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New To Freshwater Tropical…………Need Some Help!

Home Forums My Aquarium New To Freshwater Tropical…………Need Some Help!

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    I’m new to this site and am in need of some help. I have a Juwel Rio 180 which now has gravel, live plants, some ornaments and is full of water! Currently doing a fishless cycle and have added some API Quick Start as I’m not at home much over the next few weeks. 

    I’ve tested the water and some of the levels are a bit too high (gh and kh), so I’m in the process of getting these lowered. Ammonia, nitrite and nitrate seem ok.

    My tank is now looking much better as I’ve now got a nice supply of live plants and rocks. I have one major concern though. Once all the levels are ok and the fish are added, how do I clean the gravel? I’m using pea gravel and the plants are bedded into the gravel. If I use the siphon/vacuum to clean under the gravel surely this will dislodge the plants?

    I should also add that these are the fish that I am interested in. Listed in order of adding to tank:

    Danio x 6
    Barbs x 6
    Swordtails x 4
    Loach x 3
    Corydora x 4
    Angel Fish x 3
    Golden Pencil Fish x 5
    Borneo Sucker Loach x 1 (Water may not be warm enough for this)
    Blue Lobster x 1
    Dwarf Aquatic Frog x 3

    And one final thing………do I need any sort of fertiliser for my plants? If so, what?




    in order to get the help you’re looking for, you need to be not only a bit but rather a lot more specific. 

    “Loaches” commonly kept in aquaria vary from only 3 to about 40 cm in length on the conservatve side, same applies to “Barbs” and, if not quite as dramatically, to “Danios”.

    How you come to the conclusion that a tank in which you plan to keep “Angel Fish” could be too cold for “Borneo Suckers” is a bit of a riddle, at least to me.

    To be able to tell you if, what and how much fertilizer you need, one would have to know, which plant species you have.

    But one thing I can tell you with absolute certainty, any “Lobster” will have a field day, sorry let me rephrase that, a field minute with the “dwarf aquatic frog”!





    Sorry, the Loaches will probably be Clown Loaches, the barbs will either be Green Tiger Barbs or Ruby Barbs.

    I thought Angel Fish were suitable at 26-29°c, whereas the Borneo Sucker is 20-24°c.

    As for the plants, to be honest I have no idea as they were given to me by the local fish shop. I recently purchased some additional plants, 2 x Hygrophila polysperma, 2 x Alternanthera cardinalis and a Eleocharis acicularis.

    I don’t think I’ll bother with the lobster then! DAF’s are more important!



    Hi and welcome to the site!

    I’d omit both lobster and frogs, both of which deserve dedicated set-ups in my opinion as well as the clown loaches which get very large and should be kept in a group larger than 3. See here: https://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/chromobotia-macracanthus/

    If you want a similar loach species the striped botia, Botia striata, may be better for you since it stays much smaller. Would still buy more than 3 though: https://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/botia-striata/

    Definitely leave the ‘borneo sucker’ out – these require quite specialised conditions and are unsuited to the general community.



    Thanks Matt. I wasn’t aware that Clown Loaches grew that big, I do like the look of the Zebra Loach so will get a minimum of 4 of those. 

    I’m completely new to this and looking for as much help as possible. The plants I have are 2 x Hygrophila polysperma, 2 x Alternanthera cardinalis, 1 x Eleocharis acicularis (for carpet) plus some other plants given to me by the lfs. All these plants are bedded directly into the pea gravel as instructed by the lfs, but I’m not totally happy with this. I also have 5kg of Dragon Stone Rock, 5kg of Canyon Rock, 1kg of Serano Zen Pebbles, a large piece of bogwood and a piece of Sumatra Driftwood.

    Is it worth adding some liquid fertiliser for the plants?



    Did a quick test today and these are the results:

    GH = 180
    KH = 240
    pH = 6.5
    Nitrite (NO2) = 1-3
    NitrAte (NO3) = 40-80

    Sadly I don’t know what the Ammonia levels are as the API Test Strips only measure pH, NO2, NO3, KH and GH.



    Ok, here are my results now I’ve got the API liquid test kit:

    pH = 7.6
    High Range pH = 7.8
    Ammonia = 0.5 ppm
    Nitrite = 5 ppm
    Nitrate = 10 ppm

    Now what? 10% water change?



    How long has the tank been running now? Since you are doing a fishless cycle I wouldn’t bother with water changes right now. That’s only necessary if you find that you have nitrite/ammonia while fish are in the tank. Right now you just to focus on letting the tank cycle properly.

    I would say, since it’s a completely new aquarium it would be wise to start adding small amounts of fertiliser so the plants can settle in properly. But go very easy on the fertiliser in the beginning, you don’t want to grow algae instead of plants. Personally I don’t really bother with fertilisers anymore since I find that I get more algae problems if I use them rather than not. Anyway, you have picked some pretty good plants. Hygrophila polysperma is a great plant as it uses a lot of nutrients. Eleocharis acicularis can be a bit trickier and you might find that it won’t really grow into a nice carpet unless you give it lots of light and even CO2 fertilisation. 

    As for cleaning the gravel – you don’t have to worry about this for now. This is something you might want to consider when the tank has been running for several months or even years but right now you just want everything to settle in and try your best not to disturb things. In my experience siphoning the gravel does more bad than good things to your tank, that is of course as long as you don’t overfeed your fish. Either way your plants will soon root properly and then it will be very hard to tear them up from the substrate just from a little siphoning of the gravel. Obviously you can also avoid siphoning in the areas where you have your plants, that is when you get to the point where you actually have to siphon the gravel.



    you said you were in the process of lowering you GH and KH – how?


    I would leave well alone with changing these if your new to the hobby. A big drop in KH may cause a big drop in pH and kill your live stock (when you’ve added them!). I would stock fish that suit your water hardness.


    Would agree with the lobster/Frog comment. I made the mistake of adding a lobster to a small commynity tank once, within about a week I had no fish or plants left – he’d eaten the lot!



    Did a 30% water change today. The results before the water change are:

    pH = 7.6
    High Range pH = 7.4
    Ammonia = 0.25
    Nitrite = 5
    Nitrate = 40



    Why are you doing water changes when you, as you said, are doing a fishless cycle???

    Absolutely counter productive as has been mentioned before in this thread!!


    And you may as well save your pH tests for later. All you should be intersted in right now is Ammonia, Nitrite and perhaps Nitrate, of which none influence your pH level. That is determined mainly by KH and CO².



    @Rüdiger said:
    Why are you doing water changes when you, as you said, are doing a fishless cycle???

    Absolutely counter productive as has been mentioned before in this thread!!


    And you may as well save your pH tests for later. All you should be intersted in right now is Ammonia, Nitrite and perhaps Nitrate, of which none influence your pH level. That is determined mainly by KH and CO².

    I did a water change as instructed on another forum. I get so much conflicting information it’s getting confusing!

    So all I need to do is test the water daily?



    Not quite, you also need to add some sort of Ammonia to keep the level up at between 2 and 4 ppm until your Nitrite levels fall to almost zero. That’s why I said, testing anything but Ammonia and Nitrite during cycling is a waste of money. Once your Nitrite level is zero, Ammonia should follow suit within a day or two. Then you check Nitrate (which should be taken care of by your plants anyway) as well and it should be almost time to add your fishes. The pH should still be more or less the same as your tap water, unless you’ve got a lot of wood or, on the other end of the scale, a lot of Rocks like sand- or limestone. Only NOW do a large (about 90%) water change and add the fishes.

    As @oaken said earlier, as a beginner you should not temper with KH and GH as that can quickly result in desaster.

    There’s by the way an article on cycling here on SF. 





    Thank you. I will get a bottle of Ammonia today and start adding that. 

    Going by the calculation Desired tank ammonia level/(Ammonia concentration % (from the label) x 10/tank volume in litres) = Amount of household ammonia to add in ml I would assume that this would be approx 7.5ml of Ammonia as my tank is 180l 4/(9.5×10/180)

    I then keep testing the Ammonia levels to ensure that it’s between 2-4 ppm and check the Nitrite until it goes to zero? The Ammonia will then go to zero after a couple of days?

    What should my NitrAte level be after this?



    This is my tank so far.



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