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Questions setting up a Neon Tetra tank
I love Neon Tetras (yes, I know how you feel about them),
<Don't dislike them… but do recognise that they're less easy to keep than many suppose, and farmed ones are a bit plagued by disease.>
but as with many others I'm reading, have had difficulty keeping them.
<As have I…>
I've gotten enormous amounts of really good information from reading here, and want to use it to make a Neon Tetra tank, with your help. It would appear that the problems with Neons are most often temperature, water hardness and Neon Tetra Disease.
<Yes, yes and yes.>
I want to do this right, so I've researched a bunch and this is what I've come up with. I'd most appreciate your advice. As to the tank, I did a lot of reading and got this from you guys. For Neons:
STABLE pH between 6 and 7.5;
<Somewhere in there, but obviously the stability is the key bit.>
72-75 F temperature;
<Yes, but be sure to adjust the newly bought specimens to cooler conditions carefully. I'd set the tank up to the temperature of the water in the retailer's tank, then set the heater down a degree, so the water cools down slowly across a day. Repeat every day as required until the water is at the right temperature.>
Consistently zero levels of ammonia and nitrite; 5, 10, 15 ppm nitrate at least. I have good (liquid--not test strip) test kits for all of that.
"For dealing with hard water, you advised 1 part tap water to 9 parts distilled, RO or rainwater. Yes, our water is somewhat hard, but we live in Marin County, California, so unless Climate Change affects us really quickly, we usually get up to 22 in. a year in rainfall--I'll start collecting! My friend at the fish store swore they've never had any problems with our water and Neons. She's not bullshitting me, she takes good care of me; I had tank problems one time and lost almost EVERYTHING; she had me keep bringing my water in before she'd let me buy any more fish, and even then maintain it for two weeks to be sure! So they're not just in it for the money. I'm not sure how much our water has to do with my inability to keep Neons, but I'm taking no chances. Is there a way to test water softness...I'm not crazy about the idea of buying water to change my fish tank frequently!
<To begin with, set the tank up with your local water, just like your retailer. What I'd suggest you do is let them settle in like that. But each weekend, as you do the water change, simply do water changes 50/50 tap water and RO water (or rainwater). For Neons, it's actually not crucial for the water to be super-soft; the aim is to avoid liquid rock. 10, 12 degrees dH, with a pH around 7.5, is absolutely fine.>
As to gathering rainwater, we have a friend who's lived with my husband and I for several years after moving here from Michigan area. She has a 50-gallon tank down in her room downstairs, has always had fish, and she's to blame for getting me into them. Big dog person (Huskies rule!); I've had cats, dwarf rabbits, many reptiles when younger, and others, but I just got a tank and got started with her advice when it came to fish. Learned MUCH since then, but this is the first time I'm deliberately setting up a tank rather than "oooo, that's pretty, I'll take two of those, and..." (don't say it; I know). She's leery of me collecting rainwater, and I'm not sure if it's just 'cuz she's a neat freak, so I'll ask you. I planned on putting clear plastic sheeting over a couple of coolers and a big metal bucket we have out back to catch the water; she says plastic would affect the water. What is your opinion?
<I'd be more worried about the metal bucket, to be honest. Rainwater is acidic and tends to react with metal. Stainless steel should be okay, but food-grade plastic containers are the ideal. With all this said, if rainwater is collected quickly then stored indoors, the sheeting and the bucket may not matter much. In any case, rainwater is variably safe; I collect and use rainwater, but many aquarists think the risk isn't worth it. If you're keeping Neons, you don't need a huge tank, 10, 15 gallons is fine, and if you lightly stock the tank and don't overfeed, water changes would be modest. Buying the 3, 4 gallons of RO water every weekend or two might be worthwhile.>
As to the filtration: "Air-powered filters are ideal, and sponge, box, and undergravel " is what you suggest--Currently I have what you call "electric canister filter", but picked up an "Air-driven, Inside-the-tank Cartridge Filter" which my current air pump will drive. My "advisor" at the fish store set me up with cut-to-fit ammonia-remover filter pads for it. I'm putting it in today, she said let it be there for two weeks to soak up the bacterial stuff before changing the tank. Also, I read somewhere on your site (but can't find it again) about leaving the top of the tank open for aeration since bubbles aren't really that helpful; would you recommend that?
<Not necessary. So long as the tank isn't hermetically sealed, air will get through narrow gaps and holes just fine.>
Substrate and "furnishings":
"Smooth sand and Indian almond leaves to recreate leaf litter." I've had problems with live plants in the past (dying, and snails) so I'd prefer to stay with artificial, if possible. From what I see on the internet, Indian almond leaves shouldn't be a problem just littered along the bottom of the tank. Not wanting live plants would leave out the Java moss, Java fern and Anubias spp which are suggested, along with bogwood roots.
<Shame, because they're really bullet-proof, especially the Anubias.>
I'm debating whether to go natural or artificial bogwood roots, given they're already dead (positive) but can acidify over time (your opinion?); what other artificial "furniture" would you suggest? From what I'm reading, they like lots of foliage to hide behind, which I could provide with fake plants from bottom to top for them.
<Neons do like, need shade.>
Could I keep my shells and rocks, or do Neons need other types of things to hide under/around?
<Not shells (they harden the water) and the rocks need to be lime-free as well. So granite good, limestone bad.>
You say Neons like "low light levels (i.e., no lights, lots of shade); little to no water movement--4 times the volume per hour". NO artificial light would leave the aquarium pretty dark where it sits, and there's no other place in the room I can put it. I checked about low-level aquarium lights and she said they don't have any, but remembered that they used to have these light "covers" for fluorescents to bring down the brightness...I'll look around for those, unless you know of specific low-light aquarium lights.
<Without plants, then use one or two fluorescent tubes. Gro-lux tubes (which are a bit purplish) flatter Neons especially.>
You mention "Smooth silica sand, also known as silver sand and pool filter sand" as a good substrate; the light color I saw on the internet wouldn't have enhanced low light levels for the Neons, but bang-on!, she had it in BLACK--which you guys also mentioned being a good color decoratively. And yes, she said it IS "smooth silica"--the bags are unmarked but I trust her.
Then we get to the fish. I have a number of fish that are currently in the 20-gallon tank which will become the Neon tank. There is a lovely woman at our best fish store in town who's taken care of me for a long time. She will take any of the fish I want to give up. Of those I have, I only want to retain the African Frog, Kuhli Loach and Chinese Algae Eater. Will the Kuhli do the job of keeping the bottom clean, or should I keep one of the Corys I have to clean the substrate?
<Corydoras are ideal, because they like the same coolish conditions.>
Can I keep my Kuhli Loach, who has a temperature range of 79-84?
I need to decide how many Neons and what I'll put with them. Checking the tankmates you suggest, I'd like to go with Diamond Neons, Black Neons, Red Phantoms and/or Golden Pencilfish.
<All good, provided the water temperature is okay.>
Neons are of course the priority. I see them referred to as "pelagic", and "mid to bottom-dwellers .85 in.
Stable pH between 6 and 7.5;
72-77 F temperature;
2-10 dH; potentially to a max of 15
"5, 10, 15 ppm nitrate at least"
The "Diamond" or "Diamond Head", is a mid-level swimmer who gets to a maximum size of 2-1/2 inches.
<Do you mean Diamond Tetras?>
pH range 5-7
Temperature range is 72-80 F
Red Phantoms are mid-level swimmers of 1.6 inches
pH range 5.5-7.0
They have a temperature range of 72-82 F,
Black Neons are mid- to top-dwellers that get 1.5 inches.
pH range 5.5-7.5
Temperature of 71-78
Golden Pencilfish, surface/close-to-surface dwellers 2 inches.
pH range 6-7
(Caveat: I reeeely like the Diamonds) ;o)
I can't find "nitrate" levels for any of those but the Neons. The problem is, I get slightly different figures from virtually every website I research, so it's tough! That's why I'm asking for your help. How often would I have to check pH and are there any tests for dH??
<I'd check weekly for the first couple months, but thereafter, once all fish installed and they're all happy, once a month, if that.>
I'm listing the above because I've gone through all your suggested tankmates and my own "wish list", and these are the closest I find that are among those I'd like to have. Obviously I don't want to overcrowd, so depending on what you advise, I'll have to choose. If I can keep the frog, Kuhli and Algae Eater, what would you recommend...I assume it would be a minimum of six to a school of any of them, so I'm not sure how to calculate size/number of species/number per species to go with the Neons in a 20-gallon tank. Given Neons are mid- to bottom-dwellers, how would that mix with Diamonds/Reds as mid-levels and/or Black Neons as mid- to top-dwellers and/or Pencilfish as top-dwellers?
<In 20 gallons, you could keep 6-8 Neons, 5-6 Corydoras, and one other school of 6-8 tetras of some sort without problems.>
Bear in mind with all of this that, although I've learned some by now and have done a lot of research THIS time, this is the first time since I lost almost all the fish in one tank that I've gone beyond asking "will they be okay with _____?" to the guy in the fish shop! Does the word "neophyte" come to mind?
<In a good way.>
Also, nobody around here carries Diamonds or Reds, so I would have to either order them through the store or get them on line...the latter of which I've never done before. I've not inquired about ordering, just been told it can be done. Input?
<If you're after Diamond Tetras, Moenkhausia pittieri, they're widely traded. No need to buy all your fish at once. Indeed, getting the Neons settled first is a very good idea.>
Okay, that about covers everything (I can think of); your advice and any further information would be most appreciated. I'm getting excited thinking about this! I have to wait two weeks for the filter to pick up bacteria before changing the substrate and preparing for the new guys, and would be grateful for any advice on changing the tank over and introducing the new "tenants" which you might be willing to give as well.
Much thanks, Niki
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Questions setting up a Neon Tetra tank 11/10/12
Hi again Neale:
Thank you for all your wonderful advice. Hopefully I'll be successful following all your suggestions. And yes, it was Diamond Tetras I was mentioning. I forgot to mention that I feed one tank flakes and brine shrimp, and the other flakes and bloodworms (for the frog). Over-feeding has always been a problem for me, my friend keep slapping my hand away to help me "wean off" over-feeding. I'm learning!
You weren't in favor of me keeping the Kuhli Loach. After reading around, it appears they can take 75°F - 85°F--given the other options and the Neons, if I kept the temp stable somewhere between 75 and 77, they should be okay...and they like "medium to medium soft" water, so that fits (as well as their pH). The sand would be perfect for them. It say they like to be kept in schools of 3 or more--I only have one--I'd rather not get any more if I can keep him? I don't want to give him away, and my other tank has a full-grown Rafael, a Krib and three full-grown Barbs...obviously he can't go in there! He would probably love the soft, black sand to root around in.
You didn't address the African Frog--from what I read, it looks like he might work out okay; temp matches and it says they do well with "other like-minded and docile fish, like the loaches and community tetras", which pretty much exactly describes my tank!
Again, I can't put him in the other tank, for obvious reasons! The other numbers work well, except it says a pH of 7 to 7.2. If that's really necessary, it might be a bit tough to keep it at say a stable 7-7.2 (which would be okay for the other fish), but if it means I can keep him, I'd be willing to try.
<You'll likely be fine, so long as they get food and aren't nippy by anything aggressive.>
The Algae Eater's numbers match, too, and I'd like to keep him (again, he's pretty small so can't go to the other tank) 'cuz he keeps the algae down. Can I keep those three guys, and maybe get two (rather than just one) other small "school" of a different tetra, instead of getting more Cories, or should I stick with these three guys and just the Neons and one other small school of some kind of Tetra? You suggested more Cories; I have two now and don't really want anymore, in fact I'd like to get rid of one of them. I'm not a big fan of Cories, but they keep the bottom "vacuumed" a bit, so that's why I got them. If I could replace your suggestion of more Cories with one of the Cories I've got, I don't THINK that would overstock a 20-gallon, with the Neons and one (or two?) other "mini-school" of another Tetra. If you really think the Loach is a bad idea, I'll give him away with the others I'm removing, but I really love the little guy (seldom as I see him!).
<Well, see what happens. At 24-25 C they should all do okay.>
After what you said, I think I'll go mostly with RO water and maybe some rainwater too. By "food-grade plastic containers are the ideal", I'm guessing you mean plastic containers sold to store food.
<Yes. Also stuff sold for agriculture, like storage of animal feed and whatnot.>
I have a "plastic food container addiction" (they don't seem to have a twelve-step program for that)...so anything I've had to work not to buy too MANY! You're right that buying a few gallons of RO every weekend is no biggie and worth it; we used to buy it for ourselves and gave up as it was too much trouble, so I still have the bigger 5-gallon plastic containers laying around somewhere.
<So there you go. An easy option.>
After reading what you said, I've made a decision. My other tank (mentioned above) is darker, has fake logs in it, one big fake log where the Rafael "lives".
<Ah now, this might eat the Neons. Not sure I thought about this first time around! While they prefer shelled invertebrates, especially snails in the wild, they're not about eating small fish given the chance.>
I think I'm going to switch that to the "seashore tank", 'cuz I've got some really lovely shells and the stones are light w/gold, some kind of decorative rock (it's not limestone). With the existing white sand from the existing "seaside" tank (which I was going to replace with the black sand), it'll be light, so the Neon tank can be dark with the logs, etc. I'm also thinking, given what you said, that if I make the Neon tank the darker one, I might try live plants again.
<Sure. Just remember seashells raise pH and hardness, so they're options for hard water systems and brackish water systems, or obviously marine systems.>
You wrote that Java moss, Java fern, Anubias and bogwood roots in some combination or other would work...as long as they don't bring along snails (been there/done that/no thank you!).
<Easy to prevent. Dip/immerse in snail removing potions as sold in aquarium shops.>
I'll look around for them; that way it will give the Neons (and whatever tetras) lots of things to hide around, and be darker. Does that sound good to you?
Going with live plants, you wrote "Gro-lux tubes (which are a bit purplish) flatter Neons especially"--I'm guessing Gro-lux would be good for the live plants?
<Oddly enough, outstanding for land plants, which is what they were invented for. But they're not that good for aquarium (underwater) plants. Anubias will certainly do fine, and Java fern and Java moss should do okay.>
In which case, I'll go with them; want those little guys to show off to their best advantage, after going to all this trouble! You mentioned not getting all the fish at once; trust me, I won't make that mistake (again)! I'm not going to add any new fish until I'm sure everything (especially the Neons( is happily established, just keep the ones you think I can keep and only add the Neons once the tank has been set up. Thanks for all your advice about how to introduce them, I'll follow it to the letter! Cooling the water slowly is going to be a real chore, as the heater in there doesn't "read" what my thermometer does,
<Hmm… not trouble really, surely? Turn the heater-stat down a degree or two, and let the tank cool down itself.>
so I have to go by the latter and check and check to be sure it's okay until I get it stabilized. Worth it, though'.
<Could well be.>
Swapping the two tanks: Until now, they've both been pretty much the same, water, temp, pH, etc. I'm guessing I shouldn't change too much to start with,
so if I just swap the fish I have now and give away the ones I'm not going to keep, then change all the numbers (slowly!) in the one tank to be good for the Neons, wait a while to be sure everyone's stable, then introduce them, let them settle before I introduce any others. I WILL have to completely empty and clean the tank I'm going to use for the Neons, as the Algae Eater I had in there I think got eaten, so there's quite a bit of algae on the "furniture" (fake logs, etc.). Also, the substrate in there is dark pebbles, so I'll have to clean the whole tank and replace it with the black sand. I'm guessing I should change it over to live plants and let them settle in as well before I add the Neons. Get it all set up, wait (how long?)
<Week or two.>
and check levels of everything, and once it's stable, look for some Neons--introduce them, wait again (how long?)
<A few days, a week.>
before introducing anything else. Does that sound about right?
This is quite an undertaking; I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been successful without you looking "over my shoulder" as it were, but it'll be more than worth it for me if I can get and keep some of those lovely Neons. Thanks once more for all your help! Niki
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Questions setting up a Neon Tetra tank, stkg. 11/11/12
Okay Neale, one more time, then I promise to stop bugging you!
Couple of things: By "You'll likely be fine, so long as they get food and aren't nippy by anything aggressive" I'm guessing you were referring to the African Frog (dwarf, if I didn't mention)?
He's never had any problems with the other fish, shown no sign of damage, etc., and as I said, those were Corys, the Loach and various Tetras, so I'm not sure what would get nippy...?
<Quite so. But giving you a general approach to take when choosing subsequent tankmates and/or deciding which tank to keep these frogs in.>
Also, you expressed concern about the Rafael...I think you misunderstood.
He lives with the Barbs and the male Kribensis (he lost his mate a while back). I wouldn't dream of putting ANY of those in the same tank with Neons, or the Frog. My idea was to swap both tanks...I wasn't thinking of dumping a near-adult Rafael in with the poor Neons, etc. He'd have a field day!
<Or field night, at least.>
I kinda rambled (a problem of mine!), so let's see if I can be clear:
--Dark tank (small pebble substrate, fake logs, plastic plants): Krib, Rafael, 3 Barbs
--Light tank (white sand, rocks, seashells): Frog, Loach, 2 Coreys, 2 small Algae Eaters 1 Glo-Lite Tetra and 3 Harlequin Rasboras (I'm not keeping the Rasboras, Tetra, and 1 of the Corys). My reason for giving away those is that I like Neons, you suggested several I like, and I want to keep little "schools" of Tetras, rather than single individuals of other things.
<Would not use natural seashells in a freshwater tank like this. The shells will dissolve, making your purchase, use of softened water pointless.
Artificial (plastic, ceramic) shells are fine though.>
--Dark tank (w/black sand, assorted plants and fake logs): Whatever Neons I get, Loach, Frog one Corey and Algae Eaters.
--Light Tank (w/light sand, rocks and seashells): Krib, Barbs and Rafael.
So you see, I THINK I'd have it where nobody would hurt anyone else--at least, the Barbs and their buddies have gotten along this far. I hadn't forgotten about the seashells; I'll keep an eye on the pH; will research to see how Barbs, Kribs and Raphaels feel about water hardness...especially the Krib, he's my baby and it about killed me when his lady of long standing died (sniff!).
<None of these are overly fussy about hardness or pH, except to say none like rock-hard water, and if you want to Kribs to breed, you do need a pH of exactly 6.5-7.0 otherwise you end up with all one sex.>
Tried to get him another; she died quickly; I think that was the fault of the store, as I got one for Choey, our downstairs friend/roommate, and it died almost immediately too. Haven't tried again since. Anyway, the shells would be in THAT tank, not with the Neons, etc. I'm paying close attention to what you're telling me, and taking notes, believe me!
Oh, hey, I didn't know there WAS a snail-removing potion! Choey told me snails often come with plants, and I had a SLEW of the tiny, tan-colored bastards I couldn't seem to get rid of (even removing EVERYTHING, boiling everything and going to plastic plants, believe it or not!). I wish I'd known, would have saved a lot of time and effort. Many thanks, I'll look for it right away!
<Potassium permanganate was the old method, but this chemical is fairly toxic and not recommended; snail-killing products are available in pet stores. Typically, dip plants for 20 minutes or so.>
That's really wild about Gro-Lux not being good for aquarium plants! I used it extensively for my regular plants, but I'm reeeely grateful you told me that. I'll go with the Anubias, Java fern and Java, and avoid anything else.
<The Gro-Lux tubes are really good, as you say, but their wavelength (colour) gets cut out by the water really quickly, so with anything more than, say, 20 cm/8 inches of water isn't worth using Gro-Lux tubes alone.
When I started keeping fish, mixing one Gro-Lux with one bright blue-white tube (most of the popular ones used today) was recommended. But really, the bright blue-white tubes are better for fish tanks.>
You are an absolute guardian angel, Neale...there are so many things I now know I'd have done wrong, I'd have ended up terribly disappointed if I didn't have all the advice you've give me. I've made note of everything and will now start down the long road to setting up my two tanks EXACTLY the way that is best for them and that I want them. Exciting!
<Indeed it is.>
Completely separate from my work to create a Neon tank, one last question.
I had a "selection" of Barbs in the tank with the Krib and Rafael; over time several of them died. Now I'm told I can't get anything else to fill the gap, as my Barbs are all full grown and would eat anything smaller.
<Not really sure this is true. While barbs are opportunists, they have small mouths, and like all Cyprinidae, lack teeth, so their predatory abilities are minimal. Ad adult Tiger Barb for example doesn't pose much of a threat to anything other than teeny-tiny fish (newborn Guppies for example).>
So how does one go about replacing something in a tank with other "aggressives"? I've asked two shop owners (one the woman I mentioned that I trust a lot), and they both said "can't be done".
<Provided you choose compatible species that are too deep-bodied to be swallowed whole, there's no real risk I can think of; at worst, barbs are nippy, so adding things like male Guppies, juvenile Angels or fancy Bettas would be daft. But Danios would be fine, being too fast to catch, while the deeper bodied tetras like X-Ray Tetras would be safe as well. Bleeding Heart Tetras are particularly useful fish, offering nice colours (in the right tank, they fade a bit in bright tanks) while having quite a pushy, robust personality themselves. I've kept them with South American Puffers and they did very well. Another stalwart species that'd thrive would be the Black Widow Tetra, but you might also consider the South American Red-Eye Tetra (Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae). It's a pretty species, extremely hardy, but overlooked by some because it can be nippy at times towards slow-moving fish. Since you're keeping it with barbs, that won't be an issue.>
Looks awful empty in there--once I swap it over, will look even MORE empty without the logs and stuff. All I have now, in a 20-gallon tank, are four Barbs (two Tiger--a regular and an Albino--and a Cherry) the Krib and the Rafael. I reeeely miss my two Green Tigers, as they were the reason I set the entire tank up with "aggressives".
<Barbs aren't really aggressive, so I'm not sure you view them this way.
Many barbs, like the Five-Banded Barb and the African Dwarf Golden Barb, are in fact rather shy.>
Should I just leave it at that (since I hope someday to get the Krib another mate), or is there some other option?
<Many; see above.>
Okay, I quit, hopefully you're rid of me now. Thanks again for all your wonderful advice. Now I get to go to work...wish me luck! ;o)
<Real good. Cheers, Neale.>
neon tetra, too few in too small a world - 8/17/12
The pet store recommended a tropical granule with color enhancers as the only food. When I drop a few granules into the tank, the fish swim all around them, but do not go after them or eat them.
<Not at all surprising.>
They then lay on the bottom of the tank.
The granules seem too big for their small mouths. Will they munch on those granules on the bottom or do they need a floating food?
<Neons need foods that sink slowly, e.g., a good quality flake like Tetra Min.>
Would three neons in a 5-gallon tank be to many?
<6-8 Neons in 10-gallons is the MINIMUM for this species.>
Thank you for any help you can provide. B.J. Lane
<Glad to help. All you need to do is buy a new aquarium, cycle it for 6 weeks (if you don't have any mature filter media to hand to put inside the aquarium filter), then add the Neons. Do read:
neon tetras at room temp ? 6/26/12
Tetra Neons... keeping/killing 1/24/11
Guppies and Neons, env. incomp.
Dying fish, FW.... Neons... 4/18/09
Keeping Rams and Neon/cardinal tetras. Sel., sys.
mostly 1/24/09 I have a basement tank, 36/ 18 by 14, 52
gallons. I plan on using a river sand bottom, <Soft sand will be
appreciated; the name Mikrogeophagus means "little
eartheater", and like the true Geophagines cichlids, these fish
(in the wild) sift the sand for algae, invertebrates and decaying
organic material.> my tap pH is around 6.8 to 7. but I plan on using
RO water (With a ph of 6.0), they make for you at World of fish, (its
voted best LFS in twin cities). At the store they sell blue angel rams,
$30 a pair, from a local breeder. These fish look much better, more
vigorous and brightly colored then the regular rams they also sell
(blue/German) they keep the angel rams in RO water but the others they
do not. <Locally bred fish infinitely better and worth the expense.
Farmed Mikrogeophagus ramirezi are of variable quality and often
"juiced" with hormones and antibiotics; consequently their
survival rate after shipping is dismal, even though they look nice in
the shops.> The tank they are in is labeled NFS, as they are
treating for Ich, but all fish on the mend, no signs of Ich on the rams
at all (Corys had it), rams are showing territorial/natural behavior
and they use the same RO, water I'll be using if I get them, at the
shop. <If you have locally bred fish available, buying farmed
specimens would be dumb.> I'm planning on buying a high intense
light, and planting with live plants and driftwood. What kinds of plant
do Rams like or that grow well in their water? <In the wild they
live in sun-baked shallow pools with mostly amphibious vegetation that
mostly grows above the waterline. So there's not really much
"authentic" you can go for. Instead, concentrate on species
that will tolerate the conditions in the aquarium. The very high
temperature (minimum 28 C/82 F) will stress some plant species, while
the necessary soft water will stress others. To be honest, I'd
probably go with floating plants initially, such as the Limnobium, and
leave rocks and hollow ornaments across the bottom for the fish. If you
wanted rooted plants, buy species in pots that you can easily fertilise
with tablets since the sand itself will contain no nutrients (unless
you put a layer of pond soil or whatever underneath the sand).
Cryptocoryne species would be ideal.> What are good foods for these
guys? <These are quite fussy fish that tend to have favourite foods.
I've never seen Mikrogeophagus show much interest in flake or
pellets, though I dare say some will eat the stuff. Mostly they seem to
require a varied diet of live or (wet) frozen foods: bloodworms,
glassworms, mosquito larvae, daphnia, etc. Remember to vary the diet;
if they get just bloodworms, you're setting them up for a vitamin
deficiency in the long term.> I talked to the staff at the LFS and
they said add tetras first after cycling then wait a month or more
before aiding rams/ change like 5 to 10% of the water a week.
<Likely far too little in terms of water changes. Mikrogeophagus
ramirezi are acutely sensitive to nitrate, and tend to develop things
like Hexamita at the first sniff of high levels of nitrate. In part
this is surely why they die so quickly in most community tanks. So
rather than estimating a water change, grab a nitrate kit and keep
track of the nitrate level each week for the first few months.
You'll get a picture of how quickly nitrate levels rise, and can
act accordingly. You're aiming for under 20 mg/l nitrate, and
ideally 0-10 mg/l. Part of this is avoiding overfeeding: these fish
need only small amounts of food to do well.> I was think 1 or 2
pairs of rams and 12 to 15 tetras in a school. <Ok.> I was
wondering if a school of neon, rummy nose or cardinal tetras would be
good dithers ? Are there any other good tetra-like fish to keep with
them or is it best to keep the Angel rams separate? <Neons need cool
water, so they're not an option for use alongside the warmth-loving
Mikrogeophagus ramirezi. Cardinals can work well, and probably make the
best bet. Rummynose tetras would be good in some ways, but they're
hyperactive fish, and need to be kept in a decent sized group to school
properly; if they just mill about looking nervous, that'll have the
reverse effect on your Mikrogeophagus. If you don't mind switching
continents, Harlequin Rasboras work well too.> I do understand the
fancy type of rams are less hardy but I will be moving in five years +
anyway.( though I am planning on taking the tank with) <You'd be
lucky if most of the farmed specimens last 5 months, to be honest. They
really are abysmally poor fish. I wouldn't touch them with a barge
pole. Like pouring money down a drain.> thanks <Cheers,
General Tank and Tetra questions... no reading, use of WWM 3/6/08 Hi All, <Jennifer> I'm very new to being a fish tank "mommy" and I have some questions. I got a small 2.5 gallon tank about 2 weeks ago. I rinsed out the tank, the accessories, the gravel, and the plants very well. Then I treated the water with 4 drops of AquaSafe. I think I added the fish <... what species?> a little too fast <... how... was this system cycled?> and 3 of the original 5 died. I still have 2 neon tetras <Don't "like" new systems...> and they seem to be doing fairly well. After reading through some of the other tetra questions I'll be going out to get a little thing for them to hide in since we currently don't have that, just 3 silk aquarium plants. - How do I test the water and what am I looking for? I know the basics about pH, but I don't know what the pH should be for an aquarium. - How often should I change the water and how much of it should I change out? - Do I need to have a container of tap water sitting out for a couple of days before I add it to the tank? - Can I add any more neon tetras in at any point? And if so, how many should I add? - What can I put in there to help keep the tank clean? The Plecos are all so big and I don't think they would be very happy in a little tank. Also, one of the fish has a weird protrusion on his/her belly. It's not really rounded, more angled. Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated, and if you can recommend a good, basic, book about the care of tetras I would greatly appreciate it! We had neon tetras when I was little, but I don't ever remember my mom doing much to take care of them. We had a Pleco that kept things clean and the tetras just swam around and were pretty. LOL. Thanks again! Jennifer <The answers to all this are posted... Please become familiar with our search tool, indices per: http://wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm And do read here immediately: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Odd Behaving Betta 1/3/08Hello, My name is Katelynn and I have some concerns about a new Betta I bought on December 29th, because he does not eat and he will spend hours curled up on a plant, hiding at the top of the tank in between the heater and the filter, or laying (almost on his side) at the bottom of the tank. <Hello Katelynn... Betta malaise can be caused by a variety of things. Lack of warmth, cold air above the aquarium, and poor water quality are particularly important.> And when I mentioned that he curls up, he actually will be in an upside down, motionless, summersault position. <Not normal.> Sometimes I have to watch him for a couple of minutes to see if he is breathing. Then I get scared, so I take a net and give him a little nudge and then he will move to a different spot and continue his odd behavior. <Touching fish certainly doesn't help. They are easily damaged and your dry skin can cause removal of the mucous on their bodies, allowing secondary infections. Basically, look but don't touch!> I have only seen him swim around twice since I have brought him home and one of those times was because I gave him a nudge. I have never seen anything like this before with Bettas I have had in the past. <Ah, so you have experience with this fish? That's good. Do review the basic requirements of the fish and check you have them all covered. Use test kits to check pH, hardness as well as water quality.> His color has not changed and there is no other physical signs of sickness. Now I will fill you in on my set-up. I have an Eclipse System, 3 gallon tank. <Too small. Three gallons -- especially 3 US gallons -- is a bucket, not an aquarium. I KNOW people keep Bettas in tiny jars and the like, but this hardly makes them easier to maintain. Small tanks are unstable and quickly go bad.> It has a BIO-Wheel 3-stage filtration and a heater that keeps the water between 72-78 degrees. <This is too much temperature change. You want at steady 77F/25C. Humidity above the tank is CRITICAL; use a pane of glass or similar to the top of the tank if is open to the air. You want just a crack to let in fresh air, but enough humidity that water droplets collect on the pane of glass.> I got the tank as an early Christmas gift and I set it up the night I got it and put in three fake plants, (soft so they wont hurt the Bettas' fins) a house and a cave and covered the bottom with gravel and some decorative, polished stones. <Hmm... filter likely immature. Have you checked nitrite or ammonia?> After setting up the tank, I let it run without any fish for a week to establish the nitrogen cycle and after testing the water, I went out fish shopping. <Doesn't work this way. Tanks cycle when they contain fish OR some other source of ammonia, e.g., a piece of decaying seafood. Just sitting there empty achieves precisely nothing.> On that first outing I did not find the perfect Betta, but I did find an active Cory and so I brought him home. He adapted well and then I added two small neon tetras that were in need of a home after my sister decided she did not want her tank anymore and could not find a home for them. <All these in 3 gallons...? NO NO NO. Corydoras and Neons are schooling fish, and Neons especially need to be kept in groups of 6 or more in a 10+ gallon tank. Corydoras also need to be kept in groups of at least 3-4 specimens, and most common species need a 20 gallon tank.> They also adapted great and I waited a week to make sure none of the fish showed any signs of disease. When the fish proved to be healthy and the water quality did not deteriorate, I went out and found that perfect Betta. <Oh...?> I found a small, teal, crown tail Betta and brought him home. At first he swam a bit and then started hiding. He wont even come out to eat. <Neons have been reported to nip Betta fins. The two species cannot be kept together.> I have tried flake food, pellets, and freeze dried bloodworms, but none of these seem to interest him. <Don't worry about food just now.> I test the water daily and the nitrate level is 0, the nitrite level is 0, the water is soft (75GH), the alkalinity is between 120-180KH, and the pH is neutral (between 6.8-7.2). The other fish are fine and seem to be doing great. <Hmm... seriously, I'm not convinced this tank will work in the long term.> If you could please give me any idea of what may be wrong with my new fishy friend, I would be very grateful. Thank you <Difficult to say precisely what's wrong. Check the ammonia and nitrite levels. I'd assuming a tank this young will still be cycling, so don't feed more than 1 times per 2 days, and do 50% water changes at least every other day, and ideally every day. After 3-6 weeks, things should settle down some and you'll find ammonia and nitrite are both zero. Please think seriously about a bigger tank: 3 gallons isn't an aquarium, it's a bucket, and no better suited to keeping fish in the long term. Cheers, Neale.>
Molly and Neon Tetra Health Questions, env. 3/16/2007
Dear WWM crew, <Ching> I love your website and learn a lot from here. Thank you. <Welcome> I have a 15 gallon tank with 2 Cory catfish, 3 black mollies and 7 neon tetras. <Mmm... the Cats and Neons like very different water conditions than the mollies... soft, acidic, much warmer... no salt...> Environment: Water PH: 8.0 (Our tap water is pretty hard.) <I'll say! About the same here in San Diego> Temperature: 25~26 C Nitrate: 20~40 ppm <Way too high... a source of stress...> Nitrite: 0 ppm Ammonia: 0 ppm One male molly has "obvious" mouth fungus and noticeable grey spots on his body. As I heard Cory catfish and neon tetra do not like salt, I did not add aquarium salt to the tank. <Good> I used Melafix and Pimafix together to treat the black molly. The second day and third day I could see the improvements and thought the medicine worked great. <Mmmm> As the medicine indicated we can use it when intruding new fish to the tank, so while during the course of Molly's medication (on the fourth day, I think) I added 4 neon tetras to the tank. The 7 neon tetra were doing fine and schooling around together. The black molly seemed to be getting better too. However, yesterday (the 8th day of the medication) black molly's mouth started to show the fungus again and I saw a couple of grey spots on his body. Should I use other medicine, stronger one? Or I should continue the ones I am using? <I would separate the molly/mollies, treat it/them with salt... Keep it in another setting> Today (the 9th day) I saw a red spot on one neon tetra's body, which is near the tail. I am not sure what it is an have no idea what I should do. It looks like human's bruise just the color is red not purple. Anything you could suggest? <Yes... to modify their water chemistry (w/o the Mollies present)... to be softer/more acidic (pH below 7.0)...> I have had this tank just for two months and enjoyed it a lot. But, there's still so much to learn to keep my fish healthy. <Lots of valuable lessons about life...> Thank you again for all the information you provide on the site. It is really helpful! Yours truly, Ching <A pleasure to help you, Bob Fenner>
Help with my brackish water tank
Bob <Amanda> I read your recommendations on plants for brackish water and I just wanted to see if what you thought about my situation... I recently introduced bumble bee gobies to my formerly VERY happy fresh water tank ... now after some research I am learning they need brackish water... <Yes> ok I don't want them to die... but the tank is doing so well ... I have some Japanese shrimp, vale, Sagittarius, and neon tetras... plus the new bumble bee's will everyone be ok with a little more salt? <Actually... most all, but not the Neons. I would put them in a system with softer, more acidic water... with no added salt. Bob Fenner> Thank you Amanda
Re: brackish water question... Here is my problem... I recently bought five bumble bee goby's even more recently I learned they need brackish water... (no one at the pet store said a thing) <Mmm, must be the same tank, Amanda> The tank they are in is my favorite - it is well planted with fast growing Val and Sagittarius... there are two Japanese shrimp and about ten neon tetras... will adding a small amount of salt for the bumble bee's harm the others? <Just the Neons> I am hesitant because the tank is so well balanced I never have to clean any algae ... just remove the Val when it starts to take over... Thank you so much for any ideas.... Amanda <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>
pH question for neon tetra Hi Crew, You have a really great
site: I have been finding answers for most of my questions since I
started my aquarium. But this one is still bugging me. What would be
better for my tank to keep pH stable but fairly high or try to reduce
in with chemicals risking its stability? It is 40Gals planted tank that
have been running for about two moths, while fish is living there for a
month. No detectable ammonia and nitrates. My tap water is about 7.0pH
and very soft, but as soon as it is in the tank the pH goes up to 7.4pH
and the hardness sets at 80 mg/l. I have been filtering water through
peat from the beginning and doing weekly 20% water changes. I keep 8
neon tetra for now and plan to add a small shoal of Corys, gouramis
and, possible, a couple of small loaches (if snails got out of
control). Now I understand that pH 7.4 is too high for Neons, yet from
what I learned the playing with pH is least desirable thing. Please,
give me some advice on how to deal with this dilemma. It will be very
much appreciated. <Something in the tank is buffering the water to
the higher pH. Calcium in the water may be one source or even the
sand/gravel may be reacting to the water. If you get your water from a
well then check the water from the tap and then let it sit overnight
and then check it again. If the pH rises then the real pH of your water
is the 24 hour reading. Well water sometimes contains co2 and this
temporarily lowers the pH until the co2 is off gassed. Assuming the
true pH of your water is 7.4 I would recommend the following. Start
getting some RO/distilled water and do a 5 gallon per week water change
with it. Treat the 5 gallons of water with a buffer that will bring the
water down to where you want it. After a few water changes your water
will gradually be lowered to where you want it to be. Be careful . New
fish from the store need to acclimated to the lower pH over time. If
the local stores have water that is hard and alkaline then they may not
appreciate the abrupt change.-Chuck> Thank you, Konstantin.