Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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nomel 07-20-2009 05:59 PM

Hello! Finally registered...
Hello! Got some advice, ignored some advice, overall very helpful forum!

And now the fish stuff...I have:

20 gallons (plus about 2 gallons in sump)...the largest I can have in my apartment without getting renters insurance.

4" thick mechanical filter (bulk filter material), lots of activated carbon (bulk), 4" thick biological trickle filter resembling plastic pvc hay (bulk, and seemed to have a lot more area/volume and volume/dollar than those stupid bioballs). 80gph pump (that's including the 4ft rise up to the tank), with filter material to diffuse the flow into the tank. It's all housed in three, stacked, plastic containers sitting in one large one (in case overflow). Have a surface siphon to keep the top layer clean (since no perturbations). All together, clears the water in about an hour no matter how stirred up! Nice benefit of high flow is, if I need to clean the bottom, I just leave the diffuser off for a few hours to stir everything up into the intake.

I chose sump setup because I have one hose into the tank, and two out (using siphon system) ugly intake shafts or heater wires (it's in the sump). Also, dirt cheap to make.

I try not to rinse the mechanical filter very often (top layer once every months so far), since I figure the total load I give my system should be the total load I want it to handle (including food)! Also, I figure that the extra material means more bacteria, so any change in bio load from feeding or adding fish will result in a smaller % change in the total load. Interestingly, last time I did clean it, I found many little worms living between the topmost coarse filter and finer filter in a layer of fresh smelling (like from a garden) substance that looked like, and I assume was, dirt! Mmmm...micocosms.
Haven't had a fish loss or need for medication since making the filter about 4 months ago......except one neon got sucked in when the intake guard fell off. :shock:

With the powerhead I had before, I would lose a fish every time I added one beyond about 5 fish. This was after waiting weeks between tries in a several month old system! It came with the tank and had about 1/3 ft^2 of biological and mechanical filter area (about 1/4 inch thick material for both). Terrible terrible thing with a pathetic flow.

Tested the water quality yesterday before a partial water change (last was 3 weeks ago)...readings are all great right now (except the pH is a tad high from the sand and our crappy water supply...but at least stable).


By size:
  • 1 featherfin catfish
  • 2 silver dollar
  • 1 ghost knife
  • 1 horsehead catfish
  • 1 minnow (wow...a spaz that grew a lot from his 25 cent feeder size).
  • 1 female crab (just added saturday...will see how it works out)
  • 1 small pleco (and I thought he'd keep the walls spotless!)
  • 4 clams from a local lake (keep the sand substrate mixed very well, and more filter!)
  • 3 neon tetras (i'm sure they're first on the knife fish's menu)

Everyone is healthy looking and active with nice looking fins.
And no, I wont add anymore fish. And I know, I'll have to somehow reduce my fish count or get a bigger tank once some of these fish grow (knife fish!!!). And I know, I'm physically overstocked...but there isn't any nipping or territorial aggression that I've seen...and the filter seems to be able to handle the bioload...and, for crowding, many of the creatures aren't in the swimming area often or at all.

Three broad leaf plants. A few Java moss balls. Few short strands of...don't know the name...anacharis? All fairly sparse compared to some of your tanks though.

The plants seem to grow ok, but grow *much* better when I put a bright light at the side of the tank to supplement the crappy hood lamp (really just need a new hood).

I'll add as many as I can...doubt I can include much more with the surface area and pH (as it is) desire for co2.

Medium grain sand that does contain crushed shells which keeps my pH on the higher end unfortunately. I'm sure the crab will love this, but I'll probably change this out slowly.

Everyone gets along fine...with the exception that the minnow and pleco seem to chase each other for 6 inches or so whenever they get close.
The knife fish hangs out with the featherfin who mostly chills between the plants and rock.

I feed them once per day...not all that much. I figure in the wild they *can't* get as much food as the food bottles say they get...come much feed they can eat in two to three minutes, twice a day!? I mix it up between flakes/pellets, an algae wafer, or a small cube of blood worms. Just one of those choices, once per day, not too much.

Not sure if this was ideal, but before adding a fish, I would always ramp up feeding and overfeed slightly for about a week to try to get the system ready for a new fish. After adding the fish, I would return to normal feeding. Total stress was probably the same for the existing fish, maybe better for the new. *shrug*.

So far:
It's been fun and sometimes sad. But biggest thing I've learned is, WOW, a nice filter sure helps keep the fish alive and disease free!

I'll put pictures up sometime. Nothing beyond the ordinary though. Won't be able to see a large portion of the creatures in the picture. :-)

And, as a word of caution, if you put a decorative head of lettuce ( looked nice!) into your tank with a dwarf gourami...he'll make a little abode in the heart of that head of eating it death. :cry:

nomel 07-20-2009 06:25 PM

One more thing...
Forgot to mention, any advice, comments, or disagreement is *gladly* taken. I'm doing this to learn and have fun, mistakes are an obvious part! :-P

I suspect the first thing someone will mention is the crab...unfortunately, I bought it before looking at the care requirements, assuming it was freshwater since it was in a freshwater tank. Asking about any special care needs resulted in a blank face from the sales person. :-\

nomel 07-20-2009 06:30 PM

One more thing...
double posted...oops.

Amphitrite 07-21-2009 04:43 PM

Hello nomel, welcome to FishForum :-)

willow 07-26-2009 08:11 AM

hello and welcome. :)

Twistersmom 07-26-2009 10:00 AM

Hello & welcome to the forum.

southafrica1001 07-26-2009 10:28 AM

Hey and welcome to the forum =D Good luck with the tank C=

aunt kymmie 07-26-2009 10:26 PM

Welcome to the forum. Would love to see pics, when you can. :-)

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