Confessions of a Mediocre Aquarist
I am here to confess. I have actively been keeping some kind of aquarium for the last 6 years. I started with saltwater but turned to freshwater about a year ago. With that much experience and a background in biology I would have expected to have a beautiful aquarium by now...but I don't!
My aquarium is blah, mediocre. It is now my mission to create and maintain a beautiful and healthy aquarium that looks healthy and natural, and makes people go wow!
What follows is a long description of the status of my tank (including pictures) and a plea for advice on what my next steps should be.
Thanks for stopping by!
Cyanobacteria (under control but not gone)
Some sort of hair bacteria that is growing on most of my plant leaves
Detritus on the substrate
Stagnant plant growth
Tank Size: 40 gallon
Tank Type: Planted Community
Tank Age: 1 year
Chemical Testing - Amonnia, Nitrite, Nitrate: zero
Filtration: AquaClear Power Filter 50 (rated for 20-50g tanks)
Substrate: Can't remember the name, looks like gravel but is supposed to be great for plants
Light: 2 39 Watt T5HO bulbs (about a year old)
+ more (all were hardy low light plants according to my lfs)
6 Espei Rasboras
4 Harlequin Rasboras
4 Purple Raspboras
5 Rummy-Nose Tetras
2 Red Phantom Tetras
10 Endler Live Bearers (3 male, 7 female)
3 fist size river rocks
1 piece river drift wood
Minimal algae growth
Well planted enough to increase fish population so schooling fish feel safe
10% Water change twice a week (vaccuum half of the gravel each time-lots of detritus on gravel)
During water change, scrub cyano off of plants
Replace Light Bulbs
Any advice is welcome!
How do I get plants to stay rooted and not float?
What do I do about hair algae, especially when it's growing on my plants?
How do I make my plants thrive?
How many more fish can I safely add?
Pictures and video to come soon!
Not an expert myself but I would get a bigger filter like for an 80 gallon tank and watch how long your light is on. 6-8 hours of light is enough. If you get a timer this becomes easy. Is the tank in direct sunlight during the day? Sun light really messes with a tank.
Plants can be anchored with fishing line to stay down. Tie your plants to a rock until the roots get into the substrate.
I bet the red phantom tetras dont look too happy. They like to be in a school of at least 6-8 fish. Another reason to increase or add another filter to that tank.
Have you thought about some driftwood? It makes the tank look nice, gives you places to anchor some plants, and gives the fish some structure to swim around or cover in.
Remember that those light bulbs lose their colour spectrum after 6 months. Algae may become a problem when the spectrum goes towards the red spectrum.
I really think increasing your filtration will take care of most of your issues.
p.s. Have you thought about a background for the tank. A dark background really makes the inside of the tank pop.
Last edited by Strider199; 05-09-2013 at 12:59 AM.
Warning; Bulldog Pleco guarding my Sons tank now..
Please remember; every keystroke has a consequence.
The Cyanobacteria, hair algae and loads of detritus suggest overfeeding. Remember that cold blooded animals that float around all day expend little energy. The nitrate test results sound weird(ov feeding causes lots of nitrates) however, algae doesn't lie, but tests can be inaccurate. If your test is an API test, shake it as hard as you can or else nitrate readings will be inaccurate.
I also would recommend changing more water - at least 50% once a week or 30% twice a week. You aren't particularly heavily stocked and you should be
able to get by with your current filter, however, Strider199 has a point. Generally it is recommended to have a total filtration capacity for twice the tank volume and should you plan to add more fish, you should look into getting a second filter.
strider199 has given you good advice on stocking. All your tetras and rasbora species should be in schools of 6+ to feel secure but you will not have room for 5 schools of 6 or more fish. Best to rehome all but one or two species of Tetra or rasbora and then get a large number of the remaining species, say 10. A single large school of one species is much more coordinated and looks much more impressive and natural than a motley setup with 2-3 of each species.
Thanks for all the detailed responses!
Feeding: I feed 1/4 to 1/2 tsp 6 days a week. It all gets eaten in less than a minute. Is this over feeding?
As for lights: I was at 10 hrs/day, so I set it at 8 now. Buying new bulbs is on my list of things to do (and a background!...and now it sounds like I'll be getting a new filter!)
Direct sunlight is not an issue.
For some reason I thought the 3 types of rasboras would school together, but they don't and it makes the tank look disorderly.
Testing: I also took water to my lfs this week and the results were the same: not ammonia, nitrite, nitrate.
I am trying to increase populations slowly so I don't create any ammonia spikes...I suppose in the future it would be best to increase a single population in advance of introducing the second species and then increase that population before introducing the next species?
Ok here is a video from a few days ago, not the best quality, but you can see some of daily life in the tank. Watch some of the mating chase scene the endlers put on!
My $0.02. It's not nice but it's offered with the best intentions
* As a trained biologist you should know about unreliable and reliable source. Most LFS don't know a thing. Don't rely too much on them.
* Second is habitat, what you got here is a collection of prey animals from several habitats. Prey animals rely either on huge numbers to confuse a predator or cover. You're offering none of those which is very apparent in the colouring of the Espei rasbora.
* You don't seem to have the tools to check your own water values which is inconvenient.
* Endlers are more of a medium to hard water species, the others like it soft.
On the plus side, your stocking levels are not unreasonable except for the pair of phantoms. You got a decent sized tank and good lights. You don't have any tank busters (unfortunately all too common with people who shop up here).
What I would advice you is a rebuilt and getting rid of the nuisance algae. Feed the fish like you normally would and then give the tank a 72 hour blackout. Don't switch the lights on, tape black plastic garbage bags over the glass or something like. No peeking, no feeding for 72 hours. After that do a 50% water change taking extra care to syphon away the dead algae.
After that it's time for a good plan. What do you want to look at? Do you want to keep that gravel? Do you want to create something like my tank? OR rather something like firefly's? Or go easy and do a blackwater with just wood, leaf litter and floating plants? You got tons of options but you need to make that choice. Once you've done that we can help you create something that whenever you walk into the room gives you a sense of accomplishment.
All great advice! A simple approach to a background is to paint the glass. I paint mine black which seems to be the common choice in freshwater tanks, blue for salt. I rescaled my 55g about a year ago and that was what really made things stand out. Good luck to you.