New tank! General advice is appreciated

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Questionclaw

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Hello Fishlore! I've been lurking the forum for weeks and became extremely paranoid, so I decided to come forward and ask for help.

My sister gifted me a Boyu MS-320 back on March 1st. Capacity is about 3 gallons, it comes with a LED lamp attached to the lid that for some reason has white, red and blue bulbs that create a really cool looking pink shade of light (any reason for this?).

It comes with an overhead filter, I don't really know what type of filter it qualifies as but it siphons water from the lower right corner of the tank, into a tube that cascades the water through a cotton-like sponge and then back into the aquarium. The box says it pushes about 40 gal/hour. I don't like having it on at all times because there's a couple of clumsy swimmers, but I leave it running for about two hours daily to get rid of the bigger contaminants.

Here's a pic of it! It's been set up for a month with rocks and plants from a cycled tank. I started adding livestock gradually after week one. I only kept an aquarium once when I was much younger, and even though it was moderately successful, I obviously didn't take proper care of it by a long shot.


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I wasn't present during the setup, but I've had the opportunity to talk with the person who did it. It has a generic "mineral-enriched substrate" that looks like pebbles, but has started slowly decomposing into something more resembling of soil. On top of it there's regular smooth pebbles, which were new and not from another tank.

Unfortunately I can't identify the plants (other than a bit of duckweed I was given by a friend) so that's the first thing that I'd appreciate getting help with.


As for the livestock:

The centerpiece is a juvenile african dwarf frog that seems to be doing OK. I think I got lucky because I haven't had any trouble feeding it and it hunts down the food without any encouragement. I've been alternating between betta pellets (which it loves) and regular flakes, and feed the tank every other day.

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An otocinclus. I was very concerned about it because I read that their survivability is really low, but it's actually grown a bit since its arrival, remains very active and seems to be thriving. It feeds on the glass, plants and gravel all day, and I put in a thin slice of boiled zucchini overnight once a week. He goes crazy over it.

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Next, a flying fox. This guy is all over the place, constantly scrubbing the plants. It also eats flakes and has tried to munch on a betta pellet once or twice, but doesn't seem to like them. It's a regular attendant of zucchini party too.

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In addition, I have two kuhli loaches that live under the big rock, which is slightly raised. They're timid, but incredibly active at night. They feed on the flakes and pellets that sink to the bottom, and I've seen them curious about the zuchinni but I can't say for sure if they eat from it.

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I've been doing 30% water changes weekly and lightly scrubbing the front glass with a sponge attached to a stick. I live in a tropical country, so the temperature is always hovering around 68-70 degrees. You might have noticed that the tank is in direct sunlight. It's placed so that it receives plenty of heat during the morning hours so the temp raises to 75-77, depending on the weather. By noon the sun no longer shines on it, but the temperature remains constant until night.

I haven't done any water parameter tests yet (this has me on my nerves) but I ordered an API master test kit and it's already on the way, along with a bottle of HBH frog bites. I also plan on getting two or three cherry shrimp to make sure any and all waste is at least moved around a bit, but because of the quarantine I haven't been able to go pick them up.

I'd appreciate any feedback you could give me, but I also have some specific questions. To summarize:
  • Since I have two algae feeders, I know it's better if I leave some of it growing freely in the thank. Judging by the pictures, how much is too much? Should I clean the glass more, or diminish the amount of sunlight hours?
  • Am I on the verge of overcrowding? Are the shrimp a bad idea?
  • What plants do I have? Should I inject CO2?
  • Is the temperature change throughout the day a cause for concern? Should I try to stick to the same temperature 24/7?
  • Are the feeding habits I'm keeping ok?
  • Should I be keeping the filter on at all times?

As you can probably tell, I'm extremely nervous, but also extremely excited about my aquarium. Thanks in advance for all the help you can provide!
 

LifeGivesYouLemonOscars

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Stop turning off your filter
 
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Questionclaw

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LifeGivesYouLemonOscars said:
Stop turning off your filter
Makes total sense, I just didn't feel comfortable because the frog and loaches don't seem to appreciate the constantly moving water, and become very restless. I guess they'll have to cope .
 

LifeGivesYouLemonOscars

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Another thing is I would get it out of direct sunlight. You will get algae blooms and temperature spikes.
 

CrayfishAreAwesome

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your tank is VERY overstocked. flying foxes grow to 5 inches, kuhlis are like little hot dogs when full grown and you need more. get yourself a 20-30 gallon and put them in it once cycled AND ADD MORE KUHLIS. if not possible, return the kuhlis and flying fox. if you do route 2, some shrimp MIGHT be fine.



EDIT: Agree with below
 

DuaneV

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Honestly, you are way overcrowded now for a 3 gallon. Id only put a single Betta in a 3 gallon, and even 3 gallons is a little less than ideal. 3 gallons is really only enough for some shrimp or a snail.

The tank shouldnt be sitting in direct sunlight. The temps will fluctuate too much.

Your ADF needs a much larger tank. Like 15-20 anyway.

Your Kuhli would do better in a small group (4-6) AND it needs temps WAY warmer than you're keeping it at. 82-84 would be ideal for him. He won't survive in 68-77 with it going up and down.

Your Flying Fox is all over the place because the tanks WAY too small. He needs like 30 gallons, especially since he'll be 5 inches when full grown.

Your tank will have an ammonia spike soon, then a nitrite spike. Its really way overstocked and incorrectly stocked.
 

JettsPapa

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Welcome to the forum. Other than that, I don't have anything to add to the above except to say that most of us started out making similar mistakes so don't feel like you're the only one. I'm sure it won't be long until you're answering questions and helping other people.
 

CrayfishAreAwesome

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yeah. my origanal stocking plan for my 10 gallon was 8 lyretali mollies, a pictus and a striped rapheal catfish. luckily, my mother made me do research.
 
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Questionclaw

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Thanks for all the help! So the main problem seems to be the size of the tank, especially since most of what I already have will grow several inches. I could tell it was already a little bit "cozy", but I suppose everything has worked out so far because all of them are probably juveniles. I hadn't considered that, and it's definitely not sustainable in the long term.

DuaneV, what do you mean exactly when you say it's "incorrectly stocked"? Would it not be enough to move my current stock to a cycled 20~gal?
 

CrayfishAreAwesome

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it'll work (if not crowded) long term.
 

fishkeeper19524

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Otocinclus prefer to live in groups of at least 5 and should have a larger tank, I made the same mistake of only getting one oto when I started out.
 

DuaneV

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[QUOTE="Questionclaw, post: 4525494, member: 122449"
DuaneV, what do you mean exactly when you say it's "incorrectly stocked"? Would it not be enough to move my current stock to a cycled 20~gal?
[/QUOTE]

Incorrectly stocked as in not suitable for a 3 gallon AND not suitable for each other AND not in proper groups. Your Kuhlis need REALLY warmer temps than the others. They are a very particular fish and one of the few that do much better in warmer water (82-84) and not so great in cooler temps (less than 78).

Your Kuhli needs 82-84
Flying Fox needs mid to upper 70's
Oto needs mid to upper 70's
ADF wants upper 70's

You COULD move everyone (minus the Kuhlis) to a 30 gallon (minimum for a Flying Fox in my opinion as they get big and are active) and keep the tank at 78, but you can NOT have it in the sun and it HAS to have a heater set on 78. Its on the upper end for the Otos and Flying Fox, but it will just make their metabolism a little faster, making them a little more hungry, active and it might shorten their life span a little. If you keep the Kuhlis in temps in the 70's it will slow their metabolism, cause digestion issues, theyll be less active and more prone to sickness and disease.
 

biscuit

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Questionclaw said:
Makes total sense, I just didn't feel comfortable because the frog and loaches don't seem to appreciate the constantly moving water, and become very restless. I guess they'll have to cope .
maybe the flow is just too strong for them. if they'll be there for a while until you can move them into a bigger tank, maybe you can baffle the output with a cutout of prefilter sponge or something to lessen the flow. in an overstocked tank turning the filter off can be a bit dangerous unless it's absolutely necessary, like during a water change
 

Noroomforshoe

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The African dwarf frog needs at least 2 friends. 5 gallons per frog is ideal, but a 10 gallon can work. It may not be a good idea to put them in a tank over 12 inches tall. They have to swim to the surface to breathe, and they can get exhausted. And, if you were to add more fish, they might not be able to compete for food.

It is good to see the kuhli loaches out in the open, but it is not normal. with just the two, they should be hiding, and I worry that they are only out and about because they are stressed. 8-15 is a more ideal number for a shoal of kuhlis.

The flying fox is a schooling fish that should be in a minimum school of 6
Ottos are also a schooling fish, the bare minimum for a school is 6

both of those fish eat algae. It is not ideal to keep both species.

You should be fine to keep all of these species at 78 degrees if the temp is stable 24/7
your questions =
.Algae is a live plant, there is no such thing as too much. You should not be using sunlight to grow algae in the tank with the fish, as it will change the temperature. and Tropical fish need to have a stable temperature 24/7.
The filter Must stay on Always, to develope and keep the nitrogen cycle. Once you have a good sized tank, it should not bother the fish as much, but there are DIY ways to diffuse any filter for those fish that are still bothered.
You can use your three gallon to grow algae in the sun to feed fish in a larger tank.

To keep a minim 6 kuhlies, 6 flying foxes, 6 ottos your looking at a 30 gallon long

FYI, I made some mistakes getting started too. Heck I made mistakes a month ago.
 

MacZ

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Only thing I can add: The Oto and the Flying Fox both look very thin. Wouldn't be surprised if the Oto is going to die soon and if the Flying Fox has internal parasites. Especially Otos need food available constantly. Zucchini is good, but once a week is not enough. It can take as little as 24h to start them to starve. Adding zucchini daily on the other hand can ruin the water parameters.
 
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Thank you all for your input! There's several serious mistakes, of course, but at least in the short term the situation doesn't look critical.

The loaches actually stay under the big rock or the bush-like plant most of the day, and come out to swim once it's dark. If you notice, the photo of the loach has a pink tint and that's because it was already dark out and I turned on the tank light to snap a quick picture.

I left the filter on all afternoon and, after swimming frantically against the water flow for a while, the frog took refuge under the big rock with the loaches. It didn't look comfortable at all, and hiding like that isn't its normal behavior. Today I've been turning the filter on and off in incremental periods to get it used to the current, but letting the frog rest from time to time. It seems to be getting accustomed to the current quickly, so that's a big win. Hopefully it will get used to it being on 24/7 in one or two days. I just don't want it to die from exhaustion or stress.

The test kit came in and I got no ammonia or nitrites, but I did get around 40ppm nitrate, which is a bit on the high side. Made an emergency 30% water change (usually I only do it on Sundays) and hopefully everything will be okay for now.

MacZ what you said got me very concerned, but a little bit confused. Both the Oto and FF have grown about half an inch since I got them. Can they be growing and starving at the same time? I'll try to snap better pictures soon, but for now I dropped in another piece of zucchini, for safe measure.

So yeah, I'm definitely overstocked but I think I can keep this under control for a month or two. I'm looking into getting a custom made 20 gallon that's wide and low, so that the frogs are comfortable. Maybe 30gal is better? I'll assess my space and funds and I'll let you guys know. I realize now that it must be heated, obviously.

If possible I'd like to keep the same variety that I already have, but since most of them are schooling or at least social species I'll have to up the quantity. Let's move onto that, assuming I'll have 20 gallon to work with.

3 ADFs
6 Otos
5 Kuhlis
4 Flying Foxes

With that amount of herbivores I'll have to start cultivating algae, as Noroomforshoe so cleverly suggested. The same friend who gave me the duckweed identified the rightmost plant as a Green Foxtail, which (and I can attest to it) grows like crazy. Perhaps I can cut pieces off it once they're covered in algae and drop them into the main aquarium.

So yeah, the move is definitely happening soon. Please let me know if I'm making the same mistakes with this second try!
 

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In that case the pictures are really not the best. :)

I don't know about ADFs, but I can tell you that flying foxes grow so big it would be pushing limits to keep even one in a 20gallon. Wouldn't keep them in less than a 50.

Problem with Otos is in general: They come mostly as wild-caughts, often starved and parasite ridden. Supplements like veggies and tablets take weeks for many of them to recognize as food. So 6 in a non-established, new 20gallon will likely fail, as they won't find enough food in the form of algae/aufwuchs until they check the supplements. Usually you can expect 50% losses under those circumstances, if you hit a perticular bad batch even up to 100% losses within the first few weeks. Would really think about that plan again.

I would wait at least 6 months before adding Otos and in a 20 I wouldn't go higher than 6 individuals. A 30 would be nice for them, still would need it's time to establish. Then you could go as high as 10 specimen if you don't add any more flying foxes.
 
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So I've been reading up on flying foxes and there's a general confusion between them and Siamese Algae Eaters. I think I got the latter, but I'm not sure. Here's better pictures of him and the Oto.

oto.jpeg


FF.jpeg


For the Otos, I was surprised with how well the one I already have has been doing. I think I may introduce them one by one or in groups of two once the new tank is set up. Still, I plan on cycling the new tank before moving my current stock, and then add the new fish in small batches.

If, as I suspect, I have a SAE instead of a Flying Fox, how much does that change things? I know they're schooling too, but I don't know about the quantity and size of the tank.
 

MacZ

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Ouh, looks like you got a young SAE there. They definitely hit the 15cm at one point and they are fast and need space. Neighbour has one in a 350liter tank about 4 feet long and the tank is too small.

The Oto looks ok, not as good as it could and should but it could be in worse shape.

This how a healthy Oto looks in profile. You see the belly? That's still not enough. Sadly this one contracted parasites from another less sturdyone and died in December 2019. Since January they are extinct in my tank, I maybe get some one day when I can get outside again and hitch a ride with a friend to a certain fish store that has tankbreds. For this year there is no further try to keep them scheduled.

20191202_145408.jpg
 

Danny002

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I can't add much to the above aside that what you at first thought was a flying fox DOES look like a SAE to me, but I don't know much about their care, so I can't comment on that. However, I can help with some plant ID and the filter situation.

The plant in the back right looks like hornwort, and the one in the back left looks like moneywort (looks almost identical to mine). I've heard hornwort can be a real pain, as it grows lightning fast and may drop it's needles everywhere, so you may want to consider taking that out before it gets to be too much.

As for the filter, you can take a part of a plastic water bottle, cut a slit in it, and put it over the outflow to ease the current. I've done this with bettas for years and it's always worked for me, as long as it fits right. I can provide a picture if needed.

Good luck figuring things out, and remember we've all made mistakes. As long as you try to fix it, you're doing alright!
 
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