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Old 12-25-2006, 10:01 PM   #1
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New setup - Tank cycle log - 1 month update

1st Post!!!
Okay, now that that's out of the way...

As I'm sure tons of people did, I got a new tank for Christmas that I've been wanting. While I've kept smaller tanks before for my daughter, this will be the first, what I consider larger scale, that I'm doing. We kept for over a year an Eclipse 12, artifically planted, Neon Tetras and rosy barbs, a pleco, and some snails. We had an algae problem come up at one point, but I think that was just because we had gotten lazy in our cleanings. That won't happen again, and was easily cleared after a handful of Partial water changes over a period of weeks.

Hoping for some of you experts to take a look at what I'm considering and provide any feedback you might have. I also have questions about the proper way to cycle the tank.

Here's the hardware I have waiting to be setup. With exception of the tank, I'm more than willing to exchange the other equipment for better options, so if you have advice in that manner, fire away. I am, however, hoping to get things rolling this week.
My equipment:
Oceanic 46 gallon Bow tank
Marineland Emperor 280 Bio-Wheel filter
Top Fin 300W heater
The tank hood comes with a 25W tube for lighting


Here's what Im considering to do...
Gravel Substrate
Mostly artificial plants, however I'd like some live plants for the background. Not a lot, as I don't like the whole planted thing, but a few I'm considering are Swords, Anacharis, and/or Temple-Narrow Leaf.

Now, here's the fish that I think I'd like to have:
Red Marlboro Discus
Yellow Marlboro Discus
Clown Loaches
Pleco
Neon Tetras
Possiby some Guppies
Swordtails
Blue Lobster
Shrimp

Obviously, I'm not going to go out and buy them all tomorrow, and from what I can tell, all of the fish are compatible, and hopefully you guys can tell me about the invertebrates I'm wanting to do.

So, for my first set of questions:
What do you guys think of my considerations here?
I doubt the lighting that came with the tank is adequate for live plants. True or False? Is upgrading as simple as purchasing a different bulb? Are the benefits of live plants worth it?
How do I figure out how much algae eating fish to use? Is 1 pleco sufficient, or should I consider some other bottom dwellers too?
Since fish will be introduced over time, using this list above, what order should they be introduced?

Now my more immediate question. The initial cycle of the tank.
While I'm quite anxious, I'm not going to start adding fish until the tank is ready. I'll be buying a good test set to get me going and keep an eye on things through the initial cycle, but I've read so many different things on how to cycle a tank, I just don't know at this point.
As one of my presents, I got a bottle of TetraAqua AquaSafe water conditioner. Obviously this is to dechlorinate the water, but will it introduce the ammonia I need to start off? If not, what do you recommend on how to cycle a tank? I know at pet stores they have stuff they claim for initiating a tank, is any of that any good? I've read tons of posts, here and elsewhere, and this topic seems to be extremely opinionated. Also, what kind of time am I looking for cycling a tank this size to get it ready for fish? The LFS said 10-14 days, is that reasonable? I know the truth is in the numbers from the test set, but my daughter's as anxious as I, and she works better with a timetable guideline

Also, what should I use for the initial cleaning of the tank? It's new, and not like it's filthy, but they had it on display at the store with ribbons and junk in it, and it's naturally got a bit of dust as well. I know no soap, so what should I use?

Anxious to hear your thoughts, and thanks for providing a forum like this to tap in to the large knowledgebase of people who are in the know! I sometimes feel guilty bombarding all these questions at once, but that's the only way to learn, right?

Merry Christmas!

Neilan
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Old 12-25-2006, 10:27 PM   #2
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Re: New setup - Advice and suggestions please

Quote:
Originally Posted by neilanh
1st Post!!!
Okay, now that that's out of the way...

As I'm sure tons of people did, I got a new tank for Christmas that I've been wanting. While I've kept smaller tanks before for my daughter, this will be the first, what I consider larger scale, that I'm doing. We kept for over a year an Eclipse 12, artifically planted, Neon Tetras and rosy barbs, a pleco, and some snails. We had an algae problem come up at one point, but I think that was just because we had gotten lazy in our cleanings. That won't happen again, and was easily cleared after a handful of Partial water changes over a period of weeks.

Hoping for some of you experts to take a look at what I'm considering and provide any feedback you might have. I also have questions about the proper way to cycle the tank.

Here's the hardware I have waiting to be setup. With exception of the tank, I'm more than willing to exchange the other equipment for better options, so if you have advice in that manner, fire away. I am, however, hoping to get things rolling this week.
My equipment:
Oceanic 46 gallon Bow tank
Marineland Emperor 280 Bio-Wheel filter
Top Fin 300W heater
The tank hood comes with a 25W tube for lighting


Here's what Im considering to do...
Gravel Substrate
Mostly artificial plants, however I'd like some live plants for the background. Not a lot, as I don't like the whole planted thing, but a few I'm considering are Swords, Anacharis, and/or Temple-Narrow Leaf.
you are going to need at least 3x the light (75 watts total) to keep basic "Easy" live plants IMO
Quote:

Now, here's the fish that I think I'd like to have:
Red Marlboro Discus
Yellow Marlboro Discus
discus need PERFECT water and HIGH temps...plus some of the other fish you want are will not do well with the high temps, i would suggest choosing a different fish maybe angels?
Quote:
Clown Loaches
gets to big for you tank
Quote:
Pleco
again common plecos will eventually out grow your tank
Quote:
Neon Tetras
Possiby some Guppies
Swordtails
Blue Lobster
will probabaly eat your smaller fish and shrimp
Quote:
Shrimp

Obviously, I'm not going to go out and buy them all tomorrow, and from what I can tell, all of the fish are compatible, and hopefully you guys can tell me about the invertebrates I'm wanting to do.

So, for my first set of questions:
What do you guys think of my considerations here?
I doubt the lighting that came with the tank is adequate for live plants. True or False? Is upgrading as simple as purchasing a different bulb?
look into plants like java feren, the anarchis might be ok ... if you add a second light bulb
Quote:
Are the benefits of live plants worth it?
like what? O2 production and bio-filtration? not at your light level they will grow to slow... to act as O2 sources and much of a nutrient sponge.
Quote:
How do I figure out how much algae eating fish to use?
how much algae you got?
Quote:
Is 1 pleco sufficient, or should I consider some other bottom dwellers too?
if you go with a pleco find one of the smaller species like a bristle-nose of rubber-lip.
Quote:
Since fish will be introduced over time, using this list above, what order should they be introduced?
IF and i mean IF VERT strongly you still go with the discus they should be last after the tank has been running for MINIMUM 6 months.
Quote:

Now my more immediate question. The initial cycle of the tank.
While I'm quite anxious, I'm not going to start adding fish until the tank is ready. I'll be buying a good test set to get me going and keep an eye on things through the initial cycle, but I've read so many different things on how to cycle a tank, I just don't know at this point.
As one of my presents, I got a bottle of TetraAqua AquaSafe water conditioner. Obviously this is to dechlorinate the water, but will it introduce the ammonia I need to start off?
Nope, go the the grocery store and buy some RAW frozen shrimp and throw a couple of those in there.
Quote:
If not, what do you recommend on how to cycle a tank? I know at pet stores they have stuff they claim for initiating a tank, is any of that any good?
some of it is, some is not, do you know the name of the product?
Quote:
I've read tons of posts, here and elsewhere, and this topic seems to be extremely opinionated. Also, what kind of time am I looking for cycling a tank this size to get it ready for fish?
it takes as long as it takes...SO many variables involved can not really give time frame...some take weeks, some take months...if you use filter media from another tank it can take days
Quote:
The LFS said 10-14 days, is that reasonable?
could be, but like i said above..a lot of variables
Quote:
I know the truth is in the numbers from the test set, but my daughter's as anxious as I, and she works better with a timetable guideline
good lesson in patience then...

Anxious to hear your thoughts, and thanks for providing a forum like this to tap in to the large knowledgebase of people who are in the know! I sometimes feel guilty bombarding all these questions at once, but that's the only way to learn, right?[/quote]YEAP
Quote:

Merry Christmas!

Neilan
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Old 12-25-2006, 10:41 PM   #3
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I didn't understand all of it, so i will answer on what i understood.

When having Symphysodon discus in your tank, have in mind that they don't like much competition about their food. 4-5 of them at least.
Avoid large catfishes(?) like Hypostomus plecostomus.
Discus don't like to much filtration, because of its body shape.

-Wather changes, 20-30% every second day, to avoid nitrat.

-Ask the people in the store for discus food, like artema, bull heart, and more.

Fishes i would reccomend to have with Discus:

1. Apistogramma cacatuoides. 1 male and 2-3 females are perfect
2. Ancistrus are great in the aquarium. I would have bought 5-6 of thoose
3. Amano shrimps are great "workers", they clean plants and wood in the tank. Buy many.
4. And some Pterophyllum scalare works fine with discus.
5. 20++ Paracheirodon Axelrodi/ Cardinal tetra are very ususal to keep with discus.

Other algae fishes to advice is Otocinclus affinis. A group(5 at least) i reccomend.

Shrimps, clown loaches, swordtails and guppys don't suit in a discus tank.
They would only stress the discus.


The other technical stuff i leave to other users. I dont use aquasafe, but the water values are perhaps different i guess from country country.
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Old 12-26-2006, 12:06 AM   #4
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Welcome to AA, neilanh!!

Quote:
Also, what should I use for the initial cleaning of the tank? It's new, and not like it's filthy, but they had it on display at the store with ribbons and junk in it, and it's naturally got a bit of dust as well. I know no soap, so what should I use?
Just rinse very well with water and scrub with a rag that hasn't been used with any soaps before. If you feel the need to use something heavier duty, pure bleach or white vinegar is ok. Rinse, rinse, rinse when using anything besides water, and let it dry completely if using bleach.

Quote:
Also, what kind of time am I looking for cycling a tank this size to get it ready for fish? The LFS said 10-14 days, is that reasonable? I know the truth is in the numbers from the test set, but my daughter's as anxious as I, and she works better with a timetable guideline
Once you get an ammonia source, if you can seed the tank with media from an established tank it will greatly reduce the time you will wait. Check out these articles in the freshwater section. They go over proper fishless cycling. It's hard not to get fish right away, but easier than watching them die... Plan on 4 weeks, then if it's quicker it's a nice surprise and if it's a week longer... well, at least you weren't thinking it would only be 11 days!
Jdogg gave good advice on your livestock choices. Angels are a very pretty fish that are easier to keep than discus.. maybe a couple of those? I'm told that the blue lobsters will get a hold of anything they can and nip it to shreds, so that may require a second thought.
You're on the right track. Fishless cycling is a good experience, and it gives you some time to do some research and ask lots of questions. Good Luck!
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Old 12-26-2006, 02:05 AM   #5
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Welcome to AA, neilanh!!!!

Cleaning a brand new tank should only require some warm water and maybe a clean paper towel to remove smudges.

The cycle really will take about four weeks. The beneficial bacteria need time to attach to solid surfaces and grow to sufficient density to handle the amount of fish waste that will be eventually produced. You can speed up the colonization by introducing some gravel or filter media from a healthy established tank - a fish keeping friend or a helpful fish store employee might be able to help you.

Most products that claim to cycle the tank are not very useful. The exception is BioSpira, a liquid culture of LIVE BACTERIA that must be stored refrigerated.

You're right about your lighting and live plants. The fixture you have now is best suited for illumination/viewing. However, you might be able to keep low light plants like Java fern or Java moss. If you really want a planted tank, you would have to upgrade the entire fixture. Live plants make the tank look more natural, IMO, and they help remove excess nutrients. Planting the tank is a decision you can defer for later.

Discus require excellent water quality and frequent changes. I would recommend getting the tank set up and established for a few months with compatible species like tetras before attempting discus.

Clown loaches reach 12+ inches in length, but they grow slowly. Kuhli loaches are another option.

Avoid common plecos that will get too big for your tank within a year or two. Dwarf plecos like bristlenose and rubberlip are just as cute/ugly and work just as hard eating algae and leftovers.

Blue lobsters and other types of crayfish belong in species-only tanks by themselves. They will either maim/kill or be maimed/killed by their fish tankmates.

Shrimp are interesting cleaners - I plan to get some myself. They are very sensitive to water quality and should probably be introduced after the tank is established for a few weeks

Mystery snails are another invert to consider - they can be comical to watch.
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Old 12-26-2006, 11:17 AM   #6
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Welcome to AA! In addition to the advice you have received already, I'd like to stress that disucs need to be established into a well cycled tank like QToffer has said. I've kept clown loaches with discus for over a year but in a 75 gal tank, and now a 125 gal. You'd be suprised at how large they really grow. The 12+ inches is not an exaggeration. I got some Burmese border loaches and they are very cool to watch, and stay small.

The info given already is excellent advice for the most part, I could repeat it all but won't. I will suggest heading over to the planted tank section for lots of great info on plants.
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Old 12-26-2006, 11:27 AM   #7
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Wow, you guys are great! Thanks for all the advice! Definately some good food for thought this morning, as I'm heading over to the LFS this afternoon to pick out my decor and start the cycle on the tank later today. I'll defer my planting decision until later, and same with the Discus, I'll wait several months and see how things go and make a decision then on those. I didn't realize the clown loaches got that big, so I'll pass on those for a smaller species. You guys also have me concerned about the lobster, which is too bad cuz they look really cool, but I'm glad you guys gave me the info before I did something dumb.

Nobody said anything bad about my filtration system or heater, so I'll assume that those are acceptable and start getting setup.

Thanks again for all the help everyone, and I'll post pics as things come together!
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Old 12-26-2006, 12:43 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neilanh
Wow, you guys are great! Thanks for all the advice! Definately some good food for thought this morning, as I'm heading over to the LFS this afternoon to pick out my decor and start the cycle on the tank later today. I'll defer my planting decision until later,
there is a section on here on planted tanks, read up in there read all the stickys and a bunch of the posts before you decide on live plants.
Quote:
and same with the Discus,
Discus are very beautiful fish and can be very rewarding to keep imo, but they are also very demanding so research and ask questions and really do you homework before you take that jump
Quote:
I'll wait several months and see how things go and make a decision then on those. I didn't realize the clown loaches got that big,
many people do not and lfs do not always tell people
Quote:
so I'll pass on those for a smaller species.
if you like loaches perhaps a Yo YO Loach or Kuhli Loach personally i prefer the smaller catfish like cories and syno cats...but it really is personal taste
Quote:
You guys also have me concerned about the lobster, which is too bad cuz they look really cool,
my lfs has a blue lobster in with a pleco... i watched as the lobster grabbed the pleco and tried to kill and eat it, the pleco got away and a got the owner and she moved him to another tank... but if it was a tetra or a swordtail or something it would have been lunch. perhaps if you still want the lobster you could set up a 10 gallon for just the lobster.
Quote:
but I'm glad you guys gave me the info before I did something dumb.
i am glad you came looking for help, far to many come for help AFTER they do something
Quote:
Thanks again for all the help everyone, and I'll post pics as things come together!
waiting patiently for the pics
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Old 12-26-2006, 01:21 PM   #9
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I had a blue lobster in a 10-gallon tank by himself. That's really the best way to do things if you don't want him to eat the fish in the tank. I just gave it away to my friend for his office. He is thinking about tossing some feeder guppies into the tank to add some depth to the tank, and he doesn't mind if the lobster gets a little snack out of it too.

My local Petco had Yo Yo Loaches in stock. I don't know if they stock the same across the country or not, but they were 1-1/2" only right now.
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Old 12-26-2006, 10:17 PM   #10
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Setup

Thanks again for everyones help. Got the tank setup today, although I haven't yet gotten an ammonia source to get things rolling, I'll do that tomorrow. Tank looks pretty good I think, although I'm second guessing my decor selections to go with colorful tropical fish. So, naturally that's subject to change

I'm going to continue to research fish and figure out what I want to do ultimately as far as stocking, so undoubtedly I'll have more questions coming.

Because I'll also more than likely need help with verifying my cycle is going well, here's my initial water levels taken from the tank, but before the dechlorinater was added.

PH 7.2
Ammonia 1.0
Nitrite 0.0
Nitrate 5.0

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Old 12-26-2006, 11:03 PM   #11
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Just drop in a couple of raw uncooked shrimp for your ammonia source. No fuss, no muss.
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Old 12-26-2006, 11:06 PM   #12
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Looks great! I'm sure your future fish will appreciate their home
How long after the water came out of the tap did you do those tests? When doing a control test on your tap, it's best to let it set for a while. Tomorrow after it's been in the tank for a while test again, I think you may find your results have changed...
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Old 12-27-2006, 12:02 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Finatic
Just drop in a couple of raw uncooked shrimp for your ammonia source. No fuss, no muss.
Exactly my plan, however the wife didn't make it to the store today as planned. But I do have a question about that. Might be a dumb one, but it's one nonetheless. Everyone says it just like that.... "a couple". Could someone be a bit more specific? 2-3 small ones are the right amount? Are the fresh ones from a fish counter better than frozen ones? Doubt it matters, since it's just going to rot anyway, but better safe than sorry. Oh, do I peel it first?

Quote:
Originally Posted by justrelax
Looks great! I'm sure your future fish will appreciate their home

How long after the water came out of the tap did you do those tests? When doing a control test on your tap, it's best to let it set for a while. Tomorrow after it's been in the tank for a while test again, I think you may find your results have changed...
Thanks for the compliment.
I took those about 30 minutes after the tank was finally filled up, just before I put in the dechlorinater. I'm sure things will change, as I intend on checking it daily once I get the shrimp in there rotting away.
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Old 12-27-2006, 12:04 AM   #14
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Nice tank!

I'm partial to the liquid ammonia myself, it feels more scientific I guess. Either way works as I understand.

Nice work!
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Old 12-27-2006, 12:06 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SparKy697
Nice tank!

I'm partial to the liquid ammonia myself, it feels more scientific I guess. Either way works as I understand.

Nice work!
Could you be more specific as to what it is and where to get this?
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Old 12-27-2006, 12:17 AM   #16
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Oh, sorry.

Yes I can. I found ammonia in a Ace hardware store that had no coloring or perfumes. It was called Janitorial strength formula ammonia. 10% ammonium hydroxide. Add a couple of drops at a time and keep track of how much you used. Test your tank each time you add and keep doing it until you get to a residual that you want. I went to 4 ppm. The formula that ended working for me was to add .34 ml of ammonia to raise the level of ammonia in 10 gallons by 1 ppm. It may work for you or you may need to adjust it a bit.

For the rest I just followed the article on Fishless Cycles

Things got a little slow near the end and a good pinch of fish food seemed to give it the kick it needed to finish. In total my 29 gallon tank took 14 days I think it was to completely cycle. After that I added pretty much my whole stock of fish at once. Nobody ever died!

Good luck and I hope this helps.
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Old 12-27-2006, 12:39 AM   #17
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Exactly what I was looking for Sparky, thank you much! Now I just have to decide between this and the shrimp. I tend to like to feel like I'm in control, so this may fit me better than tossing in some shrimp and waiting.

I just read your thread on your cycle for your 29gal. I haven't yet found a source to steal a filter from, so I'm expecting my cycle to take a bit longer than yours. Your tank looks great by the way, very unique slate rocks you found.
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Old 12-27-2006, 05:07 PM   #18
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It's begun

So, with much help from SparKy697, I got the liquid stuff today and started what will hopefully turn out to be a successful cycle.

Before I started, I took another full set of water levels. This is after the water's been in the tank for about 21 hours.
pH 7.5
Ammonia 0.75
Nitrite 0.0
Nitrate <5
temp 85į

I then used the formula Sparky gave me (0.34ml 10% solution per 10 gallons for 1ppm) to add about 2ppm of ammonia, which for my 46 gallon tank I calculated to be just over 3ml (someone double check my math?)

I haven't tested yet since I added it. I was curious how long I should wait before I retest. Any advice?

I haven't yet found a bacteria source to steal from, none of my friends have tanks, and the LFS told me they didn't have anything right now.


UPDATE:
So it's been an hour since my initial 3ml dose of the 10% solution. Ammonia is now reading 3.0. I dosed another 1 ml and will check again later. I think this means I'm underway.

What to expect? Since I have yet to find a bacteria source, I'm assuming eventually nitrites will start to appear, can someone confirm this?

Also, is there anyone in the northern virginia area that wants to donate a used filter???

Another question I had and forgot to ask earlier. The filter I'm using allows for a 2d filter media to be used as a second stage after the main filter, but before the bio-wheel. It came with a cage to house the media, but no media. Should I consider adding a second media once I get into fish, and if so, what should it be?
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Old 12-27-2006, 06:50 PM   #19
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It looks like you are well on your way to the equivalent of watching grass grow. The waiting is the hardest part.

Yes you are right about what will happen next, but without seed material this could be days. I know that there are products out there that claim to have bacteria in them ready to go to work on your ammonia, but I have not heard many positive reports on them.

Look on the bright side, you will have plenty of time to do the research on what fish you want to get.
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Old 12-27-2006, 11:01 PM   #20
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Another question I had and forgot to ask earlier. The filter I'm using allows for a 2d filter media to be used as a second stage after the main filter, but before the bio-wheel. It came with a cage to house the media, but no media. Should I consider adding a second media once I get into fish, and if so, what should it be?
Fill that puppy up! Any bio-media will do, from bio-balls to ceramic pieces. The idea is to fill it up so you have lots of surface area for your nitrifying bacteria to live on.
You don't need a used filter to seed your tank, just something that bacteria are presently living on. Gravel, bio-media, decor... any of these things from a healthy, established tank will help your cycle along. I'm sure your lfs can spare a couple handfuls of gravel... Get rough with them, they'll give it up
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