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Fish for Hard London Water (20 Gallon)

Oh I thought we pretty much had to test the water to know when it is safe and when ammonia spikes etc?
 
Ah thank you! That was going to be my next question, which aquatic shops are well rated. None of those are close but I can make the effort to visit them, the one in Balham I think is closest!
If you go to Aquatic Design Centre, they have tanks with hard water on the left as you walk in which you can keep any of those fish, then they have tanks on the right (and middle) which use soft water so those you have to be careful if you buy them, I always avoid those and play it safe!
 
I've managed to get myself so confused with cycling the fish tank.

I understand the basic of the nitrogen cycle - we feed fish, excess food and fish waste are ammonia, which the bacteria in the tank break down to nitrite. Other bacteria breaks this down to nitrates - we do a partial water change to remove some of the nitrates and the cycle goes again?

When I first set up my aquarium, I will fill it up with my tank water - than I have to add tap safe (however much is tells me to) to dechlorinate the water. I also add some bacteria to the tank. How do I introduce ammonia to get the cycle going?

Do I just buy test trips and test the water each day and keep a log?

How often should I be doing a water change at first - and each time I remove say, 25% of the water - I add the same amount of fresh tap water back to the tank and then dose the whole tank with tap safe but just enough for the 25% volume of water?
 
Hoping to set the tank up tomorrow, still need to buy a piece of wood and some rocks!
Congratulations.

You'll probably need to soak the wood for a day or two in a bucket, otherwise it will float. Alternatively you can use a rock to weight it down.

EDIT: Forgot to get a test kit - do I just need to get the test stips?

As you're new to fish keeping it might seem strange that someone tells you not to bother testing at all, it probably goes against all you've been told or read.
The truth is that a lot of the test kits aren't very accurate, especially if you're not well versed in how to methodically take tests, compare the data and understand the results for what they are.

With your set up (not using ammonium fuelled soil) it should be quite simple to decide when it's safe for critters, and that would be when the plants start to actively grow, then you can slowly start introducing livestock.

Having said that and if you don’t feel happy making that leap of faith just go with test stips, they're the simplest to use.

BTW I used to be an avid tester.
 
Hi all,
I thought we pretty much had to test the water to know when it is safe and when ammonia spikes etc?
That is the <"great advantage of planted tanks">, they have much <"greater capacity to take up and process ammonia (NH3)"> (and all the other forms of fixed nitrogen). If you have plenty of plants, including some with the <"aerial advantage">, they are <"very efficient at removing nutrients">.

I'm no trying to be funny, but most of the things written about cycling and water testing are either wrong or very wrong.

cheers Darrel
 
Thank you! Haha thank you for being patient with me. I probably seem a bit extra but when I research something I go a bit crazy.
 
Also with regards adding bacteria. There is no need to buy a culture, although it won't hurt if you want to. There will be enough microorganisms on plant roots etc to inoculate your tank and filter, and also more of the right ones needed to cycle your tank.

If you still feel a bit out of your depth it may help to take a look at the tutorial section there is plenty of reading there that may help.
 
Hi all,
I understand the basic of the nitrogen cycle - we feed fish, excess food and fish waste are ammonia, which the bacteria in the tank break down to nitrite. Other bacteria breaks this down to nitrates - we do a partial water change to remove some of the nitrates and the cycle goes again?
Not exactly, there are a <"much wider range of microbes"> than was initially thought, that perform nitrification and this <"also ignore plants"> which are core to the whole process. Have a look at <"Bedside Aquarium">(with <"traditional apologies"> to @Miss-Pepper).
I probably seem a bit extra but when I research something I go a bit crazy
No, you are good, and that is a good thing.

When you have time read through all the <"linked threads">, they cover the actual science that underlies nitrification, not the spin and disinformation you'll get elsewhere. Have a look at <"Bacteria Revealed"> as well.

We have threads where we asked questions of <"Dr Tim Hovanec"> and <"Dr Ryan Newton">.

cheers Darrel
 
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I'd suggest a liquid test kit for a beginner. It helps focus and understand what's involved. Also a TDS meter. Lots of experienced people don't need liquid tests, but they (A) know what to look for (B) have large quantities of plants. If you ask anyone who rushed adding fish they'll always say they wish they'd waited. That's where the detail of the liquid tests can help.
 
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I'll cc. in @shangman , it is a long time since I started keeping fish, but she started fairly recently and is already much better at it than I am.
Thanks Darrel! I'm certain that's not true, you are such a fishkeeping master :)

I've managed to get myself so confused with cycling the fish tank.

I understand the basic of the nitrogen cycle - we feed fish, excess food and fish waste are ammonia, which the bacteria in the tank break down to nitrite. Other bacteria breaks this down to nitrates - we do a partial water change to remove some of the nitrates and the cycle goes again?

When I first set up my aquarium, I will fill it up with my tank water - than I have to add tap safe (however much is tells me to) to dechlorinate the water. I also add some bacteria to the tank. How do I introduce ammonia to get the cycle going?

Do I just buy test trips and test the water each day and keep a log?

How often should I be doing a water change at first - and each time I remove say, 25% of the water - I add the same amount of fresh tap water back to the tank and then dose the whole tank with tap safe but just enough for the 25% volume of water?
Hello! So fab that you are on your new aquarium adventure :) When I first started a few years ago I also really did a deep dive into research and confused myself with cycling, ammonia and waterchanges. I accidentally killed my first fish from messing it up and getting different theories mixed up.

Don't worry about cycling, in fact stop thinking about cycling or the process of it completely, it's not a particularly useful concept for understanding what's happening in your tank. All you need to do is to get your plants growing and thriving over the first 6 weeks (and try to plant heavily with some floating plants). Focus on looking after the plants, and the plants and bacteria will grow a big enough community to support your first animal additions. Cycling works differently in a planted tank (which is why some advive for it is confusing), because plants do so much filtering, and they provide an enormous surface area both in the water and in the soil for more bacteria to flourish, so not all the business is happening in the filter. Ammonia cycling is used when there are no plants, a way to brute force a community of hard bacteria, but planted tanks are much more chill and pleasant than that, they just need time and a bit of tlc to thrive. Relax, this is what planted tanks are for, it is a more holistic way of doing things and it will reward you over time.

During these first 6 weeks, you should do 50% waterchanges weekly. This is to keep the water as clean as possible, so that the plants grow well and to discourage algae from settling in (which loves ammonia). This will also help reduce the amount of ammonia you added (which did not help, but don't beat yourself up about it cos you didn't know), by the time the 6 weeks is up you want to have pristine water, and adding contaminants like ammonia goes against that. Along with water changes, you should add fertiliser to help your plants grow (for people new to planted tanks, TNC Complete is a great all-in-one). If you have any problems with growing your plants, or want any advice don't hesitate to ask! Some plants do well, and others don't, so over this 6 weeks you might be moving, replacing and adding new plants too.

A planted tank is an eco system, and your building blocks are the microbiome and plants. Look after the plants and they and the microbiome will thrive, and your fish will thrive in turn. You can test along the way of the 6 weeks to see the change, but don't rely on tests - rely on time and growth. This is a great method for your first tank to help keep anything from going wrong.

I found that lowtech (no co2) aquariums with fertilising my plants worked really well, this hobby can be overwhelming at first so better to keep things simple and build up from there. I have tried other methods since, but I always come back to this way of doing things for maximum fun and minimum stress.

I also live in London and Aquatic Design Centre is a great shop with really good quality fish and a brilliant range, so worth visiting and seeing all the possibilities. Sadly I've kept kuhli loaches and they alays hid for me, sucha shame because they are adorable.
 
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Welcome to the hobby @pollyandpear,

@shangman beautifully nails down the guiding principles to get a new tank up and running. I just have a few comments... Its always good to have some sort of vision of what you want your tank to look like (I am personally terrible at that)... what sort of hardscape you want such as wood, rocks etc. if any... - just make sure to thoroughly clean and soak any hardscape before adding it to the tank. As far as substrate goes just pick one that looks good to your eyes and jives with your vision... best if you can see it in the fish store in one of their display tanks or pictures on the web (can be hard to judge due to the light conditions etc.). Don't worry about expensive substrate. Sand or very finely grained gravel will be perfect if you like how it looks and the Corys will like it. Plant big (dense) from the get go (make sure you gentle rinse of plants before planting)... get some cheaper fast growing plants - including floating plants such as Frogbit or Pennyworth. You can always replace plants along the way as the tank matures. Adding some botanicals - such as Almond Leaves - to a new tank is also beneficial. Fertilize from day one using a good all-in-one fertilizer such as the aforementioned TNC Complete. Just follow the instruction on the bottle. As for light I understand the tank came with it, so that will likely be just fine - some of these build in lights tend to be a bit too strong, so if you can regulate it that would be great - or add more floating plants to provide more shade. Get a heater suitable for the aquarium size and set it for 22-24 C (pretty much all fish and plants except for some finicky species will be fine with that). I dont know if the tank came with a filter. If not, get an HOB filter such as the Tidal 35 if it can be mounted on the tank. Its super easy to maintain and comes with all the filter media you need and will provide adequate flow and mechanical filtration for a 20 Gallon tank. Since your using straight up London tap water the only thing you will have to do is dechlorinate it using Seachem Prime or similar and besides the Fertilizer, this is the only chemical additive (or "magic formula") you should allow the fish store to sell you... you will not need anything else to get your aquarium up and running :) And the only testing kit you need is a reliable thermometer - that's it. I suspect the tank probably came with the usual tools such as hoses for draining water, a net and perhaps a par of scissors for trimming plants and a means to clean the glass on the inside - personally, I like to get my hands wet and use a sterile sponge (well, it was when I bought it, but never used it for anything else but cleaning the inside of the tank).

Other than that, just follow what @shangman says above about weekly water changes and let things settle in and let Mother Nature do Her thing... If there would be only one thing that I would repeat it would be to plant dense from day one - or spread it out over a week if getting all the plants on the same day is overwhelming ... besides getting your tank matured much faster, the aesthetic upside is that you get to enjoy a nicely planted tank almost right away, instead of a tank that looks barren and sterile... it tends to make the wait for the fishes a bit more bearable ;)

And of course keep asking questions! :)

Cheers,
Michael
 
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I'd also add, no Cory's without sand ... they love it. It's your good fortune to have found ideal advice from these wise ones above, and the best advice of all is go slow, let the plants become a wee wet garden, then add one species of fish to make it home, then make a community. Personally I like tanks with only a half dozen kinds of plant, and you can learn which works. In nature most environments have a dominant species. By the time you get one tank settled you may well decide you want to make another different kind of tank, suitable to a species you originally wanted to mix in together. Often it's most satisfying to make a scape for one kind of fish, or group of fish's natural habitat, rather than mix everything in one tank.
 
Wow thank you guys.

I ended up buying the fluval u2, is that okay instead of a hob filter?

And I bought tap safe 

I will be buying a different light for the tank but not right away.
 
Holy Moly.

That was stressful.

We forgot to soak the wood, so it began floating, hence the huge amethyst holding it down until we can remove it.

Filter is on but can't see any flow coming out really. Thermometer is on and I think set to 24 but hard to read. Slightly stressed!

I dosed 6 caps of tap safe as per bottle (2 per 20 litres) and was surprised it was a gel texture. Eek.
 

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Haha I'll try.

So I haven't added any bacteria, I'm hoping that there will be some on the plants I've added.

I'll be turning the aquarium light off at night - hope that is okay!

The fish shop were really night, they were saying to me that the Hillstream Loach would be fine in my tank, they are said I could take home the otocinclus today to clean the wood in my tank, but I am going to take your advise and stick to focusing on just maturing the plants and making sure I am comfortable with that!
 
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