new to the forum, an introduction and questions - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 12 Old 07-06-2012, 10:20 PM Thread Starter
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new to the forum, an introduction and questions

Hi everyone, I've just joined the forum which I happened to stumble on during my quest to find some web advice for my little 10 gal. freshwater aquarium.

My name's Fidel, I'm a photographer and spend most of my time at home when I'm not shooting so I decided to get into aquariums and this is my first personal experience with my own freshwater aquarium.

I currently have a very basic tank with cheap lights, a tetra whisper filter, a plastic plant and my fish are as follows:
1 Male Beta
1 Panda Cory
1 Albino Cory
5 Zebra Danios
5 Neon & Cardinal Tetras.

For the past few months my fiance was taking care of the tank, she added some fish and lost some. I stayed away primarily because I'm more interested in saltwater aquariums, but I figured learning to maintain and take care of a 10 gal freshwater tank should prepare me to get into the saltwater world.

I ordered a bunch of stuff from drsfosterandsmith.com including a bottle of test strips as well as a box of filter media and some fish food.

Of course the first thing I did was testing the water chemistry, turns out it's not perfect (I'm not surprised) and according to the strip my nitrates, GH and PH are very high, Nitrates around 200, GH 300, and PH is over 8.

After hours of reading and scouring the web for decent information I guess the hardness is due to lack of water changes or not changing enough water which is true in my case. The first real water change I personally did (not sure what my fiance had been doing previously) was about 3 gallons, new water was treated with aquasafe plus then temperature matched, and this was on the first of this month.

I am not sure if the nitrate and ph is affected by the same issues and that is why I am here, of course I am not convinced I have the answer so if you're an expert on these matters please feel free to chime in or provide advice.

I do have one specific question for now; will frequent water changes sway or improve the extremes in my test strip results? if so how often is too frequent? and are 2-3 gallons per water change a good amount?

Thanks in advance and I look forward to read your responses and threads
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post #2 of 12 Old 07-06-2012, 11:05 PM
Hardness is not affected by water changes. Hardness (or it's opposite: softness) tends to be affected by your water you are using and it's source. Where I live for example my water is very soft. Sounds like you have hard water.

That said with these results sounds like the tank was never cycled. Water changes will help with getting those numbers down temporarily till good bacteria begins to colonize. A good idea would be to get a few low need plants like Java Fern, or Java Moss to put in this tank to help with getting the stats under control.

That said the stocking is a bit concerning. It is of a popular opinion based on experience of many fish keepers that Male Bettas are best kept alone. They can get aggressive towards other tank mates, and their long fins can end up being targeted by nippy fish.
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post #3 of 12 Old 07-06-2012, 11:19 PM
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Test strips are notoriously inaccurate and hard to read. You need a liquid test kit. You also have too many fish for a 10g. You have to start doing 3-5 gallon water changes 3-5 times a week, until your water becomes more stable or risk loosing your fish. Read up on aquarium cycling, one of the top threads in Freshwater Aquariums. A little research and work will give you a happier and trouble free tank. You should get stocking advise from another member so you can have a compatible tank.

Consider the needs of your fish before acting on your desires.

Last edited by marshallsea; 07-06-2012 at 11:23 PM.
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post #4 of 12 Old 07-06-2012, 11:49 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for this great advice.

I was wrong about my tap water, it is actually not too bad as the results indicate;

soft
chlorine 0
60 or so alkalinity
7.0 PH

I will get a liquid test kit on my next order and use the strips for now.

I changed 3 gallons of water and I'll change it more frequently till numbers stabilize.

The beta is out and in a bowl for now. As far as the other fish go I have noticed that the danios, tetras and corys seem to get along great, no nipped fins or fights at least, if anything they've all grown rather quickly since we first had them, surprisingly!
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post #5 of 12 Old 07-07-2012, 12:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiFidelity View Post
Thanks for this great advice.

I was wrong about my tap water, it is actually not too bad as the results indicate;

soft
chlorine 0
60 or so alkalinity
7.0 PH

I will get a liquid test kit on my next order and use the strips for now.

I changed 3 gallons of water and I'll change it more frequently till numbers stabilize.

The beta is out and in a bowl for now. As far as the other fish go I have noticed that the danios, tetras and corys seem to get along great, no nipped fins or fights at least, if anything they've all grown rather quickly since we first had them, surprisingly!
Good luck, have fun. It gets easier as you go.

Consider the needs of your fish before acting on your desires.
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post #6 of 12 Old 07-07-2012, 11:15 AM
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Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.

Starting with the hardness, as someone correctly mentioned, this is in your tap water, unless something is targeting it in the tank. If your tap water is soft, and the tank water is hard, there has to be a calcareous substance in the tank that is dissolving minerals like calcium and/or magnesium into the water. Test strips are not always completely accurate, but they should give a general indication. I would suggest you first check your water supply people (they may have a website with water data reports) and ascertain the GH (general hardness) and KH (carbonate hardness, sometimes called Alkalinity) of the tap water. We need the actual numbers, not vague general terms like "soft" which might mean many things. These numbers will give us an idea what to expect in the tank with fish. We can reconsider the tank tests for GH later. GH does impact fish. And pH is connected to KH. For some bedtime reading, this will explain it:
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/f...quarium-73276/

To your question on water changes, these must be regular--minimum is once a week--and the volume depends somewhat on the tank's biology. But in general, doing 1/3 to 1/2 the tank weekly is advisable. This is the norm. During initial tank setup it may have to be daily water changes to keep ammonia and nitrite near-zero, as these are toxic to all fish. There is an article on cycling stickied at the head of this section of the forum. Weekly water changes should keep nitrates low.

You might also find our fish profiles of value. Most species commonly kept are included. Second tab from the left in the blue bar across the top of the page. If names are used in posts identical to how they appear in the profile, they will shade, example cardinal tetra and neon tetra, and you can click those for that profile. Data on numbers of each species (this is crucial), water requirements, compatibility, tank sizes, etc. are included in each profile.

This should get you started.

Byron.

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 #7 of 12 Old 07-10-2012, 09:44 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the valuable advice, I read the info suggested and learned quite a bit from it and of course I will be going back to read some things a second or third time.

I found the water report for my city;

http://www.hayward-ca.gov/CITY-GOVER...Water_2011.pdf

I have done 4 water changes since I last posted replacing around 40% of the water, I seem to have cut the initial numbers down but still need to work on it.

All the numbers bellow are estimated figures since I still only have test strips, I am working with what I have until I can get my hands on better testing products (API GH/KH Liquid test kit & API freshwater Master test kit)

New conditioned water added to tank:
Nitrates - 0
Nitrites - 0
GH - 100
Chlorine - 0
KH - 20
PH - 7.5

Tank roughly 30 minutes after water change:
Nitrate - 50
Nitrite - 0.5
GH - 75
Chlorine - 0
KH - 40
PH - 7.5

How can I tell if the needed bacteria has cultivated?
How soon should I do the next water change?
Anything else I should be doing?

I really want to make my fish healthy and happy :)
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post #8 of 12 Old 07-11-2012, 10:37 AM
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Water looks good. With a GH of 57ppm [roughly 3 dGH] and a KH of 49ppm [3 dKH] you have very soft water with some pH buffering capability.

This will suit soft water fish [getting the pH lower will not be difficult]. Forget hard water fish--livebearers (molly, platy, swordtail, guppy, etc), rift lake cichlids, some others--as these will not manage well in such soft water. But so many of the characins, cyprinids, catfish, anabantids, etc. are options. The water parameters are included for each species in our profiles. The fish listed in your initial post are fine in this water, very much so, once we get the pH down; and this will likely occur naturally as the tank establishes.

To the cycling, as long as ammonia or nitrite is above zero, the bacteria are still establishing. Daily partial water changes of half the tank should be done until ammonia and nitrite are zero. What water conditioner do you use? Prime or Ultimate are good at this time because they detoxify both toxins.

Byron.

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 12 Old 07-11-2012, 01:09 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the response Byron.

I am using Tetra Aquasafe Plus conditioner, I hope this is a good one since 2 weeks ago I had just purchased a 13oz bottle and i only use 2ml at a time to condition 4 gallons of water.

When I'm doing a water change, should I dump all 4 gallons of new water in the tank all at once? or do it slowly? I try to do my best to match the temp +, - 1 degree as to not shock the fish.

Also when I was reading the Panda Cory profile it pointed out that it is important for the panda do be in a group of 3 minimum otherwise the fish will appear depressed & lethargic, and sure enough compared to the Albino Cory the Panda appears to be less active. would you advice introducing another 2 pandas soon or after the water cycles completely?

Lastly Byron, after looking through some random threads in the freshwater aquarium forum it's quite obvious that you do an impeccable job at being super moderator and sharing your knowledge with the forum, so i want to say again thanks for taking the time to help.
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post #10 of 12 Old 07-11-2012, 01:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiFidelity View Post
Thanks for the response Byron.

I am using Tetra Aquasafe Plus conditioner, I hope this is a good one since 2 weeks ago I had just purchased a 13oz bottle and i only use 2ml at a time to condition 4 gallons of water.

When I'm doing a water change, should I dump all 4 gallons of new water in the tank all at once? or do it slowly? I try to do my best to match the temp +, - 1 degree as to not shock the fish.

Also when I was reading the Panda Cory profile it pointed out that it is important for the panda do be in a group of 3 minimum otherwise the fish will appear depressed & lethargic, and sure enough compared to the Albino Cory the Panda appears to be less active. would you advice introducing another 2 pandas soon or after the water cycles completely?

Lastly Byron, after looking through some random threads in the freshwater aquarium forum it's quite obvious that you do an impeccable job at being super moderator and sharing your knowledge with the forum, so i want to say again thanks for taking the time to help.
Aquasafe Plus is OK as a water conditioner generally, but it does not say it targets ammonia or nitrite. So that means if either are above zero, a daily water change of half the tank is best to keep whichever toxin diluted.

Forget to mention live plants; some fast growing plants like stem plants or floating plants will also help, a lot. Plants need nitrogen and they use ammonia/ammonium as their preferred source.

It is best to add the water slowly, meaning with a siphon. This is easier than trying to use a pail and get it pouring slow. Conditioner the water in the pail first. Temperature being a degree or two different is fine, usually on the cooler side, this will invigorate the fish like a tropical rainstorm. Don't fuss over temp, if it is close by hand, fine.

All corys are shoaling fish that live in groups of hundreds in their habitat, so the more you have of a species the better. But they do also shoal around together, though some species show more preference for their own. My panda are always together, I had 3 in with several other species and they still remained together. I would get more if you can, they do not have much of an impact on the biology.

Thank you for the kind words. I try.

Byron.

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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