Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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eug 05-18-2012 04:42 PM

Re-entering the hobby
 
Hello,

It has been a while but I've recently decided to take up fishkeeping again. I used to own a 20 gallon tank with different types of tetras and some corydoras back in my high school days, and a visit to the local public aquarium just resparked my interest and I just HAD to set up a new tank...

Pics:
Photo Album - Imgur

New 112 L (~30 gallon) tank, currently going through a fishless cycle using 25% ammonia solution. When I first started the hobby I did a fish-in cycle, and it was a traumatizing experience that I vowed never to repeat again. 5 days in, and there's finally a measurable amount of NO2 detected in the tank, hurray!

The plants are Java ferns just free floating for the time being. I have a big piece of bogwood that still refuses to sink that is soaking in the bathtub to which the Java ferns will be attached. Sand substrates just look so awesome, so I had to try it this time.

So here comes my question, the first fish I want in this tank is a nice group of corydoras, not sure what species yet - Schwarz and Sterba look interesting. I have pretty hard water here, 16 dGH, 7.5pH. What is your experience with keeping corydoras in such hard water? I've read that cories are generally tolerant of harder waters - are there particular species that I should definitely avoid, for example?

Once the tank is cycled, I think the filter should be able to take on a full load since I've been aiming for 5ppm ammonia. Say I am aiming to have 10 or so Cories in this tank. Is that too many? If not, my question is whether I should try to buy them all at once so that the biological filter has a full load to deal with and therefore the filter bacteria that I've built up won't starve? That is to say, if I buy 5 now, and wait for weeks, will that kill off too much of the filter bacteria that when I go and add 5 more later, I will experience ammonia/nitrite spikes?

I appreciate any input to make my re-entry to the hobby as painless as possible!

Romad 05-18-2012 04:47 PM

Hello and welcome to the forum :wave:

I have hard well water and my cories have been around for a few years and are thriving. I've got a mix of albino, bronze, and one pepper cory (he was alone at the pet store for weeks and I had to give him some friends LOL)

As for adding them all at once, that's not a good idea. Add fish just a few at a time to give your bacteria a chance to catch up to the added bioload that you're going to be adding each time you add fish. A good water conditioner like Seachem Prime will go a long way in helping the fish if you do have an ammonia/nitrIte spike while stocking your tank.

Good luck with your new tank and fish friends.

Byron 05-18-2012 08:36 PM

Hi, and welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum. Glad to have you with us.:-D

Cory species vary in their adaptability. Those Romad mentioned are tank raised and have been for decades, and aside from this their natural range in South America is large and includes quite differing water parameters. This tells us that the species has considerable adaptability. As opposed to a species that occurs only in one stream and no where else; this fish will not adapt well, and even more if it is wild caught as it likely will be.

C. schwartzi is one such species. It is endemic to the Rio Purus system close to the mouth where it empties into the Amazon. This is good for you though, because it has a wider pH range than it might in some other systems. Fishbase suggests pH 6 to 8, while Planet Catfish restrict the upper limit to 7.5. PC also says one published report of spawning occurred in water with a GH of 11. So you're probably fine.

Corydoras sterbai I believe is being raised commercially now. So similar parameters as above are suggested. As noted in our profile [click the shaded name, and profiles in general are under the second tab from the left in the blue bar across the top of the page] this species occurs in the Rio Guapore system and the Mato Grosso region in Brazil. Wild caught fish thus need soft slightly acidic water. But as I mentioned, tank raised fish should adapt better.

I checked your photos and would strongly suggest you add more plants, and a few chunks of wood, before acquiring corys. All species need shade, and they browse continually over surfaces of wood and plant leaves. They also need shelter, such as under chunks of wood, or in crevices, where they can go to rest or if they feel threatened. Corys are highly social, so a large group is advisable, but they are also very skittish and in sparse surroundings this will severely stress them.

Some sword plants would work well. Echinodorus bleherae and Helanthium tenellum are in our profiles. Floating plants like Water Sprite, or Brazilian Pennywort.

Hope this helps.

Byron.

eug 05-19-2012 01:24 AM

Thanks guys,

As I mentioned I have a very large piece of bogwood that should provide good shelter, but there will be about half the tank that will be fairly in the open. The bogwood is gonna go on the right side of the tank and hopefully cover up the heater and filter inlet/outlet from view. Maybe I'll arrange some Brazilian Pennywort to float over the wide open area so that the cories will have adequate shade? Should I reconsider the concept of having wide open spaces altogether?

To give you an idea what the bogwood looks like:
http://i.imgur.com/lXoQD.jpg

My lighting is poor, with only 2x 16W tubes for a 30 gallon, which is why I've put just java ferns. I've also read here at Seriously Fish that their natural habitat often doesn't have any plants at all, which is why I thought sparsely planted would be fine.

Any tips on getting bogwood to sink? Apart from leaving it in the bathtub to sink with a weight on top to weigh it down, I've poured boiling water over it a couple times as well as taking a power drill to it and doing some 'accupuncture' in an attempt to create places where the water can more readily be soaked up...

Byron, I noticed you have a BMus. Also a musician by any chance? I play the violin, also have a BMus... :)

Byron 05-19-2012 09:56 AM

2 Attachment(s)
Quote:

As I mentioned I have a very large piece of bogwood that should provide good shelter, but there will be about half the tank that will be fairly in the open. The bogwood is gonna go on the right side of the tank and hopefully cover up the heater and filter inlet/outlet from view. Maybe I'll arrange some Brazilian Pennywort to float over the wide open area so that the cories will have adequate shade? Should I reconsider the concept of having wide open spaces altogether?
Yes. More on this below.

Quote:

My lighting is poor, with only 2x 16W tubes for a 30 gallon, which is why I've put just java ferns.
Assuming these are fluorescent tubes, this is more than sufficient light for moderate-light requiring plants. I have a single 25w tube over my 3-foot 33g, photo below. Most swords will do well under this, even with fairly thick floating plants as you can see. This particular tank has a lot of bogwood. There are two species of loach in here, but corys would be in heaven in this setup.:-)

Quote:

I've also read here at Seriously Fish that their natural habitat often doesn't have any plants at all, which is why I thought sparsely planted would be fine.
This is true but it is not the whole story. Most streams and rivers in the Amazon are lacking aquatic plants, largely due to the dim lighting. The forest canopy shades the forest considerably, and there will be terrestrial vegetation overhanging most watercourses. The easiest and best way to provide this effect in an aquarium is with plants in the tank. Not only does this make for a better aquascape, but the benefits of live plants in the water are considerable. And corys are sensitive to water conditions. Floating plants are always advisable. The fish will feel more secure, and thus be out and about more, and usually display their brightest colouration (this applies to all forest fish). Also, one must remember that for half the year the forest floods and the fish move into the flooded forest among heavy vegetation, and this is when they spawn. My 70g tank [second photo attached] replicates the flooded Amazon forest.

Quote:

Any tips on getting bogwood to sink? Apart from leaving it in the bathtub to sink with a weight on top to weigh it down, I've poured boiling water over it a couple times as well as taking a power drill to it and doing some 'accupuncture' in an attempt to create places where the water can more readily be soaked up...
I use Malaysian Driftwood to solve this problem. It is heavy and sinks immediately. The tannins are not too bad, and tend to leech out fairly quickly. All the wood you see in my tank photos [under "Aquariums" below my name on the left] is Malaysian Driftwood. With other types of wood, some hold it down with rocks until it remains on its own; some attach a piece of slate to the bottom side and bury this under the substrate.

Quote:

Byron, I noticed you have a BMus. Also a musician by any chance? I play the violin, also have a BMus...
Yes, i took music at university. Started with the violin, then keyboard, but did musicology (music history) as my major. Retired now.:-)

eug 05-19-2012 10:12 AM

Thanks again Byron.

In the meantime I've read your excellent 4-part article on planted tanks, and now realize that this watts-per-gallon rule of thumb is totally irrelevant. For some reason I had it in my mind that to have a successful planted tank you have to have 5 watts per gallon with CO2 injections and lots of money spent on fertilizing... but it seems that this isn't the case at all. I'll definitely look into getting some sort of floating plant especially in the areas with no bogwood cover.

I wish I'd known about Malaysian driftwood before I got this piece at the LFS, but oh well. I quite like how it looks, and it's slowly becoming more water logged in the bathtub so hopefully it goes down on its own, or maybe I'll have to think of another plan like mounting it on slate like you suggested.

That's very interesting about the flooded forest habitat. I'll definitely bear this in mind as I develop my aquascape!

eug 05-19-2012 05:19 PM

Byron, your suggestion for me to add Pygmy Chain Swords sounds good - I like the look of it and I can imagine it would look great in the foreground. From my pictures you will note that my sand substrate is not all that deep. I still have some unused sand that I could add, but even in its current state with about 1 inch of sand substrate near the front of the tank (its' more like 2 at the back) will this be deep enough for the roots of the Pygmy Chain Sword? From what I understand other swords like the Amazon Sword would probably need a deeper substrate than this, but I wonder how this smaller sword plant would do?

Byron 05-19-2012 07:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by eug (Post 1087522)
Byron, your suggestion for me to add Pygmy Chain Swords sounds good - I like the look of it and I can imagine it would look great in the foreground. From my pictures you will note that my sand substrate is not all that deep. I still have some unused sand that I could add, but even in its current state with about 1 inch of sand substrate near the front of the tank (its' more like 2 at the back) will this be deep enough for the roots of the Pygmy Chain Sword? From what I understand other swords like the Amazon Sword would probably need a deeper substrate than this, but I wonder how this smaller sword plant would do?

Sounds fine. If you have Echinodorus bleherae, you can push the sand deeper to plant it. But otherwise, an overall depth of 2 inches is good, with less in the front and more in the back.

eug 05-20-2012 06:57 AM

Great thanks! This is kind of in the wrong forum I guess to keep asking plant questions, but while we're at it...

As I said my GH measured 16 degrees, ph 7.5 (also matches the official values given by the municipal water website).

Other official values:

Na -- 22-44 mg/L
Lead -- < 0.005 mg/L
Nitrate -- 0.7 - 4.9 mg/L
Fluoride -- 0.1 - 0.52 mg/L
KH -- 9.3 - 12.4 (My test kit reads 9)

The question is, based on these parameters can you recommend me an appropriate fertilizer to start me off with? Let's say I plant some pygmy sword, Brazilian pennywort, hygrophila polyspersma (I've had this plant before and I remember it being super easy and fast growing? Decent alternative to a big amazon sword?) and my already-existing java fern.

Byron 05-20-2012 10:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by eug (Post 1088202)
Great thanks! This is kind of in the wrong forum I guess to keep asking plant questions, but while we're at it...

As I said my GH measured 16 degrees, ph 7.5 (also matches the official values given by the municipal water website).

Other official values:

Na -- 22-44 mg/L
Lead -- < 0.005 mg/L
Nitrate -- 0.7 - 4.9 mg/L
Fluoride -- 0.1 - 0.52 mg/L
KH -- 9.3 - 12.4 (My test kit reads 9)

The question is, based on these parameters can you recommend me an appropriate fertilizer to start me off with? Let's say I plant some pygmy sword, Brazilian pennywort, hygrophila polyspersma (I've had this plant before and I remember it being super easy and fast growing? Decent alternative to a big amazon sword?) and my already-existing java fern.

A basic fertilizer like Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement or Brightwell Aquatics' FlorinMulti will be sufficient, prob just once a week. Make sure you get whichever exactly as named, both manufacturers produce several different products in the Flourish and Florin lines respectively.


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