Hey guys - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 8 Old 12-10-2012, 09:00 PM Thread Starter
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Hey guys

Hey everyone, just joined the forum about ten minutes ago haha. My dad has an old ten gallon tank that I would like to transform into an aquarium with about 5 fish and maybe an algae cleaner. Besides the tank, what would be neccassary for me to get?

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post #2 of 8 Old 12-11-2012, 07:19 AM
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Welcome....I'm new here too but have done some looking around. Here is a good place to get started with a list.

Actually, the list is TOO complete as CO2, chillers and other more esoteric pieces are probably not needed for any beginner tank.

Good luck,

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post #3 of 8 Old 12-11-2012, 07:29 AM
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I think the only things really necessary is a hood with a light (although you don't need the light) a heater, and a filter.
Other than that you have all the optional decorations and gravel and such.

Anyway, Welcome to the forum!

happy owner of a wild type GFP axolotl named Percival and a bearded dragon named Deucalion.
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post #4 of 8 Old 12-11-2012, 05:27 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies and the welcome! Wouldn't I need to test the water and Ph levels as well?
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post #5 of 8 Old 12-11-2012, 05:32 PM
Originally Posted by agraz24 View Post
Thanks for the replies and the welcome! Wouldn't I need to test the water and Ph levels as well?
that only matters when you put the fish in, only put fish in after you tank has cycled for a couple weeks
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post #6 of 8 Old 12-11-2012, 06:15 PM
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Check out the following link for the cycling guide:


I couldn't hyperlink the text as I am on my iPad.

I just went through the logic steps for determining which method to use and came up, with some helpful pointers, with the plant method. No chemicals, puts some stuff in the tank right away and I want lots of plants.

Good luck.

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post #7 of 8 Old 12-11-2012, 06:38 PM
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Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.

Now, first off, a 10g tank is not very large, so don't let its appearance fool you. I know that all tanks looked "big" to me when I was getting started, but I quickly found out how small most of them actually are.

This leads into the next issue, which is what you need, because some of this depends upon the fish. For a 10g, my choice of filter is a simple sponge and air pump. But if the tank is in a room where noise is an issue, like a bedroom, air pumps can be noisy. A small internal filter would be better in that case.

Heater is needed, buy a good one; the most important piece of equipment is the heater, because if it fails it could mean the loss of all the fish overnight.

The sort of fish that will work in a 10g are going to be small fish that do best in a planted tank, so this brings us to the light. Least expensive is incandescent (screw-in bulbs) and with two Daylight CFL bulbs you can grow lovely plants. I use this on my 10g and 20g. Fluorescent tube light is more expensive, but works fine. Then we come to the LED lights which will be much more expensive but long-term they can save you. Finding good planted tank lights is a bit more difficult with LED.

Substrate. Fine gravel or sand works best, for fish and plants. I would suggest sand in a 10g, as your substrate fish (catfish) will be better with sand. A bag of play sand from Home Depot or Lowe's works fine, for a few dollars, with sand left over for the next tank. And there likely will be another tank, what we term "multiple tank syndrome."


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #8 of 8 Old 12-12-2012, 09:53 AM
Welcome to TFK!

First of all, and very important...if this is an old tank, set it up in a safe place, fill with water to perform a leak test! Nothing worse than setting up a tank on your dresser only to realize a day or two later that it's leaking! If it does leak, it is easily resealed with a couple of dollars of silicone (DIY in this forum's DIY section).

Everyone has covered most things... a hood/lights, heater and filter. As Byron wrote, don't skimp on the heater. Are you gonna have living plants? It's a good idea, but ensure you have the appropriate lighting in the hood. You want bulbs that can deliver 6500k 'daylight' intensity.

For the filter, you might use a sponge filter. I would steer clear of an internal filter, especially in a small 10g tank. I'm not a fan of cartridge filters, but a Tetra 5-15 Wallymart special 'would work'. I am a fan of the Hagen AquaClear's and an AC20 would work well for you, but cost a little more.

As someone else pointed out, you'll need to cycle the tank to culture the beneficial bacteria that keeps the water clear and breaks down harmful compounds into less harmful and inert compounds. With this is mind, don't overlook a good test kit for pH, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. The API Master Test Kit is the most commonly used and preferred.

Also, although the subject of long time debate, I feel the bacteria in a bottle products have come of age and dramatically accelerates the cycle process. Products like Seachem Stability, API Quick Start, Tetra Safe Start, Dr, Tim's One and Only are all good bets.

To maintain the tank, you will need to do weekly water changes. For a small tank, you can use a gravel siphon and a couple of dedicated buckets (either 2g mop buckets or 5g pails). I have used 5g Wallymart pails and lids for about $4 - the gravel siphon for about $8.

So that leaves us with decor - sand or fine gravel, enough for one a 1" layer unless you will have rooted plants, in which case, you'll want it deeper....1" in front and sloping to 2-3" in the back. Plastic or real living plants and/or other decor. Perhaps you'd like some rocks. I'd stay away from wood going in as most release tannins for a long time that discolors the water. There are some very good ceramic 'wood' pieces worth a look, but can be a little pricey.
(If you decide not to start with rooted plants, consider floating plants as plants help to purify the water.)

So there you go - the tank was the easy part!

Good luck and keep us posted!


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