Re: NANFA-L-- living environment in a tank

Todd D. Crail (tcrail at UTNet.UToledo.Edu)
Thu, 8 Sep 2005 12:25:09 -0400

----- Original Message -----
From: "Derek Parr" <derekparr at>

> But anyway my real question stems from the recent thread about keeping
> suckers. I'm really curious about others efforts in creating such an
> environment that provides for all those weird bugs and grubs and whatnot
> that make up the lower portions of the food chain. And beyond the
> obvious need of keeping the fish level low, what species would be more
> ideal for such a tank?

Hi Derek,

I'll be working an article up this fall on both the deep sand beds and then
about the success I've had with suckers. This has been in the plans for
quite a while, but life has really been in the way until recently.

In the meantime, you can piece meal what I've done together from a few
different posts from the NANFA email list archive if you'd like to see what
I've said in the past, if you'd like. Just use the search tool at:

Use key words such as "reefle" and "sandbed".

Something I do want to kick in now... Is that the critters in the sandbed
are not responsible for the success with the suckers. They get cleaned out
pretty quickly and do not increase their populations. I've had more success
with heavy plantings making refugia for daphnia etc, which typically only
benefits cyprinids and kilifish.

However, the bio-capacity of the sandbed allows the aquarist to pump an
incredible amount of food through the system without detriment or loss of
asethetics. The suckers really seem to need a lot of food, and a lot of
food they can graze on over time. It wasn't until I did this, in
combination with high protein and fat foods that I had success with suckers.

You will also want to keep a heavy populations of cyprinids and darters to
make the suckers comfy. They are super skittish when they don't have all
the extra "eyes". This is another thing the sandbed solves (because it can
support that many fish and that much food) but the food bill can get pretty
painful :)

Many Notropis and Lythrurus are great tank mates, and light feeding
cyprinids... I'd stay away from Nocomis, creek chubs, blacknose dace and
things that can fit a lot of food in their mouth at once... They're more
expensive to satiate. Most darters work well, and I've also had success
with some of the darters that have been more problematic to keep (greenside,
banded, johnny, snubnose and other subterminally small-mouthed

The Muddy Maumee Madness, Toledo, OH
It's never too late to have a happy childhood.
/ This is the discussion list of the North American Native Fishes
/ Association (NANFA). Comments made on this list do not necessarily
/ reflect the beliefs or goals of NANFA. For more information about NANFA,
/ visit Please make sure all posts to nanfa-l are
/ consistent with the guidelines as per
/ To subscribe, unsubscribe, or get
/ help, visit the NANFA email list home page and archive at