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Old 09-27-2012, 02:31 PM   #1
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Talking My first tank (55 gallon community)

I've kept the title quite general, as I figure I'll use this same thread to update throughout my experiences with this tank; this is my first time with a tank (not including when I was about 6, and we won a goldfish that lived for a matter of hours), and while I have done a whole lot of research, please forgive me if I appear naive at times. I am new to this.

In any case, I just began my fishless cycle yesterday. Since I've only got two 20-watt fluorescents for lighting for the time being, I've got some low-light plants in there: Anubias Afzeli, Crypt Ciliata (potted), Crypt Spiralis, Hornwort, Giant Duckweed, and 2 Moss Balls. My LFS advised on the Crypt Ciliata, which I've since learned might require more light than I can provide, but we'll see how that goes.

Here are some of the numbers:

Temperature: 82 F
Ammonia: 4 ppm
pH: 8.3
GH: 6 dKH (107.4 ppm)
KH: 18 dKH (321.5 ppm)

I'm a bit alarmed by the carbon hardness, and wondering whether I should do anything to attempt to lower it, and consequently lower the pH (e.g., get some RO water [I used tap water treated with Seachem Prime to fill the tank] and do a partial water change), or just leave it as is for the time being. I suspect most will suggest to wait until the cycle's complete, and see where the pH is at at this point, but thought I'd put the question out there.

*I'll add pictures in the coming days - still working on my "aquascaping"
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Old 09-27-2012, 11:19 PM   #2
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Of course, now that I've already got my tank up and running, I've read numerous posts that say it is preferable to do a 'silent cycle' over a 'fishless cycle' if you choose to use plants; however, I'm going to trust that I can pull this off, as eco23 appears to be a very reliable resource, and suggests that using plants during a fishless cycle can be done ("The [almost] complete guide to fishless cycling").

So obviously what I need to be weary of here is algae, and I'll need to limit the length of time I keep the lights on. Any recommendations on how long that might be? Perhaps 5 or 6 hours a day?

Anything else I can do to be proactive against algae blooms?
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Old 10-01-2012, 12:01 PM   #3
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Ammonia dropped to nearly 1.0 today!!

Is it odd that it happened so fast (roughly 5 days)? I assume this is partly due to the plants?
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Old 10-03-2012, 02:54 PM   #4
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Ammonia dropped below 1.0 ppm again today, and nitrites slightly over 2.0 ppm... got ammonia back to 4.0 ppm, and will test for nitrates later today.

A little surprised at how quickly things are moving along - I do have a potted plant in there from my LFS. Could that have something to do with it?
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Old 10-03-2012, 05:45 PM   #5
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Nitrates at roughly 5.0 ppm... looks like things are really moving along!

Stopped by the LFS today, and really getting excited to get some guys in the tank! They've got some Gold Dojo Loaches that they speak quite highly of, but I'd also like to get a few dwarf lobsters (/crayfish)... bad combo I'd imagine?
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Old 10-03-2012, 10:27 PM   #6
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Hi Josh! It looks like your off to great start! I honestly would not be concerned with ph/kh right now and only would consider altering them if you plan on keeping a more sensitive species of fish. Most fish are quite adaptable as long as they are properly acclimated. I would not be overly concerned with algae yet either- your plants already seem to be at work helping things along. Don't hesitate to add more either! Keep up the good work and don't hesitate to ask questions!
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Old 10-04-2012, 11:22 AM   #7
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Thanks for responding jlk!! You've eased some of my concerns - I'll just worry about ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels for the time being.

As for the plants, I've actually got a small credit at my LFS, so I was thinking about adding something... any suggestions? Would it be wise to invest in some Seachem Flourish, or is that not really a requirement for low light plants? (I know it's not really needed until the cycle's complete either way, just trying to cover my bases!)

Thanks again for responding!!
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Old 10-04-2012, 11:44 AM   #8
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Usually fastgrowing plants are the most helpful with a cycle (wisteria, hornwort, anacharis, theres a bunch others but I am drawing a blank here!). Do some searching and you will come up with a bunch of others, too! Theres no harm in adding a product such as Flourish (comprehensive, you likely dont need excel yet)- a dose once a week is probably more than sufficient for now but if you notice your plants starting to grow & sprout, you can dose more often.
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Old 10-04-2012, 11:51 AM   #9
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Ammonia: 0.5 ppm
Nitrites: 2 ppm (or thereabouts, I find this one hard to judge, but it's at least at 2)
Nitrates: 4 ppm (slightly lighter than what's shown for 5, so I'm estimating here)

Dosed ammonia back up to 4 ppm, we'll see where we're at tomorrow!
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Old 10-07-2012, 12:04 PM   #10
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Thanks jlk - I think I'll grab a bottle of Flourish next time I stop by the LFS.

So I had a busy couple days (worked 26 hours over two days), and was consequently a bit neglectful of the tank during that period. When I finally checked my ammonia this morning, it was at 0 ppm - I know that leaving it at 0 for an extended period can starve the BB, but hopefully it isn't too big a deal. I dosed it back up to 4 ppm, and will check it again tomorrow morning (along with checking nitrates and nitrites).

If ammonia goes back to 0 by tomorrow morning, and nitrates/nitrites are high, I guess it'll be time for the water change... and then fish!

Looks like I may have some inhabitants in there by the end of the week!
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Old 10-07-2012, 12:20 PM   #11
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No worries!!! Your bacteria did not starve. You could go without feeding them for quite a long time before they are even at risk of dying. No fish until your ammonia and nitrite are consistently zeroing in 24hrs after an ammonia dose for a couple of days in a row. Your not quite there yet but you are close! Then, its water change time and you can consider fish.
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Old 10-07-2012, 12:26 PM   #12
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Yeah, got a little ahead of myself there... but still close!
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:20 PM   #13
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Not quite there yet - ammonia was at 0.5 ppm this morning, nitrites at 3-4 ppm, and nitrates at 5 ppm.

Dosed the ammonia back up, and hopefully it'll hit zero tomorrow!
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Old 10-14-2012, 02:48 PM   #14
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A few days of double-shifts, but I'm back.

Been redosing ammonia for a few days with it going down to 0 within 24 hours, and nitrites are also down to 0. No nitrates as well at this point, so just waiting on those to start appearing!

Should I wait on the nitrates before doing a water change, or would now be a good time?
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Old 10-14-2012, 03:05 PM   #15
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Thats great news!!! You may not see nitrates because of your plants. You can dose for a few more days just to see if any appear but your plants may be gobbling them up. When your ready for fish, the day before skip the ammonia & do a decent water change anyway to restore your buffers. If the temp is cranked up right now, start dropping it by 1-2 degrees each day until you have it at the temp you want. Thats about it! Oh, if your familiar with drip acclimation, you should check out Utube for easy how-to videos. Congrats!!!
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Old 10-21-2012, 02:27 PM   #16
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I'VE GOT FISH! Tank has been fully cycled for the past week (with a 25% water change during that time, and ammonia and nitrates currently at 0), and I've been adding some residents throughout - to be honest, I was going to wait a little longer before fully stocking, but my local LFS had a great sale and since I'm on quite a budget until I get teaching, I went for it.

Here's what I have:

7 swordtails (5 females, 2 males - wouldn't mind adding another female, but pretty sure I'm at capacity) - 1 black, 2 lyretail, 1 gold moon, and 3 koi
3 albino cory
7 kuhli loaches
1 albino bushynose pleco (small)
1 german blue ram
2 dwarf gourami (cobalt and pearl)
4 african dwarf frogs

Now I know the African Dwarf Frogs aren't recommended for a 55 gallon tank, but I went into my LFS and spoke to the owner - I provided the dimensions, and apparently my tank is shallower than most 55 g's, and the only issue is that to ensure they are well fed, I might want to hand feed them every couple of days (which I've been doing). So far, so good - they have no issues getting to the top, and have plenty of hiding spots when they want to take it easy. I've got a thick piece of driftwood that reaches the surface (looks almost like a tree trunk), along with an air stone that they sometimes use to shoot themselves to the top, so even when they're feeling lazy, they don't seem to have much difficulty. The best part is that they've even begun coming up to the front of the tank to be fed (frozen bloodworms or frog/tadpole bites) - they're funny little guys, and along with the kuhli loaches, definitely the most entertaining.

Also, I've been using aqadvisor.com to ensure that I was okay with numbers, and it appears that filtration might be an issue as these fish get older, so I got a really good deal on a Rena XP3 (from someone who got a full set-up and decided it was too much work... gotta love Kijiji!). Right now, I've got the Marineland Penguin 350B, and my question is whether I should phase the 350B out (i.e., after a few weeks) or just use both until I get another tank; I imagine you can't have too much filtration, and until I get another tank (which will happen eventually, hence my willingness to get a filter far more capable than I needed), the 350B would otherwise just sit in a closet somewhere.
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Old 10-21-2012, 08:56 PM   #17
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Congrats, Josh!!! Love to see pics when you get a chance! Just continue to monitor your parameters for a bit to make sure everything is staying stable
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