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Old 11-30-2005, 02:46 AM   #1
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New to forums, have a few questions.

Hi, I am new to the forums and have been looking for a forum for advice on fish. I have been leaching all the advice I can from my LFS but between myself and my son's questions I am sure the employees are ready to kick me out LOL

I recently got a 56 gallon tank, its a 30 inch tank but tall. I have a Bala Shark, Rainbow Shark, Iridescent Shark, 5 zebra danios, 1 leopard Danio, 1 Clown Loach, and 1 Plecostomus. I know the Bala, Plecostomus, and the Iridescent will outgrow the tank and the LFS has said that they will take the fish back and give me a discount on anything I buy when I return them.

I originally had a betta and another clown loach but I believe they got in to a fight as the Betta's fins were ripped to shreds and both fish died within the same 24 hour period.

I am learning quickly, however there is a lot I need to know. When I do water changes am I supposed to remove all the fish and do it? Or do I risk the fish getting spooked and frightened as I pull out 20% of the water and replace? How often should I do water changes? I have heard 2 times a month. I have heard 1 time a month. I have heard every 1 1/2 months.

Cichlid's cannot be mixed into a community tank such as mine right? (i.e. Frontosa, Yellow lab) Are there ANY freshwater puffers that can be mixed in community tanks? I have considered getting a divider for the tank for a puffer but have been told a plecostomus prolly couldn't even be kept with a puffer so 50% water changes are needed often.

My son and I come up with a lot of ideas, but we try not to act on them too quickly till we have some information. I don't want the fish to pay for my ignorance and am trying to avoid this.

Thanks for any help!
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Old 11-30-2005, 03:19 AM   #2
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Welsome to AA, Alvarez!
Don't worry, we won't kick you out for asking lots of questions!

First off, you're making a very wise decision to trade in the sharks and pleco. If you want a pleco (and who doesn't?), there are several dwarf species for you to choose from, including bristlenose and rubberlip plecos. They do a great job grazing green algae and eating any food that falls into the gravel.

If you're new to fishkeeping, check out the articles section to learn about the nitrogen cycle. Your fish won't do well until there is a healthy colony of bacteria in the tank and filter to process their waste. Time and patience is needed.

When you do water changes, it is not necessary to move the fish. Fish love water changes the way dogs love being scratched behind the ears. They soon become used to the gravel vac and will do laps around the tank in anticipation when they see you approaching with the hose or bucket.

I would recommend doing 25 - 50% changes with a light gravel vac once a week. Also, I heartily recommend a piece of equipment called a Python. It attaches to your sink and allows you to remove and replace the water without lugging buckets around. You adjust the temperature of the replacement water by using both the hot and cold taps. It's important to add a dechlorinator as the tank is refilling.

There ARE cichlids that will do well in a community tank (angelfish and rams), but we need to know what your water hardness and pH are. You should pick up kits for these two parameters as well as kits for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.

I don't know too much about puffers, but I believe that they all require brackish water to some degree.

Good luck!
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Old 11-30-2005, 04:55 AM   #3
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I have had the tank running for about a month and a half. I have made it through 2 water changes. You recommend more than a 20% water change though???

Also when the LFS sold me the aquarium he sold me an undergravel filter with the aquarium and said I wouldn't have to vacuum the gravel. Is that incorrect and I need to get a vac???

Thank you soooo very much for the python recommendation! where my aquarium is, it fits perfectly however upper access to the aquarium is somewhat restricted. I can get access to it enough to remove the fish, fit a smaller bowl in there to pull out water/etc but its pretty inconvenient!

At what size would you say I should trade in the Plec and the Iridescent? I keep having people assure me the Bala will not outgrow the tank, however I have read different in some places online.

Thanks again for your help!
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Old 11-30-2005, 05:01 AM   #4
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Oh, also is there a test you recommend for testing my PH etc???

I bought one of the 5 in 1 test strip things but it goes by color and I have noticed people mentioning a number like 1.1 and knowing they have 7.0 PH etc...

Here in Indiana I have been told PH is pretty high period, its just an Indiana thing, and on the PH 5 in 1 test it shows my PH being higher but the LFS said don't sweat it, it is just a little high.
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Old 11-30-2005, 10:03 AM   #5
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Quote:
You recommend more than a 20% water change though???
I perform water changes based on test results but its basically 25% weekly. The larger tank I do two 30% water changes weekly though. it depends on how high your Nitrates are.

Quote:
Is that incorrect and I need to get a vac???
If you are using an undergravel filter then you DEFINATELY need to gravel vac. The fish waste gets pulled under the plates and just sits there, turning into a nitrate factory. The only way to get the waste out of the tank is to gravel vac. They are PITB's IMO because they require so much maintenance. Power Filters and Canisters are the preferred method of filtration since they are easier to maintain.

You do not need to take out the fish for water changes. I used to do it and found it to be a big pain. It causes more stress to the fish to chase them around and get them out of the tank than to just do a water change. Mine actually like the gravel vac. LOL

The Bala will definately need a larger tank. They also prefer to be in numbers and its just not feasible to have a school of balas together in a small tank. I'd trade them before they start to appear stressed. If it were me, I'd trade them now, but you could wait until they are 4 or 5 inches in size.

Aquarium Pharmecuticals makes an excellent Freshwater Master Test Kit. It tests for Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, and pH. It can be ordered from www.bigalsonline.com for about half of what the lfs sells them for. The test strips are not accurate and are very expensive compared to the liquid reagent kits.

pH really doesn't matter because the fish that you get from the lfs are already acclimated to your water conditions (pH wise). I wouldn't worry about it. Not unless you plan on breeding.
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Old 11-30-2005, 11:03 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishyfanatic
Quote:
You recommend more than a 20% water change though???
I perform water changes based on test results but its basically 25% weekly. The larger tank I do two 30% water changes weekly though. it depends on how high your Nitrates are.

Quote:
Is that incorrect and I need to get a vac???
If you are using an undergravel filter then you DEFINATELY need to gravel vac. The fish waste gets pulled under the plates and just sits there, turning into a nitrate factory. The only way to get the waste out of the tank is to gravel vac. They are PITB's IMO because they require so much maintenance. Power Filters and Canisters are the preferred method of filtration since they are easier to maintain.

You do not need to take out the fish for water changes. I used to do it and found it to be a big pain. It causes more stress to the fish to chase them around and get them out of the tank than to just do a water change. Mine actually like the gravel vac. LOL

The Bala will definately need a larger tank. They also prefer to be in numbers and its just not feasible to have a school of balas together in a small tank. I'd trade them before they start to appear stressed. If it were me, I'd trade them now, but you could wait until they are 4 or 5 inches in size.

Aquarium Pharmecuticals makes an excellent Freshwater Master Test Kit. It tests for Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, and pH. It can be ordered from www.bigalsonline.com for about half of what the lfs sells them for. The test strips are not accurate and are very expensive compared to the liquid reagent kits.

pH really doesn't matter because the fish that you get from the lfs are already acclimated to your water conditions (pH wise). I wouldn't worry about it. Not unless you plan on breeding.
I have a emporer power filter and an undergravel filter with aeration tubes. Should I pull out the undergravel filter??? I Was under the impression the aeration tubes were needed? I know it causes a ton more bubbles in the tank. Also I don't think the waster is being sucked to the bottom of the tank. Anytime I move something of when I did a water change waste flew up everywhere. Its pretty dirty in there when you stir things up.

I have an emperor 280 filter with bio-wheel.
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Old 11-30-2005, 11:05 AM   #7
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I would pull out the ugf. In the future when you take it out there will be TONS of fish waste that collected under it. They used to be "THE" filter to have several years ago but technology has changed and they are considered a thing of the past compared to the newer filters. Airation is not needed unless the temp in the tank is warmer than usual. You can add an airstone if you want.
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Old 11-30-2005, 11:15 AM   #8
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So I should just go with the Emporer 280? You believe it will do the job ok? I questioned it because my tank is 56 gallons, however the LFS owner assured me it would be fine and that most aquariums are way under their max due to decorations and gravel, etc...
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Old 11-30-2005, 11:16 AM   #9
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I agree, get rid of the UGF and stay with the Emperor. Which one is it, the 280 or 400? I have the 400 on my 55G, and it's just perfect.
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Old 11-30-2005, 11:20 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Lonewolfblue
I agree, get rid of the UGF and stay with the Emperor. Which one is it, the 280 or 400? I have the 400 on my 55G, and it's just perfect.
It is the 280 (read post right before yours)
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