Final Check, Secondary Opinions, and a Few Questions Before Diving In

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by sentiax, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. sentiaxNew MemberMember


    I'm new here, and over the past few weeks I've come to the realization that when I was younger I absolutely loved having an aquarium, and that I miss having one dearly. I know myself and my parents frequently had problems with my aquarium such as algae buildup, fish randomly dying, cloudy water, and the list goes on, but being older now, and an information junkie, I started researching fish, aquariums, the process, what we were doing wrong, how to do it right, etc etc, (this site was an amazing help) and have come to what I think is at least a good basic but thorough understanding of all that goes into properly owning and maintaining a healthy aquarium and happy fish and am ready to start the process of establishing my own little fish haven in my place.

    Before entering into my plans, what I would like to own as far as fish, and my questions, I will provide all the information I can about what parts I have purchased within my income and willingness to invest.

    • 10 Gallon Fishtank (the one from when I was a kid, it's currently soaking to remove some fogginess from the glass, it's a 20" x 10" x 12", and has a nice metal stand)
    • 15lbs of Topfin Premium Aquarium Gravel
    • AquaClear 30 150GPH Power Filter
    • Aqeuon 50 Watt Submerisble Aquarium Heater
    • 100mL of Tetra AquaSafe plus
    • 100mL of Tetra SafeStart
    • 4.0 fl oz of Aqueon pH Minus and Plus
    • Aquarium Pharmacuticals Freshwater Master Test Kit

      is a photo of all the items I currently have on hand, aside from the tank and stand.

    Tomorrow, I am going to purchase a thermometer, gravel vacuum, some extra filters, two 5 gallon buckets, and a hood light (mine was lost, any recommendations for sustaining a fair amount of plant life and providing decent light are welcome), and unless I'm mistaken that should be just about everything I need as far as equipment and maintenance goes (please correct me if I'm wrong!)

    Onto my ambitions: After much consideration, deliberation, and research, I've decided the fish I would like to have most are Dwarf Puffers. I'm not set on this, but I'm fascinated with them and from what I've read and watched the have very diverse, entertaining, have developed personalities, and are highly intelligent as far as fish come. I also quite enjoy that they are rather aggressive and predatory. Unless I'm mistaken, assuming I have proper flora and hiding spots, two should be fine in a 10 gallon tank, and this is my goal. I understand that 10 gallons is not a whole lot for puffers, even dwarfs, but I've read that a lot of people have successfully maintained 2 to 4 in 10 gallons quite happily. I also understand that they are a moderately advanced fish to take on as a first proper aquarium set up, but I'm up for the challenge. I understand cycling well (I minored in chemistry, so it makes chemical, biological, and ecological sense to me), I have plenty of time to clean, maintain, and change water in the tank, and I have the space to keep the tank safely.

    So what I guess this really comes down to is some of my questions:
    • Am I missing anything?
    • Are there any species of fish you would recommend over dwarf puffers that would interest me in the same way?
    • Are there any particular plants I should be looking at that will thrive and provide ample cover without overwhelming the tank?
    • Is there any reason I souldn't get dwarf puffers?

    I think that just about covers it, if you've endured my wall of text to this point thank you very much, and thanks in advance for any responses and assistance this post receives.

  2. kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    Welcome to FishLore! :;toast It's always great when people have clearly done lots of research already; I commend you! :)

    A few things:

    1. Your filter may be a tad strong. Generally with HOB filters ("hang-on-back") you aim for 8-10x filtration as the volume of the tank. That is, for a 10 gallon tank, you would want a filter that provided 80-100 gallons per hour flow rate, but your filter is 150GPH. I am not familiar with puffers and do not know if they dislike a strong flow, so I'll let others comment on that. I have an AC 70 on my 20 gallon and the flow is definitely pretty strong! My fish do not seem to mind. :)

    2. How recently did you purchase your supplies? If it was not too long ago and you have the receipt, I would return the pH Plus and Minus products. Fish can adapt to a wide range of pH levels if given enough time to acclimate. If you see on a website that a fish needs a certain pH range, this is simply the range the the wild variety lives in; for example, a certain type of tetra may be listed as requiring a pH of 7.4-7.8. But your fish will not be wild-caught. They were tank-bred and raised and lived in normal tapwater. It might not have the exact same pH as you - which is why you should slowly acclimate them when you buy them - but they will live in it just fine. An exception is that some fish require a certain pH to breed, but if you don't want to breed your puffers then I wouldn't worry about it. ;) Constantly having to change the pH is stressful on the fish. If you think about it, let's say your pH is 8.0, and you want it at 7.0. So you add some pH minus and get it to 7.0. Next water change you add a bunch of 8.0-water, so it goes back up to 7.5. So you add some pH Minus; oops! too much, went down to 6.5. See what I mean? Fish do not tolerate changes in pH very well. I hope that made sense :p

    3. As I said I don't know a lot about puffers, but some are brackish fish (IE they prefer water that is slightly saline); but I'm sure another member can help you more with that.

    4. Many members have had great success with Tetra SafeStart! I haven't used it myself, but I hear the instructions on the bottle leave a bit to be desired. Here's a thread that explains the product better, in case you haven't seen it:

    It sounds like you have a great handle on fishkeeping, for just getting back in the hobby! Feel free to ask any other questions as they come up, and I hope you enjoy the site (now that you're officially a member ;)) :)

  3. oscarsbudWell Known MemberMember

    Hi and Welcome!

    It seems to me that you have just about everything covered. One thing I would tell you is that you don't need the stuff for pH. Most all fish are adaptable to whatever the pH is in your water supply. I'm sure there are exceptions, but I don't think puffers is one of them. If the pH is constantly changing - which is what happens when you dose with that stuff - it is much harder on the fish.

    Don't change the filter media on your HOB. That is where the beneficial bacteria lives. When you do a water change, gently swish out the media in the removed tank water and put it back into the filter. You can use the same filter media until it is falling apart.

    Are you going to do a fishless or fish-in cycle? If you are doing a fishless cycle, you don't need the SafeStart.
    I don't know that much about puffers so can't advise you on them at all.

    That's all I feel comfortable advising you about. I'm still learning as I go also.

    Good luck and welcome to the funny farm of fishkeeping.

    Ninja'd again :;nin2

    Last edited: Jan 10, 2013
  4. sentiaxNew MemberMember

    Thanks for your reply!

    1. I thought about buying the AquaClear 20 on Amazon for $20, about $7 cheaper than this one at Petsmart, but I actually have the intention to eventually upgrade to a 30 Gallon tank within the year, so it was sort of a futureproofing purchase, and the Petsmart employee informed me that with Aquaclear's new Fluval products they actually discontinued the 10-20 Gallon model and instead have replaced it with this 10-30 (I'm unsure how true this is, all I know is it says it replaces the former blue packaging aquaclear filter, the one I was considering on amazon, and that they did not have the 20 gallon version in store)

    2. I purchased all of this today, so I will be returning the pH adjusters tomorrow. It was a cautionary purchase because I was unsure whether I would need it or whether it was advisable, and was on sale.

    3. I'm positive Dwarf Puffers are 100% freshwater, from what I've read, brackish water can severely shorten their life span.

    4. This FAQ is EXACTLY what I was looking for. From some other posts on this forum and others, I'm under the impression that InstantOcean (Marineland) and Tetra worked together and patented the bacteria used in Bio-Spira, and then pulled the fresh water Bio-Spira and re-branded it under the name Tetra SafeStart, so I think they are the same thing, and it was mentioned directly by name on the site I've done most of my research on the puffers on.

    Thanks so much for your advice! Saved me several dollars!
  5. kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    If you find the flow of the AC 30 to be too strong, some members have made baffles out of plastic water bottles. I haven't done it myself but I'm sure you could find someone who did. Great thinking with buying a bigger filter for a bigger tank! You'll soon learn that MTS is a contagious condition that runs rampant on FishLore..."Multiple Tank Syndrome" ;) I started with a 10 gallon and now have 100 gallons' worth of fish tanks in my apartment :p
  6. sentiaxNew MemberMember

    As advised, I will be returning the pH adjusters tomorrow, I will be doing a fishless cycle, and from what I understand, the SafeStart will greatly accelerate the rate at which it will occur, that is the reason I am using it.
  7. sentiaxNew MemberMember

    Haha, thanks, as far as MTS, it's a distinct possibility, but I'm also a firearm and computer enthusiast, and love my dogs, so I got to keep some money back for them as well!
  8. kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

  9. oscarsbudWell Known MemberMember

    I have HOBs with the waterfall-type outflow on both my 10 gallon tanks that are actually too big for them. And I have a betta in each and they don't like the strong current. So I stuffed a piece of foam at the top of each where the outflow is and it cut down on the current considerably.

    And, as stated above, mts is alive and well and running rampant all through this forum. I started out with 1 tank and now have 4 running plus 3 I'm trying to figure out where to put them so my husband will think they have been there forever.
  10. sentiaxNew MemberMember

    I was going to use pure ammonia with the SafeStart. If my understanding is correct, SafeStart is an active culture, and dumping it in and adding pure ammonia will cause the bacteria to rapidly multiply and the water to spike in a fairly short period of time, and I should be able to have it down to 10 hour cycles in a few days, that way my fish won't have to go through a massive spike at all (2 dwarf puffers produce minimal waste in a 10 gallon tank, especially a properly cycled one, as messy as they are).
  11. kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

  12. sentiaxNew MemberMember

    So I ended up returning the Aquaclear filter, it was cracked, they had no more 30 Gallon versions, so I replaced it with a Marineland 100GPH biowheel. It's super quiet so that's nice, and was the other filter directly mentioned by name in on I've decided to go with fish cycling using the Safestart, so I purchased a few neons and plants, the safestart is in and a few tetras will be going in momentarily. I also discovered that a new hood lamp costs about as much as a starter kit at most of my local pet stores, so I just ended up buying a whole other 10 gallon aquarium starter kit, and so now I have an extra filter and tank (even if the filter is some off brand one, it's nice to have backup). I think I may make the extra 10 gallon into a betta tank. I'll be purchasing the puffers in about a month probably.
  13. oscarsbudWell Known MemberMember

    And so another person has been struck down with the dreaded disease known as MTS ;) Congratulations :;toast!

    Don't forget, pictures are an unwritten law around here and we would love to see what your tank looks like when it is up and running.
  14. sentiaxNew MemberMember

    For anyone that may still be following this thread, or interested in my setup, I've posted updates, pictures, and a rescaping here and here

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