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Discussion Starter #1
I am tackling the office tank which should prove interesting as it is in a 24hour operation center.

I checked out the setup today. I've seen the tank all the time but never really paid too close attention to it.

I found the box of chemicals, testing kits, fertilizer and treatments... wow. pH up, pH down, melafix? pH neutralizer, cycle starter, clarifier, and a few other things. The heater is in the box too. The room is kept at around 70F all the time so it's not bad, just a little cold. Thick thick layer of nasty gravel with some sort of plant gravel mixed in.

Taking some water home to test today as the test kits were partial and really old.

I need to rehome a huge pleco. There is one oto cat, one cory of some form that I don't recognize, a few false rummy nose tetra , I think and a few harlequin rasbora... that aren't halerquin rasbora... or even rasbora for that matter. There are two plants of unknown descent.

This will be a test of my luck.

I'm debating how much I want to work with what is there against starting from scratch with a sand buildup. I will see if the fish are going to work if I just bump up their numbers... but 20 gallons and three schools doesn't sound ideal in my mind without overstocking the tank to get the shoal numbers up... but I can't see it without three unless I go with a species tank... something small to get the numbers up to 20.

Without doing any research I might go with pygmy hatchet fish , corys and oto cats for a three species setup... plants of course. I expect the water to be softer than home (how could it not be?) One of my swords will get re-homed, I need more real estate back home. Perhaps the store can take the extra fish.

Initial list of stuff: new light bulb, it's a T8 18". New test kit... don't need the GH/KH. I'll donate my unopened bottle of prime. Flourish comprehensive. Sand (if I go that way, I think I need to for the corys). heater and thermometer.

I'll post some pics once I get along... oh, I dropped in some of my overage dwarf hygrophila today... a little extra green even spruced it up a bit.... There are at least a dozen stems in there and some short floating pieces. I'll need to change out the light soomer than later I think.

Jeff.
 

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Good luck! Are they okay with you changing it? I really hope you can find someone to take the pleco. What kind of fish are they if not rasboras? o_O

Really glad that you'll be able to make it a much nicer home for the fish! Poor cory is probably as lonely as can be ;(
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Well, it's sort of my business so I could just come in and do it. It's mostly a matter of time to do it. A tear down with live fish needs to be taken to a certain point in the same day.

I'll play fish ID once my Internet is back up.

Jeff.
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Discussion Starter #4
I just ran some water tests.

2dKH
16dGH
6.8 - 7.0 pH

Odd, but being town water, not surprising. Also, I don't know how long this water has been since last change.

I can't do much if there is ammonia or nitrites at this point so I only checked nitrates. 80ppm.... uh oh. I need to check the source water, forgot to get a sample, but I figure I will do a water changed tomorrow as it is not going to be anywhere near that level.

That explains why the fish are so drab looking.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Fish IDs from the office tank project:

5 Serpae Tetra
1 Oto Catfish, I am surprised it's alive given the high nitrate levels.
2 False Rummy Nose Tetra
1 Pepper Cory
The Common Pleco who has outgrown this tank a long time ago.

Surprisingly they are not a bad mix as far as water parameters go... it's a little hard and a little cold but no worse than other "working" environments.

Hop over to the fish forum as I asked for some suggestions... link below...

Read more: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/freshwater-tropical-fish/20-gallon-reno-fish-id-query-139538/#ixzz2Otdb7cJl
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I just ran some water tests.

2dKH
16dGH
6.8 - 7.0 pH
New test today.

4dKH
11dGH
7.4 - 7.6 pH
40 nitrate (down from 80)

I had asked if 3 50% water changes could be done over the long weekend as I was not going to be able to go in... It looks like only one was performed. I wonder what was driving the GH up and the KH down.... Seems odd. I'm not fond of the shift in pH but at least the nitrates are lower to compensate somewhat.

Now I can at least expect that softer water fish may be suitable, although I didn't manage to grab any of the town source water to test, I'll do that tomorrow. I predict, if a 50% change was done, that the hardness will come in around 6dKH and 6 or 7dGH. The pH may settle around 7.8, although it could stick at 7.6.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
4dKH and 10dGH after the 50% water change today.

PH 7.6 and nitrites down in the 10 to 20 range. I'll plan another large WC on the weekend, get those nitrates right down, get the water back to its normal range. I found out today why everything was so out of whack, there had been no changes since early December.... I'm surprised there were any fish left.

Everyone commented on how much cleaner it looks now and the fish are not so skittish and all I did so far was add some plants and have someone change the water a few times. The fish are using the plants for cover and are colouring up a bit. The rummy nose actually have a nicely coloured nose and the tetras don't look so pale. I didn't get a good look at the Cory.

Mr Pleco will likely be heading out tomorrow, if not, then Monday.

My single species idea didn't go over as well as it thought it might. It was thought that it was a 30 gallon so there should be lots of room for variety... but variety didn't survive very well the first time around. I think that I'll have to wow them with a splendid fish shoal.

Jeff.
 

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Maybe I'm just weird but 'variety' always irks me a bit. I kind of max out at 3 species, after that a tank can start to look 'jumbled' IMO, with so many different fish. When I look at a tank I don't want to be distracted by so many different colors, patterns, shapes, etc. But that's just me, haha.

I'd stick with either one large school/shoal, or a smaller school with some sort of substrate fish.

What about going the route of some kind of micro fish? They're a lot more sensitive to water params though, but that's as far as my knowledge goes :p

I'm so EXCITED for when we get some pictures of the Now/Later stages!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Maybe I'm just weird but 'variety' always irks me a bit. I kind of max out at 3 species, after that a tank can start to look 'jumbled' IMO, with so many different fish. When I look at a tank I don't want to be distracted by so many different colors, patterns, shapes, etc. But that's just me, haha.

I'd stick with either one large school/shoal, or a smaller school with some sort of substrate fish.

What about going the route of some kind of micro fish? They're a lot more sensitive to water params though, but that's as far as my knowledge goes :p

I'm so EXCITED for when we get some pictures of the Now/Later stages!
I might bow to upper and lower fish, I do like Cory's and cats but was trying to keep the whole setup simple to deal with. To me, one single species should be easier as there are no intra species issues... I think I said that already... and more fish in a shoal the better for the fish and its only a 20 gallon. We are going from 5 species to whatever I end up deciding on.

Anyway, I'm preaching to the choir here so I'll stop.

I forgot to take an overall picture of before.... But I haven't changed much yet so I'll try to get one in. I doubt I can get it dark enough to get a good shot so you'll just have to put up with the reflections.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Here's a shot of the tank "sort of" before. The reflections are unavoidable.

I added all the green stems in the middle... some are floating already as there were more... a plastic plant has been removed in the last water change I see.

I have no idea what those long narrow leaf plants are, I know that I have seen them in my searches but I can't recall what they might be.

Gravel will become sand.

The backdrop will be changed for black.

Many more plants will be added.

You can sort of see the pleco in the right corner hanging off of the glass.

The tank isn't bad looking or anything, it's just one of those "once you know" things that makes everything that is wrong stand out.

Jeff.
 

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Jeez, that pleco IS really big! I hope your LFS will take him? Poor Cory, are his barbels looking okay after being on that gravel?

Also I never quite understood why people make their gravel so deep. I really, really am scared for when that gets taken out, it's going to be mulm city down in there, without a regular water change/gravel vac since December...

Hm, the plant looks a bit like C. Balansae?
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
I just received a response from the LFS manager. I already knew they would take the Pleco but they will take all the fish if I decide to change everything.

The gravel grew algae so it was only natural to cover it up with more gravel....:roll:

I expect to have a fishless tank for about a week while I get everything setup, plants in place etc. then, assuming that I can get the fish I decide upon quickly, start a biweekly stocking plan. So the stirring up of the crap won't be an issue.

4-5 dKH and 9 dGH from the tap. Off the check the fish profiles next.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
down to:

5 Serpae Tetra
1 Oto Catfish
2 False Rummy Nose Tetra

1 Pepper Cory is in the process of being rehomed in my tank at home. He was being savagely harassed and nipped by the Serpae tetras, someone pointed out in a post elsewhere that they are aggressive and when I mentioned that in the office they said that they noticed them always poking at him... Poor guy. I thought the very cropped fins were the result of neglect.

The Common Pleco has been delivered to the LFS and was last seen swimming around in the large pond fish tub.... At least 6' long and 4' wide.

New light bulb installed today. I'll see how it does with the plants that are in there now, mostly dwarf hygros that did well at home and have not been doing as well at work, old bulb though. I'll bring in my flourish and dose the tank tomorrow. If they perk up I will transfer some new plants over, crypts at least.

Apparently the top plastic trim is somewhere at the office, it leaked condensation to the outside of the glass so it was removed rather than being resealed. I will be finding it, revealing it and that let's me up a glass top on with an LED fixture. I think I will upgrade it sooner rather than later but the $12 bulb might get it by for now.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Here is a shot of Mr Pleco as he is in his carry case (a cooler). He's about 10" -12" long and very healthy looking.

The Dwarf Hygrophila in the tank have started to develop algae on the node roots... my first experience with algae... I'm SOOO excited!

Step one is to reduce the photo-period down from 24 hours (yah, I know, eh?) to something manageable. With it being a 24hour operation I can only get bright and dim, which is better than bright all the time. I will likely need to put a timer on the fixture and set it to run at night, reverse days, due to popular demand as the night shift has a lot less to do and like to watch the fish.

If the hygros respond to the light well enough I will go ahead and chuck in more plants otherwise I am going to order an LED fixture in order to be able to deal with what I know and to give the tank a nicer overall look.

Sometime this week I need to clean the sand and pick more fish. I think I will be voted out of the single species idea now, so I will put a couple of compatible fish packages together and let them vote on the options.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Stage two... fish are down to the Serpae and false rummy nose tetras and the oto cat. Added some of the plants seeing as the dwarf hygros were doing OK even though it was a short term test. Pic one is the current setup. I thought I would do a little bit of gravel vacuuming seeing as I had stirred up the bottom putting the plants in... gravel is MESSY and I don't know why it is so popular. I pushed the vac down to the bottom out of curiosity and realized that was a mistake. There turns out to be some plant substrate under there as well so I just did a 50%+ change and vacuumed the surface off.

Pic two is the solo pepper cory who is in pretty bad shape. I dripped him in our home tank for a full 24 hours and released him last night. Here is s video clip of him scooting about. Nobody ever recalled seeing him off of the bottom at the office.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftMfFdh9oOk

Jeff.
 

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That pleco is HUGE. I'm so happy you were able to get him into a much better environment, poor guy. I wish stores would just stop selling common plecos, people just don't realize how darn big they get, and how much of a biolode they have.

Poor cory :( His fins look awful, and I'm surprised his mouth doesn't look worse. I'm really glad you decided to take him in :)

Was there a lot of gunk in the gravel? I really, really want you to video when you start to take that junk out, it's going to be morbidly fascinating. You should probably post a notice around the office that it's going to stink like rotting carcasses.

What are your plans for the rest of the fish? Especially the oto.

Do you plan of getting more of the pepper corys? How is he getting along with your emeralds?
 

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Oh and another thing, you may want to make sure people don't flick the lights on during the day, if that's when you're going to have their 'night time'.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
That pleco is HUGE. I'm so happy you were able to get him into a much better environment, poor guy. I wish stores would just stop selling common plecos, people just don't realize how darn big they get, and how much of a biolode they have.

Poor cory :( His fins look awful, and I'm surprised his mouth doesn't look worse. I'm really glad you decided to take him in :)

Was there a lot of gunk in the gravel? I really, really want you to video when you start to take that junk out, it's going to be morbidly fascinating. You should probably post a notice around the office that it's going to stink like rotting carcasses.

What are your plans for the rest of the fish? Especially the oto.

Do you plan of getting more of the pepper corys? How is he getting along with your emeralds?
Yah, when the Pleco was purchased he was maybe 1.5". I found water treatments that expired in 2007... been a long time.

Tetras are going to the store, I am considering adding more oto's, they're pretty small and I wanted to have them in my home tank but they wouldn't match the water parameters.

I'm thinking about more peppers but they prefer a slightly cooler water temp range than I keep and they aren't as good in the harder water. I might just keep the one, he tags along with the emeralds, and cut the water with RO for as long as he is around... that's not a long term idea as I think that he is pretty old already.

I don't think there will be a stink. I will be pulling the tank out of the office to do the final empty of gravel so it will be outside... it's only a 20 gallon so i can carry that out without much trouble once it's mostly empty of water.

The light will be on a timer and the outlet is a pain to get to so nobody will mess with the light.

Jeff.
 

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to touch on the pleco issue, there is a jacks pets that I go to for emergency only. on their tanks they have random like note things with "tips" on them. one of the notes says 1 pleco is recommended per 10 gallons. obviously this made me rage since not even 1 can fit in a 10 gallon once its adult size not to mention the strain even a 3-4" pleco would put onto a 10 gallon system.

ugh..... most chain stores enrage me.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Yah. Its' called recurring revenue though. If you buy fish and they don't last, they sell you more fish as long as they don't get any direct blame for the fish not surviving. They sell you a fish that gets too big and you bring it back, they sell it to someone else.

Not that it mattered to me, but I got a $3 credit for Mr Pleco. I forgot to ask how much it might sell for.

My daughter is starting to get a little ticked at the store. She commented about all the catfish in tanks with gravel in them and nowhere to hide... I had to explain that they are not there for that long. I forgot to mention how hard they would be to catch if they could hide.

Sometimes I do wonder about the whole fish keeping industry. We can rail on about the inadequate information and practices that are promoted and we will still buy fish and products. They must make far more off of the unconcerned temporary keepers than the committed knowledgeable ones. I had a friend who bought a betta and was happy that it lasted longer than any other betta they had bought before... it lasted a month.

They are buying at least a 2 gallon Aqueon starter kit with light, heater and filter this time and will change the water after I nicely explained about the fish and showed them some pics of my tank. Now they are a little inspired to at least help the fish survive longer... all I can do I guess.

Jeff.
 
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