New loach tank idea - sheet flume

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Jay Willis
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Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 9:22 am

New loach tank idea - sheet flume

Post by Jay Willis » Wed Mar 30, 2016 2:53 pm

Hello, we have started a loach based research program at Oxford University - Zoology Department. The plan is to research how hillstream loaches have evolved to thrive in very strong currents.

The program explanation web site is here: http://www.jkwillis.info/loach.html

We have designed a new kind of flume (or flow tank, river tank, etc.) which I thought might be of interest to forum members. The concept is based on the original river tank designed by Martin Thoene in 1999 and explained in the Loach Book and on this forum. However this design pushes the water exiting the pumps into a 'giant spraybar' which flows onto a flat platform, the water then recirculates in the tank by flowing over the platform in a sheet and, in our case, down a ramp. The concept was based on two ideas, 1. that the fish in their natural environment are probably very keen on shallow fast moving sheets of water, and 2. that algae of the right sort would grow well on the platforms in a strong shallow flow (and with bright lights above). It is explained in detail, with pictures at: http://www.aquaticagents.com/sheet-flume/. It should be relatively easy for anyone to make if you get pieces of glass cut to the right sizes professionally and are used to aquarium building with silicon. We also used an angle grinder to cut up paving stones to provide a rock base on the platform for algae to grow.

The fish seem to enjoy the flume and regularly climb up the ramp and feed on the algae. The algae is growing very strongly. We have 4 Sewellia 'spotted', 2 Sewellia lineolata, 4 Pseudogastromyzon sp., and 2 Gastromyzon. There are 20 zebra Danio in the tank also.

The Sewellia are breeding, and we have 4 or 5 juvenile Sewellia which are presently about 20mm (3/4 in) long. I have posted pictures on the program website (http://www.aquaticagents.com/spawning-and-juveniles/) I'm not sure if they are 'spotted' or lineolata. I have set up a nursery tank for other fry as they arrive, and we have about 20 very small fry in there, which could be anything (there's a picture of them at the above page also).

By the way, hopefully people on the forum will find our research interesting and we will post on here every now and again, if that is OK. May I also take the opportunity to say how much help the forum and the book of Loaches has been setting up this program. We have read practically every post on the tanks and water parameters with these fish and found the site and the book incredibly well informed, friendly and useful. So please accept our thanks, our encouragement to continue and our respect for the expertise which has been developed here. We hope our research will bring more well deserved fame to these fish and encourage more people to be interested in their natural habitats and their care.

Our water parameters:

pH - 8.2 to 8.4 (I know this is high in comprison to other posters and we have continually tried to bring it down, but since they started breeding we guessed it was OK - and it makes maintaining the kH over 7 easier).
kH - 8 degrees (kH over 7 appears critical for Sewellia sp. to feed as mentioned previously on this forum)
GH - 13 degrees
Temp - 21-24 C
Nutrients: Some dosing (perhaps 10-20 ml once a month) with Kent Marine Phos+, Nitro+ and K (potassium) which are a set of nutrient products for planted aquariums (one needs to be careful with these - but the biggest 'issue' appears to be the danger of algal growth, which we are trying to promote - so we try and see what works).
Water: Usually use RO water and (treated with Stress Coat) tap water mix (50/50), but also use RO water remineralised with Marin Tropical formula.
(Also we 'seeded' our tanks with a few buckets of water from the River Thames nearby, with scrapings of moss and algae off rocks in it, and several rocks from the River Mole in Surrey (a chalkstream), this brought a few unwanted guests such as leeches, so it is probably best to quarantine for a while, but it does hopefully bring a full spectrum of crustaceans, diatoms and other Aufwuchs to live in the tanks as well as algae and moss spore)
We encourage ramshorn snails and other molluscs such as freshwater limpets - which also thrive in fast water.

Equipment:

2 Eheim 5000 powerheads raise the water onto the platform, with sponges on the intakes (to protect juveniles)
Offline filter (Eheim 3 professional).
Several air powered filer sponges
Some bogwood, a few plants (Anubias sp., mosses from River Thames)
Tank holds about 120 litres

Feed:

Danios get flake
Loaches get Repashy Soilent Green Food - 10 ml of food mixed with 25 ml boiling water - changed every 24 hours. They usually finish most of it.
Pinch of TetraMini'Baby' every couple of days (as some of the smaller loach seem to feed on this).

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gulogulo
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Location: Madison, Wisconsin
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Re: New loach tank idea - sheet flume

Post by gulogulo » Wed Mar 30, 2016 3:35 pm

This is an absolutely awesome project! I hope your funding continues forever. I look forward to updates on your project.
Current loach residents- 14 Pangio semicincta, 2 P. doriae, 4 P. myersi, 1 P. shelfordi, 5 P. anguilaris, 6 P. oblonga, 8 P. cuneovirgata 5 Chromobotia macracantha, 3 Gastromyzon ctenocephalus, 3 Gastromyzon species unknown

Greek
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Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2008 2:17 pm
Location: Krakow, Poland

Re: New loach tank idea - sheet flume

Post by Greek » Wed Mar 30, 2016 4:12 pm

Wow, that's really great. I've never thought to project the tank for hillstream loaches like that.
Are Your Danios WF?

Diana
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Re: New loach tank idea - sheet flume

Post by Diana » Wed Mar 30, 2016 8:13 pm

That looks like a very interesting project, both from the engineering point of view, and from what you will be learning about Hillstream Loaches.
38 tanks, 2 ponds over 4000 liters of water to keep clean and fresh.

Happy fish keeping!

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atmichaels
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Location: Detroit, Michigan USA

Re: New loach tank idea - sheet flume

Post by atmichaels » Wed Mar 30, 2016 9:21 pm

Very interesting indeed! Hillstream loaches are my passion and I've an empty tank just begging me to build this. Do the loaches go onto the plate or just the ramp?

Austen
Currently keeping: gastromyzon spp., hypergastromyzon humilis, pseudogastromyzon sp., sewellia spp., ambastaia sidthimunki, homaloptera spp., serpenticobitis octozona, Yaoshania pachychilus. As well as various catfish, loricarids, livebearers and tetras.

NancyD
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Re: New loach tank idea - sheet flume

Post by NancyD » Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:10 pm

I've only bred sewellia lineolate (twice) in a quite planted 55g "riverish" 55gtank (2 aquaclear 70's & 1200/l/hour powerhead). I've never seen breeding behavior but have the 3 fry, lol, from 2 batches. I also keep stiphodon gobies of 2 or 3 species in that tank & a few t. micagemmae .

I wish you good luck & I hope you keep us posted on your successes...
Image

Jay Willis
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Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 9:22 am

Re: New loach tank idea - sheet flume

Post by Jay Willis » Thu Mar 31, 2016 5:28 am

Thanks for the encouragement, yes indeed we will post updates (the research program is initially for 3 years).
Are Your Danios WF?
That's interesting (I assume WF = well fed), and I was wondering if they eat eggs, larvae and fry! I am pretty sure they do, and I was meaning to move them to another tank. I loosely connected the two tanks (with a syphon and very slow pump) to get it ready, and that's where the fry turned up, which supported that suspicion. But I think the Danio make a valuable contribution to the nitrogen cycle in the tank and so I've been thinking of ways to keep in them in the water without them either bothering the loaches or eating the young. Some young evidently managed to evade the Danios and are big enough to be safe now I hope.
Do the loaches go onto the plate or just the ramp?
They go everywhere and make it look really easy. They go up and down the ramp, and all over the platform, and the water is moving quite fast on the ramp ~2 m/s although it is very shallow (1 cm). They are well adapted to these conditions it seems. It is funny to watch the Danios have a go at the ramp, they make it up, but it looks really tough for them and they are furiously swimming just to stay in one position on the platform, where the water is slower but still moving quite fast and is up to 2 cm deep. They really have to work at it, and don't like going down again, they eventually do go down but they look a bit out of control as they surf down, but the loaches make it look effortless, to graze about on the platform and to go up and down in a very controlled manner. I have a few big round stones on the platform and the water covers them in a thin film only a few mm's deep - you can see the scraping marks of the Gastromyzon and Pseudogastromyzon on these rocks and so I think they go up there at night to feed off the rocks, but I haven't seen them do it.

Bas Pels
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Re: New loach tank idea - sheet flume

Post by Bas Pels » Thu Mar 31, 2016 6:47 am

Jay Willis wrote:
Are Your Danios WF?
That's interesting (I assume WF = well fed), and I was wondering if they eat eggs, larvae and fry! I am pretty sure they do, and I was meaning to move them to another tank. I loosely connected the two tanks (with a syphon and very slow pump) to get it ready, and that's where the fry turned up, which supported that suspicion. But I think the Danio make a valuable contribution to the nitrogen cycle in the tank and so I've been thinking of ways to keep in them in the water without them either bothering the loaches or eating the young. Some young evidently managed to evade the Danios and are big enough to be safe now I hope.
In my language, Dutch, WF means caught in the wild. I don´t speak Polish, but it could be WF stands for wild caught indeed.

To me that question would make more sense.

Apart from eating fry, Danios around would, I think, mean to the Sewellia that no birds are in view, that is, it is safe to be around.

in other words, I don´t think it would be a good idea to remove the Danios. Eventually replacing them is an option, but other fish will eat too.

Jay Willis
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Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 9:22 am

Re: New loach tank idea - sheet flume

Post by Jay Willis » Thu Mar 31, 2016 8:48 am

WF means caught in the wild
Yes that makes sense - it is a good question. I do not know. I got them to start the nitrogen cycle. It is interesting watching them swimming strongly in fast currents and exploring a complex environment (they all have a look up on the platform when they first get in the tank - and perhaps learn to avoid it afterward). It makes me think that I have underestimated them. Yes interesting point about the birds, I hadn't thought of that.

Joern
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Re: New loach tank idea - sheet flume

Post by Joern » Thu Mar 31, 2016 12:12 pm

Thanks

for presenting this project !
for sharing your tank setup
I#m courious about your results.
aspecially one those, that help up for a better keeping and breeding loaches.
Best regards
Jörn

Greek
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Location: Krakow, Poland

Re: New loach tank idea - sheet flume

Post by Greek » Fri Apr 01, 2016 7:16 am

Yes, that's exactly as Bas Pels said - that is a popular term in trade, as we buy for example "Clown loach WF" , we buy wild caught fish (WF=Wild Fish), when we buy "F1" we buy an offspring of WF specimens, etc.
But it was very nice to read Your observations about their diet :)

Why I am asking about that: nowadays there's a big problem with Danios (as far as I see in Poland) - those fish are genetically modified, full of hormones, medicines and antibiotics. They are very weak, easily fall ill and become crippled :( And this problem sticks to captive bred forms - those long finned. I was searching for a wild form (I'm not saying: WF, but only wild form, with natural, short fins) for very long time but it was impossible to find it :( Wild form specimens will be much more interesting in observation than crippled forms.

Bas Pels
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Re: New loach tank idea - sheet flume

Post by Bas Pels » Fri Apr 01, 2016 9:53 am

Many people from Poland come to NL, Greek. We have a shop, Utaka in Amersfoort, which has offered recently WF Brachydanio rerio. They have a lot of interesting fishes from Asia, and will never sell fishes which are deformed, or altered. Michael, the ower, is too much a hobbyist like we all are.

Perhaps you could arrange someting?

Jay Willis
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Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 9:22 am

Re: New loach tank idea - sheet flume

Post by Jay Willis » Fri Apr 01, 2016 11:15 am

Yes, Danios, I got ten with very long tails, I was worried when I put them in the fast flowing tank because I thought they may not swim well enough to be comfortable. But they are OK. The ones with the short fins tend to swim better and get up and down the ramp better - maybe the tank is a sort of natural selection device. I have some fry, if they are danios it will be interesting to see if they revert to WF. But yes it is sad that people can't be happy with WF type bred in captivity. Thanks for the information - I will be more careful next time.

jonstfrancis
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Location: Near Dartmoor, Devon, UK

Re: New loach tank idea - sheet flume

Post by jonstfrancis » Sat Apr 02, 2016 5:07 pm

I just want to say "awesome project" too! Some great ideas and it looks like a lot of fun and I'm sure you'll get some cool science out of it.
Thanks for sharing it Jay and hope you can keep us updated.

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