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Discussion Starter #1
hey,
I consider myself incredibly "green" when it comes to fish...an ex-boyfriend got me interested, but we broke up before I learned enough...just enough to wet my appetite, and land me with a 110gal african cichlid tank...

I have the right equipment...I just dont know a lot about chemical stuff, proper lighting, cleaning, water changes, decor, good/bad....I find that my tank just doesnt look as nice as a lot of seen pictures of, none of the tanks I've ever had set up ever have the nice crisp clear look to it, maybe its the light?

does the wood leach anything? (its proper wood purchased at king eds for a fish tank) I only ask because all the tanks i've had it in seem to have a orange/yellow tinge...so I thought it might be leeching something...even after a water change...so im not sure what it is...

maybe I need a new light? my bulbs may be too yellow? I think that may be it..I dont have enough bulb power to penetrate the 32" deep tank...?

I would love a good book that could teach me these things...or even someone that could come, assist me in cleaning the tank once, and just sort of teach me things that I need to know...I'd even pay someone a little bit if they would be willing to come by.

I'd love to expand my knowledge...and once me and my husband are able to move into a larger house, we'd love to have multiple tanks, and try and get into salt water...but I cant fork out the cash on something I know absolutely nothing about! I can dable in the fresh water and get away with it...

I'd love to set up my 36gal bowfront again (once we move) as I had a planted shrimp tank in that before I got the large tank...the bowfront is in storage, and we'd like to either use that for a salt water, or just a planted shrimp tank.

Currently I'd just like to get the one tank I have set up perfect...any thoughts or help?!

Thank you!!!
 

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Wood will leach tannins into the water. Tannins are absolutely fine for fish but looks bad for us. Charcoal will remove the tannins from the water, but some aquarists don't use it (myself included) because it will also remove elements from the water. Seachem has a product - purigen that also removes tannins and is much more specific than charcoal (only removes the bad stuff) but it has a high up front cost, though it is regenerable so over time it's not that costly. Tannins can also be important to fish that like lower ph like South American cichlids, because wood and decay will lower Ph.

You're correct that the power of the bulb could be something to consider for your tank, but only if you're trying to grow plants. Fish do not require the levels of light that plants require. It would be mostly for you're own benefit. To change the colour of the bulb, you just have to select the colour temperature you like. Generally, bulbs come in 2700k (kelvin), which is the soft light that most bulbs in your house would be. 5700-6500k which is daylight. Or 10,000k which is the brightest, closest to white. You can get higher kelvin ones, but those produce blue for saltwater and aren't beneficial for freshwater.

A good understanding to start with is to google "the nitrogen cycle" if you don't understand the cycling process yet. This is essentially the way the water handles waste. Fish eat food, plants decay producing ammonia. Bacteria requiring oxygen grow and consume ammonia, converting it into nitrites. Another strain of bacteria requiring oxygen grows and consumes nitrites, converting into nitrates. To the most part that is where the cycle ends, nitrates build up in the system which if left long enough can cause stress on the fish. Ammonia is the most toxic to fish, Nitrites are next most toxic. Ammonia has a toxic version and a non-toxic version (Ammonium - which live plants will consume). Both Ammonia and Ammonium are kept relative by the Ph. Lower Ph means less toxic Ammonia and more non-toxic Ammonium (available for plants).
Also to note is there's a strain of bacteria that requires a non-oxygen environment (anaerobic). This strain will actually consume Nitrates, there's products and equipment out there that will produce this environment to help.

Another thing to know is the idea of water parameters. You can raise ph levels through carbonate based rocks. Limestone, Holey Rock, Tuffa Rock etc. But more important than Ph is the osmotic balance which is connected to TDS. High Ph fish generally like high Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) which is essentially how many elements are in the water. Various Aquarium salts and buffers will help increase this. On the other side, you can lower ph by adding wood, peat and some other organic matter (almond leaves etc).

I included rather random pieces of info, there's lots of aspects to fish raising, but it sounds like your doing just fine - most of the info is beneficial only at specific challenges you may face in the future. I've found using forums to read will greatly help your understanding. Just learn as you go is the best way.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
thank you so much! very informative, and incredibly easy to understand.

I actually had one of the employees at King Eds (a fish store locally) recommend the purigen, and I've been using that ever since, its great! he said the biggest down fall to it is that the bags that you buy to put it in have larger holes than the media, so it falls out...i used pantyhose cut up and tied off, and it makes a GREAT mesh bag for it...

I also have the black bio-chem "stars" he recommended using the 2 together, so thats what I have in my Fluval 405...

I think I may change out my bulb, I believe it has a white bulb and a yellow bulb, I cant remember what it is now...It came in the purple box, the 2 bulb strip light...

On a tank this size, how much water should I be removing with each water change, and how often should I be doing it?

Thanks :)
 

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Neil has some very good suggestions. Driftwood (especially Mopani) can leach tannins for years. I think your best resource would be this forum as opposed to a book. But I do have some beginner african cichlid books I'm willing to donate to you (once i get a new couch). They are currently being used to prop it up ;)! Your best stratedgy would be to list in detail (if you can) the specifics about your set-up (ie filtration, tank dimensions, type of lighting, heating, substrate, hardscape, etc.) and then go from there. Welcome to BCA and hopefully you will find what you need here.

And...... I would most definitely set your 36 bowfront up as a planted shrimp tank (JMHO).

Best Regards,

Stuart
 

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+1 for purigen, i run it in my african tank and love it, keeps the water nice and clear, i think i'll always use this stuff from now on
 

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Personally, I find that book are outdating themselves pretty fast. And while there are some great books out there, I have personally found a number of "beginner" books to contain some pretty faulty information.

On that note, I prefer 'stickies' pinned to the top of forums. They are subject to the critique of many well-informed members so they contain, on the whole, correct and up-to-date information. A number of them are also aimed at new fishkeepers, so they are easily digestible.

We don't really have a lot of stickies on this forum, let alone stickies for newbies, but here are some that I have found to be helpful in the past:

Cycling a Tank
The Importance of Quarantine
 

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Discussion Starter #7
great stuff guys!!! incredibly helpful! ...the only way actually found this forum was from Cowis (i think) sold me a pleco that I found on craigslist...so that was super helpful to find this place!

when I first had my bowfront set up...it was a planted tank, I had some platys, german rams, and probably 12 ghost shrimp...the shrimp is something i find SO interesting! they are fun to watch, and just overall unique :)


as for the break down of what I currently have set up...
I have all the boxes in my crawl space...so bare with me on what this stuff actually is...

-110 gal (48x18x32 tall)
- I have a fluval 405 with purigen and the black chem stars (and sponge of course)
-tetra whisper 60 air pump with stone
-2 heaters ( I cant remember what size, but the temp is always right)
-UV sterilizer ( I dont know what size...)
-1 T5 strip light (2 bulbs) (it was in the purple box, I dont recall the wattage, or types of bulbs...i believe one is more purplish, the other is more yellow?)
-natural gravel substrate (itty bitty stones) the fish seem to love and are ALWAYS digging in it.
-about 11 limestone rocks (vinegar tested before put in aquarium and have been in there for at least a year) got these out of a quarry on texada island...beautiful rock!
-about 10 pieces of wood, almost all of it purchsed at king eds...no idea what kind it is
-1 slate structure that I put together (made of slate tile)


Thanks for all the help so far, I really do appreaciate it a lot!!!
 

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Wow, impressive equipment list! Just noticed that you're wood + rocks tend to counter balance one another. wood will lower your ph, your limestone will raise it. So I would keep watch on your ph. Make sure there's not too much wood, because your cichlids will be preferring a higher ph (which the limestone is helping with). Purigen should be removing your tannins, if it's not, then you might have too much wood for the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
oh really??

see theres something I never new...I didnt realize that they were for actual purposes, ph and such...

I thought they were for decoration!! lol

so I should try removing some of the wood then?


I've been contemplating the last couple days of actually selling off the fish, packing up the aquarium for a bit and taking a break until we are able to move and have more space for it. I kind of hate to do it, but i find im just not enjoying it as much as I should, its more of a chore and headache at this point.
 

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I came into the aquarium hobby after a decade of not having fish. I noticed how much of a stress reducer they were and how much knowledge I could learn from them. If you're not enjoying it - back off, and wait. I'd bet that in a couple of years, when your inspiration hits, you'll get back into it.

I found it fun and exciting how much there is to learn - always a new goal. Just wait til later.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
thats kind of what I'm hoping to do...our place is just SO little...I look at the space that this massive tank is taking up...and how much i'd much rather prefer to have a book case there or a dresser...to actually fit some of our stuff...

I've decided that I'll keep the equipment...im going to be building a crate to store the tank safely, so that nothing breaks it while in storage...

anything I should know about storing the above listed equipment???

obviously make sure everything is dry before packing it up to that theres no mould.


I really enjoyed the tank before...but I enjoy even as much doing the fish shopping, setting it up, hunting for plants, and basically hitting up a bunch of fish stores once every few weeks and getting some new stuff for the tank (I like to keep everything natural in it) and Im just thinking my money is currently better someplace else.

Thanks :)
 

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I really enjoyed the tank before...but I enjoy even as much doing the fish shopping, setting it up, hunting for plants, and basically hitting up a bunch of fish stores once every few weeks and getting some new stuff for the tank (I like to keep everything natural in it) and Im just thinking my money is currently better someplace else.

Thanks :)
Haha! So true! Before I started fishkeeping I spent all my money on clothes... not when I splurge at the malls I inevitably come home with some clothes, something for Lush... AND an aquatic plant or something fishy :D

Everyone's gotta have a hobby, right? To stretch out my fish-money I usually try to stick to buying stuff from the classifieds. And I put all the things I can immediately live without on a 'wish-list' so I can treat myself here and there... fishkeeping is no fun when you buy all the toys outright :D
 
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