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Old 06-21-2014, 06:20 AM   #1
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Exclamation Help! New Freshwater Advice

Posted in the wrong forum I guess, so I've added it here. If any mods see this, remove my identical post in the saltwater forums - sorry!

So I have started to get back into some fish after many years of not being around them and being young / careless about how serious it is. However, as I look around the net for advice, the amount of information is somewhat overwhelming so hopefully some people here can help me out (this forum seemed like a nice enough place).

Anywhere here goes, hopefully I can make decent sense to all of you as I have quite a few questions and this might turn into a pretty long post:

Current Setup

Currently, I just got a twenty gallon long and the only thing I am running in it is a dwarf frog. He's been fine for a few months now; I took over a 3 gallon tank that someone had and was going to just let him go in the wild, I couldn't resist taking him since this is a poor and ignorant move.

Anyway, I have migrated him to a 20 gallon long that I have a tetra 10 and sponge filter hooked up to, this is pretty much what I've been using after the really bad manufacturer one gave out not long after I got the frog. So, he's pretty much got his own mansion at this point. He seems to be just fine swimming and hiding all over the place.

I plan to add some fish to this tank at some point, but have not quite figured out what I want to do yet - I am pretty much waiting to get the water conditions as perfect as possible before continuing with anything else.

I have purchased a few basic extra items that I see no harm in really having as is:
100 watt heater
Thermometer
Approx 50 feet of tubing for the air pump (it needs to be extended, but I bought extra to cut as I need)
Additional bio chem dual sponge filter
Vacuum/Siphon (I will actually be going to hardware store and making a python out of this)
EasyBalance for "Reduced water changes" (I have been doing them probably every other week with the 3 gallon)
Algae scrubber
API 5 in 1 water test kit


Future Setup/Plans:

I bought the 20 gallon because it was a pretty good deal (25 bucks) and I figured it would pique my interest over the 3 gallon. It did, but now I'm considering just going to 50/55 gallon since that seems to be where a lot of the fun starts. I have never owned a 55 gallon or anything over 30 gallons and have always wanted to set one up. I'm contemplating ridding of the 20 gallon and just going for the 50 this week, not quite sure I have the extra space though yet.

Questions:

1. Should I upgrade my air pump and add another sponge to my current setup? What about the 50 gallon?
2. I've read a lot about sponge filters for shrimp tanks and the likes, it seems to work great with the frog and I understand it may require more cleaning than a HOB. I do not own a HOB at the moment, can a 100% sponge setup be used for tanks up to 55 gallons? I've heard a lot of mixed reviews, but to be honest, I really like the idea of a full sponge setup. Note: I do not plan to breed, this is just a main tank.
3. I eventually want to do low light with living plants. Possibly Java Fern, Java Moss or Anubias. I understand the LED systems for plants can be pricey, will the standard, out-of-the-box LED lights work for these plants - or do I absolutely need fluorescent?
4. There are a lot of chemicals, water balancers, tablets, etc., etc. that do all types of arbitrary things; again, which of these do I absolutely need to get my water conditioned and maintained to where it should be? I can always add as time goes on, but initial investment costs are limited at this point.
5. I currently have ZERO lighting in terms of actual aquarium lighting - only room light is hitting it. This actually hasn't been to bad with a lamp somewhat next to it, but I will be getting lighting this week as well. LED preferably for now, but fluorescent is my other option obviously. Can I start planting some of these plants now? I have standard gravel in the tank now and driftwood is on the way; can either of these work for rooting/growing these plants; as well as with this lighting?
6. Do I need a co2 system?
7. I like the idea of eventually having freshwater puffers, but not sure I like the idea of one puffer for such a big tank and am not sure what can be put in a 20 gallon in terms of puffers. Does anyone have a recommendation on this? What about other fish? What are some decently sized fish I can put in a 20 gallon? What about a 50 gallon? And how many?

I'll try to add more as I get more questions. I'm sure a lot of this stuff is pretty basic, but my brain is kind of jumbled and overwhelmed after reading for almost a week or so now with pretty much any free time I get. Thanks for putting up with me and my lengthy, first post. I really appreciate any help I can get here. I look forward to discussion!
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Old 06-24-2014, 09:58 AM   #2
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Really quickly - the water test kit sounds like strips? I'd get the liquid test kit if you can (eg api master fw test kit). For water conditioners, all you really need is a tap water conditioner and plenty of fresh water changes eg seachem prime. For a 50 gal I'd be going to HOB filters - something where you can stuff some bio-media into it for the bacteria to live in undisturbed.
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