Newbie armed with a 10 gallon tank and a book.

  • #1
HI - I've been lurking for a few days now, and reading up on fish stuff, and generally gearing up to set up my aquarium soon - I haven't kept fish since I was a kid (am now 30) and I'm not even sure I can call what I did as a kid fish keeping.  It was more like 'fish slowly-killing'.       So I'm working very hard to educate myself about what I am doing this time around.  (No more listening to my parents "the fish is just sleeping honey,  they sleep on their sides like that").   
The book is 'The Simple Guide to Freshwater Aquariums' by David E. Boruchowitz.  The tank is one of those 'starter kits' from Petco - came with a hood, light, submersible heater, filter and stick on thermometer.

  I want to build either a small community (4 or five fish, featuring a male betta)  or a species tank housing a school of either 1) tetras (cardinal or neon), 2) zebra danio's  or 3) white cloud minnows - probably 6-8 fish.  I'm figuring a few live plants, and possibly a freshwater clam and/or a shrimp as well as the fish.

   So I have a few questions....  Are these schemes too complicated or over stocked for my size of tank?  What fish would work well with a betta in a small community like this (I am thinking maybe platies?)  Is my fish book's recommendation of 50% water changes every week excessive?  How can I bring fresh water up to aquarium temp if I am adding water to a heated tank?

   And first up - should I put my live plants in when I set up the aquarium and start my cycling (I'm planning to try and cycle fishless) or wait until after I have cycled the aquarium to add them?  The people at my LFS have never heard of fishless cycling, and are very skeptical and curious to see how it works for me - I gave them the URL for this site!

  Anyways, I'm really enjoying reading through the forums,  and am learning a lot already.... I plan to set up my tank sometime with-in the next two weeks  (budgetary considerations) and start it cycling.

  Nice to meet y'all.


  • #2
Welcome Anna!
First of all what size is the tank kit? ;D
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
It's a ten gallon tank - 12 high, 20 wide, 10 deep. Pretty standard, I believe.
  • #4
I'm sure you know about cycling the tank, dechlorinating the water, etc.? If you don't know, there is no harm, just tell us and we will be glad to explain it to you.

I would suggest you run your tank fishless for at least 2 weeks first

Also, as with the fish you wanted to put in your tank, take a look at my signature for my 10 gallon. The main fish is my male betta, and he is gorgeous, but I also put in 2 african dwarf frogs to give the tank a little extra "life" and also some small catfish to keep up on uneaten food and algae in the tank Would that type of situation work for you? They really do get along well together and make an excellent show

However if you wanted schooling fish, the general rule of thumb is one inch of fish per gallon of water. So For instance, zebra danios get to be 2 inches long. For this case, you could have 5 of them, and you could also maybe throw in a few snails or shrimp, but I am not sure.

Just some suggestions..
Hope this helps
  • #5
Is my fish book's recommendation of 50% water changes every week excessive? How can I bring fresh water up to aquarium temp if I am adding water to a heated tank?
50% might be a little too much, most people usually do about 25%. And to bring it up to temp you can let it sit out to get to room temp and let the tank heater take care of the rest.
Good luck with your fishless cycling, hope it works! Do you have a (liquid) test kit? That will be essential, and also remember to "feed" the fishless tank so the bacteria can get started.
Your schooling plan sounds good, a school of 6-8 (plus a small bottom feeder) neon or cardinal tetras would be cool. If you decide you want a community tank make sure you don't have any other long finned fish, as the betta may attack them. Also, try not to get aggressive fish like tiger barbs, as they will probably nip the bettas fins.
Good luck with your new tank!!!!!!
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  • #6
Right now I have a little strip test kit - it doesn't test for ammonia though,  so I will get a better kit when I start cycling.   I just wanted something to figure out my water with first off.

I'm fairly sure I don't want to use my tap water straight -- it kills the yeast if I try to bake with it,  even after I've rested it over night.   I think it's because it is softened water - my city has extremely hard water, which my landlord over softens to keep from wrecking his pipes.

My tap water tests as follows -
PH - very alkaline - at least 8.4
total alkalinity - very hard -at least 300ppm
total hardness - very hard - at least 300ppm

What I think I'll use is my tap water, mixed 50/50 with the RO water we buy for drinking and cooking.   I mixed up a cup of water half and half and that tested nicely
ph - neutral - 7.2
total alkalinity - 180
total hardness - 150

The only thing that worries me about using my tap water that way is the whole 'softened' factor.   I want to keep at least one, maybe two fresh water clams,  and they need the calcium that the water softener takes out.

So I have one more water I'm going to look at , which is the city water unsoftened -- there is a public fountain nearby that I get water from for my garden in the summer, so I'm going to get a gallon from there,  and test it straight, and then possibly mixed with the RO water.   

I was talking to my husband about this last night, and he choked on his drink laughing and said  "Anna,  I thought it was funny when you had a recipe for dirt, and now you're telling me you need to work up a recipe for your water?!?!"
  • #7
HI Anna. Congratulations on your new tank You're doing a very good thing by first inquiring as much as you can about fish keeping, and then setting up the tank and getting fish. I also have read the book you are talking about, "The Simple Guide to Freshwater Aquariums" by David E. Boruchowitz and I think it's a great book for beginners. Only maybe he exaggerated with the 50% water changes. Although perhaps it would depend on the fish types you'll have. Minnows and danios are very hardy and they'd probably tolerate large and frequent water changes. Other, more delicate fish species, probably would not.

However, I do agree with David that frequent and large water changes are good - PROVIDED THAT the pH of new water you're adding to your tank is the same, or almost the same, as the one in your tank. The same goes for temperature. This way, fish don't experience temperature and pH shocks, even with frequent and large water changes. If you do want to perform the 50% weekly water changes, maybe wait with them until your tank is cycled and well established. And if your tank water and new water are similar in pH, I don't see why you couldn't do the 50% water changes. In the beginning though start out with 25% weekly.

If you're adding tap water to your heated tank, then simply use warmer water from your tap - adjusted to that of the tank water. I always adjust my tap water to exactly as the one in my tank. Then I add dechlorinator to it, mix it well, and add it to my tank. However, if you're not using tap water but, say, RO water then the most you can do is wait until it adjusts to room temperature. You have to be careful if your room temperature is very different from your tank water's temperature. Finally, if you're mixing RO and tap water, then pour RO water into a bucket first. Then pour tap water into a separate bucket and dechlorinate it. Make tap's water temperature such that when added to RO water, it will combine to have the temperature exactly as, or similar to, the one in your tank. Then combine RO and tap water and add it to the tank when ready.

I don't think your tank will be overstocked with 6-8 small tetras or other small species. As for the bettas, I don't know much about them and whether they're peaceful with other small fish like tetras. If they are, then I don't think the tank will be overstocked either with one betta and, say, 4-5 smaller tetras. You always should take into account the size and body mass of your fish to determine whether the tank is overstocked or not.

It is OK to add live plants to your tank while the tank is cycling. Plants actually do help to cycle it faster. They consume ammonia and nitrites, so they'll have plenty of that during the cycling time. Another benefit of having live plants is that they remove toxic heavy metals from water that are harmful to fish. They also help keep the pH stable and help the overall water chemistry.
  • #8
HI Anna, I started with a fish tank a week ago. Yup got it from petco too. I had my tank filled with tap water added liquid to remove chlorine and let it sit without any fish for 3 days. Then I got my water tested(free) at the pet store. Then I started with Danios, one guppy, and a molly. its almost 4 days now and they are all doing pretty well

You can start in a similar way !! And this forum has a number of experts and I am sure they will be more than willing to help you.
  • #9
Welcome Anna!
First of all what size is the tank kit? ;D
oh man I just really noticed the title of this topic, "...10 gallon tank and a book" lol, duh duh duh
  • #10
Haha Emma ;D
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  • #11
Went to my LFS again today and hung out for about an hour, looking at the fish, and pricing out the gravel and plants and landscaping stuff. It was a really nice visit - I finally got the name of the very helpful woman I've been talking too, and met a guy who works there ( I think the owner) who was also extraordinarily helpful.

I have fallen in absolute love with a little black spotted loach they have there -- they have labeled it an 'Indian Leopard Loach' , and apparently they get up to about 4 inches long, but stay very thin and narrow. It's a very pretty little fish, and I am thinking that perhaps one of those and a pair of dwarf gouramis would be a nice tank. Helpful Guy also thinks that I could put the loach in with a small school of tetras or danio's and it would work nicely.

I am very happy with this fish store so far -- it's very nice to go in and browse and study things and ask questions, and not have people upset at me for taking up their time without spending any money. It's the only store where the people have ever complimented me for not buying their product right away!

Also saw a very interesting little fish called a bumblebee goby -- I'm going to read up about them online.

I've decided to go ahead with my tap water and RO blend, and forgo trying to keep any clams right now -- it will make things simpler all around. So I know what I'm doing with my water. The next step I need to take is getting my landscaping and gravel for the tank, so that I can get it set up with water in it, then start cycling.
  • #12
didnt read your whole post but bumble bee goby is brachish I believe which needs a little salt but I think a hardy fish but you couldnt keep it wiht the other fish you want and danios shouldnt be kept in a 10 gallon as they like to swim around a lot
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
Yup. that's what I found out - the goby is brackish-saltwater, depending on the specific species (apparently there are a couple all called 'bumblebee'). Cute fish though.

And using the power of the internet, and what I jotted down from the book at the fish store, I found more info about the loach I like. They're a little large for my tank, and need a group And much prettier in person then those pictures would suggest.

So I'm still at square one with deciding what kind(s) of fish to get.....
  • #14
o well just go the as many lfs's as possible and look at fish and write down some names of ones you like research them and ask ?s here
  • #15
HI Anna and welcome to Fishlore with the rest of us addicts!!

First, I would like to say PLEASE, PLEASE do not make the same mistake I did borne out of bad advice - Do not add any fish until your tank has cycled. All it will do is prolong your cycle and stress the fish.

Second, there are a ton of people on this site that will give you TONS of valuable advice and suggestions. They are truly a good bunch!

I have not read the book that you mention, but have read from cover to cover - "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Freshwater Aquariums" by Mike Wickham. Very much of the information you'll get here is found in this book. It's a little hard to find and used copies tend to be expensive, but if you can find it, I would recommend it.

As for an on line resource for fish and a decent compatibility chart, check out liveaquaria

Good Luck!
  • #16
yup as vin said you will find lots of helpful mixed advice almost all good and usefull and by mixed I mean our opinions and personal expierence so when you make your decision it has to be your decision not one of our decisions take all our suggestions and make it into one suggestion with the best ideas from all of them and the final decision will be up to
  • #17
Definitely. Use the advice you see most often as it's probably the best advice. If it sounds wrong, it probably is.....

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