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Getting into aquariums and it's just been research, research, research. Settled on freshwater as I have a 45 gallon (48x13x17 inches) plus saltwater would be more work. I've been looking at amazon mostly, I'm not limiting myself to a region but just to make it easier to group requirements.

Is there a data base where I can search fish by requirements so that I can just see a list of fish that would be able to live in a certain size tank with a certain temp and Ph range?

So far I've decided on a Biowheel filter - Emperor 400. I read that I needed an UGF but after doing more research I've found they only work in certain conditions and are basically not worth it. I'm going to get a very fine sand for substrate as I want to get striped raphael catfish and they let their stomachs graze the bottom and gravel could cut them up I hear, also for burrowing. I want to have it planted, I don't know much about plants, can I just stick it right in the gravel or sand and then it's health depends on the water quality and lighting?

And for people who don't feel like reading that, here's a checklist instead. (essentials only)
Filter
Water test strips
substrate
heater
hiding places
water conditioners (??)
bucket for water changes


This question has a lot of variables but on average how much would food cost per month for a tank around that size?
 

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Pleco n bn breeder n BOSS
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Filter--- A bio wheel will work fine as long as you don't overstock

Water test strips---Get a liquid test kit, more reliable and lasts longer

substrate---You want sand, there is several choices, just make sure you get one that won't change your water chemistry.

heater--- Personally I prefer one that can be submerged completely.

hiding places---depending on the fish, you can use rockwork, clay flowerpots, pvc pipe. If you use rock make sure it won't raise you ph. put the rock in a sink or bucket and drop some muritic acid on it. find it in pool supply sections (more dependable than vinegar) if it fizzs it will raise your ph to high levels.

water conditioners (??)---Most any that removes chlorine and chloramine, and metals will work, I prefer prime. Cost more, but use less.

bucket for water changes---if possible get a python, easier and faster.

Plants, depends on the lighting you choose. there is high light that will need lots of ferts, co2 and lots of trimming, medium light ferts are still needed but not as much, co2 would be your choice, but plants do better with it. Low light some ferts, co2 your choice. and with sand you will also need to use fert tabs.

You can also put a layer of peat moss then top off with sand, does a good job in helping your plants. but can be messy if you are prone to moving plants around.

A good place to start on reading about different fish would be aquahobby.com and look in the gallery. They also have a garden section that will tell you requirements of several types of plants.

Hope this helps!
 

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How much food cost will depend on type and number of fish you choose.

For all my tanks food is around $30 or so dollars a month. I have 2 oscars, 2 Jack dempsey adults, 11 juvenile Jack Dempseys, 1 convict, 3 tetras, 1 glass eel and 1 plecostomus.

But If it was just the tetras and plecostomus then it would only take $2 a month.
 
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