New Beginner Tank - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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post #1 of 36 Old 06-06-2013, 02:05 AM Thread Starter
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New Beginner Tank

Hey all,
My girlfriend just decided to try keeping a tank for the first time, so I'm helping her plan. It's been a long time since I did the whole beginner tank thing, so I thought I'd check in here for some advice. Let me tell you all a little about the setup and then I'll ask a few questions. I'm trying to keep things as simple as possible so I don't scare her away from the hobby. I'd like to keep it cheap and simple but don't mind paying a little more for convenience or quality. Our tap water is pretty hard, somewhere around 8 ish if I remember correctly, we aren't interested in messing with the chemistry at all this time. I think she would be willing to fertilize a little bit, but I want to do everything possible to avoid algae problems. I don't need fantastic plant growth or anything.

The tank will probably be:
- standard 10 gallon tank, with hob filter, commercial hood, simple heater (maybe fixed temp?)
- fancy guppies, cherry shrimp
- basic plants like jungle val, java moss, maybe java fern or anubias


Most of my tanks have been largely custom and generally were stocked with fish preferring soft acidic water, so I'm looking for advice on harder water stocking options and equipment recommendations. I don't think we want to do too much diy this time around.

- Is there any consensus on which hob filters tend to be best? I used to prefer aquaclear because they were pretty simple and seemed to have a decent media capacity for their size, but that was a while ago. I definitely don't want anything that requires me to buy special filter cartridges or any of that bs. I usually just get something simple, oversize it a bit, and then fill most of the capacity with biological media.

- Same for the hood, general recommendations? I remember it was really hard to find a decently priced hood, they always seemed unreasonably expensive to me. For growing simple plants, can I just get a cheap hood and slap in a better bulb? Maybe just like a 6700k fluorescent? Again it's been a little while since I looked at what was best for fluorescent.

- I'd like to find a good bottom dweller for the tank. Normally I'd pick otos or cories, but I think otos are too fragile and neither is really compatible with the hard water. If there are any cories that can do alright in this water I'd love to hear about them. They'd be perfect if not for the water. I'm not interested in plecos. Are h=there maybe any loaches that would be ok?

I'm still open to all suggestions at this stage, Thanks for all the advice!

Last edited by SeaHorse; 06-06-2013 at 04:39 PM.
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post #2 of 36 Old 06-06-2013, 08:02 AM
Welcome to TFK!

It sounds like you're on the right track and have a good plan.

As for HOB filters, I too am an Aquaclear fan as the design is much better than cartridge type filters, allowing the hobbyist to decide the media (although the outta the box stuff is fine).

As for hoods, you're right as some will come with a florescent light better suited for viewing than for growing plants....but often getting a better light will resolve the issue.

As for your water. you might consider softening it some by mixing in some RO or distilled water. I 'lighten' mine some by mixing my well water 50/50 with water I reclaim from my basement dehumidifier.

I have a couple of Pepper Cories that are doing just great, but I'm unsure about the hard water issue, although I think most fish can adapt to a very wide range in this regard as long as they're acclimated slowly.

Good luck and keep us posted!
AD

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeffrey View Post
Hey all,
My girlfriend just decided to try keeping a tank for the first time, so I'm helping her plan. It's been a long time since I did the whole beginner tank thing, so I thought I'd check in here for some advice. Let me tell you all a little about the setup and then I'll ask a few questions. I'm trying to keep things as simple as possible so I don't scare her away from the hobby. I'd like to keep it cheap and simple but don't mind paying a little more for convenience or quality. Our tap water is pretty hard, somewhere around 8 ish if I remember correctly, we aren't interested in messing with the chemistry at all this time. I think she would be willing to fertilize a little bit, but I want to do everything possible to avoid algae problems. I don't need fantastic plant growth or anything.

The tank will probably be:
- standard 10 gallon tank, with hob filter, commercial hood, simple heater (maybe fixed temp?)
- fancy guppies, cherry shrimp
- basic plants like jungle val, java moss, maybe java fern or anubias


Most of my tanks have been largely custom and generally were stocked with fish preferring soft acidic water, so I'm looking for advice on harder water stocking options and equipment recommendations. I don't think we want to do too much diy this time around.

- Is there any consensus on which hob filters tend to be best? I used to prefer aquaclear because they were pretty simple and seemed to have a decent media capacity for their size, but that was a while ago. I definitely don't want anything that requires me to buy special filter cartridges or any of that bs. I usually just get something simple, oversize it a bit, and then fill most of the capacity with biological media.

- Same for the hood, general recommendations? I remember it was really hard to find a decently priced hood, they always seemed unreasonably expensive to me. For growing simple plants, can I just get a cheap hood and slap in a better bulb? Maybe just like a 6700k fluorescent? Again it's been a little while since I looked at what was best for fluorescent.

- I'd like to find a good bottom dweller for the tank. Normally I'd pick otos or cories, but I think otos are too fragile and neither is really compatible with the hard water. If there are any cories that can do alright in this water I'd love to hear about them. They'd be perfect if not for the water. I'm not interested in plecos. Are h=there maybe any loaches that would be ok?

I'm still open to all suggestions at this stage, Thanks for all the advice!

Father Knows Best but Abbey knows everything! I once knew everything, then I asked one question.
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post #3 of 36 Old 06-06-2013, 08:51 AM
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For a 10g tank, I would not use any filter other than a simple sponge. With plants this is more than adequate.

On the corys and water, what exactly is the GH (general hardness) and pH of your tap water? You can get this data from the municipal water supply, they probably have a website. Assuming it is moderately hard but not liquid rock, either of the two commonly-seen corys, Corydoras paleatus and Corydoras aeneus, will manage, in a group of 4-5. You can read about them and see photos in our profiles. There are no loaches suitable for a 10g regardless of water.

On the hood, the least expensive is the 2-socket incandescent hood. And you can use CFL bulbs. Two 10w GE Daylight 6500K CFL bulbs will be fine; I have this over my 10g and the plants thrive.

Byron.

P.S. Welcome to TFK forum.
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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 #4 of 36 Old 06-06-2013, 01:21 PM Thread Starter
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The water quality report lists hardness as 252 ppm, it doesn't say that this is general hardness but I assume that's what it is. TDS is listed as 366, pH is not mentioned.

Excellent tip on the hood, the incandescent hoods are considerably cheaper so it's good to know I can use that hood and just swap the lights.

And thanks for the welcome!
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post #5 of 36 Old 06-07-2013, 01:48 AM Thread Starter
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Also, I was planning on just using play sand for substrate. Pretty standard, but any possible issues?
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post #6 of 36 Old 06-07-2013, 07:21 AM
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I have play sand in my big tank and love it. Just wash it really well and expect to let it settle for a day or two.

-Kristen's tanks:

14g Tall:
Planted, eco-complete, Red Cherry Shrimp

16g Aqueon Bowfront:
Planted, eco-complete, 8 Ember tetras, 7 Green neon tetras, 6 Harlequin Rasboras

36 Aqueon Bowfront: Planted, sand, 10 Julii cories, 8 Zebra Danios
7 Cherry Barbs, Asst snails & Ghost shrimp
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post #7 of 36 Old 06-07-2013, 10:51 AM
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There's also the option of Black Diamond Blasting Sand. I've been having a ball with it, but it also requires major rinsing.
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post #8 of 36 Old 06-07-2013, 12:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeffrey View Post
The water quality report lists hardness as 252 ppm, it doesn't say that this is general hardness but I assume that's what it is. TDS is listed as 366, pH is not mentioned.

Excellent tip on the hood, the incandescent hoods are considerably cheaper so it's good to know I can use that hood and just swap the lights.

And thanks for the welcome!
That is hard water, around 14 dGH. And the TDS (total dissolved solids) is high, which is as important for fish. Stay with hard water fish (livebearers for example). The two previously mentioned corys should manage though I can't say for certain or how long.

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 #9 of 36 Old 06-07-2013, 02:46 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah it's pretty bad around here, if the corys can't take it well I probably won't get them. As a beginner tank it's likely there will be some other stressors until the kinks get worked out, so I'll suggest she stick with fish that will do better in that water to begin with.

Now for the future, I understand that the tap water can just be diluted with distilled water to produce whatever hardness I want. But will the pH drop as well or will that need additional adjusting after the hardness has been corrected? I've always been unclear on adjusting pH after hardness is in the right range.
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post #10 of 36 Old 06-07-2013, 03:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeffrey View Post
Yeah it's pretty bad around here, if the corys can't take it well I probably won't get them. As a beginner tank it's likely there will be some other stressors until the kinks get worked out, so I'll suggest she stick with fish that will do better in that water to begin with.

Now for the future, I understand that the tap water can just be diluted with distilled water to produce whatever hardness I want. But will the pH drop as well or will that need additional adjusting after the hardness has been corrected? I've always been unclear on adjusting pH after hardness is in the right range.
Yes, you can dilute hard water with "pure" but just remember this is a long-term commitment; weekly partial water changes will require mixed water too. And the pH will likely lower with this too, though depending...

Which brings me to the fact that the pH is related to the GH and KH. Rather than go into this, I will refer you to my article on the subject:
Water Hardness and pH in the Freshwater Aquarium

You will likely have more questons after reading this, so feel free to ask.

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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