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Old 06-11-2012, 08:56 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
30,708 posts, read 79,802,285 times
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We are getting a fresh water aquarium again. Had one about ten years ago, for maybe five to ten years. We think we know some things that help with aquarium care, but really do not know if they are true. Not even sure where we learned these things. Are these things correct?

1. Larger tanks (i.e. 70- 150 gallons) are far easier to care for than smaller tanks (10-50 gallons).

2. It is much better to have both an under gravel and cannister filter.

3. If you over filter a tank, you can have more fish in it. (we had an undergravel filter with three power heads and two fluval 404 canister filters on a 70 gallon tank, and were lead to belive that we could readily house 100 fish in it).

4. General rule of thumb is 1 inch of fish per gallon of water (subject to adjust for over filtering).

5. Discus require special set up and treatment and are nearly impossible to keep alive.

6. You only need to change 1/3 of the water once a month and clean the filters as needed.

7. Any fish that costs more than $15 will either hide and never be seen again or die in a few days. (exception was a blue eyed pleco who grew and grew and eventually brought us $300).

8. Live plants are expensive, messy and regularly die (usually in a week or two).

9. Fluval makes far and away the best filters for fresh water aquariums.

10. When you start up your aquarium, you need to start with some garbage fish that will probably die, but which will help get the necessary bacteria growing.

Thanks.
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Old 06-11-2012, 10:33 AM
 
404 posts, read 904,686 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
We are getting a fresh water aquarium again. Had one about ten years ago, for maybe five to ten years. We think we know some things that help with aquarium care, but really do not know if they are true. Not even sure where we learned these things. Are these things correct?

1. Larger tanks (i.e. 70- 150 gallons) are far easier to care for than smaller tanks (10-50 gallons).

This is partially true. A larger tank means more stable water parameters as it will take more to mess it up. That being said, all the regular maintenance such as water changes, cleaning the glass, etc... will just be more work and more expensive.

2. It is much better to have both an under gravel and cannister filter.

not sure about freshwater, but in saltwater under gravel is very outdated.

3. If you over filter a tank, you can have more fish in it. (we had an undergravel filter with three power heads and two fluval 404 canister filters on a 70 gallon tank, and were lead to belive that we could readily house 100 fish in it).

This is true to an extent, but I wouldn't throw 100 fish in a 70g tank just because you got a good filter. You have to start slowly so the bacteria can adjust to the new bioload

4. General rule of thumb is 1 inch of fish per gallon of water (subject to adjust for over filtering).

5. Discus require special set up and treatment and are nearly impossible to keep alive.

Once again, I'm not too familiar with freshwater, but if your looking for bright colorful fish like discus, maybe consider a saltwater tank...lots of color and other excitement.

6. You only need to change 1/3 of the water once a month and clean the filters as needed.

There are many schools of thought on this, but more is better and lesser amounts more often can help keep parameters more stable. I change 5 gallons every 3-4 days.


7. Any fish that costs more than $15 will either hide and never be seen again or die in a few days. (exception was a blue eyed pleco who grew and grew and eventually brought us $300).

This is pretty funny, I assume you're joking. All fish will hide when stressed and as long as your water parameters are ok and you understand the proper care and feeding of the fish, you should be all set. In the saltwater hobby, there aren't many fish that cost less than $20...

8. Live plants are expensive, messy and regularly die (usually in a week or two).

This is something I'm pretty unfamiliar with, but I would want to do live plants if I did freshwater. Sure it adds another layer of difficulty, but it also looks wayy better.

9. Fluval makes far and away the best filters for fresh water aquariums.

Still a very reputable brand as far as I know

10. When you start up your aquarium, you need to start with some garbage fish that will probably die, but which will help get the necessary bacteria growing.

This is unnecessary and cruel. You don't need any fish to cycle a tank. lookup fishless tank cycle.

Thanks.
hope this helps
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Old 06-11-2012, 10:54 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
30,708 posts, read 79,802,285 times
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I just found/read the thread and article on fishless cycling. We are buying a used tank that is in use. If we keep water in the filter cannisters and keep the rock wet when we move it then we should have bacteria established almost immediately correct?

Some of the tnaks we are considering come with fish, some do not. If we buy one with fish, we will have to put them back in the tank right away. They cannot live in plastic baggies for very long.

The tank is a gift for my wife. She specifically said she does not want salt water (too much work), even though the fish are prettier.

When we had our tank before, we hardly had to do any work. The plecos kept the tank clean and we just changed the water occaisionally, the filters rarely needed cleaning and we would clean one at a time. I think she checked the water chemistry once in a while. Otherwise, it was really no work at all. Just look at it. It is not that we are lazy we just have a lot of kids and a lot of pets and a 176 year old house, and I have a very demanding job . . . Thus, low maintenaince is better. I considered geting a salt water tank and having a service come deal with all the testing and adjusting etcetera, but we do not need added monthly expenses. Besides, one of my partners had a salt water tank int he office, and every now and then some little thing would go wrong and all of his fish would die, and they cost hundreds each (some of them). It did not seem to take much of a problem to kill all the fish (he had a professional service too). It did not happen a lot but probably three or four times in 18 years. Once a star fish dies and released some toxin that killed all the other fish, once it was some problem with salt, once some part of the filter system lafunctioned over the weekend. Anyway, I think we will stick with frech water, but those discus fish sure are pretty and graceful.

I only see discus with other discus. Can they no live with anything else?
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Old 06-11-2012, 11:17 AM
 
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Yes, if you are buying a used setup that is still running, you should have most of the bacteria already established. When I bought my saltwater setup, I got everything used. The cycle which is supposed to last anywhere from 4-8 weeks only took a couple days with my tank. If you are buying the setup with fish, then you have no choice, they have to go in the tank and everything should be fine as freshwater fish tend to be very hardy. I understand choosing freshwater over saltwater if you are busy and on a budget. However, once a saltwater tank is up and running it requires little to no maintenance. I have a couple friends who have not tested their water in years. They just do regular water changes and everything does well. I would join a couple forums dedicated to fishkeeping. Reef Central is a good one for salt water, though I don't know what the popular freshwater sites are. There you will find all the info you could ever need and more.
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Old 06-11-2012, 01:18 PM
 
Location: North Western NJ
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1. Larger tanks (i.e. 70- 150 gallons) are far easier to care for than smaller tanks (10-50 gallons).

Absolutly 100% true...think of it this way.1 drop of amonia in a cup of water is going to make a MUCH bigger difference than 1 drop of ammonia in a swimming pool...same goes for fishtanks...small fluctuations happen every day no matter what your set up...and in a small tank small fluctuations can make a MUCH bigger difference than those same mall flutuations in a larger tank.

2. It is much better to have both an under gravel and cannister filter.

Personally id rather do canister and HOB if your going to double up, but i also prefer using sand to gravel which doesnt work with undergravel filtration lol.

3. If you over filter a tank, you can have more fish in it. (we had an undergravel filter with three power heads and two fluval 404 canister filters on a 70 gallon tank, and were lead to belive that we could readily house 100 fish in it).

for me amount of fish is also dependant on type of fish ect. personaly even when "over" filtered i wouldnt put too many fish in there...IF they are all inhabiting the same general space. however id have no problem overstocking A LITTLE if you had a tank full of angelfish and tetras and wanted to add 1/2 a doen bottom feeders ect...

4. General rule of thumb is 1 inch of fish per gallon of water (subject to adjust for over filtering).

1 inch of ADULT fish..puting 10 inches of young fish in a 10 gallon tank will only work while they are little, base all stocking "measurments" on adult size. this rule works well for most tetra, danios and similar small schooling fish...throw this rule completly out when dealing with cold water fish like koi and goldfish (more like 10 gallons per inch) and "carnivorous" fish (cichlids) and "territorial" breeds like gourami ect...

5. Discus require special set up and treatment and are nearly impossible to keep alive.

Discus ARE sensitive, they like very clean water but dont like alot of current in the tank so getting the filtration right is a challenge, they need VERY clean tanks and veyr steady parameters...so yes discus are difficult, BUT i wouldnt say "impossible"...if your willing to put the research in and the money into the right equiptment then its doable...i wouldnt personally try to do discus in anythign smaller than 100 gallons though...again bigger tank gives you a little more wiggle room in terms of chemistry.
if your interested in discus though i would suggest looking into peackoc cichlids too,bright, beautiful and not quite as sensitive...thoguh nothing beats out discus for impressive beauty, id love a discus tank one day...when im rich


6. You only need to change 1/3 of the water once a month and clean the filters as needed.

i change 10% of water once a week and check all my filter media at the same time. id much rather do more frequent SMALL water changes than 1 big one...once again the more water you take out and put in at one time the more likely for water chemistry changes to occur drastically...

7. Any fish that costs more than $15 will either hide and never be seen again or die in a few days. (exception was a blue eyed pleco who grew and grew and eventually brought us $300).

LOL

8. Live plants are expensive, messy and regularly die (usually in a week or two).

LOL, personally ive nEVER had good luck with live so i just gave up on them, so for me, yes this is true lol

9. Fluval makes far and away the best filters for fresh water aquariums.

i have whisper and fluval and like both of them!

10. When you start up your aquarium, you need to start with some garbage fish that will probably die, but which will help get the necessary bacteria growing.

i always start tanks up with fishless cycle i tend to use healthy used filter media and gravel/sand to seed the tank, i dont personally think theres such a thing as "garbage" fish, and dont like to "sacrifice" live animals just to get my tank ready quicker. once my tank is cycled i generally like to start out with small hardy fish to get going, but i dont consider them sacrificial.
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Old 06-11-2012, 02:14 PM
 
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Posters have already done a pretty good job of answering all your questions, so I'll just add a few comments. First, I have had a lot of success with live plants, so much so that I regularly sell them on fish forums and craigslist. I grow low-light plants such as java fern and water sprite, that doesn't require fancy lighting, fertilizers, or CO2. They typically sell online for around $2 each. But just starting out, it would be easier if you went with artificial. If you get any fish with long, flowing fins, just be sure you have soft plants, such as ones made from silk. Second, it sounds very much like you want to just add water and fish with little to no follow-up maintenance. With many fish you are looking at problems if you do this, as many are more sensitive to ammonia and nitrate build-up than others. I could try and convince you that frequent partial water changes truly are necessary, but I strongly suspect that my advice will fall on deaf ears as you say you had no problems previously. I do about 25% water changes WITH gravel vacuumings each weeks, very important to do those too if you have gravel. I do have a heavy bio-load in my tanks, with about the maximum amount of fish. SO---I suggest you get the largest tank you can realistically afford, and stock it with few fish as opposed to a lot. Throw that inch per fish rule right out the window where it belongs, different fish have different requirements. Fewer fish will create less waste in a larger tank, a bigger tank is better, and you will have more chance at being successful. Do avoid goldfish, they are extremely messy, constantly pooping, pooping, pooping. Also avoid discus, as they are extremely fussy about water conditions and you would need to really keep up on weekly or bi-weekly partial water changes. Plus they need large tanks, I think a minimum somewhere around 60 gallons. Danios are extremely hardy fish, and come in all kind of different varieties, consider those. I strongly suggest you research fish to see what types are hardiest, what their temp, size and possible ph requirements are, and what kind of tankmates they would do best with. It's very important to put compatible fish together in the appropriate sized tank, to minimize aggression etc. There is no such thing as "garbage" fish. There are several different website that you can use to compare fish:

Knowledge Base — Seriously Fish

Tropical Fish Profiles

Freshwater Fish: Freshwater Tropical Fish Species for Tropical Fish Tanks
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Old 06-11-2012, 05:47 PM
 
2,873 posts, read 5,851,244 times
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I have two heavily planted tanks. I actually find them MUCH easier than plastic or fabric plants. Plastic and fabric quickly become covered with film, leaving you the choice to either remove and clean them or replace. Live plants look much more beautiful and help keep your water cleaner...win win! Look for 'low tech' plants...they require low to medium lighting and no special care. I don't even bother to fertilize my plants and they look great.

You should do weekly water changes- if you overstock, biweekly. I do a 25% weekly water change on my big tank and a biweekly on the smaller tank because the fish in it are more frail and tank is smaller (which, as discussed, means the chemistry can more quickly have issues.) It sounds like a lot of work, but it only takes about fifteen minutes and that's it for maintenance for the week. Every other week I rinse my filter pads (only in tank water, NEVER in tap...you'll kill your bacteria colony). I use a biowheel filter...the biowheel never gets replaced. You can shorten the maintenance time up even more by using an automatic water changer like a python system that attaches to your sink. These are the best things in the world...unfortunately for me I can't use them anymore because my shrimp keep breeding and I have to search the buckets for minute baby shrimp.

I also do weekly water tests using the API master liquid test. Don't use test strips...they are absolutely worthless and give false readings.

If you want a low maintenance tank, do not overstock. The more fish, the more waste, the more waste, the quicker things can go wrong. You want a 'cushion' where if, say, a fish dies while you are at work, the corpse doesn't poison the water immediately and kill all the the others.

And if you want low maintenance, don't get Discus or other sensitive fish. Research fish that are hardy and low waste. I would personally avoid plecos (they have a huge bio load for their size). Consider shrimp as a maintenance crew of sorts...they have very little bio load.

The 1 inch rule is really for beginners...the reality is much more complicated and decides entirely on your species. Get fish that will fit your tank as adults (which again means no common plecos.) Make sure if you get schooling species that you get enough...stress is what makes fish hide, and one of the biggest causes of stress is choosing the wrong species to go together or not providing a proper school. For example, a group of male guppies under six or so will peck at the weakest and worry it to death. In larger groups the pecking is spread out and they do much better. Tiger barbs in a small group will harass every other fish in the tank and nip fins. In a larger group they tend to be more peaceful.

But the number one rule is that fish are pets and a responsibility. If you just want something showy with absolutely no work, get a nice moving picture. It doesn't take much time to care for fish, but you need to make that commitment and keep up with your maintenance. There is no such thing as a 'garbage' fish...they are living creatures that can suffer. By all means get a tank that is already set up so you have an established colony, but just keep in mind that you will still have to to do regular water changes. The pleco you had before was probably a case of 'old tank syndrome.' Some fish can survive with astonishingly high ammonia levels, but it causes organ damage and adding new fish to the tanks will result in the new fish being unable to cope and dying.
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Old 06-11-2012, 08:11 PM
 
Location: Mount Laurel
4,187 posts, read 11,929,395 times
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I am primary discus keeper with a few CRS tank. I do have planted tank as well but I'll give you my take on some of your questions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
We are getting a fresh water aquarium again. Had one about ten years ago, for maybe five to ten years. We think we know some things that help with aquarium care, but really do not know if they are true. Not even sure where we learned these things. Are these things correct?

1. Larger tanks (i.e. 70- 150 gallons) are far easier to care for than smaller tanks (10-50 gallons).

Bigger tanks make it easier to keep the water parameter stable once it's established. 75gal tank is probably one of the best tank to start out with but not everyone have the room or want to invest the money into it.

2. It is much better to have both an under gravel and cannister filter.

As a discus keeper, under gravel filter is a no no. Cannister and HOB filter both has it's benefits.

3. If you over filter a tank, you can have more fish in it. (we had an undergravel filter with three power heads and two fluval 404 canister filters on a 70 gallon tank, and were lead to belive that we could readily house 100 fish in it).

Not true.

4. General rule of thumb is 1 inch of fish per gallon of water (subject to adjust for over filtering).

That's a safe rule. Your experience may allow you to over stock but just remember that overstocking mean persistent in maintenance.

5. Discus require special set up and treatment and are nearly impossible to keep alive.

Discus requires the least setup. Some of my discus tank is just a bare tank with a few sponge filter. No special chemicals, just tap water with chlorine removed. The key to keeping discus is stability but that's true with any fish tank.

6. You only need to change 1/3 of the water once a month and clean the filters as needed.

Depends on the types of fish and the tank setup. I have a planted tank that get about 20% WC every month.

7. Any fish that costs more than $15 will either hide and never be seen again or die in a few days. (exception was a blue eyed pleco who grew and grew and eventually brought us $300).

NO true.

8. Live plants are expensive, messy and regularly die (usually in a week or two).

Live plants are not expensive if you find local hobbyist that you can do trade with. I usually give my plants clipping away or trade for other plants. It's been years since I purchased any live plants.

9. Fluval makes far and away the best filters for fresh water aquariums.

NO.. Some may say Eheim are better.

10. When you start up your aquarium, you need to start with some garbage fish that will probably die, but which will help get the necessary bacteria growing.

This depends on your level in fish keeping. You need a cycle your tank or do a quick start with established filter media.

Thanks.
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Old 06-16-2012, 08:05 PM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
30,708 posts, read 79,802,285 times
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So we bought a 55 gallon tank (smaller than I wanted, but my wife loves the stand and canopy).

Some questions and problems.

1st it came with a bunch of fish. We moved them in zip lock bags. They are sitting in the bags (tops open) and dying. There is no time to cycle the tank. They will all be dead by morning so we are going to have to put them in. Since it is such a small tank, we were able to leave the gravel in the bottom with 1/2 inch of water, so hopefully the bacteria will be already established. We did put in some bacteria pills that dissolve like alka seltzer.

It came with several filters. The operating one is a Whisper 60. We set it up, plugged it in and it woudl do nothing. (It was running when to took the tank). So we bought a whisper IX70 or something like that. We set it up plugged it in and - nothing. Finally I took the 60 apart and found the impeller. I plugged it in and the impeller did nto move. I gave it a push and it ran, stopped ran stopped. So I set that filter back up and gave the impeller a push start and then stuck the pipe on "viola!" it is running (for now). I tried looking into the IX 70 when plugged in, but cannot even see the impeller. As far as I can tell, it just does nto work. We will take it back and hope the other one keeps running.

The tank also came with a Fluval 304 cannister filter. this is a nice filter and complete, but it was used in a salt water tank. They never used it because they were not sure how to make certain all fo the salt is out of it. I am not certian either. Is it sufficient to just soak everything in fresh water and swish it around some? Do we have to replace all of the media? If so, we probably will nto use it because replacing everything will cost more than buying a new 304.

It also came with a fluval 303. These I am familiar with because out old tank had a larger version of these. however it is not all there (no tubes, too few noodles, etc). Not sure where to get parts for it since it is discontinued.

One other question, how can we tell if the heater is working? I turned it on and hte light on the thermostat glows, but if I put my hand around it, it does nto feel warm. Given the dying fish crises, we did nto wait for it to try to heat up the ater, and just put warm water in the tank to get it up to 75. That is probably a little cool, but the fish are dying anyway, so we have to go with it.

Not going real well so far.
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Old 06-16-2012, 11:51 PM
 
2,873 posts, read 5,851,244 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
So we bought a 55 gallon tank (smaller than I wanted, but my wife loves the stand and canopy).

Some questions and problems.

1st it came with a bunch of fish. We moved them in zip lock bags. They are sitting in the bags (tops open) and dying. There is no time to cycle the tank. They will all be dead by morning so we are going to have to put them in. Since it is such a small tank, we were able to leave the gravel in the bottom with 1/2 inch of water, so hopefully the bacteria will be already established. We did put in some bacteria pills that dissolve like alka seltzer.

It came with several filters. The operating one is a Whisper 60. We set it up, plugged it in and it woudl do nothing. (It was running when to took the tank). So we bought a whisper IX70 or something like that. We set it up plugged it in and - nothing. Finally I took the 60 apart and found the impeller. I plugged it in and the impeller did nto move. I gave it a push and it ran, stopped ran stopped. So I set that filter back up and gave the impeller a push start and then stuck the pipe on "viola!" it is running (for now). I tried looking into the IX 70 when plugged in, but cannot even see the impeller. As far as I can tell, it just does nto work. We will take it back and hope the other one keeps running.

The tank also came with a Fluval 304 cannister filter. this is a nice filter and complete, but it was used in a salt water tank. They never used it because they were not sure how to make certain all fo the salt is out of it. I am not certian either. Is it sufficient to just soak everything in fresh water and swish it around some? Do we have to replace all of the media? If so, we probably will nto use it because replacing everything will cost more than buying a new 304.

It also came with a fluval 303. These I am familiar with because out old tank had a larger version of these. however it is not all there (no tubes, too few noodles, etc). Not sure where to get parts for it since it is discontinued.

One other question, how can we tell if the heater is working? I turned it on and hte light on the thermostat glows, but if I put my hand around it, it does nto feel warm. Given the dying fish crises, we did nto wait for it to try to heat up the ater, and just put warm water in the tank to get it up to 75. That is probably a little cool, but the fish are dying anyway, so we have to go with it.

Not going real well so far.
Are you priming the filters? When you plugged them in, did they make any kind of noise or where they just completely silent? If they are making noise, you need to pour water into them to start them.

I really, really hope you used something like Prime to remove chlorine and other chemicals from your tap water. If you didn't every fish in there is going to die.

For the heater, you need to get a stick on thermometer that goes on the front of the tank. If the temp stays steady the heater is working.

Not sure how to get salt out of a filter. For the one that isn't made anymore you might be able to find parts on ebay or aquabid.
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