grow out tanks for altums

I have 16 young altums that have been in the USA for 12-13 weeks. All from HAW and from the same shipment from S America though I did not, in the end, get them all at the same time as I had to "top up" my numbers. They are all together, now ,in a 75 gal in cattappa leaf water at 5.3( still hard to measure the ph)at TDS 55 and 85F, with two canister filters of long standing in acid water and a 15 watt UV on 24/.7. By the way,it used to be an 8 watt UV which I liked better as it attacked the cattappa stain less.However,I had to replace the bulb and there are no more 8 watt bulbs for this unit.
I am organizing to either put them soon into a bigger grow out tank (120 gal) or, even, put them into their final tank ,a 220 which I can get empty of fish and modify the water slowly..
If these were discus, we would definitely keep them in the 120 ( BB or pool filter sand) grow out tank even for a year..for intensive feeding and cleaning and it would be easy to keep the altums in this tank .It would also be easy to get the required water parameters in this smaller tank. However, altums are often put straight into a large ,likely planted tank, and the 220 is one of them .It has a Fluval FX5,a homemade sump with 10 gallons of bioballs which are mostly above water level and a 25 watt UV. It is a tank that has been set up for some time, will need a good gravel wash with a python ,has a three foot wide stand of crypts in it ,some established anubias. It is hard to clean due to it's depth at 30 inches ( you have to do it on a short ladder) and the fact that it is all graveled in some type of natural river gravel which does not appear to raise the ph (as I recollect) . However, this 220 tank does have a history of causing an immediate growth burst in any fish that ever gets in it..things grow big in a 220.

There may be a best protocol to handle them. What do you advise

THanks Al

Re: grow out tanks for altums

Hi Al, glad things are taking shape. I would treat them as you would growing discus. Considering their size, common sense will tell you when it is time for their 220, maybe when they are headed for their one year birthday.
Depending on your approach (to adapt to their needs and provide the parameters they feel most comfortable in vs. adapting the fish to the conditions that are more convenient for you), you may or may not want to use plants.
The first approach (giving them what they need), we are talking a pH and hardness that few plant species can thrive in, and most die off in short time.
The second approach (slowly adapting the altum to more "human" waters), you would be able to benefit from plants with no problems (as long as the plants are well cleansed of any pathogens).
During this first year, make sure yo give them a tank that is deep enough (heightwise) for help with good fin development.
As to the sand, I tend to do it on the shallow side (usually just 1/4 to 1/2 inch), not to allow the formation of a bacterial bed, since when we have to medicate, this would represent a major issue. This at least in the transition tank. Also, they feel better and are more calm with the sand underneath them. I would put in potted plants for quick removal if needed.
When they finally get to their final home (220 tank), you will have well acclimated fish and you can plant the aquarium with plants like giant val and echinodorus, among other species, though by now you know that the Atabapo biotope is scarce in vegetation.
You may consider (supposing your 220 is equipped with a sump) putting water hyacinth into your sump and putting a light over it...freshwater refugium... a real nitrate killer. I'm working on this right now on my 220G.
God listens. He may not always give you everything you want, when you want it; but he always gives you what you really need, when you need it most!

Re: grow out tanks for altums

Well, there you go. I'll do the 120 gallon with a shallow pool filter sand bed like I have now ..likely the exact same sand transferred over to the bigger tank from my "other" altum tank now empty. I had two altum receiving tanks. It turned out well because I had three different shipments and I was able to isolate the shipments from one another one of two times at least. My last shipment from John at HAW about a month ago arrived and stayed just fine.
I gather the ph stays at about 5.5 or 5.8 for the next 6 months or so,with cattappa, and a TDS of 50-60. Is this so? It's easy enough to keep doing it.

BTW this 120gal is the one where I raised my discus and it ended up that they are still in it ,for now, after almost 3 years. THe protocol for keeping discus is well known ,easy, but still labor intensive so this tank was easier to work on. Most will go in the 220 and I hope they don't sulk at the move. I hope to breed a pair of that group.

regards Al

Re: grow out tanks for altums


I gather the ph stays at about 5.5 or 5.8 for the next 6 months or so,with cattappa, and a TDS of 50-60. Is this so? It's easy enough to keep doing it.

The catappa in itself won't maintain the value of your pH or hardness (or that is what I understand in your comment), though it will help somewhat with the pH in your soft water.

You will be making preconditioned water changes, hopefully from an RO unit that will give you near those values.

If you get that from your RO that is great, but with time, the RO will slowly produce a pH of increasing alkaline value.

Peat moss, will help both as to pH and hardness. By combining peat and catappa, you'll get double benefits. But the best is to use these ingredients to precondition your exchange water.
God listens. He may not always give you everything you want, when you want it; but he always gives you what you really need, when you need it most!

Re: grow out tanks for altums

THanks for the peat advice. All this water is made for the tank in a 120 storage vessel ( one of two but the other one is discus water). Immediate RO water is 5-8 TDS and the ph is basically nearly unmeasurable by my ph meters but I found that it is a steady 5.8 which the ph meters can read when they are new . I raise the TDS to 55 with a 4:1 addition of food grade calcium chloride ( more or less clean ice melter but used to brew beer) and Magnesium sulphate ( Epsom salts from the pharmacy )plus ,per your advice, Discus Trace per label instructions. These additions raise the ph to 6.4 and I drop it back down to whatever I want with hydrochloric acid by the drop. There is little ph bounce back with the TDS so low. With the ph lowered now to 5.3 or 5.5, I change about 30% of the water per day in the actual 75 gallon fish tank and the cattappa that is all over the floor of the tank seems to drop the ph by .1 or .2.
PH measurement is not so easy. I use reagent ph kits to get the ph reading below 6( clear yellow no trace of green)and in the past when the ph was set lower I would go to pale orange. Then I finish with the ph meters. A trick I have stumbled upon is that the ph meters (two Milwaukee 55s)read the fish tank better than the storage tank. I bet it is hydrogen ions from the cattappa. So, I read the tank first then the storage vessel and either match them or, if I am raising the ph ( I am not now) let it be .2 higher than the tank.
THis whole procedure is ,I guess, actually hard because you are often adding more water to the storage tank and doing your additions and subtractions from a different volume of water. Nonetheless,I do have a very good feel for it and have no problems with it. It is the same general way I have been making discus water for years so I am doing this technique on two storage tanks simultaneously. Sort of mad scientist thing.
THe peat could replace the acid and be beneficial if I utilize it in the storage tank. I have used peat's pretty tricky to keep going,is messy and runs out of tannins fast..but I have never persisted with it in the past.

Regards Al