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Fish Tank Forum • View topic - The Tale of Emily's Fish
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The Tale of Emily's Fish

Post the complete story of setting up your tank, stage by stage from the beginning to the present day.

The Tale of Emily's Fish

Postby Whitebeam » Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:17 pm

In answer to Mick and Jordan's nagging, here is a journal...

My youngest daughter, Emily, announced shortly after Christmas that she would either like a hamster or some fish for her fifth birthday, which falls towards the end of February. Now Emily is a very loving and gentle little girl, and I could just envisage her taking the hamster out of its cage at bedtime and then falling asleep cuddling it. I'm sure our dogs and cat would be highly, if briefly, amused by a hamster wandering about the house. No, of the the two, it had to be the fish.

Now I've secretly always wanted to keep some fish. I can clearly remember back several decades to the tank that occupied the corner of the dentist's surgery when I was young. That tank was the only good thing about going to the dentist; it was stuffed to the gills with Neon Tetras and such like, and generally looked a bit on the green side - you can tell it made an impression, because I can still picture it clearly. My wife had also kept a few fish before I met her, but that was back in the era when you kept a random selection of fish (I clearly remember an Angel in there somewhere) in a small tank and did a 100% water change every month or so (or whenever it got a bit too green). I started doing my research.

I first called into my LFS, which is on my route home from work. The advice was to get a tank, fill it with gravel and water, wait a week and then buy a few hardy fish. If they survived (what did he mean, 'if' - alarm bells started ringing) then we could get a few more fish a week later, and so on. My personal view of the world is to always give the maximum respect to all living things - that 'if' was still playing on my mind. I started doing my research on the global-worldwide-interweb. For a while I wandered around a few sites and fora, before running across this one. At first you seemed a bit offish, as you wouldn't let me read more than 5 things as a guest. I went elsewhere. But for some reason I kept coming back for a peek in here. Eventually I bit the bullet and registered.

Now by this time I'd found out that a larger tank was easier to keep stable than a smaller one and that I should do a 'fishless cycle'. When I tried to explain all of this to my wife she merely shrugged and said it all sounded too complicated - obviously these fish things were to be my responsibility. We finally got to a point about three weeks before the birthday where, if we were to stand a chance of getting any fish for her birthday, we would have to start the tank. Research suggested that a Juwel Rekord 800 was most probably the biggest tank I could afford - problem was than none of my LFS sold them. Further afield, Winchester could get one in in a week, my LFS said something similar, but then I called a shop near Southampton (about an hour away) who said they had two in stock, and the price was better than the LFS were offering. We set out on a mission to buy.

Once home, the tank was put in place on a very sturdy old oak TV unit (tested to see if it would take the 100+kg of the filled tank by my wife and I sitting on it together - a weight notably over 100kg ;-), gravel was washed, water was treated with API water conditioner and we were up and going. I had bought an API test kit from a well known Internet auction site for about 10 pounds less than the LFS were selling them, and some Ammonia from Homebase; a 10ml dosing syringe from the Tesco pharmacist finished the initial kit. I started dosing and monitoring.

The bulk of the fishless cycle was reported in this thread .

Bogwood went in after the first week had been completed.

Plants were introduced about a week before the tank was expected to be ready. I had ordered a selection of 25 from that same Internet auction site I'd used for the test kit. I ordered on Monday, hoping for delivery within the week, but by Friday (two days before fish-day) these hadn't even been dispatched yet. I called into the LFS on my way home and made a pest of myself until the one bod in there who knew one plant from another finally turned up. With his help I picked through their meagre offering, rejecting all of the plants I'd read on here were likely to cause me problems. That is how I came up with the (random) selection of plants that seemed to impress Jordan so much ;-)

Some local flints completed the decor.

Once all of the levels were stabilised at 0.00ppm, on her birthday, we went shopping. With the help of members on here, and with reference to a very handy online aquarium stocking advisor website I'd come across, I had several lists of possibly compatible fish drawn up. We took Emily to the shop, showed her the key players and said 'a few larger, more showy fish' or 'more, smaller, slightly plainer fish'. Ever one to get more for her money, she chose the latter option. We went home with 6 Cherry Barb, 8 Blue Tetra and 8 Rosy Tetra. These were introduced into the tank in stages and daddy then started checking water stats. Everything was perfect - the fish seemed happy and the stats stayed at 0.00ppm! We were there.

Now, when we had bought the fish, I'd bought my own pet fish too. All through the research process the LFS had had just one Spotted Headstander in stock. I was struck by this fish, as its continuous head-down looking-for-food attitude was completely different to every other fish I'd seen. It was still there when we went shopping, so it was now mine. As you will see from the pictures, it's still doing well. I wish I knew if it was a boy or a girl ;-)

A week later I decided that everything was looking so good and the stats were so stable, that I'd break the rules I'd seen set out on here time and again and finish off the stocking list with 4 Julii Cory's - these were so cute compared to the more ordinary patterned Corys that it had to be those. They were introduced on the 27th February and, touch wood, are thriving.

That's enough waffle for now (I have to go off and cook dinner now). Here are some of the latest pictures:

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The Tank

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Closeup of the centre piece

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Rosy Tetras, I'm guessing that's a female in the foreground with males behind. A guest appearance by a male Cherry Barb ;-)

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Female Cherry Barb

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Male Cherry Barb

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The best shot I could get of a Blue Tet - those guys never stay still! Guest appearance by the Spotted Headstander.

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My headstander

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One of the Julii Corys

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Re: The Tale of Emily's Fish

Postby NightwishRaven999 » Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:37 pm

What can I say exept WOW.

That was a very interesting read.
I guess all the nagging paid off...Mick and I make a good team :-):

I am really happy your were able to get the tank all ready in time for your little girl`s birthday.
Your took in a lot of info very quickly and you were honestly spot on with your selection of fish and plants.

Your tank looks really great. The plain blue background really makes the plants stand out.
I am also glad to see you are using a centerpiece in your tank. Its nice and visible, but not too flashy...your tank is perfect.
It looks very clean, the plants look lush and healthy and your fish population is well balanced and distributed.

Well done Peter ! Thanks for sharing.
Oh and dont forget...a journal means regular updates :-):
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Re: The Tale of Emily's Fish

Postby Mick » Wed Mar 10, 2010 12:39 am

Great write up (bout time :lolflag )

As Jordan posted, we still need the updates :-):
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Re: The Tale of Emily's Fish

Postby Graeme » Wed Mar 10, 2010 8:08 am

Well I'm glad the nagging worked, Your tank/daughter's tank looks lovely Peter.
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Re: The Tale of Emily's Fish

Postby Big Den » Wed Mar 10, 2010 9:12 am

Very good read that Peter and you have done a terrific job with the tank. The headstander IMO is a female, judging by the body shape. Looking forward to the updates.
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Re: The Tale of Emily's Fish

Postby malakye » Thu Mar 11, 2010 10:51 pm

Fantastic read Peter, well done. The tank and fish look great.
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Re: The Tale of Emily's Fish

Postby Whitebeam » Sun Mar 21, 2010 7:47 pm


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Re: The Tale of Emily's Fish

Postby Mick » Sun Mar 21, 2010 8:03 pm

Ottos are notoriously hard to keep and that is one fish I have never had any luck with. Tank logs are great keep up with them, they are a good reference as to how your tank reacts to dosing etc.
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Re: The Tale of Emily's Fish

Postby malakye » Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:48 pm

Otos never usually fair well in new tanks. Ideally they shouldnt be added to a tank thats been running less than 6 months.

Julii corys are adorable and one of my favourite of the catfish.
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Re: The Tale of Emily's Fish

Postby Whitebeam » Wed Sep 01, 2010 4:45 am

Long time no update. Mostly because it's been a bit of a horror story...

Not too long after my last posting to this thread, I went away on a two week business trip and came back to find long threads of Staghorn algae and patches of Black Beard Algae growing over everything. I've slowly been trying to recover the situation, most recently with the help and advice of contributors to the Barr Report and UKAPS sites. I really want to get this planted tank thing mastered and produce something worth looking at once more. I now have pressurised CO2 in the tank and am dosing fertilisers a la 'Estimative Index', modified for my high nitrate tap water (my thanks to the farmers for Dorset for this) and high fish load. My lighting period has just been modified to one six hour period from 15:00 to 21:00 in an attempt to beat the Staghorn. I'm also working on my flow through the tank and am considering moving to an external filter with a much higher throughput to help the situation from that respect.

Some new plants are on order for delivery this week, in my continuing drive to find out what grows well for me. Now I've hopefully got on top of the causes of my algae farm I'm hoping to completely rebuild the tank, and will post on here as and when I get this laid out to my satisfaction.

Oh yes, one other thing I've learned. Just because your test kit says 0.25ppm Phosphate, don't believe it until you've proved it. I've just 'calibrated' my Salifert PO4 kit against reference solutions I've made up and have found that it reports 0.25ppm for all concentrations from 0.25ppm up to 3ppm. I ain't happy. Off to get a Nutrafin kit tomorrow in the hope that that won't lie to me like a cheap [original phrase deleted].

The sad news is that my Spotted Headstander developed a hollow tummy and then died about a week later. Don't know what caused that, as all other inhabitants seem healthy (fingers crossed). Fish have now been joined by some Red Cherry and Amano shrimps, and I've given into the girls' appeals and allowed three Nerite snails into the tank on the promise that they don't get up to too much rumpo-rumpo and end up laying eggs everywhere. :non:

Never stop learning...



For my fellow techie nerds:
Tank: Juwel Rekord 800.
Volume: Water volume above substrate, incl filter = 79cm(l) x 33.5cm(w) x 34cm(h) = 90l = 23.8USG.
Lighting: 2 x Juwel 18W T8 tubes 55cm usable length (1 x Warm Lite and 1 x Day Lite) 37 cm to substrate. Juwel reflectors on both tubes.
Photo period: 6 hours per day (15:00-21:00).
Filter: Standard internal Juwel Bioflow Super filter fitted with Bioflow 400 pump.
Substrate: ~3mm diameter smooth gravel.
CO2: D&D pressurised at about 4 bps to maintain green in drop checker loaded with homemade 4dKH. CO2 on 2 hours before lights on. CO2 introduced into middle of the filter sponge column. Apparent full dissolution (no bubbles).
Ferts: High nitrate tap water (to about 25ppm) and high fish load, so dosing dry ferts at 0.25g KH2PO4 and 1.0g K2SO4 Sun, Tue, & Thu; 3ml TPN and 1ml Flourish Iron Mon, Wed & Fri. AE Aqua Carbon at 9ml after water change, then 2ml daily. Total weekly dose = 5.82ppm PO4, 18.5ppm K, 0.39ppm Fe. Likely to halve the PO4 dose next week, now I've found that the test-kit I have is telling lies.
Water change: Weekly 50% water change on a Sunday with light vacuuming of visible gravel. Water stats at the end of the week always 25ppm < Nitrate < 50ppm. 0ppm Nitrite. 0ppm Ammonia. GH 220ppm (12dGH). KH 180ppm (10dKH). Filter media washed out in old tank water every 3 or 4 weeks.
Décor: Two pieces of driftwood and one piece of local flint in there since the tank was started in Feb 10.
Fauna: High load: 8 x Rosy Tetra, 8 x Blue Tetra, 6 x Cherry Barb, 4 x Julii Cory, 1 x Oto, 3 x Amano shrimp, 3 x Red Cherry Shrimp, 3 x Nerite Snails.
Flora: Mostly from the Tropica stable: Hygrophila difformis, Hygrophila corymbosa 'Angustifolia', 1 x Crypt. x willisii, 1 x Crypt. undulata 'Broad Leaves', Vallis americana 'Mini Twister' (spreading nicely). An attempt at Pogostemon helferi (slow growing, going a little brown around the edges) and an attempt at Lilaeopsis brasiliensis (has now started to spread slowly, but so badly affected by Staghorn after planting that most of the leaves had to be cut off).
Flow: Rio+200 on when CO2 on, to supplement flow from internal filter.
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