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I used to have a small 10 gal tank. We have sinced moved and it looks like the only items that came with us is my test kit and a couple of plastic plants, lol. The tank was empty when we moved.
Hubby and I have been checking out the lfs for a new, larger tank. We would like a 48 gal min. I came across a 55 gl today.
I have read some of the posts here and saw some awesome pictures that have given me some ideas! One pic I saw had a combo of gravel and small stone with caves for substrate. Love that idea! We would also like to go with real plants. I have no experience so would really appreciate some advice on this topic.
As for fish, the only fish I have in mind thus far are some otos and some cories (my cutie maintenace type fish,lol). I don't want to overload but would like a comfy looking tank. Any ideas? We are in no real rush as we are willing to take the time needed to cycle this tank.

Merry Christmas to Me!! (I am so spoiled, lol!)

Thanks for any and all advice!
 

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First, welcome to fish forum. Hopefully we can help you get something that you will like.

If money is not an issue, here is what I would recommend:
75 gallon tank under 24 inches tall
Light fixture that has 180-250 watts of light
For your substrate, eco complete available at some LFS and online from www.aquariumplants.com
Fluval 405 canister filter
Inline heater
Inline CO2 reactor
Pressurized CO2 tank 10-20# with cylinoid, pH regulator
Two powerheads rated for 40 gallon tanks
Dry fertilizers from www.gregwatson.com (will help with which ones if you want to go high tech right away)
A good test kit. Nutrafin master test kit covers all the needs and a Hagen Phosphate test kit for accuracy. ( I think, might be wrong on the brands)
A good variety of foods both flake, frozen, pellet, tablet and others.

Now this is the ultimate setup, although I know I forgot something.

For your basic tank, if you just want to start with something you can upgrade from, the fine aquarium gravel, a powercompact flourescent light that can take up to 250 watts of regular lighting. The fluval is still recommended as well as the inline heater and the CO2 is optional if you to decide to go over 1.5 watts/gallon in the future and go heavily planted. Still need the test kits.

This will at least give you something to think about in order to help decide on what you actually want.
 

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Hi Crystal.:wave:
Glad you could join us.:welldone: As for the fish, it would be best if you write a list of what fish you are going to consider and we can sort them for you.:)

Good luck.:thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the warm welcome!
To start with, I am wanting some otos and some cories. The rest is pretty much up in the air.
Do I want a bunch of small fish or a couple of fair sized fish?
I have read that there are some fairly tame barbs that will mingle with other social fish. Also, I have read about some small sharks.
Basically, I want colour. Big, small, doesn't matter, lol.
Our lfs has the odd iredescent (sp) shark but I'm not sure if a 48 will support it. Very pretty fish, lol.
I have seen a lot of tetras and they are all pretty and hardy. I started out with black skirt tetras in my old 10 gl.
Ugh, too many choices and I don't know enough about compatability, lol. That's why I'm asking, lol
THANKS!!
 

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Yes that is true. I have a 55 gallon and I absolutely love it! It's not too big so it doesnt take up a lot of room. But it's big enough for me :D It varies the amount and type of fish you may put in it too. She never stated that she wanted a heavily planted tank, which IMO, she shouldnt go for ATM. She is a beginner at plants, and I know quite a bit about my tank/plants and i dont know if i could do a heavily planted tank ( well, I might :D ), But back on topic. You wont need CO2 for just a few live plants. If you have seen my tank, ( not trying to get you to look at it or anything ), but if you've seen it, I have quite a few live plants includin java fern and a few other assorted plants, and I dont have CO2. I would just make sure to get some plant fertilizer tabs or something around that. Definetly need a test kit for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, kh or gh. The master test kit is a fine one. As for your fish there are many options, angels ( are awesome but lower your variety of available fish ), plecos, neons, cardinals, cories, oto's, I COULD GO ON! This is just my 2 cents for now :D

Nick
 

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I must of typed my reply when you did ;). I forgot to say something about cycling the tank. This is the first thing that should be coming to your mind right now when you get your tank. There is fishless, and or the fish way. It's pretty simple with the fish but its hard on the poor little guys. When doing so, choose some hardy fish for your set up to cycle your tank such as zebra danios, molly's, platies, etc. :D
 

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Here are the plants you may try:
Elodea densa, Ceratophyllum demersum, Javan moss, Javan fern, Hygrophila difformis and Hygrophila polysperma. Javan moss make a good foreground plant. Riccia is another option but they can demand bright lighting. The ones I suggested will thrive even in subdued lighting.

Fish to consider:
Tetras
Lots of choice..though I'd try the following which in my opinion are stunners.:love:
Diamond tetras(Moenkhausia pittieri)
Rosy Tetra(Hyphessobrycon bentosi)
Emperor Tetra
Kerri Tetra
Flame Tetra
Black Phantom
Lemon Tetra
Beacon Tetra
You have your choice though.:)
Other mid-dwellers..
Barbs-I recommend only the small species like cherry barbs and pentazonas.
Rasboras-Too many choices...Rasbora heteromorpha would be the best option.:thumbsup: You may want Rasbora hengeli if you like.:)
Surface dwellers
Hatchetfish, danios, some killifish..
You'll need to place a lid as hatchets tend to jump.
Bottom
Try Sterbai cories or peppered cories. I'd leave the otos for awhile until your tank matures to 6 months. Otos are quite delicate and may not survive the early stages. If not, you can go with the hardy Bristlenose plec. Otos and BN are excellent algae eaters though BNs have a tendency to eat plants if algae becomes insufficient.

Overall, just do a research and you can pick what you like.:)
On the side note, avoid labeos(sharks), balas and even irridiscent sharks. You will only put yourself on the wrong footing if you keep them. Most are quite aggressive while others will require more than 100 gallons size of tank.:)

Oh, and one more tip..Listen very well with what advice your lfs(local fish store) is giving you. They tend to talk everything that sometimes put even beginners into the wrong hand. If you doubt their advice, you can ask us and we'll help you.:) Many of us have been given wrong advice resulting to major losses(even your cash for useless items).

HTH
Blue
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Nick....

Do plants help cycle a tank? If so, which plants do you recommend?
I would rather do fishless cycling. A little confusion on my part, do I use ammonia or bleach?

As for plecos, I brought one home, put it in my 10 gl and watched it die almost instaneously (it was sick before I bought it, just didn't know enough) The big plecos are ugly(IMO) and don't really want them in my tank but I have come across some info today that there are some smaller, prettier plecos that might work.

My test kit is Hagen/Nutrifin Mini Master Test Kit.

I have 2 lfs in town that are vying for our attention. I want to do good dollar wise but not at the expense of my fish.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Blue!!!!

Thank You So Much!

You have given us much to consider!
I guess my irridesent shark may have to wait a while, lol. Next Time tho!
 

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Crystalab9305 said:
Do plants help cycle a tank?
No, they don't although they can serve as grounds for beneficial bacteria. They help keep down nitrates.:)
I would rather do fishless cycling. A little confusion on my part, do I use ammonia or bleach?
Ammonia.
The big plecos are ugly(IMO) and don't really want them in my tank but I have come across some info today that there are some smaller, prettier plecos that might work.
Bristlenose grow to 5 inches mostly so you're on the safe side. What you see mostly are common plecs which can reach 14 inches in size. There are hundreds of species. Some grow rather large and will not fit in your tank. You can consider whiptails if you like. Farlowellas are also good options.
I have 2 lfs in town that are vying for our attention. I want to do good dollar wise but not at the expense of my fish.
Good luck on this one.:) Just follow my tip and you should be alright.:)
 

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I didn't mean to throw it all at you once, was just giving some food for thought.

48 gallon is a good starting point, will be large nough for lots of options and not too huge that it takes up all day to maintain.

The fluval canister filter would still be first choice but a smaller one, rated for a 55 would be plenty.

As for easy plants: Anubias, Christmas moss, Java Fern, most crypt species but I like both Crypt Red Wendtii and Crypt Lucens. To start wth all you will need is a micro fertilizer for the plants, like Seachems Flourish is a good one as many swear by it.

For cycling, if doing a fishless and using ammonia you want to make sure you get pure ammonia with nothing added to it. No detergents, no scents, nothing. The method is basic but requires a fair amount of testing. I will find the dosing amounts and regiment so I can get you the right information if someone else doesn't beat me to it.

As for fish, BN pleco would be fine, My large male is only 5 inches and only chases the female around once in a while. Others will be better suited for the other fish except I also love cories and I think that 4-5 would make for a good bottom dweller population.

Plants don't help cycle the tank but they do take the nitrates like Blue said. This helps to kkeep levels down and allows you to monitor the ammonia and Nitrites more closely.

You decide what you want to do as far as plants. It will take a little while for plants to really get going in a new tank but once they do, even in plain aquarium gravel, they will create a beautiful tank and you will be pleased with what ever amount of planting you want to do. If you are getting a deal from the LFS and they carry a product called Flourish Excel, throw it in for the discount. With it, you can grow some really nice plants and fairly quickly with lower light and it is also used as a spot treatment for algae and as a plant dip for the same thing.

I also want to say I am very glad you came here before diving into this. Is nice to see someone come for the best advice they can find and do things right. Remember to do what you want to do and we will make sure that you are on the right track. Ask all the questions you need to and if we can't answer them we will find the answers.

Just one last recomendation, a picture says a thousand words and even more so in planted aquaria. Look at the picture we have on the forum and if you find a scheme you like we can help you get it. With or without going high tech.
 

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usmcwife said:
Well, you could try a school of neon tetras, they are hardy fish with some color. I have always liked them.
No. They are not hardy these days.:blueworry: Heaven knows the oldies here even said that the neons used to be hardy and they get astonished whenever they hear neons dying easily.
Inbreeding is to be blame for low-quality neons these days.

If you want to keep them, let your tank mature by at least 6 months.
 

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Blue said:
usmcwife said:
Well, you could try a school of neon tetras, they are hardy fish with some color. I have always liked them.
No. They are not hardy these days.:blueworry: Heaven knows the oldies here even said that the neons used to be hardy and they get astonished whenever they hear neons dying easily.
Inbreeding is to be blame for low-quality neons these days.

If you want to keep them, let your tank mature by at least 6 months.
sorry blue, i figured they were still hardy fish. i didnt know about the inbreeding part. well at least i know that now.
 

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usmcwife said:
sorry blue, i figured they were still hardy fish. i didnt know about the inbreeding part. well at least i know that now.
That's ok, Mel.:mrgreen: I had those myself and they died earlier than the rummies when I had disasters last July.:blueworry: At least, this gave me a warning. Would love cardinals but they're so expensive. Will consider rummies as subsitute though.:mrgreen:
 

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Regarding fish, everyone has their favorites. The best thing to do is visit several LFS (Local Fish Stores) and LPS (Local Pet Stores) and look at the fishes. See what fishes interests you and your husband, then make a list of them. Go home and research the fishes or post them here, to find out their compability, care, etc.

As far plants, certain plants have specific requirements. There are low wattage lights, easy maintenance plants that can use the typical off the shelf lights (used in regular tanks) and require no CO2. This type of setup would be called a low tech tank. Or plants requireing high wattage lights, CO2, and additional fertilizers. These tanks would be considered as either medium or high tech tanks.

I like the low tech approach, since it's easy and cheap to maintain. Unfortunately, most plants grow very slowly in low tech tanks, which is fine for me, becuase I do not have to worry about clipping/trimming the plants often. Again, easy to maintain. :)
 

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Crystal, I think you must've been talking about the Loach Motel in your first post. That's mine. (Thanks :blush:) It's a bottom layer of play sand with two small flowerpots sawn in half with a backsaw and buried under gravel and pebbles. It's a 50 gallon breeder. I went with that size because I was planning for loaches which are semi-territorial bottom dwellers. A 50 breeder,wth a 36x18 footprint, actually has an extra half square foot of floor space as compared to a 55 (48x12).

You may want to consider cycling the tank with Bio-Spira - that will obviate the long cycle time (if it works as advertized, and, if shipped and stored properly, there's no reason why it shouldn't).

Failing that, I've been cycling my tanks with feeder guppies. I have a 75 gallon turtle tank that has a self sustaining feeder guppy population. When I set up a new tank, I just dip a dozen of them out and into the new tank. When it's time to put the fish that actually live in the tank in there, out come the guppies, and back to the turtle tank.

Now, then, most cories get 2 1/2 to 3 inches long. They also like to be in a group, and they prefer a soft substrate. I'd go with either fine gravel or eco-complete (or fine gravel over a layer of eco-complete). You could start with a group of 5-8 regular sized cories .Three lined, Bronze/albino, Peppered, or Schwartzes are all excellent. A mix of bronze and albino would probably shoal together. Alternately, if you can find them, pygmy cories are adorable. They like to be in larger shoals, only grow about an inch long, and tend to swim higher in the tank too. If you go that route, in a 50 gallon, you could easily get a dozen or 15 or 20.

For Algae eating duties, Ottos are nice, but they sometimes just won't eat. If I were to get ottos again, I would wait until I had a real algae problem before I put them in. Then I'd go with 1 per 10 gallons. To deal with thread algae, red cherry shrimp (expensive) or amano shrimp (less expensive, but less attractive) are nifty. Maybe half a dozen.

For the rest, two schools of contrasting tetras. I've got one tank with black neons and glowlights that look nice together. Neons and Lemon Tetras are a good pairing. Maybe bloodfins and diamonds or black skirts would be nice.

Alternately, Cherry barbs are really nice. You can have as few as one - they don't stress out when they don't have a school, but they look really nice in a group. If you have more than one male, make sure you plant and landscape in such a way as to break up lines of sight, or they will run each other ragged. I suspect you could have as many as one male per 10 gallons of tank, but, on the other hand, I have 2 in the 55, and they have claimed opposite ends (with the 6 females hanging out all over).

I've heard good things about pentazona barbs and black ruby barbs too. In a 50 gallon, you could probably have a school of tigre barbs, but that's all you get in the mid water. Anything else they'll harass.

For plants, if you have low lighting, start with java moss. You can lay it thread by thread between plastic needlework grids, stitch together (all over) with 2# test fishing line, and use aquarium sealant coated niobium magnets to hold it to the back wall (you'd need another magnet on the outside. be careful it doesn't rocket out of your hand and crack the glass) for a really nice low tech moss wall. You can do the same thing with by laying a sheet of needlework grid over in on the gravel and just wiegghting it down with assorted rocks. Or you can use a hairnet to get the moss all over a rock. Java fern can be stitched to rocks or driftwood with light fishing line or nylon thread. I drilled the rims of those flowerpots with a half dozen little holes and titched java moss onto them. Lesson learned the hard way: Cotton thread will dissolve faster than the moss/fern will root.

Anubias Barteri is another good low-light plant. Comes in many varieties (Nana and Coffeefolia are two I have). Nearly indestructible, very slow growing, and tends to be expensive.

Under medium to low light, I have had OK luck with Cabomba carolinia, Brazillian Pennywort, and amazon swords. THe various types of Crypt Wendetii (green, red, brow, Mi Oya, Tropica) have all done well for me. In fact, they seem to have a smaller, neater growth when shaded. I've also had OK luck with Wisteria, but a lot of people will tell you that, if you keep it with less than 3 watts per gallon, it will crawl out of the tank at night and kick your dog. (That's humor, there. In theory, it's a high light plant. A little fertilizer, a good substrate, maybe some CO2, and it'll do in medium to low light)

If you feel like a little roulette, get a pack of betta bulbs and follow the instructions - you could get some neat plants that way.

Well will you look at me go on there. There are a whol elot of other things you could do with your tank that would be every bit as good as any of that - livebearers, gouramis, rainbowfish, loaches, Rams. Just do your homework - reasearch, ask questions. Google is your friend. I try and read at least a couple, and preferable a half dozen different proflies on any fish I want to keep.
 
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