A little about my fish history first...
I've successfully kept goldfish, betas, and several other kinds of fish.
I currently have a tank with a few goldfish in it, and a different tank with a kissing fish, a zebra fish, two aquatic frogs, some kind of cat fish, some sort of sucker fish, and a beta.
I got the tank of goldfish months ago, and they've been happy and healthy.
The second tank, I received from friends of a guy being sent to prison and thus could no longer care for them. When I got them, there was only one little filter. When I went to add new water to the tank (it had been drained to a lower level for moving purposes), I was disgusted to find little wormy parasites come swimming out of the gravel in the MILLIONS. Needless to say, I rushed out and bought medicine to kill those things, as well as other medicines to treat anything else. I also bought another filter and other needed things. They are now healthy and doing very well.
Now. I have two recent additions that, prior purchase, I was misinformed about. These two fish are actually the whole reason why I've come to this site for opinions on care.
I was told that the tank I was initially going to use for them would be just fine. It's just a little smaller than the one they were in at the pet store. My tank is also about the same size of the previous home they had prior to the pet store that they also shared with multiple other large fish. I go to this pet store to buy my other fish's food as well as my dog food. The fish I just bought there had been at the pet store for months without growing anything noticeable. I figured that they may have reached their maximum length, as I had never seen fish any bigger than that sold as pets. So, upon the information given about what they eat, supposed water requirements, nature of the individuals themselves, history of prior home, etc, I got the fish.
I put them in the tank at home, and they seemed claustrophobic. I felt there was something wrong, so I went to google to hopefully find information that was relevant and hopefully true as well.
Now I know much more about Pacus than I initially had.
Upon researching, I found that my two Pacus were indeed claustrophobic and the water requirements I was told about were horribly wrong. They were initially going to be in my tank of approximately 50 gallons. I immediately made some calls and now the Pacus are in a 150 gallon horse trough. People have been known to have fish in these without any issues. It sucks when you have to create a plan "b" on the spot.
My immediate predicament is cycling. I bought them a filter, and I have multiple medicines and a large bottle of water conditioner on-hand. I am willing to go to the store for other things. I know tanks should have time to cycle before introducing the fish, but I wasn't expecting to find the information I did, so I'm improvising until otherwise noted. I've been reading a lot about Pacus, and while I wait for opinions here, I'm going to continue looking up information on them.
I have red-belly Pacus.
There are two of them. I believe one male, the other female.
They are each just a little less than a foot long and about 5 inches tall from top fin to bottom fin.
The tank I got last night. It has a filter, though smaller than I need, aeration system, some fake plants and a little gravel on the bottom. I took the gravel from an already established tank in the hopes it might help with the cycling since good bacteria are already there.
It is sitting in my living room atop plastic sheeting to protect the carpet, with a lamp that seems to help with the water temperature.
I used to have a floating thermometer, but one of the pacus broke it. It was reading at 77 degrees Fahrenheit. I did promptly clean out the pieces from the tank.
The pacu seem OK in their tank for now, and I do know that they will be growing. My plan is to either put a pond in the back yard, or have a massive indoor tank. It all depends on what I'd need to do to keep the water temperate during the winter. I live in the Boise region of Idaho in a valley, so it is expected to see about 4 inches of snow on the ground at all times for about 5 months from end of fall til mid spring, with other snowfall in between. The weather melts the snow down. I have built outdoor ponds before, one of which had fish in it that lived there for a long time. I am more than happy to accommodate for my new fish. If an outdoor adventure isn't possible, I will build my own thing indoors. I'm almost considering an indoor pond, but I've never seen one of those before and have no real idea on the set up of those just yet.
I don't want to take these fish back to the pet store because their lives sucked worse there than here. And, it is unlikely to find anyone local with the ability or willingness to care for these sweethearts. Well, the pet store might take take them back, but that's not super great care there.
Anyways, I would like suggestions about the cycling of the current tank. Should I put them in the 50 gallon til their 150 gallon home cycles a bit? Or, can they stay in the larger tank. They seem OK, they are currently swimming around with each other. In the smaller one, they can't really do that effectively. If they stay in the larger one, I'd like to know suggestions to make it less stressful and more healthy while we wait for the tank to cycle.
Also, I'd like to know what kind of rocks would be best? It's a large tank so those little 5 pound bags at pets store are not practical.
They don't seem to be eating, also.
When should I begin worrying about their health degrading from not eating?
And, I know that they will eat live plants. I am considering having them. What kind would grow fast enough to keep up with the Pacu eating them? I've never kept live plants. I've also read that they do like lots of hiding places. What seems to make these kind of fish the happiest?
One thing I've read as well is that lots of people say they have teeth. Mine seem to be all-gums. What's up with that?
I and my fish look forward to suggestions(aside from the ones saying to immediately take them back to the pet store). I have the resources to make these fish a wonderful home, I just need advice for how to make it the best possible. My own theories are not always disaster-free.