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Old 12-27-2003, 10:53 AM   #1
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Overwhelmed By Information

I had a saltwater tank over 10 years ago when I lived in Los Angeles. The last earthquake out there ended this hobby . . .

For Christmas, my wife bought me a brand new Oceanic Systems 30 Gallon Cube Tank, Penguin 170 BIO - Wheel Power Filter, and Bio - Sand to help me get started. I have established a relationship with a knowledgable saltwater aquarist at my local Petco. I am in the process of trying to get my tank established with my first set of fish. This is what I have done so far:

1) I have had my water checked. It has proved to be acceptable.

2) I have purchased 5 small pink Damsels that have been in my tank since yesterday. At this point, I have lost one fish, with another one on the way to fish heaven.

The gentleman that I have been working with seems extremely knowledgable and informed me that I should expect to lose some fish during this beginning process. This is normal and part of the process of balancing out the tank.

I guess I have the following questions:

1) Is my story common?

2) What should I expect over the next several weeks?

3) How long should you leave "suffering fish" in the tank?

I have been visiting various web sites, and it seems that there are thousands of different ways to start your tank, and to be honest, I am a little overwhelmed. I understand that patience is one of the most important qualities you must possess - so I am trying to remain calm. Any help or advice you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time regarding this issue.
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Old 12-27-2003, 11:23 AM   #2
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The gentleman that I have been working with seems extremely knowledgable and informed me that I should expect to lose some fish during this beginning process. This is normal and part of the process of balancing out the tank.
RUN from this 'knowledgeable" person and don't go back. See if you can return the fish to the store until your tank is ready for livestock. Read the article "fishless cycling" on this web and then read some of the other articles.

Come back to this site with more questions. The folks here set me on the right path a year ago when I started my tank.

HTH,

Cmor
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Old 12-27-2003, 01:17 PM   #3
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PETCO STRIKES AGAIN!!!!!!

Take as many of the damsels back as you can... No need to murder the little guys... Read the article suggested above... A raw shrimp will do the trick..... And at very most only a single damsel... Thusly the ammonia spike wont be so high it will be toxic to him... If you are going to keep the fish that are still kicking.... Do water changes like mad to keep the levels under control.. Buy a good test Kit... In my opinion Petco doesnt carry a GOOD Test kit....
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Old 12-27-2003, 02:30 PM   #4
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mcquillian,

Your LFS is giving typical, although outdated, advice. They are in the business to sell things...and selling live fish for cycling still helps to pay the bills even though it is no longer a necessary practice.

Your tank has to establish the "Nitrogen Cycle" (search here or Google for more information). This requires an ammonia source to feed the initial bacteria, and this is why fish were formerly used. The tank will see ammonia and nitrite levels rise and fall as the cycle progresses, and at this time the tank is uninhabitable for living things. Ammonia burns...as it can and will burn the gill filaments of the fish. Nitrites bind to the hemoglobin in the blood preventing oxygen transfer. Neither are pleasant for any fish, even if they survive.

Thankfully, tanks can easily be cycled by adding a cocktail shrimp, or some prefer adding uncured liverock. The decomposition and dieoff provides the ammonia to fuel the cycle. Respectfully, I would return to that LFS and let him know if you are discontent that he provided you with unnecessary information that harmed innocent livestock.
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Old 12-27-2003, 04:09 PM   #5
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I've been setting up my first tank and put the first fish (actually, a scarlet cleaner shrimp, not a fish) in about 2 weeks ago and the second (a blue spotted jawfish) about a week ago. No deaths and none anticipated. I would suggest 2 books:

The New Marine Aquarium: Step-By-Step Setup & Stocking Guide
by Michael S. Paletta, et al (Paperback - May 1999)

and

The Conscientious Marine Aquarist: A Commonsense Handbook for Successful Saltwater Hobbyists
by Robert M. Fenner, Christopher Turk (Paperback - March 1998)

both have come highly recommended and been invaluable to me.
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Old 12-27-2003, 09:20 PM   #6
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I would like to thank everyone for their insight regarding this issue.
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Old 12-28-2003, 09:02 AM   #7
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Keep up the good work and just be patient. Everyone here has giving you the best advice you can find. Just remember be patient and everything will work out fine.
Good Luck!
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