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Discussion in 'Welcome: Introduce Yourself & Learn More About TFF' started by JoseDB, Jan 6, 2018.

  1. JoseDB

    JoseDB New Member

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    Hey!!

    So decided to get myself a birthday present, under the guise of 'But Freddie <our 2 year old> will love it!' :)

    Always fancied a fish tank and the now empty spot we carved out for the Xmas tree was calling out to me!

    Quick hardware overview;
    100L tank on a purpose-built solid oak cabinet
    Fluval 206 Canister Filter
    Aqua Range 'LCD Smart' Heater 200W
    Fluval Fresh & Plant Full Spectrum LED, 32 W, 61-85 cm
    Fluval LED WiFi Module (with completely custom micro server controlling it that I wrote over the last week because the Fluval app is utter %^£$ - more on that in another thread!)

    Being a complete novice and it being a somewhat spur of the moment decision (we just went to the garden centre to 'look' at the fish!), I've relied pretty heavily on the guidance of the staff (Maidenhead Aquatics @ Gaulton) who have all been great and are fish hobbyists themselves, so I figure they know what they are talking about! I'm now joining here to get long-term knowledge!

    So far I've got the tank, aquascaped it (look at me with the terminology!) with a load of plants that I don't know what they are without looking at the labels I have in the cupboard, left it a week and with some bio starter magic stuff, and now it has 2 angels and 6 cardinal tetra in there.

    Seems to be going OK! The 2 angels are establishing a pecking order by the looks of it, nothing malicious but the silver one is definitely letting the other one know who's boss! Hopefully they'll work it out and chill in the next couple of days.

    Plan over the next few weeks is to add a bristlenose plecos (as they look like a leopard shark when grown up and my little 'un loves sharks!), a loach of some kind to eat algae, and something orange that shoals mid tank (as the tetra seem to be enjoying the bottom of the tank). Any comments/suggestions around this are most welcome!

    I don't think I have any pressing questions (yet!), probably because I don't know enough to ask anything! Please feel free to point out any major DO's and DON'T's based on all I've blathered on about :)

    For now, I'll just leave you with a few pics of it, and a video demo of the web app I wrote for the lights.

    Ciao!

    FishTank - 1.jpg
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    FishTank - 4.jpg
    FishTank - 5.jpg
    FishTank - 6.jpg
    FishTank - 7.jpg



     
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  2. JoseDB

    JoseDB New Member

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    So today and NH3/NH4 still read 0. Probably should have mentioned I'm going for a 'silent cycle' with the plants doing the heavy lifting initially. It'll be slower but I'm in no rush.

    I put a bit of food in the tank 24 hours post fish introduction, all but the black angel gobbled it up in no time. He's still not venturing far from 'his corner' so I think I'll leave out food for a couple of days and continue to keep the lighting a bit dimmer than usual and hope he comes around. The LFS has already said they'll have either one of the angels back if it doesn't work out. Fingers crossed!
     
  3. Byron

    Byron Member

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    Welcome to TFF. :hi:

    The aquascape is very lovely, good job. And I think you are on the right track with cycling; I have a fish room with plants in all tanks and have never "cycled" in more than 25 years. There is no safer method, provided one does not overload the fish but goes slow. NH3 is ammonia and NH4 is ammonium, and you should not see either above zero. Live plants take up a considerable amount of ammonia/ammonium. The other thing is nitrite, and here again you should never see it above zero. Nitrate will eventually appear, maybe; it depends upon the fish load as to whether the plants are using all of the ammonia/ammonium or some is getting past them for the nitrifying bacteria.

    There is something almost certain to become problematic though, and that is the angelfish. I would suggest you take both of them back to the store and research other fish that might be suitable. I'll explain about the angels.

    First, this is a large fish, at six inches body length with a vertical fin span of 8 inches. I don't know the dimensions of yur tank, but a 100 liter (26 gallon) is not going to be sufficient anyway. The other thing is that this is a shoaling species, as is the cardinal tetra, and most all tetras, rasbora, danios, barbs, rainbowfish and many catfish. That means they must have a group; minimum sizes for the number depend upon the species, so I will stay with angelfish here. Two, three or even four are not likely to live peacefully, particularly in so small a space (to the fish), and the pushing and shoving you are seeing now is almost certain to get deadly earnest once the fish are settled. If you lucked out with two females, they might not worsen their interaction, but this is not guaranteed.

    Angelfish males develop territories, and they defend them to the death. The dominant male (when two or more are present) will make it clear to the others that he is, but it takes a much larger tank with a group of no less than five, for this to work. Some keep a single angelfish, but I am not a hobbyist who recommends keeping fish so contrary to the instinct and expectations that are programmed into their DNA; doing this is unfair to the fish and may or may not "work." So I would return both, soon.

    We can 9with other members too) discuss suitable fish, but first it would help to know the tank dimensions. And the source water parameters (GH, general or total hardness, is especially important; also pH). You should be able to ascertain these from your municipal water authority, check their website if they have one. Some fish are quite fussy when it comes especially to hardness, others less so, up to a point.

    Byron.
     
  4. JoseDB

    JoseDB New Member

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    Thanks Byron, appreciate the detailed response, and on the angels, it’s a conclusion I think I’d already seen coming. I was coerced into the angels by the Mrs, I wanted a lone Siamese fighting fish (I’m presuming this would be OK!?).

    As for water, I live in an area with less than ideal!! It’s pretty hard and contains nitrate already... as a result, I’m thinking I’m going to have to get RO.

    Nitrate in our the tap water is around 30! So water changes aren't going to make a fat lot of difference. I've just measured the tank levels and it's now in the 40's so tomorrow morning I'll have to do a partial change I think. I'm surprised to see this climbing already TBH.

    Hardness: KH=16dH (authority published and measured out the tap matchup), however, the tank is more like 10dH right now (same yesterday and today). I'm not sure what would have brought this down, but it's a good thing I guess!
    GH is not published, but in the tank is around 7, so also OK. The tap seems lower based on the test I did, but this seems wrong to me - I think I will repeat the test as I'd assume a high KH implicitly means a relatively high GH too?

    If I go the RO route I'll have to see how it affect hardness as I'd want a large RO:Tap ratio to combat the nitrate, but that would drop my hardness way back making PH less stable... I guess I might end up just forgetting tap altogether and just adding hardness to RO so I know exactly what's going in. It also gives me the option to create an environment suitable for any fish too I suppose.

    PH is holding stable at 7.

    Temp at 26C.

    Tank dimensions are, 70w x 30d x 50h cm.

    Thanks again for your valued expert inputs!
     
  5. Byron

    Byron Member

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    You're very welcome. On the Betta (= Siamese Fighting Fish), alone, yes, but not with other fish. Betta are not community fish, so having one is limiting in a tank of 100 liters. Shoaling species work best here, which brings me to the water.

    The GH and KH are not too bad, so there are options. GH and KH often co-relate, but not always. What test kit are you using? And can you confirm these results with the water folks?

    Nitrate at 30 ppm in the source water is indeed problematic. Fish are affected by nitrate, it is just slower than ammonia or nitrite, but all three are toxic. There are two successful ways to get around this, one b3eing RO as you mentioned. The other can better be explained by another member, AbbeysDad, who has nitrate problems in his water. PM him if he does not see this thread and comment first.

    Re the RO and GH/KH...don't worry about this. Selecting soft water fish will be fine. My tap water is basically zero GH and KH, and I do no buffering at all. I have 8 tanks of primarily wild caught fish, and they spawn regularly and live past their normal life expectancy. The key is not to acquire fish that need mineral, or cannot tolerate zero GH/KH. There are plenty to choose from, if you decide on this route. Just remember that adjusting your source water does mean water changes become more involved, and any possible emergency major changes can be difficult. But it is doable, but see what AbbeysDad says.
     
  6. JoseDB

    JoseDB New Member

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    Thanks again.

    I know getting a Betta limits the options for tank mates. My reading to date led me to believe it was possible though, so long as you didn’t end up with a particularly aggressive one and had no other semi-aggressive species in with it. Maybe for now sticking to definite community friendly options is the best way forward!

    I’ll get in touch with AbbeysDad and see about water options. I’m using a JBL 6 in 1 stick. My LFS are happy to test it too though so I’ll take a sample to them to confirm I think. And may well invest in a master kit too as they seem more accurate.


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  7. RetBioTchr

    RetBioTchr New Member

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    JoseDB,

    I have to say that your aquascape is really nice. You are off to a good start for being newer to the hobby.....especially since you are paying close attention to the water chemistry and fish compatibility. Keep it up and you're sure to succeed.
     
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  8. JoseDB

    JoseDB New Member

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    Update:

    Sad news, the black angel I found dead this afternoon. I rang the LFS and explained that;
    a) my water is still perfect
    b) I was pretty annoyed at their suggestion of 2 angels (not 4+ as a shoal - not that more than 2 would fit in my tank)
    c) I will be bringing the other one back tomorrow morning

    The person I spoke to was understanding and said I'd get a full refund on both (not the point or target, but nice of them).

    I'm frustrated that I'd already planned to return them both but didn't in time for this guy.
    I'm fairly sure he was super stressed as I noticed that while the silver one wasn't bumping him anymore, he was herding him back into the corner every time he tried to leave it - I guess this is what got the better of him.

    So, new plan! I found AqAdvisor which seems pretty reputable and the algorithms they've applied are clearly pretty complex so hopefully a reasonable guide!
    This is my new goal;
    AquStockImage.php-4.png

    The Platy I'd get 1 male, 3 females which sounds like from my research would be a fairly safe bet!
    I guess they may start breeding though - not sure if the fry will be eaten by any of my other selections (hoping they might in order to keep the population static!)?
    The other thing with these guys is they seem to prefer slightly cooler water than most tropical fish/plants. I was planning on keeping the tank at 26C, but given these guys requirements, I think I'll drop it back to 25C - any comments?

    The Gourami I'm not 100% on, but research suggested it's the most chilled Gourami, and happy on its own.
    Happy for suggestions on alternative 'centrepiece' fish though. Although the Pleco should serve that role once its grown up so not too worried.

    Any other comments on that combo of fish also welcomed!

    Still annoyed with myself for not doing this level of fish research in the first place, I think I'd done so much on all the tank setup I was just itchy to get some fish and assumed the LFS would see me right!

    So tomorrow with the credit I have from the angels, I'm thinking the Pleco (as I know they have a juvenile one), and maybe the Platy (again as I know they have them). Just not sure if that's going to be over-stocking this early in the 'silent cycle', I'm yet to register any NH3/4 or NO2...

    Thanks again for your inputs :)
     
  9. JoseDB

    JoseDB New Member

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    Oh, and the plants are really growing fast!! I've got myself a tank pruning set with mega long tweezers and scissors etc - don't think it'll be long before I'm needing to use them!

    Also - the tetra, in the day they shoal most of the time, but at night once the light dims, they seem to split up and do their own thing. Is that normal?
     
  10. Byron

    Byron Member

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    OK, here we go, there are a few issues with your AqAdvisor plan.

    Platy are livebearers and all livebearers require moderately hard or harder water with a basic pH (above 7). The GH/KH/pH data previously in this thread is better suited to softer water fish. You can make it harder for platy, but then your cardinals will seriously suffer. I would forget platy and any livebearers. Another point with livebearers is that with male/female present, you will have regular batches of fry and these can get troublesome. Each female will deliver a batch roughly every month, and the numbers will increase. They will have to be removed (not all will get eaten, there will be too many). Just something to keep in mind, though parameters disqualify them anyway.

    Dwarf chain loach (Ambastaia sidthimunki) [the genus has taxonomically changed, same fish] are shoaling and need a larger group. Loaches are very highly social fish; I would not go with less than five. I've had five of this species for over five years now, and they are in with my five Botia kubotai, another slightly larger loach; both have been with me for five years, and together now for three. I tried this, having tanks ready if it didn't work, as they are in the same river in their habitat together. Interestingly, they interact within their own species, with only a couple exceptions (that I have witnessed anyway). Regardless, five or six are what you need for a loach species. Now, tank space...I wouldn't go with the loaches with less than 90 cm length. They are territorial. Their interaction involves play, without question...I have seen mine playing tag through the tunnels in the chunks of wood...but they also have a very serious side to their interaction. You need chunks of wood, several, so each loach can select its own "space" where it will sleep, literally. The Malaysian Driftwood is ideal for this as you can get chunks with tunnels and crevices. My two loach species are in my 90 gallon riverscape, and I can sit in front of that tank for quite some time and never see a single loach, or maybe a couple dwarfs playing, or whatever. Without the "home" spots they will be seriously stressed.

    The Honey Gourami is OK, but you might want a trio. Or consider different fish for the upper level. Gourami need floating plants too.

    Yes, for reasons. Primarily, these fish do not like overhead light. Hans Baensch wrote that they seem to have a light phobia. This is actually common to most of our aquarium fish, at least those that are forest fish like the characins (tetras, hatchetfishes, pencilfiishes). This is why floating plants are so necessary; we want sufficient light to see them, and shading it with floating plants calms the fish.

    Quick comment on AqAdvisor...many here will say use it with caution. It is I guess impossible to program every factor in to something like this, or it would bee so complex as to be difficult to use.
     
  11. JoseDB

    JoseDB New Member

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    Man this is hard!!

    I’m getting some driftwood for the Plecos anyway...

    So if we start with tetra + Plecos + gourami...

    That leaves a requirement for;
    A) another shoal of something (ideally orange)
    B) something that eats algae

    Pointers here are welcomed!

    And yes, very much using AqAdvisor only as a guide, hence posting it’s suggestions here first :)
     
  12. Byron

    Byron Member

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    A couple species come to mind. The Ember Tetra (Hyphessobrycon amandae) in a group of 9-12 (this is a small fish so the more the better for it and visually). I have a group of this species in with my false/green neons, Parachierdon simulans which are very closely related to the cardinal P. axelrodi and a nice combo.
    http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/hyphessobrycon-amandae/

    From the rasboras, the two less often seen species in Trigonostigma, either T. espei or T. hengeli. I prefer the latter as the copper iridescent blotch can be quite striking. With either, a group of 8-10. These remain in the upper half of the tank, and will be fine with the Honey Gourami.
    http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/trigonostigma-espei/
    http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/trigonostigma-hengeli/

    These mentioned are quiet and peaceful species, and prefer quiet water (no strong currents) which suits the cardinals and gourami, and pleco for that matter. Another often overlooked factor but an important one for fish health.

    There are two aspects to fish eating algae. Many look for fish to eat all algae to prevent algae--there is no such fish. Some fish are primarily vegetarian and good at some types of algae. Bristlenose plecos are in this group, along with Otocinclus and the smaller Farlowella (Twig Catfish). These will continually graze all surfaces and eat common algae and diatoms (the brown algae common in newer tanks, less so after that). They will not however deal at all with "problem" algae; they simply graze this common algae biofilms and eat some of it, but if conditions are suited to algae taking control, it will, regardless. Balancing light and nutrients for the plants is the only way to control any algae. Some will still appear, this cannot be prevented in any tank with fish, but within reason these fish will deal with most of this algae. As the diet of these species is basically algae (those mentioned are safe with plants, exception being the Farlowella with tender plants) it is best to keep them limited so they have sufficient nutrition. They will obviously turn to prepared sinking foods like algae wafers/disks, usually, but it is best not to have too many.

    Real problem algae, like brush or beard, must be controlled by the light/nutrient balance. There are only two species that will eat brush algae, and they are much too large and have other needs/behaviours disqualifying them from this small a tank.
     
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  13. JoseDB

    JoseDB New Member

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    OK, so angel returned, 3x Honey Gourami and 1x baby bristle nose pleco added!

    They all seem much happier than before (tetra as well). The Gourami are a really fun fish, they are quite active and enjoy seemingly chasing each other around occasionally. Reading up on them it sounds like this is pretty normal for honey's as they are the more active, less shy variant of gourami.
    They've all eaten with a feed 24hrs after introduction too.

    The pleco is hilarious to watch as he squiggles around the tank walls! He's only ~2-3cm at the moment.
    I'm looking forward to watching him grow up!
    I also got a bit of driftwood for him to chew on. I guess I should get some catfish specific food? Or will putting some vegetables in for 24hrs at a time suffice? I know they will eat normal fish flakes, but they'd need to reach the bottom and not a lot does at the moment (and I don't want to over feed and cause water/algae/snail issues), which brings me on to...

    I also spotted some snails! 4-5 I found in just a few seconds of scanning. Reading a bunch, it's either loaches (not suitable for my small tank), manual extraction (via trap or overnight lettuce lure), or Assassin Snails! I like the idea of the assassins! For now I'm just gonna give the lettuce lure a go (thought I suspect the pleco might also like the look of it!).

    And I really like the look of the Trigonostigma hengeli, so once the tank has cycled I think I'll look at getting ~8 of those.

    That would get me to fully stocked!
    AquStockImage.php-6.png


    I also have some duckweed arriving tomorrow - I guess you just scoop excess out and dispose of weekly with water changes?


    Finally, as I had some credit with the LFS from the angel for gourami/pleco transaction, and they had a V2 Pure Advanced RO unit for only £10 more than the best price I could find online, I figured why not! I then ordered the associated plumbing connections and a 35L container etc which all arrived today, so I've got that to play with tomorrow morning and see how long it has to run for to produce 10-15L of pure water (I'm guessing only 4-5 hours).

    Couple of updated pics here with new inhabitants...
    gouramipleco - 2.jpg
    gouramipleco - 1.jpg
     
  14. Byron

    Byron Member

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    Most substrate fish will not even look at flake food that may reach the substrate, much less eat it. You need sinking foods intended for plecos to ensure they receive the essential nutrition. Bristlenose are omnivorous but primarily vegetarian, so the best food is something like the Omega One Veggie Rounds. I recommend Omega One over most other brands because they do not use "meal" as filler. Their foods are all 100% whole fish, algae, kelp, or whatever. These disks will remain solid for hours, and as they are not breaking apart rapidly they are less likely to pollute. Just one disk, or even half, alternate days.

    Vegetables are OK but not all fish readily take to eating them, and they obviously do not contain anywhere near all the necessary nutrients. But as additional "treats," fine.

    Snails are the aquarist's best friend in the aquarium. You want them for a healthier ecosystem. They get everywhere and will eat all organics (fish excrement and all), breaking it down faster for the bacteria. The small species that arrive on plants are harmless (= they won't eat live plants). Malaysian Livebearing are about the best, but the pond or bladder snails are beneficial too. Most would be surprised at how much naturally-occurring food for snails there is in an aquarium; I feed very sparsely and I have hundreds of snails in my tanks. Glad they are there.
     
  15. JoseDB

    JoseDB New Member

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    Thanks again!

    I’ll look into some special food for him then!

    I knew snails have many benefits, but I thought there had to be some level of population control else they’ll take over!?


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