Freshwater Beginner!


Hey everyone,

I'm Jamie, I'm new here. I have a functioning 120 tall reef tank (even though I kind of need a lot more corals and it's not really looking all -that- colorful and reefy even though I've had it for about eight months now) and I decided to set up my old 46 (that was my saltwater before) as a freshwater tank and I have NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING. I mean, okay, I have it set up and I have the heater and the filtration. I have an undergravel -- yes, I know, I'm going to get fifteen different opinions on it, I'm keeping it and that's the end of it, used them forever -- and also a hang-on filter. Never can have enough, in my opinion. I have a thermometer, gravel, decorations, water, a fluorescent bulb, and some pH down. Other than that I'm pretty much at a loss. I just set it up today and I'm going to begin cycling it soon -- people at the fish store recommended cycling with fish and I'm not opposed to that. However, I was surfing around looking at freshwater stuff -- I'm way excited because I don't have to make it look natural! Reef is kind of hard to get away with fluorescent blue gravel, lol. Anyway so I found a bunch of stuff about live plants and I decided I'd really, really like to get into that but I'm completely at a loss. Is the bright blue gravel okay, or do I need to kind of section stuff off and get some other substrate? What kind of plants can I have under my lighting, because I am NOT upgrading lights, I have enough lighting on my other tank to run a city, lol. If anyone can help me out with that it'd be great. I'd also like to know what fish I should look into keeping and what's compatable -- I don't want an aggressive tank. I'd like to put a betta in there, would that be okay?

Okay, now that I'm done with my questions. Haha. Thanks to everyone who actually got through that.

Hope to hear from you soon.


You're right- a lot of people (including myself) do not like ungravel filters, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I'm sure no one will bother you IF it works for you, that's awesome!

Also, I would not recommend cycling with fish. It's kind of equivalent to testing products on animals. At the cycling level, you're water quality isn't near what it recommended for healthy "fish living". The fish that you cycle with will most likely be very unhappy, and will also most likely die in the process. It has happened to the best of us. There are a lot of awesome products out there (someone will have to help me on this, because I have never used) that are used for fishless cycling, and their purpose is to speed up the cycling process to be ready for fish as soon as possible.
There are also non chemical ways to cycle without fish. FOr instance, I have heard that some people put fish food in the tank daily to feed an "ammonia" source, and thus kickstart the formation of beneficial bacteria. I have also heard of people buying a raw shrimp from the supermarket and throwing it into their tank and letting it decompose as an ammonia source. (The purpose of cycling, in case you didn't know, is to form beneficial bacteria, which lies mostly in your filter media, but also in your gravel/substrate as well. This "good" bacteria converts ammonia, which is extremely toxic to fish, in any numbers, to nitrite, which is still dangerous, but less toxic. Then the "good" bacteria converts nitrite into nitrate, which is even less toxic, and then eventually gets rid of the nitrate as well. Whew!)

Thirdly, You wanted live plants that were low maitenance? Visit and you can view all different kinds of aquatic plants. You can sort on this site by Difficulty to keep, and Lighting. The two most popular plants that I know of that are low maitenance (and require low lighting) are Java Fern and Anubias Nana. You can attach both to a piece of driftwood and their roots will eventually establish themselves in the wood. Hardly work at all, as far as I've heard I am going to try some anubias myself this weekend

Finally, Welcome to FishLORE!!!. I know you will be happy here. We have plenty of boards and topics to keep you busy for days, months, years, lol And we are always happy to answer questions. BTW, My name is Jaime too

PS> I think mine was longer than yours!!! lol -- but it is hard for us to say if a betta will work fine in your tank. If you would be able to give us a list of fish that you were interested in keeping, we could help you out in the compatibility factor


Oh and also, I wouldn't recommend that you use any chemicals such as pH down. It is better for your fish to have a constant pH that is a little off "neutral" than it is for a fish to constantly have to adjust to a fluctuating pH (and that is most likely what this product will do -- heard many horror stories about it). There are also some fish that prefer higher pH's anyway


a word about your UGF (undergravel filter), if anyone tells you to get a power filter to "help" it, don't as the power filter will pull stuff away from the UGF and the UGF will pull stuff away from the pwer filter.
good luck!


Welcome to FishLore!!!!
As you can see you got some excellent advice right off the bat.
This link will help you get off to a good start and is good reading

Depending on what you put in the tank with it, a Betta would love the tank.


Thank you all for all of your advice! I can't wait to get started.


Let us know if you have ne more questions

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