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Old 11-07-2005, 11:23 AM   #1
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Most original question ever (what to stock) ;)

OK, I'm sure you've seen this question a million times, so I'll try to at least be specific. Basically I want the color and beauty of a saltwater tank without the maintenance. I just really dont have time to do SW right. So what I want is to put together a beautiful FW tank that maybe has some elements of SW. For example, I think using more driftwood and rocks and fewer leafy plants would help achieve this look for me. I think I can also work with the color of the gravel too. I was thinking white gravel. I was also considering a cichlid tank because of the variety and color. I am either looking at a 29 gallon tank or a 35 gallon hex. I like a lot small to medium fish so are there any cichilds small or am I barking up the wrong tree with that? Basically I want a lot of color and contrast and I want to be able to put in bottom cleaner fish etc. without them getting attacked. Thanks in advance.
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Old 11-07-2005, 12:12 PM   #2
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I guess your question depends on what type of cichlid you want to keep, either African Rift Lake or South American.

With the SA's, driftwood, rocks and leafy plants are the way to go. Most, if not all of the SA dwarf species are shy and like to have plenty of hiding places.

Your substrate choice is good...the contrasts can be striking with any cichlid.
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Old 11-07-2005, 12:37 PM   #3
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I want whatever looks best but is easy (relatively, that is. I'm not totally disinterested or I wouldn't be doing it. Just dont have infinite time). What is the difference between African and SA cichilds (other than several thousand miles).
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Planted 35 Gallon Hex Freshwater

Fish - (4) Rosy Tetras, (5) Zebra Danios, (4) Platies, (3) Rainbows, (5) Albino Cories, (2) Ottos

Plants - Micro Swords, (2) Rotala, (2) Camboba

Light - 40w (~1.1 wpg)

CO2 - DIY generator with Hagen diffusor
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Old 11-07-2005, 12:45 PM   #4
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The Rift Lakes cichlids prefer a higher alkalinity (ph) where the SA's prefer acidic (lower ph).

If you go with the Africans, you need to know that not all of them can be housed together...in some cases, you can only keep a specific species...you may not even be able to keep several in the same tank due to size, aggression issues.

With the SA dwarfs, they tend to be more sensitive to changes in their environment but since they tend to be on the small size and can be combined with other community fish, you can keep more in the tank size you have.

I wouldn't think that any of the above fish are "easy" to keep. Maintaining the tank is essential for each region.
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Old 11-07-2005, 01:00 PM   #5
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So would a regular community tank be easier than either of the above?
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Planted 35 Gallon Hex Freshwater

Fish - (4) Rosy Tetras, (5) Zebra Danios, (4) Platies, (3) Rainbows, (5) Albino Cories, (2) Ottos

Plants - Micro Swords, (2) Rotala, (2) Camboba

Light - 40w (~1.1 wpg)

CO2 - DIY generator with Hagen diffusor
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Old 11-07-2005, 01:54 PM   #6
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I'm sure you can do it...I'm not trying to discourage you. Just wanted to let you know what the differences are.

At most, you will need to monitor the tanks parameters weekly. This includes changing the water at least as often. IMO, a community tank is the same level of ease with just another step.

I would suggest some research into cichlids. You may find that it isn't hard to keep them at all.
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Old 11-07-2005, 02:28 PM   #7
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I've never performed the level of maintenance people cite here and yet I never have had fish die. Do people do a PWC weekly for ALL setups? That seems extreme to me.
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Planted 35 Gallon Hex Freshwater

Fish - (4) Rosy Tetras, (5) Zebra Danios, (4) Platies, (3) Rainbows, (5) Albino Cories, (2) Ottos

Plants - Micro Swords, (2) Rotala, (2) Camboba

Light - 40w (~1.1 wpg)

CO2 - DIY generator with Hagen diffusor
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Old 11-07-2005, 03:02 PM   #8
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ALL setups are not the same. I was referring only to cichlid tanks (the "extra step").

FWIW - I have personal knowledge of a person who kept their goldfish alive w/o weekly or even monthly water changes. This only means that the fish didn't die, doesn't mean that the fish were in the best environment possible.

A healthy debate about the benefits of a regular schedule of water changes has been discussed on this and other forums ad infinitum. In the end, it really depends on the individual.
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Old 11-07-2005, 05:02 PM   #9
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If you have African Cichlids, weekly water changes are needed since they are very messy fish and will cause havoc on your Nitrates. In a tank that has a low bio-load, you could get away with changes every two weeks. Cleaner water is always better with fish. The less Nitrates that are showing, the better. Plus, once your Nitrates reach 40, it's harder to get them back down. It's easier to maintain a low Nitrate reading than it is to reduce a high one. I would personally go with S.A. Cichlids over Africans in this situation (yes Bill, I am promoting the S.A. Biotope ). Africans really need at least a 55 gal + tank, 75 gal is a preferred minimum.
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Old 11-07-2005, 05:06 PM   #10
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What if I'm not that set on cichlids? Would it be easier to maintain a community tank? I also REALLY like schooling behavior so 7 little fish is more appealing than 2 big ones for example. My thing is I travel for work and I can get my wife to feed fish or get a timer feeder or whatever but if I dont have time to do water stuff EVERY week or even every other week. What would you recomend for a well balanced 35 gal community tank?
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Planted 35 Gallon Hex Freshwater

Fish - (4) Rosy Tetras, (5) Zebra Danios, (4) Platies, (3) Rainbows, (5) Albino Cories, (2) Ottos

Plants - Micro Swords, (2) Rotala, (2) Camboba

Light - 40w (~1.1 wpg)

CO2 - DIY generator with Hagen diffusor
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Old 11-07-2005, 05:53 PM   #11
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If it were my tank, I would go with maybe 1 schools of tetras, a couple Gouramis or other upper dwellers, a school of cory cats, and plant it with low light plants. The plants will help keep the Nitrates in check and will also aid in algae reduction.

Also, a major time reducer with water changes is the Python. For a 35 gal tank, it would probably take 15 minutes once you figure out who to use the python and get a system going. We used to be able to maintain our tanks in about 45 minutes and that included 5 tanks. But we had a system of taking water out of all the tanks, then refilling all the tanks and adding dechlor.
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Old 11-09-2005, 10:33 AM   #12
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I'd go with some apistos, spade tail is a good colorful choice, as they are seen as the less agressive cichlids. Clown loaches look like fancy saltwater fish and they like rock caves. The easiest of easy salt water-looking fish to get a school of would be to pick out some flashy, yellow lyre-tail swordtails. Its hard to find a good pineapple, yellow sword though. You'd have to sift through a lot of fish to get some good ones. Maybe the swordtails with a few rams and clowns.
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Old 11-09-2005, 11:15 AM   #13
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Well imahawki, you've gotten alot of good answers, let me add my 2 cents. I don't think you are going to be able to get that true saltwater look in the 29-35 gallon. Mainly the saltwater looking fish are the larger cichlids from SA and especially the Africans. The smaller cichlids would be an option but I would say with an irregular tank maintenance schedule I would stay away. I have a very understocked African cichlid 55 gallon and if I let it go a month it can get some pretty good spikes that are bad for the fish and the smaller cichlids are much more sensitive to water quality than the larger ones. Also cichlids don't go by the 1" to 1 gallon rule thus a much smaller amount of fish can be kept in an aquarium. Therefore I would suggest just staying away from the cichlid family pretty much altogether. Also stay away from clown loaches , they get too big to house in an aquarium of your size, full grown they are 12" and they need to be kept in groups of 3 so...

Here's what I would suggest
6 Cardinal Tetras---can substitute for about any type of tetra, they are just small and colorful---around 7" of fish full grown
6 dwarf platies--can substitute for regular platies, mollies or swordtails but will have to cut down on number or cut out other fish--add the bright color to the tank---around 8" of fish full grown
1 Angelfish/Gourami/Betta---Betta's can't always be housed in a community but if the betta accepts it you can add a few more smaller fish---2-5" of fish full grown
3 Yoyo loaches---can be substituted for cories---around 9" of fish full grown
That should give you a nice starting point, lots of color and a tad understocked to account for your maintenance preferences.

Also, no matter what you do, replace your standard flourescent bulb that comes in your tank lighting with one designed for freshwater to magnify color in the fish. If you do that it will make a huge difference in the color of the fish and make it look alot more colorful and SW like.
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Old 11-09-2005, 11:24 AM   #14
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Thanks for ALL the advice guys! I have also started a new thread as well, because I'm thinking about going planted instead of fake. Is it possible to upgrade the lighting on my 35 gal hex to accomodate this and what should I do? Look in the FW planted forum for my thread.
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Planted 35 Gallon Hex Freshwater

Fish - (4) Rosy Tetras, (5) Zebra Danios, (4) Platies, (3) Rainbows, (5) Albino Cories, (2) Ottos

Plants - Micro Swords, (2) Rotala, (2) Camboba

Light - 40w (~1.1 wpg)

CO2 - DIY generator with Hagen diffusor
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Old 11-09-2005, 11:51 AM   #15
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You can upgrade your lighting, but you will have to buy a whole new light strip. Compact Flourescent strips will give you more watts. Just try to stay at 2 wpg or under, otherwise you will need CO2.
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Old 11-09-2005, 11:55 AM   #16
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Any additional advice? I'm a total noob so saying I can upgrade doesn't give me much guidance. What should I be looking at specifically, how much would it cost, etc.
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Planted 35 Gallon Hex Freshwater

Fish - (4) Rosy Tetras, (5) Zebra Danios, (4) Platies, (3) Rainbows, (5) Albino Cories, (2) Ottos

Plants - Micro Swords, (2) Rotala, (2) Camboba

Light - 40w (~1.1 wpg)

CO2 - DIY generator with Hagen diffusor
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Old 11-09-2005, 01:22 PM   #17
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What is the current length of the light strip that is on the tank? I'm not farmiliar with the size of hex tanks and there are so many different types of hexs that it's impossible to look up the size.
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Old 11-09-2005, 02:13 PM   #18
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Its my brothers and its at my parents and I'm out of town in Boston. I'm going to go get it this weekend and bring it back to Omaha. I will provide those details ASAP.
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Planted 35 Gallon Hex Freshwater

Fish - (4) Rosy Tetras, (5) Zebra Danios, (4) Platies, (3) Rainbows, (5) Albino Cories, (2) Ottos

Plants - Micro Swords, (2) Rotala, (2) Camboba

Light - 40w (~1.1 wpg)

CO2 - DIY generator with Hagen diffusor
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Old 11-10-2005, 12:08 AM   #19
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Just my opinion, but one thing that looks really cool is to get either 1 large school of tetras or alot of small ones. I'm sort of odd but if I got a new 100 gallon tank (which will probably not happen withing the next 15 years, however, anything is possible) then I'd get a really large school of black or neon tetras. They' are so awesome when they school. Another fun thing is to fisnd male guppies, each with a different colored tail, get some females (remember, they can store up sperm so try not to get ones that have previously bred), and breed them. Just start out with a few and eventually all of those different colors in the males will most likely show up in the fry and you'll get a beautiful and colorful tank
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Old 11-15-2005, 01:01 PM   #20
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OK, so basically I found a LFS that has some knowledgeable people! They said the same thing about Tetras vs. Live bearers and hard/soft water. So my thought now is rather than fight it, just test the water and if its hard, go with mollies and guppies, and if its soft, go with tetras. To finish it off I would just go with some ottos and corys. Does that sound good?
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