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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, this is my first post. I am brand-new to this hobby and working with my first tank. I have made some mistakes since I started, but am trying to learn as much as I can so I can get things on the right track. I have a number of very basic newbie questions and would appreciate any help and insight.

About 4 weeks ago, I bought a 10-gallon glass tank at Petsmart, and relied on the Petsmart employee for information about how to proceed (I think this was mistake #1). I brought the tank home, filled it with gravel, several live plants, and a decorative hidey-hole thing, then filled it with conditioned water. I then added the filter and 15 minutes later put in the fish (I know now that I should NOT have done that, but sadly this is exactly what the Petsmart person told me to do!).

The fish I have in there are 6 minnows -- 2 fathead (silver/grey color) and 4 rosy red (an orangey color). I got minnows because the store said they were "feeder fish," so I figured if I killed them by mistake it wouldn't be as bad since someone else would have just bought them to feed to another fish.

Anyway, the good news is that almost a month later all 6 minnows are still alive and seem to be doing well, despite being dumped into a completely uncycled tank. I have been doing a 10% water change every week, except for a period early on where the water got VERY cloudy -- then I did a 10% change every other day for a week.

My questions are mostly about the equipment I'm currently using (which I suspect is rather lousy) and also how to best move forward. I have plans to start up a 20-gallon long tank very soon and want to do that one right.

1) The filter I'm using is an "Aqueon QuietFlow 10" that is rated for 10-20 gallon tanks and has a flow-rate of 100 gph. It uses filter cartridges that are carbon sandwiched inside two white cloth-looking panels. Is this a crummy filter? The directions say to change the filter cartridge once a month, but if I do that now, won't it remove all the good bacteria that's starting to grow on it? Should I change the cartridge now or wait? I have read that the carbon cartridge filters aren't very good, is that true?

2) I have never tested the water, because I didn't know. I am planning to get a test kit asap. In the meantime, is it safe to assume that the cycling has gone okay so far, since the fish are still doing well and it's been almost a month? What is a good test kit to get?

3) The aquarium has a hood on it, but I have no lights in the hood. The tank gets filtered sunlight (not direct) all day and that's it. The plants aren't doing great, they're turning pale, which I assume is from lack of light. What kind of bulbs should I get for the hood? The plants I want to keep have low-light requirements. When I get the lights, should I leave them on all the time, or just a set number of hours per day, or what?

4) I have been feeding the minnows a small pinch of flake food once or twice a day. I crush up the flakes with my fingers first (the minnows are very small). Is this too much food? When I do the water changes and siphon the gravel, bits of gunk always get sucked up from the gravel.

5) The water conditioner I'm using is a cheapo brand from Petsmart. I have read here about "Prime" water conditioner and gather that it is much better. Will it disrupt anything if I switch brands?

6) Is my water-change schedule too frequent, or too infrequent? (10% once a week)

Like I said, I plan to set up a 20-gallon tank very soon and hope to do that one properly from the beginning. My plan is to get it set up and filled, let it sit for a couple days, then add some live plants, let it sit for a few more days, then drop a frozen shrimp in there to start the ammonia. Then let it sit with the filter running just like that for a few weeks before adding any fish. Is this a decent plan, or are there major flaws?

What is a good filter to get for the 20-gallon tank? The "sponge" filters I've read about here sound better than the cartridge kind I have now, is this true?

I'm sorry this is so long. I realize I've made mistakes so far, but I am trying to correct them and get a better grip on all this so that things will go smoothly in the future. I am excited about the hobby and want to do right by any future fish. I am even attached to the minnows and want to care for them the best I can as well. Any help anyone can offer would be much appreciated. Thank you.
 

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IMHO your plants are doing a very good job of keeping your tank. Depending on what types of plants you have. I like anacharis especially for cycling a new tank.

If you have an incandescent hood I would use a couple of 11w incandescent replacement spiral bulbs from wal mart that say 6500k on the package. If flourescent just a single tube that fits.

I think you will find that it the plants are growing, everything else is secondary.

my .02
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you, Beaslbob.

I've no idea what kind of plants I have in there now -- they were just random plants that I grabbed at Petsmart when I got the tank. I have since been looking more carefully into plants; two types that look good for my needs and also are attractive are Hornwort and Java Fern. So I plan to get some of those (unless there is something bad about them that I don't know?), and will also look into acquiring the Anacharis you mentioned.

The hood has two "receptacles" in it, so I guess it is the incandescents I need. Thanks for the info re: what to look for.

I definitely want live plants in this tank and also the larger one I plan to set up. I wonder if using plants from the beginning kept my tank from tanking (haha) and helped the tank to compensate for some of the other rather grave mistakes I made when first setting it up.

Thank you again for your reply.
 

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I had many "mistakes" until I read an article on planted tanks. My first planted tank ran for 8 years with descendants from the original cycle fish.

I have no doubt the plants help compensate for my mistakes.

my .02
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
When I first set it up, I had no idea what I was doing. I just knew that I definitely wanted live plants, and in hindsight it sounds like that's the one thing I did right :)

Well I've gone on a bit of a shopping spree at Drs Foster & Smith, in preparation for setting up the 20-gallon long. These are the items I got for that tank, hopefully I've chosen better for this one than I did for the 10-gallon:

1 Aquaclear Power Filter 50 (200 gph)
1 20-lb bag of Eco-Complete Plant Substrate
1 Marineland fluorescent hood

I also bought a new fluorescent hood for the 10-gallon, as well as a bottle of Prime water conditioner and an API master test kit.

Does all of this sound decent?

I'm going to wait until all of this stuff arrives before I purchase the new plants. I plan to get Java Fern and Hornwort. Does anyone know how many of each would be good for a 20-gallon long? I plan to add some of each to the 10-gallon as well.

I looked for Anacharis too, but strangely the site says this about it: "We apologize, but this plant is in short supply this spring, so please expect this item to be available sporadically in limited numbers. We are working diligently to source this plant from other quality suppliers."

I've not looked for it anywhere else though. Is there some kind of global shortage going on? Any ideas about where else I could get some?

I'm not even thinking about fish for the 20-gallon yet. I want to get it set up and properly cycled first, then I will choose fish later. I've looked at some pictures of Tetras though (cardinal and neon) and really like those.
 

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Prime is very good and its what I use for my conditioner also. I think everything from SeaChem is good IMO. I also have a API Liquid test kit too and is very accurate. Since the kit cost a lot, I cut my testings to half the requirements, such as, 2.5ml instead of 5ml and 5 drops instead of 10 drops. AquaClear has very good ratings I hear(good choice). I currently use Eco-Complete and im getting very good results. It doesnt cloud the water and I hear it lasts a long time before replacing. Your lighting output will determine what plants you can grow. How many watts does each of your bulbs give off? Watts per gallon isnt what you want to rely on but it gives a pretty good idea at where you stand in lighting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you very much, NursePlaty.

Do you use the Eco-Complete by itself, or does it need to be "mixed" with something? I had planned to just use it alone, not with any gravel or anything on top of it.

The fluorescent hood I ordered for the 20-gallon long comes with a 20-watt bulb, and the one I ordered for the 10-gallon comes with a 15-watt bulb. Is this enough? I am primarily interested in low-light plants. I'm also guessing (perhaps wrongly) that the less light, the less chance of algae forming?

Also, re: the Prime, I am planning to ditch the "Top Fin" stuff I've been using on the 10-gallon and switch to the Prime immediately. I'm assuming there's no harm in abruptly switching brands.

Thanks for the info and tips, I appreciate it a lot.
 

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I use the Eco by itself even the water that came with the bag. I didnt add any other gravel =]

I used to do a low-light tank and I remember battling different species of algae than I do now. I think staghorn and brown algae, cant remember. Different species of algae grow in different light conditions and mostly because of nitrogen build up. Keep your nitrate 5ppm and below and you'll have less algae outbreaks. I notice at 10ppm I start to see more algae. Higher light does allow more algae to grow but I keep it in check with my CO2, I bet you 20 species of algae will appear if I discontinued it :p

Theres no harm in switching brands of conditioners.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you again, NursePlaty, I really appreciate the help and info. It sounds like I'm probably going to be dealing with algae at some point no matter what I do then.

I have been looking more at plants online, and am starting to get really confused. Before I actually buy any, I am going to post my potential list here just to make sure I'm making solid choices. I've already changed my mind from my last list lol.

I found a new plant site, AquariumPlants.com, that seems to offer a larger variety of low-light plants than the LiveAquaria site I had been looking at. There are so many to choose from, and plus it's confusing about how to plant some of them -- it seems some plants can't be put directly into the Eco-Complete at all, but rather have to be tied to something in the tank?

So much to learn!
 
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