Been some years since I kept tropical fish but now the kids are a bit older (and less likely to disrupt my tank!), I have started a 84 L tank to get me back in the swing of things.

The tanks been running for a couple of months now. Started with 4 platys to get the tank established with the intention of moving them to my 6 ft tank when I get it out of storage and setup. Lost a platy a couple of weeks later, never figured out why (I'd been testing regularly and keeping a very close eye on the tank as it was a new setup). The store replaced her with another platy. No further incidents so maybe the platy just died of natural causes.

Then I added six neon tetra to get the amazon biotope kickstarted. A week later I notice one of the platies has given birth (to my sons joy). A few weeks later I realize I appear to be missing 2 of the neons. When cleaning I find what is left of one of them (looks like the platies had been eating the corpse). Never did find a trace of the other one. I was a little concerned about the loss of the neons but haven't had any more losses since so just hoping it was a fluke.

The neons seem quite happy at the moment and are shoaling with the baby platies (who are fast approaching the size of the neons). Not sure about the exact count on the platies but think I have around 15 babies, which should give me a good start on the 6 ft tank when I get that started.

Planning on adding some more neons at the end of the month to get their numbers to a nice little group where they will be more happy.

Looking into adding corydoras in the future, but I am looking at changing my substrate from gravel to sand first. Don't think my gravel would be an issue with them as it is smooth and quite small, but want the sand because I believe they would be happier with sand. If anyone has any ideas of the best way to do this it would be greatly appreciated. Also the sand seems really overpriced from the aquatic store, heard that childrens play sand can be used and is very cheap. Looking into this.

When I finally have my substrate sorted I will be planting the tank with maybe some cabomba and some amazon sword. Still researching this because I have never ventured into planted tanks before, but I'm really excited to getting into this part of the hobby.

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Comment by Kenneth Philabaum on October 22, 2013 at 2:52pm

Comment by Kenneth Philabaum on October 22, 2013 at 2:53pm

Comment by Kenneth Philabaum on October 22, 2013 at 2:54pm

Comment by Anthony Piti on October 22, 2013 at 8:24pm

Play sand works great for amazon biotopes.  I used it in my amazon tank and the cories love it plus it looks pretty similar to the sand in the rivers in the amazon.

Just make sure you wash it out really well before putting it in your tank.

Comment by Kenneth Philabaum on October 23, 2013 at 9:41am

That's good to know. Thanks for the info.

Comment by George Barrett on October 23, 2013 at 9:56pm

I have heard the play sand works ive never used myself. I have used pool filter sand which has good grain sand size for plant roots to penetrate. also yes cories are happier on sand by far. my advice right now would to stop getting fish if your going to make changes like changing out your substrate just to be on the safe side and it makes the process a lot easier. you said your a novice to plants my advice to anyone stick with the basics and easy to grow plants. plants that don't need co2 or special lighting are good starters my favorite is anubias. but there are mosses java fern and a few more. also I like how you said you are doing your research this will save you lots of money$$$!! something else to think about is a hospital tank for incoming fish or when you change your tank setup its a good spot to put them. let me know if you have any questions

Comment by Kenneth Philabaum on October 24, 2013 at 4:51am

I'm not going to be adding any more fish now until I have the substrate and plants sorted. I have also invested in a small tank which all the existing fish will be placed in during the changes, this will become a hospital tank when it is done.

I would have preferred to get pool filter sand as from my research the grain size seems better, but here in the UK I have not been able to track any down in hardware stores.

I'm a little restricted by the size of this tank I know so I intend to keep the planting relatively simple and natural looking. Will maybe add a few branches and rocks with the plants (I already have quite a nice piece of bogwood already in).

This tank is really a bit of an experiment with plants so I can see how to go about planting the larger 6ft tank I have in storage from a few years back. I will not be restricting myself with the larger aquarium in my choice of plants like this smaller Amazon biotope. But this is sometime off yet.

Comment by hoyttt on October 24, 2013 at 11:31am

those are fake plants right?

Comment by Kenneth Philabaum on October 24, 2013 at 12:34pm

Yep them plants are fake. Still deciding what real ones to put in.

Comment by Robert Jango on October 25, 2013 at 12:36pm

If you cover the bottom with Dwarf Sagittarius you can use straight dirt without a cap. The "Sag" will hold it in place  -  no messes, no dirt kicking up  -  and no need to buy a lot of it because just a few plants will take over.  Nothing's more natural and beautiful than dirt and both the plants and will thrive on it.  You won't need fertilizer either. When the soil does become exhausted it will re-up by sucking in all the minerals from organics like fish poop. Eventually you may have to add something, but your plants will let you know.  

Sand doesn't suck in and hold nutrients. Its inert. And more than an inch of it will grow anearobic bacteria. This bacteria is fine but if you disturb it (if the Cories start digging) it will release poisonous gasses produced by the bacteria. Sand is pretty but it actually competes with and washes out the fishes colors. A dark substrate brings out the beautiful reds and blues of your fish - neons especially. 

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