Newbie Looking For Reassurance - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 33 Old 07-14-2008, 12:49 PM Thread Starter
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Newbie Looking For Reassurance

Greetings All

My wife and I started our first fish tank (neither of us have any experience even as children) about two months ago. A little background on the tank first. It is a 45 gallon freshwater tank roughly 22x22x22 (it is a pentagon shape so it's slightly less). We have an Emperor 400 Bio-Wheel filter, 2 marineland heaters (not sure of the size, but they are rated for more than our size tank). We have a light fixture with 2 65 watt dual daylight bulbs (130w total) which we are now only running at half power (65w) due to some hair algae growth we experienced our first few weeks which seems to now be under control with the reduced lighting and co2 injections. As far as the co2 we are currently using one of the systems in which you drop a tab into some water which then creates co2 and injects it into a holding device which adds the co2 into the water over a few hours. We used eco-complete substrate and have about a 3 inch cover. PH is around 7.4, kh is at about 180 ppm and gh at about 120 ppm. Temp ranges from roughly 76-79.

My wife is maintaining the plants, so I may not have this exactly right, but I believe we have 2 wisteria plants, 2 ludwiga?, 3 java ferns, some java moss, a moss ball, and 3 baby tears. We are using a couple different fertilizers, the kind you just dump into the water. API leaf-zone i know is one, than there is something called excel i believe and another iron supplement.

We have 4 male guppies, 3 zebra danio's, 6 neon tetra's, 4 cory's (2 panda and 2 green), 3 otocinclus, an upside down catfish and a striped raphael catfish. We also have 2 large trap door snails and another smaller snail that made it in through our plants when we purchased them. Currently I am feeding two different flakes (tetramin and tetraveggie) as well as some freeze-dried and frozen bloodworms and an occasional small fresh boiled cucumber, in small increments 3 times a day.

The tank has cycled and I am still testing ammonia/nitrite/nitrate every few days and all the readings are good (0/0/<10ppm respectively). In fact I only saw a very small ammonia spike and never even witnessed the nitrite spike during the original cycle and I was testing everyday. I'm doing weekly water changes at between 10-15% each week as well as cleaning the filter once every other week, replacing cartridges once a month. I've been using a marineland filter media (don't remember the name now) that is designed to reduce ammonia but I have been weening my tank of it and as of yet there has been no additional spike. I used a fairly small amount (about half of one of my media containers worth). I expect to be completely off of it by this time next week.

I've done countless hours of research and feel that I am as knowledgeable about the aquarium hobby as one can be without actually having any experience. I think my tank may be a little overstocked, but all my fish are relatively small and I think I have adequate filtration and a good enough maintenance routine to not cause any problems.

We have lost 3 fish up to this point. 1 danio which I believe was attributed to the beginning cycling (we started with 4 danios). 1 swordtail which I believe was diseased from the LFS and 1 german ram which died within 12 hours of purchase either because i did not acclimate him properly (I've been using the method of placing the bag in the tank, slowly filling it up with tank water, draining out half of the water, repeating, etc. for between 30-45 min per fish) or because he was just not healthy. The other three danio's I've had from the start, and the guppies and raphael catfish have been in the tank for only a few weeks less time than the danio's and all are doing fantastic. In fact, all my fish appear to be extremely healthy. With the exception of the swordtail (which as I said I believed was diseased) none of the other fish, including those that have died, showed any signs of distress or disease.

So, after all of that, my question to you, the experts, is what am I doing wrong? What am I missing? What am I not doing? I feel like we've made a very good start but that there is still something that we need to do or purchase or look for that we're not. Any advice/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.
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post #2 of 33 Old 07-14-2008, 04:13 PM
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Sounds like you're off to a good start. Losing a fish during cycling makes sense. The swordtail could very well have been diseased. I've heard a lot of things about the rams being sensitive, which is why I'm hesitant to buy one myself.

Just a warning: your raphael catfish might eventually start eating your neons and possibly the guppies and otos.

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post #3 of 33 Old 07-14-2008, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
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Really. I didn't read anything about them eating smaller fish when they got older. I appreciate the advice though. If fish start disappearing I've got an expected culprit :)
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post #4 of 33 Old 07-16-2008, 07:23 PM
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you say you clean your filter. I am certainly not an expert, but you need to be sure you arent eliminating the good bacteria in your filter. If you are using ammo chips now, you will need the bacteria to convert the ammonia to nitrite and then to nitrate when you are finally off the chips.
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post #5 of 33 Old 07-16-2008, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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well if you don't clean your filter you end up with a bunch of sludge in there that will back it up. I'm not taking my biowheels out and dipping them in chlorine to clean the filter. Just taking the filter apart and running a brush through to clean it out. If that's wrong then someone please tell me. Seems like common sense to me.
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post #6 of 33 Old 07-16-2008, 11:36 PM
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Well I wouldn't go as far as to give it a good scrub down or anything, but certainly once a month (or if need be twice a month) Taking the media out and giving it a good rinse, and just rinsing the actual filter out is always a good idea. Normally I would just rinse the media, but once in a while I'll rinse out the actual filter. Blah the stuff that comes outta there, I don't even wanna know what that is

If your really worried about the sludge build up and it effecting the performance of your filter, really the thing that gets my filter going again, it just scrubbing the intake tube and pulling the.. Lol ok here comes my not so correct terms for filter parts... Part thats kinda like the motor thing with the propeller?? Yeahhh come on you know what I'm talkin aboot Give that a good rinse too because gunk tends to build up on that!

And just before you laid dead weight upon its shores, I stung you in the face for that's the nature of my core.
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post #7 of 33 Old 07-17-2008, 12:41 AM
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Re: Newbie Looking For Reassurance

Originally Posted by qpc68
]So, after all of that, my question to you, the experts, is what am I doing wrong? What am I missing? What am I not doing? I feel like we've made a very good start but that there is still something that we need to do or purchase or look for that we're not. Any advice/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.
Hi there! :D Zebra danjos as well as all the upside-down catfish are shoal fish. They are not happy in threes, much less alone. Similar species are no substitute for a shoal.
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post #8 of 33 Old 07-17-2008, 01:57 AM
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You're thinking of the impeller, LF.

As for the filter, swishing it in the old tank water will be sufficient, as for your plants are they in a healthy state and doing well or not so much?

I would recommend having a QT tank for your new fish that you bring home, otherwise it's very possible to bring in a disease from an LFS and get the rest of your fish sick. It doesn't have to be's just really hard to keep from stocking running tanks :)

Regarding your cories, they're like the other fish PDX mentioned. They like to be in groups of 6 or more I'm pretty sure that the two different types of cories you have would be happier in their own groups (more pandas and more greens).

One more thing, it might be better to up your water changes to 25% so that you're getting more fresh water in there on a weekly basis.

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post #9 of 33 Old 07-17-2008, 09:59 AM Thread Starter
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I have a cheap little 1 gallon tank that I'm using for that purpose. I don't have a filter for it so I'm only keeping new fish in it for 2 days before transferring them to the main tank.

My plants are iffy. The wisteria/ludwiga are doing great. The moss is ok I suppose. The Java Ferns aren't doing all that well. I'm going to be adding a larger diy system next week for a higher injection of co2.

I added 2 trilineatus cory's in there as well and the 6 of them (2 panda, 2 green, 2 tri) are actually doing quite well together.

I understand that "Similar species are no substitute for a shoal" and I wasn't suggesting that was my purpose. I am a bit worried about my u-d cat and am considering adding some buddies for him.

Thanks for the advice folks, I really appreciate it. Other than the things y'all stated does it sound like everything else is rockin? I'll probably post some pics this afternoon.
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post #10 of 33 Old 07-17-2008, 10:04 AM
Little-Fizz's Avatar
Originally Posted by Flashygrrl
You're thinking of the impeller, LF.
Lol thanks!

And just before you laid dead weight upon its shores, I stung you in the face for that's the nature of my core.
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