Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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melissaw 12-09-2008 06:23 PM

Researching First Time Aquarium
 
Hello Everyone!

I am in the researching phase of getting my first (responsibly owned) aquarium, and I wanted to get some opinions on the set-up I'm thinking about going with:

20 gal. tank with Bio-Wheel filter, heater, hood & light
1 java fern
1 sword plant
2-3 Platys
6 Neon Tetras
1 Oto cat
2-3 Corydora cats

Of course, I'm not planning on introducing all of these at once. I was going to start with the plants and the Platys, add the Tetras in about a week, and wait a few more weeks for the cats.

I really want a lot of movement and action in the tank, but not from conflict among the fishes, so I tried to pick less-aggressive, schooling species. I also want it to be as low maintenance as possible, so I want plants and scavengers.

I had some hodge-podge aquariums in college, but those were a nightmare :shock: I'm ready to do it right this time, so please give me any and all information that you can to help me out.

Thanks in advance for any help!

-Melissa

Twistersmom 12-09-2008 09:26 PM

Humm, Sound like a good mix. My lfs recommended adding plants after your cycle kicks in, giving plant life natrates to thrive on. Maybe add fish first, plants later.

ollecram 12-09-2008 09:27 PM

welcome to the forum. do you know about cycling? you should really cycle your tank before adding fish. unless you plan to cycle your tank with those fish. I dont know where it is but there is a really good article on this site that helped me a lot when cycling my tank. maybe someone can post it for you here. best of luck on your new tank. cycling takes a while so dont get frustrated because you might mess up the water and have to start all over again. :D
-Marcello

Tyyrlym 12-10-2008 11:06 AM

2 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by melissaw (Post 156781)
Hello Everyone!

I am in the researching phase of getting my first (responsibly owned) aquarium, and I wanted to get some opinions on the set-up I'm thinking about going with:

20 gal. tank with Bio-Wheel filter, heater, hood & light
1 java fern
1 sword plant
2-3 Platys
6 Neon Tetras
1 Oto cat
2-3 Corydora cats

Of course, I'm not planning on introducing all of these at once. I was going to start with the plants and the Platys, add the Tetras in about a week, and wait a few more weeks for the cats.

I really want a lot of movement and action in the tank, but not from conflict among the fishes, so I tried to pick less-aggressive, schooling species. I also want it to be as low maintenance as possible, so I want plants and scavengers.

I had some hodge-podge aquariums in college, but those were a nightmare I'm ready to do it right this time, so please give me any and all information that you can to help me out.

Thanks in advance for any help!

-Melissa

First off, learn about the nitrogen cycle, that's the most important part of getting your tank right. A properly cycled tank will keep your fish happy and healthy, one that doesn't cycle will just kill fish.

These are some very good threads on cycling and tank set up:
http://www.fishforum.com/freshwater-...ium-cycle-252/
http://www.fishforum.com/freshwater-...-new-tanks-67/
http://www.fishforum.com/member-subm...-methods-3067/

Your stocking plan looks to be decent but there are some places you could improve.
-Tetras are schooling fish but 6 is about the smallest school you can have and keep them comfortable. I own neons and have nine in my aquarium with 3 more waiting in my QT tank. The more the better with them. They feel safer in bigger schools and look great. Neons are also small fish that stay small, their bioload is light so adding a couple more to that list shouldn't be a problem.
-I'd highly recommend getting female only platys. If not get only males. If you mix males and females you will get little baby platies. Lots and lots of little baby platys, which make more baby platies, and so on and so forth. Platys are livebearers and livebearers make rabbits look celibate. I'll attach some pictures that will help you tell who's who. At the shop just be careful and take your time if you have to sex them, if a female is stressed she may clamp her fins down and look like a male. All females is generally better as they aren't as aggressive towards one another as males can get, but it's hard to get a non-pregnant female platy from a pet store tank. The odds are good that a female from a pet store is already pregnant and they can get pregnant up to six weeks after they leave the store because they can store the male's sperm. So at the end of all that I guess neither option is great, all males relieves you of pregnancy worries but they might fight amongst one another. All females will have them more docile long term but you might still wind up with babies. It's up to you, but if you don't want to keep the babies a female is likely to pop out be prepared to deal with them in some way, either giving them as feeders to another fish keeper or returning them to the store and they'll use them as feeders. It's up to you.
-Corys are like tetras, they like larger schools. 2 To 3 is gonna leave them a bit stressed and you likely won't see them as active and adorable as they could be. Bulking that up to a half dozen would be a good idea. Your bioload on this tank is light and you should be able to handle it no problem. What species of cory do you like, some can get quite a bit larger than others. Don't count on the corys cleaning the tank. They'll eat food that falls to the bottom but they will not clean up all the detrius that falls.
-I'd probably recommend against the Otto. They can be finicky to keep, some will only eat algea and die of starvation once the tank is free of it. Others will learn to eat flake and then only take that. An algae scrubber is your best bet, they aren't that expensive and if you get a magnetic one you don't even have to get your hands wet.

I'd say,
2-3 platys
8-10 neons
5-6 corys
would give you a lively and colorful tank.

Plants will help a little with nitrates but you will still have to do weekly water changes to keep nitrates under control. Two or so plants cannot keep up with the nitrate production of these fish. Having the plants is good, they will out compete algae for nutrients and your fish will love them but don't count on them to avoid water changes. Also what kind of light were you planning on?

Overall you're off to a good start. Much better to do the research up front then get the aquarium and find out only later that you have to change things up a lot to avoid a disaster.

1077 12-10-2008 11:27 AM

:thumbsup: Very informative!

Highland lake13 12-10-2008 09:47 PM

Tyyrlym covered it all

iamntbatman 12-11-2008 10:01 PM

Great advice. The otos also prefer to be in schools, so it would be better to choose either them or the cories. Personally, I would go with the cories. They're much more interesting to watch, plus are much less picky eaters and are much hardier than otos. If you do get the cories, make sure you use a *very* smooth gravel substrate or, ideally, sand. Rough gravel can wear down and injure their barbels.

In addition to the stocking list Tyyrlym suggested, you could also add a single "centerpiece" fish. Some sort of dwarf cichlid would be a great choice. Not only are dwarf cichlids extremely interesting and beautiful, but they would also do wonders with controlling your platy fry population should you have mixed sexes or get pregnant females from the store. If you *do* want to get mixed sexes, get one male and two females. This will give the male two females to harass all day so no fish is constantly stressed, which can lead to illness.

I would do a fishless cycle, then add the fish in the following order:
-Platies first
-Half of the cories, then the other half
-Half of the neons, then the other half
-Dwarf cichlid

That's going from most to least hardy, except for the dwarf cichlid, which should be added last just because it'll be the most aggressive fish in the tank. Good choices for a dwarf cichlid would be an apistogramma, ram, kribensis or nannacara.


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