Marina 60L Tank 3 Month Into Hobby


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Apr 5, 2014
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Hi everyone
I'm new to this site and found that i want to share my experience as a Tropical Fish keeper.
i've a marina 60l tank and ive been set up for around 3 months. although i'm happy with my set up i can't help but feel i want more live plants in my aquarium.
i dont have substrate underneath my gravel but am unsure if i actually need this to buy live plants.
Could someone shine some light on the situation for me?
ive 2 plastic plants, 1 silk plant which looks fairly real and 3 marimo moss balls which have grown 1cm in diameter in 2 months and 1 looks as though it could part into two very soon. i would add a picture but atm the file size is too big. ill try get this rectified and update again soon.
Another problem im having is that the Marina slim s15 filter doesnt appear to be doing a very good job and although its the one provided with the kit i bought it states its only suitable up to 55 litre tank. my tank is a 60l. some of you might not feel this is a problem but to me it seems the filter is struggling to keep the water clear. although i like the waterfall feature as it lets the water into the tank, i dont like the fact that the water in the filter housing at the back of the tank is very high up and maybe 1mm  or 2mm more it could overflow. with electrical cables, plugs etc at the back ( although not directly behind the tank but to one side ) and an RCD, i wouldnt like to think what the consequences could be should this happened. the water is always murky, i do water changes 1 a week and always @ 50%.
i've since been looking at alternative filters and i like the look of the fluval u2. i like the 3 water output settings and the way the water comes out into the tank below the surface gives a nice effect.
if i were to get one, does anyone know the process on replacing my marina slim s15 with the fluval u2?
any help would be much appreciated.

Hi Matt welcome to the forum :)
I always think live plants are the way to go - plant specific substrate has come a long way recently but I still think you can have success with the right plants in just gravel and sand. Things like Valis and some Cryptocornys are easy to keep. And then there are the plants that grow on rocks and wood like Java Fern and Anubias which you tie to the decor or sometimes come pre planted.
For filters - I always like externals and there are a couple of options now for smaller tanks, they take up less room in the tanks and offer more media space. But if you want to stay with the internals the U2 is a good filter - only thing I have noticed with Fluval internals is though, in the U1 the sponge can press down on the impeller slowing it down but you dont get that in the U3 as it is in plastic casing not had a U2 before so not sure if it has the casing or if its just the sponge, but just something to think of.
What fish do you have in the tank? Starting out with a small tank can sometimes mean that you end up with unsuitable fish - its a mistake we all make - Im just wondering if you have a few fish that are a bit too large growing or messy for this kind of tank?
From personal exp, my plants have grown with gravel or sand alone. The use of substrate will certainly help the plants to flourish, but if you use a good fertiliser or co2 system then place ts will do fine.

Regarding your filter, you can run both filters at the same time to build up the beneficial bacteria in the new one, you can also take some filter media from your old filter and put it into the new filter to give it a kick start. Make sure you leave it running for 4-6 no this before you remove the older one.
thanks for the response Wills.
this certainly helps ill look into the plants you suggested and see whats available.
im not familiar with external filters so id have to read up on that. the tank is 300mm deep and ive got it sitting on a table 600mm deep so ive just under 300mm space behind. is this suitable for an external filter? can it sit directly behind the tank? or does it have to be positioned above or below the water level in the tank? picture below

3 balloon mollies and 1 baby balloon molly ( unexpectadly found a month ago when cleaning out )
5 guppies
2 albino cory
2 peppered cory
1 dwarf gourami
1 honey gourami
1 red robin gourami
2 african dwarf frogs
4 tetras
4 hatchetfish
this may seem quite alot for some people and i must admit i did do a bit too much too fast but they are doing well they seem happy and im doing water tests using api test kit @ £20. this kit is brilliant is simple to use and i do this once a week a few hours after my water change. ammonia is currently below 0.25, nitrites is currently @ 0 and nitrates @ 5ppm.
but the water in this picture below is never clearer. thats why i think the filter is struggling.

thanks nic1
how long would you recommend running filters together for?
if i cleaned the new media from the fluval ( which i havent purchased yet ) in the water from the old filter would i be at a biological advantage?
its just i have no socket left to plug a new filter into having already got 1 x rcd and 1 x 4 socket extension lead.
whats a good fertiliser? and im not quite sure what a Co2 system is?
many thanks
Right ok yeah I think we might have found the problem.... your stocking is very heavy, and this is when they are young most fish you get from the shop will grow quite a bit.
The inch per gallon rule is a good rough guide when thinking of what fish to have - using US gallons as the guide, your tank is 15 US gallons and you have over 50 inches of fish in there... Mollies and Gourami add up to be pretty substantial fish in this kind of tank.
If we were talking when the tank was first set up you would be looking at a stocking list like
1 Gourami (small type) or 2 Balloon Mollies
1 Group/ school - so the guppies, tetras or the hatchet fish
1 Bottom dwelling group - so one species of cory, preferably a smaller growing species like Pandas or Pygmies or the frogs
Though there may be a way to do the cories and the frogs.
For me to get the most out a small tank like this its all about finding the fish with the most bang for their buck - so for example your guppies have a relative called endlers which are just as colourful and stay small where as guppies do grow to a surprising size compared to when you first get them (in a tank of this size I mean)
For filtration - external filters need to sit on the floor as a lot of the flow comes from the gravity of the water coming into the canister if you google nano external filters a few will come up :)
When it comes to moving across to a new filter - just move all your filter sponges and media to the new most of your bacteria is in this and not in the filter housing, this is how I have always done it when swapping filters or moving tanks etc. When doing this though its worth saying - make sure your filter old or new does not come into contact with tap water. Your water change regime is excellent though so make sure you keep that up :)
I think realistically your options are to re home some fish or get a bigger tank as this tank is not going to work long term... Sorry to sound so negative but its better to fix things now rather than deal with disease and death later on.
Hope thats helped
ok thanks for the response
from personal experience would you recommend an internal or external filter for my set up?
if external then have you any favourites you would use?
Hi that one might be a bit powerful for a 50 liter tank - maybe this one
that has 500 liters per hour which is a 10x filtration which is fantastic the other one to look for might be a tetratec ex 400 but I cant find them for sale anywhere - any external filter with 350-500 liters per hour will work but 600 is probably a bit much especially for fish like the gourami and balloon mollies who like/need calmer water.
that one looks like a good one as well again a bit calmer - it is rated for upto 100 liters but sounds like a good fit for you. Its the same output as the fluval U2 you were looking at but like I say frees up internal space and clutter and they have over all more media in the filter.
For online plants I usually go to plants alive or java plants :) Had good stuff from both of them.
thanks once again for the response wills. im a bit jubious about buying something ive never heard of. ive found this one though, reading the description do you think this could be an option?
With fish brands just because they are an older brand does not nessacerily mean they are good... a while ago fluval externals had a bit of a bad reputation for leaking for example. I have not used either of the brands but I have heard of TMC before
A quick search for TMC filter reviews brought up this but its worth looking for other reviews as well - perhaps put a post out on the forum looking for members that have experience.

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