Help First Time Doing My Own Tank!

fropuf

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Hello everyone!
I have plans for a new 55 gallon freshwater tank. Money is no factor right now, but I want to see if my idea is even feasible.
 
The tank will be 55 gallons, but can be upgraded to 75 gallons. Bottom substrate is probably going to be gravel with sand covering it. Plant life is going to be a mix of fake and live floating and planted plants. The concentration is iffy, I need to know if it should be sparse or heavy or in between.
 
The fish in the tanks are as follows
 
10 zebra danios, half of the glofish variety. (What would be a good male:female ratio?)
12 guppies, 3 males, 9 females, no specific species
10 neon tetras (What would be a good male:female ratio?)
8 Cory catfish (What would be a good male:female ratio?)
1 male betta (Extra tank is on standby if aggressive at all)
1 female betta (Extra tank is on standby if aggressive at all)
 
pH, hardness, and temp are all unknowns to me too.
 
I want this tank to have breeding, so good male to female ratios are wanted. I already know good guppy ratios. 
 
I am a beginner at keeping aquariums, but I know enough to handle some of the problems with these fish. I have in excess of 6 1 gallon tanks on standby for the bettas, so if they get aggressive, they're gone for good. 
 
I don't know what problems I will encounter with this tank. The main points I want feed back are the following
 
  1. Fish are comfortable
  2. Fish have plenty of room
  3. How much plants should there be
  4. Fish compatibility
  5. Breeding
If someone could address these, that would be amazing. Again, this is not yet set in stone, so anything could change at a moments notice.
 
 

Byron

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Welcome to TFF.  I'll offer a few general comments if I may, to get things started.
 
Substrate: mixing substrate materials does not usually work well.  For one thing, sand being smaller grain than gravel will easily work its way down and not be seen, so the gravel will be on top.  Second, depending upon the fish selected, they may have a preference/requirement for one or the other.  For example, you do mention corys, and these really need sand; they can "manage" with gravel, but it is not as good for them, as they like to bury their heads into the sand, and sift it through their gills.  Generally speaking, sand is a better substrate for most fish, plus it has a very natural appearance.
 
Water Parameters.  These are important for fish, less so for plants.  The hardness (GH, general hardness) is the more important, as the pH tends to be related.  GH does impact fish to varying degrees, so it is important to know what GH your source water (presumably tap) has before considering fish.  Matching fish to the existing water is far easier than attempting the reverse.  Your municipal water authority probably has a website, and water data may be posted, or you can ask them.  Aside fro the GH, it is worth knowing the KH (carbonate hardness, or alkalinity), and the pH.  I won't get bogged down in this chemistry, there is time for that later.
 
Plants.  The tank lighting is the main issue here.  A huge topic in itself, but the way to go here is to find out your water parameters, then select likely fish, then consider the sort of habitat that suit the selected fish and aim to provide that.  Some plants, no plants, lots of plants can result.
 
Breeding.  Discerning male/female of many species is next to impossible especially at the juvenile age which fish in stores usually tend to be.  Some have external colour/pattern differences, many do not.  As fish mature, the girth of females is usually more than the slimmer males.  But as danios, tetras and catfish are all shoaling species, meaning they must have a group, you will usually end up with a mix of male/female.  I always have.  I won't get into the spawning topic, as that is yet another huge one.  But I will say that while fish in a community tank may readily spawn (sometimes anyway), survival of the eggs is often impossible, as all fish will readily eat any eggs, usually within seconds of being laid.
 
A word on livebearers, such as the guppy mentioned.  These fish are prolific, and with three males and nine females, you will literally have hundreds of fish every month once they get going.  This can be a real problem.  Egg layers are not, because the eggs rarely survive.  And while fry of livebearers will get eaten, many will not.
 
Last on the Betta.  This is not a community fish.  They deserve their own space, with no other fish present.  It works two ways: Betta can take a real dislike to other fish--your mention of neons reminds me that I had a Betta many years ago that easily ate them.  But even more likely is the fact that the shoaling fish (danios, tetras) will frequently find the sedate Betta's fins appealing and nip them literally to death.  Don't put a Betta in a community tank, it is not kind to the fish.
 
Byron.
 

HarpyFishLover

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With guppies. Here's something I just learned today. ( :rip: Gordon...) Apparently guppies are inbred for color, with no consideration to genetic illnesses or the like. Male guppies are supposed to be more robust than females, but are inbred to have thinner tails and large, round bellies. This has a chance to cause their spine to become curved, which will make them die. That's what happened to poor Gordon. :rip: Gordon, February 2016 - April 2016 :-(
 
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fropuf

fropuf

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Thanks for responding so quickly. The bettas are going to be going into their own tanks, and I am now considering using only sand, but different colors of sand. As for the live bearing fish, I plan to use the extras as feeder fish for my pirahnas. Again, thanks for the advice.
 

Byron

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fropuf said:
Thanks for responding so quickly. The bettas are going to be going into their own tanks, and I am now considering using only sand, but different colors of sand. As for the live bearing fish, I plan to use the extras as feeder fish for my pirahnas. Again, thanks for the advice.
 
One thing about mixing different colour substrates...it makes the space visually smaller.  Now, I am assuming you mean this in the sense of the substrate being broken up into sort of a patchwork.  If on the other hand you mean mixing the sands together and having the substrate uniform, that is different and sometimes works, sometimes not (visually).  I have found a sand (or gravel if used in other situations, same principle applies) composed of black/white/buff/grey works the best at creating a natural appearing substrate, not defining the visual space, and suits most fish.  One always wants to avoid plain white substrates as they are not good for many fish, plus the glare of the tank lighting can be problems for those viewing the tank.
 
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fropuf

fropuf

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Byron said:
 
Thanks for responding so quickly. The bettas are going to be going into their own tanks, and I am now considering using only sand, but different colors of sand. As for the live bearing fish, I plan to use the extras as feeder fish for my pirahnas. Again, thanks for the advice.
 
One thing about mixing different colour substrates...it makes the space visually smaller.  Now, I am assuming you mean this in the sense of the substrate being broken up into sort of a patchwork.  If on the other hand you mean mixing the sands together and having the substrate uniform, that is different and sometimes works, sometimes not (visually).  I have found a sand (or gravel if used in other situations, same principle applies) composed of black/white/buff/grey works the best at creating a natural appearing substrate, not defining the visual space, and suits most fish.  One always wants to avoid plain white substrates as they are not good for many fish, plus the glare of the tank lighting can be problems for those viewing the tank.
 
I meant mixing light and dark brown sands together. Thanks for the tips.
 
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fropuf

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I've got another question. What should I be testing for in my water, how often, and what would be the best thing to use for the testing? Strips, drops, anything will help.
Thanks
 

Byron

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fropuf said:
I've got another question. What should I be testing for in my water, how often, and what would be the best thing to use for the testing? Strips, drops, anything will help.
Thanks
 
Most if not all of us (the members here) will recommend liquid test kits over test strips.  The liquids are more likely to be accurate.  I suspect most of us use the API brand, but I understand that the Sera are very reliable if more expensive.
 
As for what to test, initially (new set-up) you want ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.  I would also include a pH test.  In an established tank, somewhat regular pH and nitrate tests are helpful; a rise in nitrate (after the cycling period) or a sudden drop in pH are likely signs of trouble.  There is a normal diurnal pH fluctuation in nature and in aquaria, so always test pH at the approximate same time of day so you can more easily ascertain changes.  The API Master kit contains ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH, so this is a good investment.  Regents do give out in time, and API include dates on the bottles.
 
Tests for GH and KH are only necessary if you need to adjust these parameters.  You must know the GH and KH of your source water initially, and this you should be able to ascertain from the municipal water authority.  Unless you target GH/KH somehow, it is not likely to change much in the aquarium.  This is not so with nitrates and pH.
 
At the first sign of a problem with the fish, testing ammonia, nitrite and nitrate should be done.  But long-term, provided the fish appear normal, ammonia and nitrite is not something that needs regular testing.
 
Byron.
 
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