Help planting new 35 gal hex with fish scheme
I have a new aquarium and am new to fish keeping. I have had it about a week and a half and have pretty well decided on a stocking scheme.
1 Rubber nose pleco
4-6 corydoras or khuli loaches
I have two main areas of question. I have some strait vallis and another plant that has a fleshy stem and small leaves close to the stem coming off it, both in the back. I have two pieces of slate and large pepples for the gravel. Should I change the 'gravel'?
Is the current light that came with the tank ok? It is 150 watt 16in I believe.
The tank dimensions are ~22in height, 10in panals, 18in side to side, 20.5in corner to corner, and I believe 260sq in surface area/base.
I am interested in places for the fry to swim as well as hiding for the fish but also in aesthetics for a good planted aquarium. I have a HOB filter that is just charcoal and mesh I think. What plants should I be looking at? I used to have a java fern, and I like the look of pellia, hornwort, and anubias nana. I want a mostly complete planted aquarium but would like to avoid having to buy expensive lighting or a CO2 infuser. Is it difficult to change the gravel? Will this be detrimental to the fish I currently have? Will it set back my cycling? Will having these bottom dwellers be a problem with a planted aquarium? Low maitanance plants preferred. I really like the look of some of the mosses such as christmas and flame moss.
I have been doing regular water changes and testing the water with no problems so far. Right now I have 2 black sword tails, 2 red sword tails, 2 creamsickle mollies, the rubber nose pleco. 1 male and 1 female of each. I know this isn't ideal but it was a mistake and so far they are getting along. I am using the water condioner that includes bio start bacteria and feeding algea discs for the pleco and color enhancing flakes for the fish. Thanks for any help.
Oh and had my water tested at the store this morning as not sure my strips were accurate, did a water change 2 days ago I think. Went from 2 to 6 fish 2 days ago. Set up aquarium on the 12th.
PH - 7.4
Ammonia - 0.4-0.5
Phosphate - 0 - 0.5
Alkalinity - 80
If this tank has only been set up a week and a half, it has not cycled. The cycling process takes anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks (varies depending upon all sorts of things in your tank). Do not add any more fish; I can almost guarantee losing some of them if you do.
The ammonia reading indicates you are in the first stage of three in the cycling; the ammonia will drop down to "0" within a few days, during which the nitrite will rise and then drop to "0" in another few days. Once you have readings of "0" for both ammonia and nitrite for several days in succession, the tank can be considered cycled for the bioload (fish, plants, etc) in it now. Then you can add a few fish but slowly, one or two at a time, waiting a few days between each addition so the bacteria can multiply to handle the increased bioload.
Using the biostart is good; it may have saved your fish. Test strips are not reliable, you should get a good liquid test kit; API make one that many others on here (along with me) recommend, it contains tests for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH which are the most important tests.
Re the plants, with a pH of 7.4 you should be OK, and your light should be adequate, but are you sure it is 150 watts? What type of light is it? May have more suggestions when you answer these questions. No need for CO2 with your setup and the plants you intend to have; it would be a waste of money and needless bother for nothing. But we need to sort out the light issue.
It isn't important at this stage (first we need to cycle your tank) but as for the fry, java moss and floating plants are the best ways for providing hiding places. Stem plants like cabomba, pennywort, hygrophila can be allowed to float, or plants like Ceratopteris (floating fern or water sprite) are good choices.
On the gravel, can you send a photo of the tank? Rooted plants prefer smaller-grain gravel, and changing it will affect the cycling, but as you are at the first stage it is better to do it now than later.
My test strips were fairly close to what the liquid test in the store came up with except the ammonia strip. The color my ammonia strip shows is grayish and the chart goes from orange to green lol.
My light is actually a 16 watt and on the back of the fixture it says 150 watt. I have attached a photo of the fixture if it isn't too blurry to read.
I have a piece of dead coral in the water which I am about to take out as soon as I change some of the water. I also think I am going to exchange the mollies for 2 more female sword tails to avoid future aggression.
On the light, the photo says it is 16 inches (that is the fluorescent tube size, good to know when you buy new tubes) and 40watts so that is OK. You will have plenty of light for the plants I mentioned. I think the Vallisneria will have difficulty rooting in your pebble gravel, so if plants are your desire I would recommend changing the gravel to the smallest-grain size; your aquarium store will undoubtedly have this, in perhaps several colour options. Buying the commercial bags will be more expensive than buying what you need in bulk. You want enough to give you 3 inches of substrate, plus some extra to use for building up a small terrace with the rock or whatever you might like. Natural gravel (buff/beige/brown colour) looks good with plants, as do darker (black/grey) gravels. The choice is yours. Personally I would avoid bright colours or anything white; it detracts from the plants, and some believe fish are less calm with white substrates (which does make sense, considering most natural biotopes). Make sure it is regular aquarium gravel, not a calcium-based gravel like coral or dolomite that will add hardness and raise the pH. I'm assuming your tap water is around pH 7.4 like the tank, so that is fine for livebearers and plants like Vallisneria, and the others will adapt OK.
If you're going to return the mollies perhaps the store will take them now if you agree to buy something else later. I would not add any more fish until your tank is cycled, up to 6 weeks from now. If you change the gravel, don't clean the filter as the bacteria will have started to colonize it. Add some "Cycle" or "Stress Zyme" to the water, it is a bacterial supplement that quick-starts the cycle and does ease fish stress. It will work with your water conditioner.
Im at work now so I cant check but I think the bulb is like 15 watts but the fixture says 40 on the back. I took the mollies back and got another two female swordtails. I took my coral out and added a small bag of small pebbles to the large gravel. Im scheduled to add the biostart in 2 more days.
swordtails will breed wont they? a spong might be good for your filter if you want fry
My issue is that the filter I got with the aquarium is a top fin 40 HOB. I was told that tetra bought them out and the tetra filter does fit. It slides into the filter and is white with carcoal inside. Ive not seen a sponge or other type of filter media for this type of filter. Is there one? I think circulation is good now but should I invest into a new filter?
OH no, i meant fit a sponge onto your intake to reduce the suction rate and prevent fry from getting sucked up intot he filter.
Oh that makes sense. There is actually a knob that I can turn to reduce the opning for the water but A sponge seems better for fy. Thanks
I was told today that I should have something like 2 or 3 watts per gallon of water, perhaps more since I have a taller hex tank. I don't think I can do a metal halide hanging light and not sure I'd be comfortable with the heat level and kids in the house anyway. A salesperson that seemed very knowledgable and helpful, at a non chain store, told me that coralife used to make some sort of fixture that affixed on the back of that tank and hung over like a desk lamp that would work well for me, a metal halide I believe. He said he has been working at this store for 12 years. He also mentioned some sort of powerstation or something like that that has several lights or leds in it that may work for me. I am mainly worried about the Anacharis and Vallis having enough light and I want a flourishing plant system in my tank. Does anyone have any suggestions preferably not costing a few hundred dollars? I did order some moss, java fern, Anubias pygmy nana, and water wisteria. Also I read the wisteria will not do really well if it lacks light. He also said adding a second light fixture of the same type would not help any.
The current bulb I have is a 14Watt, aqua glo, 15 inch, 30 lux, 18,000k.
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