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Setting Up A New Tank

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#1 Cawdor

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  • Joined: 26-December 05
  • Location: Byford

Posted 05 June 2011 - 12:20 AM

This is meant to be a one-stop point of info for newbies to get their information, so there are as few nasty surprises as possible for people new to the hobby or new to cichlids. What is written below or in linked threads is meant to be general information, not gospel. Corrections and additions are welcome.

Tank Size
Get a tank as large as you can afford and have room for. Contrary to popular belief, the larger the tank the easier it is to maintain the water and thus the fish living in it. The larger volume of water means any toxic substances are more diluted. Small tanks are not very forgiving and a little lack of maintenance can have deadly consequences for your fish. The "start small and work your way up" strategy does not apply when it comes to keeping fish.

Filter turnover (litres per hour)

what size

What lights

Nitrogen Cycle

Choosing fish
When setting up a brand new tank, you need to have fish in order to start establishing the bacterial colonies for the nitrogen cycle (fishless cycling is also an option). You need to pick fish that are hardy and can withstand the presence of ammonia and nitrite in the water. These fish are not necessarily what you will keep later on, just fish to get your cycle going. Bristlenose and Electric Yellows or Convicts are popular as they are cheap and hardy.
Once your tank is cycled you can introduce fish you actually want to keep. As a general rule you should stick to fish that come from the same region, ie South Americans, Central Americans, Malawis, Tanganyikans etc. Mixing fish from different origins is not a good idea as they generally have different requirements when it comes to water hardness, temperature etc.

You have different options when it comes to stocking your tank:

Display Tank
You have males of different species, no females. Males are usually much more colourful and an all male display tank will be very pretty in terms of colour. No females also means no accidental breeding or crossbreeding.

Breeding Colony
Keeping a large number of individuals of a single species, male and female. A breeding colony can be very interesting to watch in terms of behaviour and also colour in the males. Obviously the goal is to get the fish to breed and raising the fry. Only keeping a single species means there is no accidental crossbreeding.

Mixed Tank
Keeping several different species, and having males and females. This type of setup can be very colourful and also interesting to watch, but is generally not recommended for beginners due to the chance of crossbreeding and also incompatibility of species and aggression issues if you end up with several breeding pairs in there.

Adding fish


There are several options as to what to use as substrate in your tank, the main options are:

keeping the tank bare-bottom. The advantage is easy cleaning. Mostly used in breeding setups.

Sand (silica)
Comes in different colours and a lot of fish will interact with it like digging for food or shifting it to create spawning sites or territory.

Comes in different colours and a lot of fish will interact with it like digging for food or shifting it to create spawning sites or territory. Needs to be vacuumed to remove debris buildup in between the pieces.

Generally a white sand with the added bonus that it buffers your water, meaning it is easier to keep the water at a high pH as required by Tanganyikans and Malawis.


Fish Nutrition
General info

Getting this started to be used as a reference point. It's not complete and any suggestions are welcome smile.gif

#2 GoinFishin

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  • Joined: 10-March 13

Posted 07 May 2013 - 09:51 PM

G'day & thanks for the information provided above, it's a great help!

Q: Can I put sandstone rock in the tank?

I have 4ft(l)x1.5ft(w)x2ft(h) with a Whale 500 running.

I've sourced some pieces from a local coastal area north of Broome (they're awesome looking!) about 1km inland from the ocean. Well sun baked and haven't been 'ocean' wet for about 50,000 years. I've had them soaking in an eski in fresh water for couple days now, bit of grit comes off when rubbed but that's normal for sandstone. There's been no floating 'vermin', no weed attached & the water doesn't taste salty at all .

Hope this doesn't seem too silly a question, I don't wanna stuff up the water quality in my tank before I get to put fish in so any advice is appreciated :)

#3 T1gger

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  • Joined: 03-October 13
  • Location: Cooloongup

Posted 23 October 2013 - 03:52 PM

Can anyone help me speed up cycle time for my new 50 litre tank using water from my existing tanks. I have put 15 litres from my current tanks into the new one and got the filter running. I am not sure whether to add tap water and conditioner or wait a week and add more tank water. My tanks are both overstocked and that is why I'm desperate to get this 3rd tank set up fast. I can then split up plattys and swordtails so their is no possibility that fish will interbreed and take the Cory's away from my bristlenoses to give the bristlenose eggs a chance.

Also is a group of 4 neon tetras enough to keep together in each tank as I have 8 and would like a few in each tank.

I could also then get another swordtail female and maybe something else to breed. Maybe a bumblebee goby or two after a little more research as to how big they grow and how aggressive they get.

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