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    Hello Everyone,

    I’m a complete novice and looking for some help.  Yesterday I purchased a Biorb Flow 30 Litre aquarium and a RENA Smart Heater (range 20c – 34c).

    I would like to end up with an interesting mini ecosystem (including some invertebrates) with some colour.  I am totally open to ideas on species as their welfare is paramount and I’m more concerned that any species I get will thrive in the space.

    I have NO facilities to deal with offspring so I suspect this may have a baring on the species and gender mix you advise :).

    Having read a few fish keeping websites I am slightly concerned that I may have bought an aquarium that is too small for a beginner (this was mentioned on a few ‘Top 5 mistakes beginners make’ lists).

    Everything is still in it’s original packaging so it wouldn’t be a big hassle to change the tank if that’s what is best.  

    Just a question about cycling; the staff at the shop told me that I only needed to cycle for one week before adding fish whereas some posts I’ve read say let it cycle for at least a month.  What would you recommend?

    Also, what other basic equipment will I need before I get my critters? The biorb includes a pump, filter, LED light, ceramic pebbles and water treatment sachet.

    Many thanks





    Yes that would totally be my advice. Exchange that tank for one which at least can hold 120l. If you can go for 180-240l. Much of the other advice will depend on were you live and what is available to you? There are places you can use the water straight from the tap but in many places you have to pretreat it somehow.


    Tbh we are not a beginners forum here. I would recommend to get advice at one of the larger ornamental fish forums of your country.



    Thank you for your reply. I shall keep reading here as I’m sure I’ll grow into it as I get my confidence. :-)



    While a larger tank is always better and increases your stock options, my first tank was a ten gallon. You have lots of options, just keep them small. Cherry shrimp are colorful and easy to keep. Have a look at the dwarf rasboras, cories, smaller tetras and danios just to name a few. As mentioned it depends on what you have available. I wish people would add their location to the profile :).

    And don’t listen to that shop! Any shop that tells “you only need to cycle for a week” is not to be trusted. Cycling is a process that is finished when it’s finished. I would count on 3-4 weeks. Have fun,and good luck!

    Read this,




    I think 30 litres is okay to start with. Buy easy plants that don’t have high light requirements and go slow. I think it’s wise especially for beginners to let the aquarium cycle for a longer time than a week. Aim for about a month as previously mentioned. So before you add any fish, buy plants, buy fertiliser for your plants (this is important especially in the beginning since your tank won’t have any nutrients available for them) but go easy on the dosage. Then wait a couple of weeks until you see that your plants have began to settle and grow. By then you should be able to add your first fish, but start with just a few and go easy on the feeding in the beginning. 


    Good luck!





    I went back to the shop when it was quieter and got some great advice. I have exchanged the original tank for a Super Fish Aqua 65 (65 litre) tank and the guy at the shop talked me through everything I’d need.  Upshot is I came home with everything I need for setup and maintenance plus plants for £20 less than the original tank alone!

    As you can see from the photo, the tank looks a bit bare at the moment but I am going to add a back ground and lots more plants soon.

    The only issue I’m having is with the filter that came in the starter kit.  It’s an Aqua-Internal filter 200 and it’s *noisy*.  I don’t mind the sound of the water (I find that rather relaxing) but the sound of the motor inside the filter has played havoc with my sleep (the tank is in my bedroom) and I really need something quieter!  Also it says this particular filter is for tank sizes 10-200 litres and though I’ve managed to slow the flow of water I really don’t want to give my poor little fishies concussion when I get them! :-P

    I have been looking for quieter filters and came across the Stingray and saw it getting good reviews on Amazon so I wondered what you all thought of it?



    Hello again!


    Unfortunately I don’t have time to write extensively. So here are some things I noticed and would do differently:


    Use sand (of natural color) as substrate. By using gravel you limit your options in which fish you can keep.


    Your tank is empty. You need many, many more plants, including plants which will reach the surface. In the beginning use plants which are rather fast growing. Before planting them into your tank you need to remove all pots, substrate, clamps etc. from the plants or they will not grow very well.


    Do you know about cycling? Cycling a planted tank is different and not as simple. High ammonia will also kill your plants.


    Do you know about your water parameters, hardness & pH?


    I don’t know about your filters. Try to disassemble and reassemble your filter, make sure there is no air within and position it and all cable in a way that there is minimum contact to the tank and especially the cover/lid. This might reduce noise a lot.

    Concerning noise I have been quite happy with the Eheim Pickup 2012 (to large for ur tank, but there are smaller ones in this series) and the Fluval U1 (clogs rather quickly and therefore has to be cleaned often).

    Hope this helps a little.


    Barb Man

    Yeah looks good. Most of us forget what it was like to start out because we have been doing this for longer than we actually remember.

    Yes sand is better but sometimes harder to grow plants in. You probably won’t specialize in a type of fish like all of us. I have microgeophagus ramirezi, 6 ruby tetra, 2 otocinclus, and some feeders for my big bass. That’s a little bit of a jumble. You might just want some cories and tetra. I have always wanted some boraras species and this is going to be a planted tank I read and they do well with plants I think.

    Tell us what you think you want and we will try to help with stuff you don’t know like compatibility and water chemistry and how many you should get. There really is so much to do in 65 liters which is a little more than 15 gallons here. You can have a betta some white clouds which are little minnows or even some gobies which can be really cool.

    Really look everything up and ask questions if you can’t figure it out. The answers are out there you just have to look for them



    Thanks for your replies everyone – I’m sorry I took so long to get back to you as I haven’t figured out how to ‘watch’ a topic yet and be notified of replies :).

    As you can see by the photograph, my aquarium is looking much more ‘up together’.

    I am doing the necessary water tests at intervals recommended by the booklet that came with my test kit and I am starting to understand what everything means. The last ammonia test I did on the 26th was 0ppm.

    I have bought some great books which tell me what kind of substrate, temperature and PH each species prefers.  I’m not going to rush the selection process, I figure time spent now will set me up for greater success when I actually come to getting my fish.  I want a peaceful community tank and so far the species I’m looking at are:


    Black Skirted Tetra

    Harlequin Rasbora

    Golden Barbs


    If I just end up keeping one species and learning everything there is to know about it for now I’m perfectly happy with that. :)

    With regards to the filter, the guy at the shop said it would be fine to put it under the water (which I didn’t know by looking at the placement instructions on the box!).  I tried that and the noise is better but still rather loud.

    He showed me a fluval filter and I’ve been reading the reviews of the U2.  One person who is a light sleeper and has his tank in the bedroom like me said it was so quiet he had to put his ear right up to the tank to check it was running, which makes me think that’ll suite me fine. :)


    Many thanks for your help, I’m sure I’ll be back to ask more questions soon! ;)




    You need to take the plants out of those pots.



    @knutschi said:
    You need to take the plants out of those pots.

    Is that because they’ll become pot bound like other plants? I’m feeding them regularly so will they be ok in the substrate I have?


    Barb Man

    Yeah the pits just hold the gel that companies put on the roots. The plants have roots just like other plants. I trim my roots when I move plants so that they grow into the substrate better. No offense to the first three but they are pretty common for me at least. Danios is a big group of fishes and some would be small for your aquarium. Some tetra look like the best I would say because of all the swords and maybe some otocinclus would do good. I’ve only ever had emperors and only for a short time but too big for you and currently I have rubys. They are my favorite I wish I could have like 100.

    I would get silver tips but I honestly don’t know if they would fit. Can’t wait to see what you decide to get


    Byron Hosking

    I have a few comments on your fish list.  First on the plants, I agree to remove the pots and most of the “rock wool” around the roots.  I find that if you hold the pot under the tank water, you can very gently squeeze it with your hand and then release and the pot easily slips off.  Then carefully pull apart the white rock wool, trying not to damage the roots.  Another member suggested trimming the roots, but I have found the roots are often very minimal in these plants, so I don’t at this stage.  Form a depression in the sand, place the plant down it it, and backfill the sand.  If you plant deep enough, you can lightly pull the plant up a bit to ensure the crown is not buried (this can rot plants like swords).

    You will need some plant fertilizer to get these going.  And sword plants (Echinodorus species) are heavy feeders.  A substrate fertilizer such as Seachem’s Flourish Tabs will make quite a difference; one next to each sword plant, replaced every three months.  For a comprensive liquid that will feed all the plants, Seachem’s Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planted Aquarium is good, or Brightwell Aquatics’ FlorinMulti.  You use very little; follow the directions.

    Now to the fish.  This is a 65 litre aquarium, which seems to be roughly a 20 gallon high for those of us in NA, so this is not a lot of space.  Some fish are active swimmers (all danio and barbs for example), while some are more sedate and less active (most rasbora as an example).  While you can combine such fish, space limits this.  Of the fish you list, the rasbora would be ideal choices for this planted tank.  The Harlequin Rasbora, Trigonostigma heteromorpha, is very sedate, and will spend its time about mid-tank and relatively inactive.  A group of 7 to 9 is best.  There are two other closely-related species that I actually prefer, but that’s up to you.  My favourite is the “Copper” Harlequin, Trigonostigma hangeli, and there is also T. espei, all are in the knowledge base here on SF.  The latter will likely be wild caught, so pay attention to water parameters.

    And speaking of water, what are the parameters for your source water (presumably tap water)?  The GH and KH are most important, the pH (which is related to these) a bit less so.  Your local water authority may have a website with this data posted, or you can ask them.

    To the other listed fish…the Black Skirt Tetra Gymnocorymbus ternetzi I would forget in this small a tank.  This fish is not exactly small as it matures (can reach 6 cm), and it is more active and also can fin nip sedate fish depending upon the environment and other fish.  Golden Barb I will assume is Barbodes semifasciolatus and at 7+ cm and being active should have more space.  And by the way, these are all what we term shoaling fish, meaning they require a group.  Numbers can vary, but there is no doubt that the more there are with such species, the better they will be, so don’t under-populate the species you select.

    Danio can be many fish as someone else mentioned, but they are active and if you start with the rasbora I would stay with more sedate fish.  With the rasbora, some of the smaller gourami will work, and there are many other rasbora and several characins (tetra, pencilfish, hatchetfish) that might be worth considering.  Some species have issues, but if you find any check the profiles here or ask us.

    Substrate-level fish are nice to include, and you could look at any of the Corydoras catfish, the Rineloricaria parva whiptail, maybe one of the dwarf loach species.

    Hope this is of some assistance.  Don’t hesitate to ask questions here, there’s a load of experience among our members.




    Thank you, that’s a great help!  I shall see if I can find out what the water parameters are iny area. Thanks for the advice on the fish, I shall ammend my ‘wish list’ accordingly.



    1. Today I liberated the plants from their pots and swapped the supefish filter for the Fluval U2 and it is indeed practically silent!  I managed to get the charcoal pellets and some of the foam from the previous filter into the new one so some of the good  bacteria is in there.  I’m about 4 weeks into my cycling phase so do you think my estimation of another 3 weeks is about right (water tests permitting of course)?
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