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Newbie starting first tank and seeking advice

Discussion in 'Beginner's Corner' started by BuckDitkus, Aug 27, 2016.

  1. BuckDitkus

    BuckDitkus New Member

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    That's a good suggestion. I'm wishing I had gotten a light that goes from one side to the other for uniform lighting. You can clearly see the stem plants reaching with their growth towards the light. But now I know. I could always just get a second light to put on the other side.

    I took a look into bucephalandra and all I can say is wow. Between Vasteq's post and pictures in the plant forums and seeking out sources to purchase bucephalandra somewhere in the U.S. I found I had spent an entire evening looking into the species. I'll almost certainly add some of that into this tank in the future. Great suggestion.

    I'll post some more updates and pictures sometime down the line.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2016
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  2. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    In my water supply situation it could and often varied a lot over the summer period it was always advisable to do a water test at every water change.

    In my case it might have been necessary every week but no harm in playing it safe.

    Keith:cat::cat:
     
  3. BuckDitkus

    BuckDitkus New Member

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    I noticed today that I have algae for the first time. It seems to have sprung up pretty suddenly. I had been assuming that I didn't have too much light up to this point but I guess there is apparently enough for algae. A week or so ago, I first noticed it on the HOB filter where the water runs as it pours back into the tank so I've been watching the tank for it a bit. I've done a little research in the past about what fish or shrimp I might put in to control algae just in case it ever popped up. In an effort to control it I was planning on checking out what my local mom and pop aquarium store has as far as shrimp. What I've seen recommended in what I've read up to this point is:

    Otocinclus affinis
    Plecostomus
    Crossocheilus siamensis (siamese algae eater)
    Caridina japonica (Amano shrimp)
    Neocaridina denticulata (red cherry shrimp)

    Being that this is a 5 gallon tank I think any of the fish I've read about could potentially get too big and therefore might be a bad choice. Based on that I was going to see if the shrimp were available to buy. A fish would be nice too though. Would most species of shrimp that are small suffice? Any fish that might not grow too big for the tank?

    Another option would be for me to draw back the light (12 hours on currently) and maybe draw back the Excel Flourish (2.5ml twice a week currently). I am also dosing Excel (2.5ml) once a day so the algae is coming up even despite this.

    Thanks for any advice!

    Rob
     
  4. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Rob
    The Ottos and shrimp would be a good idea.

    I would strip the filter down and give it a good cleaning.

    Keith:cat::cat:
     
  5. BuckDitkus

    BuckDitkus New Member

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    Picture of the algae. Really don't know what type it might be.

    Great Keith! I was just going to ask if cleaning the filter was a good idea right about now.
     

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  6. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Rob

    This will help you
    http://www.theplantedtank.co.uk/algae.htm

    Strange its in one location and not on the plants.

    I would remove all the Algae stones and give them a good cleaning (in boiling water) then leave them in the sun to dry.

    Keith:cat::cat:
     
  7. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    12 hours is too long. You really shouldn't exceed 10 hours.

    It is a green dust algae, common with higher light or in your case extended duration.

    I wouldn't bother removing those small stones to get rid of the algae...just turn them over or replace. Again...algae like this will show up on hard scape. Less so when you don't run the light too long.

    Keep in mind planted tanks are not algae free, despite all the nice photos you see. Algae is normal...ensuring it does not get out of control is the trick. U wouldn't be too concerned about it at this point. Ottos and shrimp are a good idea. They may not do much to fight back the GDA.

    If you clean the filter do not clean the biomedia. Rinse it in a bucket of tank water. You do not want to kill the bacteria.

    sent from tapatalk on my phone so auto correct and other errors are bound to happen
     
  8. BuckDitkus

    BuckDitkus New Member

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    I have drawn back the light to 9 hours. I've cleaned the filter while making sure to only rinse the biomedia with water from the aquarium.

    I purchased 5 red cherry shrimp from my local fish store and was pleased that they only cost $5 total. I'm not going to lie, they had an extremely stressful trip home as I dropped the bag they were in while walking in the parking lot. In my defense, I was carrying them and my 1 year old son at the same time...

    Anyway, after placing them in the tank I can only ever find 2 at one time. The same 2? I have no idea but I suspect so. I'm concerned that the HOB filter is pulling too much flow for them and is almost certainly pulling too much flow for any offspring they might produce. Would anyone recommend that I place a foam pre-filter around my HOB intake? If so do you have a recommended place to buy one?

    I'm also not 100% clear on what to feed them from my research online. It appears that algae will not suffice unless what I have read is incorrect. Does anyone who has experience with RCS have a regular feeding regime they could recommend? I would like them to breed if it helps with algae and cleaning in the tank.

    I've attached a picture of the HOB hang down. I think it is about 1 inch in diameter.

    Thanks for any advice!

    Rob
     

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  9. J Art

    J Art Aspiring Aquascaper

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    I bought foam prefilters for my intakes off ebay and they've worked well for me with shrimp. They're really cheap and effective. Just clean them every week with water changes using your hose to get the collected stuff off. Sort of ugly unless you can hide them though. Works as another stage of filtration too, which is an added bonus.

    Can get shrimp food online or at the LFS. Been feeding mine every few days or so and give them breaks to munch on algae, decaying plant matter, etc.
     
  10. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    BuckDitkus
    [​IMG]
    Not the best of photos it is a sponge filter you can cut a deep cross into it and push it over the inlet.

    I washed it every week as J Art mentioned.

    I just powered up my fish food a piece of softened Iceberg Lettuce or squashed cooked peas.

    Keith:cat::cat:
     
  11. BuckDitkus

    BuckDitkus New Member

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    Since posting last I have gotten a sponge pre-filter for my HOB (not shown in the pictures as I took them before it arrived) and put in red cherry shrimp twice, five each time. The first five RCS were put in without the sponge filter and seemed to do well although eventually I could never see more than two at a time and I confirmed one ended up inside the the HOB filter. I just put in another 5 yesterday and they actually seem to like to hang out on the sponge filter. They seem to have done a decent job of cleaning the algae off of the substrate and plants and I'm feeding them some fish flakes every other day.

    I decided to cut the healthy looking tops of the bacopa off and plant them in the substrate to give them one last effort to make it in the tank. The rotala and cryptocoryne seem to be growing decently but I want to see if the bacopa can grow and at least look healthy. From the original plantings of the bacopa the tops grew to the point of making it to the surface of the water but the bottom halves always looked terrible and unhealthy. If the bacopa can't make it on the right side of the tank where much less light makes it in I will probably see if rotala cuttings can fill that side in when I end up pruning them back soon. I may also consider a second light of the same kind to attach to the other side of the tank but I'm really tempted to remove the light I have now and instead have a side to side mounted light. Unfortunately, the one I have now "sticks" to the side of the tank so removing it might be a headache unless I employ the right chemical or razor blade approach...

    I'm letting the remaining algae in the tank run its course before cleaning it off of the glass. I read that letting it go for 4 weeks and then cleaning up what you can was recommended and then if it returns, let it go for another 4 weeks before cleaning it. Anyway, with no experience with algae before maybe this is just what happens in a tank and I'll need to clean algae off the glass from time to time.

    I plan on adding a heater in the next few weeks in preparation for adding a betta from my LFS around mid-December for my daughter. I'll probably be trying out a Hydor 25 watt submersible heater. I'm hoping the betta and the RCS will coexist peacefully so I'll have a cleaning crew in the tank. By mid-December they should have a decent number of hiding places and I'm crossing my fingers that adding a betta in with an already existing RCS population will increase the chances the RCS will make it. I've read a lot of conflicting experiences with RCS and bettas living together (or not living together). Other than this I might look to add a snail. Although, apparently the betta may jump out of the tank and the snail may crawl out as I have no top on the tank.

    Anyway, I'm hoping to have this tank pretty much settled in by the end of the year so I can start to look towards a 20 gallon long. With that I look forward to getting experience with a higher light (but still low tech) set up, actually using some hardscape and having more choices for plants due to more light and fish due to more space than the very small 5 gallon I have now.

    I've attached some pictures... thanks to anyone who is reading!

    Rob
     

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    Last edited: Oct 30, 2016
  12. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Buck

    I would like to a nice twiggy piece of DW without it its rather flat looking

    The shrimp will help you can buy 3 small Ottos they are great algae eaters, Nerite snails don't normally breed in the home aquarium great algae cleaners.

    I never cleaned the back of my tank and when I pulled it down it was practically algae free.

    I would highly recommend a glass top as the Betta can jump they also like a floating plant cover so do the Shrimps.

    I would buy some Seachem Fert tabs your rooted plants will love it I added new tabs every three months.

    Keith:cat::cat:
     
  13. BuckDitkus

    BuckDitkus New Member

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    I recently noticed that a lot of my cryptocoryne leaves were showing dark brown blotches on them. This weekend I trimmed many of the leaves showing the blotches as I assumed they were dying leaves. Only a couple days later I've noticed many more of their leaves showing the same brown blotches. At first I was thinking it was a nutrient deficiency but then I noticed that I also have some of these brown blotches on the glass of the tank. So I'm assuming it is a second type of algae? Any ideas as to what kind it might be? (I have attached a picture but it is not very good at showing what I'm talking about and I haven't taken the time to highlight the area I'm referring to either).

    Also, keith, I have looked into Ottos a bit already as an algae control but frequently come across recommendations that a 5 gallon is simply too small for Ottos to really be happy. It has been a few weeks since I was reading on this topic but I seem to recall many saying that the bioload would be too high and that they are really schooling fish and need company to be happy. Do you disagree? Would it be foolish to put Ottos in there with the Betta I have planned?

    I seem to have three or four red cherry shrimp that are happy in there up to this point. Still hoping to see them reproduce and crossing my fingers they'll coexist with a Betta. But not counting on it.

    I did just acquire a glass top (see picture). When I placed it over the tank I noticed that the black plastic part which allows the glass to rotate on a hinge so you can easily open it really interferes with the lighting in the tank. I've gone ahead and ordered a second light to place on the other side of the tank as the plants in general seem a bit starved for light already, especially on the side opposite of the light. Maybe not a great idea with regard to algae but I will give it a try. Maybe I just draw back the photoperiod from 9 hours to less to compensate. So far this is quite a balancing act and each new step seems to lead me to yet another purchase that needs to be made.... Speaking of that I got a small heater that seems to be working well at keeping the temp at a stable 78 degrees in preparation for a Betta.

    I'm doing my best not to calculate the amount of money I have put into this little 5 gallon cube of water! Thank you for your advice and time :)
     

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  14. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Buck

    Your biggest concern is the size of the tank, your actual water content is closer to 4Gl than 5Gl, Otto's are a schooling fish, many would even say it's too small even for a Betta I had mine in a planted 45lt.

    To be perfectly honest I would reconsider my stocking and have Cherry red Shrimps plus 2-3 young Khuli Loaches as they are great scavengers.

    Crypts I grew a few very successfully, I never deep gravel cleaned my tank any where near the Crypts as the mulm is their natural food. I also used Seachem liquid ferts as well as their fert tabs every three months.

    Being a small tank I would do two 30% water changes per week plus, regular filter cleaning using the old tank water.

    Keith:cat::cat:
     
  15. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    for a lid that will not block the light you could just go to a hardware store and get a piece of plexiglass cut to the appropriate size.

    Generally brown dusting are diatoms. Without algae eaters you could see a build up of things like this on slow growing plants like crypts. Shrimp can help, Ottos are best...but you are right the tank size is a little small. Usually diatoms go away after a tank has cycled, but I have known them to be more stubborn in low tech tanks. Increasing your plant density could help as well as adding more shrimp. Without an abundance of cover, the betta will make quick work of a few shrimp. For a four gallon I'd recommend 20 shrimp to be effective at combating algae and biofilms.
     
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  16. BuckDitkus

    BuckDitkus New Member

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    Thanks for the advice guys. I'll think on it as far as stocking. I should have thought of trying a simple solution like plexiglass first.
     
  17. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Buck

    Its very often when looking for a solution you miss the very obvious.

    Glad we can assist you.

    Keith:cat::cat:
     
  18. BuckDitkus

    BuckDitkus New Member

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    I went the plexiglass route. Learned the hard way that I can't cut plexiglass with any tools I have readily available but got the problem solved in the end :) The top isn't completely covered but is probably about 80% covered. We'll see how that works out...

    I have added a 2nd light that is identical to the first. So now there are two Fluval Eco Nanos, one on each side of the tank. I realize increasing the light might be the worst decision I have made thus far with this tank but I want to try to solve the uneven lighting in the tank and this will be my first attempt. I'm at 9 hours of lighting right now and may draw it back.

    LFS had no cherry shrimp today. I plan on trying again when they get their next shipment. I decided to try two nerite snails for now and they are happily eating away. If they are capable of cleaning the leaves of the crypts they will be awesome although they seem a little too big to crawl on a leaf. But we'll see. So far I really like the snails.

    Thanks for the advice in the other thread. I'll be patient with the diatoms and avoid PhosGuard. I wasn't too hot on the idea of messing with phosphates in the tank either if the whole goal was to address silicates.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2016
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  19. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    Buck

    I have several small Nerite's only problem they were escape experts more than once I found them on the air hose, another one I found just the shell on the carpet.

    If you can buy directly from a grower the Shrimps should be a fraction of the cost.

    Keith:cat::cat:
     
  20. BuckDitkus

    BuckDitkus New Member

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    So good news and bad news.

    The brown algae ran its course and is pretty hard to detect in the tank at all. Thanks for the great advice to just sit tight and be patient. The two nerite snails seem pretty happy and there is one Red cherry shrimp that is a real trooper and still happily surviving.

    Unfortunately, a new algae has reared its ugly head and is growing pretty strong. See the attached pictures. I haven't tried too hard to identify it yet but it has been in the tank for a few weeks now. With the departure of the brown algae it seems to have come in to take its place.

    I've been trying to clean it off the plants pretty regularly but even after about 24 - 48 hours you can see that it is coming back strong. Even before it is all that visible on a Crypt leaf you can see very strong bubbles on the leaf from what I assume is the algae photosynthesizing before it becomes too visible as new growth. Once it grows in you can again see prominent bubbles where the algae is on the leaves. It appears to mainly appear on plant leaves and to a much lesser degree on the substrate. Not on the glass at all really. It is all over the leaves of the plants, especially the Crypts, given several days. Lots of little bubbles on top of the algae.

    A few weeks ago I drew back the light in the tank to 7 hours and it has been at that since. That hasn't seemed to do much When I clean the algae off the leaves it floats around but I don't really have a good method of removing it. Even if I could I feel like the algae grows strong enough that it wouldn't do much to fight it back.

    I would appreciate any advice on identifying the algae and any suggestions on how I might control it. At this point I'm just trying to be patient. I trimmed back the Rotala a few weeks ago to encourage bushier growth and that is slowly coming back up. My strategy to fight the algae at this point is simply trying to be patient and fill the tank with as much plant biomass as possible to hopefully out compete the algae more than it is now.

    Thanks guys.
     

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