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Old 06-21-2011, 03:52 PM   #1
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Wanting to double check a few things

I had gotten a brand new 10 gallon tank, and had accidentally killed three fish because I had never heard of cycling. Well I have now done so much reading that I am getting confused.

Currently I have a 10 gallon glass tank, heater, power filter, two types of plants, one is I believe an amazon sword, and the other I think is egeria densa. I bought both of these without knowing anything about plants just trying to find plants that a betta would like. I also have three spacious fish houses. Apparently some of the good things I had done when I had cycled with my fish were putting in gravel from my old tank, as well as a fish house from my old tank.

This was two and a half weeks ago. Since everything was first put up, my water temp has stayed between 74-76. After week one I managed to finally get a liquid master test kit. My ammonia and nitrites have been at zero. I've been testing directly before and directly after 25% - 50% water changes, as well as the next day to see if anything changes. They are not. I have had one fish survive me, and he's still doing well which is one jullii corydora. I do want to get corydoras since they are a schooling fish, and its suggested 3-6 corys together. But before I do anything, I want to see if anyone finds anything off..

So, ammonia and nitrites are at zero, but my nitrates are also zero. I do not want to add any chemicals while I still have one live fish, I feel as though he has gone through enough. Also, my pH level has been stable at about 7.8. I want to know if what I've read is correct, that a lower pH is only if you plan on breeding and I Do Not Want To Breed Fish. I am a novice at BEST, and basically know nothing outside from what I've read, but none of it in practice. If I am not planning on breeding, do I need to lower my pH level, or is it true that what I've read is, as long as it is stable and it doesn't spike that it's fine?

The plans for the future are picking up two to three more corydoras and one Betta. I do plan on adding corys first, one to two at a time, waiting a week or two doing constant tests to make sure I don't shock the levels again (like when first inadvertently cycling with live fish..).

Also if I need to drop my pH level, what is the best way to do that? I've been reading up on peat moss, and was planning on picking up a water onion. With having things in the tank to bring it down, will that allow it still to spike while doing water changes? Once all seems to be fine with the tank, I plan on doing 50% water changes once a week.

Ok I think I am done, I hope this makes some kind of sense because I'm feeling lost again, and I'm sorry this is like one jumbled mess of sentences with random question marks.
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Old 06-21-2011, 03:59 PM   #2
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Are you sure your nitrates are at zero? If there's even a teeny tiny bit of orange, it sounds like you're cycled, plus, having the plants in there will reduce nitrates. PLEASE do not lower your pH. It is fine as is, you are correct, as long as it is stable!

I don't think julii cories are appropriate for a 10g, but if you can't upgrade, then I'd get 2-3 more to keep him company as they are social fish, as you planned. I'd add all of the cories at once, though, they are more likely to school that way, then add the betta a week or so later.

however, make sure that your tank is fully cycled before adding ANY more fish. This means waiting patiently and testing daily. Your cory wont' produce a lot of waste on its own, but it will produce a little, so when you see that nitrate test turn orange, you're good to go, as long as ammonia and nitrites stay zero. And make sure you're doing it properly, shaking the bottles the correct amount of time, and checking them all at 5 minutes, when the readings are most accurate.
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Old 06-21-2011, 04:03 PM   #3
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Hi!
Don't worry, this is EXACTLY how I started off, it'll take some time but it'll be alright in the end.
Your pH is kinda high for a cory. If you don't want to breed them, you could try a pH around nuetral, like 7. But as long as its stable, it's fine!
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Old 06-21-2011, 04:12 PM   #4
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Yeah I've been extra careful with running the tests, complete with notes, timers and clocks. From what I can see of the nitrates, it looks all yellow to me. I will continue testing and waiting though. Believe me I am in no big rush to get all those done. I'd rather have a happy healthy tank, than to kill off more fish.

As far as the corys go, I know they can get about 2.2 inches long, and currently I can go no bigger than a ten gallon, so that's why I wanted to do about three or four in total. So when everything is fine though, I can add all of them at the same time and they will be ok? Just keep an eye on the water, water changes and all that??

(Almost forgot to ask, if my nitrates don't seem to go up at all, what course of action should I take?)
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Old 06-21-2011, 04:48 PM   #5
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That's right, adding them all at the same time is best for schooling fish. =] If you don't see your nitrates go up at all, the problem is probably not enough source ammonia. With a big plant like an amazon sword, it might be eating up all the nitrates since you just have one little source of ammonia in your tank. If you wait a few weeks and don't see ammonia or nitrites spike at all but don't see any nitrates either, I would say your tank is cycled, and you can go ahead and add the other cories, monitoring carefully and preparing to do PWCs if needed.
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Old 06-21-2011, 04:53 PM   #6
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Ok so a few more weeks then with testing it is. I really just want to avoid any more casualties.

Ok more questions.. and so sorry but.. This is the best place I have found for information. Can I still put in a plant or two more? It seems the more plants the better, and as far as common variety, what do you suggest? I strangely live in a town that has lost every aquarium store, so I am stuck with Petco and Petsmart unless I order online. Secondly, I've read about vacuuming gravel, can you give me any insight on this?
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Old 06-21-2011, 05:23 PM   #7
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Also just retested my levels again. Last check was yesterday. Since you had mentioned any sign of orange at all, I was looking very closely. My ammonia level is a very light, light light light yellow, my nitrates are BRIGHT yellow and darker hue. Is that what you were talking about? It's still yellow, but its not washed out like the ammonia.
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Old 06-21-2011, 05:43 PM   #8
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You can put in as many plants as you want, but be aware that some may outgrow your tank. And if you have stock lighting you'll want to stick to low-light plants like anubias, java moss, java fern, wisteria, moss balls, and the like. An amazon sword is a heavy root feeder that will need root tabs supplements and will probably outgrow your tank if it has enough lifhgt.

Vacuuming gravel is absolutely necessary to keep from having an ammonia or nitrite spike from the junk that floats down to the bottom. All you need is one of those $5 gravel siphon vacuums that is sized for your tank. Follow the instructions to get the siphon started and dig around gently in your gravel while using it to suck up the junk. It'll take water out, too, so that'll also serve as your PWC.

Nah, doesn't sound like you have a readable level of nitrates. The ammonia being a washed out yellow is a great sign, though, so that's definitely 0. The nitrate 0 is just darker yellow by nature, but if there's no orange, there's no nitrates.

My concern right now is that you don't have a large enough bioload to actually sustain enough bacteria to make a noticeable different--I'm afraid you'll have a mini-cycle when you add more fish.
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Old 06-21-2011, 05:59 PM   #9
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Is there any way I can avoid having mini cycle before adding more fish? Or at least help it along so there isn't much discomfort?

Root tab supplements I can find at the pet store right? And if it does start out growing, can I cut it back?

And thank you for the info on vacuuming gravel. I'll go see what they have. I watched a pretty short video on how its performed so I'll go see what I can't find at the store.
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Old 06-22-2011, 03:38 PM   #10
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There is a way; you can overfeed a little to supplement the ammonia. However, if you do this, you'll want to monitor to make sure it doesn't go over .25 (ammonia or nitrites) and you'll have to do PWCs as necessary. It makes just as much sense to me to add the fish and monitor from there.

Yes, and yes. Just lop it off and trim is as necessary.

And yeah, if you can't get the suction to start, just suck on the end for a second and quickly put it in the bucket. That's how I have to do it. Just be careful you stop sucking before the water hits your mouth.
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