Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   Want to get get a "fish tank" - Starter Help (http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/beginner-freshwater-aquarium/want-get-get-fish-tank-starter-15738/)

mdywglr4x4 06-22-2008 09:55 PM

Want to get get a "fish tank" - Starter Help
 
I have a book shelf in my office that is used for random junk and would like clean it up and put in a freshwater tank with some colorful fish if possible and stock it as best I can. The shelf itself can easily fit 25x15x10 tank. With some math I can see that is ~16 gallon tank. Here are my questions.

Is that a small/medium tank?

Approx how many fish can I fit comfortably in this?

What all is involved in this "cycling" of the tank? What fish should I use for this? Do I get fish I want to keep in there forever? From what I have found it appears to be a 4 week cycle. There is extra cleaning and I need to recycle 10-15% of the water on a cycle or something.

Do I need/want a filtration system or air pump and how do they work?

Are there many types of food and do I need to consider what types of fish I get so I can use only one type to feed?

Live plants or fakes? Safe to have little ships and other items in there as well? When do I add those? What other items do I need to have in the tank? How deep do I make the pebbles on the bottom? Special type of pebbles?

I am reading on a couple sites but looking for some help from bf.c OT.

What say you guys? Looking for some guidance on a basic tank with as much "cool" stuff as I can have that the fishes will be happy

Also planning on stopping off at a local specialty store and see what they say about it as well. Would like to have some information before I go.

Also I see a lot of people seem to have 1 or 2 "algae eaters". Any particular catfish or small bottom feeder I need to put in?

Also if need be I can go to a slightly larger tank and maybe into the 20 something gallon tank. Wouldn't be the end of the world.

iamntbatman 06-22-2008 11:00 PM

Re: Want to get get a "fish tank" - Starter Help
 
I'll just put my answers in the quote in bold.

Quote:

Originally Posted by mdywglr4x4
I have a book shelf in my office that is used for random junk and would like clean it up and put in a freshwater tank with some colorful fish if possible and stock it as best I can. The shelf itself can easily fit 25x15x10 tank. With some math I can see that is ~16 gallon tank. Here are my questions.

With those dimensions, a ten gallon tank might be possible. Keep in mind that some of the needed stuff (like lights and filters) are going to extend beyone the dimensions of the tank itself so you have to consider that. Also, you'll have power cords to think about so you might need a hole in the back of the shelf.

Is that a small/medium tank?

That would be considered a small tank.

Approx how many fish can I fit comfortably in this?

That all depends on what kind of fish you get. Some are much messier than others, and many types of fish get much too large for a tank that size.

What all is involved in this "cycling" of the tank? What fish should I use for this? Do I get fish I want to keep in there forever? From what I have found it appears to be a 4 week cycle. There is extra cleaning and I need to recycle 10-15% of the water on a cycle or something.

You're talking about cycling using fish. Usually people recommend a hardy fish for this, like zebra danios. You could have a small school of danios in a 10g tank. I would do some research on a "fishless cycle" as this doesn't harm any fish and will allow you to stock the fish you want to keep in the aquarium. The length of the cycle can range anywhere from about two to eight weeks. A good liquid test kit is your best friend during the cycling process. At the end of a fishless cycle you'll usually have to do a pretty substantial water change in order to bring the nitrates down to a reasonable level before any fish are added.

Do I need/want a filtration system or air pump and how do they work?

You need a filter of some kind. For a ten gallon tank, usually a hang-on-back power filter with a biowheel (like a Marineland Pengiun filter) is the best option. However, with the limited shelf space you mentioned, you might need to go with some sort of internal filter in order to save space outside the tank. You could look into sponge filters, in-tank power filters, or undergravel filters. Filters provide varying degrees of mechanical, biological and chemical filtration. Mechanical filtration removes particulates from the water. Biological filtration breaks down toxic compounds in the water that come from fish waste into less dangerous compounds. Even with the best filter, you still need to perform weekly water changes to keep nitrate levels in check.

Are there many types of food and do I need to consider what types of fish I get so I can use only one type to feed?

There are many, many types of food. Usually they fall into a couple of categories: prepared foods like flakes, pellets, crumbles, wafers, etc., freeze dried foods, frozen foods, live foods, and vegetables. Fish always do better with some variety in their diets, but usually it's best to find a good flake or pellet to use as a staple for their diet. Frozen or live foods can be used as supplemental treats. Some fish are herbivores and require vegetables in their diets.

Live plants or fakes? Safe to have little ships and other items in there as well? When do I add those? What other items do I need to have in the tank? How deep do I make the pebbles on the bottom? Special type of pebbles?

You can use live or fake plants. There are benefits to having live plants - they can use up the nitrates in the tank, effectively using fish waste as fertilizer. Live plants also oxygenate the water. Live plants look good. Silk plants can look almost as good (or better, if you've got dead/dying live plants) and are easier to maintain than live plants, which can require special lighting, fertilization and sometimes added CO2. Some live plants like java moss and java fern are very low maintainence and can survive in low-light conditions. Any sort of plants and other decorations (aquarium-specific decorations sold at pet stores, driftwood, rocks, etc.) can serve as home to beneficial bacteria so it's best to add them as early as possible in order to have them help in the cycling process. The aquarium gravel can be anywhere from maybe an inch to three inches deep. You can buy aquarium gravel from a pet store, although I'd urge you to stay away from the brightly colored stuff as it can lose color over time and some are known to be unsafe for fish. Natural looks and works better. You can also use pea gravel sold at home improvement stores. Any gravel you use should get a good rinse first to remove any dust/dirt that could cloud up your water.

I am reading on a couple sites but looking for some help from bf.c OT.

I'm not sure I understand this part.

What say you guys? Looking for some guidance on a basic tank with as much "cool" stuff as I can have that the fishes will be happy

Also planning on stopping off at a local specialty store and see what they say about it as well. Would like to have some information before I go.

Keep in mind that fish/pet store employees will often try to sell you stuff you don't really need. Also, a lot of employees aren't exactly very knowledgable about the hobby, so it's best to take their advice with a grain of salt and do your research before you go.

Also I see a lot of people seem to have 1 or 2 "algae eaters". Any particular catfish or small bottom feeder I need to put in?

Not yet. There are several different "algae eaters" on the market. Most labelled "algae eater" are Chinese Algae Eaters. These fish can do alright at controlling algae when they're young, but they grow to at least six inches, stop eating algae and can be extremely aggressive. The similar but better behaved and better at algae control Siamese Algae Eater is usually harder to find, but it will also outgrow a 10 gallon tank. Most plecostomus species will also get too large, although you might be able to get away with a bristlenose or clown pleco. Oto catfish stay small and do a number on algae, but are delicate and can be difficult to keep alive. Mystery snails can also do a good job but won't scrub your glass clean of algae. There are some freshwater shrimp that also eat algae. I don't think you need to consider a fish for algae control until the tank is long-established and has some algae for the critter to munch on.

Also if need be I can go to a slightly larger tank and maybe into the 20 something gallon tank. Wouldn't be the end of the world.

A bigger tank will ultimately be a better choice. You have more options to stock it with more fish. Bigger tanks are also more resistant to temperature swings and water parameter swings that can be devastating for your fish. Bigger tanks can be less maintenance than smaller tanks. However, they cost more and take up more space, so that's also a consideration.

One last thing: in addition to lights and a filter, you also need an in-tank heater to keep tropical fish. Most tropical fish like a temperature of 78-80 and will get lethargic and eventually die if kept at regular room temperature.


It's good that you're looking into this stuff before you get your feet wet. A lot of people just head to the pet store, buy a fish tank and stock it with fish. Usually, those fish all die while the aquarium is cycling or somehow survive only to die because of ignorance on part of the owner. Failing at fishkeeping early on can discourage people from the hobby. If you do the research before you start, you're more likely to keep happy, healthy fish and end up getting more enjoyment out of keeping them.

Good luck, and feel free to ask more questions!

mdywglr4x4 06-22-2008 11:36 PM

Thanks. After talking with a fellow BMW friend(bf.c OT) I think my main plan of attack is as follows.

29g tank
7 Neons
5 Peppered Cory's
4 Oto Catfish
Guorami

After it has stabilized with those fish I plan on trying some ghost shrimp and see if they get nipped at. Worst case my friend says they become a tasty snack and that is that.

Sorry I copy and pasted from bimmerforums.com where there are some serious fish tank guys :)

That sound like a good plan of attack? Debating on fishlike cycle or using the Danios and leaving them in the tank.

iamntbatman 06-22-2008 11:57 PM

Sounds good to me. Ghost shrimp will probably work with that stocking list, depending on what gourami you choose. The shrimp are too big for the neons and probably even the cories to eat. I would recommend waiting until the aquarium is well established with some good algae growth before adding the Otos, though.

mdywglr4x4 06-23-2008 12:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by iamntbatman
Sounds good to me. Ghost shrimp will probably work with that stocking list, depending on what gourami you choose. The shrimp are too big for the neons and probably even the cories to eat. I would recommend waiting until the aquarium is well established with some good algae growth before adding the Otos, though.

How long do you think I should wait?

I was going to wait to add the shrimp as well.

I was thinking Flame Dwarf for the Gourami. That would work with the shrimp and others. Or recommended one for my stocking list?

iamntbatman 06-23-2008 12:04 AM

I would wait however long it takes to get some good algae growth. In my experience, Otos are difficult to feed on any prepared foods and seem to only eat algae and vegetables like romaine lettuce and spinach. They're also very sensitive to water quality so it would be good to wait until the aquarium has been running smoothly with stable water parameters for a good while (I would say a month or two) after the last of your other fish are added.

mdywglr4x4 06-23-2008 12:30 AM

Thanks for the tip.

mdywglr4x4 06-23-2008 09:21 PM

Anyone help me with basic setup and needs to run live plants? Pros and Cons?

iamntbatman 06-23-2008 10:08 PM

Live plants have a huge range of care requirements. I suggest you either look up the species you like and find out what care they need, or find a level of care you're willing to give the plants and then find plants suitable for what you can offer. For example, some plants survive (and even thrive) better in low-light conditions. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some plants need huge amounts of full-spectrum lighting in order to live, let alone grow. Some plants can get by with no special substrates or fertilizers, while others are nearly impossible without them. The substrates, fertilizers and especially the lighting for high-demand plants can end up costing quite a bit of money.

Aside from the cost, other "cons" of having live plants would be that they might get destroyed. Improper care but also your fish can destroy your plants. Certain fish are herbivorous and will eat many types of aquatic plants. Other fish, like many of the cichlids, will uproot plants or shred the leaves.

There are a lot of pros, though. The plants look great. They provide a natural environment for your fish that can make the fish feel more secure. Plants use fish waste as fertilizer and can help control your nitrate levels. Live plants compete with algae for nutrients and can therefore keep your algae levels down. Plants help oxygenate the water. Plants provide more surfaces for beneficial bacteria to grow on. If you plan on breeding your fish, some live plants are great for providing hiding places and food sources for fry.

Some of the easier to maintain live plants include hornwort, cabomba, java fern, java moss, some of the crypts and anubias.

mdywglr4x4 06-24-2008 12:54 PM

Thanks for the quick run down!


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