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Old 03-20-2004, 03:02 PM   #1
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I think I made some newbie mistakes..

Hi everyone, new to the site and to aquariums in general. Sorry for the long post, but I have a lot of questions..

I'm not sure if I'm describing my setup correctly, so let me know if I'm wrong. I have a 20gal Long, water filter with a twin biowheel setup (*edit* Penguin 330 Biowheel) full hood with 20w fluorescent bulb, natural color gravel substrate, some driftwood and 5 or 6 plants. At first, I didn't think I needed a heater, but after reading some posts and checking on the temp. in my tank, I'm gonna go out and get one today. I have 3 apistogramma cacatuoides (1M 2F) swimming around in there.

So here's what I did.. I soaked my driftwood over a course of a week, changing the water out every few days so it wouldn't change my tank water TOO yellow. 3 days before I got my fish, I setup my tank and let it run. The books and sites i read said to run a new tank for atleast 24 hours to level out the water temperature before adding fish. I didn't know about pH at this point. 2 days out from fish day, I added my plants and finalized my asthetic setup. I added a few river stones of various size to hold down my plants (i read that cichlids sometimes dig up plants) I also added two small pieces of broken slate that my sis' bf had in his cichlid tank. He said it would help if I wanted to breed them down the road and I stacked them up to make a cave. 1 day before fish day, i added aquasafe per the bottle's instructions for the size of my tank. The next day, I added the fish i got at a well known store and had the employee help me pick out the healthiest fish.

So here's where I think I made my mistakes. First, I'm reading about cycling the tank, and I definatly didn't do that. I also didn't know to test the pH until 2 days after the fish went in. My pH was at 8.0. Its been about a week and a half now and through periodic treatment of the water with pH Down (the bottle says to lower the pH by .2 every 24 hours, but I went every 48 hours - i'm paranoid about chemicals) I've gotten my pH to 7.5. The temp in my tank has been 74 to 76F which I read is a tiny bit colder than my fish would prefer. I also treated the water with tetraplant florapride to kinda jump start my plants (who aren't looking too well now)

I haven't tested for ammonia and nitrates, but will get a test kit today.

So here are my questions..

I don't want to rely on chems to lower my pH, and I'd like to get a more neutral level. Is this something that will eventually regulate itself with time? Or should I buy/try something else? Are the slates raising the levels? I know driftwood is supposed to help lower it.

Since I didn't cycle the tank first (I think I get the basic idea based on some posts I read), should I do something now before it gets bad? I guess I should test my levels first.. I read something about biospira? is it too late for that?

For my plants, they aren't looking too good. They're getting wilty and brown on the edges. I have been leaving the light on while I'm at work and usually into the evening (about 12 hours but never longer) everyday. my friend says I might need a different bulb, but offers no suggestions, he said to ask here What kind of bulb should I get if I really want to grow my plants?

My fish seem to be OK, the fish store said that apistos can be hardy fish as long as you don't totally screw up the water. I feed them regularly and I don't think I'm over feeding them. I have a mix of flake and dried food (tubifex worms). I gave them some live brineshrimp the other day which they went nuts over. I read that I should fast them for one day? is that correct? i'm also thinking of adding an algae eater, a pleco was suggested, but any thoughts on that? when should i add it?

I'm sure I have more questions but I can't think of them right now, and the ones I asked are the main ones for now. I appreciate any feed back and apologize again for the long post.

Thanks everyone!
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Old 03-20-2004, 03:56 PM   #2
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I hate to tell you but most likely the worst has yet to come. I'm not expert on the matter so I won't go into detail but you are going to get some ammonia, and nitrite spikes that might kill off the fish.
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Old 03-20-2004, 05:01 PM   #3
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As far as feeding goes, don't feed them more than they can consume in 3 minutes. Plecos can get quite large (possibly larger than you want). Rubberlip Pleco's stay around 4-5 inches. If your tank doesn't have much algae in it when you put him in, make to have some sort of algae wafers for him to eat. It's good to have these on hand anyway. Definately keep close tabs on your water conditions with your test kit. Be ready to act quickly when you get a spike. You might also want to make sure you've got proper treatment already on hand. As you'll hear many of us say, "The lfs is never open when you have an emergency." Welcome to aqaurium advice EEk!
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Old 03-20-2004, 05:01 PM   #4
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I appreciate the honesty. My friend says that I can put my fish in his community tank until my tank finishes cycling. He doesnt think it'll be a problem since my fish are still small and he only has tetras and the like. do you think it might be better if I did a water change with water from his tank? assuming the timing on the cycling is right in his tank. is there anything i can do at this point to help along the cycle process without losing my fish?

As for feeding, I do stick to the 2-3 minute rule and I feed them on a regular schedule. my main concern now is that an ammonia spike will kill my fish Any suggestions as for products for emergency use? I'm going to my lfs today to get a bunch of stuff...

Thanks for the welcome
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Old 03-20-2004, 05:20 PM   #5
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As long as he doesn't have any diseases in his tank, it might be a good idea to use some of his water. To my knowledge that should speed up the process, but unfortunately you will still go through the "spikes" Like CiRXSi ^ said monitor the conditions so you can be ready to act.
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Old 03-20-2004, 05:45 PM   #6
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Thanks secure1347 and CiRXSi, I'm gonna go to the store in about 30 mins. get the test kits and heater and stuff. I saw something aobut biospira? Should I use that if I can find it?
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Old 03-20-2004, 05:53 PM   #7
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Yes EEK, by all means yes! Get Bio-Spira if at all posible!
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Old 03-20-2004, 06:00 PM   #8
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Yes, If you can get bio-spira, it will instantly cycle your tank and you wont have to worry about ammonia and stuff - still get the test kits to make sure it worked. Bio-Spira is the only cycling product that works as it claims. If you cannot, give the apistos to your friend, and do a fishless cycle, there is an article on it in the articles section.

And you do not have enough lighting for your plants. If you can, get another 20watt bulb, and if that isnt an options, you should look at the VHO lamps, if your fixture is 24", then this one will work - http://www.bigalsonline.com/catalog/...d1=1843;pcid2=

Also look at the diy co2 system for your plants, it really helps them and is very cheap $2-5, although its useless unless you upgrade your lighting. You should also get a fertilizer product such as seachem flourish. Heres the instructions for the co2 - http://www.thekrib.com/Plants/CO2/
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Old 03-20-2004, 06:03 PM   #9
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[center:72309508dc] Welcome to AA, EEk!! [/center:72309508dc]
Do you have a gravel vac? That's something you will need. As for a pleco--I love my Rubber Lip! I have had him for over a year and it's still only 2 1/2"--it should max out around 4ish.
Adding water from an established tank will help to seed the filter. If you can find the biospira, I would use it--your fish haven't been in there too long and the beneficial bacteria will help with the water parameters.
You will still need to monitor the levels closely--water changes are the only thing that will help at that time. If things get really rough--move the fish to your friend's tank.
I also have Apistos and rams. I have lots of driftwood in my tank and the pH is around 7.2 (compared to my Mbuna tank--7.7).
HTH
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Old 03-20-2004, 06:35 PM   #10
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And you do not have enough lighting for your plants. If you can, get another 20watt bulb, and if that isnt an options, you should look at the VHO lamps, if your fixture is 24", then this one will work - http://www.bigalsonline.com/catalog/...d1=1843;pcid2=

You can't just put a VHO bulb into a regular socket and have it work.. You need to have a ballast that is designed to fire VHO bulbs, and your standard aquarium stock lightstrip ballast isn't one...
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