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Old 07-31-2011, 09:30 PM   #1
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Newbie here, looking for advice (small tank).

Hey everyone, I'm looking to build myself a 20 gallon long tank. I was wondering a few things.

1. With filters etc. how often are you still required to clean the tank, if at all?
2. Would you recommend starting off with a salt or freshwater tank?
3. Any starter fish recommendations?
4. What equipment should I look at to start off with? I want to have to clean the tank as little as possible. I don't want it to stink (it will be in my bedroom). That being said, I am obviously willing to clean it as much as needed. I love animals (vegetarian) and would never intentionally harm my fish.

Thanks for any assistance!

Edit: Here's a video of roughly what I want to work towards:
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Old 07-31-2011, 09:50 PM   #2
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I reccomend starting off with freshwater because it's usually cheaper and easier. The things you need to clean in the filter are the media and occasionally the filter intake, all in tank water of course. For starter fish in that tank it's all up to you and what you want to do with it. Here's a great link regardless if you're doing fresh or salt:
The (almost) Complete Guide and FAQ to Fishless Cycling
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Old 07-31-2011, 09:51 PM   #3
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Ok. I'll bite . You have to promise to take what I say with a grain of salt until the others chime in. If anything, It will jumpstart your thread and you'll get the solid advice needed.

Filters: Get enough to cycle the water 5 times an hour. You can never have enough though so don't be afraid to over filter. You can never have enough filtration to negate water changes. They still need to be done weekly and the frequency depends on the status of your tank. Newer ones require more especially if you are doing a fish in cycle (which I wouldn't recommend unless you like losing hair and hauling buckets). Regardless, partial water changes are going to be a weekly activity. Most do a HOB filter (hang on back) and/or an undergravel filtration system. You can also invest in a canister filter as well.

FW/SW: I would do a freshwater to start out with. Not that a Salt set up is bad, they are actually the final test of your fish keeping skills though and, imo, are not for people just starting out. Can they be done and be successful? Yes. You will have to do some extensive research on the subject. Again, just my opinion.

If you do decide to do a fish in cycle, you can go with barbs and maybe certain tetras. Most here will recommend doing a fishless cycle though. The topic is covered here beyond your expectations. Looking back, I would have done a fishless. If you plan on doing a fish in, make sure you get the fish you plan on keeping in there.

Equipment: First and foremost, you need a good water test kit. API is pretty much the standard. Test strips don't work. A heater with the ability to heat a tank of your size. HOB filter of some kind. Remember what is said about filtration. 5 times an hour, minimum. Other things like substrate are up to you and your final vision for the tank. Plants and also types of fish will determine that.
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Old 08-01-2011, 03:04 AM   #4
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I very much appreciate the assistance so far guys.

I have added a video from youtube in my OP to give you a general idea of what I want to work towards
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Old 08-01-2011, 12:41 PM   #5
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I think those are plastic plants in the vid you added. (certainly the banzai is). If you do want live plants, you'll need to spring for something a little more substantial than a single bulb standard fluorescent fixture. Live plants aren't a necessity by any means, but many folks (including myself) prefer them.

I'd also invest in a timer to run your lights so that your fish have a regular photoperiod even if your life gets hectic and you get home late from work or end up going out with friends or something. Pretty much any one you can buy at a hardware store will be fine.

I'll second the motion to start with freshwater and investment in a good test kit. Add on a clean 5-gallon bucket to be used ONLY for aquariums. (i.e. not what the laundry detergent came in) and a gravel vacuum to assist with those partial water changes. Alternatively, you could spring for a "Python" style water changer that hooks to your faucet. Then you don't have to haul buckets.

You should also buy a heater and thermometer for your tank - around 100 watts is sufficient unless you keep the house really cool.

Take the time to learn about the nitrogen cycle as it refers to aquariums. There are a lot of articles and posts on this site to help you out with that. Fishless cycling using pure ammonia is the safest way to start the cycle. It does require patience since you will likely be lookingat an empty tank for a little while. In my opinion, most people get frustrated with fishkeeping because they stock their tanks too quickly, then they overstock the tank, and then compound the problem by overfeeding.

After you have the tank cycled, if you want to stick with an Asian theme, you could have some barbs, smaller gouramis, and / or smaller loaches or botias. Most of those familes of fish originated in Asia and most are pretty hearty, easy to find, and relatively inexpensive as well. If you go to your local fish store and find something else that tickles your fancy instead, feel free to post your thoughts here. Please don't make the mistake of trying to make your aquarium an aquatic Noah's ark. You'll find you can overstock ANY tank pretty quickly. This is a great site with lots of folks willing to share their experiences and thoughts as well.
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Old 08-01-2011, 12:51 PM   #6
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You can do live plants with a single fluorescent bulb, it could grow lowlights such as mosses and java fern as well as a few other lowlight plants. You can't grow anything with incandescent bulbs.

I agree with everything posted above, however personally I like to go for 10x filtration an hour
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Old 08-01-2011, 01:09 PM   #7
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1. Weekly water changes, typically I do a minimum of 20%, but very often I do 50%
2. Freshwater has a MUCH larger room for error than saltwater, so it great if you are just tarting out.
3. rasboras (harlequins just like in your linked video) are fairly hardy and great fun to watch! Tetras are a good starter as well.
4. A good HOB filter, I recommend the aqua clear for silent running for your bedroom, offers personalization and less maintenance IME. I scrub my walls for algae once to twice a month, and again, weekly water changes. A good heater is NECESSARY for tropical fish, unless you plan on doing cold water fish. A fish less cycle with a good filter and the proper media to build up your biological filter will definitely help deter any smells, as will live plants.
If you have a fluorescent bulb you can do low light plants such as java moss, java fern, anubias (several different looks to choose from) and maybe hornwort or anacharis depending on your tastes.
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Old 08-01-2011, 06:55 PM   #8
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Thanks again for the assistance guys. Really appreciated and a big help!

I was doing some more research and I was looking at the African Cichlids. I realize some of them are too small for a tank my size, but does anyone have any suggestions on the type that may be good for me?
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Old 08-01-2011, 07:19 PM   #9
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Shellies would be good
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Old 08-02-2011, 10:18 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matthewh133
Thanks again for the assistance guys. Really appreciated and a big help!

I was doing some more research and I was looking at the African Cichlids. I realize some of them are too small for a tank my size, but does anyone have any suggestions on the type that may be good for me?
If you want to do rift lake cichlids, the shell dwellers as stated above, or maybe brichardi or Julidichromis would work. The peacocks, haps, and mbuna will tend to be too large in my opinion. You might do best to stick with one species in a 20.
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