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Old 04-30-2011, 06:17 PM   #1
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Unhappy My 40 Breeder and Mistakes

Here's the story, I made so many mistakes I'll have to back through and point them out with *. Sorry if its long winded

Two weeks ago I ordered and received my UG Filter in the mail and immediately went out back and washed out the old 40 breeder tank sitting in the back yard. We used to house a water dragon in it but had been using it as a green house for seedlings unitll now.

As soon as I was done I ran to wal-mart and got gravel. I came back and set up the UGF in the tank and rinsed the gravel before adding it. I wanted to fill it up to see how it ran since it was my first UGF and first tank over 1.5 gal (all the smaller ones had been disasters) but the tank was still in the back yard and I had to put it in the bed room. The gravel itself weighed 50 lbs and I couldn't move it with out help. Think this was the one mistake I caught before it was too late.

Waited until my fiance got home and we moved it, with the help of a rolling computer chair, into the bed room and into position.

I filled it one gallon at a time with a water pitcher because I wanted to know exactly how many gallons I had. That took a long while and running back and forth but when I was done I added the dechlorinater. Next I fished out two spare 5-10 gal air pumps and set them up in two of the uplift tubes and the third tube I added a hand me down power head i got for free from my mom's boyfriend.

Next I got a zip-lock bag and headed to my 1.5 gal tank.
It had only been running for a week or 2 and I had started it with
3 black skirts, 1 ghost shrimp, 1 chinesse alge-eater, and 2 zebra danios.
By this point the danios had gone bell-up and the alge-eater died in a corner near the bottom while still suctioned onto the perfectly clean glass, I didn't even think to buy alge flakes or wait until I had some growing.*

I bagged the skirt and the shrimp and floated them while the dechlorinator took effect and let them adjust to the temp. *

At this point all I knew about cycling was that you needed good bacteria and had planned to look for some live gravel at petco the next day. I had never heard of fishless cycling and thought that running the tank with out fish would be point less since there woudn't be anything for the good bacteria to eat, never thought of adding pure ammonia.

I cleaned and added some decor I had lying around. Stone Budda statue, ceramic serpent dragon statue and a cute little oriental bridge statue that I hoped Moe the ghost shrimp (and the only one I've named yet) would like hanging out under.

I let the fish into their new home, put the wire mesh cover we had on top and the 18'' hood light with mystery bulb on top before calling it a night.

The next day I spent researching fish that would go good with ghost shrimp since I loved Moe. Got distracted by tanks on youtube and dived in to researching DIY aquarium projects. Also started adding good bacteria powder daily.

By the end of the week I ended up buying 1 male 2 female pine apple swordtails*(bioload in uncycled tank?) , 2 more Black skirts, 4 more ghost shrimp, and 5 zebra danios.

I purposely got a sword that looked pregnant and a floating breeder box and immediatly put her into it, that same night she had her fry and I let her back out and let the babies stay in the floater. I've been feeding the fry ground up fish food with a morter and pestle I bought a long time ago cause it looked cool.

One by one the danios first started hanging out at the very top the went belly up. Bought test strips* thinking it was the ph or some thing. Got the ones with multiple tests on one strip, only thing it didn't test was ammonia* and since every thing seemed fine but the ph I just added some ph down*(?) I read you only want a .2 ph change per day but the test strips only showed increments of .5 so I did one dose once a day until it got back into the 7s. I should of got the API kit but it was $30 and the strips were $12 so price won out.

Had a scare next thinking the other female sword was preggo. The fry was still in the floater and I couldn't put her in there with them so she could have hers. So that night I took out the dismantled 1.5 gal and found out I had lost the uplift tube for the filter couldn't find it. I put together a DIY filter out of a water bottle, gravel, pvc pipe and polyester fiber and put it in the 1.5 with no gravel and some fake plants.

I put the soon-to-be mother in the floater and she didn't like it at all, took a second look at the girls and found out that in the race around the tank to catch her that I got the wrong girl. Took a closer look at the happy one in the tank and figured she couldn't be that far along yet.

After I let the other back into the tank I took a step back and actually thought about what I was going to do with the 24 fish fry I already had* (saving all the fry from the community fish would cause a Population explosion and much bigger bioload) I decided I'd let nature take it's course with this batch and only keep 3 of the fry I had and post something on craigs list for the others once their big enough.

Days later the last of the danios went belly up and the gills on my swords are red and one was hanging out alot on the bottom. I can only find my two biggest ghost shrimp, Moe and mini moe, I hope the smaller one are only hiding and not eaten or dead. Also a few of the black skirts now had white skirts which I did not take as a good sign.

So I jumped on the internet last night, found this site, read about fishless cycling and other newbie mistakes and was very tempted to do this

Instead I went back to petco and bought an ammonia test. Results said it was at a safe level, So I tested the Nitrite and Nitrate. Nitrite was sky high and Nitrate was Ideal.

I'm guessing the ammonia spike in the cycle killed off my danios and now the Nitrite spike is trying to kill off the rest. I did a 20% pwc last night because before this point I had always been told that you never want to take too much out* .

I used half of the 10 feet of 1/4'' tubing I had bought to make and set up a sump tank* (the DIY research had me getting way ahead of my self) to make a gravel vac out of a water bottle.(Not something I found online just figured out on my own)

I siphoned/vacumed two 5gal buckets worth from the tank, dumped them, refilled, dechlorinated, waited for dechlorinator to work and temp to adjust, and then siphoned them back into the tank. Ended up with water spilled all over the bedroom and hallway.

Then I got back online and back on this forum reading and then found some one had had to do daily 50% pwc's until theirs balanced out.

So I did a 50% pwc a few hours ago, just checked nitrite again and still sky high. I'm contemplating doing a second pwc today and forsee many many more in my immediate future.

I might just have to keep doing pwc's today untill nitrite drops to safe levels.

Well thanks for reading. Let me know if you find any more mistakes that I missed.

I know I missed the fact that I over fed them by following the directions on the food package. 5 minutes is to long and the skirts get distracted from the food easily and the swords wont eat until the food starts to sink.
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Old 05-01-2011, 03:51 PM   #2
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Awwwwwwww.....no advice but I'm sorry you're going through this!

Perhaps do PWC until your NitrItes are 0??
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Old 05-01-2011, 04:27 PM   #3
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It's very common, all the issues you mentioned.

I think most people will suggest you consider scrapping the UGF and going for a filter that hangs on the back of the tank.

If I had a 40 gallon breeder, I would run a AquaClear 70, or maybe 2 AquaClear 50's. Best thing to do imo, is find out which pet stores are nearest you and visit their website. Find out what filters they stock and then read up on them, or ask here.

I haven't been on this forum long but everyone is very helpful so, if you like, post any questions you have or start a topic announcing a new 40 Breeder build.

Good Luck
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