complete beginner needs advice!!!

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complete beginner needs advice!!!

Postby dant1875 » 2009-01-19 23:56

Hi,
I've only ever kept goldfish until now & I've just gone on impulse & bought a 90l tank, complete with a 25-30w lamp & a 200w heater (I also have a Fluval 3 filter but it appears that it has decided to stick itself together in a dried Weetabix style so I can't get the pads out :( ). After browsing through a lot of pages on this site I have decided I would like to go tropical - the time spent setting up my tank is not an issue as I want to make sure it's right 1st time, so now I come to the point - I've been reading about the fishless set-up using prawns, where do I get them from & how many are suitable for the tank size? And has anyone got any suggestions on what kinds / how many fish & plants to get? The tank is going to be a focal point in the front room so I want it to really stand out :D .
Thanks in advance for your help :)
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Re: complete beginner needs advice!!!

Postby KittyKat » 2009-01-21 14:36

Article about cycling

Well done for doing your research and to answer your question I would suggest two large or six small prawns at any one time will be enough. You should be able to get frozen or fresh prawns from any food supermarket or from a fish mongers. Tesco is a good bet if you're in UK, otherwise something similar will have them.

You can do quite a lot with 90 litres! I take it that you've settled on plants? In that case an Amazonian, SE Asian or an African whitewater type set-up is your best option. If you do decide to steer away from plants, then an African Rift Lake (i.e. very rocky) is your best choice. If you want an Amazonian look into Apisto. cacatuoides or Mikrogeophagus altispinosus with tetras and Corydoras for fish, cabomba and crypts/swords for plants, sand and bogwood for decor. SE Asian would be more open with sand and large pebbles as well as some twiggy-type bogwood, maybe areas of gravel instead of sand.. think rasboras or barbs with khulli and yoyo type loaches, onions and Hygrophilas for plants. An African whitewater would be with gravel and large pebbles.. again quite open with congo tetras (or smaller Lamprologus, in which case you need sand or small gravel instead of pea gravel), a group of small and peaceful Syno cats (not all are!) or small Plecos.

Or on a different note, what about rainbowfish? And of course there are always the usual livebearers..

Where abouts are you? This will effect the type of fish you can easily get.

As for the filter, soak it in water overnight and see how you get on from there?
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Re: complete beginner needs advice!!!

Postby dant1875 » 2009-01-22 12:09

Sorry - completely forgot to update my profile :whistle1: .Thanks for the reply & advice - definately going to go for the Amazonian theme (well as much as possible with the kids dictating that some part ofthe tank is dedicated to Spongebob! :rolleyes: ). Finally managed to get the filter pads out, so everything is working away nicely now - already got my sand in (excellent recommendation on kid's play sand by the way), got 2 king prawns sat in there & temp has settled nicely at 27, just waiting for the cloudiness from the sand to settle (should only be another day now), then I'm going to get some plants & have found some nice bogwood on eBay - is it best to soak that as I've read it stains the water & raises the alkalinity? I'm open to all sugestions on fish, tbh I just want some that look nice & don't fight each other! I've also been told to get some Trumpet snails - is it best to put them in before the first fish or after?
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Re: complete beginner needs advice!!!

Postby KittyKat » 2009-01-22 14:03

If you pop some extra fine filter wool into the filter for an hour or two, it will go a long way to helping clear the water ;) eBay and UK.. highly recommend you try The Last Trading Post, mention me as he's a good friend of mine. He does good bogwood and excellent plants.

Stains water with tannins and lowers alkalinity (and pH) which is actually what you want for an Amazonian. I personally quite like the stained water myself (weak tea colour, but 100% clear) as that is what many Amazonian areas are really like and it adds to the atmosphere.

MTS (Malaysian Trumpet Snails) are amazing critters. Some people have a lot of problems with them breeding too fast, but I reckon that's only because the people who do, overfeed their fish or don't prune their plants. Put them in as soon as the tank's cycled, IMO even snails are live animals and deserve the same respect you would give a dog or a fish.. after all, you're playing god: they are completely and utterly dependant on you. I would also recommend Physa snails, but avoid Ramshorns: Physas are good at maintaining a sustainable population while Ramshorns will breed themselves to starvation. Apple snails are amazing, but generally require harder water then what is found in an Amazonian set-up.

What are the dimensions of the tank? This will have a huge impact on what territorial fish you have.

I was thinking 20 Cardinals (or 10 Cardinals and 10 tetras of a different species.. say Penguin or Purple Emperor), 5-10 Corydoras (depending on species and bottom area of tank - sand is by far the best substrate for them btw) and either trio of Apisto. cacatuoides or pair/two pairs of Bolivian Ram.. what do you think?

Also get a background if you haven't got one already as that greatly improves the look of the tank. I prefer plain black myself, but some people like plants to enhance the planted look of the tank.

And I also find it a good idea to keep a diary (with photos) of my tanks so I can keep track of what's going on and can refer back to that if I need to. Feel free to keep it on the forum as a thread so that others can learn from you and you can share, or a personal one is also good.
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Re: complete beginner needs advice!!!

Postby dant1875 » 2009-01-22 23:40

The dimensions are 30"long x 12"wide x 15"deep/high. Definitely going for the trumpet snails, just read up on the Physa snails - bit unsure now as they seem to be the aquatic versions of rabbits! I think I'll probably go for a trio of Apisto with the recommended 1 male to 2 females, I like the look of the panda & leopard Corys, leaning a bit more towards the pandas as they're not as fussy with the food apparently. Those cardinal tetras look stunning - will definitely go for them & maybe some neons as well, might decide on the spur of the moment with those! How about Guppys? Would they do well in that kind of company? Oh btw the eBay shop you recommended was great :woot: just waiting on a reply as I've asked their advice. got the background already, but don't know how much will be seen as I've got 2 x 12" airstones doing their thing atm :D . Can't do much of a diary atm as I've fallen a bit behind & am actually waiting on my testers to come :whistle1: should be here tomorrow though. Apparently the tank is starting to pong a bit now (I have NO sense of smell lol) - how long does that last for usually?
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Re: complete beginner needs advice!!!

Postby KittyKat » 2009-01-23 08:23

dant1875 wrote:The dimensions are 30"long x 12"wide x 15"deep/high.

In that case one trio max for you :) There are lots and lots of breeders in Birmingham so you should be able to find one who sells Cockatoos Cichlids.. breeders tend to have much better quality fish then shops.
dant1875 wrote:Definitely going for the trumpet snails, just read up on the Physa snails - bit unsure now as they seem to be the aquatic versions of rabbits!

I have honestly never, ever had a problem with Physa snails. I used to have them in all my breeding tanks and the population was very constant at a sustainable lever. (As mentioned before, IMO if there is a snail problem, it is the result of something else being wrong). Only run-ins I've had were with Ramshorns who just don't stop breeding. As it is, it tends to be MTS who are considered to be the bunnies as they are livebearers and their shells are too hard for most fish to be able to eat them, but again: I've got them in all my tanks and never had a problem.
dant1875 wrote:I think I'll probably go for a trio of Apisto with the recommended 1 male to 2 females, I like the look of the panda & leopard Corys, leaning a bit more towards the pandas as they're not as fussy with the food apparently.

Not kept Pandas myself, but I have C. triliniatus who are commonly known as Three-lined Corys, but also as Leopard (I think a total of three species are called "Leopard Corys"). I haven't hound them fussy at all and they bred in my 4ft tank. I feed all my Corys "Hikari Sinking Wafers". Also it's best to add Corys last to the tank as they are bottom feeders.
dant1875 wrote:Those cardinal tetras look stunning - will definitely go for them & maybe some neons as well, might decide on the spur of the moment with those!

Reason I suggested Cardinals and not Neons is because they tend to be hardier. If you do go for neons (which are great fish IMO and I keep them myself), don't be surprised if you get a few deaths in the first 6 months and the remainder living for 10 years. Also IMO best to go for young fish to start (just my preference), but if you top up the schools later, it's best to get same-sized fish.
dant1875 wrote:How about Guppys? Would they do well in that kind of company?

Lots of people put Guppies into this kind of set-up, but IME it is a recipe for disaster. The Cockatoos and the Tetras will more then likely tear the Guppies to bits. Also I find that Gups do best in harder, more alkaline water while Tetras and SA Dwarfs in soft, acidic water.
dant1875 wrote:Oh btw the eBay shop you recommended was great :woot: just waiting on a reply as I've asked their advice. got the background already, but don't know how much will be seen as I've got 2 x 12" airstones doing their thing atm :D . Can't do much of a diary atm as I've fallen a bit behind & am actually waiting on my testers to come :whistle1: should be here tomorrow though. Apparently the tank is starting to pong a bit now (I have NO sense of smell lol) - how long does that last for usually?

Mike is a nice guy and he knows what he's talking about. Glad you liked his shop!
I've never had a tank go smelly, but I hear from other people that it can last from a few days to a few weeks.

And, and, and! (Before I forget), look into finding a good specialist store in your area and it's worth avoiding P@H. Also if you see a dead fish in any of the tanks at all, best to not buy and come back another day or go somewhere else.
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Re: complete beginner needs advice!!!

Postby dant1875 » 2009-01-24 13:04

OK then - Gups are out as that's not a great mental image :o , will stick with the other ideas though, might leave the neons until absolute last after the Cockatoos, Cardinals & Corys & make sure the tank fully up to scratch to minimise the risk. How many snails should I be going for initially (don't want to overdo it!) & do I have to have caves? I've looked into them (pardon the pun) but I'm unsure of how many or what sizes I should be looking at. I've ordered a lovely piece of bogwood & a selection of plants from Mike - can't wait for those to come & get the tank looking normal & not so bare. Glad on the advice about P@H, had been told to make a wide berth previously - got a very highly recommended place 2 mins away (A&D Aquatics - don't know if anyone has any experience with them or not?), but will definitely look into local breeders as well :D
STILL waiting on my tester to come (snail mail can be SO aggravating), but the prawns certainly look like they're rotting away nicely! On that subject, do I wait for them to totally decompose or just try & remove them once the water is up to scratch?
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Re: complete beginner needs advice!!!

Postby KittyKat » 2009-01-26 13:01

My stocking order suggestion:
Week 1: 4 Cardinals
Week 2: 2 Cardinals
Week 3: 2 Cardinals
Week 4: 2 Cardinals
Week 5: Cockatoo trio
Week 6: 3 Corys
Week 7.5: 3 Corys
(If you go for small species of Cory.. Week 9: 3 Corys)
Week 12: 3 Neons (same size as Cardinals are now)
Week 14: 3 Neons
Week 16: 4 Neons
Week 18: top up Tetra schools if needed

Have to tried taking a sample of your water to A&D? If they're good, they should test it for you for free.

You remove the prawns completely on the day you put the fish in.. during the cycle, it is up to you to decide if you want to replace them with new ones before or after they fall into pieces as long as there are always two present.
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Re: complete beginner needs advice!!!

Postby dant1875 » 2009-01-26 15:05

Thanks for that - sure it will be a big help when the time finally comes to putting something living in there :D . When would I add the :snaily: though? Just out of interest ( & because I'm being bugged about it by my wife :rolleyes: ), can you put frogs into this kind of setup? Also, what about shrimp? (live ones this time :D ) as my littlest thinks that's whats currently living there anyway!!!!
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Re: complete beginner needs advice!!!

Postby KittyKat » 2009-01-26 16:18

Haha! One day they'll have to learn about it forthemselves...

Sorry, forgot to mention snails! MTS can go in after ammonia reading is down to 0 (so about 1-2 weeks from start of cycle usually). It is not uncommon to get snails coming in on plants, so you may get some sooner!

Shrimp are a good idea, I think something like fan shrimp (eg.Atyopsis moluccensis) will be good. Don't go for small shrimp though as those will get eaten or for river shrimp as they require brackish water.
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Re: complete beginner needs advice!!!

Postby dant1875 » 2009-01-26 20:39

Ooohh....gotta get some shrimp then - the little'un thinks they're highly amusing :D how many is enough of them? My eldest likes Gouramis (& judging from today's trip to the LFS - EVERY marine fish in the shop - so hard explaining water types to a 7 year old!), but I've read up on them & apparently they like peace & quiet? Only get about 2 hours a day of that in my house :o plants & bogwood should be here tomorrow yayy :woot: ......
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Re: complete beginner needs advice!!!

Postby KittyKat » 2009-01-27 14:11

Probably two large non-territorial would be a maximum and you'll need to make sure that they get plenty of food.

You can add some species of Gourami if you want, but in that case you'll need to cut down on the tetras... All fish need peace and quiet, but they should be fine as long as no-one bangs on the tank glass. If there are people always around and the fish start associating people with treats, they will get used to people eventually and not bat an eyelid (not that most fish have eyelids) at a screaming child running through the room. With my fish, it usually takes under a week to get them used to people, but 3-6 weeks is more common - I spend too much time with my hands in the tank! Come to that, most of my fish will hand feed.

Caves: at least two per female. A cave can be.. half of coconut shell, an upside down pot, two pot "bottoms" (the things to catch water that drips through pot) on top of each other, a hole in a rock formation, two rocks next to each other forming a tent, an adult apple snail shell (mine use these), a ceramic "log" cave (mostly the Plecos live in these), etc etc.. Anything with only one entrance will do! If you make them yourselves, make sure that the entrances are only a tiny bit bigger then the fish and that they have smooth edges.

Also don't worry about sexing the tetras, go for a mix of large, medium and small out of the same size range. This should ensure a good ratio of males and females. For cockatoos, if you don't know how to sex them, let me know and I will explain - it's very easy. For Corys, pick 2 males per female: when looking from top, females are considerably bulkier then males. Have you decided on Cory species yet?

And where are the tank shots?!?!? :P
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Re: complete beginner needs advice!!!

Postby dant1875 » 2009-01-27 15:02

Cool...say 2 Gourami & then 10 instead of 20 tetras? Sure my lad would happily swap :rolleyes: . I'm thinking of maybe Sterbai Cory :unsure: . The chap I got the tank from breeds them so I know they'll be looked after properly - just waiting on an answer as to whether he will have any in a few weeks or not :D . Looking at the coconut caves on eBay atm, like the look of those DIY caves that are on here, but don't think my skills or tools are up to that level :whistle1: although, the Spongebob houses have entrances that are only about 1-1.5" would they be appropriate???. Will post pics probably over the weekend - on days atm so in work from 4am :( .
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Re: complete beginner needs advice!!!

Postby KittyKat » 2009-01-27 16:09

Sterbai Corys are amazing! They have been on my other half's "Want List" ever since he bought me the first tank. If you go for Sterbais, I would say 6 is the limit and if you can get smaller ones (under 1 inch), get all 6 in week 7/8 at the same time instead of spreading it out.

12 Cardinals would be alright, but top up the extras right at the end in that case. What species of Gourami are you looking to get? Make sure that you get either a pair or two females, the males will fight if you have more then one. There is an option to add more if you want to let the plants overgrow, but I would wait at least a year for that.

For Apistos, usually 0.5-1 inch diameter for entrance is good. 1.5 inch is a bit too much I think, but I'm sure you can think of a way to make it smaller if you want to use them.

Also, if you don't quite agree with the kid about the decor, maybe suggest planting some Java moss on it? ;) After all, I'm sure every house needs it's very own garden!
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Re: complete beginner needs advice!!!

Postby dant1875 » 2009-01-27 17:33

He's just had some more (about 80) fry, so I've got 5 on reserve for when the tank's matured :woot: . Was looking at a pair of dwarf Gourami (they're selling pairs in the LFS) and once again having a (slight) change of direction - could I put Zebra danios in with cardinals? And what about Ottocinclus? Or do they basically do the same job as the MTS?
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