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ensartain 07-31-2012 12:02 AM

A noob with some questions (new tank, planted, fish questions) thanks!
 
Some info on my setup..
Tank: 36gal
Filter: Marineland Penguin Filter 200B
Temp: 78-80 degrees
Stock: 4 guppy, 1 molly, 1 cory catfish
Tank age: almost 2 weeks old

So, I'm a super noob. I've never owned fish and lets just say I put the cart before the horse and didn't do as much research as I should have done. I didn't know there was a fishless cycle otherwise I would have done things that way. Needless to say I'm in love with the few fish I have and so far am not able to find a baby sitter with a cycled tank to watch them for me.

So far I've been doing around 25-50% water changes twice a day to keep my ammonia levels under .50. My fish seem pretty active and happy. I didn't find out until two days ago that my catfish wasn't a great idea to get until my tank was cycled but I'm hoping he makes it though.

So my questions... I have been reading that bright gravel can stress out your fish. Is there truth to that? If so how far would it set me back to change my gravel?

I would really like to have some plants added to my tank. I wish I would have read more about it before I started but I've made some mistakes and I'm pretty frustrated with myself for it.

So, if I do or do not change my gravel can I add plants?

If so, what plants should I start off with and how many for my size tank?

I have read that you shouldn't use the type of filter I have if you have a planted tank? I just got this thing and my husband will kill me if I tell him I can't use it. So is there a way I can use this filter with a planted tank? Take out the carbon? Information would be very helpful about this.

I am taking my Molly back to the store because I don't think he will make it though this cycle. I mixed the Molly up with the Platy while at the store. Molly, Guppy, Platy, oh my! :)

Also, I'm L.E.D. moonlighting my tank but I've read you shouldn't do that all night with a planted tank. Is that correct? I also have air stones and I've read mixed information about them with a planted tank.. but in all honesty I love the air bubbles and so does my cat fish. He enjoys riding on them up to the top and comes back down to do it again. So I would prefer to keep them.

Again.. It seems I'm going about this a little backwards I wish I would have been able to start the correct way but I would really like some help to correct my mistakes.

Also, the amount of fish I have for my cycle.. Should I get two more or just keep the number as is once mister molly goes back to the store?

Thank you for your time and help. I'm very grateful

Erin

ps. I've been reading all the sticky posts about planted tanks and new tanks etc so I've got a basic idea but someone to help walk me though this that could answer some questions would rock!:-D

equatics 07-31-2012 02:09 AM

Hi! I'm basically a noob of 4 months - I have a 10 gallon planted tank - now that is hard! Water quality does not change as fast in a larger tank. Anyway, maybe I can help pare down your list of questions some.

Firstly, don't put in more fish until you're sure the tank is cycled (do you have an API Master Test Kit?)
Then, buy a bottle of bacterial jump-start like API QuickStart and use as indicated. This may shorten the cycle length down to 1 week or maybe even less, although a week sounds more like it. Unfortunately doing the water changes may cycle slower but you have to do it because of the fish. Keep doing water changes and testing ammonia, and later in the cycle, nitrite. You probably already know that the cycle has completed once ammonia and nitrite are down to zero and there are nitrates.

I would supply length, width, and height of the tank and how many and the model numbers of the fluorescent bulbs to see if your lighting is correct for plants. Then if you're ok to go, plant a lot of undemanding fast-growing plants like Water Sprite and Cabomba that will go to work on the ammonia (my opinion).

The filter will turn over the tank about 5 times per hour - imo the minimum for a planted tank but usable. IMO take out the carbon. Say you heard it from me.

It's true that dark (read: black or dark brown or dark grey) gravel is good for the fish. Maybe you can also use some floating plants to cut down on the light reaching the bottom. They're also great at using ammonia. You and I both should be using a real substrate - topsoil with sand on top at a minimum, but the plants you're putting in now will not have a problem with gravel (hope it's 1-3 mm. - that would be good - I've got the bigger kind.

Plants need complete darkness at night - that includes moonlight LEDs. Oh, if you haven't heard, go buy a timer for the day lights. Byron recommends 10 hours of daylight plus 2 hours of lights off but some dusk or dawn going on outside.

I would disrecommend using airstones or any other bubbling device because the surface action lets more carbon dioxide, which the plants will need, escape. Some people attribute the exact opposite to these devices. I am in the first group.

You don't absolutely need to know a lot of your questions right away, but I've tried to answer them. Other people will give you different answers and it wiill be up to you to decide which ones you like better.

Good luck, have fun, and take it easy.

Steven


Quote:

Originally Posted by ensartain (Post 1178500)
Some info on my setup..
Tank: 36gal
Filter: Marineland Penguin Filter 200B
Temp: 78-80 degrees
Stock: 4 guppy, 1 molly, 1 cory catfish
Tank age: almost 2 weeks old

So, I'm a super noob. I've never owned fish and lets just say I put the cart before the horse and didn't do as much research as I should have done. I didn't know there was a fishless cycle otherwise I would have done things that way. Needless to say I'm in love with the few fish I have and so far am not able to find a baby sitter with a cycled tank to watch them for me.

So far I've been doing around 25-50% water changes twice a day to keep my ammonia levels under .50. My fish seem pretty active and happy. I didn't find out until two days ago that my catfish wasn't a great idea to get until my tank was cycled but I'm hoping he makes it though.

So my questions... I have been reading that bright gravel can stress out your fish. Is there truth to that? If so how far would it set me back to change my gravel?

I would really like to have some plants added to my tank. I wish I would have read more about it before I started but I've made some mistakes and I'm pretty frustrated with myself for it.

So, if I do or do not change my gravel can I add plants?

If so, what plants should I start off with and how many for my size tank?

I have read that you shouldn't use the type of filter I have if you have a planted tank? I just got this thing and my husband will kill me if I tell him I can't use it. So is there a way I can use this filter with a planted tank? Take out the carbon? Information would be very helpful about this.

I am taking my Molly back to the store because I don't think he will make it though this cycle. I mixed the Molly up with the Platy while at the store. Molly, Guppy, Platy, oh my! :)

Also, I'm L.E.D. moonlighting my tank but I've read you shouldn't do that all night with a planted tank. Is that correct? I also have air stones and I've read mixed information about them with a planted tank.. but in all honesty I love the air bubbles and so does my cat fish. He enjoys riding on them up to the top and comes back down to do it again. So I would prefer to keep them.

Again.. It seems I'm going about this a little backwards I wish I would have been able to start the correct way but I would really like some help to correct my mistakes.

Also, the amount of fish I have for my cycle.. Should I get two more or just keep the number as is once mister molly goes back to the store?

Thank you for your time and help. I'm very grateful

Erin

ps. I've been reading all the sticky posts about planted tanks and new tanks etc so I've got a basic idea but someone to help walk me though this that could answer some questions would rock!:grin:


Byron 07-31-2012 02:22 PM

Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.:-D

My immediate suggestion is to cycle the existing tank first, then when that is done you can decide on changes. The initial cycling is very stressful on fish, and compounding this now might well cause their total demise.

What fish do you envisage when this is done? And to consider this, what are your tap water parameters? GH (general hardness), KH (carbonate hardness or Alkalinity) and pH...you may be able to find these out from the water supply people who likely have a website. Some fish are adaptable, some need specific water. The molly for instance must have harder water than the cory needs, though the cory (this species) can manage if it is not too hard.

And which of these fish are going back? You mentioned the molly...?

Byron.

jennesque 07-31-2012 03:03 PM

You'll really want to keep things as is until the cycle is finished.

As far as the gravel, what color is it, and how big is it? As far as having a bright substrate, you could try just mixing in another, darker color to subdue it a bit, but I'm not sure what you've got now so it's hard to make any specific suggestions. Floating plants can also help subdue your lighting and make the gravel seem less bright.

As far as plants and gravel, it really just depends on the plants and how coarse it is. I hope it's not too large and/or sharp though because that can be damaging to your cory's barbs. As far as plants though, there are some very easy, low light plants that are great starters that do not require any special substrate.. anubias and java fern should not be buried in the substrate and do best when attached to something like a rock or piece of driftwood. You can also use mosses in the tank. Pennywort is a plant that can be left floating on the top, or you can stick the stem into the substrate but it'll readily feed from the water column so your substrate won't be an issue either. I'm sure there are others as well.

HOB filters aren't the best in a planted tank because they create a lot of current. If you can dampen the outflow at all that probably would be a bad idea, although if you get very easy plants they will do fine with your HOB filter. I personally use a sponge filter in my tank, it's very cheap and works well and keeps the current to a minimum. That also leads into my experience with air stones in a planted tank. I have an air stone in the center of my sponge filter and I haven't noticed any I'll effect from it being in the tank. You do have an HOB running as well though so it seems like the air stone isn't really necessary and so I would suggest keep the air flow out of the air stones minimal to reduce the current and avoid stressing the fish. We'd probably have to see pictures / video or your set up to really see though.

I wouldn't add any more fish until the tank is cycled.. it can be very physically damaging to the fish to put them through the whole ordeal so you'll want to avoid putting any more fish through it for now. Once the cycle is complete you can slowly start building up your stocking.

ensartain 07-31-2012 03:39 PM

Thank you all so much for the help so far. I'll go ahead and let the tank cycle before I do any changes. The molly went back to the store today, she was doing really well and didn't seem to show any stress signs but I'd rather be safe than sorry. Here is a water report that I found online http://www.mde.state.md.us/programs/...m_District.pdf . We get our water from the same located they do and until I get mine tested I thought this would be the next best thing. I however have no idea on how to read it.

I am hoping to keep guppy, platy, cory, and maybe some tetra once my tank is cycled.

Right now my gravel is bright blue and I hate it. I got some pool filter sand for when my tank is cycled its called Mystic White pool filter sand. I've ready some other people used it with great results in their tropical tank with cory and shrimp. I have no opened the bag yet to feel how sharp it is.. hopefully it will work otherwise I'll just return it.

I'll take a video of my set up atm and put it on here in just a few mins

BWG 07-31-2012 03:51 PM

I would actually change over to the filter sand now, as opposed to after you have cycled. The bacteria you want live on the surfaces in the tank as well as the filter. The substrate is a good source of them, that's why you can use gravel from an established tank to help speed up the cycle on a new tank. If you wait until after the cycle to switch to the sand you might cause yourself a mini cycle.

Just a note, but I use filter sand in one of my tanks. it is very white, so I've covered it with a lot of leaves. Playsand looks more natural, but is a lot harder to clean at the start and blows easier. Even so I wish I had playsand instead of pool filter.

ensartain 07-31-2012 03:55 PM

The current set up

redchigh 07-31-2012 04:05 PM

Agreed on the substrate- I'd do it now. Otherwise, you'll be removing most of the bacteria you've worked so hard to seed. In my own experience, table sugar works just as well (if not better) as bottled bacteria supplements- dissolve 3 tsp of sugar into a 1/2 cup of warm water, then let it cool. Add the mixture slowly over the course of a day. Keep up the water changes.

Your chart doesn't give any data on the ph or hardness- both of these are important. A local fish store might be able to tell you your parameters. (I'd call as many as possible to get a wide sample area. Ask them if they use test strips or liquid tests- liquid tests are more accurate.)

Live plants can definately help your fish survive- if you have enough fast-growing plants, they can even nullify the need of a cycle.

Fast-growing plants are best right now- don't worry about the others, you can decide on them later.

Stem plants worth mentioning are Hygrophila Difformis, Ceratopteris, and Ludwigea Repens. Vallisneria is also a good choice, but they grow quite tall.

If you can find it, water lettuce or 'Red root floater' is a good choice too. If you have any questions, feel free to stop by the aquarium plant forum. The plants I listed are pretty easy to grow as long as you have a fertiliser (flourish comprehensive is a great one) and flourescent tubes for lighting. (spiral bulbs work if you have a screw-in hood.)

ensartain 07-31-2012 04:20 PM

Alright, I will start washing the sand today I got 50 lbs so I'm sure its going to take me awhile. Once that is done I will move fish, filter, fake plants and things over to the 20gal until I'm done with the switch. Hopefully it won't take too long for everything to settle in the tank so they can go back in. The cory and guppy seem to be doing really well with the cycle so far.

Should I put my current sub in some pantyhose and leave in the tank once I'm done or should I not worry about it because my tank isn't cycled yet.

I have a master api test kit on it's way but for right now I just have the ammonia tester.

jennesque 07-31-2012 04:37 PM

It wouldn't hurt to seed the tank with some of your gravel.. I'd do it, it'll help jump start things, even if it's in a very small way.
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