Confession / My Dream Tank

MuddyWaters

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I'm dreaming of my next aquarium. I want to do it the right way. It will be the first time I've really focused on doing everything right and with patience.

I've kept fish off and on since I was 12 (I'm 56), but for all that time, I never really learned much. Until about last year, I never did any research to learn, I just kept a 29 gallon community tank and had pretty good success. I've broken every rule in the book, and paid for it at points, but somehow usually things went pretty well.

The thing I did most was not keep enough for a school, and/or keep incompatible fish. I once had a green severum in a 29 gallon tank with a bunch of community fish. (actually, I just looked it up and read that they lean toward the peaceful side, so I guess that's why I got away with it.) He ate whole earthworms- so cool to watch. I'd just pick them out of the garden, toss them in, and watch him chow down.

My 15 gallon tank right now has the wrong number of all the fish in there. They seem to do well- I do (and generally always did) test the water parameters and with this small tank I change the water all-the-dadgum-time, so that helps.

Ah, ok- so now you know I've been irresponsible with how I've kept the fish. Feels good to confess- you all are very careful in the way you keep your fish- kind of intimidating, but anyway- it is what it is.

SO- I want to start a bigger tank, do it the right way, and make it the coolest tank I've had. I would LOVE to keep discus fish, but I am not confident I'd be able to do it right, so they are out. However, I really love angel fish- I like the silver/black "wild" look more than anything- not a fan of marble (looks like someone spilled paint on them) or other off-shoots. Just the original.

I looked at the 3 species and would really love the big ones- Pterophyllum altum. I looked them up and they seem to be really expensive and it looks like they have to be wild-caught? I'd like to get really small ones and watch them grow over time. Otherwise, P. scalare looks like the next best- not interested in dwarf ones. Any thoughts on P altum vs. P scalare? I know the former is much more expensive- is it worth it?

The others I really like (and have kept) are
  • zebra danio
  • glowlight tetras
  • green fire tetras
  • sword fish
  • dwarf cichlids
  • Blue Ram
  • "Chocolate catfish" - this is what they called it in ...1978 or so when I bought it. pretty sure it was a pleco, but never see them- it was dark brown and had white/eggshell colored spots. If I took him out of the water he made a croaking noise that was unique- loved that fish- never got big (I had him in a 20 gallon tank)
  • otocinclus
  • neon tetras
  • Dwarf Gouramis
  • Blue Gouramis
  • tiger barbs
  • green severum
  • Corys
My wife is from Colombia, so I was considering keeping a tank of only fish from South America, but haven't checked to see where they all come from - I'm sure the above are not all from South America.

Anyway, I DON'T plan on keeping all those, but would love your opinions on those and any others that are easy to medium that would be compatible with angel fish.

I'm thinking I'll get a 55 gallon tank, but not dead set on it - would consider larger tank, but not sure how much I can get past the boss (my wife).

I will have lots of plants and some hardscape- wood & rock. I'll get a good light- not sure about filtration- what's best- I've had canister tank in the past, but is it that much better than a hang on?

I've always just bought regular gravel for the bottom, but I see people putting sand and soil? Do you put regular garden soil in the bottom? Seems like that would be a PITA to deal with. I've never had trouble growing plants- I've got a bunch in the 15 gallon now- I have Fluval substrate for growing plants, and some regular gravel too- I put tablets in periodically and when I do a major water change I'll add a capful of Excel Flourish (no more than once a week).

Anyway- any ideas, opinions on stock or equipment, etc. would be welcome. Thanks for reading all this :D
 
What is the GH (general hardness), KH (carbonate hardness) and pH of your water supply?
This information can usually be obtained from your water supply company's website (Water Analysis Report) or by telephoning them. If they can't help you, take a glass full of tap water to the local pet shop and get them to test it for you. Write the results down (in numbers) when they do the tests. And ask them what the results are in (eg: ppm, dGH, or something else).

Depending on what the GH of your water is, will determine what fish you should keep.

Angelfish, discus, most tetras, most barbs, Bettas, gouramis, rasbora, Corydoras and small species of suckermouth catfish all occur in soft water (GH below 150ppm) and a pH below 7.0. Wild angelfish should be kept in water with a GH below 50ppm.

Livebearers (guppies, platies, swordtails, mollies), rainbowfish and goldfish occur in medium hard water with a GH around 200-250ppm and a pH above 7.0.

If you have very hard water (GH above 300ppm) then look at African Rift Lake cichlids, or use distilled or reverse osmosis water to reduce the GH and keep fishes from softer water.

--------------------

You can get captive bred altum angels that are only a couple of inches long. You just have to look around and ask shops to keep an eye out for them.

Common locally bred scalare angels are easier to keep than wild angels (altum or scalare).

If you want a nicely set up tank for angelfish, get a 6x2x2ft tank and add a group of 10-12 small fish and grow them up. As a general rule, angelfish should not be kept in a tank less than 4 foot long, and they need height and width so a 4x2x2ft or bigger is what you want to let them get to a decent size.

--------------------

Don't keep dwarf gouramis (Colisa lalius) or any of their colour forms. They are regularly infected with the Gourami Iridovirus and or Fish Tuberculosis (TB). Neither disease can be treated and once they are in your tank, the only way to get rid of them is to disinfect everything, including the fish.

--------------------

Danios aren't suitable for angelfish or other slow moving fishes. The danios are too active and cause stress.

Blue gouramis are nasty and should be avoided when keeping angelfish or other surface or upper level fishes, or blue fish.

Swordtails need different water chemistry to angelfish.

Tiger barbs are fin nippers and should not be kept with slow moving fish or fish with long fins (angelfish).

Severums eat plants.

--------------------

Don't waste your time on plant substrates and don't mix different types of substrate because they mix in with each other and cause a mess. If you want Corydoras, loaches or eels, get sand, otherwise a fine gravel will do for the plants.
 
@Colin_T - thanks for the info- this is great!

Water here is soft- KH is the lowest and GH is one notch up, still soft. (one drop and 4 drops with that API test kit). Guess I'll be sticking with the soft water fishes- that narrows the scope.

Looks like tank size will need to be 55 or 75 gallons if I get a standard. Not sure I can get a 75 gallon past the wife LOL. Man, it's worth a shot, though :cool:

I am excited about the idea of raising the altums. They are just beautiful.

I read about the dwarf gouramis- what a shame- definitely a no-go, though.

Good points on all the other fish that won't work- still leaves me plenty of options.

Have you ever seen a catfish like I described? I've seen ones black with white dots, but not the dark brown like that one was- any ideas on what it might have been?
 
@Colin_T - OMG I just found the catfish!!!! It has to be this one. Nickname is "The talking catfish." I just looked up "Aquarium fish from Colombia" and it was the first one that came up. Whenever I took the fish out of the water, he would croak - That's it- this is destiny!!! :D:D:p:p:banana::banana:
 
You could keep a small group of spotted Raphael catfish with a few angels in a 55-75 gallon tank with some bigger bodied tetras. I would not recommend taking catfish out of water though.
 
atums are very delicate. My advice would be to look for wild type or wild caught scalare, and build up. You're only 56, you have time.

I've kept altums, and they are beautiful but totally unforgiving of mistakes. Wild type angels are better to work with than any of the wrecks that have been made out of them, and are as elegant as altums. They are a little tougher.
 
I would not recommend taking catfish out of water though.
LOL yeah, even as a kid I only did it when needed. The store didn't call it "talking" - I think they didn't want to encourage the practice. He also was really difficult to get out of the net because of his spiny fins. It was satisfying for me to find that all the things I remembered were true- no idea why I've never seen this one or met people in stores who'd heard of it. It seems to be pretty common. Maybe folks don't buy it because it's nocturnal?
 
Keeping discus or any other fish I can recommend bcz you can learn more about them when you do
But altum angelfish are not a great choice for that
1.They're very sensitive(more of a expert only level fish)
2.They grow to huge sizes(get 30-40cm in height and need at least 50G even for a single fish)
3.They prefer a natural looking environment with lots of plants and some driftwood (shows their best colors )
When keeping most of aquarium fish you can learn from mistakes but with altums mistake is a mistake

(This is only my opinion from the knowledge that I gained from the internet, I have never kept altums so please ask an expert on this for advice)
 
Sorry for invading this conversation, but I am thinking about putting pretty much the exact same fish tank in my future (will be set up in a few months, hopefully) tank, and having always wanted angels, just wanted to clarify a few things just said-

1. Altums are not a good choice (SUPER sensitive)
2. Wild caught angels are better? or bred but not altums?

And a few questions-

1. What is the smallest/toughest angelfish? I am thinking about either a 30/40gal, so could any fit in here comfortably? (And tough because I feel like I will make mistakes, and I don't want them to become deadly mistakes). When I put in the dimensions you provided into a tank calculator, it said 119 gallons. Is that right? (that's a lot).
2. Can angels be kept alone? (It's mostly about the space and budget). If not, I'll probably just pick a different fish.
3. You don't buy a special plant substrate, or you don't put in dirt or anything at all? Do you use root tabs/liquid ferts?
4. Also, don't angelfish EAT SMALLER FISH? Just saying. (I know nothing about angels, but have read this a lot online).
5. If I can't keep angelfish in this tank, are there any other really graceful/cool fish like them that I could keep?

And by the way, MuddyWaters, good luck with your new tank! (And sorry again for thread invading, if this is not cool just ignore it :))
 
Sorry for invading this conversation, but I am thinking about putting pretty much the exact same fish tank in my future (will be set up in a few months, hopefully) tank, and having always wanted angels, just wanted to clarify a few things just said-

1. Altums are not a good choice (SUPER sensitive)
2. Wild caught angels are better? or bred but not altums?

And a few questions-

1. What is the smallest/toughest angelfish? I am thinking about either a 30/40gal, so could any fit in here comfortably? (And tough because I feel like I will make mistakes, and I don't want them to become deadly mistakes). When I put in the dimensions you provided into a tank calculator, it said 119 gallons. Is that right? (that's a lot).
2. Can angels be kept alone? (It's mostly about the space and budget). If not, I'll probably just pick a different fish.
3. You don't buy a special plant substrate, or you don't put in dirt or anything at all? Do you use root tabs/liquid ferts?
4. Also, don't angelfish EAT SMALLER FISH? Just saying. (I know nothing about angels, but have read this a lot online).
5. If I can't keep angelfish in this tank, are there any other really graceful/cool fish like them that I could keep?

And by the way, MuddyWaters, good luck with your new tank! (And sorry again for thread invading, if this is not cool just ignore it :))
If you want to know more about altums you should read some articles about them cuz I'm no expert on that
1.Smallest angelfish?
I didn't exactly knew a sp. so I looked it up and I found out about a sp. called leopoldi angelfish
But not sure if you'll be able to finde one
So most common types of angelfish are panda, tricolor and zebra angels
All of these sp. grow to a pretty decent size about 6"+ or so

2.As for angelfish most of them like to be in groups but in a smaller tank that doesn't work out well cuz sometimes they get territorial aggression
For a 30/40 gallon tank a pair should do just fine

3.Like most fish angelfish prefer natural looking tanks so adding some plants and driftwood is good for them
Anubias,ferns,moss types and any floating plants do fine without substrate but if you want to have more plants you can either use a store brought aquarium soil and put into the tank (covering it with a fine sand is recommended) and plant some different plants
Or you can use some dirt and cover it with a thick layer of fine sand and plant any kind of plant you need (make sure sand layer is thick enough that dirt won't mix with water)

4.No, angelfish do tend to eat small fish/fish fry or crustaceans if they can fit in their mouths cuz they're omnivores
This happens with the personality of the fish too not every one will do that but some angelfish even attack much larger aggressive cichlids(my own experience with jaguar cichlids)

5.But middle sized fish sp. like some types of tetras(mid size-1.5"-3") do fine with them most of the times
But to make sure to look out for any aggressive behavior for a few days after you put them together
 
Keeping discus or any other fish I can recommend bcz you can learn more about them when you do
But altum angelfish are not a great choice for that
1.They're very sensitive(more of a expert only level fish)
2.They grow to huge sizes(get 30-40cm in height and need at least 50G even for a single fish)
3.They prefer a natural looking environment with lots of plants and some driftwood (shows their best colors )
When keeping most of aquarium fish you can learn from mistakes but with altums mistake is a mistake

(This is only my opinion from the knowledge that I gained from the internet, I have never kept altums so please ask an expert on this for advice)
2 and 3 I have, and I think I'm consistent & diligent enough now to deal with 1, but I think what I'd need to do to be sure is just more than I'm willing to invest. Also, I'm hearing that the captive bred fish tend to have better coloring etc., so I'm over the Altum. I really LIKE the size- that is a draw for me, but for now, I think I'll stick with the captive bred wild looking angels (black stripes).
 
Sorry for invading this conversation
No invasion at all- wanted to spur some conversation- thanks!!!

Also- I have kept angels as individuals many times. It is not the best approach, I reckon, but it worked for me with 1 exception- I did have one that was bullied, but at the time, I was breaking every rule in the book for what fish I kept together. I think I had tiger barbs that were picking at the angel. I always had an angelfish in a 29 gallon tank. I had a few that lasted for 2-3 years, and a few that didn't do so well. I was not, however very attentive to the right conditions or environment for longevity of them, so I think if I would have been more "on the ball" they would have lasted a lot longer.

In the reading I've done recently, I think I'll get 4 - 6 in pairs and may end up paring it down to 2 - 4 over time as they pair up and start breeding. I've read that "dither fish" are good to reduce the aggressiveness of angels, because they swim around freely with no sense of territory. It can help angels feel safer.

I still love the idea of altums, but just tentative of the risk vs. cost. I'll wait - for now. :)
 
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I think I'll follow the same route- I would love angels, but the tank I'm planning on buying probably won't be big enough to keep them happy (and while I wouldn't consider myself a total noob, 'expert only' fishes sound pretty scary to me ;))
 

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