Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Divisible by Waffle 10-01-2009 01:09 PM

10 Gallon Dorm Tank Possibility - Need Advice
 
Hey there, folks. I've been keeping tropical fish for a good portion of my life, but I'm pulling my hair out trying to figure out whether or not I should bring my old 10 gallon to school with me and make my room a little less lonesome. I have a good spot picked out for the tank, but I'm still not sure if I can make this work or not. There are quite a few hurdles to overcome, so I'll get started with the basics:


1.) I live about two hours away from my house. This means:
-The fish will need to be able to survive a two-hour car trip, plus the amount of time it would take me to set their tank back up at home (I'd imagine around 20 minutes), in small containers. Would my envisioned community of 4 female bettas and 3 African dwarf frogs be able to manage this about four times per school year?
-I will need to find suitable containers for the fish, and a stable place to put them. A local burger joint sells 32oz (1/4 gallon) drinks in clear plastic containers with lids - if I get empty containers and clean them thoroughly, how many animals could comfortably I fit in each container for the ride home?
-I will not be able to take all of my tank water with me, meaning that I would lose many of the benefits of a properly cycled tank. Is there any way to make this less harmful on the fish? Would the bacteria harbored in the gravel and the filter be enough? Would saving a gallon of the tank water help?

(NOTE! I am not considering taking this tank home every weekend. I would only transport the tank at the start of the year, at the beginning and end of winter break, and to go home during the summer. I would use a feeder tab for spring break, assuming that ADFs will take to it.)

2.) I used to keep hermit crabs in this tank until I moved them into a 22G. The tank has had EcoEarth substrate sitting in it for awhile - once I get rid of the dirt and sticks, how can I safely sterilize the tank for the fish?

3.) I'd like to get live plants, but I know that most pet stores have snail-infested vegetation for sale. Would snails be suitable to feed to bettas and ADFs? Also, are water sprite, java moss, and java fern good bets for a low-maintenance tank? How about flowering plants? Will the water sprite obstruct the surface for my bettas too much?

4.) How can I dispose of unwanted plant matter (assuming they start overgrowing) without unwittingly introducing harmful species into my area? Are there fish I can buy that will chomp on the vegetation? How about a small species of pleco (not zebra, please, I'm not made of money)?

5.) What sort of lighting is necessary for the plant species I'm looking at? Would a 15 watt bulb do? How about heating, both for the fish and the plants? It gets pretty cold in here during winter.

Please note that I have not bought fish or anything yet. I've only looked into possibilities and tried to conjure up an inexpensive, easy to care for tank that will give me something relaxing and fun to do between studying. Even if your advice amounts to, "Please do not consider taking any animals into your care right now", I'll appreciate it. I'm sure the fish will too. Thanks for reading!

EDIT: I could have sworn I hit the Freshwater Aquariums section. Oh well, I suppose that's what forms have moderators for, right?

MikeyG 10-01-2009 06:58 PM

Well, I'm kind of new myself, so take what I say with a grain of salt..

If you have any ornaments, put them in ziplock bags with some tank water. Maybe even do the same with some of the gravel and your filter media.

I have never kept frogs, but I'm sure each of the bettas would need to be in their own cup...4 in a confined space would make Real Housewives of <insert locale> look like a love-in.:-P

I'll leave the transport questions to those more experienced, but thanks for being conscientious. We have a college near here, and if you go by the river between semesters, you will find lots of college students literally dumping aquariums into the river. It's good that you are more thoughtful than that. :-D

Divisible by Waffle 10-01-2009 07:35 PM

Thanks for the words of advice, Mikey. Next time I go home, I'll have to see if there are enough cupholders in our SUV for each lady to have her own space, or if I'll have to get one of those drink holders and find a way to secure it so the fishes aren't sloshed around too much in transit. I would get normal cups, but I think it would make things a lot simpler and less bumpy if they were securely in the cupholder. It also occurs to me that these fish had to survive what was probably a much more lengthy and stressful trip under far worse conditions to get to the pet store in the first place, but I still want to minimize stress levels and make this as smooth as possible for everyone involved.

I'll also have to get some nice driftwood and other tank ornaments so they can harbor more beneficial bacteria - no bare tank for me!

MikeyG 10-01-2009 07:47 PM

Go to a Starbucks...buy a coffee, ask for 4 empty venti cups and one of those 4-cup holders they give out for large to-go orders. 4 cups, one betta per cup, and you can put them in a box or small cooler for stability, depending on the temp. up there. Also, those coffee lids have holes in them, so that's a plus.

wcugirl 10-03-2009 01:34 PM

As a college student to another college student, I've stressed quite a few times over moving my goldfish back and forth to school. I bagged my fish in ziplock bags about half full of water and air and lined them up in the fish tank to keep them upright as I traveled. I didn't empty the tank entirely, just up to the point my rocks were still damp and I used a beach towel to cover the tank to keep the fish in a dark calming environment. I've had to get rid of most of my tank water simply because I would spill it walking down four flights of stairs (10-gallons are heavy ._.) As for filling the tank back up, I haven't experienced any issues with my fish. I put some dechlorinator in the water and some stress liquid and my fish were fine. My drive back to school from home takes about four hours. I think as long as you have the tank covered and not blasting the music on the side of the car your fish will be in, they'll be fine.
As for plants, I got an amazon fern from walmart. I primmed the plant's bad leaves off and almost cut it back completely. I've had my tank set up at school now for almost two months and the plant seems to be growing back healthier with no alge infested leaves. So far, no snails have popped up. I also got a small common plecto (he's not small anymore), he seems to enjoy hiding around the plant and underneith a decortive rock I got for my tank.
As for lighting, if you live in a dorm, keep the blinds up and open! You get lots of light and it saves energy. At night, I have a small desklamp, it seems to light up the tank and then some.
Here's a picture of my set up:
http://i36.tinypic.com/zno67p.jpg
I hope I helped a little :D

Russell Crowe 10-03-2009 02:12 PM

I have a ten gallon tank in my dorm and was wondering what would be the best way to transport my fish. I like the idea of putting them in starbucks cups and the cup holder. Thanks for the advice.

Divisible by Waffle 10-03-2009 09:10 PM

wcugirl, you do realize that the common plecostomous can grow to be over a foot long, right? And that putting your tank in the sun, while good for your plant, will encourage an algae bloom?

I'm also thinking that the Starbucks cups will work well.

I'm really kind of keen on having either one male betta or a small betta sorority, but I also want to have a community that will, to a certain extent, take care of some of its own waste and algae. I know I'll still need to do water changes, occasional feedings for my scavengers, and weekly tank cleanings, but I can only be so thorough. Will a betta sorority pose a threat to cherry or ghost shrimp, assuming I introduced several of them at their adult size? I would get some cories, but I don't want to overstock my tank; shrimp are much smaller and don't need to school. I also want an algae eater, but I don't know if I can get ahold of a small enough species of pleco - seeing as snails are very dirty, what else could I consider? Ideally, I'd like my tank to have 4-5 female bettas, 2-3 ADFs, some Cherry/Ghost Shrimp, and some sort of lone algae eater. Am I running the risk of overstocking my tank with this configuration? Am I missing anything important?

MikeyG 10-03-2009 09:25 PM

I have had a ghost and a cherry shrimp with a female betta, and she chased him around a bit, but never ate him...if you have a sorority, I'm guessing the might be too busy picking on each other to worry about cherry shrimp. And if you have plants, the cherries might hang out on them like mine did...they didn't want to be betta snacks. Never had frogs, so I cant speak to those.

Divisible by Waffle 10-05-2009 04:47 PM

I was looking up catfish in the genus Otocinclus earlier, and I've found that many pet stores in my area carry them. I took a look in their tanks the other day, and they looked pretty fat and healthy. Would those be suitable for my setup? If I put three of them with all the others, will I be overstocking my tank? Also, would they be able to survive transport? What if I gave them some vegetable matter to eat on the trip to and from home?

MikeyG 10-05-2009 06:48 PM

I'm not the guy to ask about stocking a tank...just ask around :lol:

However, I really doubt the otos need food just for a 2-3 hour car ride, and they would probably be sufficiently freaked to the point of not really eating until a day after the move. I fast my bettas on the weekends (they are greedy, spoiled lil buggers), and I have heard of some people only feeding their fish every other day.


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