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Old 04-02-2006, 06:32 PM   #1
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New Residents for System 12 (advice sought)

I'm just under a month into my first aqaurium since I was a kid. Its the Eclipse System 12 with artificial plants, two pieces of artificial driftwood and medium size river stone. Medium grain gravel bottom (I blended medium-small stones with traditional gravel).

The tank ran without fish for 8 days and since has had 4 neon tetras who seem to be doing quite well. I just had my first show of algae and followed that with my first gravel vacuum and a 40% water change. I also removed one (artificial) plant and tightened up my arrangement to allow them more free swimming space in the front. Two days into the slightly altered setup and they seem to be quite happy.

Originally I had envisioned a tank with 6- 8 tetras, a sucker of some kind and two featured fish of some sort. Knowing this was perhaps crowded I don't know if I will ever get the featured pait for this tank, and in truth I have enjoyed the tetras so much i don't think I need them unless I find a good fit.

My next move is to find a cleaning crew that will be at home in just 12 gallons. I'd like to expand my school of tetras to 6 or 7 so I would like to leave some bioload available for that in the future.

I've been reading and am a bit confused and unsure as to what algae eater I should get. The Oto seems a perfect fit as he remains so small and will not outgrow the tank but then i read in places that he needs live plants to survive long term. The Plecos look to get too big for such a tank as mine and I don't know when I will have a larger tank to move him to(at some point I'd like a large tank once I prove to myself that I will take care of it well enough to justify the investment).

I love Corycats for their appearance and activity but I probably need more than just a leftover food/scavenger eater as algae eating is a bit of a priority as I have a tendency to leave my light on rather long.

The more info I gather the more unsure I am about what cleaning crew might thrive in my tank long term. Apologies for a poorly structured post but any advice or experiences would be most welcome.

Thanks, sharrock.
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Old 04-03-2006, 07:14 AM   #2
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The tank is still in the process of establishing nitrafying bacteria. Don't try adding any new fish for at least one more month. Stop the huge water changes or the bio will take a lot longer to establish. 10% once a week with a simple quicky vacuum. It is important to feed very sparingly right now. Two minutes worth of food every two to three days. Best divided into two or more feeds throughout the day.

Have you tested the water yet? What are the test results for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH? Post numbers please.

Your mental view of your tank is not unreachable You just need to wait. Let nature do it's thing. Use a bio additive such as Nitromax. This will help protect the present population of fish until the system's own bio establishes.

Otocinclus are great little algae eaters and I never heard of live plants being a requirement. You need algae and they are plant safe, eating algae right off the plant without destroying it. Though it wouldn't hurt to have a few live plants in the tank. Plants help with nitrate control as well as algae control.

There are some small species of plecos well suited for a smaller tank. Wide mouth plecos (aka thomasi) and bushynoses get about 4" and are plant safe. They are also good at eating diatom blooms (brown algae).

Other algae eaters/cleaners you may find interesting are shrimp. From ghost shrimp to algae shrimp to bumble bee shrimp, zebra shrimp, cherry shrimp are neat (starting to sound like Forest Gump here...LOL). I like the flower shrimp. A somewhat big shrimp getting 4", they have flowerette type hands instead of claws. They use these to trap tiny food particles floating around in the water. Excellent for nitrate control.

Most FW algae eaters also eat other food, but do recommend a veggie flake food mixed with regular tropical flake for all the fish. It will provide supplimental veggies for the algae eaters when algae is low in the tank. The other fish get their veggies too.

Quote:
My next move is to find a cleaning crew that will be at home in just 12 gallons. I'd like to expand my school of tetras to 6 or 7 so I would like to leave some bioload available for that in the future.
Nitrafying bacteria only populate to the current waste load. What you want to have is plenty of bio space for nitrafying bacteria to populate on. That is anything and everything in an aerated environment. The rocks, the plants (live or fake), the substrate, the glass, suspended in the water and in the filter. Porous material provide the most space with all those little nooks and crannies. Lava rock makes great bio media as it does natural decoration. Lace rock too. Wood is also a good bio media and can also help keep the water soft especially for the neons. They like soft water. Plecos seem to need wood. There is a type of natural fungal growth on wood they eat to help aid their digestion of food, so there's several benefits with wood.

What is the average time the lights are on for?
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Old 04-08-2006, 05:59 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TCTFish
The tank is still in the process of establishing nitrafying bacteria. Don't try adding any new fish for at least one more month. Stop the huge water changes or the bio will take a lot longer to establish. 10% once a week with a simple quicky vacuum. It is important to feed very sparingly right now. Two minutes worth of food every two to three days. Best divided into two or more feeds throughout the day.
The 40% water change was not intentional but more a fact of my gravel siphon working quicker than I could hit all the spots in the tank. Inexperience on my part. I've cut down on the amount of food (crisps) and the frequency of feeding.

Quote:
Have you tested the water yet? What are the test results for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH? Post numbers please.
Just finished a testing.
pH = approx. 7.4
ammonia = 0ppm
nitrite = 2-5 ppm (hard to tell with the color. I'm using the Aquarium Pharm. master test kit from Drs. Foster & Smith. But quite high, regardless)
nitrate = 0ppm

The pH could come down some for the tetras but I'm not terribly worried about that. The Nitrite level scares me and explains (I think) my problems with algae. I have brown algae forming on my front panel of glass as well on my plants and on my stone. I'm rather concerned.
Quote:
Your mental view of your tank is not unreachable You just need to wait. Let nature do it's thing. Use a bio additive such as Nitromax. This will help protect the present population of fish until the system's own bio establishes.
I have some Kent Freshwater Essential to help with the water long term but I have yet to add a drop to the tank. Will NitroMax help stabalize my Cycle?

Quote:
Otocinclus are great little algae eaters and I never heard of live plants being a requirement. You need algae and they are plant safe, eating algae right off the plant without destroying it. Though it wouldn't hurt to have a few live plants in the tank. Plants help with nitrate control as well as algae control.

There are some small species of plecos well suited for a smaller tank. Wide mouth plecos (aka thomasi) and bushynoses get about 4" and are plant safe. They are also good at eating diatom blooms (brown algae).

Other algae eaters/cleaners you may find interesting are shrimp. From ghost shrimp to algae shrimp to bumble bee shrimp, zebra shrimp, cherry shrimp are neat (starting to sound like Forest Gump here...LOL). I like the flower shrimp. A somewhat big shrimp getting 4", they have flowerette type hands instead of claws. They use these to trap tiny food particles floating around in the water. Excellent for nitrate control.

Most FW algae eaters also eat other food, but do recommend a veggie flake food mixed with regular tropical flake for all the fish. It will provide supplimental veggies for the algae eaters when algae is low in the tank. The other fish get their veggies too.
A small Pleco would be great as I have always enjoyed the look of them in their prehistoric zen thing. My concern is that my tank will prove too small but perhaps I am incorrect. With my current testing showing some unstable conditions I'm on hold with additional fish.

Shrimp fascinate me but I don't feel confident with their care currently.

Quote:
My next move is to find a cleaning crew that will be at home in just 12 gallons. I'd like to expand my school of tetras to 6 or 7 so I would like to leave some bioload available for that in the future.
Quote:
Nitrafying bacteria only populate to the current waste load. What you want to have is plenty of bio space for nitrafying bacteria to populate on. That is anything and everything in an aerated environment. The rocks, the plants (live or fake), the substrate, the glass, suspended in the water and in the filter. Porous material provide the most space with all those little nooks and crannies. Lava rock makes great bio media as it does natural decoration. Lace rock too. Wood is also a good bio media and can also help keep the water soft especially for the neons. They like soft water. Plecos seem to need wood. There is a type of natural fungal growth on wood they eat to help aid their digestion of food, so there's several benefits with wood.
A small/medium piece of natural driftwood might help me all around then. Both with a softening of the water and with some additional bact. growth. I've also considered adding some dark stones to my gravel bed to darken the overall color scheme on the bottom. Perhaps I can tackle that with some dark lava stones to aide all around.

Quote:
What is the average time the lights are on for?
Well, at first I was foolish (even after reading I should be aware) and the lights were on from about 6am until 9pm. I've shaved several hours off this time and am wondering if I could run something like 5am - 6am for their feeding and I like to watch them in the morning. Then turn the light back on from about 4:30 til 9:30. Breaking up their day seems like it might be problematic.

Thanks for your help so far. What should I do about my nitrite level? I figure the first thing I can do is a small water change every few days over the next week.
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Old 04-08-2006, 07:28 PM   #4
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Nitrite levels will come down. They need to peak just as the ammonia did before coming down. You can protect the fish by using Prime or Amquel Plus water conditioner and maybe a tiny bit of salt (about a tablespoon per 10 to 15 gallons). Don't want too much to hurt the soft water fish, but enough to ease any burning to the gills. You can also use a bio additive like Nitromax or Cycle until the tank's own bio stablizes. Good to use when introducing new fish and right after water changes too. Continue with the small water changes (10% once or twice a week until bio is stable) and continue keeping feedings minimal.

You mentioned brown algae. I also mentioned the small plecos that will eat this brown algae...the thomasi and bushynoses. They only get a whopping 4" so fitting him in the tank isn't a problem...LOL.

The brown algae may just be a diatom bloom or cyanobacteria. There is a simple way to tell. Pick some up and rub it between your fingers. If it feels gritty and easily tears apart, then it's diatoms. If it's slimy and doesn't break apart easily, then it's cyano. Cyano is more a water quality issue, particularly nitrates which you don't have yet, so that's why I'm leaning more toward it being diatoms. The diatoms are just little critters made of silicate (yes, glass...these things have glass shells...pretty too under a microscope). Very common in new glass tanks and after a water change due to the silicates of the glass and in the new water. They're just sightly in mass populations. They will eventually dissapear on their own. They're harmless.

You want about 8 to 10 hours of daylight. The rest dusk, dawn, and night. If you wish to view the tank during the night time hours, look into moonlights or use a red light bulb to view them without disturbing their night time cycles.

Day and night cycles are important to all organisms that naturally experience a day/night cycle. This is tied into the organisms biological clock...longevity. Obviously animals really deep in the water are not going to have a day time cycle through the means of light.

An over exposure of light...say light being on 24/7 can not just produce awful amounts of algae, but cut into the animal's life span. This I know from understanding the metabolic system. For freshwater...lights going on and off variably isn't going to have much of an affect as it would with marine. Depends on the animal's natural environment and it's exposure of sunlight throughout the day. Do they live in water that's fairly shaded or are they out in the sunlight? Know what I mean?

Keep us posted on any progress. You're doing fine. Time and patience.
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Old 04-09-2006, 01:01 PM   #5
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Last night I picked up some Amquel as well as some Cycle. Added 2/3 of the prescribed dose of Cycle when I got home. I was afraid the Amquel might disallow the development (in the short term) of the bacteria I need to turn my nitrite into nitrate. Later today I plan a 10% water change with perhaps a small dose of cycle Monday morning and a water test Monday night to see what progress I have made.

I also bought a new granulated food to see if less waste resulted. It appears that they hang in the water slightly longer than the crisps so I may be able to cut down on excess food a bit by mixing this food in. My Betta also likes this granulated food better than his Betta pellets. I swear he sometimes will not eat in an attempt to get more than his weekly treat of bloodworms.

I'm still looking (couldnt find it last night) for some dark lava rock and a small piece of driftwood to add some bio-housing and also provide better shelters for a future pleco. I checked out the bulldog/thomasi that you suggested, PetsMart actually had some nice ones. I'm lucky enough to have a top notch aquarium store, where I bought my tank and most of my supplies, nearby so I might check there as time approaches for a new addition.

Thanks again for the help, I'm sure I'll need more.
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Old 04-15-2006, 12:58 PM   #6
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Most recent testing:
pH 7.2
amm 0ppm
nitrite 2.0 ppm
nitrate about 5.0 ppm

Water improving as my nitrite is finally getting processed into nitrate. I've been using Cycle with a couple of 10% water changes. Added small piece of lava rock with a nice hiding nook. Also added a pound of black gravel to try and darken the substrate as well as add some depth to my gravel layer.

I've had no luck on finding a small piece of driftwood. It seems the local stocking is either of large pieces or no pieces at all. Will continue looking as I eye a future pleco and somewhat lower pH water.
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Old 04-15-2006, 01:17 PM   #7
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You can always buy it online or ask the local LFS if they would sell you a piece out of one of their tanks. Do soak it in a bleach water solution (one part bleach to four parts water) for 30 minutes. Rinse well, then soak again in heavily dechlorinated water. Rinse again, then it's good to go into the tank. Don't want to introduce anything you don't want like ich.

I found this online source...check them out...

http://www.aquariumdriftwood.com/
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Old 05-06-2006, 02:02 PM   #8
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I did find a smallish piece of driftwood at the LFS which looks great in the tank. It has two curves which allow for two potential pleco sitting spots as well as one large chunk missing for a hiding spot.

My water has been testing wonderfully (other than my ph being 7.4 when I'd prefer 7.0) for several weeks. The Tetras have enjoyed the altered tank setup which allows them to swim amongst the plants more than before.

Today I hunt down my bristlenose pleco and add him to the tank. I'm looking forward to having him hanging around.

Edit to add: Anyone with good advice on ways to lower my pH while avoiding chemicals? I've done some reading but would like some additional real world thoughts.
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Old 05-06-2006, 06:07 PM   #9
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Organic material break down minerals.

Peat moss or peat fibers will aid greatly with lowering pH. It doesn't take much of it to change the pH in a 12 gallon either. You'll need to keep close tabs on pH so it doesn't go down too low. You'd place a small amount of peat in a filter bag and you can either place it in the filter or hang it in the outflow of the filter. The wood you just got will help. See what happens with the pH over the next couple weeks or so with the wood in there before deciding on using peat. It's much easier to balance pH with peat in larger systems.

Java moss may be an alternative for smaller tanks. It's a thought, but I don't peronally know how effective it would be compared to peat.
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Old 05-07-2006, 12:54 PM   #10
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Thanks TCT, peat may be the way to go. My thought is that I could use peat for a period each day and measure the results every other day or so. I'm a bit nervous about dropping pH so quickly in a 12 gallon set up. I'm wondering if I couldnt run my new water through some peat before a water change to shave a bit of ph off. Not sure how effective that would be though.

Like you said, I'll wait and see the small lowering the driftwood yields. The wood looks so nice I will probably replace my other artificial with a real piece, for aesthetics but also for some additional pH benefit.

Turns out the bristlenose will have to wait a couple of days as nowhere within 30 miles currently has one. The one I had eyeballed was sold in a heartbeat. May have to order the new tank resident.
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