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charliebebop 11-17-2010 09:03 AM

My new adopted aquarium
Hi Everyone. I recently got my first tropical fish tank. Iíve always wanted one, but was always hanging on until I could get my dream tank of 500L or more. Well, my friend was leaving the country (the Czech Republic) and needed someone to take over her established tank, as a favour to her. Itís only 75 litres,(80 x 30 x 30 cm) but I figured Iíve been daydreaming for too long now, and half of something is better than half of nothing, right?

Well, I was surprised to find that the tank had no heating, no hood, and only a tiny 11w clip on light for a nano-aquarium. One good thing it does have us a fluval U2 filter. Hereís a pic of it at the moment:
It has a few plants, including a couple of nice anubius nana, and some sagittaria, which, when I got it, had taken over the entire tank. The gravel is a horrible white in about 1cm chunks

Hereís a list of the animals I got with it. Considering these fish have lived without a heater for a year, in an apartment thatís not that warm, they must be hardy buggers:
4 x corydoras 3 Ė 5cm
4 x ancistrus 4 Ė 6cm
1 x yoyo loach 5cm Ė I assume itís a yoyo, but it seems a more yellow/pinky colour than most of the pics Iíve seen. Isnít eating many snails by the look of it.
1 x gold gourami 6cm Ė assume female. Seems very docile Ė havenít ever seen it nip or chase any other fish. Spends most time mid to top
2 x silver tipped tetra
Snails (removing by hand)

Iíve had the tank for about 3 weeks now, everything looks healthy.
Some chemical analysis:
pH ~ 6.8
KH ~ 3
GH ~ 20 Ė 30 (liquid rock!)
NO2 <0.3 mg/l

The Plan

I want to turn this into a beautiful looking, planted community tank, with lots of small, colourful fish. Hereís what I was considering adding, in order of desiribility:

6 Ė 10 cardinal tetras
2 x Fancy Pleco Ė golden nugget and super red ancistrus
1 x Betta male
Algae eating shrimp Ė cherry red then moving on to crystal red when I get a bit more experienced
Bamboo shrimp Ė filter feeder
a bright Killifish
Dwarf or pearl gourami (although one gourami might be enough)

Now, Iím well aware that if I add all this to whatís currently there, Iíll end up with an overstocked tank. Iím thinking of giving away some of the fish that are currently in there, particularly the tetras and ancistrus. I was originally thinking to lose the corys as well, but theyíve utterly charmed me . What Iím really coming to this forum and asking your advice on is species mixes Ė what I have and what I want, and any clashes. For example, will my gourami give the betta a hard time? Will my seemingly lazy (not eating snails) loach munch on the shrimps? Any advice greatly appreciated

Already on order:
Hood with 2 x 15w bulbs
Variety of plants incl. mosses
Tetra complete substrate + black 1-2mm gravel
100W heater

Apologies for length, and thank you very much in advance. Hope to be posting a lot with questions and my progress :)

Goldfish 11-17-2010 09:34 AM

I don't have a lot to tell you, for I am unexperienced in some of those fish, but with the Gourami:
I own a tank with three Gourami.
BAD IDEA. Gourami should be kept singly in a tank. They tend to quarrel if kept in groups.
Bettas should not be kept with Gourami, either.

That's just a little input. I hope someone with more knowledge regading those fish comes along to help further.


charliebebop 11-17-2010 01:10 PM

I take on board what you say about the other gouramis, and I won't go with that, but I do really want a betta. I'm pretty sure mine is female, and it hasn't shown any kind of aggressive behaviour in the 3 weeks I've had it.

Do you think I could try it? Or is it not worth risking and I should just decide one or the other?

tanker 11-18-2010 02:17 AM

I would not add a male betta to that tank. If you want a betta, get a small tank for him to live on his own.

charliebebop 11-18-2010 03:18 AM

OK, no male betta in this tank :)

charliebebop 11-18-2010 04:16 AM

Think I can add 1 dwarf gourami without too many issues? If not, can you think of any other colourful fish I can add for the mid/upper regions? Killifish maybe? I'm definitely going to get the cardinal tetras, thinking of something else

Byron 11-18-2010 11:41 AM

First thing, a hearty welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum. Glad you joined.

Now, to your questions. I agree with previous members on the Betta and gourami. I myself do not consider Betta a good community fish; they deserve their own space. Gourami can be problematic, especially the common (larger) species. We have fish profiles here, second tab from the left in the blue bar across the top [or if the name is shaded in posts you can click on it to see that profile], and each contains information on tank size, number of fish, water parameters, etc. If you check out the profiles of the gourami species (Dwarf Gourami, Pearl Gourami, etc) you will see why they have problems.

Mentioning water parameters: GH of 20-30 I assume is dGH and not ppm? This is indeed hard, and will cause some issues for fish like cardinal tetra which need very soft water or they can develop internal problems as mentioned in our profile of this fish. However, as you are in the Czech Republic, you should have access to tank-raised cardinals that have been available there for years. But I caution that they may still have specific water needs, I've no experience with these tank-raised fish so can't say. You can however soften water by adding partial RO (reverse osmosis) water, rainwater or distilled water. We can discuss this if you ask.

You are on the right track with what you've ordered. There is a series of articles entitled "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium" at the head of the Aquarium Plants section you might want to read through. All I'll say here is on the light; depending what bulbs come with it, you may need to replace them, but that is not expensive. A natural daylight bulb with a Kelvin rating around 6500K works best. I am assuming this is an incandescent fixture (screw-in bulbs as opposed to Fluorescent tubes) so the Compact Fluorescent bulbs are ideal over planted tanks, ones with the specs mentioned. They have natural daylight colour rendition, provide what plants need in light, and produce very little heat, plus they are energy efficient.

On the pleco, one Ancistrus in this size tank is sufficient; they need algae and wood (real wood), and there will be insufficient algae for more than one. But more importantly, although peaceful and fairly small, more than one can lead to squabbles between males esp in small tanks like this one. Again, check our profile info.

Loaches are highly social fish and really must be in groups. However, a 75 litre/23 gallon tank is not sufficient for a group of the Yoyo loach that attain 6 inches; and given this, I would seriously consider removing the loach. It is lonely, and it will get too large for this aquarium and undoubtedly have health problems due to both these issues. If you like loaches, the dwarf loach or the banded dwarf loach would be ideal in a group of 5-6; these too are in our profiles.

This should start things off.


charliebebop 11-19-2010 09:44 AM

Thank you Byron, that's most informative.

OK, the good news is I found a really good LFS yesterday (most of the places here are chain stores and not great). He's willing to swap out some of my fish so I can take others. So here's what I'm thinking of giving away:
All ancistrus
Yoyo loach
Gold Gourami

and I'll get:

school of Cardinal Tetras (6-10)
1 x Dwarf gourami
1 x ancistrus super red
1 x small 'striped' pleco (hypancistrus or peckoltia)

From the reading I've done the striped plecos available aren't great algae eaters, so shouldn't compete with the ancistrus

The only thing is that he won't take the silver tipped tetra - I'm hoping he'll get adopted into the cardinal school

On the water hardness, to be honest I'm thinking I might just have to live with it. I've seen a few solutions but none of them look ideal. The tetras I saw at this LFS were all pretty well nourished, unlike the ones I've seen at others. I'll ask him if they're locally bred. if so, they should be acclimatised to the water round here.

One other question - in the fish profile for cardinal tetras, it says they prefer low current. However I've seen on other sources that more current will encourage schooling behaviour, and make them happier. As the current is adjustable on my filter, should I try experimenting?

As for the light, I chose a hood with 2 x T8 tube holders. I realise it's not ideal, but I've chosen most plants accordingly, and I'll experiment with a few others. I might swap the tubes out for some of these ones I've seen at the LFS with specific plant growth wavelengths, that's about as much as I can do with that I think.

Thanks for all the replies guys

Byron 11-19-2010 12:16 PM

One comment on the ancistrus and pleco; aside from the algae issue, the males of these fish are territorial, and in a relatively small space like a 20g there could be "arguments." I've not personally kept these two species together so have no first-hand experience, so I mention it as a caution. Were it me, I would select one "pleco" for such a small space.

To the issue of water current. The natural habitat of a fish species tells us a great deal about what it "prefers" and providing this is a major step to better health for the fish. Paracheirodon axelrodi occur in very dark, slow flowing streams and flooded forest. They do not like overhead light, nor do they like currents. I do have personal experience on this which supports what the ichthyologists have said on both counts.

In my 115g Amazonian Riverscape [photos under "Aquariums" below my name on the left] I have a shoal of this fish. If you look at the photos, you will see fairly thick vegetation in this tank, large Echinodorus bleherae, E. cordifolia and one of the pygmy chain sword species prob E. quadricostatus. The tank is five feet in length, with the filter outflow on the left side, positioned about one foot from the end wall and directed into the end wall, producing a moderate current for about 1.5 feet out from the wall. The rest of the tank has scarcely any flow, just very minimal, toward the filter intake at the far rear right corner. This flow is not enough to move the plants and a falling flake will cascade down to the bottom in a straight line, so there is very little water movement horizontally. The cardinals always remain in the right half of the aquarium, in the lower half of the water column, among the plants. They only surface to feed. They never, and I do mean never, swim to the left side where the current is stronger. Neither do the rummynose, both species Hemigrammus bleheri and Petitella georgiae. By contrast, the Pristella maxillaris are always at the left side, facing the current. Among the several Corydoras species in this tank, I see similar divisions; some such as Corydoras duplicareus remain on the substrate at the far left, day and night, while some other species remain mid-tank. C. duplicareus is a species that occurs in a stream with a moderate current.

Given the choice, these fish show their "preferences" very clearly. I wrote the majority of the freshwater profiles on this forum, and I incorporate the concensus of the ichthyologists and scientists from my extensive research. Ichthyologists tell us that stress occurs when a fish is placed in an environment that is not to its preference. My belief is that we should provide the best representation of the fish's natural habitat as we can, to best prevent additional stress. Sometimes the effect of this is not noticeable; fish in a less-than-optimum environment may still have the appearance that all is well; but how do we know it is? We don't. A shorter lifespan is probably one clue that something in the environment was not to the fish's liking.

Paracheirodon axelrodi clearly has what Baensch called a light phobia. The fish without question prefers dimly-lit tanks with minimal or no water flow. What has been programmed into the fish species through thousands and millions of years of evolution is not likely to change quickly, even though tank raised. Cardinals also develop calcium blockages of the kidneys in hard water. There is no outward sign, the fish simply don't live the normal 10+ years, as the late Dr. Jacques Gery demonstrated.


charliebebop 11-21-2010 04:36 AM

Thank you Byron. I certainly do want to give the most comfortable environment for my fish possible. My filter has a diffused setting, so restricting the current shouldn't be a problem. The light in my new tank will only be 36W, and I was planning on putting some floating plants in too.

Also, I just tested water straight out of the tap, and got a much lower reading for GH (~10d), suggesting there's something in the tank buffering the GH. As I'm replacing all decorations except the wood over the next few days, I think this is a good thing.

So, just a couple of questions:

1) If I'm going to be reducing the current and therefore surface agitation, and adding floating plants and surface area, do I need to worry about the oxygen content of the water?

2) As mentioned, this tank has no heater at the moment (currently 20C). One should be arriving tomorrow. How would you recommend I increase the temp? A degree every day up to 26 maybe?

3) Speaking to the LFS, they refuse to sell the dwarf gourami in anything less than a matched pair, which, reading up, I take as another good sign that they are a responsible dealer. After exchanging with him, this is what I am thinking of having:

8 x Cardinal Tetras
4 x Cory
1 x silver tipped tetra
1 x ancistrus super red
2 x dwarf gourami

which works out about 60cm of fish in a 72l tank

Is this on OK mix in your opinion? Would it be overstocked? I'm quite disciplined with NO2 tests and water changes

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