I've been reading this forum for some time .. listening .. learning .. etc.
Anyway .. I had a couple of questions that I have never heard a good answer for that I thought I'd bounce off you all.
First, some background. I only have a single 10 gal. tank. From the books I've been reading .. they actually recommend starting out with a bigger tank since you have more room for error (temp and chemical balance changes aren't as drastic) but I only have room in my apartment for the 10 gal. I was running the tank with just a Whisper brand mechanical filter and no live plants but my few fish were taken out for a better home with a friend because I wasn't happy with the way the tank was going.
I've since cleaned the tank out and am starting a very slow cycling process while I read and learn. I am using the mechanical filter again but decided to use a UGF to help with the biofiltering of the tank.
The tank came as a package deal and the light hood had incandescent bulbs in it. I didn't like the dim yellow light it gave to the tank and found two small compact fluorescents which add a considerable amount of nice clean light to the tank. I think I'll probably find they heat up the tank less that the incandescent did as well. I haven't really been running them yet.
I've heard that UGF filters and plants don’t mix well but I thought that since I wasn't using it as my primary form of filtration and since I was going to use just a couple of small plants in the tank .. I might be okay.
Here are a couple questions for the group though ...
1. I've read that even without a UGF ... I should be vacuuming my substrate while I do my water changes to help keep the gravel from building up too much garbage. I've also read that this is really important when using a UGF as not to clog it up. Do you feel that vacuuming the substrate is really important? .. and if so .. how do you vacuum it effectively when using carpet plants .. and any tips to help avoid sucking my small fish up in the vacuum?
2. My tank needs a background .. after looking at lots of pictures of tanks and comparing some side-by-side from the gallery, I think the black background will probably work out best for me. What color preferences do you have for a backdrop and why?
3. My UGF has two uplift tubes powered by air stones. Of the flow of bubbles coming out of the uplift tubes ... there are tiny tiny bubbles that are so small that they don’t float to the surface .. they are small enough that they just float around the tank and it almost looks as if there were flecks of sand floating around the tank. Are these tiny bubbles a harm or benefit to my fish/plants? I'm not really concerned with them but thought I'd ask.
4. I love the look of the tiger barbs and tiger loaches but in a 10 gal. tank they really aren't an option. Any recommendations of really interesting fish that will do will in a 10 gal? Even if I only end up with 1 fish in the tank .. I wouldn't mind that too much.
I'm sure I have more but I have already babbled enough for now.