How do you REALLY keep a fish tank? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 7 Old 01-15-2013, 03:15 PM Thread Starter
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How do you REALLY keep a fish tank?

I've had a 10 gallon aquarium since mid October. I've been through quite a few fish. You get all sorts of contradicting information about how to care for the fish. Currently, I have 3 fish (mollies and platies) and one fiddler crab, I use a filter, I keep the water around 75F, the PH was good for a while but it recently got a bit high so I added 1 teaspoon of Neutral Regulator today, I crush up and feed them just a little bit of flakes and 1 or 2 sinking pellets for the crab (I have no idea the brand) I've never changed the water (some will say you need to, some say its unnecessary) I started the tank with Poland Spring water, and all I ever really do is top the tank off with a gallon of Poland Spring water. I only add water because after some evaporates the noise from the water splashing into the tank from the filter is quite annoying (the tank is in my bedroom).

I'm especially worried about the Fiddler Crab. I recently read that they need to be kept in a tank with a little salt and an area when they get get out of the water. Obviously, I can't do either of those things for him. I've had him for about two months, I think, and have never seen him molt.

So, I am hoping for some good advice for what I should do to keep my fish alive and hopefully add a bunch more.

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post #2 of 7 Old 01-15-2013, 03:46 PM
Byron's Avatar
First thing, Scott--welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.

Now to your questions. I have no experience at all with crabs, so I will have to leave that for those who do. You might want to post the specific crab question in the invertebrates section of the forum.

But I can offer some advice on the fish/aquarium aspect. And the first thing is, water changes. Nothing is as important. Rather than repeat all that, please have a read of this article:

Next on the water parameters. It is usually not wise to add substances to adjust the pH. This is a bit involved, so here again I will refer you to an article:

It is best to know the GH (general hardness) and pH of your tap water, and have fish suited to that. It makes water changes much easier, and the fish will be better as there is less chance of something suddenly crashing. You can ascertain the GH and pH from your municipal water supply if you are on tap water. Using bottled water is generally not good on the fish. Stuff they need may be missing (livebearers need hard minerals like calcium and magnesium), and stuff they do not need may be included.

As to fish load, with a 10g you are already at the limit with three livebearers, common molly and platy. Then there is the crab which I can't comment on. At this juncture, I will mention our fish profiles with info on tank sizes, water params, numbers, compatibility, etc. Second heading from the left in the blue bar across the top of the page. When names are used identical in a post to how they appear in the profile they shade, as those above did, and you can click on those for that profile.


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 #3 of 7 Old 01-15-2013, 03:51 PM
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Hi Scott. Welcome to the forum.
Can you give specific numbers for your water quality. Ie ph, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates.
I'm in Australia and not sure about Poland spring water. I assume its bottled water and if so would recommend using tap water with a good declorinator. I use prime.
What is your tank cleaning regime. Do you clean the filter media (in tank water) or clean the substrate.
We're the fish showing any symptoms? (Laboured breathing at the top of the tank, loss of appetite, lethargy)

I'm not the most experienced here but hopefully some others might chime in when you give some more info. Goodluck
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post #4 of 7 Old 01-17-2013, 07:45 AM
Hello Scott, welcome to TFK!

You should not need to use bottled water, unless you have some known issue/problem with your tap water. If you tap water is chlorinated, you will need a conditioner to remove the chlorine/chloromine.

Byron is correct about weekly water changes although we might quibble about the amount. It is very important, even in heavily planted tanks to replace a portion of the polluted water with fresh water. If your tank has gravel, a gravel siphon removes unwanted and decaying detritus from down under. As to the amount of water, anywhere from 25% to 50% (so for your 10g that's 2.5g to 5g weekly).

It is also important to periodically service the filter. This may simply mean removing the filter media and giving it a good rinse in tank or conditioned water (you don't want chlorine to kill beneficial bacteria in the media). Depending on the bio-load, you may not need to do this every week.

A good measure to further increase water purity and have a more stable tank is a lot of living plants. Plants go a long way in not only helping to purify the water but also serve as an alternate food source and an excellent resting/hiding place for fish. Some plants may require more lighting than the average tank hood will provide. You should have bulbs that produce 6500k lumins. However, most floating plants do well (I like anacharis) under most all lights due to their proximity to the light source.

Also as Byron recommended, you don't really want or need to adjust for pH. The weekly water change should help stabilize the pH within an acceptable range.

You said you've been through a lot of fish - sounds ominous. Most folks new to the hobby are unaware of the nitrogen cycle and the beneficial bacteria that develop to oxidize toxic compounds...ammonia to nitrites, nitrites to nitrates and water changes to remove nitrates. Look in the articles section for Bacteria in the Freshwater Aquarium.

I hope this helps in some small way and again welcome to the forum and keep us posted.


(Btw, I keep my tank in the living room!)

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Last edited by AbbeysDad; 01-17-2013 at 06:19 PM.
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post #5 of 7 Old 01-17-2013, 08:33 AM
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Everyone has given good advice, so I won't repeat it all and just say I agree.

You are absolutely right that you'll see a never ending stream of conflicting advice. It is the nature of the hobby and people I'm afraid. I mean, look up the best way to raise children and you'll likely never go two people to fully agree with each other ;)

Asking questions is a good way to start. If you see an article or page online talking about a subject ... see if they cite any sources. The articles linked to you above have the books or publications the information came from cited, that is a very good indication that the information presented is accurate and has some real science behind it backing it up.
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post #6 of 7 Old 01-17-2013, 12:23 PM
and one more welcome to the site.

What I do is add lotsa plants right from the start and then just let them maintain the tank.

More specifically I use 1" layers of peat moss, then play sane then pro choice select. Wet them, level and clean. then add (10g) 4-6 anacharis, 4-6 vals, 4-6 small potted, and 1 amazon sword. Then fill the tank with water poured over a dish.

Let it set 1 week.

then add 1 platty and don't add food for a week.

then ad a couple of females and start feeding 1 flake per day.

no filter, no water changes, top with untreated tap water, no mechanical filters or air pumps or circulation.

but that's just my .02

maintain Fw and marine system with a strong emphasis on balanced, stabilized system that as much as possible are self substaning.

have maintained FW systems for up to 9 years with descendants from original fish and marine aquariums for up to 8 years.

With no water changes, untreated tap water, inexpensive lighting by first starting the tank with live plants (FW) or macro algae( marine)

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post #7 of 7 Old 01-17-2013, 03:17 PM
FishyFishy89's Avatar
How new is this tank?
Did you cycle it?

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