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Budget Apisto/Planted setup

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Hey guys, Im new to planted and SA tanks so need advice, sorry for long winded post :B :)

In a couple of days i will be picking up my 2ft tank and cabinet, and would like some ideas on how i should set it up. The complete setup will be a fair while down the track, because i dont have the money now to do it. i would probably dedicate...$350 to this setup, including everything needed to add on to the tank and cabinet. ive already bought the tank!

1) Filtration and lighting: What filter should i use?? the tank, as i recall is about 68 litres. the stocking is going to be medium to minimal, plus lots of plants. I was thinking a small canister, but for a good one of those=$$$ so im open to any suggestions.

Lighting, i have a wall mounted 20 LED reading light above where i want the tank (it was a desk area) but obviously i will need more. i was thinking a 1.5- 2 ft t8 single bulb light. Apistos dont like as much light, but plants do so need your opinions and suggestions.

2) Plants and decor: I have a nice-ish piece of wood, that I wanted to drill holes in and plant java fern in. wanted lots of java fern, anubias, amazon swords and a type of grass thing for part of the floor, maybe some vals for the back/corners. Can you suggest some plants for this?

Also im not sure about substrate, i need a substrate thats good for plants but looks good with apistos too. the choice substrate for apistos is sand right? so what substrate can you suggest?? and depth?

I was thinking about some indian almond leaves too, but im not sure if it would look good with lots of plants. Also im not sure about Co2, plants that dont need Co2 would be good.

3) Stocking: So Apsitogramma cacautoides was what i wanted and are available. they are labelled as Blood red, and the pic is cool. this is off Livefish.com. thats where i would get my plants as well. anyway i was thinking 4-6 Juvie apistos (wouldnt mind breeding them) with BNs as well as a type of dither, not sure on that, have to see what i like and whats available. Would these work?? Food? oh and i want to try cherry shrimp too

4) Water: I have slightly acidic rain water available to me, but not in the biggest supply. my main tap water is out of a concrete tank, so its buffered to like 8.0, which is great for tangs, not so great for apistos. How do you get the water down to the right values? what values would you reccomend for these fish and plants? i also decided on cacautoides because they are suposed to be an easier apisto, great for beginners like me!

If i remember anything else i want to know i will post again!!

Thanks for any help, its all appreciated!!

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i have some small/baby javafern if u want it i got to much off it as for small canister filter i just set up a 3x18x20 with a ehiem 2217 awesome little filter cost about $130 but well worth it for quality comes with all themedia aswell just search ebay and im currently trying put flourish substrate topped off with just normal 5mm gravel over the top which seems to be awesome all my amazon swords crypts red tiger lotus and vals are growing great all with new growth aswell its about $50 for a 20 or 30 kg bag i cant rem,ember sorry

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apistos don't like too much current, so don't go overboard with the filtration, you can run a sponge filter with an airpump on a relatively low flow with low stocking levels in a 2ft. otherwise a small cannister or internal filter will work as well.

you don't need plants, just lots of cover. so you could go for a scape with different DWs and leaves plus small caves (small terracotta pots, cocnut shells and the like). plants are fine if you want them and something like java fern and anubias work well with low light. they should be fine with a 20W LED (if that's what you have) or a single T* will work as well and you won't need CO2 as they are slow growers anyways. you can tie them to DW , small rock etc and can still use a sand substrate which the apistos prefer. 1-2 cm of sand is usually enough.

the water might be a bit of a problem. pH 8 may still be a bit too high even if the cacatuoides are not that fussy. you can dilute it with rain water to reduce the pH and TDS. if you have limited supply, you can go for maybe 1/3 rainwater? if you have room for a drum or similar to prepare the water, you can use some peat or spagnum moss to treat the water and reduce pH and TDS a bit (works better though with water that is already a bit lower in pH and TDS). If you have DW in your tank that will help as well.

if you want to breed them, you will need a second tank (and possibly a third) to be able to raise the fry, otherwise most if not all of them will be killed when the next lot of fry arrives.

also, getting 4-6 apistos of unknown sex will lead to problems later on. if there is more than one male, you will likely only have one survivor. once you have a pair/trio it would be best to sell the rest.easiest is if you can get a pair. a male with 2 maybe 3 females could be ok, if there is plenty of cover for the fish to avoid each other, otherwise the females will kill each other, especially when starts to breed. each female needs about one square foot of territory.

I am not sure if BN will work. they will compete with the apistos for the caves, will grow too big and are poop machines that will put a lot of bioload on your filter. if you want something for algae control, try otocicnclus, they will work better with the apistos. you won't necessarily need a dither. if you have problems with agression, try putting a mirror next to the tank, nothing to distract a territorial male like a male of similar flaring back at your male :)

dither fish may also snack on youg apisto fry. if you want to avoid that and still have some other fish in there, pencil fish seem to be the best choice.

if you don't want to breed, tetras will work in that tank as well.

cherry shrimp, hm, not sure. the adults may be fine for a while, but the young ones will be eaten and I am sure a female deciding that she doesn't want anything moving close to her fry will be perfectly able of killing a shrimp...

for food, try a good quality flake food or micropellets supplemented by some occasional live or frozen food.

(sorry for the long-winded reply)

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Ok, Thanks for the replys.

I tested the rainwater i have, and i actually have a largeish supply so it will be fine, its ph 6.0, kh and gh 0. I was told not to get labelled caccas as they can be deformed so im going for more trfaciata.

need to go will post again

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