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Old 08-07-2009, 11:07 PM   #1
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Going to get this right! Questions...

My wife brought home a 20 gallon tank about a year ago. We did everything wrong. I'm surprised we've had as much luck as we have - considering the 'wonderful' advice we've received at PetSmart. We've had a year of struggles, fish losses, and buying way too much stuff to 'fix' our 'sick' fish. After my wife brought home the last load of new fish a while back, I decided I was going to make the aquarium work right from now on. I'm glad I've finally found this community. I've learned so much in the time I've been reading here. Thanks!

Over the last month or so, I've stopped all the chemicals (except Prime), gone through a mini-cycle, found a new home for our inherited Cichlids (good riddance!), got on a good PWC schedule, and now have Nitrites, Ammonia, and Nitrates at good and steady levels.

So here's the questions:

- I have GH and KH of 300 and pH of at least 8.4. My water is VERY hard out of the tap. I've considered driftwood (also good for Plecos, right?), but no pet store in town carries any and I'm a bit reluctant to pull some out of a lake and toss it in there. Any other recommendations? Or do I not worry about the pH?

- The PetSmart Boys had us using aquarium salt (1 TB/5 gal) and I now know this is not necessary and may be a problem for the Plecos. Am I OK to slowly get the salt out of the system through 20% PWCs?

- My month old Plecos (again, sold by Petsmart to 'fix' our algae problem) are glued to the same spot hiding on the back walls where we can never see them. I thought the recent removal of the aggressive cichlids would bring them out, but not so. Any way to encourage even a bit of exploring? A back wall covering? I wonder if they are getting enough food staying in one place - especially with the 2 hard working Ottos and snails in there. I do provide algae wafers on occasion, but they don't eat them directly - they never seem to move more than a few inches.

Sorry for so many questions. I'll keep reading and researching here, but appreciate your help.
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Old 08-07-2009, 11:28 PM   #2
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#1 you PH is VERY High. Way too high. That could be 1 reason your plecos never move. There not feeling so good because of the PH. I go to a water machine in my town and fill 5 gallon jugs with that water and the ph from that is usually 6.2. I would start trying to get the PH down by doing regular water changes with the lower PH water if you can get it. A RO/DI unit is another option but that cost $. Also they most likley sold youo a couple common plecos which can grow bigger than 2 feet. So you need to give them back to the pet store or something because they will grow, FAST. Your alage is easy to fix just don't over feed is usually the main problem. But it should level out in time with regular PWC. O ya, skip the salt. Try starting with beginning/small fish like tetras and what not. Dont buy anymore fish till you have all the problems sorted out.

There is a guy called NH1 that will post a pic of a HUGE pleco soon.
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Old 08-07-2009, 11:58 PM   #3
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before you start thinking about messing with your water like etunes said your best bet is to figure out what you want to do with the tank. what type of set up would you like? 99.9% chance the pleco will get too big. i would think about finding it a new home. whats in the tank right now? i would check out African fish. a 20 gallon would be great for some shell dwellers.
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Old 08-08-2009, 12:00 AM   #4
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Thanks! Yeah, I just found the pics of some HUGE plecos. Yuck!

They told my wife that this type doesn't get nearly as big (not that the advice of the PetSmart Boys is worth much). I'm not positive if they are clown or bristlenose, but I'll find them new homes if they get too big. They are the ones I'm most worried about in the long run. Everything else seems to be settling in just fine for now.

I'd rather not haul water from the store every week, but will give it a try if I have to. I'm also going to try and remove decorations to maybe isolate if they are affecting pH. And regular water changes, of course. Any other ideas for lowering the pH?
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Old 08-08-2009, 12:07 AM   #5
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before you start thinking about messing with your water like etunes said your best bet is to figure out what you want to do with the tank. what type of set up would you like?
I've just taken over this tank and the fish in there. I like the community fish I've got. My goal right now is to keep them alive. I'll move the Plecos out if they become a problem.

Right now I have:
5 Neon Tetras
2 Long Fin Black Skirt Tetras
2 Red Wag Platy
1 Dwarf Gourami
2 small Otocinclus
2 small Plecos
2 Snails

Most of these have been in there for a while and are doing fine. The plecos and gourami are new. Like I said, I'm trying to make do with what is in there now.
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Old 08-08-2009, 12:08 AM   #6
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I think I have heard of running peat in the filter to lower ph.
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Old 08-08-2009, 12:22 AM   #7
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just dont just start tossing in things messing with the water. bristnal nose plecos max out at 3-5 inch depending on the male or female. what kind of snails do you have? a couple things i would do. with that stock i would do 50-70% water changes weekly. plecos are high bio load fish. i would also leave a cup of water over night then test the tap water. see if your tap is that high also.
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Old 08-08-2009, 12:41 AM   #8
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just dont just start tossing in things messing with the water.
Absolutely. I'm done playing the chemical game.

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what kind of snails do you have?
I'm not sure. They've been in there for quite some time (they were purchased, rather than just appearing) and are doing well. From looking at pictures, they appear to be Mystery or Apple Snails.

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i would also leave a cup of water over night then test the tap water. see if your tap is that high also.
I'll report back tomorrow.

Thanks for taking the time!
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Old 08-08-2009, 01:01 AM   #9
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Although 8.4 is a little high, I don't really think it'd be a big problem unless you're trying to breed. As long as the fish aren't freaking out, you should be okay. I kept a bristlenose in with my brichardis (8+ pH) and it did pretty well until it jumped out a couple years later..

On another note, the biggest problem (might not really be a problem) is with the neons, as they prefer acidic water, but once again, if the aren't showing problems, it should be okay.
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Old 08-08-2009, 01:34 AM   #10
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It actually sounds like you only have 3 problems too me. #1 you need to learn a little more, which seems why you came here. Which i need to give you some points on because at least now your finding out how to care for your pets. #2 your ph is a little high. #3 you need to research your fish, which again you are doing now.

mgamer, i just forgot to tell him that. The first thing you should always do is have a gameplan. Make sure that you know what your doing and DON'T impulse buy, big issue once you get hooked to aquarium keeping. Don't ever go into anything not knowing little to no information.

Quick question, is it a 20g tall or 20g long?
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Old 08-08-2009, 01:53 AM   #11
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If possible could you get a pic of the of the pleco, it sounds like my little clown that is always is in hiding. My bristlenose is always out and in front begging he probably would take food from my hand.

I don't mess with the PH of the water I tried it when I first started my tank but discovered in just 2 weeks it was more trouble than it was worth.
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Old 08-08-2009, 11:24 AM   #12
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Thank you all for your help.

My water out of the tap (after sitting over night) is:
GH: 200
KH: 250
pH: 8.2

Tank is still at 300s and 8.4.

Could the salt that's still in there be affecting this at all? I've only had a few salt-free PWC's.

My current plan is to do 20-25% PWCs every 3 days for a few weeks and see what happens to pH. I'm also considering some driftwood for the plecos and ottos - and that might bring down pH a tiny bit.

I did leave them a slice of cucumber last night and it was mostly eaten up this morning. I'm not sure if it made a difference, but they already seem to be more active and less shy this morning.

Quote:
Quick question, is it a 20g tall or 20g long?
long.



Quote:
If possible could you get a pic of the of the pleco




This is the most he'd come out of hiding. My water temp is 80 degrees - the lowest I can get this cheap heater to go. A new one is on my shopping list.

And here's one of a snail - if you can identify it from this.


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Old 08-08-2009, 11:27 AM   #13
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The pictures are not showing up for me. There the box witht the red X.
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Old 08-08-2009, 11:30 AM   #14
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The pictures are not showing up for me.
Fixed.
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Old 08-08-2009, 11:39 AM   #15
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Thats a rubberlip pleco, they only get like 5-6 inches. Your good. Is the other the same kind? It looks like tome as of right now your good. I wouldnt mess with anything and just make sure you don't make any more mistakes and do research before buying.
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Old 08-08-2009, 11:46 AM   #16
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Thats a rubberlip pleco, they only get like 5-6 inches.
Whew. Yes, the other is the same kind. Good.

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I wouldnt mess with anything and just make sure you don't make any more mistakes and do research before buying.
That's the plan. I figure I'm at capacity now, so no more purchases for me. And I know I've found the right place for research now.

You folks have been a life saver. What a great community you have here!
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Old 08-08-2009, 11:50 AM   #17
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Whew. Yes, the other is the same kind. Good.



That's the plan. I figure I'm at capacity now, so no more purchases for me. And I know I've found the right place for research now.

You folks have been a life saver. What a great community you have here!
I would definatlly stop there, i would say anymore fish is overstocking. And yes, we are a awsome community aren't we.
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Old 08-08-2009, 11:58 AM   #18
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This is probably your pleco right here Bulldog/Rubber Pleco - Chaetostoma cf. thomsoni (L187b) . I have one of and he is somewhat aggressive I am keeping my eye on him and ready to put his fins on craigslist as a freebie if need be.

Your plecos and mystery snail are poop machines. Even with your plecos staying small the bioload will be nearly double that of a fish the same size. In freshwater a snail of that size should be considered into the bioload as well.

Your tank is a 20 gallon tall.
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Old 08-08-2009, 12:01 PM   #19
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O ya, forgot to put something. YOu need 2 watch your 2 plecos, they can get aggressive when older, mostly to their own kind. So watch for aggression between the 2because you might have too get rid of 1 or be prepared to upgrade to a bigger tank for more space.
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Old 08-08-2009, 12:05 PM   #20
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Another question you asked about salt it doesn't take much to effect the plecos and there is still some in your tank most likely. Salt doesn't evaporate so the best thing to do is wipe down the tank above the water line to keep then top off or do a PWC.
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