Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   Freshwater Aquarium advice from LFS..... (http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/beginner-freshwater-aquarium/freshwater-aquarium-advice-lfs-16159/)

AEWHistory 07-11-2008 12:56 AM

Freshwater Aquarium advice from LFS.....
 
I stopped in one of my LFSs today and, as is my habit when learning new things as well as doing some retailer shopping, I decided to ask some questions to which I figured I already knew the answers and some that I didn't.* The answers I got mostly surprised me and now I'm wondering if it is me or my LFS that I need to worry about. Now, let me preface this by saying that, after being away from fish keeping for almost two decades, I don't think that I know better than the LFS... I doubt that I do. But I've been reading voraciously these past few weeks and I'm basically going on the advice that I'm trying to cobble together and resolve as many contradictions in this advice before I start actually working on my new setup in another month or so. So here goes...

1. I asked what their experiences were in keeping crays and fish together. Some people seem to think this is doable, but most seem to feel this is heartache on a timer. The LFS store basically concurred, but then suggested that if I wanted crustaceans for my aquarium, I should go with crabs as they wouldn't be a problem with fish. But doesn't the same issue apply?

2. I asked about filters. Money isn't too much of an issue and, even though I'm looking to run a freshwater tank, I've gotten the impression that the best potential filters are wet/dry (they're just expensive and a pain to set up). The LFS store basically said that wet/dry filters were for saltwater setups. They recommend cannister filters--which are also extremely good from what I've read--but they felt that Fluval made awful filters (though they stock Fluval) and stongly recommended Rena.

3. I've yet to do much reading on reverse osmosis setups as I got the impression that this was something that was geared more toward saltwater (although, since I haven't read much on RO, how the hell would I know? :roll: ). The LFS suggested that this was something that I should look into strongly and he discouraged me from going in a few other directions, such as....

4. Setting up a planted aquarium. Basically the LFS said this was mostly a waste of time as the plants always died. The LFS guy said the only thing he's been able to keep alive or any length of time are bamboo....

Okay, whaddya think? Am I being presumptuous here or is some of this stuff kinda sketchy? Any additional advice?

There are about five pet stores with decent fish selections within fifteen minutes of my house and this is just one of them, but it is the closest and they've been around for years.

Many thanks!

*- As an aside, if you're ever in a situation where you don't trust a salesperson--home theater stores are rampant for this--start by asking questions to which you already know the answers. If they lie, say goodbye.

AEWHistory 07-11-2008 01:35 AM

Damn, too late to edit....

I forgot to note that when talking about filters I was asking about setting up a 75g to 100g tank (maybe more....).

Thanks!

iamntbatman 07-11-2008 02:43 AM

1. I asked what their experiences were in keeping crays and fish together. Some people seem to think this is doable, but most seem to feel this is heartache on a timer. The LFS store basically concurred, but then suggested that if I wanted crustaceans for my aquarium, I should go with crabs as they wouldn't be a problem with fish. But doesn't the same issue apply?

I don't think I'd listen to their advice. Many "freshwater" crabs such as the common fiddler crab need brackish conditions to thrive. Most readily available crabs also require some way of getting out of the water from time to time. Finally, as you suggested, the crabs do pose a threat to your fish. I had a red claw Thai crab once. I lowered the tank water and positioned driftwood to create an island for him that he took advantage of. I saw him try to ambush some of my barbs from time to time although he was never successful. With slower moving fish, bottom dwellers or fish with long fins, I'd put my money on the crab. For tropical aquaria, I think freshwater shrimp are going to be your best crustacean options.

2. I asked about filters. Money isn't too much of an issue and, even though I'm looking to run a freshwater tank, I've gotten the impression that the best potential filters are wet/dry (they're just expensive and a pain to set up). The LFS store basically said that wet/dry filters were for saltwater setups. They recommend cannister filters--which are also extremely good from what I've read--but they felt that Fluval made awful filters (though they stock Fluval) and stongly recommended Rena.

Wet/dry setups are pretty much the best biological filtration you can provide for a freshwater aquarium. However, they do need to be supplemented with mechanical filtration and if you're a believer, chemical filtration as well. Canister filters will provide an excellent supplement to a system using a wet/dry. If money isn't really an issue for you, I would suggest a layered filtration system. I don't really have any big tanks of my own, but I use multiple filtration methods on anything over ten gallons with great success. On a tank 100 gallons or larger (assuming you don't have a sand substrate in mind) a combination of reverse flow undergravel filtration, power filters, canister filters and a wet/dry would provide all of the filtration you could desire. You'd have to leave out the reverse flow UGF for a tank with sand. I've heard some negative stuff about the Fluval *04 systems (like the 204 etc) but the *05's seem to be a big improvement. A lot of members here are fans of Magnum canisters as well. I haven't heard much about the Renas.

3. I've yet to do much reading on reverse osmosis setups as I got the impression that this was something that was geared more toward saltwater (although, since I haven't read much on RO, how the hell would I know? Rolling Eyes ). The LFS suggested that this was something that I should look into strongly and he discouraged me from going in a few other directions, such as....

People use RO/DI water in saltwater setups because it's basically free of dissolved solids. This allows them to control the nutrient levels with additives and avoid problems that come with treated tapwater, like excessive nitrates and phosphates. Unless there's something seriously wrong with your tapwater, I recommend you simply use a good water conditioner and use what's coming out of your tap. Nitrates aren't as crippling in a freshwater system as they are with reefs, and the nutrients in tap water are necessary for the health of your fish and plants. RO/DI units can be fairly expensive, so it smells to me like they were just trying to sell you something.

4. Setting up a planted aquarium. Basically the LFS said this was mostly a waste of time as the plants always died. The LFS guy said the only thing he's been able to keep alive or any length of time are bamboo....

A waste of time? What is he talking about? Planted tanks are gorgeous. Just ask anyone on this forum that's kept their tanks for more than a few months and they'll have already started to enjoy their planted tanks. Sure, some plants require special care like expensive lighting, specialized plant substrates, fertilizers and even CO2 injection, but there are plenty of easier plants. If your plants are dying, there are really only two culprits: either you aren't providing what they need, or your fish are destroying or eating them. As long as you meet the requirements of the plants, you can have a successful planted aquarium and get all of the benefits from it. These include: a better looking tank, more secure feeling fish, less algae as the plants compete for nutrients, extra surfaces for your beneficial bacteria to grow on, oxygenation for your water, conversion of nitrates to plant biomass, hiding places for fish and their fry, etc. Lastly, bamboo are not a truly aquatic plant and will die if kept submerged. You can submerge the base of the plant but there must be some leaves kept above water in order for the plant to survive. Easy aquarium plants include java fern, java moss, floating plants like hornwort and watersprite, anubias and some of the crypts.

Tyyrlym 07-11-2008 08:13 AM

I'd wanna know the local water conditions before I called shenanigans on the RO set up. The stuff that comes out of my tap has a pH of 8.0. There could be something up with the local water that makes using RO or a tap/RO blend attractive. Him trying to sell you an RO system right off the bat is a bit suspect I'd say but it's worth checking the parameters of the local water and why he might suggest it.

The guy at my LFS tried to sell me a 100 gal/day RO system. Admittedly its all he stocked, but I've got a 55 gallon tank, even if I do the water change from hell with pure RO I only need 25 gallons tops.

heathrjoy 07-12-2008 11:12 AM

I'm new here, but am not at all new to fish.

Any time anyone tries to sell me something I don't trust them. Sorry, been burned too many times. The higher the price tag, the less I trust them and the more homework I do. Good for you for doing your homework and not relying on the LFS.

I'd just like to say that your LFS is so wrong about planted fish tanks! What's key is getting the plants/lighting/water conditions/fish right. It's not as hard as it may appear at first. Just get easy to grow, low light plants that can handle fish nibbling on them...or plants that fish won't eat. Right now my aquarium is overrun with plants and I've got to get in there and rip them out. I got them off of eBay, so they weren't anything too special. Some I've had over 5 years and they are huge. They help keep the tank clean and the fish love them. It sure looks better to me than some plastic thing stuck in there.

Good luck!

iamntbatman 07-13-2008 01:47 PM

You could also just get fish that won't eat plants. If you're trying to keep a pretty planted aquarium, fish to avoid are:

1) Non-dwarf American cichlids (won't necessarily eat the plants but will shred them)
2) Silver dollars
3) Pacus
4) African Rift Lake Cichlids

beetlebz 07-13-2008 05:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by iamntbatman
You could also just get fish that won't eat plants. If you're trying to keep a pretty planted aquarium, fish to avoid are:

1) Non-dwarf American cichlids (won't necessarily eat the plants but will shred them)
2) Silver dollars
3) Pacus
4) African Rift Lake Cichlids

oooooh baby you should see what my juvie green severum does to the runners from the pygmy chain sword I was dumb enough to put in with him lol he doesnt hurt the plant but digs up all the runners it tries to lay out!

anyway yeah, I love having planted tanks, wet/dry might be a bit much considering there are some monster canisters like the fluval FX5 and eheim 2260, dunno a thing about RO, and ive never known anyone personally that has had good luck mixing crays/crabs/lobsters(crays lol) with fish. some partially successful, but they always get at least one!

okiemavis 07-13-2008 06:57 PM

Batman pretty much covered everything, but I thought I'd back him up and add a bit more:

1. I asked what their experiences were in keeping crays and fish together. Some people seem to think this is doable, but most seem to feel this is heartache on a timer. The LFS store basically concurred, but then suggested that if I wanted crustaceans for my aquarium, I should go with crabs as they wouldn't be a problem with fish. But doesn't the same issue apply?
Yeah, crays and fish are a no-no. Crays are also definitely NOT plant safe. I'd pretty much apply that to crabs as well. Finding one that's freshwater (not brackish) will be an issue as well. There are exceptions, for instance I plan to keep a fiddler crab (brackish) with my mudskippers, but I have to make sure the fiddler isn't small enough to be eaten. There are some incredible shrimp out there. Red cherry shrimp are relatively inexpensive and very colorful. They're also great algae eaters. If you're looking for a larger shrimp giant african filter shrimp are very cool. They almost look like crayfish, but they are filter feeders, so they're completely harmless.

2. I asked about filters. Money isn't too much of an issue and, even though I'm looking to run a freshwater tank, I've gotten the impression that the best potential filters are wet/dry (they're just expensive and a pain to set up). The LFS store basically said that wet/dry filters were for saltwater setups. They recommend cannister filters--which are also extremely good from what I've read--but they felt that Fluval made awful filters (though they stock Fluval) and stongly recommended Rena.
Wet/dry setups are awesome, for both fresh and salt. However, they're kind of expensive and technical. I've been quite happy using canister filters. I can't say enough good things about the Marineland Magnum filters. The 350's have been around forever and I know people who have been using the same one for 15 years!

3. I've yet to do much reading on reverse osmosis setups as I got the impression that this was something that was geared more toward saltwater (although, since I haven't read much on RO, how the hell would I know? Rolling Eyes ). The LFS suggested that this was something that I should look into strongly and he discouraged me from going in a few other directions, such as....
RO water shouldn't be necessary unless you have really hard/alkaline water or you plan to keep discus or something like that. RO has absolutely NOTHING in it, so you have to add back all the minerals and nutrients yourself. It gives you the ability to get a very specific ph, gh and kh, but it's a whole 'nother step, and there's the added cost and effort of the water and treatment.

4. Setting up a planted aquarium. Basically the LFS said this was mostly a waste of time as the plants always died. The LFS guy said the only thing he's been able to keep alive or any length of time are bamboo....
That guy's insane. Seriously. In fact, bamboo is actually a marginal plant and needs to be kept with the top part above water. It's pretty darn hard to kill though, which is probably why he could keep it alive. Plants are really great for the aquarium, gorgeous and another incredible facet of aquarium keeping. The things you need are: light, fertilizer and co2 (optional). Provided you have a decent amount of light for the plants you choose to survive, you shouldn't have too hard a time of it.


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