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Old 02-10-2018, 12:22 PM   #1
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A dirty aquarium on the side of the road

I started typing this in my Intro post, but decided to make a post just for this!

This all started with a dirty aquarium on the side of the road and the thought "Hey, no problem, we'll get this tank and some fish..."


My wife and I were driving through town during cleanup-week looking scavenging other people's garbage (beacuase we are cool like that!) and we saw this tank at someone's curb. It was pretty dirty, but it looked like mostly superficial dirt, so we thought thought we'd take it home, see if it was feasible to use, and we'd get some fish, and the kids would love it!

Fast forward 6 months or so (after some home renos that took priority) and I'm finally getting around to digging the aquarium out of the shed.

I think it is a 20 gal. It measures 12" x 24 x 16". I cleaned it all up, filled it with water. No Leaks! Ya!

I cleaned the filter, and tried it out. Seems to work well enough. It's a Whisper 20-40. From what I can tell it is from the 90's, but I can't find much info on it. Regardless, the bio-bags can be bought at Walmart, so no problem maintaining it. Good! I'm not sure about the bio-foam; It looks ok though, not falling apart. Can that still be used?

The lights are toast. I'm an electrician and an electronics tech, and I scavenge stuff from the side of the road and I looked at it and said, "Nope, not even gonna refurb that!" So, no, it's not worth bothering with. The plastic hood for the light is still good though and LED strips are so cheap on ebay, so I will be able to get that taken care of nicely I think. Do I need any specific wavelength of lighting if I'm not going to have any plants growing in it yet?

The glass under the light is also broken. Someone had tried to fix it with some caulking, but it didn't look like it had worked well. Anyway, I'll get a piece of glass for that. Can I use plexi-glass for that?

After I figured out what I had I went off to the LFS (see that, I'm already using the 'lingo'!) and started asking some really simple questions like the naive soul I was at that time. I discovered I needed some bottles of liquid to treat my water, and that I had to change 25% of my water every week, and that I had to buy new filter stuff every month or two, and that fish are small but expensive. I also needed a heater if I ever wanted to go beyond goldfish.

So that was great, now I had to go back to my wife and see if she was ok with all that too. Well she was, so I thought I should do a bit more research before I actually go any further; having had a few (too many according to my wife) other hobbies, I knew that I would be sold on a whole bunch of stuff that I probably didn't need if I just went about starting things off properly and with a bit of time and money investment up front. Turns out I was kinda right. There is that whole Nitrogen cycle thing!

So, after a trip to walmart, I have in total:
-tank (pretty sure it's 20 gal)
-filter
-heater
-Nutrafin Cycle
-Nutrafin Aquaplus

I would like to cycle my tank with fish in. Apparently that causes a lot of contention in forums like this. How feasible is it for me to do fish-in cycling my first time around? According to the LFS I just put in my water, put in the two Nutrafin products, and put in a couple of goldfish, and it should work out ok. It seems a little bit cludgy to me. I'd rather get a proper test kit (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH) and know what is going on, not just hap-hazardly adding mystery-product to bend the water to my will. Thoughts?

Unfortunately the area I live in is quite sparsely populated, so I won't have much luck getting a piece of someone else's substrate or filter to kick start things. If I get my water in the tank today with the conditioner, how feasible is it to put goldfish in tomorrow without torturing the fish? Should I use the Nutrafin Cycle, or not? There seem to be conflicting answers across the net.

Also in regards to water, I have the choice of municipal water (that lovely yellow stuff in the picture) or spring water. What would be better, or what should I look for to determine which is better? And if I use spring water, do I need the water conditioner?

I would have liked to refine this post a bit more, because it probably seems a bit jumbled at the moment, but I'm at work and just wanted to get the email out! Thanks in advance for your help everyone!

PS: What the heck does BB stand for in regards to cycling a tank? I can't find that anywhere!

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Old 02-10-2018, 04:43 PM   #2
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Welcome! I cant answer all of your questions but I will get to some of them.
BB = Beneficial Bacteria
Yes you can do a fish in cycle. Just monitor the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels and do frequent water changes as needed. A good portion of the BB reside in the filter media so be wary on how you rinse it. AquaClear/Fluval HOB (hang on back) filters do not use proprietary cartridges so you can customize what you put in there. Filters that use cartridges can limit you somewhat.
If Amazon is available where you live, look for the API Freshwater Master Test Kit. Every now and then it goes on sale.
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Old 02-10-2018, 06:04 PM   #3
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Goldfish will be to big for the tank. Try some guppies or tetras!
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Old 02-10-2018, 06:38 PM   #4
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What did you clean the tank with? I'd get a test kit. I wouldn't use Plexiglas. We all use prime to keep ammonia down. The type of water depends on the type of fish. Spring water would be better if your other water is the lovely yellow color. And you should also have an air pump, air line, and air stone. And time to maintain it of course.
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Old 02-10-2018, 06:40 PM   #5
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Yes you can do a fish in cycle. Just monitor the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels and do frequent water changes as needed.
...
If Amazon is available where you live, look for the API Freshwater Master Test Kit. Every now and then it goes on sale.
Ya, I figure on lots of work for the first few days.

The LFS usually has an equivalent test kit in stock, but they recently sold out. More stock can be had in 2-3 weeks, about the same timeline as Amazon (shipping takes longer on an island). If there isn't much price difference I'll get it locally to build up a bit of a relationship and send some business to the local mom and pop shop.

In the meantime: my wife had some Tetra 5-in-1 Test Strips (left over from testing our water to clean cloth diapers). I'm going to use those to get an idea where things are right now, but from what I've read I'm not holding my breath with those things.

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Originally Posted by Fresh2o View Post
A good portion of the BB reside in the filter media so be wary on how you rinse it. AquaClear/Fluval HOB (hang on back) filters do not use proprietary cartridges so you can customize what you put in there. Filters that use cartridges can limit you somewhat.
Are those filters the ones that you just put a bag of water you want in there? I have seen posts about people taking out the charcoal in my Tetra filters and putting in other stuff.

My understanding is you just sort of swish it around in removed tank water during a water change. Is that correct? Is the rinsing just to get rid of big chunks of stuff that is stuck there?

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Goldfish will be to big for the tank. Try some guppies or tetras!
Too big? Goldfish look to be about the same size as Tetras. According to the lady at the store I can start with a couple of goldfish and add some Tetras one it is stable and I'm used to the routine and maintenance. Am I missing something, or is she wrong?
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Old 02-10-2018, 06:42 PM   #6
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What did you clean the tank with? I'd get a test kit. I wouldn't use Plexiglas. We all use prime to keep ammonia down. The type of water depends on the type of fish. Spring water would be better if your other water is the lovely yellow color. And you should also have an air pump, air line, and air stone. And time to maintain it of course.
Oh, and a gravel vacuum after you get fish.
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Old 02-10-2018, 06:47 PM   #7
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What did you clean the tank with? I'd get a test kit. I wouldn't use Plexiglas. We all use prime to keep ammonia down. The type of water depends on the type of fish. Spring water would be better if your other water is the lovely yellow color. And you should also have an air pump, air line, and air stone. And time to maintain it of course.
I cleaned it with warm water and a cloth. Mostly it was dusty. What would I clean it with?

Any particular reason not to use plexiglass?

Is the Nutrafina Cycle equivalent to Prime? I can't get Prime locally.

I haven't tested the spring water vs town water. My understanding is that the yellow is from the suspended particles in the lake, not chemicals. I'll hopefully be able to make some better judgement after testing them both.
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Old 02-10-2018, 06:52 PM   #8
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Do I need a pump and bubbler if my filter is putting lots of bubbles into the water? From what I've read it should be enough. If not, a bubbler kit is cheap, so no big deal.

Ya, definitely will be getting a vac for the gravel. Currently I have a hose, which is fine right now since rocks haven't gone in yet and there are no fish yet.

Speaking I rocks: we don't like any of the colourful offerings at the store, and my wife wants something local. What we have around here in terms of rocks and gravel is pretty jagged, not smooth. Will that cause any issues? Should I put anything under them to protect the tank bottom?
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Old 02-10-2018, 06:56 PM   #9
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I just wanted to make sure you didn't use any soap or toxic. Your good on the cleaning. Plexiglas will fog from moister and it soaks into to Plexiglas, making it white. Glass you can scrape build up off with a razor blade.I don't know about the nutrafina stuff, never used that. And by using the spring water your water will be clearer.
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Old 02-10-2018, 07:01 PM   #10
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Do I need a pump and bubbler if my filter is putting lots of bubbles into the water? From what I've read it should be enough. If not, a bubbler kit is cheap, so no big deal.

Ya, definitely will be getting a vac for the gravel. Currently I have a hose, which is fine right now since rocks haven't gone in yet and there are no fish yet.

Speaking I rocks: we don't like any of the colourful offerings at the store, and my wife wants something local. What we have around here in terms of rocks and gravel is pretty jagged, not smooth. Will that cause any issues? Should I put anything under them to protect the tank bottom?
You should be fine on the rocks. Use your judgement on them. Any rocks outside wash them up with hot water and bake them for a bit. If you got drift wood around scrub it up and you can bake that too.
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