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Old 09-19-2012, 01:17 PM   #1
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Question Need some guidance in a bad way!

OK so, heres my story... i know i know. i really wish i would have done my research before hand and NOT trust the guy at the fish store!

So at home we had a 10 gallon tank sitting in the basement doing nothing (empty), and my boyfriend and i have always wanted to own fish.. so we went to the fish store and told the guy our story.. heres what he sold us. 1 Silver arowanna, 2 bala sharks, 1bristlenose pleco, and 1 ghost knife fish (OMG). Told us to use distilled water, becuase we have well water and well water is to hard to keep stable for the fish.. ok sure, sell us what we need mr fish man. Sold us a powder substance to use to mineralize the distilled water and what not.. gave us a GH and KH test kit and sent us on our way. So as uneducated as we were we go home and do as the guy says, bam, a week later my arowanna is dead and so is my ghost knife fish. (big suprise right?), i do a water change and try and save the other 3. through this week i had been reading and reading, learning about the nitrogen cycle, that my well water is actually better then distilled water, and the fish he sold me are a) to many for the tank, for various reasons, size, bioload in a new tank etc and b) are going to out grow the tank, which in his defence, we told him that in a month or so we were going to get a larger tank.. he gave us no recomendations on what size i would need or anything. This guy completly talked out of his butt and we soaked it all up So we go to a diffrent store, tell them our story and they recommended us switching out the water to well water. so we go home and do this, added API Stress coat, and top fin bacteria. fish look alot better, but i still feel aweful about thier lack of space.. soooo I buy a HUGE 90 gallon tank, ehiem filter, heater. set it up, put peat ( to lower the PH) in the filter the next day the water looks like coffee. Empty tank, take peat out and start again, get some seeding material (gravel in a media bag, and an old filter).



Day 1 (90g)
  • Filled with water
  • Added seeding material
  • Added API stress coat
  • Added Top Fin PH decreaser
  • Added Top Fin Bacteria
  • Ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 0, and ph 8.86 (known becuase we have had the water tested from the county)
Day 2 (am)
  • added driftwood (cured)
  • added anubius plant attached to driftwood
  • bubble wand
Day2 pm
  • Added the fish (reason? because i thought they would be less stressed out going through a fish in cycle in a bigger tank)
  • Added API Stress coat
  • Added PH decreaser
  • Added bacteria
Ammonia - 0, NO2 - 0, NO3 - 0, PH - 8.4 (API FW master kit results)



Day 3 am
  • Added PH decreaser (trying to get the ph under 8)
So we are thinking about getting south american cichlids. Not sure if i should cycle the tank first with the fish i have, get more fish (what kind)? Or should i add a school of Cichlids. Any input would be great as we are new to this. Any thing that looks like i am doing wrong please say.. im just going by the hours and hours i have searched on the internet for advice.. getting frustrated with all the conflicting articles though, and I now do NOT trust the people at the fish store.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my horror story that is my life for the past month.
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Old 09-19-2012, 02:57 PM   #2
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I keep goldfish so no little about the fish you have and are planning on getting -- and therefore can't help with the stocking question.

What I can tell you is that based on bad advice I grossly overstocked a 10 gallon tank with goldfish before upgrading to a 50 gallon. At the time the 10 gallon tank was still cycling (in the midst of the nitrite phase).

I set up the 50 gallon and moved everyone over -- the reason was, if I'm cycling 'fish-in' no matter which way I go, better to do that in the larger water volume with greater dilution than the smaller water volume.

Cichlids may be different -- again, I've never kept them, but I've read it might be better to fishlessly cycle first and add the full stock all at once to avoid any possible territorial issues that arise from adding fish slowly over time.

Good luck!
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Old 09-19-2012, 03:01 PM   #3
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All those fish will probably need something close to a 240, the 90 is a GREAT start. Just know to save up for them when it's time. I'm following along, the fish you have are gorgeous and are a great joy in a large aquarium - it will make your home more relaxing.

NO cichlids with the stock you have. Angelfish would be the only cichlids I'd suggest.

Also, please stop trying to change your PH. The fish will adjust to your ph, changes induced by products harm them more than anything.

Cycle with the fish you have and don't buy anymore. The ghost gets two feet long, the arowana four, the pleco two.. Until you have the final tank, you shouldn't add to this one.
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Old 09-19-2012, 03:09 PM   #4
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I only do little tanks, but after being around for a couple of years, my advice is SLOW DOWN. Let your tank mature even though it probably looks empty. I read once "nothing good ever happens quickly in a fish tank". As you have found, any questions you ask are going to have opinionated answers on both sides. You have to read and read and then decide what you think. I found this very frustrating as well. This site tends to be conservative and I have learned to appreciate that because it gives you the best chance for success. Asking shorter more specific questions gets better responses. Remember hobbies are suppposed to be fun! Try not to stress out too much.
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Old 09-19-2012, 07:00 PM   #5
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Wow! That guy gave you some terrible advice. They do that to make money. Never listen to the LFS folks until you have gotten to know them and they have proven themselves to you. Don't take the "I have been in this business for 50 years, this is what you need to do" bunk, assume they are all morons until proven otherwise and always do your own research first.

Good plan with moving the fish from the ten to the 90. They will be less stressed and now have a far greater chance of survival.

Good choice going with your well water. As long as it does not stink of rotten eggs and leave red (iron) stains it should be fine. Test it once a month for pH, KH, GH and nitrate just so you know what you are dealing with.

Don't mess with your pH, especially during a "cycle".
If you have a spare air pump and a milk jug or bucket... Put some well water in the jug and drop in an air line.
If you don't have a spare air pump... Put some well water into a shallow bowl and allow it to sit giving it an occasional stir.
Check the pH after 24-36 hours, this will be the water's true pH after it has gassed out. You need to know this value.

Don't get any more fish for a while, it will just make it harder on you. Watch that BGK, they are wild caught and may not take to eating processed foods for a while. If you don't see him eating get some feeder shrimp, he will soon get comfortable enough to eat prepared foods like sinking carnivore pellets and such. They also love blood worms and will likely eat them at any time.
I would also return the Bala Sharks. They like larger groups of five or more and are twitchy little buggers that just may commit suicide by bashing themselves constantly on the glass. They also get to be about two feet in length so they are really not a good choice for anything but the largest of tanks.

Can't remember your other questions. Good luck and keep asking questions.
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Old 09-19-2012, 07:23 PM   #6
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Just reread your OP and saw the BGK did not survive. You have left the Bristlenose Pleco and the two Balas?

Keep the BNP and return the Balas. Get yourself a medium large school of some smaller peaceful fish (research what kind you would like of course) and move along with your 'fish in cycle". Monitor the toxin levels daily and do an appropriately sized PWC to counteract ammonia and/or nitrite levels. Consider picking up a bottle of SeaChem Prime water conditioner, it is more concentrated than most other brands so you will use less therefore you will save some money.

Oh, and your water looked like coffee because that is what Peat Moss does. It releases tannins (just like coffee) and this lowers the pH. Get rid of the Peat Moss as you don't need to be futzing with your pH during a "cycle". The only time you should worry about your pH currently is if it drops into the low sixes. If it does that then just do some water changes to bring the pH back up.
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:11 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RussellC
I keep goldfish so no little about the fish you have and are planning on getting -- and therefore can't help with the stocking question.

What I can tell you is that based on bad advice I grossly overstocked a 10 gallon tank with goldfish before upgrading to a 50 gallon. At the time the 10 gallon tank was still cycling (in the midst of the nitrite phase).

I set up the 50 gallon and moved everyone over -- the reason was, if I'm cycling 'fish-in' no matter which way I go, better to do that in the larger water volume with greater dilution than the smaller water volume.

Cichlids may be different -- again, I've never kept them, but I've read it might be better to fishlessly cycle first and add the full stock all at once to avoid any possible territorial issues that arise from adding fish slowly over time.

Good luck!
Thank you for your reply! That's was my thought when I switched my fish over to the 90 from the 10. I'm thinking I'll try and cycle with the three I have left, I don't know if they will be big enough to cycle the tank as they are only 6 inches on fish in total lol, but I guess we will find out.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chiroptera
All those fish will probably need something close to a 240, the 90 is a GREAT start. Just know to save up for them when it's time. I'm following along, the fish you have are gorgeous and are a great joy in a large aquarium - it will make your home more relaxing.

NO cichlids with the stock you have. Angelfish would be the only cichlids I'd suggest.

Also, please stop trying to change your PH. The fish will adjust to your ph, changes induced by products harm them more than anything.

Cycle with the fish you have and don't buy anymore. The ghost gets two feet long, the arowana four, the pleco two.. Until you have the final tank, you shouldn't add to this one.
thanks, I'm looking forward to it!
Well actually, the arowana and the ghost fish died at the start, as I said in the beginning. But I dunno, the research that I have done I believe in my opinion those numbers are a little off. But who knows I could be wrong so as of right now, I have the Pleco, and two bala sharks. I have seen many cichlid tanks with fish in them other then cichlids and I am wondering of any one has any personal experience with it. But thanks for your opinions



Quote:
Originally Posted by twoodrough
I only do little tanks, but after being around for a couple of years, my advice is SLOW DOWN. Let your tank mature even though it probably looks empty. I read once "nothing good ever happens quickly in a fish tank". As you have found, any questions you ask are going to have opinionated answers on both sides. You have to read and read and then decide what you think. I found this very frustrating as well. This site tends to be conservative and I have learned to appreciate that because it gives you the best chance for success. Asking shorter more specific questions gets better responses. Remember hobbies are suppposed to be fun! Try not to stress out too much.
I agree and thank you for the kind words! I feel more encouraged now. Do you think the fish I have left over will cycle a 90 gallon tank? They all are small guys. Someone suggested minnows? Thanks again
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:20 PM   #8
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great advice Blert.! and you right about most LFS, always do your research espicaily when your dealing with live pets. for 30yrs i've been in retail, fish, coral reefs, custom aquariums, and maintenance, and new very little when i first started my aquarium service business, and even less when i opened my first retail store 3yrs later. now 30 yrs later i can honestly say i have learned more from my customers and hobbyist then i've learn in my own research, and with all the knowledge, i am still learning, thats what make forums like this so great

senio keep up the research and, and don't give up on your LFS there is a good one where you are. ( ask around the local hobbyist will know). good luck with your new hobby.
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:51 PM   #9
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I've never kept SA cichlids, but they are very aggressive and don't usually do well with other fish. If I were you, I would get rid of the pleco and the bala sharks. Why pet stores sell them in the first place, I'm not sure, but those fish all get super big. The pleco will get to over a foot and are massive waste producers. The bala sharks will get very large as well and prefer schools. Also, cichlids aren't a great choice if you were planning on going planted either, they usually rip them apart.
There are lots of great cichlids that aren't aggressive. You can look at bolivian rams, german blue rams, angelfish, or keyhole cichlids. All are peaceful and can be kept with other community fish. You could add a large school of tetras, danios, or rainbowfish. There's also plenty of bottom feeders such as cory cats and loaches that could replace the pleco.There are tons of options out there.
Don't use 'starter fish' to cycle your tank. Cycle your tank with the permanent inhabitants of the tank. This way, you won't need to find homes for the fish you cycled the tank with. The tank should cycle as long as their is a source of ammonia so you should be good with that.
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:06 PM   #10
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Don't feel bad about the Bad Fish advice from the store, I had 12 White clouds in a 3 gallon Marineland Eclipse. They said they would be fine, just change the water 2 a week. I upgraded to a 10. Here is a good website FOR A GUIDE.

AqAdvisor - Intelligent Freshwater Tropical Fish Aquarium Stocking Calculator and Aquarium Tank/Filter Advisor
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Old 09-19-2012, 10:27 PM   #11
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Your bristlenose pleco should be fine. It's the common ones that get huge. I can't say about the balas. I have never had a tank big enough to even consider them. If you happen to return the fish you have, you might consider doing a fishless cycle to start. Lots of good info here.

The cycle is all about building up beneficial bacteria (BB). They need ammonia, and the more ammonia you have the more BB will be produced. You only need enough BB to handle the amount of ammonia produced by fish you have. So if you cycle with just the 3 you have, the ammonia they produce will lead to the amount of BB that can suvive on that amount. Then you add more fish slowly over time and the BB gets greater over time with them.
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Old 09-20-2012, 02:02 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chiroptera
All those fish will probably need something close to a 240, the 90 is a GREAT start. Just know to save up for them when it's time. I'm following along, the fish you have are gorgeous and are a great joy in a large aquarium - it will make your home more relaxing.

NO cichlids with the stock you have. Angelfish would be the only cichlids I'd suggest.

Also, please stop trying to change your PH. The fish will adjust to your ph, changes induced by products harm them more than anything.

Cycle with the fish you have and don't buy anymore. The ghost gets two feet long, the arowana four, the pleco two.. Until you have the final tank, you shouldn't add to this one.
The ghost knife and arowana died. So you just have the bristle nose pleco and the balls left? Trust me that arowana probably would of caused so much hassle, you will benefit a lot now it's gone. I know I know it sounds evil but them things don't belong in aquaria. Here it goes:
1) go and complain about that employee. That was such a stupid thing to suggest to you guys and he should know better. I advise finding an Lfs that has a he'll of a lot more knowledge on fish.
2) good job on the 90! That's definatly the way to go! If you were to rehome the balas your tank would have so many more opportunities. EG: cichlids, community. I'm not certain weather a bristle nose can live with cichlids or not so I can't help you there.
3) do daily changes of 20% and try and rehome them sharks! So far you've done everything right, like getting a bigger tank and a better test kit. So well done. Keep on testing daily!
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Old 09-20-2012, 02:51 AM   #13
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Oh, I'm sorry for your loss. I looked through it, didn't see that. The 90 should be fine, but even once you're cycled don't start looking - because 6 months from now if you find a cool fish, but now you've already stocked your tank, it will be a bad feeling. I like Rainbowfish though, if that's something you want to look up eventually.
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Old 09-20-2012, 08:59 AM   #14
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I'd do a SA Dwarf tank, with Bolivian Ram 2 Males, Cupid Cichlid or Red Breast Acara pair, German Ram 2 Males, and a pair of Keyhole or Rainbow Cichlids as a centre piece. 10 - 12 Tetra in 2 groups of six, Lemon and Bleeding Heart and 5 Sterbai or Julii Corydoras.
Plants - Hairgrass, Anubias, Vallisneria, Java Fern

The Bala sharks would have to go, but you could keep the Bristlenose/Pleco depending on species - most should be fine.
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Old 09-20-2012, 12:55 PM   #15
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Thanks guys so much, defiantly answered alot of my questions, I think I'll stick with the balas for now till I'm cycled. I wish I could find a different fish store but the one I went to (ironically) is the biggest store in Edmonton (close to where I live) and they are the only ones that carry the filter media for my ehiem. But I could always buy that online from now on since I am set up. I'll keep my eyes open for a better fish store.

Rainbow fish. Hmmm I'll have to look those up!
I'm sure I could get rid of the balas if I need to in a hurry. That awful store i went to in the past takes in fish and resells them. What a crock! The more I look at cichlids the more I like them!

So I put my driftwood in the aquarium after I had boiled it for many hours over a course of a week and a half. Soaked it in between being boiled and now the water in my tank is tea stained. Any ideas about how to remove it? I'll start by pwc.
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Old 09-20-2012, 01:00 PM   #16
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I wouldn't worry about the colour off the water, if any thing it's beneficial to the fish your looking at getting. If it really drives you mad, the filter floss in your filter should take it out eventually or water changes.
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Old 09-20-2012, 01:02 PM   #17
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Carbon will help remove the tannins from the driftwood. You will need to change it about once a week.
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Old 09-20-2012, 01:21 PM   #18
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I would recomend sending the balas back after cycling. Minimum recomended tank size for them is 220 but that might even be small for a 14 inch schooling fish. Bristlenose plecos are awesome. After that the possibilities are endless. Cichlids are beautiful though I do not know much about them. A general community could be gorgeous as well.
Fish stores give alot of sketchy advise. One of our first tanks was a 10 gallon that "cycled" for a week and then was stocked with a red tailed shark, a common pleco, one or 2 neon tetras, one or 2 painted tetras, a a handfull of other fish I cant remember. We were told to go by the 1 fish per gallon rule....
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Old 09-21-2012, 07:14 AM   #19
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Oops, I missed it was a bristlenose. I agree, they should be fine. I also think the balas should go though.
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Old 09-21-2012, 07:52 AM   #20
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If that is your only choice then you have to use that LFS. Just do your research ahead of time and be wary of anything they tell you that doesn't sound right after what you've read. You might find one employee there you can trust then always look for that person. Don't buy anything off the cuff, come here and ask about it first.
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