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Old 10-03-2022, 01:59 AM   #1
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Beginner aquarium person-
I have an 8 mth old beta and 2 mystery snails.

Just getting the hang of owning a fish and the maintenance of an aquarium before getting any other fish or plants.

I know the beta isnt a great mate for other fish but we found that after we got him lol. Good to start with for now while learn how to maintain a healthy aquarium

Looking forward to learning here
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Old 10-03-2022, 07:00 AM   #2
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Hi and welcome to the forum

How long has the tank been set up for?

How long have you had the fish for?

Did the shop tell you how to cycle the aquarium, clean the filter, etc?
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Old 10-03-2022, 02:34 PM   #3
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Old 10-07-2022, 10:42 PM   #4
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Thank you!

Ive had my beta fish for 10 months, we just had standard fish bowl him until 2 months ago.
I started reading a little more and we bought a 20 gallon tank, heater and filter with a water stream for him.
I also have 2 snails.

Unfortunately we didnt get much advice really do thats why I joined the forum to learn how to keep a healthy tank.

Originally Posted by Colin_T View Post
Hi and welcome to the forum

How long has the tank been set up for?

How long have you had the fish for?

Did the shop tell you how to cycle the aquarium, clean the filter, etc?
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Old 10-08-2022, 03:30 AM   #5
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If the fish has been in an aquarium with a filter for the last 2 months, the filter should be cycled. A cycled filter is simply a filter that is run continuously for a couple of months and has colonies of beneficial bacteria that eat ammonia and convert it into nitrite, and more good bacteria that eat nitrite and convert it into nitrate. As long as you don't change the filter media/ materials, the bacteria will live happily ever after and keep the water clean and free of ammonia and nitrite. You get rid of nitrates by doing big regular water changes, gravel cleaning the substrate cleaning the filter, and if possible, having live plants in the tank.


Depending on the type of filter, will determine how you clean it. But most filters are power filters (have a cord and are plugged into a power socket) or air operated sponge filters (use an air pump to pump air into a filter and that bubbles away in the aquarium. There are other filters too, including undergravel (plastic plates that sit underneath the gravel in the tank) and trickle filters that are normally a separate aquarium underneath the main tank and the two tanks are connected by a water pump and some pipe work. I doubt you have a trickle filter on a small tank, and undergravel filters are not regularly sold these days.

Power filters should be cleaned at least once a month, unless they are new. In which case they shouldn't be cleaned for the first 6-8 weeks. This it the time the beneficial filter bacteria are developing and attaching themselves to the filter media. The filter media is anything in the filter that traps gunk, holds good bacteria, or removes chemicals and heavy metals from the water. This includes filter pads, sponges, ceramic or plastic beads/ balls, carbon, zeolite, phosphate or nitrate removing substances. Basically, if it's in a filter and used by the filter for trapping gunk, holding bacteria, or removing things from water, it is filter media.

To clean a power filter:
1) Turn the filter off and unplug it from the power socket.

2) Take the filter media out and wash the filter materials/ media in a bucket of tank water and re-use the media when it has been cleaned. The bucket of dirty water can be poured on the lawn/ garden outside.

3) Wash the filter case and impellor assembly under tap water. The impellor assembly consists of a magnet with 3 or 4 plastic blades on one end, and a steel or ceramic shaft that goes through the middle of the magnet. There is normally a rubber grommet on either end of the shaft and sometimes a plastic washer between the grommet and impellor. Make sure you don't lose these bits because the pump won't work properly without them.

4) When the impellor, shaft and inside of the motor (where the impellor lives) are clean, put everything back together and put the filter back on/ in the tank.
*NB* The motors for power filters are normally sealed in a plastic resin and are unlikely to get water on the electrical components and blow up or burn out. So a bit of water splashed on the motor should not cause any problems.

If you have carbon (small black granulated substance) or Zeolite (small white granules) in the filter, these should be removed and replaced with some sponge.
Carbon adsorbs chemicals from water and is not normally needed in the average aquarium.
Zeolite adsorbs ammonia and interferes with the development of the good filter bacteria.

If you have filter pads/ cartridges in the filter, these can be replaced with sponge. But add some sponge to the filter and leave it with the filter pads for a couple of months, then throw the pads away. You can buy sponges for different brands of filter and use a pair of scissors to cut the sponge to fit your filter. Sponges last for years and get squeezed out in a bucket of tank water and re-used. I used AquaClear sponges but there are plenty of other brands. Just get one that is slightly bigger than the filter pad and cut it to fit.


If you have an internal power filter, just turn it back on when it is in the aquarium and under water.

If you have an external power filter, it should be filled with aquarium water before turning it on. A HOB (hang on back) style of filter (like a TopFin or AquaClear HOB) just hangs on the outside of the aquarium. Water is drawn up a pipe and pushed through filter media and flows back into the tank via and overflow in the filter. This type of filter gets filled with aquarium water and then turned on at the power point.

If you have an external canister filter, you connect them to the aquarium by 2 hoses. One hose is an intake and the other is a return. You have the intake hose in the aquarium, and the outlet/ return hose in an empty bucket. Suck on the return hose so water drains from the aquarium, into the filter. Let the filter fill with water and start flowing out of the return hose. Then put your thumb over the outlet of the return hose and put the hose in the aquarium. When it is fitted in the tank, turn the filter on.


Do a 50-75% water change and gravel clean the substrate once a week. The water changes and gravel cleaning will reduce the number of disease organisms in the water and provide a cleaner environment for the fish to live in.
Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it is added to the tank.

You can buy a basic gravel cleaner from any pet shop or online. They should look similar to the one in the picture at the following link. The picture is about half way down the page under the title "Gravel cleaner", and above the title "Syphon hose with gravel cleaner". You want a syphon hose with gravel cleaner and a couple of clean buckets. Use a permanent marker to write "FISH ONLY" on the buckets and don't let anyone use those buckets for anything except the fish tank.


You do water changes for a number of reasons.
1) to reduce nutrients like ammonia, nitrite & nitrate.
2) to dilute disease organisms in the water.
3) to keep the pH, KH and GH stable.
4) to dilute nitric acid produced by fish food and waste breaking down.
5) to dilute stress chemicals (pheromones/ allomones) released by the fish.
6) to dilute un-used plant fertiliser so you don't overdose the fish when you add more.
7) to remove fish waste and other rotting organic matter.

Fish live in a soup of microscopic organisms including bacteria, fungus, viruses, protozoans, worms, flukes and various other things that make your skin crawl. Doing a big water change and gravel cleaning the substrate on a regular basis will dilute these organisms and reduce their numbers in the water, thus making it a safer and healthier environment for the fish.

If you do a 25% water change each week you leave behind 75% of the bad stuff in the water.
If you do a 50% water change each week you leave behind 50% of the bad stuff in the water.
If you do a 75% water change each week you leave behind 25% of the bad stuff in the water.

Fish live in their own waste. Their tank and filter is full of fish poop. The water they breath is filtered through fish poop. Cleaning filters, gravel and doing big regular water changes, removes a lot of this poop and harmful micro-organisms, and makes the environment cleaner and healthier for the fish.
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Old 10-08-2022, 03:34 AM   #6
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Stress from tank lights coming on when the room is dark can be an issue. Fish don't have eyelids and don't tolerate going from complete dark to bright light (or vice versa) instantly.

In the morning open the curtains or turn the room light on at least 30 minutes (or more) before turning the tank light on. This will reduce the stress on the fish and they won't go from a dark tank to a bright tank instantly.

At night turn the room light on and then turn the tank light off. Wait at least 30 minutes (or more) before turning the room light out. This allows the fish to settle down for the night instead of going from a brightly lit tank to complete darkness instantly.

Try to have the lights on at the same time each day. Use a timer if possible.

If you have two light units on the tank, put them on timers and have one come on first, then an hour later the second one can come on. It will be less stressful for the fish.

In the evening, turn the first light off and wait an hour, then have the second light go out.

If the lights have a low, medium and high intensity setting, have them on low in the morning, then increase it to medium after a couple of hours, and then high for the main part of the day. In the evening, reverse this and have the medium setting for a few hours, then low. Then turn the lights off.

Most aquarium plants like a bit of light and if you only have the light on for a couple of hours a day, they struggle. If the light doesn't have a high enough wattage they also struggle. Try having the tank lights on for 10-12 hours a day.

If you get lots of green algae then reduce the light by an hour a day and monitor the algae over the next 2 weeks.
If you don't get any green algae on the glass then increase the lighting period by an hour and monitor it.
If you get a small amount of algae then the lighting time is about right.

Some plants will close their leaves up when they have had sufficient light. Ambulia, Hygrophilas and a few others close their top set of leaves first, then the next set and so on down the stem. When you see this happening, wait an hour after the leaves have closed up against the stem and then turn lights off. It's worth investing in a couple of these plants just to see how they do. They are generally good in most aquariums and give you a rough idea of if you have enough light on the tank.

Plant lights should have equal amount of red and blue light and a bit less green light.

Some good plants to try include Ambulia, Hygrophila polysperma, H. ruba/ rubra, Elodia (during summer, but don't buy it in winter because it falls apart), Hydrilla, common Amazon sword plant, narrow or twisted/ spiral Vallis, Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides/ cornuta).
The Water Sprite normally floats on the surface but can also be planted in the substrate. The other plants should be planted in the gravel.

Ambulia, H. polysperma, Elodia/ Hydrilla and Vallis are tall plants that do well along the back. Rotala macranda is a medium/ tallish red plant that usually does well.

H. ruba/ rubra is a medium height plant that looks good on the sides of the tank.

Cryptocorynes are small/ medium plants that are taller than pygmy chain swords but shorter than H. rubra. They also come in a range of colours, mostly different shades of green, brown or purplish red. Crypts are not the easiest plant to grow but can do well if they are healthy to begin with and are not disturbed after planting in the tank.

Most Amazon sword plants can get pretty big and are usually kept in the middle of the tank as a show piece. There is an Ozelot sword plant that has brown spots on green leaves, and a red ruffle sword plant (name may vary depending on where you live) with deep red leaves.

There is a pygmy chain sword plant that is small and does well in the front of the tank.

We use to grow some plants (usually swords, crypts, Aponogetons and water lilies) in 1 or 2 litre plastic icecream containers. You put an inch of gravel in the bottom of the container, then spread a thin layer of granulated garden fertiliser over the gravel. Put a 1/4inch (6mm) thick layer of red/ orange clay over the fertiliser. Dry the clay first and crush it into a powder. Then cover that with more gravel.

You put the plants in the gravel and as they grow, their roots hit the clay and fertiliser and they take off and go nuts. The clay stops the fertiliser leaching into the water.

You can smear silicon on the outside of the buckets and stick gravel or sand to them so it is less conspicuous. Or you can let algae grow on them and the containers turn green.

Lots of plants are sold as aquarium plants and most are marsh plants that do really well when their roots are in water and the rest of the plant is above water. Some marsh plants will do well underwater too.

Hair grass is not a true aquatic plant, neither is Anubias.

Some common marsh plants include Amazon sword plants, Cryptocorynes, Hygrophila sp, Rotala sp, Ludwigia sp, Bacopa sp. These plant do reasonably well underwater.

True aquatic plants include Ambulia, Cabomba, Hornwort, Elodia, Hydrilla and Vallis.

The main difference between marsh plants and true aquatic plants is the stem. True aquatics have a soft flexible stem with air bubbles in it. These bubbles help the plant float and remain buoyant in the water column.
Marsh plants have a rigid stem and these plants can remain standing upright when removed from water. Whereas true aquatic plants will fall over/ collapse when removed from water.

If you add an iron based aquarium plant fertiliser, it will help most aquarium plants do well. The liquid iron based aquarium plant fertilisers tend to be better than the tablet forms, although you can push the tablets under the roots of plants and that works well.

You use an iron (Fe) test kit to monitor iron levels and keep them at 1mg/l (1ppm).

I used Sera Florena liquid plant fertiliser but there are other brands too.

There is no point adding carbon dioxide (CO2) until you have the lights and nutrients worked out. Even then you don't need CO2 unless the tank is full of plants and only has a few small fish in.

There is plenty of CO2 in the average aquarium and it is produced by the fish and filter bacteria all day, every day. The plants also release CO2 at night when it is dark. And more CO2 gets into the tank from the atmosphere.

Don't use liquid CO2 supplements because they are made from toxic substances that harm fish, shrimp and snails.
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Old 10-12-2022, 12:29 AM   #7
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