everything from your "old" tank including the tank itself and the filter. Its not in the water.
If it was me I would give the tank and gravel thorough cleaning while its empty. You'll kill some of the beneficial bacteria but most of it is in your filter and on the plants. Angels love cleanliness. Make sure the old filter medium is in your filter. This should avert any ammonia spikes caused by the dirt. And if you wanna be extra safe make frequent water changes the first month while the bacteria is recovering. The principle is simple: the ammonia is in the water is discarded when you throw out the water. Its like flushing a toilet.
If you do this you can add your Angels right away. And don't forget Plants, especially floating plants. They suck up ammonia faster than anything else. I use them instead of filters. Your Angelfish will appreciate a nice Amazon Sword in the tank. I'll google Philippine Ghost Angels. I love Angels - especially Altums.
Yeah, I agree. Not too worried that they won't like the cloudiness, just the ammonia. I guess I don't have to use the old water. Do you have angels?
I guess the next question is, Should I wait until I have a butt load of plants or will a few be okay. All I have right now is some frogbit, 3 Small amazon swords, 2 small corkscrew val, and some windelov.
Clay pellets? I can't use the flourite, because I have some cories. The flourite is sharp, and I don't want to take any chances. I did have it in my hand at petsmart, though.
Thank you for your help, Sherry.
I've never used flourite (only read about it) so I didn't realize it has sharp edges. In that case you're definitely right not to use it with Cories. Thanks for the info. Eco-Complete is also very good. I use clay pellets because plants love the iron and it has an unsurpassed CEC. Not all the edges are rounded but they're not sharp either. They're basically pebbles made of baked clay. Its sold as non-clumping Kitty litter or in automotive supply stores as an absorbant for oil slicks (Oil-Sorb). I've also heard its sold as "Turface" - stuff spread over baseball infields to suck up rain. If you buy the Kitty Litter type make sure its non-clumping and has no added chemicals. The other two are 100% clay.
With the dirt and good 6500K (daylight) lighting you will eventually have a butt load of plants - more if you receive direct sunlight. How many you allow to remain in the tank is up to you. If you're still worried about ammonia, it can simply be flushed away by changing the water. Most professional breeders don't even bother with filters or plants. They just replace the water everyday. I know this seems crude, but that's a simple, guaranteed way avoid ammonia. Just change all your water at least once a week and you won't have any ammonia.
I keep a variety of Angels in my pond outside - don't have to feed them or do anything. They breed but the goldfish and Koi devour their eggs in no time. This winter I'm gonna get some Altums for my pond next summer. I'm seriously considering adding a small pond or netting off a section of the pond just for them.
I googled images for your P. Ghost Angelfish - you have pretty good taste. Apparently there are several varieties but I like the overall texture and look of their scales. I'm also partial to blue color in fish.
I actually have Pinoy Ghosts, Paraibas, and Pinoy Paraibas, but these are all of the Philippine Blue variety. I too am very partial to the blue.
Great idea on the cat litter. Is there a round about formula for how much litter I should add? Like a quarter to 3 quarters or just sprinkle?
I really like Altums too. I just don't have the space for a wild angel, and they are very demanding at first. Unless you get them from someone who has already stepped them out of the way low ph ranges.
Sounds like you have a good idea. Putting them in the pond. I'm sure they will love it. If they love it enough- you just might get them to breed.
I think Dustin puts in about an inch of soil and an inch of gravel. I prefer the clay pebbles or something like eco-complete to the gravel, but he's right about the depth. I maintain about three inches total - any deeper and things start to get funky in the bottom of your tank. My understanding of this "funkiness" (anaerobic bacteria, noxious gasses) is limited; so I won't put my ignorance on display here, but I do know the plants suffer. So I would add a cap no more than an inch deep.
Its worth noting here that there's really no biological benefit to capping soil. We do it only because we don't want mud kicking up and obstructing our view. If you didn't have bottom dwellers or had a bottom covered with dense grass you could use all mud. I prefer clay because its as close to real soil as you can get. Gravel is inert.
You pretty much summed up the Altum experience - "Wild... demanding... need for space... super low PH". I've got a 180 gallon "rainwater tank" dedicated to Discus but if I can get my hands on some affordable Altums the Discus are gone. The Altums will need every inch of that 180 during the cold months. I'm not expecting them to breed in the 180 but as you noted the pond might do the trick.
I'll do a little more research on the Pinoy Ghosts, Paraibas, and Pinoy Paraibas. SE Asia is really kicking our ass in the tropical fish arena. I've always felt a large iridescent or "electric" Angel would place them in the same class as Discus.
what if you filtered out the dirt first by leaving the tank alone and using the 5 gallon buckets as a housing container for the dirt using a garden hose to pump water in and letting it run until the water comes out clear wouldnt this do the same concept and put less stress on the fish?
I use miracle grow potting soil in my tank and pieces of clay shoved under each plant. After adding water for the first time the water was really cloudy so I let it sit for a couple of days with plants in it no fish. Then I did a 90 percent water change and added angel fish and they were fine. The water will continue to get cloudy so repeat the process every week for about five to six weeks and it will gradually go away all together. Once you've reached this stage you should do 50 to 75 percent water changes every two to three weeks or earlier if needed. Eventually gas will build up under the gravel so its good to release it with a pen or some thing. Don't let the bad smell bother you it is a good thing and pond muck smells the same way. But as long as you keep up with the water changes you will eliminate the amonia and or algae.
any kind of organic potting soil will work, miracle grow works really well though not just in the tank but in the yard as well