Brand new to Fish keeping. Need some Advice. - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-25-2011, 03:40 AM Thread Starter
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Brand new to Fish keeping. Need some Advice.

I am trying to do as much research as I can before I begin this hobby, and I have some questions that hopefully some experienced fish keepers can answer. I am going to set up a 20 gallon freshwater planted community tank (all I have room for) and I want to create my own customized little world. I want to be able to enjoy the cycle of life before my very eyes.

Now what I mean by this, is I want a cohesive, thriving community that all benefits from each other. I am not looking for a self-sustaining system, but I want to try and create the idea behind it. Again, what I mean by this, is lets say having shrimp in the tank that help eat the algae; live plants that release oxygen into the water that everything benefits from, etc. I am fully aware that regular tank maintenance will still be required, but I don't just want a bunch of the same fish swimming around in a tank. I want a community of fish and crustaceans or whatnot.. an ever changing story playing out right before my eyes. Perhaps there are some fish in there that breed, and another fish that eats the eggs. Perhaps a few eggs survive, and a few new fish enter the community. The circle of life.. That's what I'm looking for. I don't just want a tank full of schooling fish either. I'd like to have at least 1 or 2 distinguishable fish in there that I can name and easily identify. I'm not looking for fish eating other fish. I don't want to thin out the heard if you will, and I don't NEED fish that breed and others that eat the eggs, but none the less that would be cool.

I plan to have a very aesthetically pleasing setup from the substrate to the plants, to the decorations. Suggestions are encouraged and wanted. I want all three tank levels of fish as well (bottom, middle, top swimmers). I am also looking for the smaller variety of fish, that grow no bigger than 2 inches. What kind of fish should I get and at what quantity? What kind of crustaceans? What kind of live plants? It would be nice if I could have African dwarf frogs as well. I will definitely want a piece of driftwood in there with a live plant growing on it (perhaps java moss). Please give any and all suggestions. I want to have enough plants and decorations in there to provide a lush scenery, but still have quite a bit of open space for viewing (nothing worse than having a lush tank full of beautiful green and not be able to see your fish!) I plan on it looking like I cut out my own personal piece of underwater world, rather than a fish tank with some plants and decorations in there.

Thank you in advance for any and all help!

(recap: what different types of fish (and what quantities of each); what different types of live plants; what other live additions to the tank (shrimp, snails, frogs(preferably if I can start them as tadpoles), etc.); what substrate, and whatever else you can think to suggest (specific filters, cleaning supplies, food, maintenance supplies, etc.).
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-25-2011, 04:36 AM
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That's what many of us want!

My two cents:

Start with a low-tech tank. Don't worry about CO2, and don't use too much light. You might consider using regular dirt as a substrate, capped off with some pool filter sand.

Do a fishless cycle.

Critters

(1st trip to the LFS). Malaysian trumpet snails and ghost shrimp.

(2nd trip) 6 peaceful tetras (Black, Lemon, Glo-light, X-ray, Von Rio, etc.) and a rubbernose pleco

(3rd trip) 6 corydoras catfish (any species).

This is a good ecosystem, where everything but the solitary pleco will likely breed if you take good care of them.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-25-2011, 05:08 AM
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Is it a 20g long or tall?
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-25-2011, 07:16 AM Thread Starter
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-25-2011, 07:16 AM Thread Starter
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@Method

How long in between trips?
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-25-2011, 01:23 PM
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If you are talking about the common rubbernose pleco,I wouldn't, they get huge. The smaller ancistrus verity would probably be better for a smaller tank.

Mts are good cleaners but in a short amount of time you can have thousands of them,don't over feed your fish to try to keep the population in check. Chinese livebearing trapdoor snails are cool and slow reproducers,plus they get to a really good size.

I have been told Ghost shrimp are fry and egg eaters,might think about using red cherry shrimp,plus rcs are prettier.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Method View Post
That's what many of us want!

My two cents:

Start with a low-tech tank. Don't worry about CO2, and don't use too much light. You might consider using regular dirt as a substrate, capped off with some pool filter sand.

Do a fishless cycle.

Critters

(1st trip to the LFS). Malaysian trumpet snails and ghost shrimp.

(2nd trip) 6 peaceful tetras (Black, Lemon, Glo-light, X-ray, Von Rio, etc.) and a rubbernose pleco

(3rd trip) 6 corydoras catfish (any species).

This is a good ecosystem, where everything but the solitary pleco will likely breed if you take good care of them.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-25-2011, 01:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sphere View Post
@Method

How long in between trips?
Your tank will tell you. Get ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite test kits. I add small groups at a time, then I go at LEAST a week with zero ammonia and nitrite levels

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Originally Posted by reflexhunter View Post
If you are talking about the common rubbernose pleco,I wouldn't, they get huge. The smaller ancistrus verity would probably be better for a smaller tank.
I'm talking about Chaetostoma. They're also called bulldog plecos and never get bigger than 3 inches.

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Originally Posted by reflexhunter View Post
Mts are good cleaners but in a short amount of time you can have thousands of them,don't over feed your fish to try to keep the population in check. Chinese livebearing trapdoor snails are cool and slow reproducers,plus they get to a really good size.
MTS DO breed fast, but you can remove them with lettuce. Do Chinese trapdoors play well with plants? I may have to check them out!

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Originally Posted by reflexhunter View Post
I have been told Ghost shrimp are fry and egg eaters,might think about using red cherry shrimp,plus rcs are prettier.
Ghost shrimp ARE opportunistic. They are also very cheap and easy to find. RCS are definitely prettier, but ghost shrimp have a subtle beauty of their own.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-25-2011, 02:01 PM
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For corys take a look at the dwarf varieties if you want something really small. I have 3 of the hasbrosus in a 5 gal tank and besides being just so cute, it's like watching kids at a playground - they're running all over the place with each other. There's also pygmaeus and hastatus. You could have a good size group in a 20 long, especially if your other inhabitants are also small.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-25-2011, 03:07 PM
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I'd strongly suggest nerite snails if you can find them, or order them online. Nothing works harder at keeping the glass clean than nerites, and they will not reproduce in a fresh water tank. They will lay eggs but they won't hatch. I also like Malaysian trumpet snails in my tank - but they do become numerous and if you don't like the sight of them then they won't be for you. Note, however, that most people eventually DO get snails that are considered pests in their tanks. They usually come in on plants. It's just a part of fish keeping and honestly if you want to go with the whole complete ecosystem thing then that would include these pest snails. You can also get assassin snails, which eat pest snails. Problem is that they will also eat your "good" snails.

You really need to look at fish and see what you like, and go from there. There are alot of fish out there and alot of it comes down to personal preference. Do you want bright colorful fish or fish that are more subdued? What type of decor are you going to have, and what type of filtration? What type of substrate do you like? What type and intensity of lighting do you have? I assume you will be heating the tank, but if not there are fish that would do well in a cooler tank.

You could easily do a nice sized school of fish such tetras, rasboras, danios - and then do some other non schooling fish such as various livebearers (male only tho with livebearers or the tank will be over run with fry) such as guppies, endlers, mollies. Add a school of cories (I agree that dwarf would work nicely, but you could do regular sized cories depending on what other fish you have in there) and you're good to go. In my opinion shrimp do best in species only tanks - just my preference tho. But for a community I'd just get one or two larger shrimp such as bamboo shrimp. Red cherry shrimp and ghost shrimp tend to end up as snacks.

If you already have the tank and filter go ahead a start a fishless cycle while you decide on these other things. I also agree to go low tech with low light plants such as java ferns, mosses, anubias, and maybe a floater.

You also need to get another tank to use as a quarantine/hospital tank. You should quarantine ALL new fish before putting them into your main tank, regardless of where you purchase them from. Fish carry disease and parasites that can wipe quickly spread to and wipe out your existing livestock. Quarantining them for 3-6 weeks gives you a chance to observe and treat them if needed without risking your other fish. You will also use this tank to treat any fish in your tank that later get sick.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-30-2011, 04:42 AM Thread Starter
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