• You are viewing the forum as a Guest, please login (you can use your Facebook, Twitter, Google or Microsoft account to login) or register using this link: Log in or Sign Up
  • You can now follow UKAPS on Instagram.

Super newbie looking for expert advice!

Oli95

Seedling
Joined
3 Feb 2021
Messages
2
Location
Norfolk
Hi all! Newbie from Norfolk here!

Firstly let me apologise for the lack of knowledge and 'technical terms' .. before this week I had zero knowledge of anything to do with aquariums 🙈

Me and the better half have recently inherited a tank, and last weekend finally got around to setting it up. We went around two LFS getting completely conflicting advice about how to set up a tropical tank. While one said to get a filter, heater, decorations, fill it up, let it cycle for 1 week and then return with a water sample which they will kindly test for free. The other said we can add fish straight away to help with the cycle. Help!!

We were sold some, (which I now believe to be driftwood) that is far too big to boil, so I had it in the bath for a couple of days soaking in very hot water, with regular water changes, then added it two days ago and since, the water has turned a 'dirty' colour, which i believe is the wood leaching tannins as i wasn't able to boil it or soak long enough.. We have 3 small live plants which don't seem to be doing anything as of yet but I am hopeful! 1 fake plant that the Mrs just needed to buy for the tank, and a couple of rocks that I believed would be a nice touch!

I havent added any chemicals, but have heard of adding ammonia, which seems to be a highly conflicted topic on this site. I have started 'ghostfeeding' small amounts of tropical flake fish food as have heard as this breaks down, produces ammonia which will help to start the cycle.

I am just trying to be patient with it all but can't help staring at it everytime I walk past to see if anything has changed!

I have posted photos of the tank and some specifications that I worked out online, purely based on the dimensions..not sure how accurate they are.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

Thanks, oli!
 

Attachments

  • 20210203_212125.jpg
    20210203_212125.jpg
    2.8 MB · Views: 86
  • 20210203_212143.jpg
    20210203_212143.jpg
    2.1 MB · Views: 70
  • 20210203_212208.jpg
    20210203_212208.jpg
    2.1 MB · Views: 65
  • 20210203_212223.jpg
    20210203_212223.jpg
    2.1 MB · Views: 67
  • 20210203_212635.jpg
    20210203_212635.jpg
    873.3 KB · Views: 69

Trakkajack

Member
Joined
28 Jan 2021
Messages
140
Location
Doncaster
I ca
Hi all! Newbie from Norfolk here!

Firstly let me apologise for the lack of knowledge and 'technical terms' .. before this week I had zero knowledge of anything to do with aquariums 🙈

Me and the better half have recently inherited a tank, and last weekend finally got around to setting it up. We went around two LFS getting completely conflicting advice about how to set up a tropical tank. While one said to get a filter, heater, decorations, fill it up, let it cycle for 1 week and then return with a water sample which they will kindly test for free. The other said we can add fish straight away to help with the cycle. Help!!

We were sold some, (which I now believe to be driftwood) that is far too big to boil, so I had it in the bath for a couple of days soaking in very hot water, with regular water changes, then added it two days ago and since, the water has turned a 'dirty' colour, which i believe is the wood leaching tannins as i wasn't able to boil it or soak long enough.. We have 3 small live plants which don't seem to be doing anything as of yet but I am hopeful! 1 fake plant that the Mrs just needed to buy for the tank, and a couple of rocks that I believed would be a nice touch!

I havent added any chemicals, but have heard of adding ammonia, which seems to be a highly conflicted topic on this site. I have started 'ghostfeeding' small amounts of tropical flake fish food as have heard as this breaks down, produces ammonia which will help to start the cycle.

I am just trying to be patient with it all but can't help staring at it everytime I walk past to see if anything has changed!

I have posted photos of the tank and some specifications that I worked out online, purely based on the dimensions..not sure how accurate they are.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

Thanks, oli!
I can’t help you as I too am a complete beginner looking to set up a tank and acquascape. I have had some good advice off here already and keep coming back to read more threads. I’m reading the George Farmer book which is very good and following a few people and fish shops on utube which have been very informative too. They are George farmer, MD, Geordie Scaper, Acquarium Gardens and Horizon (who I will be visiting once I am able to as they are apparently the nearest shop to me.) I visited 3 local fish shops and got different advice so that’s why I started doing further research online. Will be good to see your progress. Good luck
 
Joined
17 Dec 2020
Messages
157
Location
Gloucestershire
Welcome. Yes I believe it is tanning. You were right not to buy fish until cycling tank. Take up the offer of free water test. Do not add fish.
That is about it from me. It has been at least 25 years since I kept fish, so my knowledge is so out of date.
You have come to the right place for asking questions and no question is seen as silly. Best to have the opinions of seasoned aquarists.
This place has so many experts in so many fields. I have not seen a post where someone has not fixed the issue.

What I would suggest is put a comprehensive list of the equipment you have with manufacturers name and what model you have. What is the name of that internal filter? Have you got any tank lights? If so how long do you leave them on for? Also I see you have sand as a substrate. Post a list of what you have substrate wise, with manufacturer e.c.t. It would be good if you could give a list of what plants you have in there, don't worry about the plastic one it will not take over the tank. If you don't know what they are called, just take a closeup pick of the plants and someone will identify them for you. That way they can check if they are sutable and what you can expect from them.

That's enough from me (not an expert). Some one will come along and offer good advice soon (Just post all that information I suggested).

Welcome again.
 

dw1305

Expert
UKAPS Team
Joined
7 Apr 2008
Messages
12,355
Location
nr Bath
Hi all,
While one said to get a filter, heater, decorations, fill it up, let it cycle for 1 week and then return with a water sample which they will kindly test for free. The other said we can add fish straight away to help with the cycle. Help!!
Don't believe either of them. You just need to get a lot more plants, which I understand is difficult at the moment.

The plants you want are easy to grow ones, <"and particularly floating plants"> which have access to atmospheric CO2. Have a look at the <"Tropica Easy plant section">.

I don't personally ever add fish to a tank until the plants are grown in (after six weeks or so), once the plants are grown in <"the tank is fish safe">. It means that you aren't making decisions based on <"test kit results">.

Other than this forum, there is nothing that you will read on the internet, or hear from an LFS, about "cycling" that makes any sense at all. Have a look at our <"Tim Hovanec"> thread and <"Bedside Aquarium">, with the traditional apologies to @Miss-Pepper, because it is a bit of a rant.

I'll add in @shangman as they may be able to offer you some advice, as some-one who has recently <"rapidly progressed"> from newbie to <"accomplished fish keeper">.

cheers Darrel
 

GHNelson

Global Moderator
UKAPS Team
Joined
14 Dec 2008
Messages
5,044
Location
Hemel Hempstead
Hi
As Darrel has stated fast growing stem plants and floaters are key to having a good start!
Have a look at this thread below!
hoggie
 

Oli95

Seedling
Thread starter
Joined
3 Feb 2021
Messages
2
Location
Norfolk
They are George farmer, MD, Geordie Scaper, Acquarium Gardens and Horizon

I will deffo have a look into these!! Thankyou!

What is the name of that internal filter? Have you got any tank lights? If so how long do you leave them on for? Also I see you have sand as a substrate. Post a list of what you have substrate wise, with manufacturer etc.

I will post a pic of the box that the filter came in. No we don't have any lights yet, which I know is a big no no and probably the reason the plants aren't doing anything, the only reason being is we did think of the possibility of being able to add something like a musk turtle and I was told we need UV strip lighting and a basking light with a platform for them. Have no idea if they are compatible with a tropical tank so some more advice about this would be greatly appreciated. We just have what I think is aquarium sand, its super fine, the reason for this is also bearing in mind the possibility of being able to have a turtle as we were told to get sand if we wanted one of those.

You just need to get a lot more plants.

I mentioned this to the other half and she simply said "why, people have tanks with no live plants at all" and I didnt have a confident enough answer to satisfy her argument 😅 she is extremely skeptical to anything she hasn't 'heard of before even though I've told her that I've never heard of most of the things I have researched and learned over the past few days (nitrate cycle, fishless cycle.. etc..)
Hi
As Darrel has stated fast growing stem plants and floaters are key to having a good start!

Thankyou for the input and I will be having a good read of all the suggested threads!!

..

I am glad noone has said we are just doing it completely wrong and need to start all over again! Which if I'm honest I was half expecting. Im not looking for the most advanced aquarium, just would rather not kill anything if I can help it!

Thankyou all!
 

dw1305

Expert
UKAPS Team
Joined
7 Apr 2008
Messages
12,355
Location
nr Bath
Hi all,
I mentioned this to the other half and she simply said "why, people have tanks with no live plants at all"
They do, I'm trying to persuade people that keeping fish in planted tanks is <"just so much easier"> and more enjoyable for both fish and fish keeper.
My position would be that keeping a lot of fish in tank with-out plants and with a canister filter is untenable in the long run, and even with micro-management by the aquarist, disaster is eventually inevitable. It is down to probability, you have a single point of failure (the filter) and you are always balanced on the edge of low oxygen levels, potentially leading to a positive feedback loop of increased ammonia leading to lower oxygen, leading to increased ammonia etc.
I've got a bit more reading for you <"Corydoras breeder with planted tanks">.
I am glad noone has said we are just doing it completely wrong and need to start all over again! Which if I'm honest I was half expecting. Im not looking for the most advanced aquarium, just would rather not kill anything if I can help it!
I think we can all agree with that one, <"I've killed plenty of fish">, in what I now realize were avoidable circumstances, but I've got better at fish keeping and having planted tanks has been a lot of that.

cheers Darrel
 

shangman

Member
Joined
13 Jul 2020
Messages
605
Location
London
Hello Oli95!!

Welcome :)

Here is some advice about various stuff it's good to know when you start.

Cycling is a 100% MUST. Cycling is where you grow a colony of bacteria which eat, and then neutralise poisonous chemicals in the water. It's a must because this poisonous chemicals (which come from fish crap, and dead and dying matter), can kill your fish and other animals if it builds up, and without anything to process it, these poisons build up in the water very fast. This is why you want a filter - the filter is where a lot of your bacteria colony lives. It also moves the water through it, so as much toxic stuff as possible gets to the bacteria to eat. Cycling, or as I like to call it 'Maturing' (taken from @dw1305, it makes so much more sense than cycling) takes a good month or two to be truly safe for you to put fish in.

Some people say to add ammonia to your tank to make the cycle go faster (as it's lots of food for that bacterial colony). I did this, and I killed all my first fish. There is enough ammonia in your substrate to cycle your tank, you do not need to add any extra. I also killed my fish by not doing enough water changes (I did one before adding the fish). Ideally in your first week you should change 50% waer daily, then in the next 2 weeks 50% twice a week, then 50% every week until the tank has matured. Then, depending on how many plants you have, and fish you add, it can be more like 25% (unless you add CO2). Water changes are essential, they get rid of any other toxins or floating bits of crap in the water, and add lovely fresh water which the fish and plants love. Also, as you have a lot of tannins from the wood, they'll dilute that. If you have an external filter, you can add some Purigen to the tank to get rid of the tannins very quickly if it annoys you.

Plants for a beginner (and really for everyone, all the people on this site are united in their love of plants!) are a must. This is because plants ALSO eat the poisonous chemicals, your plants will work together with the bacteria (which grow on the plant both above and below the substrate, making your colony bigger and more stable), to make a system which mega-eats the poisonous chemicals. This is so effective, that some experienced aquarium-keepers don't have to do many water changes, or don't keep a filter. Don't do those things yet though, because you need to really understand everything about aquariums before you tinker.

To convince your sceptical wife if she hasn't been convinced by the above info, woman-to-woman (I am a woman despite the name lol), you need to think of your aquarium as an eco-system. You are not just keeping fish. Yes, some fish in the wild live without plants, but that is very few in very niche ecosystems. While underwater plants are less common, floating plants, plant roots and dead leaves feature in almost all bodies of fresh water - water = life, where water is life follows. Ideally, you'll be keeping bacteria, plants, a huge variety of micro-organisms, snails, shrimp and then your fish. I think you should do some more googling of planted aquariums to show her how beautiful they are!!

The reason it makes sense to create an eco-system in your aquarium is two-fold: 1. it makes your aquarium more stable by mimicing the way nature works. It will make your fish happier to live in a place which is more like where they're from naturally. 2. It is very beautiful, watching your plants grow and sway in the water current, and watching your fish swim around amongst the foliage is like having your own slice of eden at home. Honestly, it's BLISS.

You do need a light to grow your plants, that's the next thing you should buy. Personally I would suggest keeping fish over a turtle, having kept both (and many more amphibians and reptiles and insects over a decade ago), fish are somehow much more pleasing to watch (I easily watch my fishtanks for an hour a day, I didn't do that with the other pets). Also, turtles are filthy, so you have to get a mega-filter and change even more water than with fish. Some people keep turtles with fish, but the fish aren't going to have a great time in the filthy water (and will potentially be eaten). You could probably keep some African Dwarf Frogs with your fish, but you'd need to research them more, along with what sort of fish you might have. Some turtles are great for a pond though.

The sand is good, a lot of lovely fish like sand, including corydoras, dwarf cichlids and loaches, which personally are my favourite types of fish. Once you've planted your tank more, spend the 6-week maturing time working out what fish you want, so you can make their new home as lovely as possible. We're always here to help and give more advice on that too :)
 
Last edited:

Karmicnull

Member
Joined
6 Sep 2020
Messages
456
Location
Cambridge
Hi Oli,

Once you've planted your tank more, spend the 6-week maturing time working out what fish you want

Couldn't agree more. I was in your shoes last August! Having got my tank I went to the LFS and came back with some sand, a piece of wood, a couple of rocks and a plant. I used the rocks to create a little bridge that future fish might swim under and felt awesome. Then I found this forum, and planted some more plants. And then got more rocks. And more plants again. And then some shrimp, and then some snails. By the time I actually got round to buying my first fish 9 weeks in, my tank was good and ready for them - and I'd had a hell of a lot of fun just getting to that point.

Cheers,

Simon
 

confusedman

Member
Joined
30 Jan 2021
Messages
140
Location
London
Hello @Oli95

I know exactly how you feel because I got into this world last week, but unlike you, I was silly enough to trust my LFS and after running the tank for five days i bought 16 fish in one go.
Big drama, very upsetting.
Now on the mend thank you to the advice of all these people

Welcome!!
 

Andy Pierce

Member
Joined
27 Nov 2020
Messages
145
Location
Cambridge, UK
Good advice above. I would just add you should be playing the long game here and go slow. Get things going with a few very easy plants, and a few very easy fish, and see how that goes for you. It's going to be a fun and educational iterative process, so enjoy the ride. Observe how your tank evolves and get used to how things work in your own system. Nothing worse that dropping £££ on piles of plants and fish and having it all go pear-shaped.
 

Similar threads

Top