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Old 05-21-2005, 06:52 AM   #1
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First-time cycling questions

I've never really cycled an aquarium before. I bought a 38 gal tank (used) for $20, and it had a lot of algae, so I scrubbed it down with a sponge and water. I filled it last night. I know what cycling is, but I'm not sure how to go about initiating it. I've read as many articles as I can find on it, but I want to be as sure as possible before I actually start. Please forgive me if the questions are stupid. So, my questions about cycling:

1) Normally, I treat the water with Start Right, Ammonia & Chloramine eliminator, and add Stress Coat and aquarium salt. In order to start cycling, do I treat the water, and with what?

2) I know when to check the pH, ammonia, and nitrite levels. I read that water changes are necessary only when the nitrite and ammonia levels are dangerously high, because changing the water at any other time can hinder the cycling processes. Am I correct in doing this? And if I do need to change the water, do I treat it after I add more?

3) At the moment, I can't afford a canister filter, so I'm going to get a power filter. Would the Marineland Penguin 200 BIO-Wheel Power Filter be all right for my 38 gal? I know that changing the filter media during the cycling process shouldn't be done, because the necessary bacteria is growing there.

4) What air pump would you guys recommend?

5) I've only had mollies. The two generations of mollies that I have right now are between six months and one year old. I don't want to cycle with them, even though they have proven to be very resilient and tough. Which fish would you recommend for cycling?

6) Once the tank has cycled and all the levels are stabilized, what exactly does that mean? Do I treat the water with the appropriate amount of Start Right or whatever after I do weekly water changes? I'm assuming I do. Will changing the filter cartridges regularly and using a gravel vacuum maintain the water quality? I know that these are basic questions, but I'm so paranoid about hurting my fish.

Aside from being nervous about the entire cycling process, I'm so excited! I've had a sailfin molly (named St. Upton Sinclair!) for a little over a year, and I can't wait to put him into a larger aquarium.

Thanks in advance for any advice and answers you can give me...!
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Old 05-21-2005, 07:10 AM   #2
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What is start right?

1) don't use ammonia remover in a cycle. Just use some stuff to remove chlorine abd chloramine. Also age the water.

2) Yes you are right but you should do water changes at least once every 2 weeks. I always have a set day for water changes. I do it every sunday every week.

5) don't use fish to cycle. do a fishless cycle. this means that instead of using fish to produce ammonia, buy some pure ammonia and add it or let some fish food or something sit there and rot. that way there is no way you can kill t he fish and you don't have to worry about how high your levels are. Just let it sit there and test every week.

6) this means that the tank has an established colony of good bacteria, enough to take the amount of ammonia the fish are producing. It means that your water is balanced, and you won't have any ammonia, or algae. Gravel vac your tank once a month. If it is planted you can do less. I vacuum gravel every 2 weeks. gravel vac will help water quality, but usually there will be debris stirred up for a few hours after it. If it is done vigourously then it can cause a nitrate spike. If you change the filter cartridges regularly, that means you are killing off good bacteria regularly as they grow in the filter cartridge. Change it every couple of months.

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Old 05-21-2005, 07:15 AM   #3
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1) Use a dechlorinator but dot worry about ammonia remover, your fully cycled tank won't need that added. To start the cycling you can put a piece of raw shrimp in to rot and produce ammonia, or you can start with pure ammonia from a bottle. Make sure there are no detergents in it.

2) You are correct, don't allow your ammonia level to get too high. PWCs will help you if they do. Only add ammonia after a pwc if there is none left in the water a test will determine this...... if there is none left and you add more and the ammonia level drops quickly then you know that cycling has really kicked in.

3) I would use an Aquaclear HOB filter. Choose the size you like and buy an extra sponge for it. Don't use carbon unless you have a specific job for it (takin meds out of the water). The AC's sponge will have enough surface area for good bacteria and perform mechanical filtration too.

4) Don't worry about an air pump now.

5) See above for cycling. If you want to use fish then go for the mollies I reckon, if you do keep the ammonia at less than 1.5 ppm and nitrite less than 1 ppm with pwcs. Cycling with fish requires daily pwcs to keep wates in check to avoid damaging fish. Fishless is easier and less risk to fish. Having said that I do a fishy cycle.

6)Stabilized means ammonia and nitrite are undetectable by the kits. You want nitrate at less than 20 ppm. When you do your pwcs just add decholoinator for the amount of water you are adding. Weekly changes of 25% are fairly standard but YMMV depending on stocking levels and type of fish kept. Nitrate tests will guide you. Rinse the bottom sponge from the aquaclear in tank water when doing your weekly change....put the top sponge on the bottom and then repace the rinsed sponge. You only want to rinse out the gunk so bacteria can live there.
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Old 05-21-2005, 07:16 AM   #4
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You beat me to it Blucat!
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Old 05-21-2005, 03:10 PM   #5
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Start Right is a chlorine and chloramine remover.

Thank you so much for the advice.
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Old 05-21-2005, 03:11 PM   #6
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Ahh, thanks for the advice. I was going crazy with all of my questions. I think I'm ready to set everything up. Thank you so much!
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Old 05-21-2005, 10:14 PM   #7
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keep us updated
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Old 05-21-2005, 11:41 PM   #8
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ditto of the above ..

and.. I suggest a rena air pump when you get your tank ready.
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