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Getting back in the game

Discussion in 'Freshwater Newbie Forum' started by the_gitter, Feb 14, 2017.

  1. the_gitter

    the_gitter AC Members

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    Hi everyone,

    I used to have fish with my dad 10+ years ago, and I've mentally committed to getting back into fishkeeping as a serious hobby. I've been doing some research online for the past few days, and I've got some questions that I hope you guys can answer. The only problem is I'm not 100% sure what my set-up will look like right now as I still need to find time to dig around in my mom's basement and hopefully find some of our old equipment, or else I'm going to have to start shopping around. It will almost definitely be in the ballpark of 20gal though. Anyways, here goes:

    1) Definitely going with a fishless cycle and pure ammonia, but obviously I'd prefer to wait less time as opposed to more. Are there any reliable products for this? I've seen Dr. Tim's One & Only mentioned a few times?

    2) I'd like to try planting for the first time, but I'm 100% new to that aspect. I've seen java ferns/mosses, cryptocoryne (is this the same as crypts?), and anubias tossed around for beginners, all of which sound like great options. Any opinions on those species for first-timers or typical wattages to keep them happy?

    3) On the same theme, would gravel substrate be appropriate for those plants, or should I look into layered substrates/fertilizers?

    4) Again with plants, do those species need any kind of additional CO2?

    5) Also, when in the cycle is appropriate to plant? Right away, in the middle sometime, or after it's complete? I know plants can help soak up excess N so I don't want them to steal it before proper bacterial species can establish themselves.

    6) I've always used a hang-on filter, but what gph do you recommend? I've seen people say anywhere from 5-10x volume? And are there any major cons associated with a hang-on that I'm unaware of?

    7) Finally, any recommendations for fish species you like? I'm going for a community tank, and I remember we used to have some barbs, tetras, and mollies, so those will be my starting points. What about a couple of bigger/flashier fish to go along with them? Angels? A cichlid species or two that might work?

    Sorry if I'm rehashing a bunch of old information. I tried reading around on here and elsewhere and couldn't really find solid answers to all my questions. Thanks in advance, and I'm really excited to be back!
     
  2. OrionGirl

    OrionGirl No freelancing!

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    Getting mulm from an established tank will be better, but either way you will need to be patient.

    Those will all do fine under low lights, 1-3 wpg (although that's not a very accurate way of measuring the light for plants since things like LED can output a lot more light, at specific spectrum than incandescent, for example)

    Crypts need to be planted, but most varieties will be fine with a small gravel.

    no, and adding CO2 with low light will often create an alga bloom.

    Planted tanks don't cycle the same way. Adding plants and getting them established usually negates the need to cycle, so long as you stock gradually. This isn't a bad thing, since either means of removing ammonia is effective. There will still be bacteria colonies and other microfauna.

    Look at what it's marketed for, and then go for one higher than your tank. Or 2 smaller.

    Many cichlids are not well suited for a community tank. Angels will definitely get too big/aggressive for a 20. Perhaps look at having one schooling fish, a pair of dwarf cichlids, and some smaller loaches. (ie NOT clown loaches). A 20 really isn't that large of a tank, and you will be very overstocked if you try having multiple schools of 2-3 inch fishes.
     
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  3. the_gitter

    the_gitter AC Members

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    How would you recommend meaasuring light then? Lumens? I'm going to have an LED light.

    Well that sounds like great news. As long as ammonia and nitrite are zero, nitrate is low, and plants are established I should be okay and consider cycling done then?

    Thank you! Is the 1in of fish per 1gal of tank still a good rule of thumb? I remember that being something we followed back in the day.
     
  4. dougall

    dougall ...

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    PAR is used, but not commonly listed for fixtures... I'd say it's better to ask for advice with a specific fixture and a specific tank (dimensions vs. volume of water) and remember that a lot of LED fixtures are dimmable too, so aiming for something more than you need will let you lower output and raise when you're ready, rather than needing to replace and restart.

    Assuming that ammonia has been added in the first place and you only notice nitrates after a few hours. Plants will help keep ammonia/nitrite/nitrate levels down in safe levels if they grow well and are sufficient in numbers... but they won't create miracles... read up about silent cycling, but it is possible to add plants right away.

    No, a 48" catfish will not have the same body mass or bioload as 48 neon tetras, nor would it work in a 20g aquarium.

    It's supposed to vaguely work for small torpedo shaped fish, but really I would go with smart thinking, and the results of your water tests to say bioload is OK, over crowding might be another matter with aggressive or territorial fish.
     
  5. the_gitter

    the_gitter AC Members

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    Thanks for the advice everyone!
     
  6. fishorama

    fishorama AC Members

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    Usually, to "silent cycle" a tank, you need a LOT of fast growing plants. Yes, even slow growers can help, they often come with beneficial bacteria on their surfaces...but not too much. I've seen what many call "planted tanks" but 3 or 5 little plants are not enough to make much difference.

    Tetra Safe Start & Dr Tim's 1 & Only are the only 2 products I've heard of that contain the correct bacteria. But I've never used them. Dr. Tim sold his first bacteria product to Tetra, then developed a similar but supposedly better 1. There are also products that claim to "speed start" cycling but they don't have the right bacteria, they may "help" a little but save your $$, their not the miracles you hope for.
     
  7. the_gitter

    the_gitter AC Members

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    What would you consider a lot of plants?

    And do you have any recommendations for hardy, fast growers that would do well in low light? So far I've seen Ceratopetris thalictroides (Water Sprite), Egeria densa (Brazilian Waterweed), Bacopa australis, and Hygrophila polysperma mentioned as good ones to help silent cycle.
     
  8. fishorama

    fishorama AC Members

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    I'm talking wall to wall plants! Well, not quite maybe but a lot! Several (not 2 or 3) bunches, it'll depend on your tank size.

    Watersprite can get quite large, 1 of the fastest growing ferns IME. Hygrophillia polysperma is 1 of those illegal plants (it can grow all too well in many outdoor areas), except the many "varieties" like "sunset", "tiger" etc that seem to be allowed AFAIK (& yes regular polysperma is often available; be careful, it's a weed). There are other hygrophillia that are not illegal, diffiformis, angustifolia & pinnatifida.

    Depending on lighting & ferts some rotalas, ludwegia, Brazilian pennywort often grow fast. I have never had Egeria grow well for long, it likes cooler temps. Rotting plants add to nitrate issues.

    Swords & crypts (yes, cryptocoryne species) are nice plants, but not fast growing usually, although some swords get huge.

    I love having plants & belong to an aquatic plant club so I can get a "ton'o'plants" often for free so I'm spoiled. If I had to buy "enough" plants to silent cycle say, a 55g or buy Dr Tim's or dose ammonia...well, ammonia is the way to go! Maybe with a few plants that will grow well for your tank, lights & ferts long term. Don't be in such a hurry!
     
  9. the_gitter

    the_gitter AC Members

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    Yeah I think I'm just going to go with the classic ammonia fishless route with a few plants to start and then I'll see how things go. I've seen a lot of places mention using mulm or bio-filter from an established tank to kind of jump start the process, but unfortunately I don't know anyone currently keeping fish. Do you think an LFS would be willing to give/sell me some though? (and not like a Petco or Petsmart, the place I used to go to with my dad was a specialty fish shop that was all-around great from what I remember)
     
  10. OrionGirl

    OrionGirl No freelancing!

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    You would be more likely to find a local fish club or society and a member there that could share mulm/filter squeezings. There are fish clubs all over, might be one close.
     

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