Advice before purchasing please

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Advice before purchasing please

Postby JenBoxer » Tue Jul 10, 2012 4:45 pm

Hello everyone
I have been reading comments on this site with interest as I am planning on purchasing a tank asap. My original plan was to get a Juwel 60 litre tropical tank as I like the hidden heater/filter and unfortunately I can't find space for a tank much bigger than this. However, I have been reading some not so positive comments about small tanks and I do not want to make a mistake buying the tank. I do not have very ambitious plans (I don't think!) I would like a planted community tank of small fish. I like neon tetras and guppies. I have been reading that neons are not the fish to add to a new set up and that guppies are too inbred...my plan is not not sounding so good! I want to do right by any fish I purchase so what is the best thing to do? Not buy anything as the tank I have room for is too small to keep any fish happy, buy the Juwel 60l tank and be careful. Not sure any more. I have had a tropical tank in the past (long ago) and i'm sure that I purchased the tank and bought my fish within a week of each other and have only heard of cycling since I started researching this tank. I must have been really lucky as the tank did not suffer many fatalities or problems in the 4 yrs I had it. I want to do the right thing, has anyone got a 60 ish litre tank and has advice for me. Also, what is the easiest/most successful cycling method? Apologies for the rambling on! Many thanks :? :)
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Re: Advice before purchasing please

Postby san-ho-zay » Wed Jul 11, 2012 8:33 am

Welcome to the forum :)

The Juwel Rekord tanks are a perfectly good size if stocked with the right fish. The orb-shaped tanks with volumes of 30 litres and below, and the small starter aquariums of 25 litres or so, are the ones that can be problematic with fish. A 60 litre tank is basically 2ftx1ftx1ft traditional shape and with well-chosen livestock is a perfectly good tank. Juwel do a couple of slightly bigger Rekord tanks: the Rekord 700 is the same length but a little taller and the Rekord 800 is 20cm (8") longer and 110 litres. It's a question of measuring where you plan to put the tank and going for the biggest that will comfortably fit and you can afford.

For plants, the Rekord 800 has 2 x 18W T8 light tubes whereas the other two just have 1 x 15W T8 tube. One T8 tube is a low level of light and would probably restrict your plant choices to ferns, mosses, crypts and the like.

A few guppies have a tendency to become a lot of guppies, which can be a problem. Neons don't seem to be the bulletproof fish they were in the past but it depends on a lot of things and there's no need to avoid them.

There are basically three cycling methods: (1) add a small number, say 3-4 small fish to get the tank started. Lots of water changes to dilute ammonia/nitrite in the first few weeks. (2) Use a source of ammonia to cycle the tank. No fish for 3-6 weeks. Suits some people and not others. Can stall. (3) Start the tank with plenty of plants, get them growing well and add fish. Plants absorb ammonia. Lots of water changes to prevent algae initially.
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Re: Advice before purchasing please

Postby ItWentWhereverIdidGo » Wed Jul 11, 2012 9:10 am

This is a Juwel 60l tank I recently set up for my son. http://www.thetropicaltank.co.uk/phpBB/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=17212

It started with 5 (wild caught) cardinal tetras and then after 3 weeks it got 5 male guppies. Three weeks after that it got a pair of apistogramma macmasteri and 3 weeks after that it got 3 ottocinclus and that's fully stocked now.

I prefer cardinals to neons and getting the wild caught ones meant they were hardier but at the same time meant they weren't acclimatised to tap water but I think it's better getting the wild for the reason I did.

I also took a squeeze from an old filter and dipped my biological sponge from my new filter in the old filter water and then poured the rest into the new filter after the carbon lair. Doing this is better than anything you can buy in a shop and gives you lots of live bacteria that will soon double up to cope with the new tank. The bacteria in your filter doubles up every few hours and if you start with zero it takes a long time but if you start with hundreds, thousands... it can be an instant cycle in some tanks. Because of doing this method I never registered any ammonia and registered a tiny amount of nitrite for 3 days in the second week.
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Re: Advice before purchasing please

Postby JenBoxer » Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:35 pm

Thank you very much for your replies. I would love to get the Rekord 800 and it may just squeeze in but that would mean that one end of the tank would be next to a window (west facing so not much sun), would this cause a problem in the tank and water quality? Unfortunately I do not know anyone with a tank to get a filter squeeze from (only my father in law who has a large outdoor pond!). The guy at the fish store told my husband it would be four days from set up to adding fish, I think they sell you an additive for the water to speed things up. I understand from a few comments that these quick start additives are not so good? How about if I purchase tank and plants and set it up with dechlorinated tap water and let it run for a week? Do I add fish food or food for the plants to create bacteria? And then perhaps add tetras or 3 mollies? The fish store I visit seems to have a very good reputation and the fish look great and well cared for. I'm not so much in a rush to get fish in there asap but must admit to being daunted by the fishless cycle process. Thanks again, your advice is well needed and appreciated :D
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Re: Advice before purchasing please

Postby san-ho-zay » Wed Jul 11, 2012 8:32 pm

It's better to avoid windows if possible as the extra light can mean more algae to contend with. Having said that, there's an famed aquarist called Diana Walstad who advocates sunlight on tanks for part of the day. Also other things that go against established advice -- like garden soil substrates and overfeeding fish -- but seem to work for people open-minded enough to try!

Experiences on this forum suggest that bacterial additives are not a silver bullet that produces a cycled tank. Maybe they help, maybe they don't. The bacteria you need are all around us in small numbers and if you add some plants (preferably not from far east mail order companies who have to do all sorts of chemical treatments to plants before export) you'll probably get some live bacteria too. I've only ever seen one shop (The Green Machine near Wrexham) that sells fully cycled filter media. This seems to me like a simple but brilliant idea and something that shops could do relatively easily.

To cycle with fish you'd set up the tank and wait a few days for the temperature to settle and the air bubbles to disperse, then you could add plants and a small number of fish, as you suggest. Obviously you'd feed them. The plants would only need a simple off-the-shelf plant food to start with and will sap up some, perhaps all, of the ammonia. Test kits for ammonia and nitrite are useful to monitor what's going on and provide a guide to the water changes you need to do.

The first month is the most trying time but it's not that difficult with the right advice, a bucket and a piece of siphon tube.
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Re: Advice before purchasing please

Postby ItWentWhereverIdidGo » Thu Jul 12, 2012 8:33 am

My local LFS will do you a bag of water from one of their mature filters for free if you tell them it's your first tank. Try asking for that in your lfs.
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