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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I'm a relative novice at fishkeeping and previous kept a tank for 5 years without too much drama. It all went wrong after I bought some very boring looking algea eaters from Pets at Home. They had an infection and killed all my fish and died themselves. Then my wife brought a baby girl into the world and I've left the tank empty for obvious reasons.


I'd like to start up again but read a guide in an aquatics book and they recommend using laterite. I looked into it a little and read contradictory advice, so I thought I would ask someone.

I'm also wondering whether to stay with tropicals or switch to coldwater fish, but have no idea of the pros and cons. I did hear they are messier so I would need more frequent water changes. Is that true?

Aside from laterite is there any other kit you would recommend. I have the standard filter and heater that came with the jewel and an air stone.

A key element for me is ease of maintenance, as I've now got a very busy and helpful three year old.

Finally, are the filters re-usable or do I need fresh ones? The tank is dry with just gravel. I intend to empty it, wash the gravel and clean the glass inside with warm water and a new (unused) soft green washing up scourer.
Then maybe add laterite, then gravel on top, then plant it out and leave water for a few weeks. Then when I've happy with the plants, add some fish. If I stay tropical I think 12 max. If coldwater, three or four tops.
Oh and to be pro-active this time and not panic when I come home to see fish gasping at the surface because nitrate is too high, I'm going for the Seneye monitor to warn me early ;).

Any thoughts on the plan?


thanks in advance,

Mike
 

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Hi, I'm no expert myself so can't answer all your questions, but I'll have a go at some of them :)

I'm also wondering whether to stay with tropicals or switch to coldwater fish, but have no idea of the pros and cons. I did hear they are messier so I would need more frequent water changes. Is that true?
It's true for goldfish, they are very messy fish and need loads of space and excellent filtration. I'm not 100% sure (hopefully someone else will be along to confirm in a bit :)) but I think with your tank size you'd be OK for 3 or 4 fancy goldfish such as veiltails or lionheads, but ideally not common goldfish or comets as they can grow very large and are happiest in ponds. Another coldwater option is white cloud mountain minnows, which are very hardy and easy to keep. They're shoaling fish so you'd need a group of at least 5 or 6, but you could keep them alongside a couple of fancy goldfish if you wanted some variety :)

Another option, since you already have a heater, is a temperate setup, with the heater set to a low temperature so it only comes on when your room temp drops too low. This opens up a lot more options for types of fish you could keep, including platys, paradise fish, zebra or leopard danios, and various types of barbs, as well as the wcm minnows again. (Just do some research obviously on what's compatible with what before you buy!)

Finally, are the filters re-usable or do I need fresh ones?
I've got a second-hand Juwel aquarium myself and am re-using the coarse and fine blue sponges, and it seems to be working fine :) You'll need to replace the white wool pad, and the carbon sponge if you intend on using one (lots of aquarists don't, and replace it with an extra blue sponge instead.)

I intend to empty it, wash the gravel and clean the glass inside with warm water and a new (unused) soft green washing up scourer.
Then maybe add laterite, then gravel on top, then plant it out and leave water for a few weeks. Then when I've happy with the plants, add some fish.
Do you know about fishless cycling? This is the single most important thing you can do to reduce the risk of losing fish.

I don't know anything about laterite, but if you want easy and low-maintenance plants, I recommend java fern and anubias. You can buy them anchored to bogwood or rocks, or do this yourself, which means you don't have to worry about planting them in the substrate. They don't need high lighting levels or anything much in the way of maintenance, either.

Oh and to be pro-active this time and not panic when I come home to see fish gasping at the surface because nitrate is too high, I'm going for the Seneye monitor to warn me early
Never heard of seneye monitor I'm afraid, but I'd get an API master test kit (if you don't already) and test regularly for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.

Oh and I wouldn't go Pets at Home again either, I've heard too many horror stories! ;)

Hope some of this is helpful to you, and I'm sure someone else will be along in a bit to give you much better advice than I can!
 

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Goldfish are messier than tropical’s but you can buy other coldwater fish such as Danios, although they are typically kept in tropical tanks we do sell them acclimatised to cooler temperatures around 18C. Before you buy such fish you should ensure that your tank has a stable temp.
 

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Hi,

Oh and to be pro-active this time and not panic when I come home to see fish gasping at the surface because nitrate is too high, I'm going for the Seneye monitor to warn me early ;).

Any thoughts on the plan?

thanks in advance,

Mike
Seneye wont warn for nitrate.Ammonia,ph,light and temperature.And you have to have it plugged into a PC all the time.Change of the slide once a month,which are about £6.I wouldnt waste your money.I am admin on a fish forum,and seneye gave me one to review.I added ammonia to the water,,in a bucket,but because it had risen very high very fast,the device didnt understand it or send me a warning,so it seems a waste of time to me
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Thanks Naomi. I missed the replies because I haven't had chance to login and didn't get any forum email...

Anyway, I thought 4 fish was about right. I didn't know common goldfish grow that big though!

I've bitten the bullet and started. Cleaning the gravel and tank took several hours and I missed Rylan singing on X-factor too - gutted ;).

I will look into the fishless cycle and stock some plants before I get any fish as you suggested. I've not heard of temperate fish but that sounds like a great idea too :).

Thanks for your advice.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi Holly,

Yes, just looked. They've updated their site and they do indeed sell the slide for £6 a month. Not very attractive of them. I was just looking for something to help avoid nitrate loading. When I first started about 6 years ago i struggled with the balancing act of fish/plants/oxgyen. I seemed to be forever doing emergency water changes. I never lost a fish through that mind. I only lost them through infection, and the occasionally eating smaller fry.

I have decided to get better planting first and also got a bubble counter thing. I gave up on getting laterite as it seems hard to find anyway.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for your replies all. One thing I forgot to mention is snails. I bought plants from mail order before because Pets at Home have only about 4 types :D. The plants were fine but they always came with "friends" - snails.
The worst time was the time they bred and I refused to resort to poison as I'd only just got the balance right, but I thought I was never going to stop scooping them out of the tank!!

I want decent plants. What do I do to stop snail infestations besides wash them plants gently before planting?

Mike
 

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Thanks for your replies all. One thing I forgot to mention is snails. I bought plants from mail order before because Pets at Home have only about 4 types :D. The plants were fine but they always came with "friends" - snails.
The worst time was the time they bred and I refused to resort to poison as I'd only just got the balance right, but I thought I was never going to stop scooping them out of the tank!!

I want decent plants. What do I do to stop snail infestations besides wash them plants gently before planting?

Mike
The most common snails that you get "free" with plants are bladder snails, which won't actually harm your plants and will eat algae, but if you do want to keep their numbers down, a 'natural' solution is to get an assassin snail or two, as they will hunt and kill the other snails!

If you've had nitrate problems in the past, have you checked the nitrate levels in your tap water? Mine is about 50ppm :eek:, so I've had to buy a gadget to reduce tap water nitrate, otherwise I'd just be adding more nitrate when I do water changes!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hi Naomi,

There were hundreds of snails, so it got a bit much. I like the idea of assasin snails. I'll try that if I get a repeat.

I've got a few plants now after dragging my other half around two local aquarium shops in rather dodgy areas around Heathrow. The first was totally disinterterested and seemed put out at having to stop faffing around on her phone to serve me. She seemed like a miserable version of a Tim Burton film. The second was a lot more helpful.

I did test my tap water when I very first started and it was OK-ish. I'll test again to be on the safe side. I prefer to avoid chemicals as much as I can, but even more now I've got a very busy 3yr old.

The bad news is the light hood worked briefly then I heard a thud and a sizzle and it went dark, so I'm going to try an LED strip instead and see if it's any good. I don't want to spend £90 on a new hood if I can avoid it!

thanks again,

Mike
 
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