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Old 01-14-2009, 10:11 PM   #1
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I think I am starting to understand...

Well, its been a while since I've been on the forum. I guess the holidays are busy for everyone. Now that I am into the new semester though I thought I would post an update and ask for some feedback.

I was super stressing out over they tank before Christmas. The nitrItes were all out of control and ammonia wasn't going down very much and I saw NO nitrAtes at all. So. When I was talking to a friend from college about this endeavor he said, "Dude, you are stressing, stop stressing. Feed the fish, and forget about it." I know that for those of you in this forum who are very much into the hobby this might sound callous, but I started to think about it. My cat, when I got him, was great. But I worried constantly about if he (as a curious kitten) was going to hurt himself or get somewhere dangerous. I was the same way with my snake, thinking always about what they temperature was and whether the substrate was right. At some point I realized with both of those pets that if the care of them was more worrying than the enjoyment I got from having and caring for them then there was something wrong! So I chilled on the fish. I fed them normally, but I didn't test their water every few days. I didn't change the water in the tank for almost 2 months! Then the other day I was grabbing a mouse from the pet store and i thought about my lonely little tank. I grabbed a vacuum, as it was getting a little grungy, and another plant. When I got home I cleaned up the tank, changed the part of the water, and put in the new stuff I got. A couple days later I tested the water and, lo and behold, nitrAtes! And ammonia and nitrItes were zero! I was so excited that the dang tank had finally cycled that I went out and got even more new stuff as I had also found a good store for some rock and driftwood. Here is the tank right now:



I am loving those little kyoto plants. I love plants in general, and I think that I am not doing well with them. The peacock fern I got died pretty quickly, and I have a little bit of brown smudge on things, which I think are diatoms? Which I guess means lack of light. That makes sense because I am only using a walmart fluorescent strip light right now. It works fine for lighting, and I don't really like any of the hoods I see around, especially not for the price. I am probably going to make one myself, because I have the right skills, but until I do, what kind of bulb should I put into this 18" fixture? I was looking at this one Zoo Med Flora Sun Max Plant Growth Fluorescent Lamp - 18" (T8) at Big Al's Online as it is the right size and close to those I see recommended for plants. Not like the Coralife bulbs everyone seems to suggest, but there isn't a T-5 in the right size it seems. Also, what should I be doing in addition to light? People seem to talk about C02 a lot. Might be much the same as my hyrdoponics system? Expandable Hydroponics System from Junk - Flood and Drain Picture of mine is down there a bit in the comments. But with yeast? Should I wait on that till I see the effect of changing my light?

Also, right now I have 3 leopard danios in there. What do you think I should add? I kind of wanted a snail, but there aren't any in the stores around here. At least those I can walk to, and I walk everywhere. There were some awesome aquatic frogs at the store, but they said they were aggressive. I like the idea of something interesting, but I don't want to upset the peace.

Wow, I winded on for a long one. Thanks!
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Old 01-15-2009, 10:46 AM   #2
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Sorry but I don't think that you are really starting to understand.

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I know that for those of you in this forum who are very much into the hobby this might sound callous, but I started to think about it.
Think of it this way...would you have stuck your kitten in a room with thick smoke and kept him there for weeks? Basically by not testing your water and 'relaxing' you are doing the same thing to your fish. Yes, the tank cycles eventually but you have put the fish through stress needlessly.
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Old 01-15-2009, 12:09 PM   #3
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Sorry but I don't think that you are really starting to understand.

Think of it this way...would you have stuck your kitten in a room with thick smoke and kept him there for weeks? Basically by not testing your water and 'relaxing' you are doing the same thing to your fish. Yes, the tank cycles eventually but you have put the fish through stress needlessly.
I appreciate your opinion, but you could say the same thing about the nitrifying bacteria. By doing PWCs I was not giving them the ability to get started in the tank. I was being overly cautious and the bacteria were starving. If I had known about fish-less cycling I would have done that, but I didn't. C'est la vie. Life goes on. My fish, during the period when I left the tank alone, behaved normally. They were not showing any signs of stress, and they were healthy and active. The water was clear and smelled just fine. I had some diatoms on my plants, but I wasn't too worried about them because they weren't spreading. The analogy with the kitten is fundamentally flawed I think. It would make sense if the kitten's room was equipped with a poo powered automatic litter tray. When I got my kitten, a friend of mine got a couple as well. Because his girlfriend was allergic, the guy washed the cats every day. As a result, they never learned to clean themselves thoroughly, and now they stink all the time. He did what he thought was best, but it had a net negative result. As for the needless nature of the stress on the fish, I understand. If I had known about fish-less cycling I would have taken that course. But with 3 fish on my hands I was trying to do the best for them. With no cycle, ammonia was climbing and the bacteria were not doing anything about it. It really came down to a choice of let the fish go through a little bit of uncomfortable time, or continue to deal with high ammonia and nitrIte levels. That is what cycling with fish is. It is not the best option, but it happened, and now I have a well adjusted tank, and a load of experience for the next one. Any advice on my questions?
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Old 01-15-2009, 02:06 PM   #4
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It really came down to a choice of let the fish go through a little bit of uncomfortable time, or continue to deal with high ammonia and nitrIte levels. That is what cycling with fish is.
You didn't do a water change for 2 months. If you think that is a responsible 'cycling with fish' then you are incorrect.

I would hate for a novice to read your thread and neglect his/her tank because of your advice.
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Old 01-15-2009, 03:07 PM   #5
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You didn't do a water change for 2 months. If you think that is a responsible 'cycling with fish' then you are incorrect.

I would hate for a novice to read your thread and neglect his/her tank because of your advice.
Respectfully, I didn't phrase this as advice, I was just reporting what happened. I also never said it was responsible, I just said that the cycle happened. On advice from this forum I was doing water changes all the time, and the cycle didn't begin. Not only that, I am a novice. Don't hate, things are going well, not because of; but along with the 2 months I left the tank alone. The tank was healthier after that time than before it. The ammonia level before my water change after the two months was almost zero, as were nitrItes. So after 2 months of being left alone except for feeding the tank cycled, all on its own. I think your fervor is great, but misplaced. I didn't neglect my tank, I looked at it every day. If there had been a problem I would have dealt with it. Again, any advice about my questions? Thanks!
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Old 01-16-2009, 09:31 PM   #6
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awake, a lot depends on what you want to put in the tank. If plants are your "thing", then there are threads here that talk of the light output as classified by low, medium or high light. If big plants are desired, then high lights and co2.
Personally I have a low light tank, with java fern and anubias wendtii which soots my low maintenance requirement.
8500K seems medium to me in the link attached afaik. As a step up, indeed, and until a better fixture is installed then it would be an improvement. However it probably is not the final light bulb you would need for large plants.
What is your vision for the tank?
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Old 01-16-2009, 10:53 PM   #7
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awake, a lot depends on what you want to put in the tank. If plants are your "thing", then there are threads here that talk of the light output as classified by low, medium or high light. If big plants are desired, then high lights and co2.
Personally I have a low light tank, with java fern and anubias wendtii which soots my low maintenance requirement.
8500K seems medium to me in the link attached afaik. As a step up, indeed, and until a better fixture is installed then it would be an improvement. However it probably is not the final light bulb you would need for large plants.
What is your vision for the tank?
Thanks! I love both plants and fish, so I want as much as possible in my small tank. I was really inspired to start a tank by the great landscape planted tanks i have seen, really awesome dutch stuff. I just put in another plant, well, a set of tall peacock ferns. I also got a light that is 18w and 8000k. That probably puts me somewhere around 1.5 w/g and in the right spectrum-ish. I would like to cover my bases with another 18w 6700k light. Might pick up another cheap walmart fixture and change out the bulb, which will eventually be modded into a hood with two lights. I have to do some research, but I want to add in some moss of some sort, and a few more fish. I was looking at cherry barbs. I'll post when I have some more info.
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Old 01-16-2009, 11:08 PM   #8
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awake, i must support veruka here.

IMHO, you went from one extreme to the other.
technically, ANY fish master on this site will tell you, do PWC's (keyword partial)

if you do TWC (total), then yes the bacteria's fixation rate will be extremely reduced.

what the best is, do a pwc of 20% every 12 hrs.
also, do not feed to much the fish.
do that and you're on the middle way.

my BEST advice to you is:
find someone in 4 hours distance from you, call them and ask them to setup an extra sponge in their filter, then after 2-3 weeks go for that dirty sponge, bring it back, (ofc pay the dude for the sponge) and set it in your tank.
do a ich/parasite treatment (doesnt kill bacteria, and you also make sure you didn't "inherit" anything from the new tank.), set a second sponge, wait 1 more week ... tank cycled.
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Old 01-16-2009, 11:28 PM   #9
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I understand. I didn't do total changes at the beginning. I did partial changes, based on ammonia levels, every day. The cycle didn't start. That went on for 2 months. My fish were living in ammonia at around 5ppm for 2 months during which I was doing PWCs every day. After going through that every day for 2 months, I decided to leave the tank alone. I watched and waited, and the cycle went through just fine. I now have a stable and well adjusted tank. I am not saying that that is the best way, or even the easiest way. I am not saying it was responsible, or right. I just said that that is what happened. When I did as you and veruka suggested the cycle didn't start. And just to clear up any confusion, I am not an idiot. I wasn't doing anything wrong. I have clear numbers in my notebook detailing that whole two months before I decided to leave the tank alone. I can't explain why it didn't start, nor can I prove to you that the tank was not a mess during the time I let it be. Believe me or not, it's no skin off my back. My tank is good now, and I am asking for insight on where to go with a stable and cycled tank. Any thoughts?
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Old 01-17-2009, 10:31 AM   #10
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I am currently cycling a tank with fish. (day 20) Yes, I believed what the LFS guy said at first. Ouch. And was wondering if you could somehow post or attach your notes so I could compare with my own. it would be nice to compare with someone elses experiences.
Thanks
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Old 01-17-2009, 11:11 AM   #11
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I am currently cycling a tank with fish. (day 20) Yes, I believed what the LFS guy said at first. Ouch. And was wondering if you could somehow post or attach your notes so I could compare with my own. it would be nice to compare with someone elses experiences.
Thanks
Sure thing. They are in a notebook, but when I get back to my school on Tuesday I can scan them. Don't have a scanner here at home.
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Old 01-17-2009, 11:24 AM   #12
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no one is attking you awake (i am clearly not willing to)
you did what every human being would have done.
i think after 2 mths no cycle i would have lost my patience too.

from the point you are now, i think the best would be to plant your tank (BTW heavy or medium planted tanks do not cycle, the plants eat the N-based substances.)
depending how much maintenance you are able to give to your tank, you should go with low lights (low maint) to high lights (nicer green aspect of the tank)
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Old 01-17-2009, 12:11 PM   #13
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Once lighting is up to the task, and substrate is taken care of, and the tank is cycled, then it is a matter of planting and fishing. Can you be more specific on what input your looking for? Like recommendations of plants, foreground and back to match your light output? Perhaps suggestions of fish for a community or aggressive tank? Have you looked at the Gallery page here for ideas? Answers come much faster to a direct question, rather than a general "now what?" type of question.
How do I slope the substrate? What do I need to raise a school of tetras in a happy and free lifestyle? These types questions get tons of answers.
- middle
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Old 01-17-2009, 12:13 PM   #14
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I understand where you guys are coming from, really! I was big into herpetology in college, and got really fired up about the way that people I knew cared for their reptiles. One of the things I think is easy to forget is that people new to fish are sometimes not yet at the point where they see their fish the same as they would see a dog or a cat. If you have read jim692's thread about starting up his tank and his experiences as a child with fish, you may have caught an inkling of that perspective. Many people grew up with fish tanks around, but an understanding of what was going on there is not really something you just pick up as a small kid. Cats and dogs, you feed them, you water them, you pet them. Fish are much more foreign than other pets, and an understanding and love of them is harder to cultivate. I love my tank, but if my cat is hungry, thirsty, cold, warm, happy or sad, it is easy to tell. With fish, how the heck is someone supposed to know? Especially a beginner. I had to rely on numbers, numbers that were not acting as everyone said they should. Talk about frustrating! And like I said before, it wasn't like I neglected the tank. It just went from lots of work, to feeding and looking every day.

I am pretty sure that the plants I got are going to die. I don't think that they are, besides the golden sword, true aquatic plants. This is a point at which I wish I kept receipts. I am going to let them go for a while, and see what happens. It bothers me that a store would sell plants as aquarium plants that cannot live under water. I am also hesitant to buy live things over the interweb, as you never really know what you are going to get. Any suggestions or insight on that?
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Old 01-17-2009, 12:24 PM   #15
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Once lighting is up to the task, and substrate is taken care of, and the tank is cycled, then it is a matter of planting and fishing. Can you be more specific on what input your looking for? Like recommendations of plants, foreground and back to match your light output? Perhaps suggestions of fish for a community or aggressive tank? Have you looked at the Gallery page here for ideas? Answers come much faster to a direct question, rather than a general "now what?" type of question.
How do I slope the substrate? What do I need to raise a school of tetras in a happy and free lifestyle? These types questions get tons of answers.
- middle
Thanks! Sorry, I am an English teacher, so open ended questions are kind of my thing! Right now I have 3 Leopard Danios in the tank, which get to be about 1.5 inches, I guess. I like how active they are, though they are a bit piggish in their feeding. Is the inch/gallon rule a good measure, or should I go lower than that? I was thinking of adding in a couple more danios and maybe a snail. I cannot for the life of me find a snail in the LFSs around here though. I have to assume that all of my plants but the sword will die. I want some taller plants to hide all the heater and filter stuff in the back of the tank. I also want some moss to grow on the driftwood I just added. I guess you could say I also want some "ground cover," either in a moss or a low grass like plant that spreads. I looked at the CO2 setups, and I think I might be able to put one of those together if I need to. Thanks a lot!
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Old 01-17-2009, 12:24 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by jim692 View Post
I am currently cycling a tank with fish. (day 20) Yes, I believed what the LFS guy said at first. Ouch. And was wondering if you could somehow post or attach your notes so I could compare with my own. it would be nice to compare with someone elses experiences.
Thanks
Jim, here is what my cycle looked like (I too cycled with fish):



Before going to far with the plants, I would head over to the plant forum and read up on some of the information available there. It is important to understand the differences between low tech and high tech setups, and the differences in the plants you can grow with each, before you purchase plants. If you go out and buy plants just because you think they look good you can end up just flushing money away. Not only do some aquatic plants require an extraordinary amount of care to keep alive, but many LFS's sell NON-Aquatic plants (they will die if submerged for an extended period of time) as aquatic plants. If you do your homework before hand, it will pay off in the end.
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Old 01-17-2009, 02:15 PM   #17
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just an insight, (condition1= tank is fully cycled)
NH3 turns into N-ate in 5 days (fully), 2-3 days (90%)
N-ate turns into N-ite in 11 days, 3-4 days (90%)

providing you will feed the tank the EXACT same amt of N-based foods, you will ALWAYS see some NH3, NO2, NO3 ... ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS

i put my hand on fire for that.


so... if your tests pop a liiitle of each, that is perfectly fine!
fish get used to it (even if their lifespan is reduced a bit) if they stay stable.
same goes for PH

now, if you have plants in the tank, those delays are shortened, depending on the amt/type of plants.

i used to have a heavy planted tank (now average) and i have completely removed my filter for about 1 week, my NH3, n-ates levels did not even move from my usual 0-0.1
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Old 01-17-2009, 08:28 PM   #18
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just an insight, (condition1= tank is fully cycled)
NH3 turns into N-ate in 5 days (fully), 2-3 days (90%)
N-ate turns into N-ite in 11 days, 3-4 days (90%)

providing you will feed the tank the EXACT same amt of N-based foods, you will ALWAYS see some NH3, NO2, NO3 ... ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS

i put my hand on fire for that.


so... if your tests pop a liiitle of each, that is perfectly fine!
fish get used to it (even if their lifespan is reduced a bit) if they stay stable.
same goes for PH

now, if you have plants in the tank, those delays are shortened, depending on the amt/type of plants.

i used to have a heavy planted tank (now average) and i have completely removed my filter for about 1 week, my NH3, n-ates levels did not even move from my usual 0-0.1
Yah, when I say my nitrItes are zero, it means that they are small enough levels that they are not a problem. The shades on these test kits are kind of hard to read, so most of the time I am guesstamating on exact levels.
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Old 01-17-2009, 08:38 PM   #19
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Okay, here are my notes. Hope you can make sense of them!

Notes1
Notes2
Notes3
Notes4

Edit: Some of them show up upside down, I will fix that later. Right now I am out of battery.
Edit: I think those are all good. I changed the contrast to make them easier to read.
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Old 01-17-2009, 11:10 PM   #20
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Not only do some aquatic plants require an extraordinary amount of care to keep alive, but many LFS's sell NON-Aquatic plants (they will die if submerged for an extended period of time) as aquatic plants. If you do your homework before hand, it will pay off in the end.
Yes, I am pretty sure some of my plants are non aquatic. The peacock fern I just got is not, and I will be returning that sans packaging. That really cheeses me! I cannot seem to find a good store that sells plants though, and as I said in a previous post, I am reluctant to buy online. The true aquatics at my LFS are kept in a tank and are not labelled in any way, so it is hard to gauge for what to plan.

Edit: Bad grammar.
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