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New Native Tank Help

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#1 fish ALLday

fish ALLday
  • NANFA Guest
  • Pennsylvania (PA)

Posted 19 October 2017 - 08:40 AM

So I've recently decided I want to keep a native tank (Southern PA) and have been lurking through all the topics on this thread trying to learn. Now I just want to ask questions to get opinions from all you who know what you're doing lol.


Debating on a 40 or a 55 gallon tank. Just because that's what is on my local Craigslist right now and what I can afford.

Want to plant the tank (not really interested in a stream set up)


Here's where I really need help. I have no idea what to plant in my tank AT ALL! Anything would be helpful that I can look up and see what it looks like or where to get it. I plan on having some plants and a smaller piece of driftwood from the rover around me in the tank.

Also, suggestions on what I should put on the bottom? Sand? Gravel?...i want it to look natural and easy to take care of.


I'd like to catch my own but I have see people on here selling fish as well. I'd like to keep a northern longear, maybe 2? But I don't want to overcrowd the tank. Other option is a rockbass? And if I had room in the tank keep something smaller (open to ideas!)

Thanks guys for any feedback!

Edited by fish ALLday, 19 October 2017 - 09:07 AM.

#2 Michael Wolfe

Michael Wolfe
  • Board of Directors
  • North Georgia, Oconee River Drainage

Posted 19 October 2017 - 01:19 PM

If you just want to keep a piece of drift wood and some plants and a single sunfish, then I would try to catch something yourself on hook and line and get as small an individual as you can (3 inches would be great).  I would go for the 40 gallon tank.  Even though they are not native, Sandwich loves his amazon sword as a large plant that he can lurk around.  I also have Val in his tank and that is a native plant.  For a sunfish, you do not really need a sand substrate (males will likely dig a bit anyway).  Many plans will grow well in something like Saf-T-Sorb that you can buy at Tractor Supply or similar.  You have to rinse it a lot, but it is very good for growing some plants and much cheaper than aquarium specific products.

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. - Benjamin Franklin

#3 Cricket

  • NANFA Guest
  • Phoenix

Posted 19 October 2017 - 02:55 PM

Water sprite is a pretty easy plant to grow and since It can float or be rooted you don't really need a great substrate and if some fish knock it around it's not as big a deal. Same can be said for hornwart. Another easy plant is annubias. It doesn't require a lot of light or fertilizer so pretty easy to grow. You could also use 100% fullers earth kitty litter for substrate. A bag for 1.99 at my Wal-Mart. You could also mix that with sand if you wanted. I'm new to native fishes so that's where my help ends :)

#4 JasonL

  • NANFA Member
  • Kentucky

Posted 19 October 2017 - 03:01 PM

I'm not sure how common Longears are in southern PA, but I think Pumpkinseed are pretty common in your area and nearly as colorful. I think you could put one of either in a 40 gallon along with some locally caught shiners or topminnows. As an added bonus you could catch them yourself on rod and reel or even a dip net if you wanted a smaller specimen.

Use gravel/sand from a local stream. I have found the smaller the gravel the less food and debris gets trapped underneath so I tend to favor this over the larger rocks. Also if you can find coontail it is a fairly idiot proof plant and will help keep the tank water clean.

#5 fish ALLday

fish ALLday
  • NANFA Guest
  • Pennsylvania (PA)

Posted 22 October 2017 - 05:11 PM

So if I go the pumpkinseed route you suggest 1 with minnows as well? Or could in have 2?

And with a gravel substrate would I need to put sand underneath or anything?

And with a planted tank do I need CO2 for the tank?

#6 JasonL

  • NANFA Member
  • Kentucky

Posted 22 October 2017 - 08:38 PM

Single fish, pea sized gravel or smaller with or without sand , no CO2, add 6-8 local minnows to round it out.

Now that that's settled, time to hit some local waters and post some pics of what you find.

#7 fish ALLday

fish ALLday
  • NANFA Guest
  • Pennsylvania (PA)

Posted 22 October 2017 - 08:42 PM

Awesome! Thanks man! Now I just have to figure out the plants I want/lay out and I'll start to post pics. Picking up the 40 gal tank this week and I'm sure I'll have more questions aboit filter, lights etc.

Thanks again Jason

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