Hey y'all -
If I may be permitted to sound off, I think I've done good for a newbie. This is way better than the first experience (10 gallon, no knowledge of cycling a tank, kept adding fishes... only a lone pleco lived to tell the tale...)
I bought a 29g tank off craigslist with old HOB
filters and a 5" albino oscar. The tank was pretty nasty (as Oscars tend to be). Had low level ammonia and nitrite. Also had quite a bit of algae.
I took the oscar to the fish store, drained 5 gallons of water to keep, drained the rest, washed all the gravel in dechlorinated water, and cleaned the old filters in tank water.
Put it all back together, refilled the tank with dechlor water and the 5g I'd saved of tank water, added two fantails (have two little kids, they each picked one) and a bristlenose pleco, decorations, bubbler, and even some Anubis plants floating.
Tested the water regularly, no big spikes at all, now have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and normal nitrates. Fishes all appear healthy and happy. Pleco is loving the algae.
Just replaced one old HOB
with Filstar XP2 tonight. Will remove the other HOB
once the Filstar bio matter has had a chance to catch up.
Not a big project compared to many I read (and envy !) here, but I was pleased