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Cycling A New Aquarium - Advice Please  
User currently offlinemainMAN From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2005, 2097 posts, RR: 5
Posted (3 years 8 months 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 2783 times:

I've just bought a small tank, my first attempt at fishkeeping so I've gone for a 23 litre / 5 gallon tank. Initially I wondered whether to get some tetras (obviously I'm very limited with tank size) but I've changed my mind because I believe that Tetras are happier in an established aquarium. I've decided to get White Cloud Mountain Minnows instead, mainly because they're hardy and more forgiving in terms of water parameters......

I know they're not strictly 'tropical' fish but I also got a heater to keep them at a constant temperature - about 68 or 70 degrees F, or about 20C I've been told. My house is warm when I'm here, but as I'm often away overnight, with the heating off, the temperature plummets.

I'd be grateful if someone could cast a critical eye over the stages I should be going through.......

1. Gravel in, fill with water, filter turned on and Water Conditioner/Dechlorinator in. Leave for 2 days at least to allow this to start to work.

2. Put in Nitrifying Bacteria - leave for a further 5 days to start cycle.

3. Put in a couple of plants, turn on heater - allow to settle for a day.

And then buy fish, acclimatise to temperature and away we go, hopefully.

Should I be testing the ph level at this stage? I've read stuff about the nitrogen cycle and also detoxifying chloramines, which is all sounds quite complicated to the novice.

I'd appreciate any thoughts on this, it perhaps sounds like I'm being pedantic, but I'd like to get this right the first time!

Many thanks.

14 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineFly2HMO From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (3 years 8 months 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 2760 times:

Quoting mainMAN (Thread starter):
I'd appreciate any thoughts on this, it perhaps sounds like I'm being pedantic, but I'd like to get this right the first time!

You really are complicating things too much. I've had a 10 gallon tank for 15 years. All I did was dechlorinate the water the first time, and after the required working time passed, I just dumped the fish in after a few minutes of letting the fish bag temp equalize with the aquarium. I've never had a fish live less than a year, one lasted 10 years. As long as you change the filters regularly you'll be fine. And you don't have to dechlorinate the water on every refill either. And I use artificial plants. You don't HAVE to use real plants, and frankly they're just one more thing to maintain, and one more thing that could contaminate your aquarium. I will say though I refill the rank with purified water as the water in my area is extremely hard.

[Edited 2010-11-29 11:40:55]

User currently offlineiakobos From Belgium, joined Aug 2003, 3312 posts, RR: 35
Reply 2, posted (3 years 8 months 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 2715 times:

Best advice: always remember your fish & equipment supplier has to make a living....
Always double-check (eg. internet) what kind (or gender) of fish lives well with other swimming mates.

The chinese white mountain is fine, so are any of the tetra family ( a gang of 5 at least).

When you buy fish, check at what temperature they are kept on in the shop.
I suspect you will find it to be 23-25C, 20 is quite cold for many species.

Gravel ? thick sand (3 to 5mm thick) more or less equally mixed with thinner quartzite is perfect (also good to settle the plants).

At the pharmacy or the chemist, buy a small bottle of "blue of methylene" (also called blue 9 I think).
This is a perfect antiseptic for the aquarium and there is no doubt you will need it. (ie. fungus)
One or two drops will be enough for your tank when needed.

Proceed with a) wash the sand before putting it in the tank b) fill with tap water (drinkable I assume...), filter on
c) wait for a couple of days, chech ph d) if ph is within reasonable limits (6.0-8.0) add you plants
e) wait 3-4 days, recheck ph, add a drop of blue (preventative), if all is ok, swimming time.


User currently offlinescrubbsywg From Canada, joined Mar 2007, 1495 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (3 years 8 months 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 2698 times:

i found the best luck with a fishless cycling method...basically you start the cycle with pure ammonia. Have a kit that tests for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates and know what to look for and you should be good.

User currently offlinemainMAN From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2005, 2097 posts, RR: 5
Reply 4, posted (3 years 8 months 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 2650 times:

Thanks for your input guys, very useful advice there. The guy in my local supplier did tell me that there's a lot of conflicting information on online websites, but assures me it's not quite as difficult as it's sometimes made out to be!

User currently offlineKaiGywer From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 12217 posts, RR: 35
Reply 5, posted (3 years 8 months 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 2637 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
FORUM MODERATOR

Good luck. I have a 5 gallon tank myself, and the store tells me they are the hardest to maintain. My recommendation (speaking from experience) is buy some cheap fish to get your tank established...when they die, get some more. Then once your water is "safe" you can put more expensive fish in it. Just be prepared, your first fish WILL die...lol


911, where is your emergency?
User currently offlinemainMAN From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2005, 2097 posts, RR: 5
Reply 6, posted (3 years 8 months 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 2623 times:

Quoting KaiGywer (Reply 5):
Just be prepared, your first fish WILL die...lol

lol......I can believe that. I only got a small 5 gallon tank because I was planning to rescue a goldfish that a young relative (shall we say) was neglecting. It died the day I was planning to remove it from its murky hell!

One thing that has surprised me is the nature of commercial tropical fish farms. According to the supplier, many of them come from Singapore, they have a short life expectancy and are sometimes in-bred to the point of deformity. He used the example of specifically coloured guppies. It all sounds a bit like pedigree dog breeding, a process which I find rather cynical and unpleasant.


User currently offlinerichm From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2004, 798 posts, RR: 7
Reply 7, posted (3 years 8 months 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 2604 times:

Quoting mainMAN (Reply 4):

Thanks for your input guys, very useful advice there. The guy in my local supplier did tell me that there's a lot of conflicting information on online websites, but assures me it's not quite as difficult as it's sometimes made out to be!

20°C is a little low. I'd recommend 24-25°C for Tetras. Higher water temperature will also help prevent development of various parasites too. Though, do keep an eye on your water temperature.

There's a lot of information online and sometimes I think much of it is a bit OTT and it can make you paranoid if you read too much into it! That said, when I was new to the whole thing, I did lose quite a few fish, most of which were small fish. Obviously it depends on the species, but I've found larger fish to be hardier in general.

Personally I found it much much more difficult to keep smaller tanks under control. The water quality can deteriorate rapidly if you're not careful. This is partly due to the fact that small filters are not always very effective, as they don't always feature a full/comprehensive filtration process. (The proper process for filtering water is slightly more complicated than just removing waste and circulating water.) An excessive build up of waste in your tank will lead to high ammonia levels and this was always the problem I encountered with small tanks. As a result of this, extra care has to be taken to avoid:

- Overfeeding
- Poor water maintenance
- Overstocking
- Improper/unnecessary use of chemicals

If you do end up with high ammonia levels, the best thing to do imo is to do a part water change. This will immediately reduce your ammonia levels within the tank. Keep in mind that water changes can stress out the fish, especially if the water temperature changes significantly. If you have fish that are not hardy, you should avoid putting very cold water into the tank. You can either warm it up first in a bucket for awhile and let it warm up to room temperature naturally, or you can mix some hot and cold water in a bucket. (Make sure it does not exceed the temperature in your tank.) Many advise against this because hot water can contain copper from the hot water tank/pipes. I guess you could say it's a bit of a catch 22 situation. That said, I've had no problems doing that from time to time.

After awhile, you will be able to tell whether or not the water needs changing by simply smelling the water. If you find yourself overfeeding your fish or if your fish produce too much waste, the water will soon start to develop a distinctive smell. (I don't bother with those ridiculously expensive testing kits any more) Of course, it's still necessary to do regular water changes anyway. But if things go bad, there's often tell-tale signs that you can detect yourself. For instance, if you notice that your fish are at the surface gasping for air, it usually means one of two things (or both):

- Lack of oxygen
- High ammonia levels

If my memory serves me right, the latter will often result in the former.

I've had 30, 60 and 90 litre tanks in the past. I now have a 180 litre tank for my Oscar + a Plecostomus. Ideally, I could do with a slightly bigger tank for these but it would simply be too heavy. To help maintain good water quality, I have a very good Fluval U4 filter system and I make sure that regular water changes are carried out.

Oscar:


Common Plecostomus:



You will notice that there's a LOT of chemicals available on the market. They all claim to do different things, some of which are expensive! The only one I really bother with is Tapsafe. This removes chlorine from the water. Imo the less chemicals, the better. Especially considering they can react differently if you mix multiple chemicals together. Of course, your local fish store owner isn't likely to agree on that.  

Keep in mind that Tetras are quite prone to a parasite known as whitespot. As the name suggests, whitespot consists of white spots that appear on the fish. It's believed that stress is a common cause of whitespot. Keep an eye out for it because it can spread to other fish quickly and if untreated, it will kill all of your fish in next to no time. I've had that problem numerous times and because of it, I only go for hardier fish now.

While Tetras are generally placid, there's some fish that don't make suitable tank mates. I know quite a few people who have mixed them with a Siamese fighter. If you have a shoal of Tetras, it's likely that they will nip the tail of a Siamese fighter. Siamese fighter's are highly prone to Whitespot, so you want to avoid any stress.

Red Siamese fighter:



I hope you find this useful. I know a lot of what I said is not textbook, but it's what I've experienced over the years.

Cheers

Rich



[Edited 2010-11-30 17:49:26]

User currently offlinePC12Fan From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 2424 posts, RR: 5
Reply 8, posted (3 years 8 months 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 2588 times:

Quoting richm (Reply 7):
Personally I found it much much more difficult to keep smaller tanks under control.

   I've got a 5 gallon and 55 gallon tank. Even though there are only four very small guppies in the five gallon, I still find it much easier to maintain versus the five gallon. The bigger having 32 "tetra sized" fish.

The best tip I could offer is don't be in a hurry. Even if you use chemicals, go a week or even two. I've always had good luck with that. Even if a colloidal suspension occurs (cloudiness) it will give you plenty of time before you move in the new tenants!  



Just when I think you've said the stupidest thing ever, you keep talkin'!
User currently offlinetype-rated From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 4961 posts, RR: 19
Reply 9, posted (3 years 8 months 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 2559 times:

You can also let the chlorine disipate out of the water by just letting the tank sit for about a week with no lid on the tank. The chlorine will evaporate out of the water.


Fly North Central Airlines..The route of the Northliners!
User currently offlinemainMAN From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2005, 2097 posts, RR: 5
Reply 10, posted (3 years 8 months 4 days ago) and read 2552 times:

Quoting richm (Reply 7):
Personally I found it much much more difficult to keep smaller tanks under control. The water quality can deteriorate rapidly if you're not careful. This is partly due to the fact that small filters are not always very effective, as they don't always feature a full/comprehensive filtration process. (The proper process for filtering water is slightly more complicated than just removing waste and circulating water.) An excessive build up of waste in your tank will lead to high ammonia levels and this was always the problem I encountered with small tanks. As a result of this, extra care has to be taken to avoid:

- Overfeeding
- Poor water maintenance
- Overstocking
- Improper/unnecessary use of chemicals

Thanks richm, that's all great advice. I think the secret seems to be to pay proper attention to water quality, which is why I thought I'd go for a small school of say, 7 or 8. I get the impression that if you get 6 months to a year out of something like a tetra, you're doing very well! Initially I'll be getting Minnows I think, and if that's successful I'll gradually up the temperature and add Danios at a later date.

I suspect that the filter I've got isn't good enough; it came with the cheap tank as part of a kit. May need to buy a better one!

Quoting PC12Fan (Reply 8):
The best tip I could offer is don't be in a hurry. Even if you use chemicals, go a week or even two. I've always had good luck with that. Even if a colloidal suspension occurs (cloudiness) it will give you plenty of time before you move in the new tenants!
Quoting type-rated (Reply 9):
You can also let the chlorine disipate out of the water by just letting the tank sit for about a week with no lid on the tank. The chlorine will evaporate out of the water.

This is the stage I'm at now. I'm leaving the water for a few days, and at the weekend, I'm putting in the bacteria. I got an expensive bottle of "Nite-Out II, Specially formulated for rapid Ammonia and Nitrate Reduction" so it says. The guy in the shop swore by it (of course he did!!!) and it's also super-concentrated, treating 900 liters.


User currently offlineGerbenYYZ From Canada, joined Dec 2005, 130 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (3 years 8 months 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 2531 times:

You may also want to consider getting a small Pleco, one is a tank is plenty. I've had great luck with them keeping the tank clean if any algae starts to form on the glass. If you do have algae, it only takes the Pleco a day or two to eat it all (in my 10 and 16 gallon tank).

User currently offlinetype-rated From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 4961 posts, RR: 19
Reply 12, posted (3 years 8 months 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 2476 times:

I don't think you will initially have ammonia & nitrates in your tank. These come from the fish that live in there. You should keep those levels as low as possible for maximum fish life expectancy.


Fly North Central Airlines..The route of the Northliners!
User currently offlineKingairTA From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 458 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (3 years 8 months 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 2463 times:

I had a 50 gallon tank for years.

Had a huge oscar, a bunch of giant danios a big catfish of some kind and a pleco that was about 10" long. All I ever did was change the filters and top the water off. Once maybe twice a year I'd "vacuum" the gravel.


User currently offlinerichm From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2004, 798 posts, RR: 7
Reply 14, posted (3 years 8 months 19 hours ago) and read 2428 times:

Quoting GerbenYYZ (Reply 11):
You may also want to consider getting a small Pleco, one is a tank is plenty. I've had great luck with them keeping the tank clean if any algae starts to form on the glass. If you do have algae, it only takes the Pleco a day or two to eat it all (in my 10 and 16 gallon tank).

I agree that Plec's make great glass/algae cleaners. Though, I'm not sure if I'd put one in a 23l tank! :P


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