Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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shootingstar26 02-27-2010 10:50 PM

Question about aquarium setup
Hey forum

So I have had an 18 gal Eclipse aquarium for a couple years now, but I didn't completely thoroughly research it as I should have (I was too young/excited to have been able to get one that I didn't even think about the different facets of information I needed) and now I am struggling to attain as much knowledge as I can because so far, I think I have been doing everything wrong (or in the least efficient matter). I'm going to try and give as complete information as I can.

Filter: It's worked into the top of the tank. It has one inlet and goes over a carbon pad, and through a "biowheel" and flows back into the tank.

Lighting: 1 regular fluorescent bulb and a "Coral Life : Nutrigrow" for my plants.

Substrate: Just gravel. It's not fine gravel, but it doesn't look as big as some of the others I've seen.

Fish: 1xRosybarb,1xCongo Tetra, 1xAlbino Barb, 1xBetta 1xCory, 2xsmall snails.

Plants: Elodea (Pondweed, I think it is) and....I don't know what the other is. I have it in my picture, on the left. The other I think is a type of sword, but it lost all its leaves and I'm hoping it "comes back." You can't see it in my picture.

Other: 2xshells, 2xrocks, 1xwood piece thingy (< It has some white/red dots on it. Should I be concerned?)

Maintaince: Once a week I do a ~25% water change; Check pH.

I recently came into contact with a more experienced hobbyist and he suggested that I take the pH as well. As of today, the pH is still =/>7.6 (which I know is bad now, I'm treating it still.) It was because of this more experienced person that I realized I probably don't know what I'm doing, and I am eager to do things the right way.

I appreciate your help.:-)

philipboucharddavies 02-28-2010 01:00 AM

Alright i can point out a few problems here:
1. Everythin but the betta there are schooling fish that should be kept in groups of a least six if not more and you keeping them all alone is really bad for them and they will not live to there expectancy.
2. DO NOT mess with pH just let it be fish can adapt to it but if you try to alter it with chemicals it will not be stable and the swings are bad for your fish. A stable pH is better than the exact pH a fish needs.
3. Get rid of the carbon filter media its really bad for your plants, only use them after you medicate a tank to remove the chemicals.

thats all i got

Phil :)

iamntbatman 02-28-2010 03:53 AM

Well, if the carbon hasn't been changed ever or even recently, it's probably not removing anything anymore so I don't think you need to worry about it eating up nutrients for your plants. That, plus it's probably pretty heavily colonized with beneficial bacteria at this point, so it's probably better just to leave it be.

Can you get us an accurate pH reading? Hardness would be good to know, too. I ask for the "accurate" pH reading because you suggested it might be greater than 7.6 (some "standard" range pH tests max out at 7.6 so it could be a great deal higher). The shells in your tank are likely increasing your hardness and pH, so getting these numbers from your tap water would be good to know, too.

I agree with what was said about your fish. All of them except for the betta are schooling fish that should be in groups of at least six. Is your "albino barb" an albino tiger barb? I hate to break it to you, but the barbs and tetra are all varieties that get pretty big and need more space than your tank can provide. The albino, if it is a tiger barb, will also get quite nippy and might harass and nip at your betta. The betta is definitely fine in a tank that size and so are the cories. As long as your gravel is relatively smooth, a group of six or eight cories, the betta and a decent sized school of tetras (plus the snails you've got) would make for a really nice tank. In short, I think you should try to return the congo tetra and barbs, get more cories and round out your stocking with fish that can live comfortably in your tank (there are tons of schooling fish that fit the bill: all sorts of tetras, some of the smaller barbs, rasboras, etc.).

Can you get a close-up of the spots on your driftwood? That would help figure out what those spots are. Nice looking piece of driftwood, btw. Also, did you buy your gravel like that from the store, or did you mix different kinds to get that effect? Looks pretty cool.

JohnnyD44 02-28-2010 08:48 AM

+1 on everything said so far....I would return the congo if you can as well as the lone barbs and pick up anywhere from 5-7 more corries....trying to keep the same species if you can...

I agree on leaving the pad in there, that carbon is probably long-gone as far as removing nutrients, so let it be...

Another plus on not messing with the pH, overtime trying to alter your pH will cost a lot of money and more importantly will add stress to your fish

The other thing I noticed was your HOB with plants....unless you can keep your tank completely filled the HOB will create surface disruption and release oxygen which you plants need....something to consider.

I would pick up a group of smaller shoaling fish that you like....keeping your natural pH in mind as well as your water hardness....

philipboucharddavies 02-28-2010 11:54 AM

Some nice fish you could consider for schooling are;

Tetras: Neon tetras, Black neon tetra(Dont get confused its not the same species as the neon tetra), Lemon tetras, Flame tetras, Glowlight tetras, Rummy nose tetras

Other: White cloud mountain minnow, Harlequin rasbora(or any other of the smaller species), Zebra Danios, Pearl danios

Hope this helps a little,

Phil :)

shootingstar26 02-28-2010 09:54 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Thank you all for your advice =]

@iamthebatman I didn't buy the gravel like that, I combined black gravel and the natural light one. I also think it came out rather well.

I'm really disappointed with the Congo Tetra and Albino Barb. I thought they were really nice, and wanted to keep them. But if it won't work, it won't work. I wouldn't mind more cories, I'm growing fond of the one I have, haha. What about the rosybarb? Is that going to be okay?

My tap water is also =/>7.6. I don't know how to get a more accurate reading, it only goes up to "7.6." :-? Is this okay for my fish/plants? They'll live?

Also, I was actually expecting more criticism about the plants. Are they find where they are; they only have gravel...? What's a HOB?

Here is the best pics I could get with my crappy photo-taking...uh, how do I put them directly in this post? I only figured out how to attach them...

what about sunset mollies (I think that's what they're called)or gouramis? What's "hardness" and how do I measure it? I took the shells and driftwood out, the shells because of what was said and the wood because it had those weird bumps on it.

I wanted to get more plants, and I was wondering if any of these would work:
Elatrine traiandra
Ledwigia repens
Anubias spp.
Cryptocoryne spp.
Echinodorus spp.
Vallisneria spiralis
(I'm probably going to get this for sure)
Aponogeton elongatus
Lemma minor
Java Fern
Java Moss (< I'd actually really like to get this)

I appreciate you sharing your knowledge. :-D

shootingstar26 02-28-2010 10:14 PM

Oops...I think I missed a few points:

@philipboucharddavies: thanks for the suggestions! I was going to ask for some, but then you posted x]

Carbon pad: I haven't changed it recently, and my hobbyist friend advised I add another carbon pad on top (it was at about the same time so none of them have been changed recently) so I can only change one while keeping up a bacteria colony. Is the second unecessary then?

pH: Yes iamthebatman, as you said my pH indicator only goes up to 7.6 - and thanks for the compliments on the gravel and driftwood, I'm glad to see something looks right. =P

Albino Barb: Yes it's an albino tiger barb - but the barb, tetra, and betta all seem to be taking turns chasing one another...

last question (at least for now): What's "shoaling" fish?

sorry if my questions are novice. I try to learn everything I can to make the most of my aquarium.

PaperclipGirl 03-01-2010 01:26 AM

Please someone correct me if I'm wrong here but I think -

Shoaling is a schooling fish that like to school with its own kind i.e. alphabet tetras will only school with alphabet tetras, and not with other schooling fish like numerical tetras.

I have 2 congo tetras and have found that other congos are hard to find, so I asked why not just buy another group of tetras for them to hang with, and the LFS guy told me that congos only like congos, so buying cardinals wouldn't make the congos happier as they wouldn't school together even though they are both "tetras"

Does that make sense or have I made things clear as mud?

iamntbatman 03-01-2010 02:51 AM

I have no idea what that stuff is on your driftwood. If I had to guess I'd say it's likely just some sort of fungus. You can probably just take the wood out and clean it with a brush but you could also boil it just to be sure.

PaperClipGirl's right about the shoaling. Basically, some fish are designated as "shoaling" or "schooling" fish which means that they require the safety of a group in order to thrive. Without a group, the fish are constantly stressed out and stressed fish are much more prone to disease than happy fish. The effects are more pronounced in some species than others but generally you really only want to keep schooling fish if you've got room for an appropriate sized school.

Here's the breakdown, basically: Congo tetras can get to four inches long and as you've observed, can be very active swimmers. A group of six of them really needs at least 36" inches of swimming room, with 48" being preferable. Same goes for rosy barbs but these get even larger, at around 5" for adults. Tiger barbs stay smaller than these (maxing out at about 2.5-3") but are very active swimmers. Tigers are also notorious for their "wolf pack" behavior; the fish will establish a pecking order and have sort of a chain of command for aggression. They need a large school (some say 18+ fish are needed) to prevent one particular fish from being the "target" and getting killed, so a big tank is needed for them. That, plus they'll nip at other species, especially those with long, flowing fins like your betta.

Hardness is basically a measure of the dissolved mineral content in your water. Usually a high pH is associated with hard water but it's not always the case. If you can, I'd get your tank and tap water tested for pH and hardness by a LFS (local fish store). Since your test kit maxes out at a pH of 7.6 it could be much higher than this in reality, so knowing what it actually is is important.

The other fish you mentioned: mollies are usually pretty well-mannered community fish so they might work, but sometimes you get misbehaved ones so be prepared to take fish back if you get one that annoys your other fish. I wouldn't get a gourami as they're closely related to your betta and anabantids in general are very territorial and prone to fighting with one another. I think you should wait for your water chemistry results to come in before choosing fish, though, as there are species you should definitely avoid pending your water parameters.

As for the plants, the one on the right looks like anacharis and the one on the left does look like some type of sword. Anacharis is a pretty easy plant so that should be fine as-is. You might want to buy some root tabs to stick under the sword's roots as swords are heavy root feeders. You might want to PM Byron and bring his attention to this thread so he can ID the plants for you and give advice on the other species you mentioned (I do know that anubias, java fern, java moss and some of the crypts are fairly easy plants to grow).

HOB = "hang on back" filter. They're also referred to as "power filters." These are a common type of filter that sucks water up through an intake tube, passes it through filter pads and then pours it back out into the tank in a waterfall. The filter built into the hood of your eclipse is basically an HOB filter even though it doesn't technically hang on the back.

Byron 03-01-2010 02:52 PM

Just joining this thread at shootingstar26's request. Previous responders have covered the fish issues, so I can get to the plants. I agree with the prior suggestions that before you decide on fish, find out the water parameters (pH, hardness). Most fish stores will test your tap water. We need to know the exact numbers for pH, GH (general hardness) and KH (carbonate hardness) if they will test these.

The plant on the left may be Echinodorus angustifolius, a species of sword plant from southern Brazil. Would it be possible for you to take a photo of the entire plant, down to the gravel? The rock in front is obscuring the lower portion.

Gravel is fine for planted tanks, no issue there. You will need some liquid fertilizer though, to provide all the mineral nutrients plants need. I recommend any one of these three:
Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planted Aquarium
Kent Freshwater Plant
Nutrafin's Plant-Gro
Whichever you decide to buy, follow the directions on the label; once a week will probably be sufficient. Make sure you get exactly the names above, as all three manufacturers make several plant products and these I've named are the best general fertilizers for your type of aquarium.

I'd like to hold off on the plant list until we know your water parameters and a better idea of possible fish. Plants are generally quite adaptable, though some are more fussy over water hardness, but they should complement the fish. And as has been pointed out, the original mix of fish has some non-compatible species, and some are better in basic water or acidic water than others.

Post the water test numbers when you have them, and we'll continue.


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