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A Slew Of Novice Tank Set-up Questions


uberleslie

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So I'm nursing a very sick common back to health after a near-death experience due to my inexperience. (Read more of my chaos in the "Goldfish is dying" thread on the 911 board). My fish, Fisher, is on the road to recovery, and I'm learning more and more about everything I was doing wrong. I'm hoping to improve the current/future tank set up in a few ways...

Filter Question

Fisher has moved up from her tiny 5 gallon to a 20 gallon tank (got a TopFin 20 gal kit for Christmas). I'm not in love with the filter that came with the kit, a TopFin 20 gal Power Filter, and so I'm wondering if there is a better power filter out there. I'm no where near ready for a canister filter, but sorta torn between the bio-wheel and power. Any thoughts on which way I should go and what brands are the best? (I'm hoping to get something reasonably compact too, but I also want to 'over-filter' a bit if that's okay.)

Ornaments

I bought a few rock-like ornaments off the petstore shelf quickly just to have something, but, again, I'm not in love with them. I've seen 'petrified wood' aquarium rocks on ebay, and I really like the natural look of them. Are these safe for my tank? Also, I've seen some folks who have terracotta pots in their tanks. I think this is nifty too. Are these safe? (And do I buy a specific kind? Do I do something special before adding them to the tank?)

Gravel/Rocks

I've got about a 3/4-1-inch layer of medium gravel in the tank currently. I'm thinking of taking this down to about a 1/2-in. She's having trouble getting at her anti-bacterial food, which is causing very messy gravel currently, hence the desire to reduce (plus, I absolutely suck at siphoning...ugh!). However, the plastic plant bases are barely covered as-is. Any suggestions for keeping the bases covered with minimal gravel?

Also, I have a couple of small river rocks purchased from the petstore, but I've seen tanks that have bigger ones. Can I just get any sort of 'river rock' to put in there?

...That's it for now, I think!

Thanks in advance for advice and opinions!

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1. The TopFin brand is a lower quality filter - not made for the long haul in my opinion. It will not hurt to hang onto the filter - or even run it as a secondary filter on your tank - but rarely do the filters that come in "kits" have the sort of power that a goldfish needs. The kits are usually designed for tropicals - who need less gph. You want to have at least 200 gph running on your 20 gallon tank. I have 350s on some 20s and 400s on 25 gallon tanks. A lot depends on what you have, how the tank is set up and how it is stocked.

A good workhorse of a bio-wheel filter that I really like is the Emperor 280. It is a classic - I have 9 of them. They "take a licking and keep on ticking" as the saying goes. A 280 is a splendid filter for a 20 gallon tank. It has plenty of room for extra media, along with biowheel platform and great gph.

2. http://www.kokosgoldfish.invisionzone.com/...?showtopic=8441

This link discusses how to determine if a rock is inert enough to be used in your fishtank without affecting the pH or kH or ..... whatever. I have gone to the local landscaping company that specializes in stone. There, they let me pick rocks up where the dump trucks get filled. The rocks that fall on the ground are not worth picking up. I cherry pick interesting colors and shapes of rocks for use in my tanks. The "Aquarium rocks" sole on e-bay need to be ones that are either REAL petrified wood ( a rock that has replaced the actual wood over time) or man-made materials made to be kept underwater. Do your homework on what is offered. You also do not want them hollow - you want them solid so that they stay down and do not provid a place for toxic gases to collect. TErracotta (red clay) pots are fine. I would be leery of using anything that has been painted or comes from China. Go for the super cheap red clay pots sold in just about any garden center. These are fine.

3.I run my tanks without a gravel base. I take pretty stones that I have gathered (you can buy polished ones, too) and glue them to the bases of the plants with aquarium sealant. This makes the plants look attractive and keeps them down. Others have stuck plants in red clay pots - and they are fine.

:)

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I'd definatly reccomend reducing your gravel. I took mine out recently and put in a single layer of small river stones. There is SUCH a difference. When I vaccum now, hardly any waste comes off the bottom....as opposed to the brown waste I'd suck out of the gravel before.

I use terra cotta pots as well, they're great. I have live plants in mine, but I'm sure they'd look fine with artifical too :)

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Great information about the rocks! But I have a question about the ornaments... I just read in another section (posted by koko) that hollow ornaments held water and made the water stagnate...I just spent a bunch on an Oriental wood shack for my Oranda. I was wondering, what if I filled it up with silicone? What if I put a bubble stone in it? Do either of these solutions sound feasible?

What is the general opinion of marbles?

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Great information about the rocks! But I have a question about the ornaments... I just read in another section (posted by koko) that hollow ornaments held water and made the water stagnate...I just spent a bunch on an Oriental wood shack for my Oranda. I was wondering, what if I filled it up with silicone? What if I put a bubble stone in it? Do either of these solutions sound feasible?

What is the general opinion of marbles?

You can do wither one of those ideas with your hollow oranament. Fill it with sealant or run a bubble stone it it. Either way, the water will not be stagnant and harbor bacteria. As far as marbles, there are ppl here who put them in the tank. Just wash them really well before you do.

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Thank you Dan and Nickie...very much. I really liked the Oriental shack and it gives my whole tank an atmosphere that maybe my Oranda is right at home. That is good news to know that there are options. I'm going to try for the bubbles first, Dan, you're right. A few strategically placed holes would lend a wonderful touch to it.

Thanks! :D

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Thank you Dan and Nickie...very much. I really liked the Oriental shack and it gives my whole tank an atmosphere that maybe my Oranda is right at home. That is good news to know that there are options. I'm going to try for the bubbles first, Dan, you're right. A few strategically placed holes would lend a wonderful touch to it.

Thanks! :D

I think the bubbler would look awesome in your shack!!! I want to get some sort of statue or "house" to put in my tank after I get it cycled and I will definately put a bubbler in whatever I put in there! I would love to see pics of your shack!!!

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