Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   Questions about setting up a new slightly planted tank (even after lots of reading!) (http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/beginner-freshwater-aquarium/questions-about-setting-up-new-slightly-111700/)

Pasqua 08-23-2012 07:00 AM

Questions about setting up a new slightly planted tank (even after lots of reading!)
 
(Firstly, I would just like to note that I live in Australia! which may mean that if you are talking about types of plants or brands of things.. I may have no idea what you mean.)

Ok. Hi! =) I am setting up a new tank soon, my first bigish one and I still have lots of questions that reading through lots of posts have not answered.

I have scored a free tank =D from someone a friend knows who was happy to give it to me for nothing when she heard I was looking for one (as a favour to my friend). So very happy about that. But I have no idea what size exacly it is at this point, I can sort of guess (it looks about the size I was after- not too big and not too small) but I wont know exacly til I measure it. But thats ok because fish are a while off anyway. I will attach a photo of the tank that I was send, not a great one but if anyone knows the size feel free to fill me in!

I have read lots about everything and tried to absorb it all, including Byron's really great four part post about planted tanks. So here is what I have decided on so far:

- I would like a freshwater tropical fish tank
- Would love to have some live plants in there (if i can figure out how to keep them live)
- buying gravel for substrate, will try to find small gravel, 1-2mm in size but i am quite limited by my options around here as there are not many stores. I considered sand for a bit but I am not sure if i will be able to maintain it correctly
- Filter- need to buy one. any suggestions on what type works best for a mediumish tank? As brands are different here to US, if you could suggest a type I can go and search for those =)
- lighting - Byron's post said that I needed lighting for plants. Which I did know. But I am still confused as to how to implement this.... I know pet shops sell speciality globes.. do I just plug this into a regular lamp or something? And sit it over the top of my tank? or do I need one of the long tube type lights, and if so how do i attach this to my tank without worrying about it falling into the water. I am still confused at this point as to how to even begin setting up a light source for the plants.
- Byron's post in part two states "Which also explains why a new tank that is well planted will not experience “new tank syndrome” when fish are added the first day. The tank is basically “cycled” from the moment the fish are introduced provided there are sufficient plants". http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/a...#ixzz24MzBSKcB
Does this mean I dont need to cycle the tank at all? If I have plants in there but no fish will that also throw off the balance as there are no fish to use up the oxygen? how soon should I be adding fish. Also the balance of fish and plants is mentioned, how to I measure or test what is the correct balance of plants vs fish.

Any advice on this would be appreciated! I have only had small 20 litre (5gal?) tanks before and initially had difficulty getting them to cycle although they seem to be doing ok now.

oh and if i have missed anything please let me know. happy for any feedback and advice you will offer.

Thanks =)

AbbeysDad 08-23-2012 07:59 AM

Plants are very good (rooted and floating) as they use ammonia as a nutrient, so nitrites and nitrates are not created, making 'purer' water.

As for lighting, some plants live quite nicely in low light (as they do under the canope in the jungle), while others need more light. Your best bet is to buy a hood for the tank that has one or more lights that are rated at 6500k.

As for substrate, I've become convinced that sand is better than gravel and much more easily maintained. Gravel has nooks and crannies that allows detritus to sift 'down under' (no reference to Australia :-)). Without periodic gravel siphoning, it can become a 'nitrate factory'. With sand, any debris collects and sits on top where it can be left to slowly decompose or easily siphoned away. For this reason, undisturbed sand becomes a very effective bio-filter.

As for a filter, there are many choices. For a medium sized tank, I'd go with a HOB (Hang On Back) type filter rather than a canister. I am using an Hagen AquaClear 70 on my 60g tank and am very happy with it's performance. Unlike cartridge heaters (which I suggest you stay away from), the AquaClear lets you decide the type of media to use. A similar and interesting design is the Hagen 'G" series. The first HOB to introduce a drip bio-filtration system.

As for stock (you didn't ask but I'm on a roll) do some research (check 'Tropical Fish Profiles' in the main menu of this forum) to ensure the fish you want are suitable for your tank size, are in the right numbers (shoaling fish that school together) and compatible with each other (community vs. semi-aggressive vs. aggressive). DON'T OVERCROWD and when stocking a new tank, only add a few fish at a time to allow the eco-system the time it needs to stabilize.

As for water quality, make sure you get an API Freshwater Master test kit and test the water periodically to ensure things stay on track. Make sure you do a weekly water change of 25% - 50% to keep the water 'fresh'. (Make sure you also test your source water to ensure it is good [I have high nitrates in my well water]).

As for food, read the labels and only feed high quality foods augmented with some fresh or frozen foods now and again. Don't overfeed! Fish are programmed to eat whenever food is available and will come begging anytime you come near the tank. Only feed once or twice a day and only what the fish will consume in 2-3 minutes.

Whew...did you get this far? Hope you find some value in my rambling on.
Good luck and keep us posted.

AD

Pasqua 08-23-2012 08:23 AM

wow, that was great!! thanks asdad =D
i will look into a hood for the tank ( does this replaces the lid completely? or just sits on top of it?)
i have always wanted to try sand but there are two problems with that:
1. nowhere local here sells aquarium sand =S (unless its the crushed coral stuff which i am told can affect water quality and make it hard to manage?)
2. i have read that it is too dense and the plant roots may clump or something like that which is not good for them and causes little pockets of gases to form which is bad for the fish?
As for a filter, there are many choices. For a medium sized tank, I'd go with a HOB (Hang On Back) type filter rather than a canister. I am using an Hagen AquaClear 70 on my 60g tank and am very happy with it's performance. Unlike cartridge heaters (which I suggest you stay away from), the AquaClear lets you decide the type of media to use. A similar and interesting design is the Hagen 'G" series. The first HOB to introduce a drip bio-filtration system.
with filters, are submersible filters effective on this size tank? and with the hob ones is there any danger of fish getting stuck in them? just curious as i have never seem one in use before.
thank you for the stock info too lol i have been researching that but dont want to tempt myself too much as i need a tank first!
i currently have a male crown betta fish, who i am hoping... will not mind a community tank. although i expect he will mind so i will be keeping his 5gal tank on hand and if he causes trouble he will have to go back in there (which i doubt bothers him at all lol, just me). and i also have a female guppy. currently by her lonesome in her own tank. she will be the first addition to my big tank =) other than that i was hoping for clown loaches or corys, i have read that it may not be a great idea to get both? is this correct?
but one or the other would be good. stil trying to figure out the rest of the fish though =) =)

i think my only other main question left is regarding tank cycling and how the addition of plants alters the regular cycling process? how long before i should add fish? one week? two? four? a few days? =S

Pasqua 08-23-2012 08:50 AM

after much more reading specifically on clown loaches, turns out they won't be suitable for my tank as they grow too big and need a much bigger school than i initially though (i was thinking three but have read five to six is ideal). so i think iwill have to cross them off my list and will look at possibly a smaller loach species

Byron 08-23-2012 11:27 AM

Although you joined in June, I don't believe I have yet posted in one of your threads, so first allow me to welcome you to TFK.:-D

I'll just pick up on a couple of items and not repeat what AD has mentioned (other than perhaps elaborating). First off, no mention is made of proposed fish (other than loaches and corys) and this is something an aquarist should decide before beginning to consider filters and substrates. Some fish have needs for specialized substrates, and many fish are affected (negatively or positively) by the water current so filtration is important. While any one of several different types of filters may "work" on this tank, the species of fish selected may narrow this down to only one or two.

If corys are planned, sand would be better. Corys love to dig and sift through the top 1/2 inch or so, and they can't sift gravel through their gills like they can sand. And i am one who believes in providing the closest we can to the natural environment of the fish, as this is bound to be better for the fish's health. Loaches--aside from some specialized species such as the horseface and kuhli which need sand--can manage in fine gravel (I have Botia kubotai and Botia striata with a fine gravel substrate, and Yasuhikotakia sidthimunki and Yunnanilus cruciatus in a tank with sand). But sand as AD said is no more difficult to maintain, even easier.

The sand I use is playsand, available from hardware or landscape stores. We have Home Depot and Lowe's in North America, and these both carry Quikrete Play Sand. You want a sand that is dark rather than light (avoid white at all cost) and inert, meaning it is not calcareous and thus won't affect water chemistry. Both points are relevant to gravels too. If you find "play sand" online that is available to you, I can check the link.

Light. Give us the tank dimensions and we can work out the volume, but the dimensions are needed to ascertain the light requirements. And here i must digress on the method.

The article series I wrote that you referred to is a "basic" or simple method, using nature more than paraphernalia. The photos of my tanks under the "Aquariums" tab below my name on the left are illustrative of the principles in the articles. The level of light is crucial, as it has to be sufficient for the intended plants, but not greater or it will be too intense for the balance with nutrients and you will end up with a tank of stressed fish and algae rampant.

Byron.

Pasqua 08-25-2012 07:19 AM

Thanks for the welcome Byron =) I have mostly only posted in the betta forums so that is why you probably haven't seen me on here.
I have made some further progress, haven't had a change to update you until now. I went looking around at all my lfs's today and got some advice from (what I consider to be) the better ones.
I read up on sand and there was lots of information saying i could use silica sand or pool filter sand as it was inert. The only place I could find playsand was bunnings which i had read varied greatly in where it was sourced from and whether it would affect water quality or not so i decided to avoid it. Turns out I couldn't find any pool filter sand either though, the only place that stocks it said it was white so avoided that too. I did end up finding a course sort of sand at a specialist aquarium place, which I bought. its sort of a beige grey ish colour.Gave it all a good wash and it wasnt too dusty at all.
I got a light unit that i think is a T8, with a single long globe that sits on top of the tank in its own hood. would this be suitable if i leave it on for... say eight hours a day? or ten?
i also bought an aquaone 102f internal filter, which came with a million different attachments (i.e. eight) and i am not sure which to use. i know it will depend on the fish but they all seem sort of the same to me for the msot part =S
oh and my tank is:
cm - 61x30x40
inches- 24x12x16
20 us gallons i believe.
regarding fish. i am mostly hoping for a peaceful community tank. i have a crown tailed betta that i want to put in there who is in his own 5gal tank atm. if he doesnt cause trouble he will stay there. and if he does then i will move him back to his tank where he will stay. assuming he will be staying, i was thinking some cories and another mid level schooling fish, maybe some sort of tetra? I have to look more into stocking as i havent been able to decide on anything yet =S
overall am i headed in the right direction?!

fish monger 08-25-2012 08:43 AM

From what I can gather, the filter seems adequate (500L per hour). 8-10 hours is a good place to start; however, the type of tube is just as important and Dad has good info on that in his post. Tetras have teeth and some of them would love to use them on those long flowing betta fins. I'm sure our members will have good advice as to what type you could add. My personal experience has been that male bettas don't do well in a community tank. Good luck with your new tank and have fun !

Byron 08-25-2012 09:44 AM

Quote:

I did end up finding a course sort of sand at a specialist aquarium place, which I bought. its sort of a beige grey ish colour.Gave it all a good wash and it wasnt too dusty at all.
That sounds fine. Substrates sold in aquarium stores are usually more expensive, but you can usually find one you can use, so no harm there.

Quote:

I got a light unit that i think is a T8, with a single long globe that sits on top of the tank in its own hood. would this be suitable if i leave it on for... say eight hours a day? or ten?
A single T8 fluorescent tube will be fine over the basic 20g tank which is what you have from the dimensions. But now we come to the tube itself. At one end there will be some printing, if you can give me what it reads I may be able to comment. The spectrum of light is important.

Quote:

i also bought an aquaone 102f internal filter, which came with a million different attachments (i.e. eight) and i am not sure which to use.
Can you give me a link to this filter online somewhere?

Quote:

regarding fish. i am mostly hoping for a peaceful community tank. i have a crown tailed betta that i want to put in there who is in his own 5gal tank atm. if he doesnt cause trouble he will stay there. and if he does then i will move him back to his tank where he will stay. assuming he will be staying, i was thinking some cories and another mid level schooling fish, maybe some sort of tetra? I have to look more into stocking as i havent been able to decide on anything yet =S
overall am i headed in the right direction?
Yes. A Betta is not a true community fish and while some individual fish can get along with some tankmates, others will not. But at least you have alternate accommodation for him. But as fish monger said, this will be risky and personally I wold not try it. Leave him in the 5g where he will be happy and safe.

We have fish profiles, second tab from the left in the blue bar across the top of the page, and you will find many possible species among the Cyprinids, characins, catfish, and other categories. A 20g is not "large" but it does offer some options. First though we need to know the water parameters out of the tap, as fish have preferences (these are noted in each profile) and will always be healthier if provided with the water params they need. You can ascertain the GH (general hardness) and KH (carbonate hardness of Alkalinity) from the municipal water supply people, they may have a website. The pH they may also tell you, or you can buy a test kit. And on this, a good investment is one like the API liquid Master Kit that contains tests for pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.

Byron.

Pasqua 08-26-2012 07:36 AM

I dont expect he will do well in their either fishmonger, lol, but I am hoping!
I checked the light byron, and this is what it says on it:
C201
0930
and to the right of those numbers, in slightly bigger font, '30'.
I am not sure now that it is a T8 (as the box doesnt say much) but if need be I can replace it. on the other side it also says 'Sylvania' which I looked up and found was an australian light manufacturer.
Heres the Aquaone filter I have: Aqua One Maxi 102F Internal Filter
Am currently using the duckbill outlet and have it a cm or so under the water, tried the spray arm thing and it disturbed the water too much.
I was scouring the fish profiles last night (most of which I noticed you wrote Byron, thanks!! they are very helpful). I have not finished scouring yet, I am mostly going through and looking at any fish that I recognise is sold locally here. I have been to the pet shops so many times now that I remember them all *-). But I have a shortlist of some that sound like they would be suitable. Ill post up a new link under the correct area for stocking a tank later as I am not sure how many of whatever sort of fish I should have in there, I have never had a big tank like this before so no idea how many it would comfortably hold (I know 20gal isnt that big but it is to me!).
I dont have a test kit at the moment but I will look up the GH and KH. The PH I tested today and it is at about... between 6.9-7 but closer to 6.8 I'd say. Which is surprisingly low coming out of my taps. My smaller tanks which I use the same water for are always at 7.4 or higher.

tried finding the GH and KH online but no luck so far. bedtime for now but i will have another search tomorrow or prehaps if i ring a local petshop they might be able to tell me

Byron 08-26-2012 11:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pasqua (Post 1214448)
I dont expect he will do well in their either fishmonger, lol, but I am hoping!
I checked the light byron, and this is what it says on it:
C201
0930
and to the right of those numbers, in slightly bigger font, '30'.
I am not sure now that it is a T8 (as the box doesnt say much) but if need be I can replace it. on the other side it also says 'Sylvania' which I looked up and found was an australian light manufacturer.
Heres the Aquaone filter I have: Aqua One Maxi 102F Internal Filter
Am currently using the duckbill outlet and have it a cm or so under the water, tried the spray arm thing and it disturbed the water too much.
I was scouring the fish profiles last night (most of which I noticed you wrote Byron, thanks!! they are very helpful). I have not finished scouring yet, I am mostly going through and looking at any fish that I recognise is sold locally here. I have been to the pet shops so many times now that I remember them all *-). But I have a shortlist of some that sound like they would be suitable. Ill post up a new link under the correct area for stocking a tank later as I am not sure how many of whatever sort of fish I should have in there, I have never had a big tank like this before so no idea how many it would comfortably hold (I know 20gal isnt that big but it is to me!).
I dont have a test kit at the moment but I will look up the GH and KH. The PH I tested today and it is at about... between 6.9-7 but closer to 6.8 I'd say. Which is surprisingly low coming out of my taps. My smaller tanks which I use the same water for are always at 7.4 or higher.

tried finding the GH and KH online but no luck so far. bedtime for now but i will have another search tomorrow or prehaps if i ring a local petshop they might be able to tell me

T8 and T5 are different, not interchangeable. Sylvania makes good "daylight" tubes having a kelvin of 6500K which is the colour of the light, and this is best for aquatic plants. Take your present tube with you and make sure you get one that matches the length and the prongs at the ends (T5 and T8 differ), with a 6500K rating and you're fine. I've no idea what the tube you now have might be like.

When testing tap water pH, shake the water vigorously for several seconds to outgas the CO2. This will give a more reliable measurement that might be higher. CO2 acidifies the water thus lowering the pH but in tap water this is temporary as the CO2 will outgas in the aquarium and the pH will then be (or may be) higher.


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