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Old 05-12-2006, 06:48 PM   #1
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Where do I go from here?

I just set up a freshwater tropical tank on May 5. What I'd been reading said I could add fish after the water temp stabilized and the water was free of chlorine. So I added three fish yesterday: a swordtail, his female equal and a black molly. I was told these were good "starter" fish - hardy.

I tested the water every day and all looked okay except the alkaline is too low so I was told to get an increaser.

Thing is, I read elsewhere today that I should have let the tank "cycle" first (which seems to be a confusing process to me).

So, were do I go from here? Are my fish going to survive? What steps must I take to ensure the best possible outcome?

Also, my molly is fairly unactive and hasn't eaten anything since I purchased him.
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Old 05-12-2006, 07:05 PM   #2
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Hi mom2cct and welcome to AA!

If I had one penny for each time a lfs made that recommendation, I'd be a wealthy man. Yes, this is wrong advice and it harms fish each time it is made.

Cycling is the process of establishing bacterial colonies in your filter and other surface areas of the tank. These bacterial colonies process ammonia and nitrite (which are toxic) from your water. This process usually takes 3-4 weeks (LFS cannot make any money telling you that now can they?) and there are a couple of methods of doing this with what you already have.

The first thing is to get yourself some liquid re-agent test kits for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and ph. I have a suspicion that you are using test strips. Partial water changes will allow you to remove these toxins. Tests that come back with levels (.25 for ammonia and nitrite) will indicate a need to perform a PWC.

Also, using chemical buffers to raise the ph levels of your tank is not worthwhile. These treatments are temporary and will only stress your fish when the process wears off and the ph returns to it's normal level.

What were your tests results so far?
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Old 05-12-2006, 07:33 PM   #3
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I AM using test strips... I'll retest this evening (with the test strips for now because it's all I have) and I'll post the results. By memory, last night's test indicated that everything was fine except the alkaline, which was terribly low.

It seems this little hobby I've gotten myself into is MUCH more costly than I anticipated but with all I've poured in so far, what a few extra dollars?

Tomorrow, when I return the Ph increaser and decreaser, I'll go out and purchase these liquid test kits. Do you have a brand suggestion?

Should I keep anything on hand for nitrate and nitrite? I currently only have StressCoat and StressZyme and some Amquel (sp?).
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Old 05-12-2006, 07:44 PM   #4
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This one is very good. Most folks around here use it. I am with JC a stable PH is much more important than perfect. Glad you are taking those chemicals back. The stresszyme really doesn't do much but it wont hurt anything if you haven't open it return it too. The stresscoat is a dechlorinator. When you use it up buy a brand called Prime it is more economical in the log run.
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Old 05-12-2006, 07:47 PM   #5
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Also, should I use a bacteria starter?
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Old 05-12-2006, 07:58 PM   #6
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If you are referring to products like "Cycle", it really doesn't help much more than the already dormant amounts of bacteria already present (more info on "dormant") later.
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Old 05-12-2006, 10:18 PM   #7
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mom2cct welcome to AA...imo the best group of helpful aquarists onlline.
They have brought me a long way.

I'll offer the same advice I've offered many times now in this same forum.
If you live near petsmart,find it online and print the page.Take it with you to the store and petsmart will price match themselves.

So that same kit which is 27.99 in the store can be bought for 13.99 without having to wait...and with no hassle.
HTH
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Old 05-12-2006, 11:29 PM   #8
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GREAT to know. I did notice that their prices IN STORE were outrageous compared to online... Thanks for the tip.

Here is how I tested this evening:

Nitrate - 0
Nitrite - 0
Hardness (GH) - 25
Alkalinity - 40
Ph - 7.2
Ammonia - 0

Fish have been in the aquarium for 24 hours at a temp of 78 degrees.
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Old 05-13-2006, 01:54 AM   #9
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Welcome to AA, mom2cct!

Quote:
So I added three fish yesterday: a swordtail, his female equal and a black molly. I was told these were good "starter" fish - hardy.
The employee got that right; these fish are hardy and usually live through the cycling process, but it is hard on them and if they do die you'll go back to the store for more If you know someone with an established tank (6 months or more) that has been disease free, you can ask for some media to put in your tank’s filter and it will drastically reduce cycling time. If that's not the case, here’s a great article written by one of our members on cycling with a low fish bioload. Depending on the tank size, that article may apply to you. What size is your tank?
Quote:
It seems this little hobby I've gotten myself into is MUCH more costly than I anticipated but with all I've poured in so far, what a few extra dollars?
All the cost is up front. Once the tank is set up and running well, you will have years of enjoyment and only be paying for food and dechlor (most fish will live many years in a healthy tank)
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Old 05-13-2006, 02:18 AM   #10
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Hi mom2cct,

Sadly you sometimes have to be careful of your LFS. Mine wouldn't even entertain the idea of a fishless cycle and I had to practically make up an excuse as to why I wasn't going to buy my starter fish right then and there! Fortunately I had scoured so many of the AA posts at that point that I knew that the fishless cycle was the norm (at least among AA members). So from one newbie to another welcome- you will find the folks here unbelievable helpful and patient. My beginners advice is to find a trustworthy and informative LFS!

Good luck!
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Old 05-13-2006, 01:07 PM   #11
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When I went to PetSmart the other day and asked the girl what steps I should take next, she told me to ADD fish and wanted me to pick them out right there during my lunch hour! Ugh. I realized then and there that I was not going to get any kind of good advice from a place like that.

My tank is a 20 gallon.
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Old 05-13-2006, 01:14 PM   #12
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Do you have any dedicated fish stores around you? They usually keep water quality and fish better ( i know even then its not the best ).
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Old 05-13-2006, 02:31 PM   #13
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Hiya mom2cct
Here is an article
http://www.aquariumadvice.com/articl...q=2&fldAuto=15
which details the nitrogen cycle and how to start it in a new tank. I grant that you already have fish in your tank but it should serve to give you an understanding of what "cycling the tank" is and why its important.
We have a LFS near to me which has a sign on its display tanks. "Just because the water is clear, doesnt mean its good for your fish. Gin is clear, would your fish survive in it?". They then go on to give the stats of their own tanks 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate. In short, I would reccommend reading up on "the cycle".

Oh and Id reccommend finding another LFS store too
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Old 05-13-2006, 02:35 PM   #14
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Yes, my experience has been similar. I am sure everyone's experience has been different but I have repeatedly had bad luck with several big chains. I'm now looking for smaller independent stores. I thought they might be more expensive, but the other day I saw a product for $10 less than I had paid at a huge aquarium superstore!
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Old 05-13-2006, 04:44 PM   #15
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There is one lfs here that is not a chain but every time I go in, i have to seek someone out and they don't seem very helpful, friendly or willing... There is another one I'm going to try out though. We only have two and beyond that it's PetSmart and the like... which might be okay for supplies but not for any kind of advice.

I'm really enjoying this site a lot and I'm learning quite a bit. I was pretty overwhelmed yesterday but I'm finding that I'm not the only one stressing out with my "beginning".

Right now, I'm simply monitoring the levels of everything... going to buy some better tests today if I can make it in a store with my kids long enough.

I already had to buy a $40 snow globe after repeatedly asking my son NOT TO TOUCH ANYTHING in the store... Just think of plants I could have bought with that $40!!! Ugh... it kills me!
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