New 15 gallon tank... lots of help please - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 16 Old 04-03-2007, 09:41 PM Thread Starter
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New 15 gallon tank... lots of help please

I am new to the forum so I really have high expectations of getting some help. I am thinking of buying a 15 gallon fish tank for school. I don't know whether to use real plants or fake ones. Also I am not sure what kind of fish to get. I want cories, tetras, and maybe a betta. I am also not sure what kind of filter to get. I am at college and I may need to move the tank once in awhile, so i need some fish who can take that. Please... any suggestions would be great. Thanks.
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post #2 of 16 Old 04-03-2007, 09:52 PM
Welcome to the forum. I do believe that you will enjoy yourself here.
You have many fish to choice from. Some "tough guys" would include zebra danios, pearl danios, most tetras, excluding neons, mollies, swordtails, corie catfish, as scavengers, giant danios, although they will achieve some size, gouramis, dwarf gouramis to name a few. Be patient when setting up your tank and adding fish. The biggest mistake that new comers makes is stocking their tank too quickly. Keep us informed.
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post #3 of 16 Old 04-04-2007, 01:31 AM
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Welcome aboard.

It is generally better to keep live plants than fake ones.:) They help improve the water quality and serve as part of the filtration process. A test kit API Freshwater Master test kit is quite handy to monitor your ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and pH especially in cases when disease outbreaks and anything unusual strike.

Water changes are also done and should be free of chlorine and chloramine which are quite damaging to the fish. Dechlorinators will easily remedy your problem.:)

Good luck!:)

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post #4 of 16 Old 04-04-2007, 02:24 PM
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I am by no means a expert, but it is my experience to start small to keep a clean and well mantained tank.

Starting up:

first buy everything you want, filter, tank, decoration,substrate(gravel for the bottom of the tank),heater. On buying substrate, make sure you dont buy the brightly colored rocks, they tend to have bad chemical effects on your tank ussually. I also suggest you buy a 5 gallon container of some sort for treating the water. Now, buy yourself some declorinator and some PH buffer from a local fish store. The PH buffer is much safer to use than the chemical addatives, as they are tough to use as a beginner and they can also throw your tanks PH out of control if you don't get it just right. Next, buy yourself a gravel vac, these are VERY usefull, as you will need it for water changes and to vacuum up left over food and fish poo at the bottom of the tank. DO NOT BUY FISH YET!

Cycling the tank:

When you get everything in the tank how you want it, follow the directions on the cartons of PH buffer and de chlorinator. Fill the tank and start the filter. Now comes the waiting game. Let the tank "Cycle" for a week or two. If you bought a amonia testing kit, test the water every few days, in a few days you will see the ammonia level spike, then it slowly goes down. after the spike, it is ussually safe to start adding fish.


what fish to add is personal preferance, but I suggest you stock the tank slowly to avoid the ammonia levels from jumping too high. ammonia come from waste in the tank. your filter builds bacteria in the sponge in the filter that feed on ammonia. but with more fish comes more ammonia. too many fish all at once will make those levels spike out of controll. I also reccommend you start with a understocked tank, because with a over crowded tank can come disaster for a new fish keeper, it may work for someone who has been keeping fish for years, but when you are new to this, it can have bad results.

Maintaning the tank:

you will need to do 30% water changes a week to keep your tank healthy. that means you add de chlorinator and ph buffer to your 5 gallon jug once a week to add to your tank. This is what the gravel vacuum is for. vac out the bottom of the tank into another container (i use a 5 gallon paint bucket) and dump the water down the toilet. add the fresh water and you are done! takes about 10 minutes. I reccommend letting the water from the tap sit with the dechlorinator and ph buffer over night. it not only ensures the chlorine is gone, but it tends to neutralise bacteria and ick(a disease).

Stocking the tank:

this is up to you, but remember the inch per gallon rule. when the fish are full grown, add up how many inches it is, then figure a gallon per inch, so, 15" worth of fish for your tank. with a good filter system(over filtering works great, get a filter meant for a 30 gallon tank to put on your 15 gallon tank) and 30% water changes EVERY WEEK, you can overcrowd slightly.

Now, on to some ideas you could start with:

you want bottom feeders, but ther are schoolers, small loaches and corries like to be in groups...ussually groups of 6+, but that is too much for your 15 gallon. I would get at least 3 however. tetras are good starter fish, except neons, they are inbred ussually so are generally weaker than other varietys. The lemons I have are VERY hardy, and the most entertaining tetras to watch, imo. so, here are some stocking thoughts:

4 Bronze or Peppered Corys
10 Lemon tetras


3 Bronze or Peppered Corys
1 Male cherry barb(beautifull bright red)
2 Female Cherry barbs(brown in color, easy to tell the differance)
1 Dwarf Gourami(dont get a full size gourami, they grow 4 inches or more!)


3 Bronze or Peppered Corys
1 Male cherry barb(beautifull bright red)
2 Female Cherry barbs(brown in color, easy to tell the differance)
6 Tetras of your choice(lemons,blackskirt,whatever you like)

Now, my ideas are understocking your tank, a VERY good idea to start out with. I would start small untill you know if you will have time for water changes every week, and that the fish are happy and healthy.

Now, on to some stuff I missed.

Moving the tank

A small tank is a very good idea if you have to move it alot. drain out most of the water(down to say, 5 gallons), then move away. taking the fish out of the tank and putting them in bags will stress them out even more. I would reccomend the load outs I suggested, as these are very hardy fish, some more sensative varieties of corys and tetras would not make the frequent moves well at all, and you would have dead fish on your hands.


While real plants help out with keeping the tanks chemicals nice and healthy, after keeping fish for 6 years, I have not mastered them yet. They are expensive and somewhat difficult to keep, I would not reccomend them for a beginner...I would reccomend understocking the tank and over filtering instead.


Every betta I have owned kills tetras. Bettas real names are Siamese Fighting Fish, and they earned the name. They have been bred like pitbulls and bulls used in rodeos...for their agression. most are highly teritorial and view fish close to their size as a threat, and will chase the tetras till they die from stress or will beat them to a pulp and kill them.
Even if you find a docile betta that wont kill the tetras, most tetras will nip its beautiful flowing fins. bad idea.
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post #5 of 16 Old 04-04-2007, 02:59 PM Thread Starter
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great response

that was a wonderful response i really appreciate it. anyone else who can offer anything would be great no matter how much or how little information you can give me, but the responses so far have been extremely helpful
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post #6 of 16 Old 04-04-2007, 03:32 PM
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I would suggest cherry barbs and cories. Both are fairly hearty. The cherry barbs are fairly playful like the cories and add some color to the tank.

For plants, I would stick to java moss, saggitaria, wisteria, and some of the other low light, prolific plants. Most are capable of building up in the tank with little investment, just some patience.

As for filter, I would recommend one that does not use carbon. This will ensure that you're not stripping the plant food. I'm a personal fan of the Eheim filters which don't use carbon and they run pretty quietly.
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post #7 of 16 Old 04-04-2007, 03:46 PM
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I use Aqua clear can add whatever you want to these over-the-back filters, just buy two sponges instead of a charcoal pack, and buy some amonia absorbing packs they have for these filters. I wouldnt get smaller than the aquaclear 50, as they dont have the highest flow rate of filters out there. because of their design you can also add charcoal prior to planting to tank. you can also buy filter bags and add your own mix of charcoal or ammonia absorbing resin or whatever you want for them. If you eventually decide to plant the tank you can just use filter floss or 3 sponges in the filters. very good set up for a beginner, and these filters are available at most chain petstores and quite a few private ones as well.
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post #8 of 16 Old 04-05-2007, 12:49 AM
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I agree with all advice given, but would not recommend adding pH buffer or anything messing with pH to aquarium. The less chemicals the better.
Good luck!
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post #9 of 16 Old 04-05-2007, 02:52 PM
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I should have clarified, use a PH buffer if the tap water you have has extremely high or low PH.

I have to use it where I live because the PH in the water is extremely low, I use a buffer to bring it up to a neutral 6.5ish.

I will say that buffers are alot better than the chemical drops you buy.
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post #10 of 16 Old 04-05-2007, 03:09 PM
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IMO...I have owned a tank of some sort for quite some time now...about 10 years...I have only adjusted my Ph in my first tank...ONCE!! And that is because it was way too low.

I have gotten a few tanks since then and have never adjusted the Ph levels or tried to battle the whole Ph "thing" is an unjustified battle.

Now, keep in mind I don't have fish that are very "picky" there ya go!

And I know what everyone is thinking...."How many fish, die as a result"....Not one!!....They died for other reasons....disease, oxygen starvation (due to algae problem), ammonia way to high!
Oh and I had a heater go nuts on me and "boiled" my fish....

So, my area of concern is not Ph...but ammonia and nitrates.....
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