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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone. New to the forum and kida new to fish keeping. Had tanks growing up so I know how to setup and maintain, but not so familiar with a lot of species. Also I never had real plants or inverts so I need some advice!

I got a 30gal off craigslist. I cleaned it with a vinegar/water solution and it looks brand new. Should I do anything else to make sure my tank is disease free? It came with a top fin 30 filter but I was going to get a whisper 40 or 60. Also I threw out the old filter media since I was unsure how long ago it was used and what was on it.

I want to make this a really nice tank with plenty of rocks, driftwood and plants. I was also going to paint the back of the tank black so I don’t have to deal with backgrounds and tape.

So here is where I need your help! What plants do you suggest for a beginner (I don’t want to have to go crazy with lighting, but I plan on doing a DIY co2 setup)? And what should I stock? I am in love with the clown loaches at the LFS but fear I cannot have them in my tank since they get so big (won’t be able to upgrade the tank for at least a year). So I was thinking 4-6 yoyo’s? But what would work with them.

If loaches are a no go then what about cichlids? What could I keep in a 30g? Any other suggestions? What kind of shrimp?
Sorry about the long post with ‘noobish’ questions. I just want to get the tank started in September and I greatly appreciate the knowledge and opinions of other people so Im asking a lot so I can try and learn a lot.

P.S- I remember cycling tanks and I have read about it and understand. I would want to cycle with my live plants and some gravel/filter media from my friend’s tank.
 

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Hi, and welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.

I suspect you have cleaned the tank thoroughly, and I agree, throw away the filter media.

My first suggestion is to forget the CO2 bit as that sets up a totally different "balance" need. There is a 4-part series (what we call "stickies" ) at the head of the Aquarium Plants section that outlines my method for a low-tech natural planted tank. Rather than repeat bits of that, perhaps you could have a read. It will explain better. And the photos of my aquaria [under "Aquariums" below my name on the left] shows the results of that method.

On the filter, as it mentions in that series, filtration should be solely based on the needs of the fish. But before we can consider which fish, what are your water parameters out of the tap (assuming that is your source water)? Hardness [your water company can tell you this, perhaps on their website] and pH (they again, or a test kit, a pH test is good to have around). Also, it is useful to test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate--some water supplies have one or more of these and it is helpful to know ahead of time. A test kit for these three things plus pH is a good investment; API make a combo.

I agree, a 30g is much too small for clown loaches. Yo Yo Loach is getting closer, but at 6 inches they should have a 48-inch aquarium. And all loaches are shoaling fish that need to be in groups, so when deciding on shoaling fish always bear in mind that you need several of them. We have fish profiles here, second tab from the left in the blue bar at the top, or in posts you can click on the shaded name to see that fish's profile.

Cichlids are possible, but only the dwarf SA species in a 30g. Perhaps a pair as "centrepiece" with characins, catfish, etc? But here again, not knowing the water parameters makes it impossible to start deciding on these.

Hope this starts you off, I will have more when I know the parameters.

Byron.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Here they are

Sorry it took so long, just crazy getting ready to move. I have spent more time online and at the LFS's and im super excited but i can still use your help.

It also took long cause i needed a test kit:lol:

Ok so my ph is 7.2 Ammonia between .25-.50ppm, probly closer to the .25 side. Nitrate and Nitrite both 0ppm. This is from the tap, however i am moving, but not too far so shouldnt be that much of a difference.

I found a guy at the LFS that seems very down to earth and helpful. It seems he knows what he is talking about. I really like cichlids but im sared my small tank size and ph levels may not work. Dont really wanna have only a breeding pair either. If cant do that then i wanna community, maybe like 10 tigerbarbs and some other things????

Glad you said do away with the co2, and i read those other threads. I was looking at a plant package at sweetaquatics.com. They seem very helpful, they said they will help me pick out the plants depending on my substrate, lighting and fish.....the problem is i dont have anything yet.

So I really just think i am over thinking everything and stressing out. Im just super excited to have fish again. One day I get a game plan to keep a community of this with some inverts then the next day im leaning toward something else.

Ok Im sorry I keep blabing. Everyone just says get what you like but I wanna make sure I start right, so there is less stress on the fish, and myself:)

Thanks for your help
 

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Finding out the hardness of your tap water (or where you will be moving to) from the water board will help. Some fish need hard basic water, others need soft acidic water, still others can adapt somewhat as long as it is not extreme.

Once you know the water parameters (tap water), it will be easier to decide on fish. Plants are generally adaptable. Tiger barbs are not really "community" fish but a group of 10 (that's a good number for this species) in a 30g would work, with maybe a group of 5 of one of the smaller loaches for the bottom level. We have fish profiles here, second tab from the left in the blue bar at the top, where you can find out about many fish, their water requirements, compatibility, tank size, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Here they are

Well im in philadelphia and just moving right outside the city, and it looks like the same water co supplys the water there. So my parameters should be about the same. It says my water is moderately hard, "The hardness of Philadelphia's tap water is typically around 100 to 150 parts-per-million, which translate to about 6 to 9 grains per gallon."

I gave up on loaches, my LFS only really have clowns and I dont wanna shove fish in the tank that are gonna be unhappy. So Im interestedon some type of dwarf cichlids, i like your idea of a pair as a centerpiece.
 

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Hello, neighbor. I'm right outside of Philadelphia too. Langhorne, PA. I can suggest a few other LFS once you move that might be good for finding a variety of fish. Some LFS have loaches that will fit your 30g nicely.
 

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I grew up in Bensalem, moved to Feasterville-Trevose for a year then bought a house in Langhorne :) I know exactly where you are. small world. I personally won't shop at the Hidden Reef anymore except for dry goods. It went under new management about 8 months ago, and ever since then whenever I go into their freshwater fish section, I see dead or sick fish. The last few fish I bought there have died and they have no guarantee. There are several places around that are pretty good. Petland (not the best but healthy tanks but small variety) is pretty good and they have buy 1 get 1 every Wednesday. They are located in Levittown(?) by the old WalMart. There is a place in Bristol called The Fish Factory. It's kind of hit or miss with them, but i've never had an issue with fish purchased from there. There is a place in NJ about 15 minutes away (Take route 1 to 29) called Allquatics. I got my angelfish there who happened to be the male to my female ( ;-) ) and I ended up with a breeding pair. I also got my albino bistlenose pleco there that is doing wonderful. Also, if they don't have something in stock that you are looking for, they will special order it for you. If you're willing to drive about 35 minutes, there's a place called Captain Nemo's in East Norriton (down the Turnpike). They have a very nice selection and a nice shark tank inthe middle of the store that is quite entertaining. I've only gotten my Zebra Loaches there, but all 8 are doing great.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I didnt know that about the hidden reef. My friend and his dad went there for years, even before they moved out of phildalephia. I heard the owner was really nice but took a bad hit when the old store caught fire, I guess now the new management is worse. I went to nemos, and did like them alot, but it just seems that each and every store has some good and some bad. I didnt really like the people working there when I went. The sharks were pretty amazing.

My boss may let me out of work early since we are slow today, maybe Ill take a trip to NJ. Weird I never saw or heard of the Fish Factory even though i know exactly where it is, Im actually down the street from it right now!

Thanks for the info, now just to decide what I wanna get.
 

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Well im in philadelphia and just moving right outside the city, and it looks like the same water co supplys the water there. So my parameters should be about the same. It says my water is moderately hard, "The hardness of Philadelphia's tap water is typically around 100 to 150 parts-per-million, which translate to about 6 to 9 grains per gallon."

I gave up on loaches, my LFS only really have clowns and I dont wanna shove fish in the tank that are gonna be unhappy. So Im interestedon some type of dwarf cichlids, i like your idea of a pair as a centerpiece.
The hardness equate to soft/moderately hard, about 7-8 dGH, so that's quite good. With a pH of 7.2 your aquarium pH should lower a bit through biologicaly actions. Adding some wood would help this.

Lisa has you set on stores, so that's good. And as she mentions, there are a couple of suitable loaches for a 30g. The dwarf loach would work, or Botia striata (Zebra loach). Check out the profiles (click on the shaded name) and see if you like either.

With this hardness and pH you have a pretty good field to select from. But I would go one way or the other; either soft slightly acidic water fish (with the pH lowering below 7), or harder basic water (livebearers). Obviously there are more options with soft slightly acidic. And South American dwarf cichlids are possible.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks Guys

Great guys, thanks for all the info! Allthough cichlids may be nice, im thinking that i should wait for a larger tank down the road. The Zebras look amazing! So maybe Ill see if they are avaible. 5 of them will be good in a 30? With someting nice swimming above them I think it would look great! Are plecos gonna be ok on the bottom with them, it just kinda seems alot when the zebras get full size?

This is the plant package I was looking at, its supposed to plant a 30g. http://www.sweetaquatics.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=146_148&products_id=264

1 Sword (Med or Potted)

2 Potted Foreground (can be substituted for microsword portions)
1 Med Bare Root Anubias
2 Bunch Plants
5 Vallisneria
1 Aponogeton Bulb with sprouts
2 Med Bare Root Cryptocorynes

1 Potted Cryptocoryne (priced at $3.50 or lower)

2 Miscellaneous plant (choose from dwarf lily, java fern, java fern windelov, java fern narrowleaf, moss ball, spatterdock, banana plant, dwarf onion plant)
 

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Byron can guide you better if the Zebras will be okay with Plecos in a 30g (how many plecos?), but I just wanted to let you know that I got my Zebras at Captain Nemo's and all are doing very well. I bought all they had about a month ago (8 ), so if you decide to go there, give them a quick call before making the drive ;-)
 

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On the Zebra loaches, yes, five in a 30g is good and the limit. Provide lots of wood hiding spots as mentioned in the profile. If the pleco is one of the smaller species (max at 3-4 inches), OK with one. But some of them get 12-18 inches. You might want to hold off on a pleco.

The plant package looks good. On the last item, the choices, if it were me I would choose the Java Fern windelov and either the Spatterdock (which is Nuphar japonica) or the dwarf lily (Nuphar species, not sure which it might be). The JF windelov is a stunning relatively new variety of Java Fern [named "windelov" in honour of the founder of Tropica nurseries, Holger Windelov] with lacy leaves. These attach to wood or rock, same as Anubias.

Byron.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Sounds great! should i be concerned of anytype of rock changing the water parameters? Looks like tiger barbs would go good with the loaches. but 8 or so would be alot with 5 loaches right? Oh and if there is one thing i learned from online research is to be aware of the plecos you get, since most are labled wrong and tend to grow alot bigger then their owners expect.
 

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Sounds great! should i be concerned of anytype of rock changing the water parameters? Looks like tiger barbs would go good with the loaches. but 8 or so would be alot with 5 loaches right? Oh and if there is one thing i learned from online research is to be aware of the plecos you get, since most are labled wrong and tend to grow alot bigger then their owners expect.
A caution on the Tiger Barb. This is not a community fish except in a large (4+ feet) tank. They do well with loaches though. So in your 30g, a group of 10 Tigers and 5 loaches could be quite a display--all striped fish:). But nothing else. Just so you know; if this is the display you'd like, go for it, it will be spectacular. Tigers are very attractive barbs, just nippy (10+ will lessen that within the group) and they do not always tolerate other fish. But on their own in a 30g (with loaches), fine. Lots of plants, and wood or rock caves for the loaches. The substrate could be gravel, suited to the loach's natural habitat.

On the rock, if it is calcareous it will raise the hardness and pH. Calcareous rocks are limestone, dolomite, marble, lava; and coral. Inert rocks are fine. A test for calcium is to put a couple drops of acid on the rock and if it fizzes or foams, it is calcareous. Some suggest vinegar for the acid, but it really isn't strong enough. The Regent #1 [or is it #2?] in the Nitrate test kit is an acid and better to use. Granite, shale, quartz rock is fine, or should be.

Byron.
 

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Agree with Byron on the Java Fern Windelov.I've got it in my 37g and i really like it.The Dwarf Lily is listed under Nymphaea Stellata.I just ordered one for my 50g.it looks like an interesting plant as well and should be a nice contrast to the others.
 

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Ok so im between the loach/barb tank. That just sounds amazing to me, and if i can only do those 2 then so be it. But maybe i wanna get a bunch of companions for the loaches. Any suggestions of what to read up on and check out?

I would say just start reading through some of the profiles. I think in a 30 gallon tank, maybe just the loaches on the bottom. The barbs will be active enough above to make the tank seem quite full. They are character's seriously. Mine are currently sun bathing in a chorus line. I know, weird right? They really are so much fun to watch and keep a person and a few Rottweiler's entertained for hours watching them. I just don't get sick of them.
 

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Agree, a group of 5-6 loaches (of the same species) will be it for the bottom, they need their space, and hiding spots remember. The Tigers up top. Or if you want more variety, forget the Tigers and select a couple different species of rasbora; you can have 6 of each species (these are all shoaling fish, must bein a group) and 3-4 species in a 30g. But not with the Tigers. They limit you. They are on their own (aside from loaches).
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks SO much everyone! I think Im gonna take Lisas advice and get zebras from Nemos if they have/can get them. And Ill just have to check out other fish instead of the barbs. Oneeeee laaaaast question, (for now at least). Since the loaches prone to ICH should i get them first and make sure they are ok before adding others or get them later and quarantine them. I know Lisa said Nemos is pretty clean but I dont wanna take chances.

Once again thanks so much for all the help. Cant wait to get started in less than 2 weeks, Ill post pics and keep updates s you all can see how much you guys helped me. I know they may not be as pretty as other tanks here but at least the fish will be happy!
 
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