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Jungle peat swamp habitat tank

greenbliss

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21 Apr 2021
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So lately I have been wanting to make a tank that is somewhat unique and can house some interesting flora and fauna, but not too demanding as far as the amount of care and attention needed. Since I am a big fan of Cryptocoryne species I settled on the idea of making a jungle peat swamp habitat tank (not a biotope, but just creating a good environment for the particular species I have in mind, as well as making a somewhat aesthetically pleasing tank). If I set it up correctly and care for the plants and fish well, it should reward me with fry, inflorescences and young plants without having to invest too much money or time.

What I had in mind as far as equipment goes:
Tank: Clearseal 24x12x15" aquarium, only filled to around the 12" mark to allow space for flowering and for the plants to have access to some aerial CO2.
Filter: Unfortunately, it will be a pat mini filter for now but I will replace this for something a bit less distracting some time in the future. Or I might just use no filter, obviously letting the plants grow a robust root system and take over before I do so.
Heating: 50w Eheim Jager
Lighting: Fluval Aquasky 58cm version

Flora:
Now, I do have a few things I already have, as well as ones I desperately want which aren't always easy to get, but are still just as easy to grow.
Cryptocoryne ferruginea var. sekadauensis
Cryptocoryne yujii
Cryptocoryne nurii
Cryptocoryne xpurpurea nothovar borneoensis (would need to order from abroad)
Cryptocoryne longicauda (might be able to convince a fish store to get this from some TC labs??)
Cryptocoryne pallidinervia (would need to come from abroad too)
Cryptocoryne reginae - same as above, but I have never heard of anyone growing this species in an aquaairum
Cryptocoryne aura - same as above
Tonina fluviatilis
Ceratopteris just to provide shade at first

Fauna
Parosphromenus? Not sure what species I can get. Probably bintan since it is the most common. Already have live food cultures set up for them.
Betta from blackwater biotopes??
Boraras, but not if I'm going to be breeding Paro's.??
Blackworms
Asellus aquaticus
Any shrimp from blackwater habitats I can get my hands on.??



Water, substrate and hardscape.
These all kind of go hand in hand so I thought I would put them together. Substrate will be beech leaf mould since this is an ideal medium for growing the plants, and would also help feed microorganisms which would help increase Parosphromenus fry survival rates. It does not have many nutrients and is acidic, which is good since these Cryptocoryne species are not very tolerant of high nutrient levels, which means I can't use aquasoil. Water will simply be RODI water with no remineraliser and absolutely NO CARBONATES. I will use alder cones and leaves etc to help lower the PH. Sometimes on the WWW you can see images of pools in peat swamps that are habitats of such Cryptocoryne species and the water looks like a nice cup of Earl grey, which I am sort of aiming for. I'm currently soaking some leaf mould in a bucket and making sure the TDS does not rise too much. Leaves and botanicals will also absolutely be used. I have oak and beech but would really like to find if there is any loquat or magnolia trees in my local area. Hardscape is beech wood from a local forest, taken from a dead tree that had fell over. I want a more natural look so I think a branch snapped off a tree will make it look a bit more convincing than some really exotic would from an LFS. After all manzanita wood isn't going to fall into some random jungle stream ;) . I might cap the substrate for aesthetic reasons but this might compact it too much for the good of the plants, and I don't think a leaf substrate would look that bad anyways.

Fertilisation
Not much. Also no chelating agents because they can end up binding the small amounts of calcium present in the tank, making them unavailable. Maybe I can add fresh leaf mould or use dried beech, oak etc leaves that have been picked while green as a sort of natural root tab (but placed on top of the substrate instead?). Could also use maybe 5%-10% EI? Or just use some all in one like tropica since I need so little. Fish food should also provide plenty but I might run into deficiencies eventually. I might also inject CO2 eventually as I actually found out in some Cryptocoryne habitats CO2 levels can be as high as 15 mg/l naturally, which shows they definitely can handle it and definitely benefit from it.

If anyone has any experience with anything like this feel free to chip in. I will also gladly listen if you just want to maybe share your thoughts on the scape idea or on the stocking choices. My tank gets here soon so I might be setting it up within a few days. I will also be doing a dry start period then slowly flood the tank to avoid Crypt melt. I also know BGA is fairly common in such tanks initially but ends up going way eventually. I do remember I have seen a PDF of an article from a German aquarium magazine translated into english that said the BGA went away when the author lowered water flow?? Also any idea what I could use to help secure plants initially other than small stones? Beech leaf mould has the consistency of water and plants sink in it before they establish a root system.

For more information about such tanks, as well as to see where I got a lot of inspiration from:
 

Djoko Sauza

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23 Jul 2017
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SE London
In regards to water chemistry, my cryptocoryne species don't do well in water with 0 carbonates and 0 hardness. Is that really what their natural habitat is like?

Also, have you considered making a bank to have cryptocorynes growing fully emersed?
 

MirandaB

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I fear a lot of those Crypts won't do well with no carbonates and low nutrient levels.
Regina is Silver Queen and it's not the easiest to grow in an aquarium in my experience although a few have managed it but not sure if it exactly thrives fully submerged.
 

greenbliss

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In regards to water chemistry, my cryptocoryne species don't do well in water with 0 carbonates and 0 hardness. Is that really what their natural habitat is like?

Also, have you considered making a bank to have cryptocorynes growing fully emersed?
Sorry, I didn’t actually mention the important part. These are specialist sp that have adapted to peat swamp habitats and do very well in them. You wouldn’t find these for sale in aquarium shops.

I like the idea of making an emersed part. Not sure how I’d do it though???
 

greenbliss

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I fear a lot of those Crypts won't do well with no carbonates and low nutrient levels.
Regina is Silver Queen and it's not the easiest to grow in an aquarium in my experience although a few have managed it but not sure if it exactly thrives fully submerged.
I know a lot of the time people say such species are not easy to grow in an aquarium, but they often mean a normal tap water aquarium. Peat swamp species can grow very well submerged if you provide appropriate conditions. I haven’t heard of reginae being grown submersed, and I’m not even sure if it’s really a peat swamp species so you you may be right that it might not do too well.
 

MirandaB

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Both regina and aura have been grown submerged over here with varying degrees of success,they are one of the more "fleshy leaved" varieties and don't seem to exactly flourish submerged all the time.
Several of those species are somewhat easily available as tissue culture here but they're not the greatest and usually come with little or no root at all so are painfully slow to establish.
 

greenbliss

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Both regina and aura have been grown submerged over here with varying degrees of success,they are one of the more "fleshy leaved" varieties and don't seem to exactly flourish submerged all the time.
Several of those species are somewhat easily available as tissue culture here but they're not the greatest and usually come with little or no root at all so are painfully slow to establish.
Good to know. Maybe if I made an emersed portion I could grow them in it?? I know about the fact that they’d get painfully slow but I would be willing to wait. A dry start sure will help, some species can grow surprisingly fast under good conditions. A little fertiliser isn’t harmful and can get them to grow faster, but it’s best not to over do it.
 

greenbliss

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Well I am doing something I didn't expect I'd have to do. I'm still tweaking the hardscape a little (looks awful) but I have decided to do a dry start. What I didn't realise or plan for is that I'm going to be spending ages picking dead earthworms out of the substrate...
 

greenbliss

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Hi all
Does anyone know any retailers which might be able to sell me peat swamp Cryptocoryne species? I have dry started the tank but realised I don't really have enough plant mass. Even if I could get a few C. nurii from somewhere that would be an OK start. As long as it's C. nurii var. nurii which I assume most plants traded are? I know a variety called Pahang exists which IIRC is nurii var. raubensis, more of a limestone sp? I think rosen maiden is also possibly raubensis?
 

plantnoobdude

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Hi all
Does anyone know any retailers which might be able to sell me peat swamp Cryptocoryne species? I have dry started the tank but realised I don't really have enough plant mass. Even if I could get a few C. nurii from somewhere that would be an OK start. As long as it's C. nurii var. nurii which I assume most plants traded are? I know a variety called Pahang exists which IIRC is nurii var. raubensis, more of a limestone sp? I think rosen maiden is also possibly raubensis?
never bought from either sellers but
 

GHNelson

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greenbliss

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I'm getting a bit closer to getting the actual fish now and I'm starting to think a bit about how I'll actually keep the pH low. I know around 6 is fairly easy to achieve but what if I wanted to get bellow 5? What would be my options if using alder cones or leaves didn't work? I saw some people on the Parosphromenus project use phosphoric acid to lower pH, is this a good option if it means I can have access to it year round? I also know oak bark extracts exist, as well as various "blackwater extracts", but I have no idea if these are any use. Has anyone here used any of these things in their aquariums before successfully? I really don't want to use peat in my aquarium so anything like peat granules is out of the question.
 
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brhau

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Hi, I’m thinking of posting about my paro tank builds, particularly the water chemistry. Edit: <I've started a journal thread here> I’m finding that it’s extremely difficult to keep the pH below 5, but it’s possible if you use an excess of strong acid at the outset, and then continue adding (less) acid with each water change. I’m currently using sulfuric acid, but will switch to phosphoric acid, since the phosphate can be consumed by the plants.

Oak extracts are primarily phosphoric acid, so no need to overpay for this. “Blackwater extracts” are just tannins, I believe.
 
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brhau

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I saw this post on the Parosphromenus Project Facebook page today about C. longicauda:

IMG_2558.jpg


My understanding is that the crypts from this region can grow emersed, but in nature, submersed growth from the Borneo and Malaysia species require fertilization and flow, both of which are nonideal for Parosphromenus in a static aquarium. I haven’t tried it directly, however.
 
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