Some Beginner Questions

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HallCloset

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Wow, this is a great site. I started a fresh water tank about a year ago and after reading articles from this site realize how much I don't know. I just filled up the tank, put a filter on it, and added fish. I've had questions but the people at the pet store seem to have more "text book" answers. I,m now understanding the whole point is to try to get the right balance in the tank and that is more difficult than a text book answer about a certain kind of fish. So, If I could ask some beginner questions I would appreciate your thoughts. (I have a 35 gal tropical tank)

1. When selecting tropical fish is it good to get at least two of a kind? I was selecting fish yesterday and it just seemed like they would be happy to have a friend in the tank like themselves. Or am I putting thoughts into my fishes minds? Does it not matter?

2. I already had one alge eater and he seemed to be doing a fairly good job. I had about 8 fish and I added maybe another 10 fish to the tank yesterday and one of those is another alge eater. Do they eat any thing other than alge? What if there isn't enough alge for them? How can I tell?

3. Same questions for "bottom feeders". I had two bottom feeders which seemed to be doing a fairly good job so in adding fish two of the additions were more "bottom feeders." Do they eat anything other than what's on the bottom? How can I tell if nothing is making it down to them. They look like they are eating nothing most of the day.

4. Currently, I have plastic plants in the tank. Live plants seem much more interesting and beautiful. I was reading stuff on the ammonias/nitrates/nitrites balance and realize I really need to go get a test kit for my tank. But can I mess anything up if I put too many plants in the tank. Am I understanding correctly that the plants absorb the ammonia? If so, then how is the ammonia being absorbed without the plants now? Do the plants give off oxygen for the fish? If so, then how is oxygen being added now?

I'm sure I'll have more questions but for now Thanks for your help.
 

chickadee

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I will see if I can give a few answers..maybe someone else will chime in too..

1. It really does depend on the fish we are speaking of. Some fish just love having company of their own kind and some will have violent reactions to anything resembling itself. Tetras, danios; platies, catfish ~ cories, otos, or non-pleco type; guppies, and mollies (to name a few) like company BUT bettas, gouramis, angels, sharks and other semi-aggressive fish do not want any othe fish of their type in proximity. (angels do like to pair but not more than one pair per tank) In the case of Gouramis and Bettas, even though they are not the same fish, they are in the same family and do NOT mix. You need to research each individual fish before making a decision.

2. It sounds like you are getting very close to having a tank full, if you do not already. 18 fish in your 35 gallon tank is a full load if not overstocked already. Algae eaters get to a good size and yes, they do eat Algae Wafers when the cleaning job is done. Just do not give wafers every day or they will let you feed them and forget to clean the algae. When you do not see algae in the tank you should probably put a wafer in the tank. If there is algae, then do not put the wafer in the tank.

3. Bottom feeders should be fed sinking fish pellets or wafers as well as the scavengering they do on the bottom. Hikari makes good product called Hikari Sinking Wafers, Hikari Sinking Pellets, and Hikari Algae Wafers (also good for the algae eaters). OmegaOne has an excellent product for them called OmegaOne Veggie Rounds (also good for algae eaters). They will also eat bloodworms, pellets that the other fish do not eat. (the cories in particular will swim to the surface and nab them)

4. I do not think there is a "too many" for the live plants unless you believe it looks too crowded for the fish to move about. You do have a lot of fish in your tank but there is always room for some plants. Yes, the plants give off oxygen and use the nitrates in the water for a type of fertilizer. They do not help much with ammonia as far as I know. Right now the surface of the water is in motion and the movement of the water stirs the air from the surface to blend into the water in the tank. It would help a lot to add an airstone and plants but unless the temperature is high because of a medical condition of your fish most water is okay without one, just more fragile. If you have the temperature turned up for the fish above 80 degrees, they really are going to need a little added oxygen.

Hope that helps a little.

Rose
 

Gunnie

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I'd like to add that you may have to sell or trade in one of your algae eaters (or both) depending on what type you have. Some algae eaters can get 2 feet long, and will get too large for your tank. We can help you with that if they become a problem in your tank. You can also feed them fresh veggies. Some folks like to blanch the veggies to help make them sink in your tank. Mine especially love fresh zucchini. I also push in food sticks (earthworm sticks, plankton sticks, spirulina sticks) into the flesh of the zucchini to give the algae eater added nutrition. I also don't blanch my veggies and weigh them down with a screwcumber. You can also simply stick a fork into the veggie and drop it into the tank.

Live plants are absolutely a staple in my tanks that contain fish that won't tear them to shreds. I do believe they also consume ammonia and nitrites in your tank. If you don't have live plants in your tank, then the only way you get rid of the nitrates in your tank is with water changes. Try and keep your nitrates below 20. The live plants will help reduce the amount of water changes you will need to do, but there's nothing wrong with extra water changes. You can't do too many! The ammonia and nitrites are consumed by bacteria in your tank, and the end product is nitrates. Here's a great article on live plants to help you out with your questions:
 
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HallCloset

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Gunnie said:
I'd like to add that you may have to sell or trade in one of your algae eaters (or both) depending on what type you have.  Some algae eaters can get 2 feet long, and will get too large for your tank.  We can help you with that if they become a problem in your tank.  You can also feed them fresh veggies.  Some folks like to blanch the veggies to help make them sink in your tank.  Mine especially love fresh zucchini.  I also push in food sticks (earthworm sticks, plankton sticks, spirulina sticks) into the flesh of the zucchini to give the algae eater added nutrition.  I also don't blanch my veggies and weigh them down with a screwcumber.  You can also simply stick a fork into the veggie and drop it into the tank. 

Live plants are absolutely a staple in my tanks that contain fish that won't tear them to shreds.  I do believe they also consume ammonia and nitrites in your tank.  If you don't have live plants in your tank, then the only way you get rid of the nitrates in your tank is with water changes.  Try and keep your nitrates below 20.  The live plants will help reduce the amount of water changes you will need to do, but there's nothing wrong with extra water changes.  You can't do too many!  The ammonia and nitrites are consumed by bacteria in your tank, and the end product is nitrates.  Here's a great article on live plants to help you out with your questions:




Thanks for your help! I realize now I probably have overstocked my tank. I'll have to do some research to find out how big the ones I have will get. Your info has been very helpful. Thanks much!
 
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