My tank confuses me! Help

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Starshine86, Apr 9, 2010.

  1. Starshine86New MemberMember

    Hi everyone! I set up my tropical fish tank yesterday, after several weeks of research, and I'm still trying to get my head around a few things. I don't know anyone else who keeps fish, so there's no one to ask, but all my googling has lead me to this website, and people seem to know what they're talking about.

    I have kept goldfish as a teenager but admittedly I wasn't the best carer, and they didn't really survive all that well. But I've always been fascinated by fish, and this time I'm determined to do it properly. Hence the copious amounts of research.

    I've decided a tropical tank provides me with many more types of fish, and gives me a few amazing kinds to aim for as I get better at looking after them (I've got my eye on some amazing looking discuses, but that might wait for a year or three...).

    Anyway, I have a 50 litre tank that I got off ebay (second hand) which has a filter and light inbuilt into the hood. I've also got a heater, but I'm a bit concerned about that too. So, to make things simple, I might just list a few questions. I'd appreciate any advice you can give me, and apologise in advance for the length of this post!

    1. The tank I have has a filter built into the hood, but I don't understand how to use it?! Yes, I should have asked the guy when a bought it, but I didn't and now I'm confused. Once the water is brought up from the tank, the water sprouts out the tube through pin holes and onto a thin black sponge-looking thing... so is that it? Is that the filter material? Or am I supposed to put filter wool in there or something? I'm hoping some of you have a filter vaguely like this? Please excuse my ignorance! If my description doesn't make sense I can try to post some photos?

    2. The heater I've been given seems fairly standard... I think? I've never used one before. It's a long glass cylinder but I'm confused about the fact that the electrical cord just comes straight out the top. How are you supposed to avoid it getting wet then? I'm tempted to buy a new heater anyway, just because this one doesn't seem to have a simple dial to read or anything, and it seems like this is the most likely piece of electrical equipment to be a potential problem.

    3. Obviously I won't be getting any fish for a while, because I need to wait for the cycle (which I haven't started yet because I'm still working out filter and heater issues). But I've done a bit of research into the fish I'd like, and I'm really interested in the Dwarf Gouramis. From the research I've done, they seem to be a useful size, and not too fussy. But I'm confused about whether I can have multiple Dwarf Gouramis or not? I understand they can be aggressive if there are too many. Is it better to just get one or two and have a community tank instead? And if so, what sort of fish would be compatible?

    I think that's it for now. Thanks for your help! I can't wait to get my fish!
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 9, 2010
  2. stefjaneValued MemberMember

    Hi there!
    Yes that black sponge looking thing is the filter media. There's usually some carbon in there. You can choose to use this, though you say that the tank is second hand so the sponge is probably old and used and worn. The carbon will be worn and unusable as well (if there's any) There might be some ceramic rings below the sponge...can you take it out?
    The heater will just sit vertically in the water. Some are fully submersible so that the entire heater (including some of the cord) can sit completely under water. Some are not and the top of the heater has to stick out of the water. There should be a line indicating the minimum water level line. That is the minimum that heater should be submersed at all times when it is on. If the heater doesn't have a dial or anything, you probably should get another one so that you can actually control the temperature of the tank.
    And I'm sorry I don't really know anything about Dwarf Gouramis...someone else will help you there!
    Hope this helps,
  3. jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    Welcome to FishLore!

    In that size tank you only want to have one Dwarf Gourami.

    I used to have an aquarium called an Eclipse12. It was a 12 gallon tank with a filter built into the hood. It then had a cartridge that had some floss material over a plastic frame, then inside the frame there was some carbon. It also had a bio-wheel (I pleated cylinder that would spin as the water passed thru). The theory being you could replace the cartridge without losing all of you benifical bacteria since it would also be in the bio-wheel.

    It sounds like your filter is a little different, but I would assume the sponge is you filter media. It might be helpful to post a photo.

    Good luck!
  4. Starshine86New MemberMember

    Thanks guys. It's such a relief to have a place I can ask questions! Google only gets you so far.

    I had a look under the sponge, and there are ceramic rings under there... what do they do? I might get a new sponge... will go to an aquarium shop and see if they can help me, now that I have a vague understanding of how it works.

    And I think I've accepted the fact that I can only have one dwarf gourami, no matter how much I want more. Now it just remains for me to decide on colour and tankmates. I've been looking at guppies and platy, which seem good. I did wonder about a small catfish of some kind, but there are so many of them?! I'll have to do some more research.
  5. jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    The ceramic rings are where the majority of your benificial bacteria will live. Their porous surfaces are great from "growing" bacteria.

    So basically the sponge is for doing the "course" filtering (and bacteria also grows there). The ceramic rings for "growing" bacteria (so you don't lose your cycle when you clean/replace the sponge). And generally there is carbon somewhere in a filter also. It isn't necessary though and many people choose not to use it.

    Additionally you may want to look into Honey Gourami's. They are similar to Dwarf Gourami's but can live with others of their own kind.
  6. christine828Valued MemberMember

    To comment on the types of fish, Gourami's are great, I love my Opaline (Blue) Gourami. We also had a dwarf gourami a while back, though not at the same time. It's so cool how they sometimes look like they're upside down if you look at them a certain way. But, I have read, most are very territorial and some will even fight to the death. I have mine in a community tank and he does well with the others. I had some issues and lost some of my fish but I do have a platy in with him and they hang out under the log together.

    I like platys too because there are so many different types, if you want a variety or colors but want to stick to the same type of fish, platys are great. The "mickey mouse" platy is my fav, unfortunately, we lost ours.

    Guppies are awesome fish as well, just be sure to research any other fish you decide to put in there to ensure they aren't fin nippers, they can't resist that beautiful tail fin of the mail guppy.

    We have had all three types of fish in our community tank together and they all did very well together.
  7. jetajockeyFishlore VIPMember

    welcome to FL, I suggest with your tank size to just keep one dwarf gourami as a centerpiece, you might have aggression issues with any more. You could always play it by ear, but always have a backup plan in case things don't go well, either talk to the LFS and see if they'll take any offending fish back or have a backup tank in case they have to be separated. Ive even seen some guppies and platies with wicked mood swings and temperment issues, so its possible even in normally peaceful community fish.
  8. LyndaBFishlore LegendMember

    :;hi2 Welcome!

    You've picked a great forum to gather knowledge and do your research. There are a lot of really great fishkeepers (and great people) here.

    I'm glad you stopped by to ask questions. Just remember, no question is a dumb one. We were all "beginners" at some point. ;)
  9. Starshine86New MemberMember

    Thanks everyone. I went out and got a new heater today which fits the tank much better. I thought it was worth getting one I had a bit of confidence in since that's the one piece of electrical equipment submerged in the water. It's working really well and the tank is now a solid 26 degrees C.

    After doing some more research, I've resigned myself to the fact that I can only get one dwarf gourami. I'll probably also get some platys and guppies, and possibly a catfish if I can find one that stays fairly small. I looked at mollies, but I read that they can be a bit difficult?

    Anyway, my main issue now is actually starting the water cycle. I want to do a fishless cycle (although the man at the aquarium store I went to today tried to get me to buy 10 neon tetras straight away to get it going... Don't think I'll go back there. I've seen in a lot of these forum threads people are talking about special products you can buy to help the cycle along, but I haven't had much luck finding that sort of thing in Australia. Are there any Aussies on this forum that can shed some light?

    Anyway, thanks again. I can't wait to get my new fish!