Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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flypanam 06-01-2008 11:20 PM

Getting back into the hobby (a few questions)
When I was in High School I was very interested in aquariums and aquarium fish. Then I went to college and obviously couldn't bring my fish with me into the dorms so I left my dad to care for my fish while I was gone. I've previously had a 10 gallon, then a 20 gallon, before moving on to a 16 gallon hexagon tank, all freshwater. I used to keep goldfish before setting up the 16 gallon tropical community tank, so I'm not a complete newbie, but in my time away I feel like I've forgotten a lot of things that I used to know off-hand easily.

I just got home for the summer from my second year and to my horror my dad managed to strip the aquarium of ANY decorations ("too hard to clean") AND kill off all of my fish except one clown loach (poor guy must be lonely). This atrocity made me decide I must take up the hobby again, not only because I really love it, but for the sake of the poor fish. My dad wants to get more, but he's the type of guy that thinks its a great idea to put new fish directly into the main tank and just, in his words, "bomb" the fish (old and new) with three different antibiotics "just in case".

Now here's where I need help. I just bought a shiny new 38 gallon glass aquarium starter kit. I plan on this being a freshwater tank since I don't have enough time for a saltwater when I go back to school and my dad is too much of a retard to be able to deal with handling it in my absence anyway. Before I even add any fish, I have a few questions..

1) The kit came with an Aqueon 30 power filter, which the website says is good for up to 30 gallons. I know the obvious answer to my obvious question ("is it good enough?"; "no"), but why would they package an insufficient filter for the aquarium size in the kit? Could it work? If it can't, any suggestions on good filters? I've heard good things about Aqueon and I know they make a larger filter, plus its quiet, but I'm open to other suggestions (I've only used Aquaclear before so I don't have any comparisons).

2) The filter is the usual external power filter and it does create a nice turbulent flow.. but only for half of the pretty large aquarium. Most of the water is pretty stagnant. I have two airstones on opposite ends of the tank, but most of the water (especially at the bottom of the tank) doesn't move at all. On top of this the way the holes in the hood are set up, the intake for the filter is all the way in the corner. With this set up, I just feel like the water isn't moving around enough to be efficiently cleaned. Though I may be completely wrong. Anyone have any thoughts? Or any ideas on how to get the water moving around better.

3) The lady at the Petco I bought the tank from recommended letting the system cycle for a week before adding fish. Now my question is, won't the nitrogen cycle NOT start unless theres a source of ammonia (the fish)? Is there any point to this? I added a handful of the gravel from my old aquarium to jump start everything, but if the bacteria have nothing to eat, won't it be useless? Also, for the record I wouldn't buy my fish at Petco (though my local one has completely reorganized the fish section and cleaned up tremendously), I go to a privately owned aquarium-specific store with a very knowledgeable owner.

4) How would you go about regular partial water changes for an aquarium of this size? I would always siphon the gravel til about 1/3 of the water was gone with my older, smaller aquariums, but this one is much more decorated and planted (with fake plants, I want to raise fish, not plants!), so it would make siphoning quite hard. On top of that, 1/3 of the water every month seems like a lot..

5) What fish would you guys recommend I get? I'd rather have more smaller fish than fewer larger fish. I've had it up to my eyeballs with tetras, and I've had platys guppies and gouramis along with the tetras (and of course the loach) in my old tank. Of course I love these fish and will probably end up getting some anyway, but what types of these do you guys find the coolest (or the hardiest for the break in period)? Also, suggestions for different compatible fish are welcome. I read in the starter manual that there's top swimming fish, mid water fish and bottom feeding fish, and I feel like an equal amount of each would give the aquarium a fuller look without overcrowding, so if you guys know where whatever fish you're suggesting prefers to swim, that would help me immensely.

Thanks for all the help. I hope to become a regular and active member in this forum now that my love of fish-keeping has been rekindled.

fish_4_all 06-01-2008 11:36 PM

Zebra danios are a good fish to start with.

As for filtering, I know nothing about the Aqueon 30 but I love Aquaclear. If the Aqueon works and you have had success with it go with it. For more circulaiton oyu oculd try a small powerhead at the other end of the tnak directed down toward the bottom to circulate water throughout the tank.

Personally I would get a second filter and put it at the opposite end of the tank.

As for adding fish, The danios are about the hardiest and adding 8-10 of them will allow for a moderate cycle in terms of how much waste they produce. More of them and you may need to do a little more as far as water changes.

Get a good test kit, liquid regeant and teach your dad how to use it, lol. pH, nitrites, nitrates and ammonia. GH and KH are useful but not "needed". If ammonia gets above 1pmm, nitrites above .25ppm or nitrates above 20ppm then a water change is needed.

Most important, ask a lot of questions. Members help here and do what they can to get you pointed in the right direction.

flypanam 06-01-2008 11:55 PM

Thanks for the speedy and thoughtful reply fish_4_all!

I like the Aqueon because the motor is underwater so there's no need for priming. My town has gotten occasional power outages and I'd hate to think what would happen if I didn't have a filter that would start up on its own when the power came back. As for the second filter, would you recommend another over-the-side external one, or something else like a canister filter?

Thanks for the advice with the danios! Know any fish I can add later that get along with them?

fish_4_all 06-02-2008 02:13 PM

Get whatever filter you want to really. I would put an AC50 on it. Lots of space for biological media. A small canister can't hurt if it is in the budget. AC will self prime also as long as the water level in the tank doesn't drop below the point of the short end of the intake pipe.

Later fish could be more types of Danios, rasboras, and other similar sized fish. Stay away from fin nipper as danios become targets for nipping.

Cories for the bottom, maybe a group of 7. Or maybe Kuhli loaches, about the same number or maybe a couple more. Lots of options just ask when you are ready and someone will be there to give some good suggestions.

Oh, and you welcome.

Flashygrrl 06-02-2008 06:11 PM

Suggestion: Put together a care sheet of everything you learn on here and give it to your dad. If he's going to deviate from it then unfortunately you'll either have to take the fish with you or give them to someone else when you go back to school.

And uh, a couple things. Clown loaches don't fit well into any of your size tanks (they grow and need groups of them to be happy). Same with goldfish, cuz they're so piggy. Good thing to keep in mind since it sounds like your dad isn't up to dealing with the messiness.

Anyways, welcome to the forum :)

flypanam 06-02-2008 07:38 PM

fish_4_all: I think i'm just gonna take the old aquaclear 200 (i think now its called the aquaclear 50, so thats perfect) from my old tank and use that. its much cheaper. Thanks for the great fish suggestions! its nice to veer away from the usual tetras etc

Flashygrrl: It's not that he doesn't know what to do, he's a very smart guy with good memory. It's that he's stubborn as a bull. Just today I saw him trying to MOVE the full nearly 500 pound fish tank and stand. When i told him he shouldn't because it puts stress on the glass and it can break, he said "I don't buy it, they just say that." Of course he couldn't come up with who "they" refers to and why "they" would make up something like that.. But I've entrusted the care of the fish tank to my sister for when I'm gone. She is actually competent.

Haha, I figured out only last night that clown loaches are not only scaleless and very sensitive, but they grow to be huge. When I bought them originally (I got three originally) I saw the little ones and the godzilla ones. I remember as clearly as this morning, the price tags were "Clown Loach $9.99; Jumbo Clown Loach $39.99" so I just assumed they were different varieties. I've talked with my local fish store owner and he said he'd take it back when I come to buy fish for my new tank.

My first goldfish were 4 common feeder fish from a bar mitzvah in 7th grade. Two of them survived in the 20 gallon tank for about 2 years, then one died and the other one went on for another 2. I didn't really know what I was doing at the time, and it was after the goldfish died that I started getting into tropical fish and learning my facts. Now I know better :shock:

flypanam 06-02-2008 07:40 PM

Also, any other people are welcome to answer my question about the nitrogen cycle, and suggest any other fish they think would work with fish_4_all's suggestions :D

okiemavis 06-02-2008 07:54 PM

My first fish were two feeder goldfish from a bat mitzvahs as well! Just thought I'd share that :)

fish_4_all 06-03-2008 09:08 AM

I hope I didn't say clown loaches. :? Although it could be done, a 36 is getting too small to really consider them.

Kuhli loaches are fun to watch in groups. When I can see mine they are fun to watch and see how they interact. I haven't been able to see them much as their tank is continually in green water mode for a rerason I have yet ot figure out.

flypanam 06-03-2008 09:23 AM

haha no, you didn't suggest clown loaches. A single clown loach is all that's left of my old set up.

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