Planning for a 20 gallon
So my girlfriend and I are about to move (hooray!) and I am planning on installing a much larger tank. Space is not unlimited though so I'm thinking a 20 gallon should work out best.
Obviously I won't know what the tapwater is like until I move, but I will still have access to the water where we are currently living, which is darn near perfect being minimally processed spring water (chlorine is present due to state mandates but is usually very minimal).
My dilemma is what to do! There are so many choices, and I'm currently like a kid in a candy store :-P
Things I am set on:
1. Planted. I love the look of natural plants and they allow me to skip the cycling process, so plants are going to be required. But what kind? In my dearly departed betta's tank I have a java fern and as it is still thriving I will probably transfer it to the new tank, but beyond that I have no idea. Maybe some betta bulbs?
2. Schools of smaller fish. I'd prefer to have a bunch of smaller fish rather than one or two larger fish. But at the moment I have no idea what kind of fish to get, everytime I see another kind of fish I go "Oh I want that one!" :-D
I do like a lot of the tetras and platys I'v seen, as well as a number of the catfish I've seen if that helps.
Anyone have some suggestions? I'd prefer fish that don't require constant observation, so aggressive species are out. I work full time so I'm usually only home at night and on the weekends (another reason for the 20 gallon, less maintenance for me).
Also how does everyone handle water changes and maintenance in a larger tank? With my betta it was easy enough to just scoop him out and put him in a cup of water while I did the water changes, but scooping out a school of fish seems like a much more daunting task, not to mention the fact that you can't just put them into a cup of water.
Also this will be my first large tank, any other things I should be aware of?
Oh yes forgot to list the water parameters from where I currently live as this water is way better than any city water
Lead and copper are both extremely low. (<.005 mg/l) Sodium is 10 mg/l and hardness is 33 mg/l.
Everything else was insignificant or not detected.
Best thing is check out the fish profiles (tabs on top). I think that is soft water. So you want a soft water fish that be in ph 7.5. Check out flame tetra (von rio) or zebra danios. They are small and would be able to fit many in your tank. I believe both don't mind that type of water.
edit: and a reason to check the profiles. I read the flame and it says ph below 7 is needed.
I was actually considering the Tetra and Danio mix. Probably going to start hitting up my local pet stores to see what they have in stock and go from there.
Anyone have experience buying live plants online? One thing my local stores are lacking is a decent selection of plants (or at least they were last time I shopped for plants)
You have a lot more options with soft water verses hard (which means guppies are out though). Bloodfin Tetras are nice looking. Dont know their water requirements off hand though.
If you go with danios, the long finned zebras are beautiful, but if you like them be causious of any tetra and make sure they arent fin nippers.
Have you thought of some smaller cories for the bottom? Albino, or even habrosus? I think Pandas would work in soft water too.
Or maybe some sparkling gourami? A shoal of 6 would look great, and you would still have room left.
Neon tetra? African Dwarf Frog? Dwarf Gourami? Honey Sunset Gourami? Dwarf Loach? Rasbora? GloFish?
Just ideas! I know what you are going through, I am about to set up a 15 gal, and debating on what to add. I mean, I will be transfering fish from my 5 gal (betta, frog, and snail...otos to my 29 gal), and will be adding the neons from the 29 gal...but that still leaves me a nice amount of room to work...just have to think about what else my betta will tolerate (thankfully he is pretty docile and comical and seems to enjoy tankmates more than being alone).
Good Luck...Cant wait to see it set up and stocked!!!
A comment on your water. Those numbers indicate soft water, about what I have out of my tap, < 1 dGH and KH [1 d = 17.8 ppm]. So that means that the pH will easily lower in an established tank. My tap water pH is 7 - 7.2 but my aquaria run from 6 - 6.4 and a couple at 5. And this is all just natural, I do nothing to affect this. So, that means your pH values for fish can be below 7 which is normal for soft water fish [there are a few exceptions]. Just opens up the options to many more fish.
This is a 20g. It will get filled very fast with the average tetra, Danio, etc. It is your aquarium and it should obviously reflect your wants, but going with smaller fish and less active fish means considerably more fish, and that means more colour and interaction and interest.
There are so many "small" fish available these days, yet so many see what is "common" in most stores, especially the chain stores like Petsmart, and they are very limiting. "Expand your horizon" in a sense, and be rewarded with a truly stunning display that will provide hours of interest.
7.5 was my most recent reading but I'm thinking that the recent rains have made it more nuetral than normal. During the non rainy season (read most of the year in Cali) it's somewhere between 7.0 and 7.4. Very rare for it to go below 7 straight from the tap though.
A new store just opened near where I work so I'll probably go visit them tomorrow and see what they have to offer.
Also I got my birthday gift, which was the 20 gallon tank (not a surprise) and a tank stand (a surprise!). It's a 20 short, with the starter kit from petsmart. This includes: lid, flourescent light, Tetra 100 watt heater (from what I've read I'm not going to be using this, probably will just pop for a jager), Top Fin Power Filter 20 (build quality on these seems to be hit and miss, I'll probably end up buying a Marineland Bio-wheel filter), bigish net, and some food and water treatment samples. Oh and my sister picked out a decoration for the tank: a fake jaguar skull :P
To answer your question about water changes, you don't need to remove the fish. Buy yourself a gravel vacuum such as this Top FinŽ Gravel Vacuums - Aquarium Maintenance - Fish - PetSmart and a 5 gallon bucket. You can siphon the water into the bucket and clean the debris out of the gravel at the same time. One 5 gallon bucket would equal about a 25% water change.
As for the filter...If you want my personal opinion and experience...save your money from the bio wheel and just get an AquaClear...they are a little more expensive, but so worth it!!! Bio wheels kinda suck in my eyes. I still run my biowheel on my 29 gal, but it just didnt do its job...researched it and asked around, and everyone had the same issues...so I added on an AquaClear 50 that now works with my Marineland Penguin 150 Biowheel...AWESOME. The AquaClear alone works wonders as well. Biggest issues for me with the biowheel is 1-the biowheel stops spinning very soon, and only spins once in a while if the water comes through the cartridge a certain way (which is usually having the cartridge up too high and unable to put the lid on). Biowheel is useless if it wont stay wet for the beneficial bacteria it was designed for. And I have troubleshooted it to no end, nothing to do for it. 2-the filtration capacity is lower than desired for the sized tanks they are designed for. The only nice thing is that they can hold up to two cartridges or other types of filter media, however its a snug fit. I use the cartridges designed for it in the first slot, and in the second I use Fluval ClearMax media in pre-sealed biobags. Then my AquaClear 50 is just amazing, its using the things designed for it...foam, carbon, and biomax.
When I am ready to upgrade filters on my new 15 gal (it comes with the TopFin 20, which I will use my own bagged media on)...I will get an AquaClear.
As with any filter, maintenence and upkeep is required for continued success, otherwise even the greatest filters can and will fail. So always clean impellers and intake tubes monthly or as needed.
If you need any equipment suggestions or reviews there is a section here on TFK you can scan through, but a lot of them are a couple of years old. Or you can post a new thread, or just ask any of us. I know I have gone through all brands and styles of all kinds of aquarium products in all catagories...and through it all I have found what works well, what has faults, personal likes and dislikes, and that spending that extra few bucks is so worth it!! lol.
I always mention this with respect to filters because it is very important: know what type of fish you intend to have before buying a filter.
I have had Aquaclear filters, but I would not select these for a 20g unless you intend keeping fish that need water currents, and in a 20g that type of fish are very limited. In a 20g with quiet fish, the sort of forest fish that Amanda has mentioned and I have hinted at with your soft water, and esp with any live plants, a sponge filter is sufficient. And it will be much less expensive.
Plan the aquarium before you buy any fish; know what you want first, then work towards it. And research any fish before bringing it home. There are many threads on this forum about aquarists who bought without doing this, and soon regretted it. And it is not easy disposing of troublesome fish.
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