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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So I thought I'd solicit feedback about my current adventure as an aquarist. Here's a timeline:

Jan 28: brought home first ever aquarium, a 10g starter from Petsmart. Added fake plants and decorations.

Jan 30: Based on advice from Petsmart associate (had not yet found this forum), added fish: 5x Black Widow Tetra and 1x Emerald Cory

Mar 26: Thoroughly "hooked" on the aquarium hobby, so I converted to my current 56g column with 2x Fluval U2 filters (one had been running in the 10g for a couple days)

Apr 3: After reading on this wonderful forum about cories preferring groups, purchased 2 more emeralds from Petsmart and 5x Serpae Tetra (one was found floating and being cannibalized a couple weeks later RIP)

Apr 27: Had been reading about plecos, so purchased rubberlip pleco (also from Petsmart)

May 6: Noticed my first cory, who was bigger at the time of purchase than the 2 additional ones, had a funny growth that appeared to be a cotton-mouth type of thing (posted a pic in reply to a thread here: ). Administered a fungus cure to entire tank. (Incidentally, the growth it still there but hasn't really increased/decreased in size)

May 10: After reading up on the benefits of canister filters, upgraded to a Fluval 305. (no media from other filters was transferred, only existing substrate and ornaments that had already been in tank for the beneficial bacteria)

May 12: Found rubberlip pleco dead on bottom of tank ( Most likely because of fungus cure and change in filter

Between May 10-20: after seeing such beautiful planted tanks and reading about the benefits of planted tanks on this forum, started adding live plants and driftwood ( and

May 20: Added clown pleco from a family-owned LFS which has been pretty trustworthy so far.

May 30: added Giant Valisneria

Current video:

Local tap water parameters: PH 7.4-7.6; Ammonia 0-0.25; Nitrite 0; Nitrate ~5 (which seemed odd, maybe a flaw in testing). Now that I think of it, I didn't let the tap water stand overnight before testing. Could that have something to do with it?

Parameters June 4 (after 50% water change): PH 7.6; Ammonia 0-0.25 (probably from tap); Nitrite 0; Nitrate 5-10 (not sure why nitrate is so high right after water change. I had tested before water change and reading was way higher. Maybe I'm not testing correctly? Using API Freshwater Master Test kit)

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On the testing. First, always test prior to a water change. This allows you to see what is happening in the tank, water-wise. These are the numbers to pay attention to. Testing after the water change is fine to see what is changed, wait about an hour.

Nitrate. If you are using the API test, you need to shake Regent #2 for 2 minutes. The instructions say 30 seconds, but that frequently results in a false (and higher than it really is) reading.

pH of tap water: run a glass of water and let it stand overnight to allow the CO2 to dissipate. Depending upon the amount of CO2 in the tap water, this can lower the pH. The test after the water has sat out will be more accurate. Other tests (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate) on tap water can be immediate.

My only other comment is on the Serpae Tetra. This species can be a real terror, sometimes not. Read the profile info (click on the shaded name). A larger group (at least 8, preferably more than that) may lessen their aggressiveness. And while this may not show now, it may suddenly later. Notorious fin nippers, cannot be safely combined with sedate or long-finned fish.

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