I'm just beginning to get serious, and I need LOTS of help. - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 11 Old 10-11-2011, 03:56 PM Thread Starter
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I'm just beginning to get serious, and I need LOTS of help.

Hello, everyone.

My tank (a custom 50 UK Gallon Bowfront) has been up and running since August 1st, 2010, but I'm only just beginning to get serious. I'll explain why. The tank was dumped on me by a friend, and in my excitement of having a pet, I stocked it quickly. None of my fish died, fortunately.

I have lots of questions, regarding things like stocking level, breeding, plants, all of the basic stuff.

The tank is an area tank, the area being Asia. My current stocking level is: 2 Snakeskin Gouramis, a Three Spot Gourami, a Gold Gourami (juvenile), 4 Bala Sharks (temporary, and juvenile), 4 Pakistani Loaches, 10 Kuhlii Loaches 10 cherry barbs, and 6 tiger barbs. I have had no aggression in this tank.

My tank equipment consists of 1 Fluval 3+ filter, a 150w heater (which keeps the tank at 78F), and two 25w T8 daylight bulbs.

My first question regards my equipment. Am I filtered enough? If not, what filter should I upgrade to?

My next question: Are my lights enough to grow plants? If not, what wattage, and colour bulbs should I have? T5, T8?

Next is the stocking level. I am aware of the adult size of the Bala Shark, but I should have a second tank set up just after Christmas for them. Taking them out of the equation, am I overstocked?

I have recently received a small 'Moss Ball' from a friend, and I am at a loss as to how to care for it. Could I please get some information about moss balls?

I'm interested in breeding my cherry barbs, if I'm not overstocked. How would this be achieved?

Lastly, one of my Snakeskin Gouramis has recently started breathing a little unusually for a labyrinth fish; through the water. My other gouramis breath directly from the surface, as is the normal, but this one breathes as a tetra would. What is the cause of this, and is it detrimental to it's health?

Sorry for so many questions, but I finally want to do things right.

Last edited by DJMonty; 10-11-2011 at 04:12 PM.
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post #2 of 11 Old 10-11-2011, 06:32 PM
Thats too many gouramis. They dont like company much. I would anticipate aggresion in the future.

I wouldn't be surprised if the bala's started picking off the loaches shortly either. By being aware of adult size of Bala's you know that they get up to 18", also they like groups of 6+. They need a tank of at least 125g preferably much bigger.

The activity of the tiger barbs is probably stressful to most of the other fish as well.

As to breeding your cherry barbs, you will probably need a tank just for them to breed in. Then you can move the parents after the eggs are laid or they will likely be eaten.
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post #3 of 11 Old 10-11-2011, 06:43 PM
I have always loved Cherry Barbs. l have had them in most of my tanks, but I have never even seen a single egg. Recently I just started keeping only males. Their colors are so much more vibrant and it seems to have eliminated any hierarchy. I have had them with Tiger Barbs in the past also, and in my experience they seem to hide a lot more in their presence.
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post #4 of 11 Old 10-12-2011, 10:34 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, guys.

Ladyayen: I am aware of the adult size and the school sizes; I am buying a 150-200 UK Gallon tank for 6-8 Balas, but that won't be set up until after Christmas, at least.
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post #5 of 11 Old 10-12-2011, 01:40 PM
Your lighting should be fine for plants, if your light bulbs have not been changing in the past year I would buy some new bulbs.

The moss ball you just leave it sit and every once and a while flip it over so it doesn't get brown spots once a month or less.

Your filter seems a little small for your tank size if I'm figuring this all right. It's really personally preference as to what filter you go with. If you want a planted aquarium your more than likely going to want either a canister filter or you could get a sponge filter and run it with the filter you currently have. How many plants you want is going to make a difference. I don't like a HOB filter on my planted tanks.
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post #6 of 11 Old 10-12-2011, 02:06 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the help, k19smith. I'm currently looking at the Rena XP2 and Rena XP3 Canister filters. Would you recommend them?
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post #7 of 11 Old 10-12-2011, 02:27 PM
The XP2 would be fine the XP3 maybe a little big.
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post #8 of 11 Old 10-12-2011, 02:28 PM Thread Starter
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Okay, thanks.
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post #9 of 11 Old 10-12-2011, 05:58 PM
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I agree on the Rena Filstar XP2 for a 50 UK (60 US) gallon tank. I have the XP3 on my 115g and I like it.

On the light, depending upon the tank depth, you are probably at the minimum that will work, provided the tubes are good plant light. They do need replacing regularly, for T8 every 12-18 months. They will still light, but the intensity after that period is very considerably reduced and if not replaced will be insufficient for the plants which will slow down or perhaps die, giving way to algae. Daylight or full spectrum is about the best; a kelvin rating of 6000K to 7000K. Since you are at the "minimum" with these two tubes, I would recommend the Life-Glo tube by Hagen. If ZooMed tubes are available in the UK, they make one called Ultra Sun which is very comparable for a bit less cost.

The fish stocking has several issues, and while I appreciate that there may be "no aggression in this tank," I would caution that this likely will not last. I understand there is a larger tank in the planning, so I won't belabour this. One comment on the Tiger Barb though, if you like this species then you should increase the group to at least 8 or 9. Plus they will limit tankmates, and should never be kept with any gourami. Which brings me to the "no aggression"--yet.

Presently, these fish are in too small a space, both for many of the species themselves, plus with unsuitable tankmates. This does affect fish whether we can "see" it or not. Pheromones released by fish in the water are sending chemical signals to other species, and this will cause issues at some point when one or other fish reaches its breaking point and literally "snaps." There is now irrefutable scientific evidence of increased aggression in many fish due to the space around them, both the physical and the resulting water conditions. With such an unsuitable mix in so small a space, the fish are quite likely "stunned" so much that they cannot be themselves. But this can change, and change suddenly.

For further info, most of these species are in our fish profiles, under the second tab from the left in the blue bar across the top of the page. You will find info there on numbers, suitable tankmates, aquarium size, behaviours, etc.

Last, but certainly not least, welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum. You will find a great many helpful members here.


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 #10 of 11 Old 10-13-2011, 10:09 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all of the info, Byron. All of these fish except the Pakistani Loaches came with the tank, I'm trying to get rid of my tiger barbs, although my LFS won't take them. The nearest LFS that will take them is 80 miles away, and nobody nearby keeps fish. As soon as we have money for petrol, I will be taking the barbs to the LFS, and returning them.
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