Another "beginner" with new tank questions
Hi everyone, I've been reading the forums and must admit the amount of info is a bit overwhelming, but I appreciate how helpful everyone seems to be here! I've had fish tanks for 20 years but place myself in the category of complete beginner who's been winging it (badly) and would like to do up my new tank the right way. I've decided to try live plants for the first time, have read about cycling, and bought a real water testing kit.
This is my new tank so far:
1 Java Fern bunch on a mat
2 Chain Sword (I think, forgot to write it down at the lfs so I've got to check when I go back)
3 Dwarf Chain Sword (same as above)
3 planted Wisteria
3 small floating Wisteria
I'd like to have some Water Sprite to float but have yet to find it around here.
I've decided to cycle with the raw shrimp method because with my schedule and distraction level fiddling with ammonia (or even finding the correct version) was not up my alley. I started the tank 2 days ago and added some gravel that the lfs gave me to jump-start it. Today my first water readings are thus:
KH 100 ppm (both GH and KH from strips, my liquid test kit didn't have these)
Ammonia 1.0 ppm
Nitrate 5 ppm
Keep in mind I'm just learning about these numbers and although I've read a lot of the articles, too much info starts boggling the mind.
So now I'll hit you with the questions :-)
Do I have enough plants to support my preferred future fish happily, which would be two schools of small community fish such as Rasboras, Danios, or Tetras (haven't made up my mind) and if I can find them, some higher temp Corys. I say higher temp because my house gets pretty warm in the summer here in MD and the tank is around 81 degrees (as is my house). I didn't want to jump right in and plant a heavily planted tank with zero experience so far with plants.
Also, given my water parameters, are there any Rasboras or Tetras you would recommend that would be fairly colorful (at least not just silvery) and would compliment each other as far as tank level swimming?
Thanks for indulging a returning beginner with information overload!
Couldn't edit so adding that based on another thread I was reading I checked my water utility website and the last tap water analysis showed an average alkalinity of 33 mg/L and hardness of 59 mg/L if that helps.
Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.:wave:
First, on the water parameters, there is some variation between your tests and the utility, and I would expect the utility to be more accurate. Test strips can be off. Their mg/liter is roughly the same as ppm, so that means GH is 59ppm (= 3 dGH) and KH is 33ppm (= 2 dKH). Very soft water, excellent for soft water fish so avoid livebearers and a few others that need harder water. The low KH (Alkalinity) means the pH will almost certainly lower as the aquarium becomes biologically established, and that is fine.
The plants should be fine with a good comprehensive fertilizer like Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement or Brightwell Aquatics' FlorinMulti.
On the cycling, don't. You have some fast-growing plants (esp the Wisteria) so if they show signs of growth you can add a few fish and go from there. Build it slowly so as to not overwhelm the plants. This method works because plants need nitrogen, and they prefer it as ammonium (ammonia).
If you could pin down the species of rasbora and/or tetra you would like, I can suggest which would be best to start with. These fish need a group, as it notes in our profile (you know about the profiles?), so plan accordingly as each species selected is going to take up significant space with groups. Most of the commonly available species are in our profiles; tetra are in the characins group, and rasbora in the Cyprinids, and you can search in the profiles by names like "rasbora" and it will show all the species in a list.
My other suggestion would be a background, and here the simplest is most effective. A sheet of plain black construction paper from an arts/craft store works well.
Now that I know my water levels I've been going through the fish profiles again and I've come up with a tentative plan. How about this:
8 or 9 Glowlight Tetras (for the bottom half of the tank)
8 or 9 Lemon Tetras (for the top half of the tank)
4-5 Corydoras Sterbai (to tolerate my water temp and pH)
So with the plants I've got in there I can go ahead and start stocking? (Guess I'll be fishing that shrimp bag off the bottom!). With the schools I have planned, how many of which can I add at a time and how long should I wait between additions?
If that changes your planned fish species, OK. But from what you have above, I would add the group of glowlights first (when the plants are settled), then the second group of tetra, then the cory group. A few days apart, maybe a week.
Another thing that works is at the very first fish intro, use a bacterial supplement just as "backup." I sometimes do this with completely new setups including new plants, just in case the plant growth is stalled. Seachem's Stability, Tetra's SafeStart, or Dr.Tim's One and Only are all good 100% bacteria products. The smallest bottle, you only need it at the first, and once opened it deteriorates so you want to use the bottle up.
I would also get some floating plants. Water Sprite is ideal, Brazilian Pennywort also works floating. And one more suggestion if I may, a chunk of wood. Corys love browsing over and under and in wood (tunnels), so a chunk of something like Malaysian Driftwood would be a good idea.
Yep, I'm with you on the wood, I've been thinking that it needs something else visually as well, so if the corys would do better I'll definitely get some. I'm having a hard time finding anyone who carries Water Sprite around here (Maryland/D.C. area) so I may have to bite the bullet and pay the shipping for the plants (I just hate the idea of the shipping being 3 times what the plant costs!).
I completely forgot that I had a black background for the tank until you mentioned it, 100% better :)
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