New tropical set up!

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New tropical set up!

Postby jonnyedwards » Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:40 pm

Hi all, I'm sure regulars have probably replied a thousand or more times to a thread like this, but if anyone fancies giving some valuable advice it would be greatly appreciated.

I used to keep tropicals, for 5 years or so, but two kiddies came along and the hobby came to an end. The kiddies are now a little older and whenever we see other tanks and fish they are fascinated, so, this weekend we ordered a new tank and are now waiting for it to be delivered. We have gone for an aqua one UFO 550 corner tank as it will fit in perfectly with where we want it to go. The spec says 120 litres, however, after gravel and bits and bobs the local stored think more like 85-100 litres of water.

What I really would like a hand on is, what is the best way of setting up and cycling the tank. I have started reading up on fish in and fish less cycles but thought it would be good to get opinions of people who do it as opposed to just the shops that want to sell every possibly chemical to speed things up so they can then sell you a load of fish!!

I want the tank to be a community tank and so imagine will have things like guppies, danios, mollies, maybe a coupes of torpedoes etc along with having a gravel base (I think) and live plants.

So, where do I start? Some say put the plants in straight away, some say leave it for a week or so. what would people recommend on the plants, the cycling, the fish...anything would be greatly appreciated!!!

Anyone want to help in getting me up and running?

Many thanks in advance
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Re: New tropical set up!

Postby Carylnz » Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:53 am

The easiest way to start is to find someone with a mature tank and either swap them some of their filter media, give you a squeeze of dirty water from their media, or ask if you can hang your filter on their tank for a month.
I have always planted first so they have a chance to get their roots established before too many fish start pulling at them and uprooting them again.
Set it all up. Add water, plants, turn on equipment. Leave for a few days to settle and for the heater to stabilise and you can check it is at the correct temperature. Their gauges are not too accurate so a thermometer to check the actual temperature is required. The stick on the outside of the tank strip ones are not very accurate.
I like the ones that attach inside with a sucker. Have a look in the shop, line them all up, discard those that are way out compared to the others, then select one that reads the same as the majority and you will be close enough.
Once the temperature has settled somewhere between 24 - 27C you can start adding fish. Patience is the key and if done slowly you should not have any trouble. I suggest you get yourself a liquid test kit so you know what is happening. You want to check ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Many like a pH one as well. If fish cycling is done correctly though you will hardly see any changes in the toxicity levels as the bacteria will be growing with the fish bioload. This means it will not be cruel to the fish being used to cycle. I can give no advice for fishless cycling as I have never done it and it is too complicated and fiddly to me - plus it seems to take about the same time as cycling with fish.
You will need to add dechlorinator or tap safe stuff to your water. I gather it is pretty much a necessity everywhere in the UK. Where I live we do not need to add these things.
Since you want danios, these are ideal to start with as they are a hardy wee fish. Add 6 of them to your tank. Wait one month. If all is well at the end of the month, add another 6 similarly sized fish. Repeat until desired stocking level is reached.
If you are testing the water, do a 30% water change if the ammonia rises above 0.25. It may get to this and drop again as it cycles but with 6 fish in a tank that size I doubt you will see it as it will come and go very quickly.
If you mean torpedo barbs, I would not add them to your tank. They grow large and need a lot of length. I would not put them in smaller than a 6ft long tank.
Don't forget you ideally want fish in all areas (ie top, middle, bottom) so bear that in mind when selecting. You want a few bottom dwellers and there are lots to choose from.
Remember if you are getting livebearers like guppies and mollies, they will produce fry every 4 - 6 weeks and you may quickly get over-run with fry nobody wants (as they all have the same problem). Consider having males only. If you have both sexes (kids love seeing fry born - and, if they're boys, eaten) make sure you have a sex ratio of 1 male to 2 or more females.
As for plants, pick anything the lfs has. Usually sold as "bunch plants". Avoid red ones to start with as they need a lot of light. Avoid multi-coloured or striped leaves as these are generally not true aquatic plants and will die. Japanese rush and peace lilies are two plants often sold for aquariums but they will die as they are not aquatic, they are bog plants.
Java fern is great and easy to grow. It does not like its roots to be buried so either plant it so with just enough buried to hold it down, or attach it to a bit of driftwood or rock. Slide a few roots into slits in the driftwood to hold it in place or tie it with fine fishing line or cotton. Java fern reproduces by growing little plantlets off the main leaves.
Indian fern or water sprite are common names for plants that grow quickly and can either be planted or left floating (or have both). The fry can hide in the leaves and the females can hide from the males. These also reproduce by growing plantlets off the main plants.
Ambulia and cabomba are also common and look nice. When these grow too long, chop them off and replant the tips. They will grow as new plants and the old bits will bush out and regrow too. If they get too scraggly, you just chop off the nice bits, replant them, and discard the scraggly bits.
My home forum is The NZ Fishroom http://www.fnzas.org.nz
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Re: New tropical set up!

Postby jonnyedwards » Wed Sep 05, 2012 7:40 am

Thanks so much for the detailed reply, it really is greatly appreciated!!!

The more ive been reading,the more I thinki willow ith the fishincycle as this is what I always used to do withhold tanks.im guessing the API test kits stillthebest way to go?

Ok, remember being loaded up with new guppy fry with my old tank so will think about that. What other fish would you recommend for a nice colourful community tank? Re bottom,feeders, I was thinking clown loach and a bristle nose? Any other ideas or thoughts? On the plants, I was thinking strait vallis around the back of the tanker will checkout the others too,will be nice to have a mixture of background and some foreground stuff too to help mix up the look and create adore interesting environment for the fish.

How many fish would you recommend aiming for for the overall stocking level (patty, tetra, barb, danio type size the main)

Thanks so much again, will definately keep updating the progress
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Re: New tropical set up!

Postby jonnyedwards » Wed Sep 05, 2012 7:35 pm

Tank arrived!! Roll on the weekend
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Re: New tropical set up!

Postby Carylnz » Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:11 am

I have trouble giving a number for stocking as it can vary depending on species (for instance, most plecs poo a lot, as do mollies, so numbers will vary depending on what you end up buying.
I would not recommend clown loaches as they like to be in a group of 3 or more and your tank is not big enough. They are very slow growers though so you would have plenty of time to save up for a bigger tank. If you have nowhere to put something larger then don't get the clowns. They are also very sensitive to water conditions but react badly to medications so best to be avoided, especially in a newly set up tank. They are better in a matured, stabilised tank at least 6 months old or more.
Bristlenoses, Ancistrus sp, would be great, as would Hoplo catfish, Hoplosternum thoracatum, or various loaches. Loaches need to be in a group so get at least 3 but preferably 5. Have you considered Corydoras? There are many varieties available and they too look good in a group of around 6.
If you want colourful, check out the various rainbowfish species available.
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Re: New tropical set up!

Postby jonnyedwards » Thu Sep 06, 2012 8:20 am

Great, thanks for the advice!
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Re: New tropical set up!

Postby jonnyedwards » Thu Sep 06, 2012 7:53 pm

Get the tank tomorrow! Decision time...sand or gravel??
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Re: New tropical set up!

Postby Carylnz » Thu Sep 06, 2012 10:12 pm

Personal preference. Sand does tend to need more maintenance.
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Re: New tropical set up!

Postby jonnyedwards » Fri Sep 07, 2012 7:39 am

That's what I've been reading, I'm thinking a smaller black gravel now
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