Getting an old/still running tank back together
Hello! I've had a 20g for quite some time now that had been stocked with a school of about 12 neon tetra for roughly 4-5 years(quite surprising for my usual experiences with my local petsmart). Unfortunately they all slowly died off this past year until the final two went maybe six months ago. I did remove all of them as they passed to keep the tank as clean as possible. The tank also has a large clump of java moss, and a small anubias nana plant nearby. Also unfortunately looks like i've got some green hair algae/moss growing on one of my centerpieces i should be able to clean up.
My larger concerns with the tank is that it has in fact sat for so long, and has a couple of things that worry me. I did keep up with water changes, rather lax ones tbh considering there were no fish in the tank, as well as gravel vacuuming. The tank is equipped with an Aquaclear 10-30 rated HOB filter which probably should have its pads changed now, and it did have a marineland stealth pro 200w heater that i kept at about 78 F which is the biggest fear of mine, upon beginning a heavy scrubbing of the tank/components cause it does have quiet a bit of calcium/white crust build up :P I realized the heater wasn't functioning anymore and pulled it out right away to find the side of it did burst. There is a small crack in it. I don't believe this to have happened while i still had any of my fish because the temperature/heater were always something i kept an eye on when the fish seemed to be getting lethargic.
Aside from this I tested the water last night/this morning and read the following; Thanks in advance for any help, it is greatly appreciated as I'm quite anxious to get back into the hobby
Ammonia: 0 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: 0-5 ppm
Ph(water from house outside): 7.6-7.8
Well, you need a new heater, obviously. Something in the tank is raising your Ph...probably rocks or substrate. Since the tank is so mature, I wouldn't be afraid to clean and replace the media in the filter. I'd add some plants. Planted and especially fast growing stem / floating plants. What kind of rocks and substrate do you have ?
Your high pH is common in my planted tanks. I suspect it is caused by the plants sucking out the carbon dioxide. In your case the lack of fish helps that out as well.
generally looks like things are pretty good.
I would test kh and gh though.
FWIW neons that lived for 5 years did pretty well IMHO.
Well that's all good to hear and yes the obvious I'm working on already. I have a 50w marineland stealth pro that should work ok in the tank.
My substrate is just small, smooth Aquarium gravel with a few random larger smooth aquarium stones. I do have one rock that was given to me from a friend who helped me start the tanks cycle, so it's been in the tank since day one and I don't think it's the problem; however I will be taking it out just in case and replacing it with more smooth stone. The tank also just has two fake driftwood pieces and I would love to get some real driftwood soon.
Ill work on getting some test kits for the kh, etc this weekend. As for plants other than the moss and Anubias what can you recommend? Ill probably be replacing my life glo as well to go with new plants.
Fish wise i was thinking a group of kuhli loach for the bottom; and I'm basically bored of neon so mid range are up for thought. Thank you everyone
I think a 20 gal is a bit small for kuhli loaches unless you can get one of the very small species such as Pangio cuneovirgata. Despite their small size kuhli loaches can display large bursts of energy. They run into the walls of my 29 gal rather often with their boisterious play. Maybe look at some of the smaller species of cory cats for an interesting bottom dweller.
If you're tired of neons, maybe look at some smaller species of gourami like sparkling gourami (if you can lower the pH) or honey gourami.
Ah, note taken. That choice was based off of reading various suggestions on stocking options in similar tanks; thank you. I'm highly interested in gourami as well. If anything maybe just shrimp will do for bottom dwellers. I've never had any luck with Cory's in my tank unfortunately /:
Here is a shot of the tank since taking out a rather large rock in the center I don't think belonged there. I've since replaced it with handfuls of mid-sized smooth river rock that I now wish I had more of. The ornament on the right was standing before and I turned it on its side with the intent for more swimming space higher up in the tank.. Anyway, the stuff on the center ornament is what I'm quite sure is some hair algae of some sort, I can tear it away only for it to come back days later.
I just put the 50w heater in and it is taking some time for the tank to get up to the high 70's(goal of 78), I have the heater set to 80. It probably could use a bit of a larger heater so it possibly wasnt working so hard, but my knowledge really doesn't go far with the things so who am i to say :P Was disappointed to find my local petsmart doesn't carry the life-glo bulbs anymore and just aqueon; not sure if I should try one of those or not. I had a little trouble finding a kh/gh test kit there as well :\ will be taking a trip to a lfs soon..
From a "well-established" woman...
I wish your picture showed up for me, but it doesn't. :( I think you're going to have fun stocking this tank! I wouldn't worry about the fact that it's so old...I'd just call it "well established" instead. :)
I would add plants and consider the fertilizer you'll need. That's a complicated choice because it involves water chemistry, etc., and I am not qualified to advise you on that, but you could always get Anubias or Amazon swords that don't require much light if you don't want to replace your light and don't want to fuss with water chemistry issues too much.
As far as fish go, I personally would recommend aquariumfish.net. Their shipping is high BUT if you take the plunge and order $130 worth of fish, the shipping is free. They have a lot of unusual fish that you won't find in fish stores, and the fish I have gotten from them have always been strong and healthy. The neons I have look like cardinals, I swear. Plus, they always include an extra fish or two (even of the expensive fish). That being said, if you have a good fish store nearby, it's always nice to patronize them just for the economy's sake and because it's nice to have live advice nearby.
I have Kuhli loaches, and I wouldn't trade them for anything. Maybe Koimaiden is right, maybe not, but I think that boisterousness is just their nature and they'd do that going half-way up the tank side thing then plunging back down whether they were in a 20-gallon tank or a 200-gallon tank. But again, I'm no marine biologist or anything. But I sure enjoy watching those Kuhlis and it would take a lot to talk me out of them. :)
I most certainly would like a larger plant in the tank, as well as maybe a floating variety of plant that will work well in the tank with my lower light conditions. I don't mind keeping up with water chem, and dosing the tank as needed for the plants either. Right now I've just oddly struggled finding a gh/kh test kit locally which is just strange to me. In any event it also seems I'll need to buy a new heater, as my thoughts have been confirmed in the 50w is not enough for the 20g. I know its not even labeled for it but I had hopes lol. I have the heater set to 82 and the tank seems to struggle to make it to 70 granted I do keep my thermometer and the opposite side of the tank(digital coralife) as well as a cheap sticky one with agreeable results. I've noticed many petstores and even my lfs carrying either a no-branded "aquarium heater", or the plain aqueon heaters and I'm just unsure of what to go with now as I've read there was a recall on the stealth pro's ive been using in the past? Idk lol, I'll figure it all out and get something in there soon though. Let me see if this picture works...I've got it attached to the post now.
Your light looks to be strong enough for the majority of plants from the photo. The old rule of thumb for heaters was 5 watts per gallon. I don't know whether this still applies with the new technology out there. If the heater you like doesn't state a tank size, I'd wouldn't be afraid to use the old 5W per gallon rule.
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