starting first tank - looking for advise
Hi - I'm getting ready to start my first tank and looking for any advise. I've got a 35 gallon hex, I wouldn't have chose this but my husband had it already. I've got a HOB filter and a 150watt heater (I think I should get a smaller heater though). I plan to use a dark colored sand for substrate. I still need to look into lighting, right now I just have what it came with. I was thinking about putting some sparkling gourami's and some pygmy cory's in it. Maybe some pygmy rasboras once I have it established. I plan to cycle it without fish, once it is cycled add the plants, and then the fish. I thought about starting with swords and frogbit for the plants - but I'm still looking into the plant aspect.
Here are some of the questions I had:
Do I need to use undergravel heating? I'd prefer not to, but I'd rather set it up now if I might need it.
Will the cory's do ok in a planted tank? I read they prefer not so many plants.
The only location the tank will work is slightly drafty - should I stick with the bigger heater?
Is my stocking plan ok, or does anyone have any other ideas?
I am open for suggestions on plants - I want to keep the tank as low tech as possible though.
I thought about mixing some artificial plants with the live if that would make it easier to start. Would that be a good idea?
Any suggestions would be welcome. I have a 2 year old and limited time to research. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed with all the information out there.
I personally love nano fish. I have a 20 long and a 29 gallon with some, including two different species Boraras (pygmy rasboras). Some of my favorite fish. Sizewise with the aquarium you can definitely keep them. I can't really say the stocking is fine without knowing your pH and hardness.
Undergravel heating isn't needed. I've never used it. In fact everyone I've talked to that has said they saw no difference with or without one. That was their opinion, so of course it can vary from person to person. Plenty of people grow plants just fine without.
What kind of light do you have? I've zero experience with hex tanks so don't know if they are a challenge to light or not. Since you want lowtech I'd recommend crypts (they might melt, but will normally grow back), anubias, Java fern, and Java moss. I don't know swords well enough to know how they'd do. I'd avoid stems (depending on your light and the tank height) since most generally require medium light or higher. The one exception to the stems is wisteria if you leave it floating. Amazon frogbit is a great plant. I have to thin it out on a weekly basis. A mix of fake plants and real will work long term and even short term if you want to add live plants slowly.
Find out your pH and hardness for me and I'll be able to rattle off a ton of similar sized fish and show you profiles off the top of my head. lol You might still be overwhelmed though, I might love those fish a bit too much ;)
Yes please give some info about your lighting. Having enough but not too much lighting is crucial to the planted tank. Please give the following info:
- height of the tank
- number of watts per bulb (information printed on the bulb)
- manufacturer and name of bulbs
- how many bulbs
- type of light fixture (enclosure)
A picture with the light on would be very useful. With the information and picture we can hopefully guess at what kinds of plants would work.
When you cycle the tank you can put live plants in immediately with the heater on to 76 or 78 Fahrenheit. They love ammonia.
It's just my opinion but I'd spend the money on live plants instead of plastic ones. Dwarf Cories will be fine.
My cories do fine in my planted tank. And the bonus of having a well planted tank is you don't need to cycle it. Don't overload it with fish either, but you can certainly add some fish shortly after putting your plants in.
You said dark sand, but what kind exactly are you using? I've yet to find a dark sand that's really suitable for cories but would love to!
PS. Is that a lemon tetra in your profile pic? It's awesome whatever it is!!
Thanks to everyone for the help.
My tank is 20" tall
Light is a 20" fluorescent reflector - 1 tube - 19 watts
I had planned on replacing this, just hadn't gotten around to looking into it yet. The tank is acrylic and the top is part of the tank - I have a 15" x 6" opening for access and lighting, and an opening in back for the filter, otherwise it is all black. I have no idea what my options are yet, but I figured I'd have to improve it to have live plants.
I haven't actually bought my sand yet, was going to do it this week. I didn't realize cories needed a specific type - I'll look for the Moon Sand. How deep should it be?
I don't know specifics of my water yet. I used strips to test it once, and I think it was a little on the hard side, I don't remember the pH. I ordered a couple liquid test kits so I'll test it again soon. I thought I needed to bypass the softener when I tested, but someone told me that was wrong. Not sure which way I should do it, makes more sense to me to bypass. I do realize I may have to rethink my fish once I know what I'm working with.
I thought it was better for the plants if I cycled the water first, but that's great if I can add them sooner. I have all the patience in the world getting this going, but my husband has taken an interest now and he isn't as patient. I had kind of figured on getting it cycled and adding plants sometime before Christmas and then adding fish in the spring, I'm in no rush. Planning is a big part of the fun for me. My husband wants fish in it ASAP, he doesn't get all this planning - if it were up to him we'd fill it with water and then go pick out whatever fish looked nice and dump them in.
I will start looking into some of the plants that were mentioned. My goal is to have all live plants, but if I get too overwhelmed I thought I could mix in some artificial and gradually work them out.
Thanks again for all the input.
It should probably be 2"-3" deep.
Eco-complete is another black substrate to avoid with cories.
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