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Old 03-05-2005, 09:30 AM   #1
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Newby questions re Top Fin, water quality, cycling

Hi,

Finally did it. I filled my aquarium last night and started my filter and air pump.

Equipment:
Used 20gal glass aquarium with hood and fluorescent lamp
Used Top Fin 30 (I don't have instructions for it)
New Whisper air pump
Pea size gravel from Home Depot, washed as best I could
Fresh Water Master Liquid Test Kit from Aquarium Pharmaceutical
It will be a community tank with swordfish and guppies and a bottom fish (I'm not sure what yet; suggestions are welcome)


My water got cloudy when I filled the aquarium. This morning, i's was already looking better. I'm pretty sure it's because I couldn't clean the gravel real well. The gravel was covered with sand and very fine silt. I washed under running water but there was probably still some silt left. Will that clear up completely?

I tested my water this morning. The pH is 8 and the GH is 8 (equivalent to 143.2ppm). Should I use some chemicals to lower the pH and GH right away or start cycling it (I'm thinking of cycling with one fish) and see if the pH will get better?

I've never properly cycled an aquarium. When I was a teenager I had a small aquarium (10gal) and directly put neons in. They didn't survive very long (they would jump out of the aquarium). I want to do it right this time. As I don't have an other aquarium at the moment to transfer bacterias from, can I cycle my aquarium with one fish? What would be a good fish to do so, maybe a bottom feeder?

I'm not very happy with my filter. It makes a lot of noise. There's an air bubble stuck just above the pump and that makes a gurgling noise. Moreover this restricts the outflow so that you can always hear water falling. Is there a trick to get rid of that air bubble? I've had an Aquaclear and there was a knob to control the flow and if I played with that I was able to remove the air bubble. There is no such thing on the Top Fin, so I really don't know what to do.


Thanks
Vero
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Old 03-05-2005, 01:19 PM   #2
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Congratulations on your new tank! The cloudiness will clear up. But if there is still a bunch of fine bits in the gravel, every time you vac or move decorations and such it will stir it up. Don't put anything in your water to lower the ph. I have a ph of 7.8 and when I first started I thought it was important to get the ph down to 7.0 and that really messed things up for my fish. You can cycle with a few small hardy fish or you can cycle with out fish at all. Here is an article on the nitrogen cycle...
http://www.aquariumadvice.com/showqu...q=2&fldAuto=21
I am not sure about the filter. Is it the kind that hangs on the back?
It sounds like you are off to a good start, good luck to you!
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Old 03-06-2005, 01:24 AM   #3
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I recently bought a starter aquarium set that included a TopFin filter. Hated it! After about two weeks of the noise from that thing, it was driving me nuts.

I went out and spent $25 or so for an AquaClear hob filter...it's amazing the difference. Probably one-tenth as loud (I'm not exaggerating), and seems to be a much better job filtering as well. My opinion is junk the TopFin.

Tanks tend to always be cloudy when you first set them up, usually from the gravel. Over the next few days the filter will filter some of that out, and the rest will naturally setlle back down into the gravel, to remain there until you gravel vac it out.

Note if you tested your water this morning right out of the tap, you might not have gotten accurate readings. Get some water into a glass or a bucket, and let it sit out 24 hours or so, then test it...that will give you a much more accurate idea of what the pH, gH, and kH will be in your tank once it is up & running.

Definitely read the link Meredith gave about cycling. There are also a couple of *very* good beginner articles at http://www.petfish.net/. Go to the "articles" page and then look at the "FAQ" section of articles, there are a couple of ones in particular I would recommend, including "Basic Guide to Starting An Aquarium," "Aquarium Basics," and "What is Cycling?"

I would recommend against trying to change the pH or hardness for now. In general, most common aquarium fish can adapt to quite a range of pH and hardness, as long as you keep it steady. If you do every try to change it, don't use chemicals. If you feel you must lower your pH and hardness, probably your best bet is to go with the AquaClear filter and filter through peat moss.

For bottom dwellers, in my mind nothing tops cory catfish. They are just so much fun, full of energy. Get 5 or so of the same species and you will be in great shape; most decent lfs's usually have a variety of corys in stock. Or if you can find a lfs that carrys pygmy corys (which only get to abot 1" full-grown), get a school of 8 or 10 of those...they are the cutest little buggers in the world. Note they are schooling fish, so it's really not a good idea to just get 1 or 2. Be sure they are getting enough food--they will eat any leftover flakes that make to to the gravel, as well as most of the sinking pellet foods out there (I feed mine TetraMin sinking pellets and Shrimp Pellets). Note they are not "algae eaters" like ottos or plecos; they are omnivores so they won't do well only only algae tablets. (In fact I bought algae tablets to feed them like once a week just for a change, but mine don't even eat them.)

Also looking ahead to your fish, both guppies and swordtails are livebearers, which means if you have a mix of males & females you are gonna have tons of babies--so plan ahead for that. And if you *do* mix, for either fish, it is best in a ratio of 2-3 females per male. And I have heard some people say (maybe others will chime in here) that having 2 male swordtails in too small a tank can lead to fights.

Anyway, welcome to AA! Please keep us posted on how your tank is progressing.

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Old 03-06-2005, 12:28 PM   #4
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Quote:
I recently bought a starter aquarium set that included a TopFin filter. Hated it! After about two weeks of the noise from that thing, it was driving me nuts
I cant get to sleep without that noise anymore!
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Old 03-07-2005, 10:44 AM   #5
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Thanks for your answers. This is so much fun!

Meredith. As you said the water did clear up. It' looks great now. I found that the GH also dropped (from 8 to 7), though the pH hasn't changed. I'll let it be. After all those values are not so bad.

JohnPaul. Great site with articles, thanks. I'm really thinking of getting an Aquaclear now. I remember that the one I had a long time ago didn't bother me. I've also been looking at corys for starter fish (I really like the look of the leopard cory).

Rach101. I wouldn't mind falling asleep to the nice relaxing sound of the water falling. It's really the ever changing gurgling and spitting that I find annoying.

So... I'm off to a good start. I think I'll add the fish in about a week.
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Old 03-09-2005, 10:10 AM   #6
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JohnPaul:

In one of the article on petfish.net, "Basic Guide To Starting An Aquarium - Part 2", it is recommended that 1teaspoon of salt per gallon (another article, "More questions and answers", was talking about 1tablespoon per gallon) should be added to a freshwater tank. Apparently this is to prevent diseases. It's the first time I hear about that. Is that a good thing to do? Won't the salt "damage" or "irritate" the fish? Are they talking about table salt (it's got iodine added) or a special kind of salt?

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Old 03-09-2005, 11:58 AM   #7
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Do not add table salt to your tank. If you go to the lfs or even Wal-Mart they have aquarium salt for freshwater tanks. Do NOT get saltwater salt. We use Doc Wells (something like that) made by Aquarium Pharmacuticals and it works great. I personally don't use salt in the tanks. The only time that I add salt is if the tank is sick. As a matter of fact, I just added some this morning because there is some kind of internal parasite in our Cichlid tank. And even then, you don't use 1 tablespoon per gallon. With the Aquarium Pharmacuticals it is 1 tablespoon per 5 gal. I personally wouldn't add it to the tank unless there is a sickness problem. The salt won't damage or irritate the fish. Well, there are some fish that prefer no salt added to the tank but I can't remember which ones they are. The salt is used to treat ich because it dries out the parasites.
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Old 03-09-2005, 01:10 PM   #8
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1 tablespoon per gallon would (I think) kill most true freshwater fish--at that load you are getting into brackish conditions!

Anyways, the question of whether or not to keep salt on a regular basis is one that is actually much debated among aquarists. What I would suggest (being far from an expert) is that, if you decide to use some salt in the water as many of us do, dose it at a level of about 1 tablespoon per TEN gallons. That is a very low level, not enough to make the water "salty," just enough to put in a touch of hardness and put some electrolytes in solution. Many feel this low level of electrolytes helps gill functioning in fish, others seem to disagree so like I said, it is debated in aquarium circles.

If you are using salt to treat an infection, you dose at twice that level, i.e. one tablespoon per five gallons--but only as long as you need in order for the disease to be treated.

And as Fishfanatic pointed out, if you do add salt (whether as a constant, preventative measure or as a disease treatment), you need to use freshwater aquarium salt--not table salt, and not marine salt/sea salt.

Very low levels of salt (along the lines of what I was discussing here) won't damage or irritate fish. Cory cats are supposedly one of the most sensitive species to salt, and mine thrive in my tank which has 1 tablspoon per 10 gallons.
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Old 03-09-2005, 02:05 PM   #9
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If your pH out of the tap (after sitting out overnight in a container) is lower than 8 then I would suspect the pea gravel you have as bufferng your water. If your tank pH is higher than your aged tap water then you might consider removing the gravel and getting aquarium gravel from the LFS, or a non-buffering sand. If you want to keep livebearers then they will love your hard, alkaline water.
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Old 03-12-2005, 10:21 AM   #10
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I checked my water.

The pH and GH of the water directly from the tap (and left to rest in a glass for 24h) is the same as the water in the tank. Glad to know that my pea gravel is not modifying my water! This way I'll be able to give a constant environment to my fish.

Now I have another question: I'm trying to figure out how many fish I can put in my 20gal tank (roughly 24"x12" and 16" high). I found conflicting information in books and on the web:

- 1 inch of fish per 30 square inches of surface area (would allow me to 9 inch of fish)

- 1 inch of fish per gallon (allows me to 20 inch of fish)

- 4 2-3 inch fish per 10 gallon (allows me to 16-24 inch of fish)

- 1 inch per 12 square inch of surface (allows me to 24 inch of fish).

???

Here is what I was thinking of having: (adult length and water temperature)

3 Leopard Cory (2.5inch, 72-79F)

1 Oto (1.5inch)

6 Neon Tetra (1.5inch, 68-79F)

1 male Guppy and 3 female Guppy (the males are 1.5 inch and female are 2.5 inch, 64-81F)

1 male and 3 female Pineapple Swordtale (the males are 4 inch and the females 4.5 inch, 68-79F)

I think everybody would be happy if I kept my water around 74F. Would all these live happy together? I tried to keep in mind having bottom, middle and top water fishes and having enough females for the males.

I'm up to 40 inch of fish!!! That should be overstock!!! I don't want to have to change water everyday!!! I don't know which one to remove from my list. I heard that the Oto and Cory are a low bio-load and don't really count when looking at stocking the aquarium. Is that true?

Thanks for all your help!
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