Weird problem & not sure what to do.

EgorAnonymous

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HI everyone! I'm so glad I found you! main questions in bold.
Total newb here and I keep finding conflicting info. First, it might be helpful for you to know that I had a very bad car wreck 3 years (& 25 days) ago and am just getting my mobility back and will have to re-learn to walk... so, you know, early retirement & nothing but time. I will need to go slow due to my mobility and money. I can't stand for very long because my right leg was amputated. So, I can take as much time as is needed before I get fish.
I'm hoping to do a fairly simple aqua-scape, as therapy, that has two levels with pvc-pipe tunnels running underground with 2 caves for 1 viper shrimp and 6 or more corydoras, & a vertical or slanted opening in case I need to add more crushed coral or something after I've planted. (Kind of shaped like the letter E. with the upper level running along the back and most of the sides to cover the pvc.) using corrugated plastic poster board for supports and to hold back the upper level.
My problem is that I live in a coal-mining state (US) and we also have an unusual water filtration system in my city. We can only get water from the top few inches of the river due to the coal dust at the bottom of the river where most cities would get their water. I think what is happening is that all the coal in the ground & water is lowering the ph. I know that it is somewhere below 6, but I don't want to buy a better test kit until the zombie apocalypse is over. General hardness around 30 ppm. So soft & acidic. Most articles are about lowering the ph. which is the opposite of my problem.
Once I have a true ph number is there a way to guage how much crushed coral to use? Is there a better option? The upper level will need to be built up with supports so I'm also worried about anaerobic soil, but I think all of the affordable clay type substrates would only lower the ph. Is it possible to use too much coral? I'll have to fill mesh bags with something to build up the upper level (Just an inch or two). Any ideas or advice? Both levels will have carpeting plants and the upper will have tall plants. Baby tears on the lower open area and dwarf baby tears on the upper. I'm hoping that will give it depth. Not sure if that counts for heavily planted or not.
My aquarium will be either a 49.6 gal. high and narrow ( for angelfish) if Finest-Filters in UK can ship to the US. (The stand is **** beautiful!) If not then a standard 50 gal. and I'll just get my turtle, Madeline, a 100 or larger. I have a hospital tank with 3 feeder fish cycling now. (They fought so hard to live I just had to save them.) I have meds for them but still reading up on that. But you should see how happy they are now. Probably for the first time and they are just starting to color up. Can't wait to get them healthy and settled into a big tank with plenty of hiding places.
Also, I would love to have platinum pearlscale angels (with veiltails would be amazing) but I can't seem to find them in stock anywhere. Any ideas on that? Like I said, I'm in no hurry and will wait to make sure I can keep the feeders alive, but if I find them I do have the hospital tank cycling now.
Right now I'm thinking: 2-4 angels; 4-6 corydoras; 1 viper shrimp; 5 of those long skinny top feeders that hang from the top; some hatchet fish; galaxy rasbora; neon or cardinal tetras; hatchet rasboras (not sure on name); maybe some balloon mollies, cherry shrimp. I know that is a lot, but I can do water changes everyday if I can figure out the water situation and I can adjust the tetras and rasboras. and the mollies and the hatchet fish are optional. I just want a variety of fish shapes and a lot of red to clash with the angels. and the feeders. Please weigh in!
I think that is enough for now. So, thank you guys! I appreciate the help. I'll try and keep you guys informed if you like. Stay healthy, it won't last forever.
 

PascalKrypt

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EgorAnonymous said:
Posted somewhere else, but not sure it was the right place. Sorry.


HI everyone! I'm so glad I found you! main questions in bold.
Total newb here and I keep finding conflicting info. First, it might be helpful for you to know that I had a very bad car wreck 3 years (& 25 days) ago and am just getting my mobility back and will have to re-learn to walk... so, you know, early retirement & nothing but time. I will need to go slow due to my mobility and money. I can't stand for very long because my right leg was amputated. So, I can take as much time as is needed before I get fish.
I'm hoping to do a fairly simple aqua-scape, as therapy, that has two levels with pvc-pipe tunnels running underground with 2 caves for 1 viper shrimp and 6 or more corydoras, & a vertical or slanted opening in case I need to add more crushed coral or something after I've planted. (Kind of shaped like the letter E. with the upper level running along the back and most of the sides to cover the pvc.) using corrugated plastic poster board for supports and to hold back the upper level.
My problem is that I live in a coal-mining state (US) and we also have an unusual water filtration system in my city. We can only get water from the top few inches of the river due to the coal dust at the bottom of the river where most cities would get their water. I think what is happening is that all the coal in the ground & water is lowering the ph. I know that it is somewhere below 6, but I don't want to buy a better test kit until the zombie apocalypse is over. General hardness around 30 ppm. So soft & acidic. Most articles are about lowering the ph. which is the opposite of my problem.
Once I have a true ph number is there a way to guage how much crushed coral to use? Is there a better option? The upper level will need to be built up with supports so I'm also worried about anaerobic soil, but I think all of the affordable clay type substrates would only lower the ph. Is it possible to use too much coral? I'll have to fill mesh bags with something to build up the upper level (Just an inch or two). Any ideas or advice? Both levels will have carpeting plants and the upper will have tall plants. Baby tears on the lower open area and dwarf baby tears on the upper. I'm hoping that will give it depth. Not sure if that counts for heavily planted or not.
My aquarium will be either a 49.6 gal. high and narrow ( for angelfish) if Finest-Filters in UK can ship to the US. (The stand is **** beautiful!) If not then a standard 50 gal. and I'll just get my turtle, Madeline, a 100 or larger. I have a hospital tank with 3 feeder fish cycling now. (They fought so hard to live I just had to save them.) I have meds for them but still reading up on that. But you should see how happy they are now. Probably for the first time and they are just starting to color up. Can't wait to get them healthy and settled into a big tank with plenty of hiding places.
Also, I would love to have platinum pearlscale angels (with veiltails would be amazing) but I can't seem to find them in stock anywhere. Any ideas on that? Like I said, I'm in no hurry and will wait to make sure I can keep the feeders alive, but if I find them I do have the hospital tank cycling now.
Right now I'm thinking: 2-4 angels; 4-6 corydoras; 1 viper shrimp; 5 of those long skinny top feeders that hang from the top; some hatchet fish; galaxy rasbora; neon or cardinal tetras; hatchet rasboras (not sure on name); maybe some balloon mollies, cherry shrimp. I know that is a lot, but I can do water changes everyday if I can figure out the water situation and I can adjust the tetras and rasboras. and the mollies and the hatchet fish are optional. I just want a variety of fish shapes and a lot of red to clash with the angels. and the feeders. Please weigh in!
I think that is enough for now. So, thank you guys! I appreciate the help. I'll try and keep you guys informed if you like. Stay healthy, it won't last forever.
Well, I'm kind of jealous of you. I wish I had access to a ready source of such soft, acidic water. There's quite a few spectacular species that are very hard to keep that might just feel fantastically at home in your water, you may consider keeping them instead! That would be the easy option. (Cories experts may want to weigh in, but they are acid and soft water loving species and may be fine in that kind of water; the tetras will also likely be more than happy in your natural water)

If you don't want to do that, remineralising your water is probably the best route. Don't just use crushed coral, but use a balanced way to up your ppm like with salty shrimp products or the like. This should naturally even out your PH (don't be concerned with PH but mostly with TDS. If you get your water to have a ppm of around 100-150, you don't have to worry about your PH).
 
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EgorAnonymous

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PascalKrypt said:
Well, I'm kind of jealous of you. I wish I had access to a ready source of such soft, acidic water. There's quite a few spectacular species that are very hard to keep that might just feel fantastically at home in your water, you may consider keeping them instead! That would be the easy option. (Cories experts may want to weigh in, but they are acid and soft water loving species and may be fine in that kind of water; the tetras will also likely be more than happy in your natural water)

If you don't want to do that, remineralising your water is probably the best route. Don't just use crushed coral, but use a balanced way to up your ppm like with salty shrimp products or the like. This should naturally even out your PH (don't be concerned with PH but mostly with TDS. If you get your water to have a ppm of around 100-150, you don't have to worry about your PH).
Thank you so much! Still figuring this site out. I'll look into both, especially the the fish, remineralising. might be an option too.
 

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That’s a tall order; even for a 40s something guy in reasonable health and fairly experienced with fishkeeping. I know this isn’t the answer you want but; maybe consider a 20 long or 40breeder. You could have quite a bit of fun planting those tanks and they aren’t super deep. You could certainly keep at least an angel in either setup and have room for some cool dither fish. Start out with some easy plants like crypt parva for a nice carpet and some bacopa Carolina in the background. Then some Anubias or java ferns mid ground looks nice. Regardless the point is to be keeping it easy!
 

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I can’t really help with your scaping questions or pH issues, but I wanted to say awesome job picking this hobby as your way to help with your rehab! Best of luck to you, I worked as an occupational therapy assistant for many years before becoming a nurse, if you need help with ideas on adapting anything or making things more accessible I might be able to help!
 

juniperlea

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I agree with SaltyPhone in that a 20 gallon long and/or 40 gallon breeder would be best. Not sure what to tell you about the pH, except that I've read most fish will adapt to pH level.
 
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EgorAnonymous

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Oh wow! Thank you. I can't wait to get back to therapy. Still at baby steps but getting better every day. It took me forever to come out of the fog. but getting better, slowly, but better is good.
 

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HI there, you have feeder fish, what species? Goldfish and do you intend on adding them to the auqarium with the other fish?

I think (without feeders) the standard 50 could suit you well.

I also would like to note veiltail angels have the occurring problem of droppy fins as they get older, but can be prevented with high quality water so be prepared for that if you want to keep veiltails.
 
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EgorAnonymous

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juniperlea, my hospital tank is a 20. It has 3 small fish in it. If I can keep them alive I might move up to the 40. Much easier on the budget too. Thanks!
 

SaltyPhone

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Sorry to have missed much of the questions it’s a lot to take in I know. Ph wise yea you will want to test first what your out of tap ph/nh3/nh4 etc look like for a base line. Testing those every so often as the tank matures will give you a better idea of what the final outcome will be. General rule of thumb is 1lb crushed coral for every 10 gal.
 
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EgorAnonymous

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juniperlea said:
I agree with SaltyPhone in that a 20 gallon long and/or 40 gallon breeder would be best. Not sure what to tell you about the pH, except that I've read most fish will adapt to pH level.
juniperlea, my hospital tank is a 20. It has 3 small fish in it. If I can keep them alive I might move up to the 40. Much easier on the budget too. Thanks! Also, sorry if you got this twice. Will get the hang of this site eventually.
 
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EgorAnonymous

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FinalFins said:
HI there, you have feeder fish, what species? Goldfish and do you intend on adding them to the auqarium with the other fish?

I think (without feeders) the standard 50 could suit you well.

I also would like to note veiltail angels have the occurring problem of droppy fins as they get older, but can be prevented with high quality water so be prepared for that if you want to keep veiltails.
HI FinalFins, the feeders are two minnows and the third might be some type of gold colored barb. And thanks, for all the weeks reading about angels I didn't know about the droopy fins. I'll stick to the regular fins.

SaltyPhone said:
Sorry to have missed much of the questions it’s a lot to take in I know. Ph wise yea you will want to test first what your out of tap ph/nh3/nh4 etc look like for a base line. Testing those every so often as the tank matures will give you a better idea of what the final outcome will be. General rule of thumb is 1lb crushed coral for every 10 gal.
Thank you, I had no idea where to start with the coral. Could have been a pound could have been a hundred pounds. I feel better about it now.
 

SaltyPhone

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Again you want to know what your water parameters are out the tap first. Then from there you can figure out what fish will work best in your water
 
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EgorAnonymous

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SaltyPhone said:
Again you want to know what your water parameters are out the tap first. Then from there you can figure out what fish will work best in your water
SaltyPhone, Do you have a reccomendation on what type of test kit? I just got the strips, but the levels were outside of what it was testing. I just needed something right then, but it was a waste of money. Well, it did give me an idea.
 

SaltyPhone

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ApI Master test kit is nice. Their strips from my experience not so much. Tetra brand strips are usually in the range tested against the apI liquid.
 
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EgorAnonymous

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SaltyPhone said:
ApI Master test kit is nice. Their strips from my experience not so much. Tetra brand strips are usually in the range tested against the apI liquid.
They are API. Will order the master kit as soon as I can. Thanks again for all of your help.
 

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