Just bought my First EVER tank today!!

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by bowen747x, Apr 4, 2012.

  1. bowen747xValued MemberMember

    Hello Aqua Forum! Great looking community, I have been reading all the beginner guides and tips and finding all the information I have been looking for very neatly organized :) excellent source for a newbie like me! I hope I am posting in the right place, I just have a few beginner questions.

    I have been thinking about getting a tank for quite a long while now, but actually buying the tank today was very spur of the moment. I caught a great deal on a 55 gallon and considering I was originally looking at a 30 gallon, I am feeling kind of overwhelmed with the size. As I said this is my first tank (except a tiny one I had many years ago as a kid) so I have Zero experience!! I do realize all the work that is involved and I am nervous even thinking about live plants. Obviously I want to keep things very simple but, I also feel like a tank this size should not be filled with just plastic, LoL.

    I was wondering what people around here think of mixing just a few live plants in with fake plants, maybe on just one side of my tank?? Would that be tacky, or is it actually a bad idea? Is it alright to have a small area of substrate for live plants while the rest is gravel and fake plants?? I was thinking as a beginner, I could just have a few plants for "practice" to see how things go, and maybe I can add more later. Well I keep reading it is bad to move things around too much but I could keep it gradual. Also I realize the importance of a quarantine tank and will probably be setting one up in a few months, after I have a few happy fish.

    Any other beginner tips for live plants? Sorry if there are already guides out there, I just have been reading the Beginners sections as this is all completely new to me, but I will start reading the plant guides soon after finishing this post... I just need the simplest tips for starting out with plants so I do not get over whelmed. I have not made any real decisions yet on what I am doing with this tank (obviously fresh water for simplicity) as yesterday I had no idea I would have this big of a tank now, LoL... but as the next few weeks pass I will probably be around looking for help on what fish I should go with :;dete thanks for the help peace out

    One final question: any recommendations on filters? My aquarium came with an Aqueon hang-on-filter which seems pretty nice, but I think I might want a canister style? I am unsure though.

    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
  2. I keep fishWell Known MemberMember

    Welcome to Fishlore!:;hi2

    First off make sure to read up on the Nitrogen Cycle.And then make sure your ready to take the hobby to the next level!

  3. bowen747xValued MemberMember

    Definitely got that at the top of my book marks for fish related topics :) that was actually a question in the registration too! LoL

    So... according to the Nitrogen cycle, plants are helpful for removing Ammonium which is not good in the tank... but they also remove Nitrates which are good?? but then what else do they do?? Help with decomposition? So that means safer water?

    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
  4. I keep fishWell Known MemberMember

    I wouldnt say that its easier maybe less maintenance you still need to provide root tabs and fertilizer.And clean up after them.
  5. bowen747xValued MemberMember

    See I really do not know anything about plants :(
  6. I keep fishWell Known MemberMember

    this might help!
  7. bowen747xValued MemberMember

    I hope this is not a dumb question LoL... but

    How long do plants last? Obviously it varies but, what happens when plants dies... that has to be difficult to deal with

    and do the fish mind when your dealing with the plants? Like this link/guide is talking about trimming the plants and replanting them??

    That is why I asked if it is possible to have just a little area of plants mixed in with fake ones
  8. I keep fishWell Known MemberMember

    when it dies it rots away.Usally before that it will get eaten.If you have bottom feeders
  9. bowen747xValued MemberMember

    But how long do they last, how long until you replace them, I know it varies but monthly? weekly?
  10. plecodragonWell Known MemberMember

    If you are looking for simple low light plants look at Java fern, Java moss and the multitude of different anubias species. All grow fairly slowly and are tied to either pieces of driftwood, slate or other hard surfaces as they don't like to be planted-their rhisomes need to be free of the substrate(gravel). The moss generally just floats around. The fern and anubias are thus easy to move around the tank for different looks if you don't like where you put it. With driftwood the ferns and anubias are higher up in the water for the height factor or they can be lower if tied to slate tile. They are also harder to kill. Good luck with your tank.
  11. bowen747xValued MemberMember

    Yes! That is it! Moss and driftwood! That is what I will look into, thank you :)
  12. I keep fishWell Known MemberMember

    Plants do reproduce so usally there will be no replacing they will keep the cycle going.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
  13. bowen747xValued MemberMember

    Well that is if I am lucky :) Lets hope so LoL
  14. MJDutiWell Known MemberMember

    Welcome to Fishlore. I was a "noob" just over a year ago myself. You have come to a very informative, and actually friendly, site. There is a lot of experience to spread around, and many of the veterans here have very specific knowledge in many aspects of this hobby. There is a lot to learn but it is very rewarding and highly addictive, which you will soon find out.

    You seem prepared, which is one of the most important things you can do. Do your homework...with everything! Also, just remember that just cause something worked for one person doesn't necessarily mean it will work for another. My advice is to just take one thing at a time. As far as the tank itself goes, you can keep it extremely simple and add a lot of do-it-yourself things, or spend a fortune and get a fancy setup. If you want to keep it simple, just stick with gravel (nothing too big), a heater, thermometer, filter, lighting (this can be a complicated topic if you want plants), and that's all you really need. I would advise if you were to spend any extra money, spend it on the filter. Search around about filters and the media that go with it. This is a very important aspect that will keep your tank clean and fish happy. The hang-on-filter (you'll most likely see HOB - or hang-off-back) is fine, but brings with it a waterfall affect. Some people enjoy this noise, others don't (I find it soothing). Plus it will vary depending on the water level. You mentioned the canister filters. These are more expensive but give you a wider variety of media and take up less room in your tank. But require space below it. Which brings up a point. Are you placing the tank on a stand or somewhere else? Just make sure where ever you put it that it can withstand the weight. You have to include every gallon of water (1G = 8lbs), plus gravel weight, etc.

    As far as the nitrogen cycle goes...be patient. This is the hardest part, but also the most important. Many people will probably recommend the fishless cycle with pure ammonia. It is one of the quicker methods, does Not harm fish, and is the most controlled. Just read up on it, there is a plethora of information on the web about it. Don't be afraid of the large tank. You'll hear people say "bigger is better". This is because the more water volume you have, the easier it is to control the water parameters. You don't need to go crazy with every aspect of water chemistry, but you should be familiar with ammonia, nitrItes, nitrAtes, pH, gH (hardness), kH at least. Temperature can also play a big part. These aspects will be the base of how you can stock your tank, as far as fish, inverts, plants, etc. You should get a good test kit for your tank and also test your tap water so you know what you are putting back in. The only usual maintainence behind a tank are water changes. People will give you a million different answers on how much and how often you need to do it. As long as your changing the water on a regular basis (go for weekly), that's really all you need.

    In regards to plants, I agree with PlecoDragon. Stick with java ferns and java moss. You can't go wrong with them. They are extremely hardy, very easy to care for (don't really have to do anthing), and can look great. Just search for "low-light" plants online and you'll get more info.

    Now to the fun part! What do you want to stock in there?! You have a lot of options with a 55G. Just go along with your water parameters and pick what is compatible with each other. There are many different aspects to fish. Some swim at different levels, upper, mid, and lower. You want some for each level. Check for aggression. Also, many local fish stores (LFS) will sell babies. You should know how big the fish can potentially get, not only for space concerns, but for the well being of the tank's livestock and possibly plants. Some fish will eat algae, some will eat each other if you let them, some breed like rabbits, some school with each other. You can go with a species-specific tank (1 kind of fish) or a crazy community tank. Since this is your 1st time, my recommendation is to go with the community. You'll get more excitement out of it, most likely, and you get experience with many different species. Your options are plentiful. I remember hearing that fish comprise the largest number of vertebrates in the world. To make it easier on yourself, you'll want some type of cleanup crew. This can consist not only of fish, but shrimp, snails, etc.

    The last bit of advice I'll throw in for now is to take photos! Not only is it nice to have a collection of your pets and acheivements, but it helps when you are posting about something specific and people can base their answers off of what they see.
    I'm sure we can go on forever here, but keep us updated and best of luck!!!
  15. EchostaticWell Known MemberMember

    Ah yes... Lighting for plants has easily been the most overwhelming thing I have tried to figure out. There's still so much I don't know, but I apparently figured out enough to keep my plants going so far. You stand a good chance with java ferns and java moss, banana plants have been easy in my experience too. Of course, your milage may vary. I would personally recommend going all real plants and avoiding fake ones. If you're doing a few real plants, might as well go all the way. It'll look better too. If you can get some cool pieces of driftwood, you can attach java ferns and moss to it to get a really awesome look.

    (Also, plants will remove some ammonia/ammonium and nitrates, but that's all a good thing. Nitrates are generally considered bad for fish, just not nearly as bad as ammonia/nitrites.)
  16. mosaicguppyWell Known MemberMember

    If you don't get live plants, you can also get silk plants which look more realistic than plastic ones. I had two silk plants in my 10 gallon before I started adding live plants, they're safer than plastic ones because long-finned fish don't get their fins caught in it.
    Starting with low light plants is definitely a good idea, plants like java fern, java moss and anubias are excellent choices and look great attached to driftwood and other decorations. Another one of my favourites is lacefern or water sprite, it grows very fast and I've had no problems growing it in my 10 gallon low light tank. The good thing I find about this plant is the fact that it can be grown both planted or floating, I use gravel in the 10 gallon tank and it grows great.
    Dead plants should be removed before they pollute the water. I remove dead stems and leaves from my 10 gallon tank quite often, a fast growing plant like lacefern would have to be trimmed quite often and have dead stems removed.
  17. ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    Welcome to fishlore, and welcome to fish-keeping.

    As pointed out above, we have many members that are very knowledgeable, and have a wide variety of experiences in many areas.

    You've got some great info above, and some good advice/guidance.

    A 55 is a great size, and very versatile.

    In addition the above, it's also handy to try and read-up on "when things go wrong". Many of the beginner guides cover a lot of the topics, but if you're not already overloaded with info, have a read up on diatoms (a very common new-tank algae, and almost a right-of-passage), other types of algae, read up on Ich (the most common fish disease/parasite).

    You're bound to encounter a few of them along the way, so being prepared is always a good thing ;)

    Plants are great, I've had mine for years (well the ones that my catfish didn't eat :giggle:), but you don't have to start with plants if it's "too complicated" at the moment.

    I really just wanted to welcome you, and feel free to ask away.

    There's a link in my signature to some Fishlore references that I've found helpful over the years if you're interested ;)
  18. bowen747xValued MemberMember

    Thanks for all the great info! I have been looking at decor and think I am confident in just a few simple LIVE plants with driftwood and some plastic caves/decor. I am not sure what my lights are right now, I will post that information tomorrow, and I am interested in learning more about lighting later on. Silk being better then plastic is a good tip :) I do feel better about having live plants as long as it is not too much.

    As for fish, I would like to get a large variety, but I am feeling overwhelmed on the varying needs of each variety. I think shrimp would be good for cleaning, I do not like snails, Catfish are cool, but I know shrimp are small and are at risk of being eaten by other fish, but I do not want aggressive fish. I have been looking at fish types, but I have no specific choice preferences just yet.

    @mjbxc06 -
    I do like the waterfall effect :) is there any reason I would want 2 filters? Maybe a bio-wheel? I heard having 2 thermometers is a good idea, I think I want to do that. As for placement of my tank, well I was wondering about that. Like I said earlier, I was not looking at getting a 55 gallon. The only place I can fit it is on a fireplace mantle. The fireplace is disabled(not in use) and is made of bricks. The only worry I have is the top of the brick fireplace is a wooden mantle. I figure the bricks way over a ton or more and continue below into the basement like a support column so it should be the most stable position as long as the wood mantle is solid enough, it is definitely sturdy and unmovable. It will look great but I am nervous :eek: If i had a canister filter it would have to sit on a small table below and to the side of the aquarium. I do need to watch how much I spend and the only reason I wanted to use a canister filter was to keep the visibility down so are there any suggestions on keeping things invisible? Just rely on decor? Thanks for suggesting picture I definitely will keep that in mind :)

    thanks for the welcome :) your post was very informative and helpful, but a bit scary as well :( LoL I do need to know about the bad stuff too
  19. ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    You're welcome. It's not really scary, especially if you've read up on it, and are kind of prepared, it helps to avoid the panic when it does happen.

    E.g. if your tank develops diatoms (and a lot of new tanks do), you'll be able to identify it, and say to yourself "Oh yeah, they told me this could happen, nothing to worry about, just keep up the water changes etc, and they'll go away on their own", as opposed to "Oh, my tank has all this brown algae stuff, what should I do, where did I go wrong"
    Other algaes are common, and occur regularly, just knowing that helps alleviate the panic.
    Ich is very common, and probably one of the most common topics on Fishlore - knowing that we have references here on fishlore, and that it can be treated quite quickly and naturally is a relief.

    I didn't mean to scare you - it seems like you've done a great job of researching, and trying to learn as much as you can. You can rest assured we'll all help you with any questions/problems, but for some things, it's easy to think "I've messed up" and get dis-heartened, when often, it's all perfectly normal.
  20. jbdubValued MemberMember

    It's weird in some ways it will actually be easier starting with a 55g because it doesn't get the dramatic changes in water chemistry that smaller ones do. I started with a 15g and now have a 65g and it's actually less maintenance(except for the water changes)
    I knew nothing about plants to start off with and for me it was just a case of trial and error. Thankfully you have access to a wealth of knowledge on this forum so you'll have no problem putting a great tank together.

    Best of luck with it

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