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New to Hobby, interested in starting to keep fish

Discussion in 'New to the Hobby Questions and Answers' started by CycleDave, Oct 16, 2018.

  1. CycleDave

    CycleDave New Member

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    Hi guys. First post. Hopefully this forum will be helpful.

    Looking into buying my first aquarium, but unsure what size. I was thinking about a 10 gallon since it will fit on a cabinet I have, and there's nowhere else to put larger size, so I may go for that size.

    Fish I'm interested in:
    • Betta (I know these are territorial, and can only keep one)
    • Cory Catfish
    • Tetra (one of the numerous breeds)
    • Snail
    • Kuhli Loach
    • African Dwarf Frog
    Any others?
    I know that the tetras, frog and maybe betta can be bought from a garden center near me as I had a look this afternoon. I also had a look at the aquariums, they didn't have a great choice for small ones, and I think they only had one 10 gallon tank kit (can't remember the brand name, otherwise I would have researched them on the internet).

    I know about cycling the water and wouldn't add fish straight away.

    Bare bottom or substrate?

    Anything else you would like to add please do.

     
    #1 CycleDave, Oct 16, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2018
  2. seangee

    seangee Member

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    Hi and welcome. There are plenty of useful resources in the sticky section which are well worth a read.

    Some specific responses to your questions:
    1. Betta are not good community fish. a 10G would make a good home for one but then you should have no other fish. Yes some people will tell you it is possible, but many more have tried and regretted this.
    2. Corys, Tetras and Loaches all require groups of at least 6. They are better in larger groups.
    3. Frogs and fish are best not kept in the same tank.
    4. You should have a substrate. If you plan to keep Corys or other bottom feeders sand is preferable (i.e. required) as gravel will damage their barbels.
    Now on to tank size. 10G is actually pretty small and would limit your choices. In short fish require a stable environment and live in their own waste. A stable environment is actually easier to achieve in a bigger tank. Providing clean water is your responsibility but in general you can't keep many fish in a 10G because of how quickly waste builds up, and because a lot of fish require more space for swimming or need to be in larger groups. I'm not suggesting a 10G is a bad choice but you need to be aware of this.

    Your choice of fish should be guided by the parameters of your tap or well water. Some fish require hard water and others require soft water. There is no such thing as "perfect water" that could accomodate all fish. The most important parameter is hardness. This should be available on your water supplier's website. We need to know the actual number as well as the unit of measurement because there are several different ones in use. GH (general hardness) is the number we want, and someone will be able to advise on stocking once we know what this is.

    http://www.seriouslyfish.com/ is a good resource for researching fish species and their requirements.
     
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  3. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    Hi and welcome to the forum :)

    Is there any chance you could build a stand so it goes over the cabinet. This would allow you to get a slightly bigger tank and the large the aquarium, the more fish you can have. :)
     
  4. CycleDave

    CycleDave New Member

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    Edit:

    Seangee, Thank you for your reply. I understand that there may be more complications with a smaller tank, giving it some thought, I think I would be better off with a larger tank. How about a 20 gallon? The 'long' verson would fit on the cabinet.

    A quick look on my water board website , it says my water from 1st Jan 2017-31 Dec 2017 was 'Moderately soft'. I guess I could always buy the tank, set it up cycling and go from there and see what fish I could keep.

    The height of the cabinet, as shown in pic, is 2 feet from the floor. It is meant for dvd players etc and has two corners cut out at the back.
    Length 36"
    Middle Length 22"
    Width 15.5"

    My bed is only 3ft in front of cabinet, bedroom door is just to the right.

    I could put it where sunlight won't hit it, but the shelf isn't strong enough and I have other things on it. It's the only place I can put a tank.
     

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    #4 CycleDave, Oct 17, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2018
  5. Byron

    Byron Member

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    The cabinet seems to be sufficient support, as it has four vertical supports and the top is over these which is important especially on the ends. A 20g long would bee much better than a 10g or even a normal 20g "high" for the number of fish you can manage. You might also consider a 29g which has the same footprint as the 20g long (30 inch length by 12 inch width, only the height is different). I cannot see the base of that cabinet, but if the supports are on the floor, and not on wheels (bad), this should be OK. But you are there to test its strength.

    I would get a "pad" for under the tank. This should be just over the length and width of the tank, so say something like 32 inches length by 14 inches width. This can be particle board or plywood, at minimum 3/4 inch thick. The idea with this is that the tank "settles" into the "pad" which makes it less likely to develop any unevenness, and avoids any weak or uneven spots in the cabinet surface. It also deals with the possible lack of full support at the back.

    Make sure the tank is not in front of a window, and is not hit by direct sunlight. Light is finicky with an aquarium, and you do not want algae problems. If you can keep the window(s) covered during much of the day, it will be best. We can discuss plant lighting later, but positioning the tank is important. You also obviously need a close electrical outlet.

    I would try to pin down the "moderately soft" by getting a number from the water authority. And their unit of measurement so we can be sure.

    You need a substrate. The largest colonization of bacteria, and the most important, is in the substrate, not the filter. A depth overall of 1.5 to 2 inches (when the sand or fine gravel is spread out after being rinsed) is sufficient. Sand is definitely better than gravel, not only for fish but the bacteria and appearance. I use dark play sand. But the important thing is to have that substrate "bed" for the biological system.
     
  6. CycleDave

    CycleDave New Member

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    Cabinet is on small wheels.

    Website says it's 22mg/l

    I'm planning on having three bases, both ends of the tank will be substrate for plants and then black gravel on top, with white sand in the middle - Plants on the gravel, with maybe a surface plant with a couple of ornaments.
     
  7. Byron

    Byron Member

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    You should remove the wheels, or use another stand. The weight may well break one of the wheels, and over goes the whole thing. I've seen this happen, though fortunately not with an aquarium.

    OK, mg/l is the same as ppm which is one unit the hobby uses, so 22 ppm. We also use degrees, and you divide ppm by 17.9 to get the relevant dGH (or alternatively multiply degrees by 17.9 for ppm). So 22 ppm is 1.2 dGH. This is very soft, a far cry from their "moderately soft" which is why the actual number is so important. So you have lots of options in soft water fish species.

    Never use white sand. It is not good for fish.

    A uniform substrate throughout the tank will look more natural, and increase the visual sense of space. Mixed substrates do not really work.

    This plant substrate...this is not necessary for plants, and depending what it is you could see other problems from using it. Regular sand is about the best substrate you can use, for plants and fish. Play sand I mentioned previously is the least expensive and most natural in appearance.

    Here's a photo of my 40g with play sand, well planted, lots of chunks of wood, and dried leaves. And a 29g in similar vein.
     

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  8. essjay

    essjay Member

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    CycleDave gives his location as the UK and a lot of UK water companies give hardness in mg/l calcium rather than mg/l calcium carbonate. Some even use mg/l calcium oxide.

    Dave, can you check again and see if the mg/l are calcium, calcium carbonate, or just possibly calcium oxide.

    To give you an idea -
    22 mg/l calcium carbonate = 22 ppm and 1.2 dH
    22 mg/l calcium = 55 ppm and 3 dH
    22 mg/l calcium oxide = 39 ppm and 2.2 dH.
    Not that it makes much difference, all of those are soft.


    This points out another difficulty about using words. For some reason, UK water companies describe a given hardness as harder than the words a fish keeper would use. Here, the water company says moderately soft, but fish keepers call even the highest of your possible levels soft.
     
  9. TallPaul

    TallPaul Fish Fanatic

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    Hi, I'm in the UK. Generally all our water is soft, there is a lot of parity across the country and it is very unusual to see "hard water" at all.

    My water is measured in Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3) mg/l.

    It ranges from min 38 to max 82 mg/l.

    You can pretty much count on most areas having soft water in this range as we are quite strict on water quality. Most places do not add fluoride too. If any areas have fluoride or have hard water they would generally know about it as they are usually a rare exception.
     
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  10. CycleDave

    CycleDave New Member

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    I want white sand to add some contrast against the black gravel. Just unsure which is best.

    I meant Fluval instead of substrate in my previous post, underneath the black gravel to act as nutrients for plants, with maybe some root tablets.

    Would like some snails to keep algae at bay, and the fish/snail poop can act as fertilizer for the plants.

    Some 'beginner' plants would be ideal. Maybe Water Wisteria (to go on surface), Anubius on driftwood or similar, Bacupa and Amazon Sword.

    Now for the fish....I'm unsure. Preferably not livebearers as I don't want to breed fish. No betta or ADF. Not too keen on tetra


    Image what's in my water. 22mg/l is for Calcium.
     

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  11. TallPaul

    TallPaul Fish Fanatic

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    Start watching George Farmer on YouTube, he is an amazing aquascaper.

    You are in the UK so check out this website www.aquaessentials.co.uk they stock all kinds of plants and even have a "scaped for you" inspired by professional aquascapers such as George Farmer.

    You just pick your 'scape' based on your tank size, budget and difficulty level and they even give you a planting diagram. Prices start from approx £40 for a small tank up to £300+ for those crazy enough.
     
  12. seangee

    seangee Member

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    Obviously a different UK to the one I live in :rofl:
    Down this end we tend to walk on the stuff that comes out of taps.
     
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  13. TallPaul

    TallPaul Fish Fanatic

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    Berks, yep. Not part of England, it's part of the principality of London. When the glorious revolution occurs it will not be spared
     
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  14. essjay

    essjay Member

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    Since the hardness is in mg/l calcium, CycleDave's hardness is 55 ppm and 3 dH.



    Please don't use white sand. The fish will hate it. They have evolved to live over dark substrates.

    Snails will be a problem with your soft water especially if you have a pH below 7. Their shells will erode.

    Livebearers need hard water but since you don't want them it isn't a problem :) There are just so many fish that need soft water - virtually all fish from south America and Asia.
     
  15. CycleDave

    CycleDave New Member

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    Decided that It'll be about 1 quarter of sand, so they'll have plenty of black gravel. Nothing is set in stone though, so might change to one colour throughout.

    Doesn't really help me in what fish I would be interested in, I guess I'll have to do some research.

    Shrimp?
     
    #15 CycleDave, Oct 17, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2018

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