First aquarium setup - but worried!

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Rev G

Aquarium Advice Newbie
Jan 5, 2024
Sorry for the long-winded post, but I have waited for years to have my first tropical aquarium, but not sure I am being advised by the retailer on the setup.
Here goes...

SuperFish Quadro 70 Aquarium
Betta Choice Decorative Substrate – 10kg
SuperFish Filter Cartridge – Corner Filter 100
Betta Aquarium Heater – 100w (Thermal Compact)
Mangrove Wood decoration
1 x Microsorum Pteropus Greens
2 x Anubias Heterophylla
1 x Anubias Nana
25ml Aqua Start (Columbo) added 27.12.23.

The water was tested and agreed with the retailer that the Ph values, etc, were good to go for fish to be added to the tank, despite the ‘bronze’ colouring of the water, which I was assured would disappear quite quickly. 2 x Angel Fish and 6 Platy’s were added on 30.12.23.

A week later and the tank does not look right to me. There is a scum build up around the top of the water line; the water is still a ‘bronze’ colour; the filter is also scummy. I am hoping the photos show what I am talking about.
The fish appear happy and settled, but I am concerned that the tank setup is not right. Is it the mangrove wood that is the problem?

If anyone can advise on what is going wrong, or perhaps this is normal, but it does not look like any set up that I have read about or viewed on the many YouTube and Facebook channels, and the books that I have.

Help! :(


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You havent mentioned cycling the tank. Did you cycle the tank before getting fish? If so how did you do this? Or are you now cycling the tank with fish? If so, do you know how to cycle a tank with fish?

Just taking a water sample to the store and having them test it is meaningless, because all it will tell is the water parameters of your tap water. Its cycling thats important.

The brown water is tannins coming out from the driftwood. It may leach tannins for months or even years. Tannins are very beneficial for fish, but if you dont like the look, water changes will remove them temporarily until they leach out again, and activated carbon in the filter will absorb them.
Thanks Aiken Drum.

Cycling the water was not mentioned by the retailer, but I did undertake one water change before the fish were added. I have a schedule of 20% change set up for every 2 weeks. Is this good enough?

I understand your comments on tannins, etc, which are very helpful, but I am not keen on the look so I will probably change from the wood feature to 'stone'.

I really appreciate your response. Thank you.
Get a test kit that tests for pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. API freshwater master test kit is a good one to go for.

Until you get your test kit, change 50% of the water everyday.

When you get your test, test every day for ammonia and nitrite. Add them together. If ammonia + nitrite combined is more than 0.5ppm change enough water to bring it below that 0.5ppm combined target. Once you are consistantly seeing zero ammonia and nitrite you are cycled enough for the fish you have and can add some more and continue the process until you are fully stocked. The frequency of water changes needed should get longer as your cycle establishes, until you dont see any ammonia or nitrite and can then settle into a regular water change routine.

A good way to speed up this process would be to put a small amount of filter media from an established filter into your filter, or get a sponge from an established filter and squeeze it into your tank water. Perhaps you have a friend who keeps fish who could let you have some? This will seed your filter with the bacteria you are trying to grow and speed up the process.

Another option is bottled bacteria like Dr Tims One + Only or Tetra Safestart. These products wont instantly cycle a tank as they claim but in a similar manner to adding established filter media they can seed your filter with the bacteria you are trying to grow to establish your cycle. These products are hit and miss as to whether they work at all, but are an option if established filter media isnt obtainable and may speed up the process from several months to several weeks.

Take a read through this thread of someone elses who was unaware of the need to cycle a tank and the effects it had on their fish.
To add, the water changes will reduce the tannins, give it a month or 2 and they usually go away completely. I think the wood in your tank looks really good. Boiling the wood will get rid of a lot of tannins too.
Again, thank you so much for this sound advice.
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