made every newbie mistake known to man....... - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 5 Old 12-22-2007, 09:42 PM Thread Starter
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made every newbie mistake known to man.......

Well, I considered myself a fairly intelligent person until I set up this aquarium......THEN read info on what I should have done. I have a very bad feeling about this and will take any and all help I can get.

Background on my fish owning experience: I owned 2 bettas (in separate 1 gal. bowls) for about 1-1/2 years. The dog got them the other night much to the devastation of my children. (The irony is that they have been coexisting with numerous cats all of this time with no problem. The dog is a new addition to the family.) So, since we all have always wanted an aquarium I decided to get one. I bought an Aqua Culture kit and here is what we have:

29 gallons
submersible heater
A 20-40 Aqua Tech filtration system (external)
various decorations, hidey-holes, fake plants, and a "floating" fake plant that you anchor to one side.

I stopped by the pet store to get some tips on setting it up, to find out how long it needed to cycle before adding fish, to see what fish they had and see what would be compatible with a new betta. This was my first wrong move, the second was listening to her. She informed me there was no need to cycle the tank before adding fish, they would be "fine". I questioned in depth about this and was reassured numerous times. So, against my better judgment, I came home with fish (and you won't believe what I ended up with and all had her stamp of approval for compatibility):

1 male Betta
1 Parrotfish (his shape looked like a blood parrot, but his color was coral pink)
1 Angel fish
1 Red Tailed shark
1 spiney eel

She also sent me home with some marine salt (1 TBS per 5 gal). So, I set up the tank according to the directions, added the conditioner for the water (we have well water, but just in case) and used water tempered with hot from the tap to get the right temperature like the pet store lady said. Now I read that is a no-no. Then I added the fish per direction (let their bag float in tank to acclimate temperatures). The tank is currently running at 80 degrees. I don't know the ph and nitrate levels, etc, because I didn't do good research and listened to another idiot so I didn't know I needed that. I will go get a kit in the morning then I can tell you that information.

Now, I did all of this on Thurs. Last night I see that my eel has a nip taken out of his back and he was evicted from the hidey hole he had claimed by the parrot. Asked some folks on another site and was advised that my fish mix would not work and to get the parrot out and take him back. Did some more reading and discovered none of these guys were going to work together well. So, I called the pet store and told her I needed to bring some of them back. She agreed to an exchange but not a refund. Since the parrot was minorly expensive, it took quite a few fish to complete the exchange. Now I have a brand new tank with an entire population in it.

The spiney eel
The betta
The Angel
2 Fancy Guppys
2 Balloon Mollies
2 Green Tiger Barbs
1 Pleco

I KNOW this tank isn't ready for this, but I couldn't get my money back, so now what do I do?? Is there any way to keep from losing my new babies over this?

Also, the eel.......bless his heart. A white film like covering appeared around the area he was nipped on this morning. It is spreading at a horrifying rate. It is now about 1/4 an inch wide and most of the way down his body. I will post the best pic I could get. The white patch toward his tail is not a reflection, that is the size of it. Like I said, it has a slime like over film to it. You can actually see the raise of the "patch". Is this his own healing process or something I need to help him with or what? Also, since being evicted by the parrot, he won't go back into his "house". Should I move it to encourage him to go back in? He has taken to hanging out in corners and behind the filter hose. Will he eventually figure out it is safe? He also seems to be "off his feed" a bit. He ate voraciously when I first put him in on Thursday, but I haven't seen him eat at all today. I'm really worried about him.

Lastly, another site recommended certain veggies or nori for the Pleco since I don't have any algae build up yet. I put some nori in, but will he find it? It is currently kind of tangled in that floating plant. Is there a more strategic place/way to put it to make sure he eats? I noticed one of the mollies nibbling on it as well. Will this suffice for the others that like a little veggie (like the barbs)? I have been feeding flakes and dried blood worms twice a day. The florescent light is on maybe a total of 6 hours a day. That isn't continuous, it is in 1/2 to 1 hr intervals at a time. I know the light is important, but I also understand that the eel is not fond of it and with him not going into a hole..............and I read the Pleco doesn't care to feed in the light either. Everyone else seems to be eating and getting along ok so far. I am keeping a close eye on the barbs because I understand they might be a problem for the betta & angel with fin nipping. Oh, and lastly, all of my pairs are males because I didn't want any spawning.

I think that's it. Please help me minimize the damage as much as possible. I will never set foot in that store again because I trusted them and now I fear I am in a huge wreck and that my fish are at grave risk. Thanks for any help you can offer.
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post #2 of 5 Old 12-22-2007, 10:01 PM
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Ok, well I'll tackle your stocklist first:

The eel, angel, barbs and plec, all require a much larger tank than 29g. The 2 barbs on their own probably don't need a bigger tank butt hey need to be kept in groups of 6 or more, which is why they need a bigger tank. Kept as only a pair they will be unhappy, but also more agressive than normal (and normally they're pretty agressive). I suspect they were who nipped your eel, or the parrot. I strongly suggest you return all the above mentioned fish, else you risk stunting their growth which will eventually kill them, or them simply outgrowing the tank. The parrot and barbs will also have agression issues, tank size aside. Nothing that is known for nipping should be kept with a betta.

That being said you are left with the betta, mollies and guppies.

As long as the guppies are female then these 5 fish should live together pecefully. Bettas are usually very threatened by male guppies because of their long fancy tails. Guppies and moiiles are livebearers and so need a ratio of 2-3 females per male to avoid harassment, or to be kept as one sex only. If you have a mix of sexes you will get a lot of fry, though I expect the betta would make short work of them if he catches them.

When the tank has cycled (I know you won't get your money back, but it is unlikely that any fish will survive the cycle if you restock so the end result will be the same: that you loose your money anyway. And on top of that it puts your other fish at risk as well as the bioload is increased. So, when the tank has cycled, and you are ready to add more fish, I would suggest some cories for the bottom. I generally stick with bottom feeders with bettas as I have had no luck keeping them with non-bottom dwelling fish, though generaly it can be done as long as the correct fish are chosen. Basically with a betta your other fish will have to not have long fins or the betta will feel threatened and could attack it, and they must not be a nipping fish like barbs, cics or many tetras. Tetras that are often kept sucessfully with bettas are neons and glolights.

To give your fish the best possible chance of surviving the cycle, get a liquid test kit that tests for amonia, nitrite, nitrate and ph. good ones are API or Nutrifin. Test every few days and do a water change of about 25% when the levels get too high. There is a great sticky by fish4all in the starting and maintaining section which you could read if you want with more cycling information. Also, feed only every secnd day to reduce the amount of waste and leftover food.

As I said I strongly recommend you return the plec, assuming he is a common plec, if he is a bristlenose or clown he will be Ok in your tank size, but in the meantime feed him algae wafers and fresh veggies. Mine love courgettes (I have since learned I must also call them zukkini otherwise nobody knows what I'm talking about, LOL). I pierce the veg with a teaspoon to make sure it sinks to the bottom.

Phew, well I think that's it. Sorry to overwhelm you with information but I think that in your situation it was necessary.

Welcome to the forum, and I hope that you get your tank sorted out. We must all learn from somewhere, it is just unfortunate that most petstores don't aid us in the process. I think that if you get advice here from the members prior to buying fish you should be alright. :)
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post #3 of 5 Old 12-22-2007, 10:34 PM Thread Starter
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Falina, thank you for your reply.

The parrot and shark were taken back yesterday and replaced with the guppies, mollies, pleco and barbs. I did have concerns about the barbs but was reassured by the owner that they would be fine with the betta and angel. I know for a fact it was the bullying parrot that nipped my eel, but he is now gone.

So, none of these fish have a good chance to survive the cycling phase? One of the experts on the other site suggested the possibility of an 80% water change and adding Bio-Spira to my filter. Would this work to increase the chances of survival during cycling?

In regards to size: I was aware that the eel, pleco and angel would get to an unacceptable size eventually. The store owner told me that it would take quite some time for that to happen and when it did to just bring the large fish in and they would trade me for a small one. They then sell the larger fish to people with large systems.

My barbs, mollies and guppies are all male. So far each species is hanging with their "buddy" in the tank, especially the barbs. I have been watching them very closely and have not seen any aggression yet, though I am aware it can develop.

On the zucchini note: you put the entire squash in there? Not just a slice or two? I have about 1/2 a sheet of nori (torn into 3 sections) in there now. As I said, one of the mollies has found it and seemed to enjoy it. Would you recommend continuing the nori as needed in addition to the zucchini? Or just do one or the other?

I'm sorry I have so many questions, but I have already followed such bad advice from the pet store and I am a bit desperate to correct it. It might be a slim possibility that I can get a credit if I return the fish, but I doubt it. I think I would have been better off listening to a Walmart employee! :D
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post #4 of 5 Old 12-22-2007, 10:54 PM
Tanknewbie, first of all welcome to our little clan. The one single word of advice I can give you is......patience. Aother word of advice would be to watch the barbs and tetras aroung the angel fish. The two type of fish can become alittle nippy and the angel cannot move as quickly as they can.

Remember, patience.
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post #5 of 5 Old 12-22-2007, 11:51 PM
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I have never used BioSpira as it is not available in the UK. I have heard a lot of people saying that it's a really good product though. The only thing is that it needs to be kept refrigorated so make sure wherever you buy it form does refridgerate it, or it could be useless.

I'm not a fan of the keeping fish until they grow too big strategy. If you know you will upgrade soon then that's a different story, and that's fine obviously. But if you can't guarantee an upgrade I wouldn't recommend it. The reason being that a lot of stores won't take bigger fish as they're harder to house and to sell on so you may have trouble getting rid of them. And there is the possibility of thir growth beint stunted.

All fish are individuals and all individual cases will vary when it comes to temperament and nipping/agresion issues. With the barbs the chance is very high that they will nip. I wouldn't risk it on my fish. There will always of course be exceptions to the rule.

I cut the zuchini (I spelled it wrong before, oops) into sections, about 4" long perhaps so that I have cylinders, then I cut them in half so i have sort of boat shaped pieces. I then pierce it with a spoon and sit it skin down in the tank. Usually the plecs are all over it within minutes.

HTH :)
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