I’ve just been very very busy. While I finish off my busy period I thought I’d make a little post of the new tank I’ve setup. Just a little video
Now you’ve gathered the equipment you need for your first aquarium its time to set it up. If you are going down the non-planted route the setup is quite simple however the cycle is more difficult in my opinion.
First put a layer of gravel in the bottom of the tank about an inch to inch and a half is sufficient (2-3cm).
Setup your filter at one end of the tank with its outlet pointing along the length of the tank and to the opposite corner. So if your filter is in the back left point it to the front right. The reason for this is to ensure you have good flow around your tank many particularly smaller shoaling fish like to swim against the flow so having a good length of flow will work out really well for them.
Insert your heater set it to 25 °C for starters you may find you have to adjust it in future either up or down depending on what temperature your thermometer is reading and what temperature the fish you decide to stock prefer. Ensure the heater is fully submerged and not obstructed and nothing is touching the heating side of things.
Fill the tank with water and wait for the cycle. Now this needs a little extra explaining. If you’re filling from the tap make sure you treat the water with a dechlorinator and chloramine remover. My personal preference is for Tetra Aquasafe as it processes the chemicals rather than just binding them like others do. Now unfortunately there’s nothing in your tap water to kick start the cycle to prepare the tank and bacteria for fish. I do not recommend a livestock based cycle and prefer the fishless cycle method. However you can give your cycle a little boost by buying a bottle of Seachem Stability and just pour it all in its loaded with bacteria and I’ve always had good results with it previously.
If you know someone with a tank ask them if you can have a few buckets of their water this water won’t need treating but will be loaded with bacteria to kick start your cycle.
Wait out the cycle and add fish it’ll take about 2 weeks. Do a water change once a week about 50% of the tank volume make sure you treat any fresh tap water you’re now adding.
You’ll notice I’m not covering cycling methods in detail here. There are far too many for me to list in detail and they are all very well documented else where. So go hit up google and good luck.
If you’ve followed this guide at all or found it helpful please leave a comment or message me on twitter I’d love to see a photo of how your tank turned out.
The next article in this series will be a planted tank.
This post covers a couple of main topics and is the first in a mini-series if you like of articles based around setting up your first tank / planted tank. It covers all the equipment you will need for a tropical fish aquarium as well as allowing you to do it all for a budget of less than £100!
When planning this I set myself a couple of tasks / goals. Many people just starting out don’t want to spend a fortune for something they may not enjoy. Other people may only be wanting to setup a small aquarium for their kids to hold a few smaller fish in there etc. So what I wanted was a fairly small aquarium with all the equipment needed and ready to go. I also wanted to spend no more than £100 because anything over that for your first tank is going past the “well its cheap enough to give it a try” margin. 9/10 times you end up gettting hooked and spending thousands over time but for now the target was sub-£100
Since we’re talking tropicals here we need a couple of pieces of additional equipment over and above a cold water setup but luckily it only adds an extra tenner or so to the price.
- Fish tank
- Lid for tank with inclusive light or if going open top just a light fitting of some description
- Filter (in this case internal)
- Stand for tank (optional)
- Water Conditioner (remove chlorine from tap water)
As mentioned I’m working to a strict budget so where sensible I’ve bought second hand stuff from www.aquarist-classifieds.co.uk where I’ve had to buy brandnew I’ve shopped around on the interwebs to find the cheapest.
For the tank I managed to pick up a 24″x12″x12″ with lid + light + stand for £45 from aquarist classifieds. Its a Hagen Elite Style 60 tank which holds 54 litres of water ish. Its a fairly small tank in the scheme of things but its a good size for a first tank looks pretty good and comes with a matching stand. The hood fits over the entire tank sealing it nicely to stop houdini fish and has a single T8 bulb in the hood too. Which is perfect again for a starter fish only tank. (I’ll be expanding this article to cover doing this tank as a planted tank in part 2 but for part 1 concentrate on the basics )
Next up is the heater, thermometer and filter. I managed to get the filter off aquarist classifieds as usual for a massive £10 its a Eheim Aquaball these are very good little internal filters plenty of flow and lots of media for a filter this size. The heater and thermometer unfortunately I had to buy brand new. The thermometer came from ebay for £1.99 its a digital lcd style I prefer these over the stick on glass strips or the internal thermometers since the only bit inside the tank is the probe and a small bit of wire both of which are easily hidden from view using a well placed plant or ornament.
The heater is a TetraTec 100 Watt ceramic core heater. I selected this instead of one of the cheaper metal core heater because from my experience they’re very sturdy heaters hard to break and last longer than the standard metal cores which have a habit of burning out. It cost £15 from www.viovet.co.uk a little pricy but I feel well worth it for the benefits over the cheaper heaters available.
Finally we have the substrate (stuff in the bottom of the tank ) in my case I am using aquarium safe pea-gravel. Now normally I’d pick this up from the local garden centre but while I was in my LFS they had a big bag of the Unipac gravel for only £5 usual price £12 so I decided this was ideal for my budget tank. Other cost effective substrates can be play sand from any DIY store (must be play sand not sharp or building sand!) or tesco clay cat litter can also make a good substrate. All of these substrates must be well washed before using to remove any dirt and light floaty bits out of it. A summary of all the bits used is available below in the gallery.
- Tank + stand + lid + light £45
- Filter £10
- Heater £15
- Substrate £5
- Thermometer £1.99
Not a bad price considering brand new the aquarium alone is double that value. All it took was a little bargin hunting and some elbow grease to clean the tank and everything up before using.
The next post in this series will be all about putting everything together and prepping the tank ready for it to cycle. I’ll also be filling in on some shortcuts and methods to cycle the tank without the need for fish.
I’m putting this optional extra right at the very bottom of the page since its not strictly required for a starter tank but because the next stage of this post will be setting up the tank and creating a planted tank I wanted to put a background on the tank.
Now you have many options. You can use a stick on picture from your LFS (ewwww) you can paint it black or blue using hammerite or any other paint designed for non porous surfaces. Black works really well if you have bright colour fish and lots of plants it really brings the colours out. In my case I decided I wanted a frosted glass effect. Rather than sand the glass down using a fine grit paper as some do I wanted to make it possible to revert back to clear. Now you have 2 options you can buy stick on plastic frosting which is good but scratches and peels over time. I was told about some spray on paint frosting by someone else which I went out and purchased from my local Homebase it costs £10 a can but is enough to do about 30 tanks of this size so I’ve got plenty left over. It can easily be removed with a stanley knife blade should I ever want to revert back yay. For reference its this stuff.
My breeding group of albino bristlenose plecs having some dinner
Just a couple of videos I promise I’ll post something more interesting soon
For Sale…. Guppies
Seriously making a tank this size takes me 30 minutes!
If you’re into your aquascaping there’s a few people and companies that are worth following to keep up with all the latest happenings/tech/ideas and techniques.
Here’s a list:
So you’ve got your new tank all setup and ready and you’ve got a little shoal of normal fish and now you’ve decided you want a bottom feeder / pleco. Before you rush out to your nearest local fish shop and buy the first bottom feeder / tank buster you come across read through our recommendations of plecs that are safe and easy to keep in any tank below 300 litre and won’t eventually turn into a 2 foot long headache for you.
Bulldog Pleco, L402, Rubbernose Pleco
This species of pleco grows to a rather manageable 5 inch or there about so is suitable for most tanks. It is peaceful and gets along well with other bottom feeders/catfish.
It is an Omnivore and ill eat algae and small live or frozen food. Some individuals can be weaned onto pellet food although this usually takes some effort and trial and error on the part of the aquarist. It will quite happily eat cucumber and other veg after it has been acclimatised.
A relatively undemanding pleco gets along great with other plecos both of its own species and others. Completely harmless to other passive community fish and again remains pretty small at about 5 inches in length. They are gentle and unassuming fish, and can be kept in community tanks with the most timid of inhabitants. Even tiny fry will be left unharmed once free-swimming.
It is thought that elements in bogwood, particularly lignin, may form an essential part of Bristlenose diet. Certainly they have the immensely long guts common to vegetarians, and although they fall avidly on the occasional meal of live food or prawns, the bulk of their diet must be composed of vegetable matter. If a high protein diet is fed constantly, then they will become prone to stomach disorders. Vegetable roughage keeps the gut in working order, and bogwood is a valuable addition to this.
There are many variety of bristlenose with the albino, lemon and long fin being the most common. They are all very similar and all brilliant for a smaller community tank.
Big White Spot Pleco, L142, LDA033, Snowball Pleco
This is a little bit more fussy becoming quite territorial over other catfish and bottom feeders however will be fine with more common community fish and non bottom feeders. If keeping in a small tank ensure this is the only bottom feeder in the tank and you’ll have no problems. Its lovely markings and colouration make it an interesting addition to any tank and will have people staring at him for hours.
An omnivorous grazer of biofilm. Shows a fondness for sweet potato and algae wafers. Feed a varied diet to keep this fish healthy, including a large proportion of vegetable matter.
Snowballs/L142′s will grow slightly larger and should only be kept in the upper end of the community tanks growing to a size of upto 10 inches in length!
Imperial Pleco, L046, L098, Zebra Pleco
If you’re feeling a little cash rich then you can’t go far wrong with zebs. They remain small, are lovely and friendly both with their own type and others and with strong patterning and markings always provide a stunning focal point for your tank. The only real downsizes to zebs are their price and the environment they like. They are fairly undemanding in terms of water conditions and are suitable for a wide range of water ph and hardness. Choose tankmates wisely as Zebras do not compete well for food with particularly fast or aggressive tankmates.
H. zebra is more of a carnivore than an algae eater. This is backed up by a small and lightly toothed mouth that indicates it is a poor algae eater. Provide mainly meaty foods such as bloodworm and even brineshrimp.
Zebras remain very small at the 3 – 4 inch size and so suit smaller tanks perfectly.
L264, Sultan Pleco
The sultan plecs are one of my favourite (after L14′s!) plecos. They are suitable to most water ph’s and hardness readings however are very sensitive to nitrites and nitrates. They can be a challenge to keep in smaller tanks purely because keeping water parameters stable in smaller tanks can be difficult. A very rewarding fish for an experience keeper or an intermediate keeper looking to test the waters on something more complex.
Growing to a size of roughly 6 inches they are suitable for the mid to larger end of the community tank. Will play fine with other small bottom feeders such as corys or most of the plecos listed here however may through a tantrum if kept in a small tank with larger bottom feeders.
Not a fussy eater. Primarily herbivorous, but appreciates some meat in its diet. Will eat sinking pellets and vegetables such as cucumber, and relishes meaty foods such as krill. According to some reports, in nature it feeds on insect larvae. Fry require more protein in the form of baby brine shrimp etc.
All 5 of the above fish are ideal for your community tanks all being roughly the same water requirements as your common community fish and all are mostly undemanding in their general requirements and feeding. There’s a few oddities on some of the more desirable plecos such as the sultan and the zebras but nothing that you cannot resolve with careful planning, feeding and water management all signs of good fish husbandry anyway.
Hopefully this article has made you think a little about the fish you are buying. Instead of running straight to your LFS and buying that lovely little 1″ common pleco that will turn into a 2 foot monster you cannot home in your little 30 litre tank hopefully you will now think a little and pre-plan your purchases so you and your fish can get the most out of its new home and you can get the enjoyment of an interesting and less common fish.
More information on all the fish listed above can be found on www.planetcatfish.com
Please feel free to suggest any other plecs you feel may be suited to the smaller community tank in the comments below.
So very important you all read this. The quote below is from a forum I frequent that specialises in plecos.
If you search around the web you’ll find plenty of sound bites about the xingu.
I have just been chatting with an exporter in Santarem, he speaks daily via MSN with his fisherman in Altamira. This is what he told me:
The water is now red, due to the excavation work syphoning the sand out of the river. This is very bad for the river “it is finished”.
I asked him what fish will be affected?
L18/81, L14, L25, L46, Leopoldi Rays – yes everything it is finished!
He sent large L25 to Hong Kong last week for $250ea, they cost him in the region of $160-190ea, but his fisherman cannot find them now in the red water.
This has come first hand from Discus Exporter based in Santarem that also gets involved with black rays and a few pleco’s.
While I’m in the middle of decorating the entire house I’m also going to be having a tank re-arrange.
1000L tank will house the following and will be my new community tank
- 1x “Common” pleco
- 4x Silver/Bala sharks
- 2x Red tailed black sharks
- 4x Rainbows (mixed types 2 dwarf 2 large adults not too familiar with their exact sub species)
- 10x Green Laser Corydora’s
- 1x L14 (Sunshine)
- 2x L200 (Green Phantom)
- 2x L128 (Blue Phantom)
- 2x Golden Nugget (Most likely L177 variety)
- 3x Torpedo Barbs (denison barbs)
- 6x Angels (leopoldi angels most likely)
The 200L tank will be a semi biotope that will house the following
- 6-10 Snowball Plecos L142 (breeding group)
- 10 Albino Bristlenose (breeding group)
Now the albinos wont be permanent residents as they’re only just initially going in to hopefully encourage the snowballs to breed. Bristlenose need no encouragement to breed and will go at it like rabbits if left to their own devices, I’m hoping the hormones released by them at it will encourage the snowballs. After they do the albinos will be removed from this tank.
This tank may also hold some smaller surface fish just because I have no where else really to put them!
The 60L tank will be torn down and become a planted tank housing only 2 types of fish
- 6x Glass Cats
- 10x Harlequin Rasboras
My current 35L planted tank will be torn down and sold off to be replaced with a 60L fry rearing tank
I’ll also be making myself a new tank which will be a 60x60x20 cm tank ie: it’ll be a shallow square! This will be planted up with the idea of both submerged and emersed growth on the wood coming out of the water.
So that’s my plan for the coming weeks after I’ve finished decorating. I’ll also be doing some custom plumbing for the 1000L tank for easy water changes and will be posting an article up on that one when I get chance.