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Discussion Starter #1
I have a newly set up 35-litre tank measuring 44cmLx42cmHx27cmW (roughly 9 US gallons, I think - 17.3"x16.5x10.62 inches). The filter has "bio-balls", then a bag of carbon wrapped in filter material, then "bio-rings". I have a 50W heater and a small airstone in there as well.

I have been reading extensively and I've read and been given (by sales staff) so much conflicting information that I just want to scream.

I'd like some advice as to whether I'm doing anything wrong and as to how many fish I can have in the tank after it's finished cycling.

The guy at the aquarium shop sold me 5 platies to cycle the tank with (it sounded like a lot to me after what I'd read, but I assumed that he knew what he was talking about). I've had them a few days. I've been doing 10% partial water changes every other day. I had the water tested at the shop today and was told that it was fine. I bought some testing kits so I can test ammonia and nitrite at home so that I don't have to keep going to the shop. Is this ok so far? Should I do bigger water changes when the ammonia level goes up? Any other advice?

My second question is in relation to stocking levels. I have been reading, using online calculators and asking at the shops and I've read/been told I can have between 2 and 15 platies for this tank and I've also read that platies are too active for so small a tank (after I'd got them, of course).

So, are platies ok in this small a tank, and, if so, how many? Is 5 the limit (hopefully it's not too many)? If I can have more fish, could I have a dwarf gourami or some type of bottom feeder or algae eater, or should I stick with platies?

Thanks for any help.
 

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Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping. You will find many with sound advice here, unlike (sad to say) some stores people.

I would suggest that a 10g tank is too small for healthy platys. Certainly not five or more. Concerning the cycling, monitor ammonia daily, it will rise above .25 and during that period daily partial water changes will help ease the stress on the fish. The ammonia will begin to drop, and the nitrite will begin to rise; above .25 do daily partial water changes. These changes should be only the water, do not vacuum the substrate where the bacteria will be colonizing. Change 40-50% of the tank volume each time, using a good conditioner. One that detoxifies ammonia and nitrite will be best, like Prime.

Looking to the future and fish, do some research and decide what sort of aquarium you want, and what type of fish. There are different types of fish, obviously with a 10g they will have to be smaller species, but there is a multitude of possibilities. The number of fish will depend upon which species you decide. Having live plants will benefit the fish and maintain better water quality, so that is something else to consider. Your tap water parameters (pH and hardness) are important, because it is easier to find fish that will be OK in your type of water than selecting fish that will not, because adjusting water parameters is often fraught with problems. Several here will be able to offer more suggestions when we know your tap water parameters.

Byron.
 
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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply.

I went to an actual aquarium shop rather than just an ordinary petstore because I thought that the people there would have the knowledge so that I'd come away with something suitable for my small tank - that's what I asked for. That's it as far as the sort of fish I want. I want fish that'll be "happy" in a small tank, I don't care what they are.

The tap water here is naturally alkaline. It tested at the top of the chart (7point8 - it comes out as a smiley if I type the decimal point). The guy at the aquarium shop sold me some "neutral regulator" which is supposed to bring pH down.

If platies aren't suitable what do I do now? Ask the shop to take them back? Why aren't they suitable when they only grow to 5cm? Would they be suitable in a 75L tank? I could get a bigger tank.....

And so it goes, my endless confusion...:lol:
 

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I would not use chemicals to alter pH, they generally do not work. The pH of your water is being buffered by the hardness (carbonate hardness, KH) and attempts to adjust it with any sort of chemical usually results in fluctuating pH as the water's natural buffers restore it. It is better to know the pH and hardness of your tap water (assuming that is what you will use in your aquarium) and then research fish that do best in those parameters.

Libebearers are well suited to basic/alkaline and harder water. The one drawback is that they produce live young and these will quickly overtake the tank. I'll leave it to those with more livebearer experience to suggest species, but there are some very nice small species if you can get them in Australia. There are also some of the tetras that will do well in your water; check out the Fish Profiles section of this forum, the water parameters are given for the fish species. Some of the Asian fish like danios will also do well in basic water. And there is a beautiful fish called the Celestial Rasbora which is actually a danio, but very small and colourful, and best in basic water.

A larger tank is always a great option:-D, if you have the space and the money, you will have larger and more tanks, believe me. We all start out with that one tank, but most of us don't stay there very long.;-)

Byron.
 
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I think about 3-4 platies in a 10g tank is about what you should keep. If you're stuck with the 5 it might be ok. 5 is a bit too much fish to cycle the tank if you chose to cycle with fish (not the most humane method, but don't feel bad!).

You should test the water with your own test kit. Buy a liquid test kit - if you can't get one then just change about 50% of the water daily or every other day while it cycles (which will take a few weeks).

7.8 PH should be fine for your platies... i'd return the PH thing. it's a waste of money. you don't need it.

A 75 L tank (I think about 20 gallons, right?) would be perfect for the 5 platies and you could maybe get 1 or 2 more fish depending on what kind.

I wouldn't trust most fish store employees even at aquarium stores, btw (though aquarium stores generally do have more knowledgeable employees). Just a bit of advice....
 
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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks.

Ok, I'm going to get another tank. I'd already had my eye on a bigger one and now I've got a good excuse to get it:)

Maybe I could have guppies in the 10L? They keep the males and females separately, so could I just get all males? How many? Could I get some sort of bottom feeder/suckerfish with guppies?

What other fish would cohabit happily with the platies in the bigger tank? Some sort of bottom feeder? Dwarf gourami? How about the numbers? Would I have room for a small school of tetras as well as the 5 platies (I suppose it depends on the type)? How many? I quite liked the look of the silvertip ones. Would they be suitable? I'll have a look for celestial rasboras. Don't danios need a lot of room even though they are small? I'll have to do more reading, but all suggestions are gratefully received.

What should I do now in relation to cycling the tanks? Should I leave the platies where they are until the small tank is cycled and then move them, or move them to the new tank when I get it and put guppies in the other one? Are guppies suitable for cycling?

Thanks again for the help.
 

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Any fish that is placed in a new tank that has to cycle will be stressed by the cycling. Some tolerate this and survive, some don't. Mollies among the livebearers are very bad for cycling because they are very sensitive to ammonia and seldom make it through the cycle. Platies are closely related, so as you have them, I would monitor the ammonia (think you mentioned a test kit earlier) each day, test at the same time each day to get an accurate indication of any rise in ammonia, and if it is above .25 do a partial water change using a good conditioner like Prime. Prime detoxifies ammonia and nitrite, so it is very good in new tanks, but the detox only lasts about 24 hours so if ammonia or nitrite rises a day or two later, time for another water change. You can change 40-50% of the tank water each time.

The cylce will work its way through in a couple weeks, the period depends upon many things in the tank and water, so it varies.
 
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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks. The ammonia has been testing at 0.25, but I've been doing partial water changes anyway. Is this wrong? Should I let the ammonia build up more before doing the water changes? I'd rather keep the fish alive (one's completely disappeared, I hope he isn't dead somewhere....) and minimize any harm to them than have the cycle go quicker, but I need to know if I'm doing it all wrong.
 

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Thanks. The ammonia has been testing at 0.25, but I've been doing partial water changes anyway. Is this wrong? Should I let the ammonia build up more before doing the water changes? I'd rather keep the fish alive (one's completely disappeared, I hope he isn't dead somewhere....) and minimize any harm to them than have the cycle go quicker, but I need to know if I'm doing it all wrong.
Water changes can not hurt, but if you are using a good conditioner that detoxifies ammonia, I would not do daily water changes unless the ammonia rises sharply the day after the last one, or any successive day thereafter. Detoxifiers in water conditioners work by changing ammonia into ammonium which is not toxic, and bacteria still use ammonium or ammonia so no problem there, plus a test kit for ammonia will normally read ammonia and ammonium the same so it will still show "ammonia" even though it may actually be ammonium.

The point in all this is to monitor daily; if you do a water change with an ammonia-detoxifying conditioner today, and the ammonia test reads .25 that is actually ammonium, harmless; it it is still .25 tomorrow, you're OK. If it is .50 tomorrow, or the next day, then do another water change with the conditioner, since the increase in ammonia is probably ammonia and not ammonium. Conditioners that detoxify work for about 24 hours.

If your water in the tank is acidic, pH below 7.0, ammonia again automatically changes to ammonium in acidic water so there would be no concern in this scenario. But in basic/alkaline water, follow as above.

Hope this makes sense and helps.

Byron.
 
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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks. Yes it makes sense.

I've just been using "water ager" which removes chlorine. I'll go to the shop and look for something that neutralizes ammonia as well.
 

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As for the question about guppies, they're livebearers as well so will also do well in your basic water. Have you had your water tested for hardness? If it's basic it's likely also hard, which is also good for livebearers. As for "cleanup crew" sorts of animals, you could get some sort of snail as they do well in basic, hard water as well (it's good for their shells).

Another option with hard, basic water are African cichlids. In a small tank like the 10g, you could have a pair of dwarf shelldwellers of some kind. Of course, you wouldn't want to keep them with guppies and this would be a species tank, but it's another option. Really cool fish.

You might also want to take a look at rainbows. There are lots that are native to Australia that do well in your water conditions, though you'll want to make sure the fish are appropriate for your size tank(s). You might have access to rainbow species not available here in the US as Australia's animal import/export laws are so strict.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for the suggestions, iamntbatman. I hadn't considered cichlids because I didn't know you could get small ones. One of the aquarium shops specializes in cichlids and they all seemed big (and beautiful). I've looked up the ones you are talking about and they have them here. I'll have a look at them when I go to the shop next.

We have rainbows, but most of the descriptions have them as (I think) too big for my tanks. Maybe they have dwarf/small varieties, I'll have a better look around and do some reading.

I've had guppies before so I know they'll do well. Some people go for the fancier types of fish, but I really like guppies. My guppies seemed to have "personalities". They'd come up to the glass and seemed to interact with you. (They were probably just hoping for food, but it looked like they knew you were there.)

I saw an apple snail at the shop the other day. It was a pretty yellow colour so I wouldn't mind getting one of those. From what I've read, snails don't add (much?) to the bioload so I should be ok adding a snail after I've decided on the main fish.

As for the water hardness, the guy in the shop who tested my water the other day said the water was hard "as you'd expect" so the water here is hard as well as alkaline.

I've been put off getting tetras because most of them seem to say that they like soft acidic water. They must do ok, because they sell a lot of them, but I don't want to get something that's more likely to die/not thrive in my conditions.

I've pretty much decided to get some corydoras catfish for one (at least) of the tanks. It's quite good not having already got anything except the platies, because I can properly research the options and not end up making a foolish choice.

Thanks for the ideas.
 

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Iamntbatman had several good choices to match your water, and there are many more, it just takes some research before buying to avoid mistakes that usually result in fish losses or ill health.

With respect to the tetras, there are several that would also suit your water, in the larger of the two aquaria since they are shoaling fish that must be in a group to be healthy. If you check through the characins profiles on this site you'll find several listed with parameters into the basic/harder side. And there are several species ofCorydoras that are suited to your water. It just takes a bit of research.

Those that essentially require soft, acidic water will not thrive in basic, harder water long-term. The stores may as you say sell a lot of them, either because they have customers who have taken the effort to safely provide suitable water (using peat, RO, or whatever), or more often (unfortunately)people buy them and they die so they buy more. I always use the cardinal tetra to illustrate. Many with harder water will say they have had healthy cardinals for 2-3 years in their tanks, so the idea they "need" soft acidic water is a myth. My response is, that cardinals will live more than 10 years in the proper environment; they die in 2-3 years because the harder water causes calcium blockages of the kidneys. We can't see this externally; but the fish are clearly in bad health and stressed and probably suffering, or they wouldn't die prematurely. This speaks for itself. And any soft acidic water fish is very likely to have the same difficulties, even though the aquarist might think it "looks OK." You can't expect a fish programmed by evolution to live in water with zero hardness and a pH of 3.5 to be "healthy" and normal in basic, hard water. Dr. Stanley Weitzman, one of the most knowledgeable and respected ichthyologists alive has written the these tropical forest fishes have evolved over millions of years and are adapted for specific water parameters; the fact that many will not spawn in different water is evidence that the fish cannot adapt as some may think.

Byron.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks again, Byron. I'm finding it difficult to find fish that are small AND like my water AND don't want a big tank because they are active swimmers, etc. etc. etc. With the schooling fish it seems difficult because of the number you need. If I've got my platies (down to 4, 1 died) and if I get the corydoras (either 5 of one sort, or 3 of 2 different sorts) then I wouldn't have room for a school of tetras as well, would I? It seems that you could make lots of selections if you were free to choose one fish of each type, but when they want a school, you are really left with only 1 or 2 choices for each small tank. Some of the tetras seem to get quite big as well, so a small school of tetras seems like that'd be just about all you could get. I've decided that I want corydoras and I've already got my platies so unless I can fit something else in with them (maybe a dwarf gourami?), that's my big tank pretty much sorted.

Those shelldwellers seem like nice little fish. I found some videos of them on youtube. But they like sand (which I don't have) and it seems like you'd need a tank which is more open than mine so you could see what they're up to. I've got ornaments and (fake) plants in mine.

Yes, your point about fish being suited to their conditions is what I thought. I can't see the point of getting fish suited for different conditions. I want to get the ones that suit what I've got. It seems like common sense that something that suits your conditions would do better than something out of its comfort zone.

I'd like to see the petshops figure out what regular people starting out should get so that when you go in they can say "you can have this, this or this". "How big's your tank? You can have X number." They could still keep a wider range of fish for experienced aquarists who know how to manipulate the conditions but for people starting out they should have basic fish suited to local conditions. They just let you pick out what looks pretty, which doesn't seem like the right way to do it. (Being cynical, maybe they want your fish to die so that you buy more.)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Things are progressing with the cycle. I'd like some opinions on stocking levels, if possible.

I've got 4 guppies in the 35-litre. I'm interested in honey dwarf gouramis and panda cories. I've read that the honey dwarf gouramis need to be in a pair, but I've also read that they can fight, so I'm not sure whether you are supposed to get 1 or 2. For panda cories, it says on the profile here that you need to have 5 panda cories. Would I be able to have 5 panda cories as well as my guppies, or a dwarf gourami or gouramis and my guppies? Any other suggestions for something different to go in with the guppies?

In my 75-litre I've got 4 platies and 3 pristella tetras (I've got another 3 in a quarantine tank so there'll be 6). I'd like another platy (5 is a better number than 4) but I'd also like to have cories, 3 of 2 different sorts, or 5 of one sort. Would this be ok?

Thanks for any opinions. I'd rather find out if there's something wrong with my plans before I commit to them.
 

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A 75 litre is 20 US gallons [even though Canada is metric, I learned imperial and still think imperial measurements:)]. So 6 Pristella, 4-5 platy, 5-6 corys are fine. Live plants will benefit, plus regular partial water changes weekly will maintain good water quality. Wouldn't go beyond this though, as the Pristella will grow and are somewhat active swimmers needing "room." The corys will be fine.

On cory numbers, 5 is usually a good number with one species; if you mix species, you should aim for 3 of each. I have found this works best, although I do have a couple species that only have 1 or 2, due to unavailability. As long as they have other corys with them they seem to be fine, they chum around together, and act normal. I have found some species do have a preference for their own species, my pandas are like that.

On the gourami, "pair" always means male/female. It is two males that will be aggressive to varying degrees. In as small a space as 35 litres (10 gallons) I would certainly not have two males as there is not sufficient room for either one to get out of the other's face, so to speak.

Byron.
 
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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks Byron. Well, that's my 75-litre sorted. I can't wait until I can get my cories. I love those little fish. I'm happy with my other fish so far as well. The pristella are a really pretty little fish. The ones I've had for a while have deeper colours than the ones just from the shop. They really are very pretty.

What do you think about the 35-litres? Is it too small to get cories in there as well? Do the gouramis have to be in a pair, or would one on its own be ok?
 

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A lone gourami would be fine. I think one honey gourami, 4 guppies and 3-4 cories would be ok in a 35-liter tank, especially if it were planted and you kept an eye on your nitrates.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks iamntbatman. It's not planted. I planted two stems of pennywort, but the guppies have completely eaten one of them..... The other one hasn't been completely eaten, but they've nibbled on the new growth so I don't know how it's going to go. Maybe I need to plant something different that they don't like quite as much. I know absolutely nothing about aquarium plants (either!) so I don't know what would be suitable. I might have to start yet another thread about that....
 
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