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Old 04-01-2010, 02:03 AM   #1
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Hey everyone, my husband and I recently decided to invest in a freshwater fishtank. We are compelte beginners in the aquarium world, so we decided to go with a 10 gallon tank and purchased an Aqueon deluxe starter kit, plus a Tetra 10gal heater. The employee at our LFS said we would just need to let the tank run with the heater and filter on for at least 48 hours, then assuming the pH was OK we could add fish. We took a sample back after about four days of the tank running and the water was still reading hard. We use city water so the LFS reccomended we get a piece of driftwood to lower the pH. So we did, and it worked. When we brought the sample back and it tested soft, we went ahead and purchased two fish. I know, I know, it's not right to cycle your tank with fish, but at the time I did not know this. I had done very little research and just went along with whatever the pet store told me. So, going along the the LFS advice, we brought home 2 rosy barbs, 1 male 1 female. Well, the first day or two went OK, then the female started looking rough. She would swim sideways and then prop herself on the plants and lay on her side..we actually thought she had passed at one point until my husband went to scoop her up and she swam quickly away. So we took a sample into the petstore..it tested high for ammonia. They suggested a few things--leave the light off all the time to promote bacteria growth (which didn't make sense to me), reduce feedings to every two days, try feeding with a pea, rinse the filter media, get some type of aeration to increase oxygen, and then basically wait it out until the cycle is complete (ammonia and nitrites gone, nitrate present). So I took some of her advice. First of all, I picked up some test kits. That night we fed them a pea. The next day we purchased an air pump and an airstone and installed it. One or two days later we found Barber (the male) floating inside of the little fake coral cave. Since then Rosie has perked up, doesn't spend as much time near the surface, and seems to be doing so-so. The ammonia level is currently hovering at 2.0 and nitrites are just barely starting to appear according to the strips. Since all of this has happened I have been online researching whenever I get a chance. I'm very interested in getting advice from those who have experience and sharing our experiences along our aquarium adventures. Right now it would be nice to know if I'm doing things right...I am very interested in this new hobby and am determined to do it right and keep our tank as healthy as possible. Any tips or advice at this point is extremely appreciated. Thanks and I hope to see you all around!
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Old 04-01-2010, 03:02 AM   #2
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Ok, well you know your tank needs to cycle. Anytime your ammonia or nitrites are above .25 ppm, you need to do a partial water change. If you let it just get high like it is, you run the risk of killing or maiming your fish for the rest of their lives. Ammonia burns their gills. you may be doing water changes of 50-70% once to twice a day for a month or more.

When you change the water, you need to use dechlor (most here like Prime) and make sure the water is as close to the same temp you are taking out of the tank. Prime is also good because it binds to the ammonia and nitrites, making them less toxic to your fish.

When feeding peas, boil them first, and then pop the middle out and mush that part a little. The peas are more for bloating than anything.

If you are keeping the wood in there, do NOT use anything like pH Down or any pH altering products, because it will cause swings in the pH which is worse for the fish than the harder water.

No need to change out your filter media once a month like the box tells you. Just rinse it in old tank water once a week or so when they cycle is finished. Change it out when it is falling apart.

Test strips are notoriously inaccurate, so I would recommed a liquid test kit.
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Old 04-01-2010, 04:13 AM   #3
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+1 for dk, You will def. need to do a fish cycle since you already have them in there. Be very strict about changing the water. I would recommend 50% a day for quite some time until your levels balance out. You have already decided to jump into it, which most of us have its just you need to realize that its a commitment and you have to keep up with it. youll be just fine as long as you keep up with the water changes. keep your filter and as dk said dont change it every month like the box says. you guys will be fine!! and welcome to AA
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Old 04-01-2010, 04:58 AM   #4
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Old 04-01-2010, 06:43 AM   #5
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Welcome. These guys have good stuff to say and advice to give.
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Old 04-01-2010, 11:49 AM   #6
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Old 04-01-2010, 12:12 PM   #7
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Welcome to AA!

Fishy cycling isn't preferred, but can be done safely if you make the effort.

I just learned about cycling but I already have fish. What now?!
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Old 04-01-2010, 02:01 PM   #8
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Old 04-01-2010, 04:02 PM   #9
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Question water changes?

Thanks everyone!

A couple things though...

Everyone keeps telling me and I've also read a bunch of places that it's not a good idea to do water changes during the cycle because it slows it down. I've read that it should only be done if the levels get way too high, but right now it's only at 2 (which I realize is high but bot as high as it could be.) Also, if I had known I was going to need to preform water changes twice a day I may have rethought getting a fishtank since I am watching a toddler all day. I have a siphon vaccuum, aren't water changes labor/time intensive though? I haven't even used the siphon yet. My fishy just doesn't seem that stressed anymore so it didn't seem so necessary. Either way, not to be evil, but I don't really want the rosy barb anyway. They were recommended by the store, but come to find out they are aggressive in numbers smaller than 5 and we plan on having a community tank. We are interested in getting a few guppies (males since we have no room or time for babies) and a catfish or two. I'm not sure, but I don't think my barb will mesh well. It's horrible, I know, but I hadn't done the research before we picked the fish, so now I'm kinda just using her ... I swear I'm not evil ... just a little impatient! I don't want to slow down the cycle by doing water changes everyday. however, if the changes won't slow down the process I would be happy to make Rosie happier.

A couple questions about topping off and water changes...
We used tap water and water conditioner to fill the tank. We have hard water. What do we do when topping off from evaporation? Tap water with conditioner or is bottled spring water ok?
When doing water changes what do we replace the water with? Conditioned tap water? What about the temp?
Another question...after we put the driftwood in some people told us it was only a temporary fix. Why? Should I take it out? Will I need to replace it???

Thanks so much for your help everyone
I do plan to get liquid tests because I am just not happy with the strips.
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Old 04-01-2010, 05:17 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by mommytron View Post
Thanks everyone!

A couple things though...

Everyone keeps telling me and I've also read a bunch of places that it's not a good idea to do water changes during the cycle because it slows it down. I've read that it should only be done if the levels get way too high, but right now it's only at 2 (which I realize is high but bot as high as it could be.) Also, if I had known I was going to need to preform water changes twice a day I may have rethought getting a fishtank since I am watching a toddler all day. I have a siphon vaccuum, aren't water changes labor/time intensive though? I haven't even used the siphon yet. My fishy just doesn't seem that stressed anymore so it didn't seem so necessary. Either way, not to be evil, but I don't really want the rosy barb anyway. They were recommended by the store, but come to find out they are aggressive in numbers smaller than 5 and we plan on having a community tank. We are interested in getting a few guppies (males since we have no room or time for babies) and a catfish or two. I'm not sure, but I don't think my barb will mesh well. It's horrible, I know, but I hadn't done the research before we picked the fish, so now I'm kinda just using her ... I swear I'm not evil ... just a little impatient! I don't want to slow down the cycle by doing water changes everyday. however, if the changes won't slow down the process I would be happy to make Rosie happier.

A couple questions about topping off and water changes...
We used tap water and water conditioner to fill the tank. We have hard water. What do we do when topping off from evaporation? Tap water with conditioner or is bottled spring water ok?
When doing water changes what do we replace the water with? Conditioned tap water? What about the temp?
Another question...after we put the driftwood in some people told us it was only a temporary fix. Why? Should I take it out? Will I need to replace it???

Thanks so much for your help everyone
I do plan to get liquid tests because I am just not happy with the strips.

Totally false. The fish will be harmed before levels are "way" too high.

Not really that labor intense at all IMO. It takes 10-15 minutes per small tank once you have it down. Watching a toddler is WAY more work. lol

Give them away instead of harming or killing them.


Please research any catfish you like before you purchase. Many that are commonly sold get far too large for most aquariums. By research, I mean something besides asking at the store. They probably won't know or care.

Typically, I don't top off a FW tank. It's nearly as easy to go ahead and do a water change. If I did, I'd use RO or at least store bought RO.

New water should be treated with a dechlor (Prime, etc.) and temp matched. For temp, you can simply go by feel whether using a python or a bucket. Most people can feel the difference within a few degrees by touch. It doesn't have to be exact, but some use a thermometer to match it.

The driftwood should be fine for years as long as it's not a soft wood.
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