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This is a discussion on New to the fish world within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> Inga, There is something I noticed in your last post, with your tank dimensions... and I'd like to prepare you for this now before ...

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New to the fish world
Old 06-09-2010, 04:38 PM   #11
bettababy's Avatar
There is something I noticed in your last post, with your tank dimensions... and I'd like to prepare you for this now before you discover any issues. With the dimensions of your tank... (what brand name aquarium is this?) you are going to run into the same issues as most people with a standard 55 gallon tank often run into, and that is in the depth of the tank, front to back. While you have plenty of length and height, there is very little space from front to back for "large" fish, and this can bring territory and space issues quickly. Large fish raised in such narrow tanks can have physical deformities from lack of space. I caution you to be careful when selecting what species of fish you choose to keep in there.

I do, however, have a suggestion for you. Do some research on kribensis cichlids (Pelvicachromis pulcher). This may be closer to what you are looking for than the convict cichlids, and would be much better suited to your size of aquarium. Kribensis are colorful, active, and much easier to find suitable tank mates for in your type/size of aquarium. Kribensis are also pretty easy to spawn if you later decide to go that route. If properly decorated, kribensis can be compatible with standard gouramis, which also can provide you with a lot of color, activity level, and "larger" fish. Kribensis average about 5 - 6 inches full grown, standard gouramis about 5 inches full grown for the females and about 4 inches for most males. Another possibility to mix with either of those species of fish would be rosy barbs... and again, extreme amounts of color, high activity level, and not "tiny" by any means. Rosy barbs can reach an average of 4 inches each. An easy way to add a bit of extra color to a tank of rosy barbs is to select both male and female, as they differ greatly in coloration.

Here are a few photo links to help you get started:
Kribensis -

Gold gourami -
Blue gourami -
Opaline gourami -
White gourami -
Pearl gourami - http://witnessthis.files.wordpress.c...rl-gourami.jpg

Male long fin rosy barb -
Female long fin rosy barb -

Of course, you will still want to check the pH of your tap water to be sure these fish are compatible with what you can provide, but these species of fish have quite a wide range of acceptable parameters now days due to the amount of captive breeding that is being done. If they are coming from a lfs, chances are they are captive/farm bred and raised. Finding these fish in wild form now is rather difficult.

Let me know if any of these fish appeals to you and we can go from there. This would also accommodate your desire for fish who keep different territories. Gouramis tend to prefer the upper 1/3 of the tank, kribensis tend to prefer the lower 1/3 of the tank, and the rosy barbs are mostly a mid level (middle 1/3 of the tank) fish. You will still want to be sure there is plenty of decor at all ranges (upper/floating, mid range, and lower) as these fish are all known to be somewhat aggressive and territorial.

Also, in regards to the plants... personally, I prefer silk over plastic. Plastic plants need to be replaced more often than silk because the plastic becomes brittle and begins to break, which can make a big mess and clog filters. Silk plants last longer, look more natural, and are much easier to clean. Another advantage to silk, especially with cichlids or other fish that dig... silk plants have weighted bases to them. If the fish dig them up they won't float the way plastic plants will. This becomes much less work for you in keeping things in place and territories in tact.

I hope this helps.
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Old 06-09-2010, 05:13 PM   #12
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Darn, I wish I had read this before shopping, buying the plants and putting them in the tank. ha ha It has been one of those days today. After I set up the tank, added rocks, water, plastic plants and toy, I went to another store and found a tank that was 75 gallons that he would have let me have for $40.00 less then the one I got. DARN!!

Oh well, It is what it is now, I am not taking this one down and starting over. Here is a picture of the tank set up for now.

I suspect that I can add more plants and when I look, I will get the silk ones. I got a large piece of driftwood to add to the tank also but it has to soak for a few weeks to get any colors to leech off of it before putting it in the tank.

When I decided on this tank, I was thinking it would be easier to view the fish since they couldn't sneak to the back and hide but I hear what you are saying about them turning and such. I keep feeling sad for the fish crammed into little tanks at the pet stores. Today I saw about 20 convicts in a 30 gallon tank and they were big, not small ones. I guess that store took them for a guy that had his tank over run with them. This is why I want to plan ahead rather then run into that. It is nice to know they will help to re-home fish as they get bigger though I wouldn't feel good about putting my fish into a cramped little tank like that, even temporarily.

My Rottweiler's are laying on the floor watching the tank. They have been staring at it for over a hour now. I think they will enjoy it once there are some fish moving about in there.

I am going to go to the store again now and look for some Kribensis and Gourami's. (I wish I had found the 75 gal. before...) Darn! :(

Edit: I just looked at that picture and realized it looks like the tank is about to slide over. It is the photographer, not the tank. The tank is level. :) ;) Gotta work on better pictures. That might be my next challenge after I get the tank all set up how I like it.
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Old 06-09-2010, 05:34 PM   #13
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On your trip to seek out fish, best to keep it as window shopping for a bit yet. The tank should be all set up and running, with heater and stable temp for about 5 - 7 days before the first fish goes into it. Then, start with 1 - 2 small fish and let the tank cycle. If you add too many at once you will end up with dead fish and a mess to clean up.

You have a good start on the decor, but you will want to add a lot more than what is currently in there. If you'd like an example of a "heavily decorated" tank, take a look at my aquariums (click on my name here and go to the aquariums). My 90 gallon and my 65 angel tank are good examples of heavily decorated. For the fish we have been discussing, you will need heavily decorated to keep it peaceful and make it work.

Also, watch how many of each species you get. 1 - 2 kribensis along with 1 - 2 gouramis, and then maybe 3 rosy barbs... that will make for a pretty full tank as your total population. Remember to space additions, and the 2nd addition of fish should be spaced about 1 - 2 wks after the tank has fully cycled.

Also... don't bring home any fish until you have your test kits. Testing pH first is going to be very important. If you should happen to have a very high pH, we will need to start over with what species of fish you can work with... and vice versa if the pH is very low, it may need some adjusting.

In the case of the drift wood, the "color" you are speaking of removing during soaking would be the tannic acid that is in most types of drift wood. If you can post a photo of the wood maybe we can help identify it for you. Some types of wood have more tannins in them than others, such as Malaysian drift wood and Welaby woods. In the situation of Welaby wood, soaking it for a few weeks won't do much good in removing the tannins because of the high content in the wood.

Tannic acid will soften your water, so all the more reason to check pH before adding the wood or fish, and then testing it regularly after the wood goes into the tank. If you have the ability to boil the wood, this will remove more tannins a bit faster, but please don't expect to remove them all just by soaking over a few wk period, cuz it won't happen.

Most important... remember to go slow and to be patient. To do things right requires a lot of self control and a lot of patience. If you rush it, you will have exactly the situation you keep saying you don't want.

So far so good... keep decorating!
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Old 06-09-2010, 05:35 PM   #14
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Ooops! Forgot to mention, for the species of fish we are discussing, desired temp will be 76F.
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Old 06-09-2010, 05:47 PM   #15
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Another afterthought...

Don't pay too much attention to the stocking of store tanks. Store tanks are nothing more than holding tanks and the fish are usually not in there for very long. Store tanks also differ in filtration than a home situation, and the types of filtration found in most lfs's would not be practical or possible for a home situation. These differences mean that stocking of a store tank is very different than a home aquarium. I try to warn people to never use a store tank as an example of stocking for a home tank.

The same thing applies to decorating. Most lfs's have minimal decoration in their tanks, but this is for a good reason. Again, the fish are not usually there for very long, but also because the fish need to be easily caught for the customers. If a store tank is too heavily decorated, fish are much harder to catch, especially if the staff has not been trained on how to properly catch a fish without stressing it to death.

I will come back later tonight to offer some tips on what to watch for when buying a fish. There are some major issues in lfs tanks, and with lfs employess when they catch the fish. There are things you can watch for to tell you when to walk away and/or say no to a fish. It is much safer, cheaper, and easier to wait for another shipment to come in the following week or to find another lfs with better, safer practices and healthier fish. If the lfs employee chases a fish nearly to death to catch it... for sure you don't want it. That kind of stress along with moving to a new environment, especially a brand new set up... means a high risk of illness and potentially death within the first few days.

Til later...
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Old 06-09-2010, 06:59 PM   #16
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First I just want to say "Thanks so much again, bettababy" you have been a great help so far. I am not buying any fish yet, I don't have a clue which way I am going to go yet. For the next week, I will simply be on a research mission. I found another store today that has some fresh water fish but mostly salt water. I love the salt water fish and set ups but I don't think I will want to ever get involved in all that. Who knows though, never say never.

I didn't mention, I do have a heater also. It is a Stealth Pro from Marineland? I don't know if that is good or not it is supposed to be good for up to a 75 gallon tank. My water is a little cool at this point but I suspect it should warm up nicely over the next week. The wood I got is called Natural Mopani Wood it is supposed to be one of the hardest woods available and it is supposed to sink to the bottom of the tank, unlike most drift woods. That said, It is currently floating in my bucket. ha ha Do you think I should still boil it? I am sure I can handle that. How long should I boil it for? Do I still need to soak it after that? It actually isn't coloring the water as much as I thought it would. It says once the water is like tea, it can be used in the aquarium.
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Old 06-09-2010, 07:05 PM   #17
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Holy cow! I just looked at your tanks. I was thinking once I added the wood and maybe a few more plants I would have too much. lol Your tanks look great, I just didn't know I was to add that much stuff to it. Well, I can add as I go. I think I need to let my credit card recover just a little first. ha ha
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Old 06-09-2010, 11:30 PM   #18
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Mopani wood is basically the same as Welaby wood... can you post a photo of the wood you purchased please? Welaby/Mopani should not float, so I am thinking you likely have something else.

The tea color in the water would be the tannic acid, thats what it does... as it softens the water. Putting it into a bucket and waiting for the water to turn tea colored will indeed remove some of the tannins, but it will not remove it all. Depending on the type of wood you have, it is very likely that its still going to stain the tank water a tea color as more tannins are released over time. Sorry, thats just how it works. There is no effective and safe way to remove all of the tannins from the wood, especially not just by soaking it. As mentioned, boiling it will help some, but if this wood has a very heavy tannin content, such as Welaby wood, it has the potential to leech tannins into the water for years. If you don't mind the darker water color, this is an effective way to soften water for soft water fishes, such as some of the dwarf cichlid species... but if you are working with fish that can't tolerate the softened water, it will cause you problems. Also, it will be very important to monitor the pH in the tank very closely for a long time to be sure it doesn't get too soft. There is a danger point with pH, even for soft water fishes. I have a few pieces of Welaby wood here that have been in various aquariums steadily over the past 10 yrs, and they still contain enough tannic acid to turn the water tea colored in a 90 gallon tank within just a few days.

Welaby wood is pretty easy to tell apart from other wood types. It has lots of knots in it, tends to have "swirl" shapes to it... and one side of it will be very light blonde in color while the other side (the under side) is very deep mahogany in color. Welaby wood is also quite heavy and dense, thus its ability to sink and stay down in the tank without being anchored.

Please post a photo of the wood before you attempt to boil it. I'd hate to see you waste your time if I can easily identify it, and if it turns out to be something that boiling will be ineffective for removing the majority of tannic acid.

If your tap water already has a lower pH reading, you may not want to add this wood to your aquarium... will depend on those test results and wood type.

One warning about the heater you have... those heaters have been known to explode, so I would watch it carefully, and get it running now before there are fish in the tank. That will give you a chance to test it out for a bit in case there is any problem with it, and in the safest way possible. If you need an alternative, good brand name of aquarium heater... the Aqueon heaters are very good. I have Aqueon heaters in all of my tanks. (and it helps that my husband works for the company... so if there is a problem, I have easy access to him and the company to get it resolved quickly)

I will stop back later to check for wood photo(s) and pH readings.
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Old 06-10-2010, 12:59 AM   #19
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Dawn- I have Marineland Stealths in all my tanks and have never had a problem. When you say explode, do you mean literally??
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Old 06-10-2010, 02:59 AM   #20
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Yes Kymmie, literally explode. The company knows of the issues. Its not every heater, but it is enough of them that I felt it warranted to warn about it. I don't have all of the details of the malfunction that is causing it to happen, but I am looking into it. I will let you know if I find anything out. All I can say is watch them. If any of them appears to not be working properly at any given point, I would replace it quickly just to be safe, especially in your discus tank. Those fish would not be easily replaced even if the company paid for it. My motto has always been better safe than sorry...
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