Freshwater setup questions.


New member

I haven't had a freshwater tank in over 7 years and haven't set one up from scratch in over 20. I plan to buy my daughter a 20g tall for her birthday along with all the needed equipment.

Last time I set up a freshwater tank the standard was undergravel fliter with powerhead along with a hang on back filter and a heater. A standard incandescent or fluorescent hood was also basic.

Anything change much in freshwater in 20 years???

What is the easiest filter for a 10 year old to deal with?

Plan on standard tropicals like barbs, tetras, sharks, ...



New member
That's pretty much it LOL.. Aquaclear is a good reliable HOB that won't cost much to change out the media like others and are solid performers. I've been using them for years and actually am running my sumpless with a aquaclear 70 that's about 9 years old and still works as good as the day I bought it.

Prime IMO is the best conditioner on the market and does more than just dechlorinate. Cycle is also a good product to boost the bio and maintain good water quality. I've started so many FW tanks over the years with that combo and mos are still going strong to this day. Actually I sort of miss my south american tank and ponder on setting up another one.

I got my daughter a fluval edge and when she gets old enough I am gonna set it up in her room with some minor mods and let her pick out the fish she wants( as long as I agree LOL). I love that my daughter (18months) is so into fish already has to "help" every time I do anything to the tank. Good luck.


It's Spring!!!!!!!
Are you going to go planted? There are some great lower light plants that are hardy. For filtration I like anything with a bio-wheel with room for floss and carbon. It's simple and works great, especially if you're careful with stocking levels.


New member
Not sure about planted. Don't really know what the requirements are vs old fashoined plastic plants.



It's Spring!!!!!!!
Re: plants, you can use Java moss or Anubia sp., they are really hardy and will be fine with only about 2w/gal of light and only fish poop for food. I like the natural look they provide and they help with oxygenation, etc and they don't get gunked up like plastic ones do. Usually.

I had a 33 running for years with a HOT Magnum with bio-wheel and the sleeve for mechanical filtration and carbon. I usually had it stocked with about 6-10 fish. I'd recommend staying away from any of the "sharks"; they can get quite big, are fast, and usually intimidate anything else. Just my opinion though! HTH!

I miss my freshwater tank.


New member
Low light planted FW tank here. Love it, green all year long and water changes are almost non-existent. I have a HOB filter but only occassionally put some carbon in it. If you really really want a shark, I can vouch that diamond tetras hold their own against a red tail.
another option to the hang on the back type filter is a good air pump and a quality sponge filter. There is maintenance but it is minimal. It can also be hidden if you are using live plants.

MD Ocean Girl

New member
Yey to freshwater tanks!! :wildone:

I've got a 55 gallon planted catfish tank; it's been up and running for 5+ years. Planted is definitely the way to go. I actually think it's much easier to take care of a planted tank than a tank with fake plants, because you are always pulling out the fake plants to clean them. Plus, live plants provide better hiding places for fish, which makes them more likely to hang out where they can be seen since they have nice hiding spots they can dart to.

As others have recommended, java fern, java moss, anubias, some cryptocorynes, and temple plants are all easy to grow low light plants that do well in 2 watts/gallon.

As for filtration, if you're going to get a HOB filter, I'd recommend an aquaclear. They do a great job, are easy to maintain, and give you options for what you want to run in them. I personally run an eheim canister filter (I absolutely LOVE them), as I'm a bit lazy with my freshwater tank and hardly ever do water changes. The plants like the fish poop.

I'd say away from any under-gravel filters. They're kind of outdated. With a good HOB filter, some lighting and a heater, you should be good to go!


It's Spring!!!!!!!
Ooooo . . . diamond tetras! Pretty! :cool:

I had rainbows for a long time. A small school of M. praecox shows off great against a dark green planted background.

Just more ideas to add to the confus . . . er. . .fun! :D


Hopelesly Addicted Member
Planted!:) I don't do anything extra to care for my plants and they grow like crazy. I've got cryptocoryne, anacharis, anubias nana, marimo moss, and java fern.
live plants are extremely beneficial to your ecosystem and fish prefer live plants.
compared to sw, fw is a breeze! and it's cheap:)
have fun getting back into it!!!


New member
if you're doing a low light low tech planted tank look into using miracle gro organic potting mix capped with sand as a substrate. plants love dirt. there are a lot of threads on this at the planted tank forum. I love planted tanks.
I love planted tanks.

Me too. :lol:

E_rock, LEDs are starting to catch on bigtime with planted tank people. Probably about a year or two behind reefs in terms of adoption but catching up quickly. The struggle for me is learning to re-adjust my mental perception. What us reefers would consider very weak lighting would likely be considered very strong to a planted FW hobbyist.

Also, the approach to managing nutrients and battling nuisance algae is totally different. In a reef system, it's pretty common to do everything you can to keep nutrients low, then blast the tank with tons of light. Nuisance algae doesn't grow because nutrients are too low. In a planted tank, it's more common to take the opposite approach, let nutrients get a little high and limit light. Nuisance algae doesn't grow because there isn't enough light (and it's being outcompeted by plants). Or just add CO2 and go crazy...