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Old 03-14-2009, 09:24 PM   #1
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Salty crossing over

I have been successful with my saltwater tank that I started a year ago, and I credit AA for most of it. So now as I embark on a present for my new grand daughter who loves my SW tank (but her parents don't want the work of a sw tank). I am wanting a check before I move any further with a planted 20 gallon. Please correct me on anything that sounds SW and does not apply to FW or any other comments. I have read all of the getting started forums and I have gathered great information from this site again. Here is my plan, what do you think?

20 gallons
40 # eco complete black stuff about 5" deep in the back of the tank and 3" deep in the front.
I have already painted the back of the tank a navy blue
about 5# of bright florescent gravel on top of the eco complete
about 6 or 8 Glo fish which after much research I have learned are a genetic mutant of zebra danio, my grand daughter (7 months) loved the active bright colors.
one bubble bar 8" long I am going to lay at the back of the tank.
1 bright bubbling clam (plastic like the old treasure chests)for the center piece.
Various aqua plants with guidance from the aqua plant site posted on AA, and fertilizer tabs.
A few fist sized black rocks
A black light
Compact florescent lighting not sure of the watts
lighting timer
air pump
bio wheel with carbon filter

Some of the equipment I got free, used, but if it is not what you think will work let me know.
Specific questions;
What is the best food for these glowing guys?
What is the freshwater equal to a clean up crew that is appropriate for a 20 gal tank?
What inverts will work?
I would appreciate any comments.
AA is the greatest!!!!!! Thanks again!!!!!!!
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Old 03-14-2009, 09:41 PM   #2
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I should add that I have done a bit of research and I plan to add the plants first then slowly, after the cycle add fish a couple at a time. I think the same rule of 1 " of fish per gallon apply for fw so I want to make sure any clean up crew does not get to big. As for inverts I am finding that the options are more limited for fw. I like the look of these yellow snails (not sure of the name)and maybe a shrimp. What about a frogs? Won't they eat the fish? I originally thought about some dalmation mollies but my grand daughter was really attracted to the glofish, if you don't think they are not a good idea I will look at the mollies again. Or maybe if bio load allows a couple of mollies too. Just more rambling thoughts.
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Old 03-14-2009, 10:47 PM   #3
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the same rule applies.. excluding the cichlid family... id go 3-4 gallons per inch lol.. they are rather territorial.
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Old 03-15-2009, 10:58 AM   #4
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Thanks for you thoughts, I had planned on staying away from cichlids
Here is a few more pieces I am aiming for:
ph of 6.5-7.0
Temperature 76-82 degree. I was leaning more toward the 76.
As far a the CO2, that is still a bit up in the air for me. I do not want to have any kind of a reactor, home-made or otherwise. I know this will limit my plants but I am ok with that. This in new to me so I am still uncertain about this. I have been reading about it and will continue to do so as I start this build.
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Old 03-15-2009, 11:30 AM   #5
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In my opinion, 5 inches of Eco Complete is a little too much. It is an expensive product also. If you put brightly colored gravel on top of the Eco, the colored gravel will mix down in over time. I understand that your granddaugher likes bright colors; also, you probably want to keep this tank low maintenance. The low maintenance, low-light plants that you would choose, for the most part, will not require Eco Complete. So you could just use the colored gravel. Cryptocorynes are a popular low-light plant and they are heavy root feeders, but they will benefit from the use of root tabs, so th Eco is not absolutely necessary for them.

About your cycling: I would encourage fishless cycling. It is the most humane for the fish and easiest on you as you get the tank up and running, plus you probably don't want to have to explain to your granddaughter why the fish died. I would do this without plants. The ammonia required for the fishless cycle, plus the lighting required for the plants, will give you an algae nightmare. I have a planted tank and the fish died, after a long, happy life. I added ammonia to the tank in order to keep the beneficial bacteria alive until I could get more fish. I also kept my lighting on as usual for the plants. In about three weeks I had horrible algae. I think I was dosing too much ammonia to just maintain the bacteria, and if you dose the amount required to start the fishless cycle, plus add lighting for the plants, you're going to have algae.

There is a way to cycle with plants - I've done it before successfully - but it requires planting heavily with fast-growing plants, adding fish, waiting for the bacteria to become established (in the meantime the fast-growing plants take in the ammonia from the fish) and then gradually replacing the fast-growing plants with the ones you want. It is a good method but for starting a low maintenance tank, I would just use the regular fishless cycle method. I just mentioned this planted tank cycling method in case you read about it and were wondering.

If you don't want any type of CO2 it would be best to stick with low-light plants.

I have never had frogs, but I think they are best suited to their own aquarium. I think some of them have to be target-fed so the fish don't out-compete them for food.

I think the glofish are a good choice. Mollies are live bearers and you may get overrun eventually with babies.

I wouldn't get a filter with a biowheel and carbon. A HOB filter would be easier to maintain IMO. Carbon is not usually used in planted tanks since it may remove the fertilizers that you add. For a low maintenance, low-light tank, you wouldn't be adding ferts like someone with a higher light tank, but I would still go with a hang-on-back filter. You could remove the carbon cartridge and add more sponges for biological filtration.
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Old 03-15-2009, 03:48 PM   #6
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Thank you for your advice. Your right the eco complete was expensive. I will save it for my planted aquarium later this summer. As for the bio wheel, it is a hang over the back maybe I am using the wrong term it was given to me, but I can certainly replace the carbon with filter material. Would Poly Filter do? I have that for my SW, or I have just plain filter media I use in my pond. How deep would you recommend I make the gravel?

As for the cycling I am doing a fishless, I learned that with my sw tank too. I am getting seed water and an old filter from a friend who has an amazing non-planted tank.

As for the lighting. I bought a used compact light fixture. It have 2, 36 watt bulbs (corallife). The bulbs will need to be replaced I am sure, but right now it has an actinic and a 10000k bulb. Is this too much lighting? From what I have read it should be ok for low to medium lighted planted tanks. Is that true?

Thanks again for your help.
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Old 03-15-2009, 10:00 PM   #7
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You're welcome I took out the carbon cartridge in my filter and put the fiber floss material in. Aquarium Mechanical Filtration Media: Filter Floss Filer Media I change it weekly.

My Eco Complete is about 2 inches deep. I think the guideline for regular gravel is 5-7 pounds per gallon. Start off with 5 pounds per gallon and you can always add more (before you fill the tank) if it looks sparse.

Getting some material from an established tank always helps! If you're getting gravel, and you don't want to mix it with yours (if you don't like the color, for example) get some new, unwashed, clean pantyhose and put the gravel in the foot area. Cut the rest of the pantyhose off so it's not too long in the tank. Tie the top in a knot. Then you can easily remove it when the cycle is done. To use some established filter material, squeeze the filter sponge from your friend's tank into a baggie. You'll get some dirty brown water. Put your sponge in this water and squeeze your sponge through it. You'll have to add some ammonia to ensure the newly-introduced bacteria doesn't die. Plain water siphoned from your friend's tank won't provide your tank with any bacteria. The bacteria, as you probably know, lives in the filter media nd on surfaces like plants and gravel. Very few bacteria free-float in the water.

I don't know (without referencing anything) what level of lighting that wattage over a 20 gallon tank will give you. If you give me the length, width, and height of the tank, I can calculate it for you. You probably can replace the actinic bulb with a bulb better suited to plants - a bulb in the 6700K to 10,000K range. Actinic bulbs do bring out the color in the fish but they don't help with plant growth.
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Old 03-16-2009, 05:04 AM   #8
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i just have one thing to correct on this.... a biowheel is a hob filter.. and you dont have to run carbon in it if you dont wish to... imo the biowheel is the best hob filter on the market.
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Old 03-16-2009, 09:56 AM   #9
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Hopefully this is a stupid comment, but make sure you get root tabs intended for an aquarium and not for ponds or especially terrestrial use. When I started out I got some fertilizer tabs for ponds and the next day I was wondering why my ammonia was at 8 Anyway, just make sure the fertilizer you got doesn't have free ammonia (listed as "ammoniacal nitrogen" usually) because the fish won't appreciate it obviously.
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Old 03-16-2009, 03:38 PM   #10
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For a 20 gal tank, the single 36W PC should get you into low medium light territory (even for a 20 Tall). If you swap out the actinic for another daylight bulb, you would have a high light-high tech-high maintenance tank.

I think for start, you should just keep the actinic in. It brings out the color of the fish. <And you can skip the black light, as the actinic will do the same thing.> If you want more light for the plants (say you want to gent into CO2 & high light setup), you can always swap out the actinic for another 6700K or 10000K lamp..

Cleanup crew for a 20 gal - A few otocinclus, +/- a school of dwarf corys. A dwarf pleco *may* work, but I think it is too big for your setup.

Snails may work - but try to get nerite snails. <You will prob. not find that in your lfs!> The golden snail you see are apple snails. The problem with them is that the lfs don't know what species they are selling. <They call them mystery snail - since it is a mystery to them what they are! > P. bridgesii will work in a planted tank, but all other apple snails (esp. P. cananiculata - the one commonly sold in lfs) will eat all your plants overnight!!! If you really want an apple snail, go to applesnail.net to learn how to identify the snails first.

I don't have experience with shrimp (except as goldies snacks!) However, in a heavily planted tank, the shrimps will be in hiding most of the time, so prob. not what you are looking for.
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Old 03-16-2009, 04:25 PM   #11
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That's very much not my experience with shrimp. If kept in a tank without predators, they range all over, up the glass, lining up for food, sitting on broad-leafed plants grazing on algae, swimming mid-water to keep their food away from competitors.

My experience is strictly with Palaemonetes paludosus, some of the Neocaridina spp commonly kept may hide more, but they breed more readily too and I would expect their population to rise enough to make them visible.
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Old 03-16-2009, 10:21 PM   #12
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All great advice, and I will take them into account. Thanks!
One last question, I have a little Aqua expert 600 airpump (used, but works great). Never had to buy an air pump before. Will this work for the size of tank? Sorry this is probably a silly questions. It bubbles and looks good to me, but I am lost on this one.
Oh and the tank measures 24"x 12 "x 16 1/2".
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Old 03-17-2009, 12:21 AM   #13
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An air pump isn't necessary for what you're trying to do. If you left it out it would be fine. If you're asking if it's too big, the only considerations would be noise level and if it puts out so much air that it splashes excessively. I'd say use it or don't to power the clam decoration, whatever looks good to you.
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Old 03-17-2009, 10:59 AM   #14
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Your kidding! Man, I have more reading to do. I thought I had to have an air pump. The filtration system is enough, is what you are saying?
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Old 03-17-2009, 11:45 AM   #15
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I agree that you don't need an airpump. You don't have to have one to aid in filtration. Some filters, like sponge filters, do run off an airpump but that's not what you are using the airpump for. You can use the airpump to make bubbles rise from the clam decoration like gzeiger suggests. Or you don't have to. I'm not familiar with that model so I googled it. It seems to have been included in a kit with a 2.5 gallon minibow tank. If it works with the depth of your tank, and doesn't vibrate (which makes it loud) it would be ok to use if you wanted to.

I calculated your lighting level by using this website: New Lights?

I agree with jsoong that 36 watts - one bulb - will give you low to medium lighting. Two 36-watt bulbs that are between 6700-10000K will give you high to very high lighting. You would require CO2 at this level, which you don't want to do now. I would also suggest to use one daylight bulb and then the actinic bulb. You'll still be at low to medium light, and the fish's colors will be nice and bright for your granddaughter to watch.
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Old 03-17-2009, 12:09 PM   #16
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The filtration you have is just fine as far as keeping fish is concerned. Bubble walls and bubbling clam decorations can look really neat, and some fish like to play in the bubbles, but it isn't necessary for the health of the fish.
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