5g to 20g, plus questions.
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5g to 20g, plus questions.

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5g to 20g, plus questions.
Old 06-21-2013, 12:07 PM   #1
 
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5g to 20g, plus questions.

What's up?

So when I posted my first thread, it was to get help for my 5g, which I now know is actually harder to take care of since water parameters can be easily affected. The fish I had are not around, unfortunately, because of my ignorance. I'd blame my mom for unexpectedly buying my siblings the tank so they can have fishes, but I added to the problem by buying some of my own thus over crowding the tank. Over time I did improve my knowledge, upgrading the internal filter to a hang-in-back filter, buying an aeration system(air pump, tubing, etc.), mini-heater. Yeah, I was learning about bacterial bloom while those fish were going through hell. Those poor fish were my guinea pigs and I hate myself for it. Lost all of them, replaced them since my mom wanted me to keep trying, so she started helping too and we got better. Shortly after we got the hang of it, we decided to upgrade. This 20g drwarfs the 5g, I was amazed as I look at both side by side. You don't realize an objects true size until you compare it to something bigger, wow.

With the 20g, I wanted to take a different approach. At first, with the 5g, we had multi-colored gravel, then with the 20g, different shades of blue gravel but I was butting heads with my mom about switching to sand. I did as much research as I can to prove to her that it'd keep the PH more balanced, and it'd help us see how dirty the tank really is to keep us determined to keep it clean. Finally, and only recently, got her to give in and I bought black aquarium sand which was a bit pricey but I am not adventurous enough to by pool filter sand or whatever it is. It looks sooo awesome, allowing the fish we have to stand out a bit better. Bought two moss balls, though I forgot what they're good for, and am thinking of getting live plants(java fern, java moss, anubias). The filter we have now, which was included with the tank, has a bio-wheel which I don't feel is doing its job so I added in the bio-sponge from the 5g's old filter. Lots of decorations, including live wood, some smooth stones, and quite a bit of artificial plants, AND two cave-like decorations. I've learned what to use in chems, but I'm really wanting to come up with a tank that is self sustaining. I'll admit, we still over-crowded this one. Lets see here; 1 Peppered cory, 1 panda cory, 1 emerald catfish, 1 dwarf gourami, 5 zebra danios, 1 albino bristlenose pleco, 5 ghost shrimp, and one amano shrimp. I calculated an inch to every gallon, so that comes up to 24.5. I don't know if I'm calculating right but I do know not to by anymore fish and work on keeping the aquarium balanced since even with proper care, it's still clouding up and I know it has to be the number of fish we have in there. By the way, I calculated with their full grown sized, they're all still smaller than their expected sizes.

Not sure if I've covered everything but my question was in there; Is it the number of fish I have, or could it be something else? And what would help; sponge filter? Live plants? More chems?

To help you answer my question, allow me to tell you what chems I am using, what I feed my fish, and what I do to care for the tank.

CHEMS:

API Stress Coat
API Stress Zyme+
Marineland Ph Regulator
SeaChem Prime
API Accu-Clear
API Ammo-Lock

FOOD:

Shrimp Pellets
Color-intensifying tropical flakes
Algae Wafers

CARE: Never using tap water.
Weekly 15% water change.
Changing filter cartridge weekly.
De-chlorinating water in 1 gallon jugs(have 4)

Plans for improving care:

Most of these ideas are DIY projects, like I'll be making a vacuum that will take out debris but not water so I can do mid-week clean ups, and making my own internal filters to see if it'll improve the tank. Buying live plants to see firsthand how it affects the tank.

More ideas will be very helpful, and if you feel like scolding me, go right ahead. I'm here to soak up tips, advice, anything as long as it improves my skill. Hope to hear from someone soon.
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Old 06-21-2013, 12:24 PM   #2
 
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Well.... the corys really like to be in groups and of their own type. Like 6 peppereds or 6 pandas. The pleco will grow to 5ish inches also wanted to point that out.
Now are you saying you're not going to use tap water? You should use tap and then put the dechlorinator in that. Personally I like Prime for that most unless a fin has been nipped then stress coat.
Don't change cartridge. And extra filter media in there with it if you can and when it seems really gunked up just swish it around in old tank water during a water change. You want to keep the bacteria that grows in the filter media to keep your cycle.
Also the shrimps may end up someones snack...personally that wouldn't bother me. I keep adding all types of shrimp to my 75 and about 1/week bites the dust
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Old 06-21-2013, 01:04 PM   #3
 
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I will expand some on what Agent13 mentioned, and add some other thoughts. You have some issues with the intended fish, fortunately this is still in the planning stage so we can correct things [I remember the other problem thread].

First thing, is to plant the tank first, especially with some fast growing plants. This will take up the ammonia from the first fish and you will not have a discernible "cycle" and the fish will be healthy from the start. Floating plants are ideal for this (they are fast growing and use a lot of ammonia/nutrients), plus they are ideal for almost any fish we keep.

Second, what are your tap water parameters? GH (general hardness) and pH, both of which you can get from the municipal water supply people (probably on their website), although a pH test kit is a good investment. Also, do you have ammonia, nitrite or nitrate in the tap water?

Part of the reason I asked about water parameters is the intended fish, but also I want to see why all these chemicals are needed. Unless your tap water contains high ammonia, nitrite or nitrate, there is no need for any additive except a good water conditioner to deal with chlorine/chloramine. Prime addresses this.

Never, ever use water clarifiers like Accu-Clear; these work by binding the particulate matter into larger bits that the filter can remove, but the chemicals also bind fish gills causing severe stress which leads to all sorts of health issues.

A pH adjuster is not advisable. First, they often don't work because of the water chemistry of your tap water, and second they too are chemicals that hurt fish in various ways. Once we know the tap water pH and GH (these are related) we will know what if any pH adjustment may be advisable, and we can discuss safe methods to do it (though usually this is not necessary).

StressCoat and StressZyme are not necessary, nor advisable anyway.

Last on the water, why not use tap water (with Prime)? Your numbers for the above will sort this out, if there is a problem. It is usually not necessary to treat tap water in buckets prior to a water change.

Moving quickly to the fish, as Agent13 said, corys need more numbers. In a 20g tank you want no less than 5 corys; these can be all the same species, or if you want 2 species, get 6 with 3 of each species. Don't get the Emerald, this is actually Brochis splendens, not a "true" cory and it gets much larger. The other two cory species will look better in this small a tank.

Zebra danio also need a group, and I would suggest more than 5. But these are active swimmers, and a longer tank would be better. Would you consider different shoaling fish than these? You will have more space available for fish with quieter species. The more active a fish, the more space and fewer other fish you can have in a given tank.

And esp with a gourami, which is a slow and sedate fish, you do not want active swimming fish chasing around. On the gourami, the Dwarf is nice, but can be problematic; another good option is the Honey Gourami. Check both out in our profiles:
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/a...lalius-177594/
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/a...-chuna-177506/

We can continue when we have those water numbers.

Byron.
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Old 06-21-2013, 05:08 PM   #4
 
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Well the Corys seem fine swimming together, honestly I've seen mixed thoughts on keeping multiple subspecies together or just keeping one species. I know the Green Catfish is not a Cory, I've done research. I also know that the Pleco will grow quite a bit, and that is where I've calculated the inch per gallon thing. The shrimp are living fine, no one is messing with them. And as for the tap water, I said it wrong, I do use it but dechlorinated. Zebras and Gourami actually hang out, Gourami doesn't even lose its temper unless it's the Emerald Catfish wandering around in his territory. Actually just bought anubias and some java moss, yes I know those are not fast growers but for now that is all I've found that I'm willing to get. Did not find any floating plants in Petco or Petsmart. I'll get the water parameters soon, just wanted to quickly respond before doin' my daily activities.
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Old 06-21-2013, 06:23 PM   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T4V3N View Post
Well the Corys seem fine swimming together, honestly I've seen mixed thoughts on keeping multiple subspecies together or just keeping one species. I know the Green Catfish is not a Cory, I've done research. I also know that the Pleco will grow quite a bit, and that is where I've calculated the inch per gallon thing. The shrimp are living fine, no one is messing with them. And as for the tap water, I said it wrong, I do use it but dechlorinated. Zebras and Gourami actually hang out, Gourami doesn't even lose its temper unless it's the Emerald Catfish wandering around in his territory. Actually just bought anubias and some java moss, yes I know those are not fast growers but for now that is all I've found that I'm willing to get. Did not find any floating plants in Petco or Petsmart. I'll get the water parameters soon, just wanted to quickly respond before doin' my daily activities.
Stocking a tank properly is much more than just inches of fish per gallon, which is a good guide for beginners with all the same fish but beyond that it falls aprat quickly as any sort of reliable guide. There is all the environmental factors to consider, including the numbers of each species.

I'll stay on the corys, and point out that any less than five, whatever the species, is not good. These fish are highly social, they live in groups of several hundreds, and they have evolved to require this. None of us can get inside the mind of a fish to know what it "thinks" of this or that, but we can learn from observing it in the wild and in aquaria which many have done over the years. I have maintained and spawned many species during the past 15 years, all wild caught fish for the most part. Sometimes for various reasons I cannot acquire 4 or 5 of a species, and I now have close to 40 corys in my 115g with some dozen or so species. Some I have 6, some 4, some 2 and a couple even one of the species. But I have 40 and they do stay together a lot within groups of 2, 3, 4 of their own or mixed species. As long as there are five or more, you should be fine.
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Old 06-24-2013, 10:00 AM   #6
 
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Alright, so I've tested my tap water and the Ph was 7.4-7.6, the water in my area is actually quite better than some other areas I've been to where if you boil the water, these disgusting white particles show up in large numbers. . . Disturbing. Now if I were to lower my Ph on purpose for certain fish, what should I use that will not harm the fish? Also, I believe I have found why my tank is not staying clear. I think it's my filter, which came with the tank, I've read reviews on this filter(Marineland) with its bio-wheel n' such, and no one really likes it. I myself don't like it as well, since it clogs up easily, which some of the reviews have said too. Unfortunately, I won't have money until the end of this week, but when I do I'll go buy a fluval c3 filter. I've seen other filters but this one catches my attention the most, especially with all the good reviews I've read. Pricey, but I'm sure it'll be worth it. I know I'm doing better in taking care of those fish, so it really gets to me when I still see the water going cloudy. I know I'm properly dechlorinating the water, I know I'm cleaning the tank properly, doing at least 10% water changes weekly, picking up any debris on the surface of the sand. It has to be the filter, because on my 5 gallon, it was staying clear with this filter I bought at wal-mart after I got rid of the terrible internal filter that came with the tank. It does help that the gourami picks at any leftover food along with the catfish and shrimp, so I barely ever see anything unless I remove the decor. The calculations I did with the fish(inch per gallon) was with their full grown sizes in mind, yes unreliable, but it was just to get an idea of where I'm at, if I'm over-crowding the tank or not.

A few more questions while I have it fresh on my mind. What plants should I go for that a total novice like myself can take care of without the tank being overtaken or I won't kill? I've got an anubias on lava rock, and a design-a-vine java moss thingie; moss on a bendable rod. For plants that need to be rooted, is sand a bad idea? I'm also curious on these liquid fertilizers, and co2 equipment, etc. If possible, I'd want to set up my tank where everything kind of supports one another without needing too much equipment or chems.
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Old 06-24-2013, 12:20 PM   #7
 
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I see nothing wrong with the pH, but the GH is important, you can get this from the water folks. The two are related, and GH has more of an impact on fish. If any attempt to lower the pH is needed, the GH and KH will first have to be dealt with or it will not work. Read more on the connection here:
Water Hardness and pH in the Freshwater Aquarium
Adjusting water parameters is not usually easy, and it can cause considerable stress to fish.

On the cloudiness, changing the filter every week may be contributing. What sort of filter is this? All you need to do is rinse the media to keep it free of stuff so the water moves through it as it should. I would also up the water change volume to at least 1/3 of the tank; I change 1/2 my tanks every week. But I am still concerned over all those chemicals; some of them allegedly break down organics, and this can cause cloudiness. I hope you are no longer using any of them, except the conditioner at water changes.

Sand is fine, no issues there. As for plants, what light do you have? A complete liquid fertilizer will probably be needed, one like Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planted Aquarium, dosed once or at most twice a week. As for CO2, that is getting into a whole new complicated game, and as you're starting out I would stay simple. The photos of my tanks under the "Aquariums" tab below my name on the left show what is possible with a basic method. I have sand substrates, and use Flourish Comp.

Byron.
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Old 06-24-2013, 01:08 PM   #8
 
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I've been researching water parameters but even with the government sites I've come across for my area, I've come up with nothing. As with the Ph, I tested the water in a weird way; I took a water bottle, filled it half way, put about ten drops of dishwashing soap in the water, shook it, and it foamed up rather quickly. If my water was too hard, it'd come up with a soapy film or milk-curd-like film on the surface of the water. I found this quick way to test the water on the internet on a how-to thingie. I'll figure out what the levels are once I get something to test it since trying to look up water parameters is already annoying.

Now for the filter, it's a Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter for 20 gallon aquariums. I've actually not replaced the cartridge for two weeks right now, I actually just rinse it out in old aquarium water. The chems I still use would be API water dechlorinator and prime, plus ammo-lock which I'm sure you'll say is a bad idea to use.

On lighting, I only have a simple LED lighting that has three blue LEDs for a "night" lighting. I'll definitely look for that supplement.

Last edited by T4V3N; 06-24-2013 at 01:09 PM.. Reason: typo
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Old 06-24-2013, 01:20 PM   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T4V3N View Post
I've been researching water parameters but even with the government sites I've come across for my area, I've come up with nothing. As with the Ph, I tested the water in a weird way; I took a water bottle, filled it half way, put about ten drops of dishwashing soap in the water, shook it, and it foamed up rather quickly. If my water was too hard, it'd come up with a soapy film or milk-curd-like film on the surface of the water. I found this quick way to test the water on the internet on a how-to thingie. I'll figure out what the levels are once I get something to test it since trying to look up water parameters is already annoying.

Now for the filter, it's a Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter for 20 gallon aquariums. I've actually not replaced the cartridge for two weeks right now, I actually just rinse it out in old aquarium water. The chems I still use would be API water dechlorinator and prime, plus ammo-lock which I'm sure you'll say is a bad idea to use.

On lighting, I only have a simple LED lighting that has three blue LEDs for a "night" lighting. I'll definitely look for that supplement.
API dechlorinator and PRime are both water conditioners, so only one is needed. Not only would both just waste money, but these chemicals add TDS (total dissolved solids) to a fish tank, which makes the water "harder." Use only what you need for your specific water, which here is a conditioner to detoxify chlorine and chloramine (if you have the latter, some places do, some don't).

Unless you have ammonia in the tap water, I wouldn't use Ammo-lock. This locks up ammonia, and some say it inhibits cycling bacteria. I can't say yes or no to that, but I can say that if there is no ammonia, there is no purpose in messing with the bacteria by using this product.

We will need to know the LED light specs, and someone like Jeff will be better able to advise when we do.

Byron.
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Old 06-24-2013, 04:26 PM   #10
 
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Yeah, I know they do the same thing, I'm just too safe, making sure either or does the job. Did not know it makes the water "harder" though, glad you told me.

As for the specs on the LED lights, how would I find out? I don't remember the papers that came with the tank in the box explaining the lights, maybe I missed it. Also. . Who's Jeff? >_<
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