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Old 10-01-2013, 10:01 PM   #1
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new to the site/cycling questions

Hi all,

I recently resurrected my old 29 gallon setup from my parents basement. It's been empty for almost a decade but was previously up and running without incident for a number of years. I've also had a few successful 10 gallon tanks going strong when I was much younger.

So I obviously had to buy a few new things to get my 29 gal setup running again. My old whisper power filter was not up to the task so I got new fluval filter. Already had an air pump, a bubble bar, some gravel, decorations, heater, hood/lamp, etc. Got everything cleaned up and confirmed the tank was still water tight. Got it all set up and running about 4-5 weeks ago and my local store suggested I add a bottle of bacteria. Did that and added in 4 harlequin razboras, a black phantom tetra and two platys. Everything was going well and I tested the water regularly.

I know the cycling process was not yet finished, but after about two weeks I had not lost any fish yet and while my tests still showed some ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, I added in a few more fish. I now have 3 pearl dannios in there along with 2 red blacktail variatus.

Two weeks or so after that and still have not lost a single fish (which actually surprised me quite a bit....I figured I would have lost at least one by now!). I've been doing water changes about once a week. I remove about 3 gallons and add in a fresh 5 gallons or so treated with Prime. Just this last week I took a look at the filter elements and decided to rinse them out (in the bucket of water I had just removed from the tank). As soon as I did that I realized it could have been a mistake. Did I just remove whatever beneficial bacteria that had been accumulating in the filter? My most recent water test (earlier today) showed about 1-2 ppm ammonia; .25 ppm nitrite and about 5 ppm nitrate.

I'm looking for any other advice anyone might have about keeping this tank going and finishing off the cycling process. I'm also wondering what other fish might be a good compliment to this tank? I had originally planned on an angel or two but I'm realizing that I'm getting close to max capacity with what I already have in there. So I'm thinking that instead of one or two angels I could go for a few more smaller fish. My local shop suggested a pair of ram cichlids (I think thats what he called them) and the standard guppies or barbs or something alone those lines as well as maybe a cat of some sort. Any other suggestions?

I'm also wondering if Prime is the correct thing to use with every water change. I know its a great de-chlorinator but since it also removes ammonia is that setting me up for an unstable tank down the road? Should I maybe switch to a different product that is solely a de-chlorinator?

Thanks in advance for any advice; and sorry for the long first post!
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Old 10-01-2013, 10:07 PM   #2
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Welcome to AA and welcome back to the hobby!

Can't answer all of your questions but continue to use Prime. It does not actually remove ammonia, it just makes it less toxic. It is still available for the BB to use during cycling process.
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Old 10-01-2013, 10:09 PM   #3
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So Prime is not actually an ammonia removing "chemical"? Good to know; and thanks!

Pardon the ignorance, but what does BB stand for?
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Old 10-01-2013, 10:18 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lksdrinker View Post
Hi all,

I recently resurrected my old 29 gallon setup from my parents basement. It's been empty for almost a decade but was previously up and running without incident for a number of years. I've also had a few successful 10 gallon tanks going strong when I was much younger.

So I obviously had to buy a few new things to get my 29 gal setup running again. My old whisper power filter was not up to the task so I got new fluval filter. Already had an air pump, a bubble bar, some gravel, decorations, heater, hood/lamp, etc. Got everything cleaned up and confirmed the tank was still water tight. Got it all set up and running about 4-5 weeks ago and my local store suggested I add a bottle of bacteria. Did that and added in 4 harlequin razboras, a black phantom tetra and two platys. Everything was going well and I tested the water regularly.

I know the cycling process was not yet finished, but after about two weeks I had not lost any fish yet and while my tests still showed some ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, I added in a few more fish. I now have 3 pearl dannios in there along with 2 red blacktail variatus.

Two weeks or so after that and still have not lost a single fish (which actually surprised me quite a bit....I figured I would have lost at least one by now!). I've been doing water changes about once a week. I remove about 3 gallons and add in a fresh 5 gallons or so treated with Prime. Just this last week I took a look at the filter elements and decided to rinse them out (in the bucket of water I had just removed from the tank). As soon as I did that I realized it could have been a mistake. Did I just remove whatever beneficial bacteria that had been accumulating in the filter? My most recent water test (earlier today) showed about 1-2 ppm ammonia; .25 ppm nitrite and about 5 ppm nitrate.

I'm looking for any other advice anyone might have about keeping this tank going and finishing off the cycling process. I'm also wondering what other fish might be a good compliment to this tank? I had originally planned on an angel or two but I'm realizing that I'm getting close to max capacity with what I already have in there. So I'm thinking that instead of one or two angels I could go for a few more smaller fish. My local shop suggested a pair of ram cichlids (I think thats what he called them) and the standard guppies or barbs or something alone those lines as well as maybe a cat of some sort. Any other suggestions?

I'm also wondering if Prime is the correct thing to use with every water change. I know its a great de-chlorinator but since it also removes ammonia is that setting me up for an unstable tank down the road? Should I maybe switch to a different product that is solely a de-chlorinator?

Thanks in advance for any advice; and sorry for the long first post!
Hi and welcome to AA. For detailed advice on a fish-in cycle, check out the articles section. You will get all the advice you need there. Excellent articles from very experienced and knowledgeable people.
With the filter, it's best to leave it alone until you are certain it is fully cycled. I only clean mine(canister) every 3 months or so. Prime is an excellent conditioner and I would suggest to continue using it. It doesn't 'remove' Ammonia, it just locks it and make's it harmless. Your BB will convert it to Nitrites and then to Nitrates.
I wouldn't add any more fish until your cycle is complete and then when/if you do, add them slowly....
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Old 10-01-2013, 11:56 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by lksdrinker View Post
So Prime is not actually an ammonia removing "chemical"? Good to know; and thanks!

Pardon the ignorance, but what does BB stand for?
BB = Beneficial Bacteria
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Old 10-02-2013, 01:09 AM   #6
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Ok couple bits of advice for you. I assume when doing your water changes you are doing so by vacuuming the gravel. Your biofilter that takes care of the nitrogen cycle lives in both the filter and the gravel. It is not a good idea to disrupt both when cleaning. Doing so can result in the total distruction of your biofilter causing the take to have to re-cycle itself.

If this happens you will more than likely see a spike in amonia and some cloudy water. Do daily 20% water changes without touching the filter or gravel until you start to see your nitrite and nitrate levels going up as well. This means your biofilter is back.

I bounce between dechlorinators as well based on price and LFS supply. I do not use these to remove the chemicals from tap water however. If you can call around to some LFS, water filter companies or hydroponics stores to see if any offer free reverse osmosis water or OR Water. If thats not an option and you dont want to buy the RO water then let the water sit for 24 to 48 hours to allow it to stable.

With an unstable tank the last thing you want to do is buy more fish. There is not much thats more disappointing than a new addition to the tank dying 72 hours after bringing them home.

It sounds like you are pretty close to or are overstocked at the moment. If your not now then you will be in 6 months when they all start to grow up. I would look into a bigger tank or a little project of building a sump system to increase your water cycles. If you dont I fear you will be doing near daily water changes in the future to keep the chemicals down.
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Old 10-02-2013, 01:19 AM   #7
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Oh P.S. cichlids are pretty aggressive and should only be kept with other cichlids.

To best pick tank mates when you have already purchased a bunch you should list out all you have bought so far. List the compatible tank mates from a web search below each one. Then look for the fish names that pop up the most.

Accidentally mixing a carnivorous or aggressive fish into the tank can lead to a total overhaul of what type of tank you want to have.
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Old 10-02-2013, 10:11 AM   #8
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Yes I am vacuuming the gravel when doing my water changes and I realize the mistake in doing that and cleaning out the filter at the same time. I have to resist the urge to clean the filter as often as I remember doing with my tanks years ago! Luckily though, my ammonia does not seem to have spiked, and the tank is still crystal clear, but I'll keep a close eye on that.

I know that I'm getting close to having the tank maxed out; but the majority of the fish in there now are relative small breeds so I think once the tank is stable I can get a few more in safely. I too thought cichlids were not the right choice for the tank. But the guy at the store suggested these ram cichlids (I think he called them german angel rams?) as something that would be compatible with this tank. He claimed they weren't too aggressive so I'll have to look into that a bit more.

A larger tank sounds like a great idea. But unfortunately just cant happen unless I move to a bigger place! What exactly is a sump system and whats involved?
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Old 10-02-2013, 02:35 PM   #9
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A sump is normally used in reef tanks and has many uses. The process is simply taking the water from your main tank and moving it to another tank below your main one usually hiddin inside the stand and then pumping the water back up to the tank. Here are some reasons you may want to do this.

If you have a 30 gallon sump under your 29 gallon tank you will be using a little under 59 gallons instead. A bigger tank is nice for the fish to have more room but the main reason is the more water you have the longer it takes for nitrates to build up.

In this sump you can house things like larger more detailed filters, oxygen systems like air stones, a place to hide your heater to make the display tank look more natural, live plants that remove nitrates or additional areas for the biofilter to grow.

They are very simple or as complex as you want it to be. The most expensive parts will be the filter media you choose to use and the return pump.

If I was in your situation I would buy a used tank that will fit in your aquarium stand as large as possible. Have a LFS drill the holes for you for the overflow and the return pipes. Use the sump for your wet dry biofilter, mechanical filter, water heating, oxygenation and increased gallons. This is the same thing pet stores do to be able to have so many fish in the small display tanks. If they didnt have this there fish would die in days due to amonia spikes. If purchasing used equipment this project can cost less than 100 bucks.

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Old 10-02-2013, 05:45 PM   #10
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An alternative to drilling the tank is a hang on back (HOB) overflow as depicted below:
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