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New tank and some questions
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Celeste
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Joined: 17 Dec 2011
Location: Florida

PostPosted: 2011.12.17(Sat)21:15    Post subject: New tank and some questions Reply with quote

I am bolding the questions if you prefer to skim. But thanks in advance for any help.

Little background:
I was gifted a 20G~76L tank set that came with a heater, light, lid, aquarium, filter. My mom when I was growing up set us up a tank once so I remembered enough to buy an aerator, a better heater ect. But being relatively new I ended up killing some Tiger Barbs and a pleco to most likely ammonia poisoning and ick. I will elaborate on this but mostly the local university student who worked at the local fish store didn't know that much and I wish I would of have found this before using his advice. The fish began by gasping at the filter-not until they began to die did I figure out this was a sign of ick and not until today (thanks to this site that I found out this was also possibly ammonia poisoning). The pleco was last to go he developed the white spots so I immediately began treating with ick medicine which then seemed to have no effect (guessing because it was also do to ammonia poisoning). I dropped the water level ( so the filter water splashed and added more oxygen), and did daily changes of 25% or so of water. He also would never touch algae tablets so I was feeding him zucchini slices. I gradually raised the heat to jump the lifecycle of ick as well. Now I have test all strips (I know the liquid is better but not available here), something to reduce ammonia and nitrite, plant fertilizer, water conditioner, I will be soaking and boiling and scrubbing the wood, I will be getting another cave for the fish and possibly more plants. And will be grabbing pure ammonia soon.

I would really rather not kill defenseless fish again, and I felt awful watching them suffer so I ask for the help of you more experienced people.

I have the tank set up with the heater and filter running. The water has been dechlorinated and the bottom is filled with gravel. The filter is a hanging one and contains the wheels for bacteria growth. I will be going on vacation for 10-14 days and here is question one. Would it be viable to add ammonia to it now-test to make sure levels are high before leaving and test again when I return? I also purchased some cheap plant bulbs called "Dwarf Lilly-Hybrid Ulvaceus" which if they work-and google says maybe- I will be planting them when I return. I have that piece of driftwood that I will be riding of tannins and am considering more plants though I will have to work around the gravel.

Now after that step in finished I was wondering about compatibility and number of species.
I was thinking:

3-female bettas
6-? neon tetras (or another suggestion)
A few ghost shrimp/ snails or other bottom feeders

I am not set on this, I am however a little reluctant on trying tiger barbs again since before they succumbed to my mistakes they picked off the smallest of them-I had 6 total so that could have been my mistake as well. They were beautiful and lively at first though.

I would really like a small pleco such as a bristlenose but I am assuming my tank is to small. With the first one I was hoping if we made it to the "too big" stage I could donate it to my local fish store or something of that nature.

I have heard stories of "ghost shrimp" purchases really being a similar looking species that preys on fish so I am somewhat worried about that.

And I am also unsure on how many tetras the tank could house / should have for schooling.

Also after the cycling if I add say tetras or another schooling fish do I add a minimum of 6 for schooling? Or do I start with 3 and add another 3 in a week or so?

Thanks again for any help!
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unissuh
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Joined: 29 Mar 2005
Location: Melbourne, Australia

PostPosted: 2011.12.17(Sat)21:59    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I'm understanding you, you still have the pleco in there? If so, don't spike the ammonia, you want to keep it low so you won't poison the pleco to death.

Best bet would be to return him, especially as you don't know what species he is. Then you can proceed with the fishless cycle safely, spike up ammonia before you go away like you are thinking. In this case, might be better to just drop in a raw prawn into the tank as this will decompose into ammonia by itself slowly so you don't have to keep adding extra.

I think bristlenose should be OK in that tank size - but see if anyone else can confirm this. There are also other small options like pitbull plecos which would probably fit.

Avoiding tiger barbs is probably a good idea for now. I don't see any issue with 3 female bettas and a small school of tetras. Once the tank is cycled (e.g. say it can convert 2-4 ppm of ammonia a day) you should be able to add 6 tetras without any trouble. Trick is to establish the biofilter so it can handle all 6 from day 1.

If you're worried about ghost shrimp, perhaps go for red cherry shrimp or similar? There are lots of options in US unlike where I live. Red cherries are really easy to keep and will breed in your tank (though the shrimplets surviving to adulthood depends on your fish). Pretty good at scavenging leftovers too. I don't think it is that hard to tell when a ghost shrimp ends up being a Macrobrachium (the predatory one) though, just look for the elongated pincer arms and size of the shrimp. If it grows big and has long pincers, it's probably a hunter.
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Celeste
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Joined: 17 Dec 2011
Location: Florida

PostPosted: 2011.12.17(Sat)22:12    Post subject: Reply with quote

The pleco died within a week after the rest, the tank was fully cleaned of algae and other debris with nothing but elbow grease and hot water. I also let everything dry out completely.

I had not heard of the pitbull pleco before, would I need multiples for comfort? Or would he be okay alone? Thanks for the suggestion.

I like the idea of letting a prawn decompose slowly since I will be gone, would it be beneficial to keep it in nylon or anything to help keep the tank clean?
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unissuh
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Joined: 29 Mar 2005
Location: Melbourne, Australia

PostPosted: 2011.12.18(Sun)16:24    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, sorry, missed that bit.

I think pitbulls are OK alone, bit more information for you here.

Can put the prawn inside a little filter bag or stocking if you want, it'll make it easier to take it out after you're done cycling. Keep the lids on when you go away, it smells a bit more than using pure ammonia.

Was there any other question I missed answering? Very Happy
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Celeste
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Joined: 17 Dec 2011
Location: Florida

PostPosted: 2011.12.18(Sun)17:22    Post subject: Reply with quote

The site does mention "Should be kept in groups." I would guess maybe 2-3 would be okay?

And for the cherry shrimp how many would you recommend? Assuming, 6 neon tetras, 3 female bettas, possibly 2-3 pitbull plecos.

Thanks for all the help so far!
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unissuh
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Joined: 29 Mar 2005
Location: Melbourne, Australia

PostPosted: 2011.12.18(Sun)19:33    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perhaps - though often lower numbers are better from a maintainence point of view for Otocinclus (and probably similar species like Parotocinclus). Often hear the former should be kept in groups which I don't necessarily recommend as it often results in a number dying due to malnutrition. Depends on a compromise between experience of aquarist, tank size and "social-ness" of the fish as to how many to keep. That said, Parotocinclus are unavailable here, so I can't be certain. Very Happy

I'd probably start off with 8-10 shrimp or so, expect they will expand in numbers to a degree if you have enough decor that the shrimplets can hide. You may have to periodically thin out your population in this case.

Hope that helps.
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nikelodeon79
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Joined: 08 Nov 2007
Location: Wisconsin, U.S.A.

PostPosted: 2011.12.19(Mon)9:14    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would not go with female bettas. They can be quite vicious in groups, and "sorority tanks" (tanks with multiple female bettas) need to be approached with caution and a lot of planning.

1) Numbers should be at least 5... any less and you'll find that a lot of ganging up goes on.

2) Your tank should be heavily planted with a lot of decor that creates hidey holes and caves for the bettas.

3) Sorority tanks, due to the heavy stock, low water movement, and high temps are VERY prone to illness... it's not unusual to have a catastrophe where the entire tank dies off.

4) A sorority setup could work for months and then all of the sudden you come home to a lot of dead fish... some females can be just as aggressive (or more aggressive) than males.

Additionally, your shrimp would likely become lunch.

What about making your small plec your "centerpiece" fish? You could add a bunch of small, schooling fish (harlequin rasboras or black neon tetras come to mind).

After cycling (it will likely take longer than the 10-14 days, but should get a good start with the rotting prawn), add a few of your small schooling fish, gradually upping your numbers until you have a nice sized school. Add the plec last... they tend to be the most sensitive.
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Celeste
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Joined: 17 Dec 2011
Location: Florida

PostPosted: 2012.01.09(Mon)12:44    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the opinions!
I wouldn't be opposed to using the pleco as a centerpiece, so what else would you suggest? Neon and black neons? Maybe glowlights? Like 6 of each and 2 species?
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kimura
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Joined: 13 Apr 2004

PostPosted: 2012.03.01(Thu)11:52    Post subject: Reply with quote

A clown pleco wouldnt be bad as centerpiece if you really want a pleco.
As a general rule, plecos are pretty messy so I avoid them in tanks under 40 gallons. If I need algae control I usually go with ottos and amano shrimp but I think you are asking more for aesthetic reasons.


Harlequin rasboras are great fish, hardy and beautiful. Cardinal tetras are
nice as are the black neon tetras already mentioned.

6 tetras, 1 dwarf pleco and 2 shrimp might be OK.... just watch the waste from the pleco.

5 panda cories, 6 smaller tetras and a dwarf gromi might work too.

I would definately pass on the tiger bards for that tank.
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