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Old 09-23-2021, 12:45 PM   #1
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Need advice on setting up tank for cichlids

I recently had a tank given to me by an in law. I believe it is a 36 gallon but im not 100 percent sure. It is a bow front. I used to have a 55 gallon some years ago and recently wanted to get back into having an aquarium. I prefer cichlid fish. Mostly mbuna and peacock cichlids. I've had Oscar's jack Dempsey's and jewel fish before with a few others. The problem im having is im not sure what chemicals to buy anymore to get the water cycling. Its been about 10 to 15 years since I've had fish and my knowledge is rusty on the chemicals and there's things out now that I didnt see all the years before. I know a lot of people will suggest not to put cichlids in a tank that size but it is only to start with. Once I move next year out of my condo I will be getting a larger set up going.

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Old 09-23-2021, 01:31 PM   #2
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There are 2 common ways to cycle an aquarium.

Fish in cycle. The old fashioned way. Get a small number of hardy fish and manage waste through regular water changes. Build up fish numbers gradually.

Fishless cycle. Replicate fish waste through adding an ammonia source. Pure ammonia, fish food, dead shrimp. Cycle the tank before adding fish.

Which route are you planning to go down?

As to chemicals. Water conditioner is all you need. There are bottled bacteria products that may help speed things up from months to weeks, but dont expect a magic bullet instant cycle, even if that what it says on the bottle. Do you have a friend who keeps fish? Media from an established filter is the best way to speed up your cycle. Perhaps you know someone who can let you have some?
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Old 09-23-2021, 04:51 PM   #3
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I do not have any friends with aquariums that I know of. I seen some YouTube videos that recommended asking local fish stores for water from their used filters.

I feel the best way for me to go would be a fishless cycle. I would feel horrible if I did the fish in cycle and they died. Im not sure if the fishless cycle takes longer, but if it does I can be patient and wait for it to cycle before adding fish.
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Old 09-23-2021, 05:09 PM   #4
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Dont mix water from another aquarium with your own. All you will adding is anything bad from their tank. Beneficial bacteria lives on surfaces. Substrate, glass, decorations etc, but mostly filter media. Very little beneficial bacteria is in the water, so no real gains and a lot of risk.

As to fish in / fishless cycle. We get a lot of traffic here when fishless cycles progress as they hoped. Fish in cycle is relatively safe if done properly. Pros and cons for each. One method will suit one person and the other method another.

Fish in. Pros
- Something to look at on day one.

Fish in. Cons
- Lots of water changes.
- Fish live in waste until cycle establishes.

Fishless. Pros
- Everything is cycled before you add fish.
- Can be quicker to a fully stocked tank.

Fishless. Cons
- Several weeks before you can add fish.
- Frustration when they don't progress how you expect.

Probably other benefits/issues i havent thought of. I never go telling people which route to take, but more than happy to advise on a process to cycle either method.
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