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Discussion Starter #1
Introduction

So I've had the itch to setup an aquarium lately and finally got around to doing it. On a bit of impulse my wife and I picked up a 29 gallon aquarium and stand. While I kept several aquariums when I was younger I really consider this my first "real" aquarium. Real in that I'm doing more than just filling a tank with water and putting fish in that I think look cool. Back when I was younger the internet was still a new and crazy fad, so being able to research things like cycling tanks and fish compatibility generally had to be learned via those book things and helpful pet shop employees - obviously I didn't learn much. I thought it would be cool to keep a log/journal of sorts online as I stumble my way through this new hobby. Hopefully by doing this I can pick up some helpful input as well maybe provide a guide of what not to do as I screw things up.


Getting Up to Speed

At this point I've had the aquarium running for about two-three weeks. So I'll get everybody up to speed on where I'm at.




So initially I started out with some basic gravel and polished stones. The tank at this stage had the basic hood/light that came with the aquarium, running a 17w T8 if I remember correctly. I replaced the filter with an Aquaclear 50 after reading around some. Pretty quickly though I decide that I wanted to do a planted tank. I decided that I really wanted several anubias' in the tank, primarily the nana variety. I also wanted to work in some java moss as well as a couple of cryptocorynes and maybe some kind of carpeting foreground plants. So off I went searching for plants and other decorations...



We struck gold by finding some really nice rocks and a piece of drift wood by a local river. We paid for it though...our little adventure took place in below freezing temperatures in 4-6in of snow. Luckily the shore was pretty clear of snow and ice so we were able to pick out things easily, getting them back up to the car was the fun part. I had very little luck with the plants, however. I was only able to find some java moss and a cryp, which I pretty sure is cryptocoryne wendtii brown. I also decided that I didn't really like the gravel and switched it out for some nice light sand. I had zero luck finding anubias, which honestly was main plant I was after. I did find some at Petco but was unable to determine the variety (I only wanted the nana or "dwarf" variety for now). So I called every local pet/fish store as well as several nurseries in the area to no avail. I did find one that said they would try to order it, and call me if it came in.

Shortly after adding the plants we added in some cory cats, nerite snails, and malaysian trumpet snails. I want to note that at this point I knew that the tank needed to be cycled before adding in a large amount of fish, but I was unaware that this could be done without adding fishing (and potentially harming them). A local fish store said that cories would do fine for cycling the tank... If I'd done my homework a little better I would have started with a fishless cycle, but unfortunately these guys are going to have to take one for the team.



Lucky day! I just happened to stop into the fish store that I spoke to about ordering the anubias var. nana and they got them in! They didn't call me, but...meh. They only got three in and I cleaned them out, I had to pay way more than I expected ($10 a plant) but was honestly just so happy to find them I didn't care. I guess that's not too bad considering my alternative was to roll the dice on getting some online, paying an ungodly amount of shipping, and still paying $10 or more per plant and risk getting a dead one. On impulse I added in some dwarf sag, but after reading that it will most likely grow taller than I'd like because of my lower lighting I plan on replacing it with some micro sword soon. I also picked up a few stashes of anacharis to keep in the tank to help during the cycling period, I don't expect to keep this once the cycling is complete.

I also upgraded the aquarium lights. I removed the single T8 fixture and replaced it with a 2 bulb T5 fixture giving me 48watts. This gives me 1.66 watts per gallon, which is still on the low light side. I really don't want to invest more than what I did on lighting so this will have to do. While I don't plan on using a C02 system I will be using Seachem's Flourish Excel, I've read good things about it.

I made a few adjustments to the Aquaclear filter after reading a couple of guides on tweaking filters like this. You may notice that I added a layer of filtering to the intake on the Aquaclear. I took the black filter pad (some sort of black mesh, not the carbon pack or anything) from the crummy filter that came with the aquarium and cut a portion and zip tied it to the bottom of the intake, this seems to help keep the larger crap from finding its way into the filter. It's zip-tied tight enough to stay in place, but can be removed easily for cleaning. I also removed the carbon pack from the Aquaclear and replaced it with another bacteria sponge thing.



My plan is to create a bed of the anubias on a flat rock. The rock is hidden behind the front rocks so I was able to get away with securing the anubias in a less than pretty way until they take hold with their roots. Rather than tying them down with fishing line, as I did with the java moss, I weighted them down with two fishing weights attached two the ends of a tiny strand of fishing line. I figured this would make it easy to remove the weights without having to lift out the whole rock, it also allowed me to position (and reposition) the plants easily. Worst case the roots get tangled in with the weights and I just clip the line and remove them. Rather than using lead fishing weights I used some sort of "eco-friendly" weights. No sure if this will make a difference or not but at like 10c more I'm not exactly breaking the bank. I plan to watch the weights to make sure they don't rust.



Since I don't plan on keeping the anacharis once the tank is cycled I secured it in a similar, temporary fashion. I just tied the bunch up with fishing line (not too tight) and attached a weight to the other end of the line and hung it on the back of the aquarium. This keeps the bunch from floating all over the place (like into my filter or something) and also allows me to easily remove them when the tank is done cycling.

So that's pretty much where I'm at now. The tank seems to be in the nitrite portion of the cycling process as the ammonia levels have dropped to around 0.25ppm. I'm doing frequent, small, water changes to keep the nitrite levels manageable to help ease the stress on the cories. So far they seem to be doing fairly well. They've had a bit of color loss, but are swimming actively and eat regularly.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'd like to make the "focus fish" 2-3 opaline gourami (1 male and 1-2 females). I'll probably put in a couple of otos as well. Right now I'm kinda up in the air on a specific type, but I'd also like to add some sort of schooling fish, probably around 6. I'm kinda leaning towards cherry barbs or black neon tetras. It's my understanding that the gourami can be temperamental towards other fish so I need to find something that can hold it's own in the tank. I plan on adding the gourami last as I've read that this can ease their aggression towards the other fish, as they tend to focus on the new comers to the tank. This load will put me right at my limit (maybe just a touch above) for the tank, but I plan on being pretty diligent with the water changes so I think I'll be OK.
 

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Mmm I dunno if Id put those gourami in a 29, I have a few in my 46 gallon and they look too big for it. And Ive seem them get pretty aggressive, not all the time but Ive seen it and I think limiting that space will only make it worse.
 

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Mmm I dunno if Id put those gourami in a 29, I have a few in my 46 gallon and they look too big for it. And Ive seem them get pretty aggressive, not all the time but Ive seen it and I think limiting that space will only make it worse.
I may only add one/two, and might keep them all females, I still have quite a while before I worry about adding them so I plenty of time to research it. Right now I'm using AqAdvisor.com to do quick checks on compatibility and such, of course I understand it's not scripture and should be checked against other resources, but it hasn't thrown any red flags up due to the tank size and gourami. I may end up looking into the dwarf gourami though, just so I don't have to worry about the tank being too small.
 

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UPDATE: Water Parameters

So, using my trusty API test kit, I noticed something a little odd while testing the water parameters in the tank today. So far my ammonia has been dropping while my nitrite levels are rising. I only tested for nitrate once, about a week ago. It is my understanding that I won't really begin to see nitrate until the nitrite levels begin to lower, and that this won't happen for some time as the nitrite->nitrate portion of the cycling process takes the longest.

Anyway, my testing today showed ammonia at 0.25ppm, nitrite at 5ppm (possibly higher as the test only shows a max of 5), and nitrate at 10-20ppm (hard to tell as the colors on the test are almost identical). So I'm really curious as to why I'm seeing such significant nitrate levels while my nitrite is still so high. I probably just missed something and this is normal, but thought I would check. I should also note that this is very likely a result of my error, as the nitrate test is the most involved. This is only my second time testing for nitrate so I probably goofed up somewhere.

Regardless I went ahead and did about a 15-20% water change and added in some Seachem Prime. I'll test again tomorrow to see where the nitrate is at.
 

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So, using my trusty API test kit, I noticed something a little odd while testing the water parameters in the tank today. So far my ammonia has been dropping while my nitrite levels are rising. I only tested for nitrate once, about a week ago. It is my understanding that I won't really begin to see nitrate until the nitrite levels begin to lower, and that this won't happen for some time as the nitrite->nitrate portion of the cycling process takes the longest.

Anyway, my testing today showed ammonia at 0.25ppm, nitrite at 5ppm (possibly higher as the test only shows a max of 5), and nitrate at 10-20ppm (hard to tell as the colors on the test are almost identical). So I'm really curious as to why I'm seeing such significant nitrate levels while my nitrite is still so high. I probably just missed something and this is normal, but thought I would check. I should also note that this is very likely a result of my error, as the nitrate test is the most involved. This is only my second time testing for nitrate so I probably goofed up somewhere.

Regardless I went ahead and did about a 15-20% water change and added in some Seachem Prime. I'll test again tomorrow to see where the nitrate is at.

make sure you really shake that nitrate test #2 really really really well, sometimes it'll give you a false reading.
nice looking setup:)
i've used that same aquaclear on a 29 gallon planted before. i had to make sure to keep my water level high to reduce surface water agitation.
 

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UPDATE: Wisteria



I stopped by my LFS on the way home from class to check out the plants. I picked up some water wisteria to replace the floating anacharis, I think I like the look of it a bit more and may keep it after the cycling is done...not sure. I usually see wisteria planted but read that it can be floated as well, anybody had good luck keeping it like this? I moved it over to the left side to provide some shade for the anubias, probably not needed at only 1.66 watts per gallon but meh. I also had a hitchhiker that came along with the wisteria.




I'm not sure what this is, and would love some input. I went ahead and added it to the tank as I've been toying with the idea of keeping some floating plants like this. I tried duckweed but found it to be too annoying due to it's smaller size. This looks to be about the right size and I think it would be cool if it took off in the aquarium. No luck on the micro sword, but Petco usually stocks it and they're supposed to get a new shipment of plants in this week so I'll keep checking.
 

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i think the wisteria looks good floated, i kept some in my 29 and tried to anchor it underneath where the aquaclear filter dumped the water back into the tank. I didn't leave it there for more than a month or so, so im not sure for long term results.

on a side note: what part of arkansas are you from?, you may have better options for plants than petco or petsmart.
 

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i think the wisteria looks good floated, i kept some in my 29 and tried to anchor it underneath where the aquaclear filter dumped the water back into the tank. I didn't leave it there for more than a month or so, so im not sure for long term results.

on a side note: what part of arkansas are you from?, you may have better options for plants than petco or petsmart.
That's where I put this batch, under the filter. I moved it to the right side (where the anacharis was) though as I wasn't sure how it would handle being agitated by the water. I live in Fort Smith, there are several pet stores around here that stock aquatic plants, the catch is that they all pretty much order from the same distributor (some place in Oklahoma). There's a newer place in Van Buren that stocks with more variety (it's where I picked up the anubias) but I don't make it out there as often since it's about a 15-20min drive. Petco is just down the road a bit and they tend to have a decent enough stock of the more common plant varieties, I usually go there as a last resort as I prefer to support the local fish store(s).


If that's not duckweed maybe it's frogbit??
It seems a bit small against the frogbit I've seen, but that's only been in videos. It's also seems to have a sort of a soft felt layer to it. I remember seeing a picture that looked really similar before but I can't for the life of me remember where.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
UPDATE: Water Parameters



Tested the water this morning, and there's that damn nitrate again. Ammonia was .25ppm, nitrite +5ppm, and nitrate still in the 10-20ppm range. Thinking that there might be something coming from the tap I tested my water straight from the tap, 0 nitrate.

EDIT: I wanted to note that the only additives in the tank are Seachem Prime (after water changes) and Seachem Flourish Excel (a cap full every other day).
 

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UPDATE: Brown Algae



I noticed that there appears to be some brown algae growing in the tank. Most noticeably on the front rock, and on the back glass of the aquarium. A quick search returned the common causes of brown algae to be:
  • Excess silicates & nitrates
  • Inadequate light
  • Low oxygen levels
The first one rings true and could be explained by the sudden nitrate readings I've been having. I doubt that the lighting is inadequate, while 1.66 watts per gallon isn't very high I don't think it's "inadequate". I currently have the lights running for 10 hours on a timer, and the tank also receives a small amount of very indirect sunlight from a sliding door (with blinds) on the other side of the room. I'm not really sure on the last one...I would think oxygen levels would be ok, I mean there's already a good deal of plants in the aquarium.

How should I handle this? Should I break out the algae brush and go to town, or should I leave it and let it grow up for the otos I plan to add?
 

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I would clean it off the glass for sure, and probably the rocks too, Unless you like the way it looks. Some like the natural look it brings to rocks. I personally wanted the stuff out of mt tank asap.
I just cleaned the glass with my magnet, removed the rocks and cleaned them with a brush and tank water. Brown algae is pretty easy.
Don't forget the water changes after the cleaning.
 

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UPDATE: Water Change

Went ahead and did a 50% water change today, I'll test the water tomorrow once everything has settled. I'll leave the algae for now, I'll probably take the algae on the glass of tomorrow when I do a 10-15% water change.
 

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UPDATE: Spray Paint, Moss, and a Big Rock



Not much to update with... The readings today showed ammonia at .25ppm (it looked very close to 0), nitrite at 2ppm, and nitrate at 5ppm. I spray painted the intake tube for my filter a few days ago, I've been letting it sit. I used Krylon Fusion as I've read it's aquarium safe since it's rendered inert once it dries. It really helps hide the filter intake with the black background. The java moss has really taken off with the new lights and the Flourish Excel, I may trim it down a little soon. I'm sure it's taken hold by now so whenever I get time I'll remove the fishing lines holding it down.




I've also setup a small 5.5 gallon tank, our second. The first is our hospital/quarantine tank. I plan on using this one to breed ramshorn snails eventually as we plan to keep two figure eight puffers in our 27 gallon hex that's also cycling. I just set it up last night so the water is still pretty cloudy from the sand, I should've done the upside down bottle trick to put it in.
 

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UPDATE: Culprit Identified

Turns on the floating hitchhiker is actually a juvenile water lettuce, looks like it's used in ponds... Meh I'll leave it in there and see what happens, the filter will probably eat it though.
 

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The tanks look amazing. i love the 5.5g with the rock :D


Can you pick rocks up from the ground at rivers? And driftwood? I wondered about it, but i go the safe way and buy it. but, how do you make sure its safe?
 

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Can you pick rocks up from the ground at rivers? And driftwood? I wondered about it, but i go the safe way and buy it. but, how do you make sure its safe?
I guess I just kinda rolled the dice. The temperature was well below freezing for several days so hopefully that helped some, and we thoroughly rinsed them off with once we got home with hot tap water. I do water tests almost daily and haven't noticed anything funky with the water chemistry, guessing I'm alright.
 
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