First time hillstream loach planning

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First time hillstream loach planning

Postby fossphur » Tue Sep 19, 2017 2:49 am

I've been looking at getting some hillstream loaches, specifically pseudogastromyzon myersi as every other sucker-type loach seems to be forbidden for import to Australia. I have an established planted 4' long tank with 9 thayeria boehlkei, 10+ peacock gudgeons and 6 yoyo loaches which I would like to be the eventual home for these fish. There is a bit of an algae build up as the tetras previously mentioned became murderous towards the otocinclus that used to be in this tank (due to their dark lateral stripe I suspect). I am not really looking to replace otos with sucker loaches, moreso it seems the conditions in my tank may be suitable for them and I do not think they will attract attention from the murder-tetras. When I added the yoyo loaches, I modified the spray bar of the filter to have an elbow pointing forwards along the front glass, and a Venturi to add air bubbles, so the front of the tank has a higher flow and there should be good oxygenation. I have an air stone at the opposite end of the tank which further circulates and oxygenates the water, and additional to the driftwood that is already in the tank, I've added some rounded rocks and a bigger flattened rock to the front of the tank hopefully to accumulate algae in this higher flow area - I haven't been cleaning the glass either. I keep the tank at 24C, TDS around 250, medium alkalinity and I'm filtering with an external canister with an extra sponge pre-filter, water changing 25% every 9-10 days. I would like to get 4 of these Borneo sucker loaches for this tank and I'm looking for information on whether I have done enough to make it suitable for them, whether four is enough or too many, and whether there may be incompatibility issues (perhaps with the yoyos since they are pretty pushy about food, although I think they are less enthusiastic about vegetable based food).

One of the additional preparations I'm doing is the quarantine tank. I have a 20g tall (2 feet long) with sand and large river pebble bottom, and I've been trying to grow algae in it for them. I've had more success with quarantining fish by giving them some comforts to reduce stress, over bare tanks. Anyway in this tank I have a small sunsun wave maker with an air stone under it which produces a stream of chopped up bubbles, plus a power head on a big sponge filter on the other side of the tank which uses another Venturi fitting to add air to the filter outlet. No heater in this tank. Is it big enough to quarantine 4 Borneo suckers?

Regarding food, I have small algae disc wafers, some soft vitalis brand Pleco pellets and some gel food which I am hoping will be suitable for these fish. The tank gets grindal worms every now and then too.

Anyone have any suggestions or comments for whether Borneo suckers will be happy in my tank? Or anything I've missed that I should consider?

The quarantine tank (before I put the wave maker in)
Image
fossphur
 
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Re: First time hillstream loach planning

Postby Diana » Tue Sep 19, 2017 9:33 pm

In my experience Yoyos can be quite aggressive. I would not try to keep hillstream Loaches in a tank where Yoyos are in charge of the lower areas.
I would set up a special tank just for hillstream species.
Skip the air bubbles.
Set up some power heads or circulation pumps that will create a horizontal water flow, more typical of a river. Or set up a canister filter with the intake at one end and the outlet at the other end of the tank. Aim for a minimum water flow of 20 x the tank volume per hour. For example, if you wanted to use your 20 gallon tank for this, your canister would be rated at 400 gph minimum.
Look into some more compatible tank mates. Fish that come from a calm jungle pool (the Thayeria) will not really thrive in a tank with enough water movement that the Hillstream Loaches will need.
38 tanks, 2 ponds over 4000 liters of water to keep clean and fresh.

Happy fish keeping!
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Re: First time hillstream loach planning

Postby fossphur » Wed Sep 20, 2017 3:01 am

Thanks for this advice! I've really been on the fence about it, and I'd rather have happy fish than conflicts so I won't mix hillstreams in with my yoyos. With six of them they tend to leave the other fish alone but they do still have some growing to do and I don't know how well behaved they will remain.

If the intended quarantine tank is big enough to use as full time housing I might try to build a manifold or I've also seen a race track style river tank where the power heads are hidden behind a divider. I do have a big dual wave maker that I'm not using so if I can work out how to produce a linear flow I could use that. I would have preferred them in a longer tank for long-term care of hill streams, I think I still have room for one more tank... Back to the drawing board!
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Re: First time hillstream loach planning

Postby fossphur » Thu Sep 21, 2017 1:21 am

I have been doing some reading and came across some info regarding issues with heat transfer from power heads when trying to set up a hillstream tank. Someone came up with the idea of using a modified hang on filter to keep the motor outside of the tank and transfer less heat - their idea was to block up most of the water return channel so that the water would come out in a stronger jet from a single point. I wasn't too keen on the rest of their flow management as it involved an under gravel filter directing flow along the back wall to return it to the hang on filters inlet. However this made me wonder - why not combine the manifold idea with the hang on filter?

Image

Excuse the extremely poorly drawn sketch. I was thinking either an extremely oversized hang on filter or a couple of smaller ones side by side, depending on which got the better flow rate. I have a small canister filter I could add to that for extra flow/filtration too if needed. This maximises the usable area in the tank while removing a heat source to the outside of the tank. What do you think? I wonder how much it would affect the flow to extend the filter intake like that. I think I've got some experimenting to do!
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Re: First time hillstream loach planning

Postby Bas Pels » Thu Sep 21, 2017 2:40 am

You are right to point out issues with heating using powerheads. Or an internal filter for that matter.

I got a tank with an internal filter which has a turn around of 10 times, using 38 watts. These 38 watts heat the tank to 4 C above ambidient.

The thing is, however, I once read people in the USA like ther houses a bit warmer then we do in Europe. We generally like 20 , they 25 C. 3 C above 25 would be too hot, 3 C above 20 would fit nicely for many tropical hillstream species.

I don't know whether you are American or European, but if it is the latter, I would not worry about the heat.
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Re: First time hillstream loach planning

Postby fossphur » Thu Sep 21, 2017 10:24 am

Even worse, I am in Australia so heat is a real concern for me. I did a test with some fittings I found and a 650L/h hang on filter but I don't think the flow was very good. My first impression was that the filter sponge was too fine and was clogging too fast and impeding the flow, so I made new sponges from some spare poret foam which helped but it still really wasn't enough flow (and didn't look much like 650L/h). I added a wave maker to this and it looks a lot better! The wavemaker says its 2000L/h but I'm not sure how true that is - at only 2.5W it won't add much heat at all. The combination of both flows results in a path down across the sloped rocks on the left, then along the flat rock on the bottom. In the bottom of the tank the flow seems completely linear but there is a bit of return flow up the right wall and gently across the top. I've been using old dirty water from other tanks to get some life into this one as it hasn't had any occupants yet.

Image

The moss possibly won't stay in permanently, it's attached to a stick and I needed somewhere to put it so I could use the bucket it was in for something else. Might be useful for shelter? There are a few odd bits of java fern windelof and some cladophora algae balls floating around too. Some duckweed got in by accident so I want all that gone but it was pretty handy for visualising where the water was flowing. I'm trying to remove as many snails as I can as they are voracious for algae. The current light is a single 3000K LED tube which may or may not grow algae, but I had to take the two T8 tubes off as they were creating far too much heat and I didn't have any other light spare. My peacock gudgeon tank is temporarily without a light while I do this test set up. I think I want to get something more like a 10000K LED tube for this tank to make sure nice algae can grow on the rocks.

PS Diana I couldn't bring myself to get rid of the airstone, but in this picture I hid it in between the sponges! Helps to direct the flow where I want and reduces turbulence elsewhere in the tank I've found, and I like having a backup method to keep the water moving in case something else fails :)
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Re: First time hillstream loach planning

Postby Diana » Thu Sep 21, 2017 11:34 pm

Adding old water to increase the population of microorganisms is a good start, but you also have to feed those organisms. Drop in some fish food, just like it was fully stocked. The fish food will decompose, feeding the microorganisms. See the sticky about fishless cycling.
viewtopic.php?f=7&t=16737

I have used a HOB filter (Aquaclear) in just the way you have drawn it.
I used PVC (Irrigation pipe) to get the water from the far side of the tank to the intake. Worked pretty well.
I have also used a canister filter for a hillstream tank. Works well.
The secret to either of these is a large enough filter.
Yes, the finer sponges will fill up pretty fast. Best to use a sponge or Poret that is as coarse as will still keep the fish out, and just stop the leaves from clogging the system. Let the filter media that is in the filter do its job of actually cleaning the water.

The flow listed for almost all filters, pumps etc. is not true. The manufacturer may have measured it with no filter media, or simply exaggerated.
38 tanks, 2 ponds over 4000 liters of water to keep clean and fresh.

Happy fish keeping!
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Re: First time hillstream loach planning

Postby fossphur » Thu Sep 28, 2017 3:01 pm

I ended up pulling out my hoses and replacing them with rigid lines as the tubing had collapsed a bit and the flow was noticably reduced. I also had to do some maintenance on the HOB flow adjuster as it was allowing air to be sucked in which made the impeller slow down as it was struck by bubbles, so again reducing the flow. Everything looks solid now. We've had a couple of hot days and I'm pleased to say that tank is staying cool. There are nitrates in the tank and no ammonia or nitrite so the filter seems to have kept its cycle - and I have been ghost feeding the tank to make sure there is a nitrogen source. I think I need to tweak the water a little more before the fish arrive, the GH is a bit too high but nothing a good water change can't fix. I'm not sure if there's any point trying to match my tank water to the water that the fish will arrive in as they will have been in the bag in the mail for a day or so so I expect the water will not be in great condition.

Plop and drop or carefully acclimatise? I'll want to float them to match temperature if nothing else. I was thinking about how to drip acclimate a hillstream loach - a bucket with an airstone, and tank water trickling in? Most of the fish I've kept up until now haven't been too sensitive and have coped fine with being quickly removed from their gross bag water and put into a nice fresh tank but I can imagine a hillstream loach might have different requirements.
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Re: First time hillstream loach planning

Postby Diana » Thu Sep 28, 2017 7:29 pm

If you can match the TDS that would probably be best.
But you are right, the water in the bag is pretty bad.
Ammonia and CO2 are produced by the fish.
The CO2 keeps the ammonia in the form of ammonium, which is less toxic. But as soon as you open the bag the CO2 escapes, allowing the pH in the water to rise. This makes the ammonium turn into ammonia, much more toxic. The sooner they are out of this, the better.
I generally set up a quarantine tank with fairly soft water.
Then test the TDS in the bag while the bag floats. I can raise the TDS in the tank pretty fast, then scoop the fish out of the bag and place them in the tank pretty fast.
38 tanks, 2 ponds over 4000 liters of water to keep clean and fresh.

Happy fish keeping!
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Re: First time hillstream loach planning

Postby Bas Pels » Fri Sep 29, 2017 2:39 am

Diana wrote:If you can match the TDS that would probably be best.
But you are right, the water in the bag is pretty bad.
Ammonia and CO2 are produced by the fish.
The CO2 keeps the ammonia in the form of ammonium, which is less toxic. But as soon as you open the bag the CO2 escapes, allowing the pH in the water to rise. This makes the ammonium turn into ammonia, much more toxic. The sooner they are out of this, the better.


This might be a bit cryptic.
Ammonia is NH3, a byproduct of digesting proteins. In acidic water, you have H3O+ and you see H3O+ + NH3 -> H2O + NH4+. That is, the extra proton in H3O is given to the ammonia.

CO2 makes the water more acidic, that is, it makes more H3O. What happens is CO2 + H2O <-> H2CO3 <-> HCO3- + H+ (reacts with H2O to H3O+)

I used <-> in order to state that everything is in equilibrium, but if you add CO2 you will get more H3O+ in the end.

When you open the bag, the available CO2 will evaporate, and then the equilibrium will go back to the right resulting in less H3O+. This is componsated by NH4+ + H2O -> H3O+ + NH3

NH3 can also evaporate, but does this much more slowly
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Re: First time hillstream loach planning

Postby fossphur » Sat Sep 30, 2017 4:33 am

Thanks for the extra chemistry detail! It was my best subject at highschool but that is 20+ years ago now so it's been a bit of fun trying to relearn it to better understand what is going on in my tanks. I still consider myself to be a beginner fish enthusiast even though I've been keeping fish since Nov. 2014. I threw myself into it headlong wanting to do the right thing for my new fishy friends and rapidly discovered that some fish and plants aren't compatible, some fish can't be kept together, some fish have specific needs (food, water chemistry, fish psychology), sometimes tap water can't be trusted, and so on. My answer to all of this has never been "get rid of the problem fish" but "get another tank and make changes to provide a suitable environment" so I have a lot of tanks running right now.

This attempt to keep hillstream loaches is a big leap out of my comfort zone but I feel like I am most of the way there. I've been able to keep my corydoras alive and happy (they prefer cooler water) and I've been able to keep my peacock gudgeons alive and breeding like crazy (they prefer very clean water), I've been able to keep my otos alive (they're algae grazers but kind of hard to tell if they are happy or not) so the hillstream loaches are only adding one more requirement, the high flow/oxygenation. However it throws all those other elements together in one tank. I don't want to make things too hard for myself as it's the fish that will suffer if I get it wrong, so thanks for helping me get everything straightened out before starting out with these fish.

I'm not 100% sure what I'll end up getting, they're advertised as psuedogastromyzon myersi but I've seen posts by other Australian fishkeepers that they were sent a mix of loaches when they were expecting one kind. I'll post some pictures once they arrive.
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Re: First time hillstream loach planning

Postby fossphur » Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:37 pm

I had a call from the place I ordered the borneo sucker fish from and it turns out that they were completely out of stock. I'm not going to be able to buy fish again until next year - I've learned through bitter experience it is better not to try shipping fish through the Australian Summer so I'm only ever going to do it Spring and Autumn. This also coincides with times that I am not working, and have the extra time to spend monitoring and maintaining fish in quarantine. Anyway rather than have them refund me I decided to swap for an equal value in otocinclus (7 fish) since I think their requirements will be pretty similar - clean water, algae, but I'll be adding extra driftwood and maybe a couple of leafy plants. I'm not sure if they need quite as much flow as I have in the tank for the loaches - I have some java ferns that might be okay with the flow that I can move into this tank if the otos require plants for shelter. I guess I don't know that much about otos apart from to always feed them extra since they can't live just on tank algae.

Even leaving the light on 24/7 I haven't had much luck growing algae in this tank so I'd already made up a food dish full of algae gel food which was going to be for the hillstream loaches so that is taken care of. I think once the otos make it through quarantine I will move my existing 4 otos in with the rest and have a species only oto tank - that's hoping I even get the same species again (hope so!). It's not exactly what I had in mind when I started out with this tank but I am not too disappointed as I think a species tank of otocinclus will also allow me to see some interesting behaviours that I don't see in my other tanks.

Might have to make an account at planet catfish since this tank now isn't going to be a loach tank any time soon! Thanks everyone for making me feel welcome. I do still have 6 yoyo loaches but they are the "well behaved" stars of my planted tank and hopefully I won't need to make a thread about them any time soon.
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Re: First time hillstream loach planning

Postby Bas Pels » Tue Oct 03, 2017 2:41 am

Otocinclus generally don't need current. Any current, they are found, for instance, in grass hanging into the water.

Further, they will not need driftwood, they only eat algae, not wood. But wood will make the tank prettier.

The problem with Otocinclus is, thyey need to eat more or less constantly, and there is nothing to eat in the exporters facility. Many of them develop a lethal condition in the gut, because of this.

Once this problem is solved - that is, they survived the first month - the fish are easy to handle. Recently I was Lucky enough to get some f1's, that is, without the risk.
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