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Learning from Mistakes (125L dirted co2 tank)

EnderUK

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26 Jan 2014
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To skip to second scape

Introduction:
Okay so last christmas I got 28L gold fish death trap for my girl friend, the gold fish last 8 months before dying. I never knew fish where this interesting and got hooked upgrading to a roma 125. My girlfriend was upset that she still couldn't get all the fish she wanted in it.

I decided I wanted to do this right and get some plants in the tank this time. First thing I did when I got the tank was ripped the hood apart and put in a new t5 ballast so I could run 2x28w t5s. Along the way of researching plants I ran across dustin youtube page and I got hooked on the idea of dirt. So I got the pond soil and threw a silver sand cap on it and planted. Not having done my complete research I threw in some broken terracotta plant pots and some clay filter media thinking this would get the iron into the soil. For calcium I put in some cuttle bone.

I got 25 random stem plants from ebay the Vallisneria was about the only thing that lasted from that lot but I didn't give up and I slowly build the plants up doing more research and get the plants suitable for low light this is what the tank was like.

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A bit of a mess but there was good growth. I want to take it to a little higher level so I tried diy co2 and the plants grew quicker but the the diy was to unreliable so I've ordered regulator, and FE, Some of the EI salts are still to come.

I wasn't happy with the tank I had made a few two many mistakes so while the girlfriend is away this week I stripped the tank down and started over. The girlfriend would never of let me do this she hates it when I even move stuff in the tank as it is.

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Fish motel room with the canister filter hooked up. Took an hour to round up all the fish and shrimp. I though the dwarf rainbow would be the hardest to catch but they were incredibly dumb and flew into the net in there panic. Five banded barbs were the worst hiding in the corner with the same colour of the murky bottom I had to drain the tank to a inch of depth to catch the last couple of barbs.


Here's the plan of the new tank hopeful with some open swimming space and some sand for the pair of Rams and barbs to dig around in.


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One dirty tank, another reason why I didn't want to do this while the girlfriend was here.

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Opps there does the carpet. I sieved out the gravel from the dirt using mesh from the local garden centre.

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I later went through this to save some trumpet snails. The original 5 I had are now 9 I'm sure there was some small ones I missed though.

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Mud and sand soup. This was a lot like the silt on a river bank

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Got this clay postage and packaging for this 1kg sample was ridiculous but trying to find natural (non fibred) clay was very difficult.

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Time to get the hands dirty, left is the silt with the clay mixed in on the right is about the balls I put in. The depth of this bottom mix was about 10mm

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I throw in some more dirt in one corner, This goes from about 1" to 1.5" towards the back.

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I got the alpine grit from the garden centre at £3.99 for a 20L bag. The Unipac sand is the medium grit which I got for something like £15 for 12.5kg. As and engineering I sometimes forget when speaking to people that no one really works in millimetres. I went to the LFS and asked from a sand around 0.5-1mm with the guy saying that I wouldn't get anything that big about the closet he had was pea gravel, which confused me. I then asked about the black granite sand he had on the counter which looked to be about 0.5mm he said that it was sand an no he didn't have it in any colour other than black but that it was sand and not gravel he did have some silver sand but I told him that was to fine for a cap. This went backwards and forwards for a couple of minutes until I explain exactly what I wanted and him working out I wanted 0.5mm sand not 0.5cm sand/gravel. Anyway I was happy with this stuff.

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In goes the gravel and the girt. The idea is that the rams won't dig into the gravel to kick up the dirt but they can dig in the sand and hopefully the silt won't be kicked up, this might not work out but we'll see. Most people like a boarding substrate on the glass, I like the look of dirt on it.

That's it for now I'll post some more later need to make lunch.
 

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EnderUK

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Okay so time for the planting...

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Hard scape plants some java fern, Bateri (I think) the front two tied to two half plant pots are nana and nana bonsai don't ask me which is which. I've used rubber bands to tie it all down because I want to easily cut it and remove it in a months time. The moss is vesicularia ferrie tied on with fishing line.

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The rest of the plants are all in with the swords and crypts on the right, the nomaphila stricta at the back center and the stayrogyne and dwarf hair grass in the center pretty much to plan. Pulling out the plants from the old tank the roots took and beating, hope they bounce back. I trimmed off any bad growth, it's a lot more spars now.

The lugwig Sp and frogbit did not come in time so they'll be planted later.

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That's some murky water and that was after filling it up 1/4 way and draining it 5 times. I didn't take any photos of it but when filling up for the first time the right hand root was dislodged and I had to anchor it down into the gravel using a 2"2" cut of acrylic with a st.st screw that solved the problem though as you can see there's not very much moss left on the root.

I left it over night with the bubbles running before draining it and filling it up once more which cleared everything up. I then returned the fish to their new home. Once more I was glad the lass wasn't here, some of the fish were very stressed losing all their colour. She's going to kill me if she ever finds out how white they got.

When the lights come on tonight I'll take some more photos. The fire extinguisher arrived today, I've hooked it up but turned it off once I got it set to a starting point of around 1 bubble a second. I'm still waiting of the KNO3 and trace elements to arrive but I won't start dosing until Sunday. Why? because I'm doing 30% water changes daily until Friday to make sure there's nothing bad leaching off the soil. I'm not that concerned as I added less new dirt than I thought I would but better safe than sorry and I'm running the air stone 24/7 until then.

The fish seem to like there new home though the female ram did have a bloody lip yesterday I think she was fighting with the male as the swelling has gone down today.

I'll take some water parameters and some more pictures later tonight. If anyone has any advice or warnings let me know.
 

EnderUK

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wlc1.jpg


Setup:
Roma 125
lighting 2x28w iquatics t5 Tropicals
filter: Tetratec ex1200
co2: FE setup currently off
Dosing: 1 x 1/8 tsp Equilibrium, 2 x 1/4 tsp KNO3 + 1/16 tsp KH2PO4, 2 x 2 tsp TNC trace a week.

Water:
NH3/NH4 0, NO2 0, NO3 10-20, dGH 4.48, dKH 2.8

Fish: (Heavy Stocked)
6 Pentazona Barb (3m3f)
6 Neon Dwarf Rainbow Fish (3m3f)
1 Pearl Gourami (female)
2 Blue Ram (male female on and off relationship)
5 Otocinclus
4 Ghost Shrimp (1 female 3 male)
9 MST (last count).

Plants:
Echinodorus Ozelot
Echinodorus Red Flame
Nomaphila Sticta
Gymnocoronis Spilanthoides
Cryptocoryne Beckettii (I think)
Lugwig Sp (on order)
Staurogyne repens
Elecocharis parvula
Marsilea Hirsuta
Salvinia Natans
Limnomium Laeeigatum (on order)
Anubias Nana
Anubias Nana bonsai
Anubias Bateri (I think)
Mircosorum Pteropus
Vesicularia ferriei


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co2 is hooked up and I'm trying to set it so the bubble counter goes lime colour. Then I'll turn it ff till I start dosing.

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This is the Ram and Barb Play area with the water column feeds the anubias and java fern, patch of dhg and the Marsilea Hirsuta which was very very slowly growing in the last setup.

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The monster mother glass shrimp, she fears no one, leap frogging of the pearl and tussling for blood worms with the rams.

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don't know if this is the normal nana or the bonsai.

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You can still just see the slight wound on the female ram's lower lip as she eyes up the mts. This is the transition from gravel to sand I like the outcome. The male ram takes great delight in flipping the snails though he seems to be leaving them alone in this setup so far.

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I need to get better at focusing the camera.

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Nomaphila Sticta has been hacked to pieces but it was the fastest grower in the last tank so should grow back quickly. There is still one stem of Gymnocoronis Spilanthoides but in the last setup it was a slow grower but that was in the corner of the tank. Hoping it will grow more in the centre rear. The Gourami, barbs and rainbows were the lasses choice of fish.

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it will be nice if the Marsilea Hirsuta grows a bit better in this setup, after the initial melt it slowly grew in the last tank. My choice of fauna for the ram are all here the rams, otos and glass shrimp.

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Ram hiding under Cryptocoryne Beckettii.


Sorry about some of the fuzzy images I now have a tripod so at least the camera is steady. If anyone can point me in the direct of some photo tips / camera settings I'm sure I can take some better pictures.

I hope you like my tank. As the title says I'm still learning and I'll take advice rather than having to learn from mistakes so feel free to chip in if you think I should alter anything in any ways.

I'll keep the photos coming as the tank develops.
 

EnderUK

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So a weeks gone by and the lass is back tomorrow so I might not be posting again if she hates what I've done.

I was so close to going to Jessops yesterday to get an entry level DSLR but I'm holding back as I need to do some repairs to my roof. So you'll have to put up with the point and shoot images for now.

After reading BigTom's Big Bucket of mud I'm in two minds as to weather to turn on the co2. I've got time to decide I might wait until there's some more growth or I might just leave it off if the growth is good.


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Ludwiga Sp. and the Frogbit arrived at last, almost missed it as it came to my work on a friday which is a half day.

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There's still some Salvinia Natans in the tank just in case the frogbit melts or doesn't take.

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I like the Ludwiga, I'm sure it well melt and not be as red as it current'y is but we'll see. There's a lot of murkiness which is either a bacteria bloom or I didn't wash the gravel as well as I could of. I'm pretty sure its a bacteria bloom though so I've switched the lighting down to 5 hours a day and I'll keep up with the daily water changes.

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The DHG has pretty much melted, I'm hoping it will bounce back without the co2 I might of planted it far too densely should of split it up more. As long as some of it bounces back I'm good.
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The female GBR has made a full recovery however she's now constantly chasing the make who has lost his colour. It's another reason why I've switched the lighting down to 5 hours to calm her down a little.

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As long as subject is no more than 2" away I'm getting okay shots with the samsung PL120

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Playing around with the settings increasing the shutter speed but the barbs and rainbowfish are still too fast.

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Measuring white powder, it's plant food honest judge.

Still waiting on my KNO3 but I thought I'd mix up the trace & equalibrium mixture.I haven't been anal and measured to the nearest 0.01 of a gram, I'm actually probably +/-1g out.

B 0.03
Ca 1.42
Cu 0.01
Fe 0.2
K 3.43
Mg 0.42
Mn 0.05
Mo 0.0036
Zn 0.03
dGH 0.3

This will be dosed once a week and the 500ml bottle should last 25 weeks. If I don't turn on the CO2 I have enough ferts for years.


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EnderUK

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There's been some slight issues, I turned the air stone off two nights ago and came back yesterday to find the fish gasping (still no co2 injection), so I turned on the airstone and the fish quickly recovered. I think that the high fish stock plus the currently lower plant mass isn't producing enough O2. I did have surface ripple and I have a 1200L filter for a 125L tank so flow should be enough. I'm going to leave the air stone on for now, I might see what turning it off during lighting hours does during the weekend when I can monitor it.

Male ram is still stressed I think I'm going to take him out and put him into the 28L tank tonight to see if his color picks up without the female bothering him.

KNO3 arrived so I dosed that last night. I've made a 5.0-0.5-3.5 NO2-P-K 10ml/125l solution so I dose 20ml a week for low light and I can easily up the dosage if I turn on the co2.

Lots of the plants are melting but I'm starting to see new growth so hopefully all plants will have full recovery.
 

EnderUK

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Okay new plan, I've shifted the middle plant pot taking the anubis nana off it and rubber band tied it to the lava rock on the left had side.

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This has cleared this area at the front, I plan on going into the woods and seeing if I can find any fresh fallen leaf litter for this area.

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I've put the male ram but I've made a make shift wall to reduce aggression maybe this will give the male some time to pick up without him getting chased all the time.

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general state of the tank is much melting, the frogbit, staurogyne, dhg is taking a beating. The ludwigia is doing surprisingly well, lost some of the red, more a wine stain colour now, but no major melting so I'm happy with it.
 

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EnderUK

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Well the frogbit didn't last I think the water was too high to the hood so the frogbit was either melting liturally or that it wasn't getting enough light.

So I went to ebay and bought 5 quids worth of red root floater (phyllanthus fluitans) and I got loads plus It came with duckweed. Being far to lazy to sort that mess out I just threw it all in my tank. Hell if I can't grow duckweed as a floating plant I think it's time to quit.

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I lower the water about an inch and I've reduced the spray bar and pulled out the stopper and turned the flow down to 50%. This seems like it keeps most of the RRF in the corner above the anubias where I want it. Any other method seems to drag the RRF under. This might cause some issues if I turn on the co2 on, but for now it's good and there's leaf movement in all the plants so I'm happy.


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Not so red roots.
 

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EnderUK

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So been very busy so no photo shots this weekend. I decided to upgrade the girlfriend to fianceé.

Stuff that's going on with the tank.

Sadly the big mother shrimp died on me, however a smaller female now has green eggs in her saddle, shame i can't set up a pea soup to grow them. One of my otos has been battling a wound on his nose, the fungus quickly died with a meth blue bath and some whole tanking dosing of paraguard, the wound has almost completely healed up.

After putting in a new fluval spray bar to increase the current within the tank I've turned up the temperature to a toasty 82F to try and get the Rams happier. The other fish seem quite happy at this temperature but I'm monitoring it. With the increase flow I'm turning on the co2 today starting at around 1 bubble a second and see how the fish cope with that.

The RRF has melted to about 1/4 of the mass but there is new shoots so I'm hopeful as long and the pearl gourami stops pulling it below the surface. The tank is looking a bit of a mess with the leaf litter all over the place due to the current. Will have to give it a good trim and tid up this weekend I think.
 

Alastair

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Looking well ender. The marsilea is slow growing even with co2 addition. Ive had it in both hi tech and low.
The tank would look very natural with a nice layer of oak and beech leaves at the front like you say.

If you've turned up the temp and now started co2 keep your eyes on it as oxygen levels are much lower in a warmer tank which could have an effect on the tank inhabitants.

Personally I think this would be great just left as a low tech set up. Maybe remove one of the light tubes. There's plenty of nutrients in the substrate and you can add a pinch of ferts once a week or so.

Hope to see how this looks in another few months time when everything has settled in
 

EnderUK

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Cheers, yeah if the fish get stressed the co2 will be turned off again. I'd like to try co2 at least once and will probably turn it off when the plant mass gets high enough, depends on how long the FE lasts. Another option might be easycarb, the 1L bottle should last 200 days with my tank so if the FE doesn't last as long as that then the easycarb would be the more economic method.

I don't think I would need to take out a light, it's quite a deep tank and it was algea free for 6 months without co2 in the last setup.

I have since, the last photo, taken down the makeshift fence, the female ram still chases the male every so often but not as much as before. The marsilea I've actually split up and put it different areas of the tank, I figure most lawns are a mixutre of grasses and weeds so that's what Im going for as well.

The lass has promised me an DSLR for my birthday so phots should get better in april, probably in time for the next project a 28L nano tank.
 

EnderUK

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Okay so apparently I don't have a low light setup like I first thought, according to charts I'm in the 120 micromoles at the substrate. I still feel something is wrong as I went 6 months without algea problems in a no fert no co2 setup.

If it becomes an issue I might hack the hood apart again and use 2x14w t5 8000k light, we'll wait and see.

CO2 has been up and running, the drop checker refuses to turn green never mind lime green at 1 bubble a second. I'm guessing the temperature is driving the co2 out, I'm reluctant to put the co2 much higher than this but I will and monitor the fish.

Tank is pretty dirty, major clean up on sunday and 50% wc. I've uploaded a video of the flow.

 

EnderUK

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Sad news. The female ram was missing during the feeding frenzy, found her in the corner dead. I had done a major 70% water change taking over an hour to refill, don't know if that had something to do with it, or if she got into a serious fight with the male and lost or if she just died. Not happy but looks like this has solved the problem of the two rams fighting. I won't be getting a replacement female going to keep the stock levels how they are, dropping temperature back down to 80F since I'm not trying to get rams to get along any more.

Did a bit of trimming and cleaning while doing the water change.

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total melting of the mass of floating plants, I'm really not doing well with them, however there is new shoots so I'm hopeful. I also rescued some frogbit and threw it in my nano tank to see if it does better. Might put it back in this tank if it bounces back.

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Happy little male ram playing in the leaf litter.

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Otos like it as well.

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Jungle is coming along.
 

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EnderUK

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Okay been a busy week with my nano tank but still looking after the main tank. Not really anything new to report plant wise other than I threw in a bit of wood with some moss super glued to it after I finished on the nano tank.

This post is more a DIY post as I hacked my hood once more to change the lights.

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These are the t5HO iquatic 24" 28w tropical bulbs. Doing the maths I'm about 120 par at substrate, the only saving grace I think is the reflectors as you can see kinda point about 30 degrees outwards. I couldn't simply put in smaller bulbs as these refectors are designed for 24" not 22" tubes.

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So I got the knock off dremel out and was hoping that I could tap the acrylic with m4 taps. However the taps just ripped the thread out so I ended up super gluing the m4 bolts through the t5 tube clips, the reflector and then into the acrylic.

I sanded down the plastic and then super glued that to the flaps on the hood. I don't actually have any pictures of this for some reason, think it was getting late.

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this is a before shot with the tropical 2x28w bulbs.

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This is 2x14w osram lumax 840 and 880, coolers are much more vibrant.

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Very red and the fish seem to like it.

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The lass brought home an early birthday present, battery on charge :D
 

EnderUK

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Okay so I'm playing around with the new camera, the following shots are with the standard 18-55 kit lens and a bit photo editing.

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Think the tank is coming along nicely, got used to the lower light which is given off more yellow, red and greens, not everything looks washed out now. Most of the plants seemed to be settling in now. The carpet plants are slowly growing, it's getting there but it's still only been a month. I'll probably post less updates now maybe every other week or so. Practice with the camera a bit more.
 

Bufo Bill

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Glad to see your tank progressing. The lighting looks great now, it really shows off the new plant growth.
Oh, and congrats on the "fiancéfication", have you thought about a UKAPS guard of honour when you sort out the wedding plans? They would either shower you both with cappata leaves or cross pruning scissors as you leave the church.
 

EnderUK

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Bit down, had to put down the male ram today. I think my KH3 water is too hard with them or the tank water was being buffed too much by the soil. I might look into get a pair of bolivian rams in a month or so. Though I might be tempted to get either a few more barbs or a couple more Gourami.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Bit down, had to put down the male ram today.
I don't think that it is anything that you have done. The problem lies with the quality of the Rams that are imported from SE Asia, they are riddled with parasites, often hormone treated and genetically compromised.

There are some fish that I wouldn't buy from anybody other than a breeder, and Rams are one of them. It is a real shame because they are great little fish and deserve better.

cheers Darrel
 

EnderUK

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LFS guy says they are from a local guy who Breeds them in Bradfords tap water which is apparently the 3rd or 4th softest in the UK. He did say that I shouldn't be doing 50% water changes but unless I cut out the EI and CO2 that's not going to stop. I might start spreading the refill of the tank to 2 hours rather than the 1 hour I'm doing now.

I don't think the male ever was happy after the rescape, the female (who I'm surprised died as she seemed completely fine) was constantly chasing him away so don't think he recovered from that. You can see in that last photo he's on the skinny side.

I'm going to let the tank mature at least for another month, when I get back from holiday I'll think about it some more, I'm open to suggestions.


On another note, went to the local fire safety services and pick up 3 2kg FE for free :D
 
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EnderUK

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Hi all,
I don't think that it is anything that you have done. The problem lies with the quality of the Rams that are imported from SE Asia, they are riddled with parasites, often hormone treated and genetically compromised.

There are some fish that I wouldn't buy from anybody other than a breeder, and Rams are one of them. It is a real shame because they are great little fish and deserve better.

cheers Darrel
They are from a local breeder using Bradford Water, got them from QSS Koi and I had the choice of the local breed or the wild caught. Still I might just of been unlucky.
 
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