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  1. #1

    Default Looking ahead to when my new 29G is cycled... super hard water but I want neon tetras

    0 Not allowed!
    Hi, I've been reading for awhile, trying to learn what to do with my first tank. We had fish when I was a little kid, but otherwise this is my first time actually doing the work myself. I finally took the *ahem* plunge and set up a brand-new tank last weekend.

    So I've spent the last week arguing with my ammonia levels, trying to get my fishless cycle started, and I've finally got it sitting at 4ppm. In order not to lose my mind, I am starting to look ahead to stocking the tank (I know this could still be a month away). I have a 29G tank with the HOB filter that came in the kit (a Penguin Bio-Wheel 200) plus an airstone, a bunch of plastic plants, and a cork-bark "log" which I'm struggling to keep from floating, but that's another story. I live near the mountains and our municipal water is from a glacier- and spring-fed river. Needless to say the GH and KH are off the charts, and it's very alkaline (pH seems to be just under 8.5).

    I really want neon tetras.

    Yes, it's silly (I want them because we had them when I was a little kid) and no, this isn't going to work very well with my water. So my first question is, how can I bring the hardness down without spending a fortune on RO water? I've heard peat is very effective. Is there a peat product you could recommend?

    Second question is friends for the tetras, assuming I can make the water hospitable. My kid really wants an African dwarf frog, but I'm sort of afraid it'll eat the tetras. We also think Tequila Sunrise guppies are very pretty. And my dad recommended I get an algae-eater, to help de-gunk the tank a bit.

    As a beginner, my focus would be on relatively hardy, yet cool-looking fish. I would really appreciate your suggestions. I do want to stick with one tank for now until I know what the heck I'm doing, at least a little bit. Thanks!!

  2. #2


    0 Not allowed!
    De-gunking a tank is your job, not a fish'.

    Your water would work for guppies, neons are adaptable but this is stretching it considerably. In my experience peat doesn't do that much if you have a lot of buffering capacity.

    How about rain water?

    You don't have to spend a fortune on RO water. An RO unit can be had for around $80 and the waste water can be used for all sorts of other things.

  3. #3


    0 Not allowed!
    Alright first off GOOD JOB on the fishless cycle! I assume also you have a heater keeping the tank temp up a bit? If not add one, it will go faster.

    Second you dont have to worry about ph or hardness when it comes to neons, I would however recommend Cardinal tetra because they are hardier and are a bit bigger so they show up nicely.

    Any guppy will be fine as well. They are peaceful community species that will perform nicely in anything over 5gallons.

    On the pleco (sucker fish)... you dont need anything in a new tank to take care of alage. They dont sustain their diet on algae. In fact they are one of the few fish in the world that have a large part of their diet in consuming wood. They will eat algae but you shouldnt buy them for function as your new tank will never produce enough algae to sustain it over time.

    You have a good ammount of space in that tank, and being you want color and splash I would look into the fish they provide and see how you would like to stock the tank overall.

    I would personally stock a tank like yours like this:

    15 Cardinal Tetra
    5 All male guppys
    1 Bolivian Ram
    1 Honey gourami
    10 Schwartz Corriadora (or whatever cory of your like)
    FW: 1 45gal, 1 40gal, 3 10gal, 3 30gal all community tanks of different species
    Sw: 1 55gal, 1 30gal show, 1 29gal show, 1 20gal and 2 10's

  4. #4


    0 Not allowed!
    @Talldutchie - All fish are easily addaptable and considering anything but breeding, ph and hardness should have little effect on the fishes overall viability. A simple dip or drip aclimation is sufficient if shipped and if at the store, they are on similar water supply and already adapt to the local conditions for the most part. The potential for ph swings and miscalculations by overcomplicating the ability to do water changes is a huge issue. Also with the use of rain water, in municipal areas, its got the ability to collect a lot of nasty things that can poison the fish tank. It is much easier and stable to use tap water treated with a chlorine and chloromine removing agent like Prime.
    FW: 1 45gal, 1 40gal, 3 10gal, 3 30gal all community tanks of different species
    Sw: 1 55gal, 1 30gal show, 1 29gal show, 1 20gal and 2 10's

  5. #5


    0 Not allowed!
    I know that's a commonly held believe. I find it to be untrue. There's a difference between surviving and thriving. Some fish are better at dealing with it than others, with some fish their kidneys fail relatively quickly in hard water.
    I also think that I might as well stop mentioning this if I'm the only one who thinks it's relevant.

  6. #6


    0 Not allowed!
    Wow, thanks for the quick replies so far! Couple more questions:

    @sandz, I've read that cardinal tetras are actually less hardy than neons? Either is fine with me for appearance (that electric blue stripe is pretty nifty).
    I'd also read that neon's upper end of tolerance for pH was 8 and I'm sitting at 8.5. Similarly with hardness we seem to be above what I understood neons could tolerate. With 8 fishtanks you obviously know what you're talking about, but it's just that everything I've read so far has said the opposite, so your opinion seems too good to be true. ;)

    I'm been reading a lot of positive stuff about corydoras catfish so I'll look into that some more. Thanks for your other fish suggestions too! Having a variety of species is very appealing!

  7. #7


    0 Not allowed!
    Here is the reason I say neons are less hardy than cardinals:

    Both fish were origionally taken from the wild. Since, the Neon has been mass produced in places like here in FLorida where I live. To my knowlege, Cardinals are still mostly wild caught. Neons for me succum to disease much much faster than cardinals in my experience. I have had cardinals in at least one tank i have owned for most of my life. Right now is the only time I am without them. I have seen no issues in my water which approaches a 9ph. I have also had neons, personally I can keep them alive for a year or so but they die off really fast. Look around this site and look over and over where people get 12 to account for losing some when they want 8-10.

    I hear you and good on you for doing research. Its my personal experience that I give advice from.

    Also @Talldutchie, I understand how its possible for what you are saying to be true. My personal experience has never shown me an issue like that and I have never been lower than a 7.6 on the ph scale in my life which most of that is 8.6+. I believe much more in the stability of water quality and addaptation of the fish to the water chemistry through steady aclimation. That being said, I dont disect most of my dead fish, nor do I have many of them to disect.
    FW: 1 45gal, 1 40gal, 3 10gal, 3 30gal all community tanks of different species
    Sw: 1 55gal, 1 30gal show, 1 29gal show, 1 20gal and 2 10's

  8. #8


    0 Not allowed!
    My personal experience has never shown me an issue like that
    Didn't you just say your neons never lived longer than a year?

  9. #9


    0 Not allowed!
    Neons, not cardinals. Neons tend to be fragile to the point of disease and random death. Cardinals have practically no issues IME. I see where you get that though.
    FW: 1 45gal, 1 40gal, 3 10gal, 3 30gal all community tanks of different species
    Sw: 1 55gal, 1 30gal show, 1 29gal show, 1 20gal and 2 10's

  10. #10


    0 Not allowed!
    IME, I've found neons a lot tougher than many people give them credit for. I had a school in my first tank for about a year and they were fantastic and very resilient against disease, even when I was making beginner mistake after mistake. I sold them to a friend and he still has them, so they'd be a year and a half old now. When I got them they were so small that some of them didn't even have their red half-bar yet.

    When I tried Cardinals I lost a couple of them for what seemed like no reason, whereas I don't remember ever losing a neon, even though they were tiny babies (which were really far too small to be sold) and I was a useless fishkeeper when I bought them, haha. For all I know though, neons in NZ could be a lot less inbred and hardier than the neons you guys have though, and our Cardinals aren't wild-caught so that may be wherein the difference lies. Plus I was keeping them in a pH of about 6.6.

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