Tank Set-up

Iamstupid

Member
Hello fish folks!

I am setting up my first ever aquarium (well, in my adult life, anyway) and am super nervous I’m doing something wrong.

First question:
I have a 5.5 gallon tank that came in a starter kit with a filter. Now, upon researching said filter, I have come across some information stating it may be too harsh of a current for a single betta fish (Top Fin 10). It is adjustable, and the lowest setting seems okay to me, but as a new aquarium keeper, I have no idea about anything. I could potentially get a Aquaclear 10, if that would be a huge improvement?

Second question:
How does this set-up look? I have a Java fern, some crypts, and then a questionable plant that I think Petsmart sold me that is potentially not even an aquatic plant...please let me know if that’s the case. If so, I was thinking of replacing it with another java fern.

Third question:
Can I add a few ghost shrimp? Or is that a terrible idea. I’ve heard that snails can eat plants, and I definitely don’t want that to happen.

So sorry for all the questions; I just wanna do this right. The tank is on day 5 of cycling and it’s not doing much yet (doing the fishless, food cycle).
6F190C11-27A3-47F0-B5E8-D1BB695A57F0.jpeg
 

Alex6455

Member
The tank looks great! In terms of the filter, I am not sure if you mean the Aquaclear 20, but I have never heard of a 10. Just wondering! You could upgrade to a AC, which would def be a improvement in quality, but the flow might get stronger. For either one you could make a DIY flow reducer out of a plastic bottle that should make it better. Something like this:

I am not sure if that plant is aquatic (the middle one that looks like long grass?), but I would keep it in your tank and if it starts to rot then you could just take it out.

For the ghost shrimp, if you want them you would want a less aggressive betta and add a few more hiding places. One way to pick a betta that is not as aggressive is to put a bunch of cups together, and see which one reacts the most and which one is more shy and tends to not mind others as much. Of course, even less aggressive bettas may pick at the shrimp. I would get the betta, and then wait a little so you can guage his reactions to different things.

Hope this helps! I don't mind the questions!
 
  • Thread Starter

Iamstupid

Member
Thank you for replying!

Yes, sorry, I meant the AC 20. Definitely gonna look into this bottle thing. Is there a way to gage if the current will be too strong prior to putting the betta in (plant movement, hand test, etc.)?

And I suppose I’ll just wait and see if I get a more docile fish haha. I’ll try not to get too attached to any shrimp I add.
 

Alex6455

Member
No problem! Glad to help.
As far as testing the current goes, I am not sure about what the right flow would be but you might be able to find something on Google. Good luck on your cycle!
 

Fanatic

Member
Unique setup! Good job
 

ParrotCichlid

Member
Great looking tank.

Can I make a suggestion though? Get rid of the internal power filters and go for a simple sponge filter and air pump.

The sponge filter is very effective and produces little current that will bother the betta fish. In my limited experience with bettas I have found that they hate even the slightest current.



 
  • Thread Starter

Iamstupid

Member
The sponge filters work just as well as a power filter?

I’ve not done any research on them, so I have no idea how they work or what they entail!

Do they connect to some sort of tubing? Do I just stick it in the corner and that’s it? How often do I need to replace them?
 

ParrotCichlid

Member
Staci said:
The sponge filters work just as well as a power filter?

I’ve not done any research on them, so I have no idea how they work or what they entail!

Do they connect to some sort of tubing? Do I just stick it in the corner and that’s it? How often do I need to replace them?
No they work better than power filters in most setups.

Sponge filters have been used on just about everything from Oscar tanks to small fry holding tanks. They are also widely used in fish breeding including sensitive species like discus. They are used so widely because they are very effective, cheap and easily maintained.

They don't really need much research all you need is an air pump, some airline tubing and a sponge filter. Would be a good idea to pick up a cheap valve to go on the airline tubing just to stop the water flowing down into the pump. These valves are sold at nearly all aquatic stores right next to the air pumps and airline tubing.

You connect one end of the airline tubing to the air pump and the other end to the sponge filter. Place the sponge filter in a tank corner and turn it on. Simple as that

They only really need replacing every few years and maintenance is simple. Just take them out once a month and squeeze the sponge in a bucket of the tank water when doing a water change. Plop it back in and its good as new.

Should be able to get an air pump, sponge filter and airline tubing for about $15 or $20.
 

Alex6455

Member
Yup, I didn’t think about that when I saw you already have your current power filter running, but sponge filters are great for bettas and easy to maintain.
 
  • Thread Starter

Iamstupid

Member
Thanks for you help!

I’ve just ordered a corner sponge filter from amazon! I’ll go to my LFS (or Petsmart) to get the power supply and tubing.

I also ordered a new clip-on light (I have a problem). The lights that came with this kit are garbage, and I’ve grown attached to my plants.

My plan is to make my tank a custom glass lid (I make stained glass, so I already have a glass cutter), to accommodate the clip-on light. Seems to be my best option for a 5.5 gallon.

So. Much. Learning.
 

Alex6455

Member
Great that you got a sponge filter! Just curious, but is brand is the clip-on?
Cool that you can make your own lid! Always wanted to do that out of like plastic but too lazy
 
  • Thread Starter

Iamstupid

Member
This is the clip-on I got:
LED Aquarium Lights 6500K Dimmable Planted Tank Lights with Gooseneck for Plant Freshwater Aquarium Fish Tank (Planted Version)

There weren’t a ton of options that weren’t $100s of dollars (Canadian Amazon, anyway). It’s probably not the best, but it’s certainly an upgrade.

I’m super excited to make the lid! It’s gonna cost me like, $10. Fingers crossed it works out.
 

Ryan P

Member
the long grass looking plant looks like Val to me. If that's correct it'll outgrow your tank. Awesome Job with the tank though! keep us posted
 

mattgirl

Member
Very good looking tank.
You have gotten some very good advice but I notice no one has mentioned a check valve. You really should have one between your air pump and the sponge filter. Air/water can go in one direction but not the other with a check valve in place. This little device will prevent water from being pulled into your pump should the power go off.

It is not totally necessary if your pump is located above the tank but it is a very inexpensive piece of insurance.
 
  • Thread Starter

Iamstupid

Member
Thanks for the tip! Where does the check valve connect too? Where the tubing and air pump connect? Somewhere in the middle? And is it something I can get at my LFS? Sorry, I know nothing about sponge filters haha.

If I have this, does that mean I would be able to put the air pump below my tank? Cause that would definitely be preferable.
 

mattgirl

Member
Staci said:
Thanks for the tip! Where does the check valve connect too? Where the tubing and air pump connect? Somewhere in the middle? And is it something I can get at my LFS? Sorry, I know nothing about sponge filters haha.

If I have this, does that mean I would be able to put the air pump below my tank? Cause that would definitely be preferable.
I put the check valve 4 or 5 inches from the air pump. You want it to be the first thing the air goes through so you could attach a 5 inch piece of tubing to the outlet of the air pump. Attach the check valve (be sure it is going in the right position by blowing through it) and then attach the longer piece of tubing to the other side of the check valve.

You may want to also use an adjustment valve to control the amount of air going to the filter. This should be placed along the tubing so it will be outside the tank for easy adjustments.

Yes, by using a check valve you can place the air pump below the tank.
 

Ms rose

Member
With a check valve you can put under tank. Without it, it must be above. Nice set up best wishes to you and your fishes lol
 

mattgirl

Member
This is a check valve


and this is an adjustment valve


You can find them less expensive. This is just to show you what they look like
 

Ms rose

Member
mattgirl said:
I put the check valve 4 or 5 inches from the air pump. You want it to be the first thing the air goes through so you could attach a 5 inch piece of tubing to the outlet of the air pump. Attach the check valve (be sure it is going in the right position by blowing through it) and then attach the longer piece of tubing to the other side of the check valve.

You may want to also use an adjustment valve to control the amount of air going to the filter. This should be placed along the tubing so it will be outside the tank for easy adjustments.

Yes, by using a check valve you can place the air pump below the tank.
Just wanted to say I love you "location" very cute
 
  • Thread Starter

Iamstupid

Member
mattgirl said:
This is a check valve

and this is an adjustment valve

You can find them less expensive. This is just to show you what they look like

Thanks so much for the info. I was having trouble picturing where it would go, but that makes sense! Definitely gonna look into both these thing!
 

mattgirl

Member
Staci said:
Thanks so much for the info. I was having trouble picturing where it would go, but that makes sense! Definitely gonna look into both these thing!
I know what you mean. I was where you are now when I first started on my fish keeping journey many many years ago
 
  • Thread Starter

Iamstupid

Member
80DB6D6E-ED7A-49A5-8B4A-B7353DD7931C.jpeg
I made my lid! Cost me $11. $4 for the glass, $3 for the pvc corner siding, and $4 for the little handle.

Can’t wait to get a better light. It was unfortunate, because I couldn’t find a “regular” hood lid in a 5.5 gallon size, and the current one I have cannot accomdate any different lighting options.

I feel accomplished haha. I really appreciate everyone’s help! I can’t wait for my sponge filter to come in so I can get it all set up and continue cycling (although, I’m enjoying my plants, so I’m in no rush for a fish).
 

123

Member
For the same purpose of not having my plants eaten I got me two nerite snails They have not even touched my plants . However, They also don't spend any time on the gravel neither. My gravel are tiny stones, maybe sand would not even be comfortable for them to move on, I am not sure. But they do great job keeping all my decorations, driftwood and glass clean from algae which started showing up in my tank
 

mattgirl

Member
Staci said:
80DB6D6E-ED7A-49A5-8B4A-B7353DD7931C.jpeg
I made my lid! Cost me $11. $4 for the glass, $3 for the pvc corner siding, and $4 for the little handle.

Can’t wait to get a better light. It was unfortunate, because I couldn’t find a “regular” hood lid in a 5.5 gallon size, and the current one I have cannot accomdate any different lighting options.

I feel accomplished haha. I really appreciate everyone’s help! I can’t wait for my sponge filter to come in so I can get it all set up and continue cycling (although, I’m enjoying my plants, so I’m in no rush for a fish).
You are so clever I don't think you could have bought a ready made one that would have looked or worked any better.
 

Ms rose

Member
Katarina said:
For the same purpose of not having my plants eaten I got me two nerite snails They have not even touched my plants . However, They also don't spend any time on the gravel neither. My gravel are tiny stones, maybe sand would not even be comfortable for them to move on, I am not sure. But they do great job keeping all my decorations, driftwood and glass clean from algae which started showing up in my tank
I LOVE snails, I have mystery or apple snails as some call them but you can't have th3m in every state, I love my snails as much as my fish maybe even a bit more.
 

123

Member
Ms rose said:
I LOVE snails, I have mystery or apple snails as some call them but you can't have th3m in every state, I love my snails as much as my fish maybe even a bit more.
I barely see mine. I have lot of coconuts around the tank so my fishes can hide.... but mostly the snails hide .... they do wonderful job cleaning all the coconut surfaces, even form inside
 
  • Thread Starter

Iamstupid

Member
mattgirl said:
You are so clever I don't think you could have bought a ready made one that would have looked or worked any better.
Thank you! I honestly thought it would turn out worse haha.
 

Alex6455

Member
Love the lid Staci! I wish I was creative and handy enough to do something DIY like that
How is the cycle going?
 

Ms rose

Member
Katarina said:
I barely see mine. I have lot of coconuts around the tank so my fishes can hide.... but mostly the snails hide .... they do wonderful job cleaning all the coconut surfaces, even form inside
Same kind mystery snails? Mine are so active, they do have lazy days such as today I swear one of mine grew almost double it's size in 2 days. When I got mine the shells were see threw but much better now that the have calcium. I love love my snails lol
 
  • Thread Starter

Iamstupid

Member
Alex6455 said:
Love the lid Staci! I wish I was creative and handy enough to do something DIY like that
How is the cycle going?
It was super easy if you ever feel like giving it at go! I figured it was cheap enough that if I messed up catastrophically, it wouldn’t be super devastating.

Cycling is going going very slowly! I’ve been stalled at 0.25 ammonia, 0 nitrites, and 0 nitrates....luckily I’m in no rush to get fish (out of fear of keeping a living thing alive), so I don’t mind being patient.
 

mattgirl

Member
Staci said:
It was super easy if you ever feel like giving it at go! I figured it was cheap enough that if I messed up catastrophically, it wouldn’t be super devastating.

Cycling is going going very slowly! I’ve been stalled at 0.25 ammonia, 0 nitrites, and 0 nitrates....luckily I’m in no rush to get fish (out of fear of keeping a living thing alive), so I don’t mind being patient.
You could probably jump start your cycle if you upped the amount of ammonia. I know it is just day 5 so really early in the cycle but it will cycle easier and probably quicker with more ammonia to grow and feed the bacteria.
 
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Iamstupid

Member
mattgirl said:
You could probably jump start your cycle if you upped the amount of ammonia. I know it is just day 5 so really early in the cycle but it will cycle easier and probably quicker with more ammonia to grow and feed the bacteria.
I looked everywhere for pure ammonia, and couldn’t find anything (not even at my local janitorial supply store). Are there any other ways to up the ammonia effectively? I’ve just been doing fish food.
 

mattgirl

Member
Staci said:
I looked everywhere for pure ammonia, and couldn’t find anything (not even at my local janitorial supply store). Are there any other ways to up the ammonia effectively? I’ve just been doing fish food.
Well shoot, that is a bummer I know it will be really messy but I guess you could just put in LOTS of fish food or if you are willing to do it you could get a couple of hardy fish and do a fish in cycle.

Personally I have never considered fish in cycling a bad thing to do. As long as one has the time and willingness to do a lot of water changes it can be done without harming the fish.
 
  • Thread Starter

Iamstupid

Member
mattgirl said:
Well shoot, that is a bummer I know it will be really messy but I guess you could just put in LOTS of fish food or if you are willing to do it you could get a couple of hardy fish and do a fish in cycle.

Personally I have never considered fish in cycling a bad thing to do. As long as one has the time and willingness to do a lot of water changes it can be done without harming the fish.
I think I’ll re-evaluate my cycling technique once I put the sponge filter in. I assume that will virtually reset my cycle? Maybe I can put more effort into it the second time haha.
 

mattgirl

Member
Staci said:
I think I’ll re-evaluate my cycling technique once I put the sponge filter in. I assume that will virtually reset my cycle? Maybe I can put more effort into it the second time haha.
Sounds like a plan but you won't necessarily have to start from scratch. You could just go ahead and run both the sponge filter and the original one until the cycle is complete. Once you get your Betta you can remove the filter you have right now if you find it is too strong for him.

If you decide to go the fish in cycle route some LFS's will take the fish you use back once they have finished their work. Personally I have never done that but some folks do. I have just always started with some fish that I know I want to keep.
 
  • Thread Starter

Iamstupid

Member
mattgirl said:
Sounds like a plan but you won't necessarily have to start from scratch. You could just go ahead and run both the sponge filter and the original one until the cycle is complete. Once you get your Betta you can remove the filter you have right now if you find it is too strong for him.

If you decide to go the fish in cycle route some LFS's will take the fish you use back once they have finished their work. Personally I have never done that but some folks do. I have just always started with some fish that I know I want to keep.
Ooooh awesome! I figured there would be someway to prevent the cycle from starting over. So simple! I’m learning so much; thanks!
 

mattgirl

Member
Staci said:
Ooooh awesome! I figured there would be someway to prevent the cycle from starting over. So simple! I’m learning so much; thanks!
That is the beauty of this forum. No matter the problem there is bound to be someone that has been there, done that and will know the answer to just about anything that comes up.
 

FishMich

Member
HI Staci! Just wanted to say your tank set up is gorgeous! Love your custom made lid as well, your fish is going to have the nicest home!

I’m new to sponge filters too, just put one in our big tank. First time setting up airline tubing and a t valve (my air pump has outlets for two airline tubes, but I’m only running one sponge filter) and a check valve. The only thing is, I haven’t found a quiet air pump yet! We moved our 12 gallon to my bedroom, it’s only running an Aquaclear 20, and it’s very quiet compared to the EheI'm air pump running in my son’s bedroom for his 10 gallon. I’m going to try another less powerful EheI'm air pump. Also have a Penn Plax air pod for the 90 gallon, it’s louder than the FX6 canister filter! So my limited advice is to research and find a quiet air pump if you can (if noise bothers you).

Are you in Canada? I’m in BC went to many stores looking for ammonia without additives, found out many people use Old Country ammonia to cycle their aquariums. You can find it at Home Hardware. I started off cycling with fish food as well. Found it hard to target ammonia levels and the decomposing food got really nasty. If you wanted to try liquid ammonia, try there! Good luck!
 

mattgirl

Member
FishMich said:
HI Staci! Just wanted to say your tank set up is gorgeous! Love your custom made lid as well, your fish is going to have the nicest home!

I’m new to sponge filters too, just put one in our big tank. First time setting up airline tubing and a t valve (my air pump has outlets for two airline tubes, but I’m only running one sponge filter) and a check valve. The only thing is, I haven’t found a quiet air pump yet! We moved our 12 gallon to my bedroom, it’s only running an Aquaclear 20, and it’s very quiet compared to the EheI'm air pump running in my son’s bedroom for his 10 gallon. I’m going to try another less powerful EheI'm air pump. Also have a Penn Plax air pod for the 90 gallon, it’s louder than the FX6 canister filter! So my limited advice is to research and find a quiet air pump if you can (if noise bothers you).

Are you in Canada? I’m in BC went to many stores looking for ammonia without additives, found out many people use Old Country ammonia to cycle their aquariums. You can find it at Home Hardware. I started off cycling with fish food as well. Found it hard to target ammonia levels and the decomposing food got really nasty. If you wanted to try liquid ammonia, try there! Good luck!
That is the one draw back to running sponge filters. I just bought a new air pump for my 5.5 gallon tank hoping it would be quieter than the 2 I already have. It isn't

I have a really small one with just one outlet that I have had for years. It is fairly quiet. I had been using it for quite a while but then I set up a 2 gallon jar for a snail tank and needed to add an air stone to it so needed a stronger air pump to run both the sponge filter for the small tank and the air stone for the snail jar.

Quiet ones seem to be hard to find. I would hate to have either this pump or the one I have on my 55 in my bedroom. Since neither are, the louder than I like pumps aren't a problem for me.

If you set them on a piece of foam it does help some but the vibrating bellows necessary to produce the air is going to make some noise no matter how you set them up.
 

123

Member
Ms rose said:
Same kind mystery snails? Mine are so active, they do have lazy days such as today I swear one of mine grew almost double it's size in 2 days. When I got mine the shells were see threw but much better now that the have calcium. I love love my snails lol
It is nerite snails. It is hard to see them because of all the coconuts and driftwood being the same color as them And they go on cleaning inside of the coconuts too. They leave so much chopped of dark pieces (from the wood and coconuts) behind them though. I wanted to actually ask about the calcium.... is it some liquid, or tablets, or additive in food? It is because one of my snails has scratches since I bought him and I did not see any significant growth in two months. But then again, it is nerites, maybe those stay small?
 
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