Introduction and Background: Personal Background:
Hello everyone! My name is Nick and I am somewhat new to the hobby of aquaria. I am a geology student in California in my fourth year at university. .Feel free to PM me with any questions about rocks (whether or not the question is related to aquaria). I am a lover of science and all things in nature. I am excited to get into the hobby! Background in Aquaria:
I have recently acquired three fish tanks, a 5-gallon, a 15.6-gallon-tall, and a 37-gallon-tall. These tanks were my father's from about ten years ago. He ceased his activity in the hobby due to time restraints. I used to help him take care of the tanks. We had a community tank as well as bred fancy guppies as a way to fund the hobby. After stopping our involvement in the hobby, the tanks were stashed in the garage for years until recently my mother gave him the choice to either throw them away or give them to me. I gladly accepted them because I think that this would be a fun hobby that would allow me to use my scientific mind to the advantage of the fish and plants that I will keep.
The first tank that I am going to set up is the 15.6 gallon-tall tank. Its dimensions (LxWxH) are 20"x10"x18". It is equipped with a Marineland Eclipse 1 hood. Due to my father's disorganized nature, I do not have the pump for it. I have special ordered the pump and impeller parts and am awaiting their arrival. It's turning out to be quite the headache both in the part acquisition and financially. In hindsight, I probably should have purchased a new hood/cover/pump rather than continue to use the discontinued set up that I have.
My reasoning for starting with the 15.6 gallon is as follows: the parts were significantly cheaper for this tank than the 37 gallon-tall (being a college student, this is important), I awaiting a stand for the 37 gallon-tall (I am having my father bring it on his next trip down here), and I simply do not know what I want to do with the small 5 gallon tank. Water Supply and Water Parameters:
For this 15.6-gallon tank, I desire to set it up so that it optimally caters to whatever species of fish and plants that I put in it. I am going to tailor these choices to my local water parameters rather than using tons of chemicals to alter pH and hardness. The water supply in my area comes from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park, California, though I live in a city. The local aquifer contains a large amount of carbonates and mercury (so much that it was mined here for many years) so this water is not used for a municipal water supply.
All measurements were taken after letting tap water sit in the tank for 24 hours unless otherwise stated. The tap water was treated with Kordon Novaqua+ Water Conditioner (this was in the box of aquarium stuff my father gave me. I do not know if it is still "good" due to its age). All testing was done with the API Master Test Kit and the API KH and GH Test Kit, yielding the following water parameters: pH: 7.4-7.5.
The resolution of the test kit is not great enough to determine this exactly. The color falls between the 7.3 and 7.6 on the regular pH test. Using the high pH test that has a lowest possible reading of 7.4, I read a color that is slightly darker than the 7.4, so I would say that my pH is closest to 7.5
. KH: 6-7 dKH.
The measurement of 6 dKH was taken straight from the tap whereas the measurement of 7 dKH was taken after treated tap water was in the tank for 24 hours. I am thinking the discrepancy between these two measurements is due to the substrate that I chose. More on substrate later. GH: 8 dGH.
This measurement was constant across both untreated tap water and the treated water in tank. Ammonia: .25 ppm.
As I do not have any fish yet, I would imagine this is from the addition of chloramine to the water by the local water company. Nitrite: 0 ppm.
No surprise as I do not have a source of bacteria. Additionally, if there are bacteria in the tank, the ammonia levels are probably too low to see a significant amount of nitrite. Nitrate: 0 ppm.
No nitrite, no nitrate. Intent:
The species of plants and fish that I put in this tank will be determined based on the aforementioned water parameters. Based on the following sections, I would like any advice that can be provided. I intend for this to be a fairly heavily planted tank, so any suggestions should be based on that. Substrate:
After conducting some research, I have selected CaribSea's Eco-complete substrate. This substrate is rich in many nutrients that plant need to survive. It also comes in a pleasant black color. My only concern with this substrate is that it has made the water in my tank a little cloudy, and there is a discernable coating of fine-grained (probably silt in size) sediment on the bottom of the tank. I am assuming that this will clear up with time, especially once all my pump parts arrive and are installed. I used 40 pounds of the substrate because 20 pounds of the substrate was barely 2 inches in depth and I did not want to leave half of the second bag sitting around. With this much substrate, I should be able to make some interesting terrain. Right now it is essentially flat. Lighting:
The lighting in this tank is going to be tricky I think. I do not know if I will be able to get enough W/gal for high light or even medium light plants. The fixture in the Eclipse 1 hood is a single tube 18” T8 fixture. Currently it has a 15 W “Life-Glo” 6700k full spectrum T8 bulb. It puts out about 960 lumens for about 7500 hours. From what I have researched, this is not very much light, so I will be looking at primarily low-light plants. If anyone has any advice for a different bulb or fixture that can be installed in the Eclipse 1 hood, I would be grateful. Non-plant Decorations:
The only decoration that I currently have is a chunk of quartzite. This rock is almost entirely made up of metamorphosed quartz. Because of it's extremely low content of calcium, magnesium, and iron, as well as its low solubility, it should not affect the chemistry of the water in the tank.
In addition to the rock, I am expecting the arrival of a piece of Malaysian driftwood. I will probably attach some plants to this driftwood so that the fish have some cover and terrain to explore. In addition, the driftwood will leach tannins into the water. Selected fish will have to be able to tolerate these conditions for a few weeks until the water clears up. Will the tannins have an effect on the pH of the tank? Plants:
As mentioned in the introduction, I am looking to plant this tank fairly heavily. I think heavily planted tanks are more aesthetically pleasing than sparse tanks. However, due to the small size of this tank, it brings up the question: how heavily can it even be planted? Since it is a “tall tank” I will populate it with some tall rooting plants, probably Amazon Swords. What other rooted plants would be suitable for this size tank? I would also like it to have a decent carpet of some sort of moss; perhaps Java Moss
or Christmas Moss will be suitable. I will attach ferns or other plants to the driftwood. I am undecided whether or not I will attach any thing to the rock, as it is fairly smooth and lacks rootable surfaces. In addition to all these I will probably have a good amount of floating plants to provide comfort for the fish. Fish!:
Stocking this tank is probably what I am most concerned with. There seem to be no definite rules as to how to stock a tank. All fish should be comfortable in a heavily planted tank. I am looking for either a community of a couple shoals of small fish or one larger school of a single species. I was thinking of getting some larger species, but I do not think that there is nearly enough space in this tank. I was thinking about Dwarf Gouramis.
As for shoals and community fish, I was thinking about Neon Tetras, but I think my pH may be too high. However, they would excel in a blackwater environment, provided my driftwood has enough tannins.
A species tank that I was considering is Celestial Pearl Danios. I love their coloration. However, this species may be cost prohibitive for now and I do not think this tank is large enough for a comfortable school of them. Please correct me if I am wrong. I will have to special order these probably. I do not know of any local fish stores that have them. I am going to a few more stores in the next couple days that I have not been to yet. All but one of the stores I have been to are horrible. Questions:
This section is just a list of the questions from the text above as well as some additional questions that I have.
• Can water conditioner “go bad?” The stuff I have is 8-10 years old.
• Will the tannins from the driftwood have an effect on the pH of the tank?
• Is a single 18” 15 W 6500K bulb enough light for a heavily planted aquarium?
• How heavily can a tank of this size be planted while still having room for fish?
• Suitable tall rooted plants?
• Suitable carpet plants?
• Suitable floating plants?
• Suitable ferns?
• What are some ideal species of fish for a tank of this size and water parameters?
• Anything else you feel like telling me! Cycling Log:
Once All my pump parts arrive, this section will house a log of water parameters and graphs for your perusal.