Tank Setup Suggestions for F8

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Tank Setup Suggestions for F8

Postby skoram on Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:24 am

Hello all,

Planning to purchase a Figure 8 Puffer after a few weeks here in Seoul, Korea and would love to get some suggestions and feedback from the knowledgeable people in this forum. The tank is 80 liters (about 21 US gallons). I'm also considering adding a BB gobie to the tank in addition to several plants like anubias barteri and banana plants.

For substrate I plan to use http://www.hellobetta.com/mall/m_mall_d ... s_page=1#A - the Korean literally translates to "ground coral sand" and I wonder if this would be an appropriate substitute for arogonite sand. Alternatively, I may purchase http://www.greenfish.co.kr/shop/view.ht ... &scat_uid= which is also crushed coral.

I am hesitant to use fine grain sand as it is difficult to clean and therefore am curious if there is any particular benefit of using sand for F8 Puffer Fish versus larger sized crushed coral. I know that arogonite and crushed coral are recommended in order to keep the Ph around 8. With this in mind, I also wonder if it would be overly detrimental (aside from tannin leeching) to include several pieces of driftwood in the tank.

Once everything is set up I plan to raise the SG to around 1.004 or 1.005 using Red Sea Salt and filter using http://www.hellobetta.com/mall/m_mall_d ... s_page=1#A. Unfortunately they don't sell AquaClear filters in Korea. What i usually do for aeration when using HoB filters is to leave the water level slightly below the outflow "lip" to create a slight waterfall effect. Do you think that separate aeration will be necessary? I have read that puffers require more O2 than other fish.

Any feedback and answers you guys can offer about this setup are greatly appreciated.
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Re: Tank Setup Suggestions for F8

Postby DGabbs on Mon Jul 16, 2012 7:26 am

When buying live plants for F8s, be aware that it is possible to get a puffer that bites at them looking for snails. I was lucky enough to get one of these ones. LIve plants can be expensive and i had to throw out $20 worth of live plants after 3 days of having F8s.

Sand is nice to have because puffers like to sleep in the sand. IF your water has a low kH you need to buffer with something like agoronite or base rock.

Drift wood tends to rot faster in brackish water according to some folks (Never done it myself)

HOB filter should provide enough disolved oxygen. The oxygen exchange happens at the water surface, and a HOB filter with a bit of drop space provides plenty of movement.

Over filter if you can. A good HOB filter for your 20gal would be the aquaclear 50. Its the most recommended HOB by hobbyists and it is very easy to customize your medis set up.

Good luck with the tank, and just make sure you do a very thorough cycle. On my first brackish cycle, some how the nitrite bacteria got hit, and i added the puffers and had a small amount of nitrite for a couple day. :( No harm done though, my water is stable now.

Heres is my puffer biting plants.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bj9KngpFgWw
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Re: Tank Setup Suggestions for F8

Postby Iliveinazoo on Tue Jul 17, 2012 8:34 am

Either of those substrates will be fine. Figure 8's do not sleep in the sand as suggested in the previous post.

Your puffer will enjoy swimming around and hiding under the plants but if you plan to take the salinity beyond SG1.003 then your chosen plants will probably die off. If I was DGabbs I'd probably have just removed the damaged leaves, even if it was all of them and waited for the plant to re-grow in the hope that the puffer would leave them alone in the future.

I've had a largish chunk of driftwood in my low salinity brackish tank for years so if you're buffering with crushed coral then I wouldn't be too woried about adding driftwood to your tank.

I had a hang-on-the-back filter originally and replaced it with a canister because of salt creep, as long as you have surface movement then you are adding oxygen to your aquarium.
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Re: Tank Setup Suggestions for F8

Postby DGabbs on Tue Jul 17, 2012 6:51 pm

Iliveinazoo wrote:Either of those substrates will be fine. Figure 8's do not sleep in the sand as suggested in the previous post.

Your puffer will enjoy swimming around and hiding under the plants but if you plan to take the salinity beyond SG1.003 then your chosen plants will probably die off. If I was DGabbs I'd probably have just removed the damaged leaves, even if it was all of them and waited for the plant to re-grow in the hope that the puffer would leave them alone in the future.

I've had a largish chunk of driftwood in my low salinity brackish tank for years so if you're buffering with crushed coral then I wouldn't be too woried about adding driftwood to your tank.

I had a hang-on-the-back filter originally and replaced it with a canister because of salt creep, as long as you have surface movement then you are adding oxygen to your aquarium.



OK, on the sand... Thats what i meant.

There was no point in keeping the plants. They were ripped to shreds and just adding ammonia to the water. Every leaf was on the way out, and I figured that even when new leafs started to grow, the biting was so constant that the puffer would have just ruined them too. I did manage to find some realistic fake plants.
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Re: Tank Setup Suggestions for F8

Postby skoram on Tue Jul 17, 2012 8:54 pm

Thanks for the great feedback guys.

Puffers possibly nipping at leaves was one of the reasons I plan to use plants like the anubias barteri with thick waxy leaves. I'm still curious as to why other members here like RTR so strongly recommend sand - there must be some reason, right? Even if it is more difficult to clean, I'll gladly sacrifice some convenience if there is a benefit to the puffer.

DGabbs - I'd love to get an Aquaclear but they don't sell them here in Korea. Hagen apparently doesn't distribute their products in Korea, as I've not seen any of their other brands here either.

Iliveinazoo - will a 0.001 SG difference (from 1.003 to 1.004) really cause plants to die? My impression is that 1.005 SG was ideal for F8s.
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Re: Tank Setup Suggestions for F8

Postby DGabbs on Tue Jul 17, 2012 9:20 pm

skoram wrote:Thanks for the great feedback guys.

Puffers possibly nipping at leaves was one of the reasons I plan to use plants like the anubias barteri with thick waxy leaves. I'm still curious as to why other members here like RTR so strongly recommend sand - there must be some reason, right? Even if it is more difficult to clean, I'll gladly sacrifice some convenience if there is a benefit to the puffer.

DGabbs - I'd love to get an Aquaclear but they don't sell them here in Korea. Hagen apparently doesn't distribute their products in Korea, as I've not seen any of their other brands here either.

Iliveinazoo - will a 0.001 SG difference (from 1.003 to 1.004) really cause plants to die? My impression is that 1.005 SG was ideal for F8s.


1.003 -1.005 is ideal for F8s. Freshwater plants, with the exception of jave fern and a few other hardy plants aren't great in any level of salt, so every bit more salt there is, the worst they're going to do. As far as i know, java fern is the/one of the very few that "does well" at 1.005.

Too bad about the aquaclear, they're all that i have ever used and they're very affective.

RTR recommends arogonite sand because it buffers the water. Most people unless your on a well, don't have pH levels around 8.2 (ideal for F8s) so arogonite is a way of buffering the water to achieve a higher pH.

I use silica sand because its very cheap and i'm on a well (my well water has a very high kH and a pH of 8.0 right out of the tap) With base rock in my brackish aquarium my pH is as high as 8.4-8.6.
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Re: Tank Setup Suggestions for F8

Postby skoram on Tue Jul 17, 2012 11:57 pm

with regards to the pH, crushed coral does the same thing, doesn't it? I'm mainly wondering if there is any benefit to using aragonite sand over larger crushed coral. for example, if puffers actually did sleep or rest in the substrate, sand could be more comfortable for them, etc.

I've read that anubias and banana plants do fairly well in brackish water but you can only trust the random stuff you read on the internet so much.
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Re: Tank Setup Suggestions for F8

Postby puffykid on Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:15 am

I've been searching through the forum myself after you posted this question on crushed coral and aragonite sand. You are correct in that they both do regulate the ph and hold it stable in a range of 8-8.2, from what I can tell the main differences are that crushed coral needs to be washed more thoroughly and will leave your tank cloudy or multiple days unless you use filter floss and also crushed coral seems to promote hair algae growth on it and aragonite sand doesn't. I think besides the hair algae portion the choice is pretty much yours, I would think that also crushed coral would take up a bit more of the water column up because it takes up more surface area.

1.005 is what RTR found to be the best salinity for long term health of f8s.
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Re: Tank Setup Suggestions for F8

Postby Iliveinazoo on Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:17 am

RTR has stated in the past that he prefers Arogonite sand because it is smaller and lighter and 'dissolves' faster than the larger crushed coral and hence provides more carbonate hardness to the water increasing its buffering capability.

As Dgabbs rightly says the more salt then the harder it is on your plants and since Figure 8's are perfectly happy at SG1.003@25DegC (optimum being between SG1.003 and SG1.005 at 25DegC) then it makes sense to make it easier on your plants. Some plants will thrive at SG1.003 but die off or stop growing at SG1.004. Some plants that I know will survive up to SG1.005@25DegC are:

1. Bacopa Monnieri.
2. Java Fern.
3. Java Moss.
4. Saggitaria Subulata.
5. Aponogenton Crispus.

Try a higher salinity by all means but expect difficulties and failure. Bear in mind that very few of the plants traded occur naturally in Brackish locations.

Crushed coral does not promote hair algae. An imbalance in light, flow and nutrients will cause it; i.e. too much light and not enough ferts: http://www.theplantedtank.co.uk/algae.htm
Physics will tell you that water displacement does not depend on the type of substrate but how much substrate is used; equal mass equals the same displacement.
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Re: Tank Setup Suggestions for F8

Postby Pufferpunk on Wed Jul 18, 2012 9:36 am

Even with adding only 1 tbsp salt/5g, my anubias melted.
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Re: Tank Setup Suggestions for F8

Postby DGabbs on Wed Jul 18, 2012 9:48 pm

I suppose that you could get a slightly larger volume of water in an aquarium using crushed coral at the same hight above bottom glass than when compared with sand, because of the space in the crushed coral (Sand being smaller grains packs tighter and therefor needs more mass to achieve the same substrate hight) But to think that this volume difference is an "advantage" to crushed coral would be silly. May ad a few cups of water volume to your system, if that, and most of that water being trapped under the coral and not circulating... In the name of practicality iliveinazoo pretty well summed that up. If volume of sand = volume of coral then there is the same water volume.
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Re: Tank Setup Suggestions for F8

Postby puffykid on Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:22 pm

I was quoting Myaj and his personal experience with crushed coral "I've never used crushed coral in freshwater, but when I did use it in saltwater I had the most insane algae growing on it. A green hair algae.. I had mixed CC with argonite sand, and the algae only grew on the pieces of CC" So I only meant to state it as a potential problem, after doing some research on it (google) I found another person who said they noticed that their crushed coral seem to harbor and store nitrates and phosphates so they suggested that people make sure they vacuum the substrate well. Maybe that's where the hair algae can sometimes grow from?

Also in my head I was thinking about the crushed coral being coarse and large, so if the op is going to use small pieces then my argument is extra irrelevant. Even if we are comparing the large cc to small aragonite sand I guess the water volume increase wouldn't be that large anyways, but I figured it would be worth mentioning even if not an astonishing amount.
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Re: Tank Setup Suggestions for F8

Postby Pufferpunk on Thu Jul 19, 2012 12:32 am

I used to use CC but wouldn't anymore.

BTW, Myaj is a gal--Amy.
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Re: Tank Setup Suggestions for F8

Postby puffykid on Thu Jul 19, 2012 12:38 am

Pufferpunk wrote:I used to use CC but wouldn't anymore.

BTW, Myaj is a gal--Amy.



lols! I appologize didn't mean to call you the wrong gender Myaj!
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Re: Tank Setup Suggestions for F8

Postby skoram on Sat Jul 21, 2012 10:40 am

My tank finished cycling so I went out and bought 1 figure 8 today - it was actually the very last one out of several stores I checked in Seoul. By contrast there are still a ton of GSPs for sale. Tank was setup with most of the aforementioned items - crushed coral sand mixed with larger bits of crushed coral, 2 pieces of driftwood and a couple rocks. SG has been steady at around 1.003 - 1.004. No plants yet. Have a HoB filter rated for 100 liters but it's only 20 liters more than my tank. I'm considering replacing it with a more powerful filter. Acclimated the F8 over a period of about 4 hours and he/she seems to be doing very well but for one problem - he shows no interest in snails. I gave him frozen bloodworms and he eagerly gobbled those up, but totally ignored both of the snails I gave him. both were very tiny, a little smaller than his eye - one ramshorn and one that i could only describe as a typical pond snail. Anyone have any ideas? Could be that I need to give him more time to adjust to the tank, but he was perfectly fine with the bloodworms.

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