New guy & his new aquarium, accesories, and questions need advice
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New guy & his new aquarium, accesories, and questions need advice

This is a discussion on New guy & his new aquarium, accesories, and questions need advice within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> Hello all! You may have read my previous post about having bought a Critter Cage thinking it was a fish tank. While I wouldn't ...

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New guy & his new aquarium, accesories, and questions need advice
Old 06-09-2009, 12:22 PM   #1
 
J Murphy's Avatar
 
Question New guy & his new aquarium, accesories, and questions need advice

Hello all! You may have read my previous post about having bought a Critter Cage thinking it was a fish tank. While I wouldn't mind getting a turtle, I really set out to get fish right now. So I've been reading sites like this FishForum and fishtankguide.net went and got some things. I might or might not need all of these things, but I really want to do this right to learn so later I can move up in tank size and get really nice fish in the future.





It has a $99 tag on it (Petsmart and an Indy pet company had them for about $100-115) I got it on sale for $69.99. You'll see I also bought a 25 lb bag of aquarium gravel ($12) and a 5 lb bag of blue gravel ($3.33) to sprinkle over the gray stones to add a bit of color. (Will 30 lb be enough [1.5 lb per gal], or should I go get some more, like a 2 lb or 5 lb bag of gravel?)


The kit includes: 20 gal tank, fluorescent hood, submersible heater, Power Filter 20 with large filter cartridge, some fish food, water conditioner to make tap water safe, fish net, and digital thermometer. Are any of these things bad, like should I have to rebuy anything because of poor quality in this kit?

[EDIT: If this is a bad kit, I haven't opened it yet. If there's something better for that price let me know. I'm open for all advice!]

For my next trip (sadly I have to wait a few weeks after my next check), I plan to make these purchases:
  • Greek Coliseum with air stone and a Roman Column or two. I want to use the bubble feature, so correct me if I'm wrong but I need some air tubing and an air pump, right? Do I have to buy one for 20 gal? I just need something that makes some air right? I thought about a small Tetra one. Any ideas?
  • Some artificial plants (dealing with real ones with my first experience with fish scares me a little) like this, this, and this.
  • One of these Top Fin Gravel Vacuums, probably a medium sized one, although I still need to do research on how and when exactly I have to clean gravel. I'm a little unclear on what this thing does but I need it, right? Or no?
  • This Top Fin aquarium cleaning tool. I still need to figure out when and how to use this and use it correctly.
  • A plastic 0.5 gallon pitcher to help me remove my weekly 15% (I'll dip out six of these containers, 20 gal x 15% = 3 gal a week / 0.5 gal pitcher = 6 full pitchers). Is there a better way to do this? I want to be as efficient as possible.
  • This Aquarium Masters Freshwater Master Test Kit
  • This API Tap Water Conditioner. I just need to put the required amount in my pitcher six times and pour it in right? Or should I just buy this Stress Coat, which says it treats water and helps their coats?
  • I don't know what for yet (still reading) but I know I have to buy some 100% ammonia, right? How much?
  • I'll do some cycling with 3 zebra danios (just waiting for all my levels to spike then level out, right?) then add 3 more zebra danios, wait a little over a week, and add 3 neon tetras, wait a little over a week, and add 2 sword tails. Does this sound like overload for my 20 gal? I also wouldn't mind having a ghost shrimp and some snails for variety. I also saw a frog at Petsmart that was loving his life swimming around in the water I wouldn't mind having, but I'm looking to make this fairly simple to start so I don't have to buy ten different kinds of food (I'm still doing research on what food to buy also). I'm looking for a neat variety that will be good to look at, but still able to live together and maybe put up with some of my errors.

Thank you for reading this, it really means a lot. I really want to do this right to learn so later I can upgrade and get some really nice fish and have them live a long time. If anyone has any suggestions, please feel free to let me know! Thanks!

Last edited by J Murphy; 06-09-2009 at 12:40 PM..
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Old 06-09-2009, 01:20 PM   #2
 
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First off, welcome to the forum, and fishkeeping!

1. Yeah, since you have a hang on back filter (HOB), the Power Filter 20, you will need a simple air pump to get the bubble effect. It will help aerate the water as well, just as the HOB filter. And yes, you will need the tubing and pump.

2. Yes, you will need a gravel siphon. Top Fin will work. With this, you should also do weekly 15-25% water changes AFTER the tank is fully cycled. Most people will do a little "house cleaning" while doing their water changes.

3. The pitcher could be used as aquarium pitcher only, and used to refill the tank after you remove the water. Be sure to always use de-chlorinator on all new water added to the tank.

4. As for your test kits conditioners etc.. API is a good brand to use. There are others, but mnay people use API

5. If your doing a cycle with fish, which you mentioned you are, you won't need the 100% ammonia. Having the fish in there alone will bring that about through waste left over food etc...

6. As for fish, a general rule of thumb for beginners, 1" of fish per 1 gallon of water. So long as you stay with danios tetras and other live bearers, this is a good rule to follow. Schooling fish such as tetras and danios should be kept in at least schools of 5-6 fish. I would recommend doing like the 6 danios (or 6 neon tetras), and the two sword tails. That would be about right for a 20 gallon.

As for the setup/kit, seems good. I don't see anything wrong with it as long as all works, and the tank has no leaks etc.

Also, get plants, silk or plastic to start of with, till you can look more into live plants.

If you decide to do a fishless cycle, here is a link to show how.

http://www.aquahobby.com/articles/e_fishless.php

Good luck! Anymore questions just ask, we're here to help.

Last edited by Arkamaic; 06-09-2009 at 01:28 PM..
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Old 06-09-2009, 01:35 PM   #3
 
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Hi. Welcome to the forum@!

This kit is not bad it's just a (base) set up with nothing fancy. I would not take blue gravel and instead try and go for the natural look of the tank rather than creating fake look.

Overall think what would like your tank to be, I mean theme wise. Asian, Amazon, rainforest, north or south american? You can find tons and tons of ideas online and in the books. Look at the books by Peter Hiscock and read read and read.

You want to start right and have fun and not mess with your aqua every week.

for now just set it up and start the cycle. You can do fishless cycle or with fish.
and get some lowtech plants for the natural look and overall fish life improvment.

As for the water test kits.. I would recommend for you to buy Jungle Labs
Quick dip test strips . Easy to use,easy to read and cheap!
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Old 06-09-2009, 03:35 PM   #4
 
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Thanks guys!

@Arkamaic: Thanks a ton for the info on fishless cycles. I have read about it some more and now I feel entirely more comfortable with it and I think that's what I'm going to do. And as for the gravel pump, basically what it's for is to simultaneously remove the 15% of my water for the change all while sucking up some larger stuff that may've sunk to the bottom, all while not allowing the gravel to be fully sucked up? This replaces just dipping a cup (or my pitcher) in the top a few times, right? Thanks for the fish advice also. I didn't know about the 5 or more thing, but I knew about the 1" per gallon rule, so I'm trying to maximize really, really cool, interesting, pretty fish with relative ease of use.

@Unrulyevil: For my theme, I wanted kind of an ancient Roman or underwater city look. What I really want is an actual underwater ruined city look like Atlantis (so my fish look like giants next to the buildings and cars, which are both to scale), but in the three LFSs I visited, no one had any city buildings or anything. I imagine some ruined-looking modern-esque buildings, some "moss" covered street lamps, some cars that look as though they've been submerged for quite some time, etc. However I do also like the coliseum, so I think that's the theme I'm going for. Ancient Rome has always fascinated me. It looks cooler from the other side, as it's essentially half of a stadium. I thought of buying two and putting the halves together, but that'd be $50.
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Old 06-09-2009, 05:09 PM   #5
 
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Yeah, the suction power of the siphon shouldn't be enough to suck the gravel through. If it is you've got some super siphon haha. But exactly, while siphoning just look for poop, or left over food and hover the siphon over it. May take practice to get a good amount of your aquarium covered while keeping the 15-25% limit of water etc. ANd yes, it replaces the dipping of a cup it.

Something else on that note, it would be a good Idea to get like a 5 gallon bucket just for your aquarium too. Make sure it's aquarium use only and aquarium safe. Usually anything that held food in it at some point is good. Maybe find something at Costco or Sams. Use this to hold the water siphon your water out of your tank then dump it after. It's also a good way to measure how much of a change your doing. IE filling a 5 gallon bucket out of a 20 gallon tank such as your is a 25% change.
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Old 06-12-2009, 05:13 PM   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unrulyevil View Post
Hi. Welcome to the forum@!

This kit is not bad it's just a (base) set up with nothing fancy. I would not take blue gravel and instead try and go for the natural look of the tank rather than creating fake look.

Overall think what would like your tank to be, I mean theme wise. Asian, Amazon, rainforest, north or south american? You can find tons and tons of ideas online and in the books. Look at the books by Peter Hiscock and read read and read.

You want to start right and have fun and not mess with your aqua every week.

for now just set it up and start the cycle. You can do fishless cycle or with fish.
and get some lowtech plants for the natural look and overall fish life improvment.

As for the water test kits.. I would recommend for you to buy Jungle Labs
Quick dip test strips . Easy to use,easy to read and cheap!
I always heard the strips weren't as reliable... I use the API freshwater master test kit as well, and I think it's fun measuring and shaking the little tubes... lol.
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Old 06-12-2009, 06:38 PM   #7
 
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Originally Posted by SolaceTiger View Post
I always heard the strips weren't as reliable... I use the API freshwater master test kit as well, and I think it's fun measuring and shaking the little tubes... lol.

I've heard many horror stories about test strips too! API test kits are the best from what I gathered
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Old 06-14-2009, 01:13 PM   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SolaceTiger View Post
I always heard the strips weren't as reliable... I use the API freshwater master test kit as well, and I think it's fun measuring and shaking the little tubes... lol.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Freddiesbuns View Post
I've heard many horror stories about test strips too! API test kits are the best from what I gathered
I've been on this thread reading for about two weeks straight getting info and I have yet to see something positive about the strips. No worries; I plan on buying the freshwater master test kit. 8) Thanks everyone for the help!
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Old 06-14-2009, 03:15 PM   #9
 
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good luck with the setting up of the tank :)
post pics along the way if you can,we love tank diarys.
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