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Old 08-24-2007, 04:16 PM   #1
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newbie with a 10 gal, 50 gal and lots of questions

Hi all,
Iím an enthusiastic newbie. It all started with an ill-fated fair goldfish. It died. My son bought a used 10 gal kit at the flea market and we set it up to cycle with 3 danios. I decided that looked like fun but I wanted more, more, MORE! fish. Ahem. So I bought a 50 gallon ďsystemĒ off craiglist. Now, I am horribly intimidated by it and unsure what to do next. Iíve done some reading, (wow, great info here!) but wasnít reaching any sort of conclusion.

What we have:
10 gallon:
3 zebra? spotted? longfin danios, cycling for 1 month on Aug 24. We were told by our LFS on Aug 22 that weíre still cycling and to not do any water changes and test again in a week. I will be buying a test kit this weekend. No strips, I promise.
1 snail
artificial plants
floating water hyacinths, not doing well
rocks and gravel substrate
heater/thermometer

What we want:
easy, community tank
6 platies/moonfish
1 golden algae eater
shrimp?

We also have, courtesy of craigslist:
50 gallon (48Ē long) glass tank
undergravel filter
penguin bio wheel 170
azoo 9500 air pump
2 lids w/lights
assorted artificial plants
used gravel substrate
assorted cotton and charcoal and some sort of filter that Iím unsure of where it goes.

What I want:
easy, active, planted community tank.
Gouramies
Cory Cats
Rainbows or tetras or danios?
Pleco(s)
Loaches?
shrimp?

What I think are my biggest questions:
Cycling: Can I re-ĒcycleĒ with the danios if I decide to do a with-fish cycle in the 50 gallon and the 10 gallon is all cycled? Or is that just too much on the little guys? Would it make more sense to do a non-fish cycle and use some of the substrate and stuff from the 10 gallon to seed the 50 gallon?

Planting: Should I start with live plants or get the tank and fish happy before I switch to live plants, using artificial in the meantime? Iím concerned that live plants plus new tank plus new fish would be too many variables to track as a beginner.

Is there anything obvious that Iím missing? As I mentioned in the description, this stuff is from craigslist. Iím scrubbing with water and covering with boiling water all the stuff I intend to use as well as replacing the tubing. Will that be sufficient to protect my tank from any potential yuck left over? (The previous owner had cichlids.) I would also appreciate any guidance on order of adding fish. I think that I need to do it in stages but is there any sort of benefit to adding cory cats before plecos or tetras before shrimp or ???

Thanks so much!

~g
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Old 08-24-2007, 04:54 PM   #2
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I'll help out JChillin from making his post ...be sure to read the stickys on the forum as they are a great beginning resource. Also the articles section. Like you said there is a lot of information on this forum, which can be overwhelming, but those two sections provide a lot of essential information for starting out.

The first thing I noticed is that you had an undergravel filter for the 50 gallon. If you are wanting this to be a planted tank you should discard that completely and look at purchasing a canister filter. Rena Filstars, Fluvals, and Eheims are some of the popular ones. I only own Rena Filstars which are economical but I've never had a single problem. Also when the tank becomes planted it will be unnecessary to use the charcoal. Filter floss, foam pads, and bio rings are great for planted aquariums.

In terms of cycling it would be best to do a fishless cycle. There are many postings on this forum if you do a search for fishless cyle. Also look into bio-spira which would allow you to add that product into your tank and then add fish 24 hours later.
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Old 08-24-2007, 05:36 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smn723
I'll help out JChillin from making his post ...be sure to read the stickys on the forum as they are a great beginning resource. Also the articles section. Like you said there is a lot of information on this forum, which can be overwhelming, but those two sections provide a lot of essential information for starting out.

The first thing I noticed is that you had an undergravel filter for the 50 gallon. If you are wanting this to be a planted tank you should discard that completely and look at purchasing a canister filter. Rena Filstars, Fluvals, and Eheims are some of the popular ones. I only own Rena Filstars which are economical but I've never had a single problem. Also when the tank becomes planted it will be unnecessary to use the charcoal. Filter floss, foam pads, and bio rings are great for planted aquariums.

In terms of cycling it would be best to do a fishless cycle. There are many postings on this forum if you do a search for fishless cyle. Also look into bio-spira which would allow you to add that product into your tank and then add fish 24 hours later.
Thank you. I have started making my way through the articles and stickies but I feel like I have more questions after I've read them. Given the incompatability of an UGF and a planted aquarium, I think I will have to postpone the planting part. There would be no problem with a few floating plants, would there? I would do the majority of my aquascaping with artificial plants, of which I already have some.

I've been reading about the fishless cycle, still trying to sort out the shrimp v. additive v. pure ammonia options.

Thanks for your response!
~g
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Old 08-24-2007, 05:45 PM   #4
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floating plants should be okay but most floating plants require moderate to high light to endure...by reading your first post it appears you have a basic hood so you would be low light most likely. You could always give them a shot though...they may just grow slowly. Someone else can probably be of more assistance in regards to the floating plants...I don't have any.

FWIW...it's pretty easy to do the fishless if you get your ammonia, nitrate, nitrite tests and then use pure ammonia for dosing. when you go to buy the ammonia ensure it is pure...no colors, fragrances, etc....shake it and if it foams you don't want it.

Good luck with the tank and i know what you mean about reading the articles and stickies...i was the same way when i started lurking these forums.
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Old 08-25-2007, 10:33 AM   #5
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Welcome to AA!

Quote:
when you go to buy the ammonia ensure it is pure...no colors, fragrances, etc....shake it and if it foams you don't want it.
This can not be understated. You are looking for anything other than ammonium hydroxide as an ingredient. Scent, color, or surfactants are all things you do not want in your ammonia. I found mine at an ACE Hardware, not sure where you are from but that seems to be a fairly consistent source. Someplace here I have a photo of the bottle, I'll see if I can find it and post it for you.

All of that being said, I think that the fishless cycle is a great way to go and I prefer the liquid ammonia method myself. It's neater, cleaner, and much better looking than a rotting shrimp on the bottom of your tank.

Another option is to take the filter media from that penguin (foam pads and bio-wheel) and throw them into the 10 gallon tank while it is cycling. Maybe tie them down or somehow secure them in a corner so they don't look so ugly just floating around the tank. This will allow the bacteria that is forming in the 10 gallon tank to also grow on the surfaces of the filter media that is floating around. Once the 10 is cycled and you are ready to set up the 55 you can simply take the media out of the 10, install it in the filter for the 55, add a couple fish to the 55 and let the filter run. You should see almost no cycle in that tank at all as long as you do not add too many fish to start with. The longer you leave this media in the 10 the better.

It sounds like you have a good start as far as the equipment goes. The one thing I don't see on the list is a test kit. The advice you get here will be to go and buy a liquid test kit and stay away from the dip strips - no matter what the kid at the store tells you! This is good advice.

This kit will tell you everything you need to know about how your cycle is going and when you can add more fish. That price is also going to beat anything you can typically get locally, even with shipping.

Ok, enough rambling. Good luck and ask as many questions as it takes for you to feel comfortable in what you are doing.
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Old 08-25-2007, 11:01 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SparKy697

This can not be understated. You are looking for anything other than ammonium hydroxide as an ingredient. Scent, color, or surfactants are all things you do not want in your ammonia. I found mine at an ACE Hardware, not sure where you are from but that seems to be a fairly consistent source. Someplace here I have a photo of the bottle, I'll see if I can find it and post it for you.

All of that being said, I think that the fishless cycle is a great way to go and I prefer the liquid ammonia method myself. It's neater, cleaner, and much better looking than a rotting shrimp on the bottom of your tank.
I have to admit that I'm reluctant to use ammonia - purely because I don't *like* to use it in any capacity but the thought of a rotting shrimp sitting around for a while is rapidly removing my dislike of ammonia.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SparKy697
Another option is to take the filter media from that penguin (foam pads and bio-wheel) and throw them into the 10 gallon tank while it is cycling. Maybe tie them down or somehow secure them in a corner so they don't look so ugly just floating around the tank. This will allow the bacteria that is forming in the 10 gallon tank to also grow on the surfaces of the filter media that is floating around. Once the 10 is cycled and you are ready to set up the 55 you can simply take the media out of the 10, install it in the filter for the 55, add a couple fish to the 55 and let the filter run. You should see almost no cycle in that tank at all as long as you do not add too many fish to start with. The longer you leave this media in the 10 the better.
Ooh, that sounds like a convenient plan. How long should I leave the media in the 10 gallon? Does the amount of time pre-cycle matter? Can I move over the 3 danios from the 10 gallon or are they too few? Too cycled?
Quote:
Originally Posted by SparKy697
It sounds like you have a good start as far as the equipment goes. The one thing I don't see on the list is a test kit. The advice you get here will be to go and buy a liquid test kit and stay away from the dip strips - no matter what the kid at the store tells you! This is good advice.

This kit will tell you everything you need to know about how your cycle is going and when you can add more fish. That price is also going to beat anything you can typically get locally, even with shipping.
I'm planning on getting one today. If the prices locally are too high, I'll order that one.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SparKy697
Ok, enough rambling. Good luck and ask as many questions as it takes for you to feel comfortable in what you are doing.

Thank you!
~g
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Old 08-25-2007, 11:17 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SparKy697
You are looking for anything other than ammonium hydroxide as an ingredient.
I think you mean "not looking for anything other than ammonium hydroxide". That should be the only ingredient.

Here's the link from the Ace Hardware website:
http://www.acehardware.com/product/i...Id=18290357213
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Old 08-25-2007, 02:17 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by smn723
The first thing I noticed is that you had an undergravel filter for the 50 gallon. If you are wanting this to be a planted tank you should discard that completely and look at purchasing a canister filter. Rena Filstars, Fluvals, and Eheims are some of the popular ones.
Just for the record...the presence of the undergravel filter doesn't mean you can't do live plants if you want. My tank has both. It is a pain to take out afterward, however, if you choose to change filters.
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Old 08-25-2007, 02:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
I think you mean "not looking for anything other than ammonium hydroxide"
Yes, sorry for the confusion. Thanks for clearing that up.

That is the stuff I used in the photo as well. I think that might be the price per case. One bottle is under$5.00 I seem to remember.

Quote:
How long should I leave the media in the 10 gallon?
I would suggest putting the media in right away and leave it there until you are sure that the 10 gallon is cycled. You will know the tank has cycled by testing the water daily and seeing that your tank has gone through an ammonia spike then a nitrite spike and finally a point where the ammonia and nitrite = zero and the nitrate has begun to rise. This may take weeks but don't rush it, the longer you leave that media in the 10 the better for both tanks.

Once you are satisfied that the 10 gallon has cycled you may use that media in the 55. You should be able to move the zebras to the new 55 with the media safely and with not a lot of stress to the fish. Make sure you are using a good de-chlorinator for the water you are adding to the tanks too. Seachem's Prime is a popular one around here, but there are many on the market.
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Old 08-25-2007, 08:06 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by fish 'n' fries
Quote:
Originally Posted by smn723
The first thing I noticed is that you had an undergravel filter for the 50 gallon. If you are wanting this to be a planted tank you should discard that completely and look at purchasing a canister filter. Rena Filstars, Fluvals, and Eheims are some of the popular ones.
Just for the record...the presence of the undergravel filter doesn't mean you can't do live plants if you want. My tank has both. It is a pain to take out afterward, however, if you choose to change filters.
Ooh, really? I'd love to hear more. Do I need to follow the usual planted guidelines for fertilizer and such or are there changes I need to make to allow for the UGF?

and

Quote:
Originally Posted by SparKy697
Once you are satisfied that the 10 gallon has cycled you may use that media in the 55. You should be able to move the zebras to the new 55 with the media safely and with not a lot of stress to the fish. Make sure you are using a good de-chlorinator for the water you are adding to the tanks too. Seachem's Prime is a popular one around here, but there are many on the market.
All right, I'll add the media tonight. I just started testing and will be checking out what my numbers mean shortly, (0<ammonia<0.25 ppm; 2.0<=nitrite). We use well water so no worries on the chlorine.

Thank you!
~g
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Old 08-26-2007, 09:53 AM   #11
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Ok the ammonia reading is good. In fact it is surprisingly low. It would lead you to believe that the bacteria needed to consume ammonia and produce nitrite are getting a nice start. Since you have fish in the tank, I would try to keep the nitrite levels below .5ppm for their health. You can do this by changing 50% (or more) of the water. Your test kit will tell you how often you need to do this.

Since you have well water and are confident that there is no naturally occurring chlorine or ammonia, all you have to do is to match the temperature as close as you can to the tanks current temp. Don't be alarmed if you find that you have to do a once daily change like this for a while until those nitrite levels start to come down.
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Old 08-27-2007, 04:11 PM   #12
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Ooh, really? I'd love to hear more. Do I need to follow the usual planted guidelines for fertilizer and such or are there changes I need to make to allow for the UGF?
In the past most people used UGF. You don't need to change thing because of the UGF. The big issues are you that you have a plate that roots tend to get tangled in.

If you've not done live plants before, I'd start with low light plants (java fern, java moss, crypts, anubias, maybe some swords). Most of these (the swords being the only real question) are tolerant of low light (such as what you get with a stock light.) This way you can get a hang for real plants without investing in higher light, fertilizer etc. If you end up deciding you need higher light plants, then you can work on making things complicated.
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Old 08-27-2007, 04:33 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by norcalg
Ooh, really? I'd love to hear more. Do I need to follow the usual planted guidelines for fertilizer and such or are there changes I need to make to allow for the UGF?
In the past most people used UGF. You don't need to change thing because of the UGF. The big issues are you that you have a plate that roots tend to get tangled in.

If you've not done live plants before, I'd start with low light plants (java fern, java moss, crypts, anubias, maybe some swords). Most of these (the swords being the only real question) are tolerant of low light (such as what you get with a stock light.) This way you can get a hang for real plants without investing in higher light, fertilizer etc. If you end up deciding you need higher light plants, then you can work on making things complicated.
Thank you! I've written down the plants and will try my hand at planted.
re: the UGF, if I decide to transition from it to a canister filter, is there any reason I can't just unhook it but leave it in place?

Thanks again,
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Old 08-28-2007, 06:08 PM   #14
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I would go with an aquaclear or other hob filter. They work alot better in my experience then the ugf and you can usually find them for a good price. You could leave the plate in place if you got a canister but I think poisonous gas and other stuff can accumulate under the plate. I can guarantee at some point you'll want to upgrade for the ugf, and it will be a pain. When you upgrade you'll wonder why you didn't upgrade sooner.

As for floating plants, yes most require higher lighting or they'll slowly die.
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Old 08-29-2007, 12:03 AM   #15
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I would go with an aquaclear or other hob filter. They work alot better in my experience then the ugf and you can usually find them for a good price. You could leave the plate in place if you got a canister but I think poisonous gas and other stuff can accumulate under the plate. I can guarantee at some point you'll want to upgrade for the ugf, and it will be a pain. When you upgrade you'll wonder why you didn't upgrade sooner.
Thank you! Is there any particular HOB you'd recommend? I took a look at a couple of websites and oh my, there's quite a few out there. I already have a penguin bio wheel 170 (rated 10-30 gals), could I use another penguin 150 (rated for 30 gallons and I'm assuming, similar to the 170) to filter my 50 gallons or do I need one filter to do the whole thing?

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Old 08-29-2007, 12:30 AM   #16
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I would recommend either aquaclear filters or a bio wheel like the one you already have. Bio wheels are excellent at holding beneficial bacteria on their turbines. You could definitely try others maybe someone else has experience with other filters, but in my own experience I was recomended bio-wheels or aquaclears and I have both on diferent tanks and they both do a great job.

I run an emperror 400 on my 48 gal and it does a great job with my big cichlids. You should see the bacteria growing on the wheels .

When you're looking at filters look at what its gallon per hour filter rate is. For the fish you listed before a turnover rate of 5 times per hour would be good enough. So look to have a filter with a rating of 250 gallons per hour (50 gallons x 5).

You can definitely combine the penguin 170 with another filter. Just try to have the 2 add up to a turnover rate of 5 times your tanks capacity. Don't be afraid to go over with a little extra filtration, like say a combine rate of 300 gallons per hour, in fact it can help with mechanical filtration to have a little bit extra.

the Emperor 280 would be good enough alone for your tank size with those fish. It's rating is surprise 280 gallons per hour. http://www.marineland.com/products/c...on_emperor.asp

Or for aquaclear you could add a small aquaclear 20 or the 30 which would add another 100 gallons per hour of filtration for the 20, 150 per hour if you with the 30. I use it as the sole filter of my 20 gal planted and have no complaints. Both the 20 and 30 are here http://www.petsandponds.com/securestore/c6270.2.html. Pets and ponds is the cheapest to order from online if your from canada like me.

You could also just add another penguin 170 for a total of 340 gallons per hour.

Some will say you shouldnt use a biowheel filter with plants because it removes too much co2 from the water, in my opinion if you put the water level high enough, this is not a problem. And you wont need co2 unless you have strong light so dont worry about this aspect yet.
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Old 08-29-2007, 09:14 AM   #17
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Personally I stopped using the bio-wheel filters. The constant stream of bubbles in the tank was not something I was willing to put up with.

As far as using a bio-wheel filter with planted tanks goes. If you are not adding co2 to your tank they are just fine. In fact they can actually help. Agitation = gas exchange. With a low light, non co2 injected tank, you want gas exchange so as to replace the co2 that your plants take up. It's when you are injecting co2 that you really would not want to use a bio-wheel. Even if your water level is high enough to stop the cascade of water into the tank, the agitation of the wheel is enough to cause some off gassing of co2
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Old 08-29-2007, 11:45 PM   #18
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Personally I stopped using the bio-wheel filters. The constant stream of bubbles in the tank was not something I was willing to put up with.

As far as using a bio-wheel filter with planted tanks goes. If you are not adding co2 to your tank they are just fine. In fact they can actually help. Agitation = gas exchange. With a low light, non co2 injected tank, you want gas exchange so as to replace the co2 that your plants take up. It's when you are injecting co2 that you really would not want to use a bio-wheel. Even if your water level is high enough to stop the cascade of water into the tank, the agitation of the wheel is enough to cause some off gassing of co2
It remains to be seen if we can stand the noise from the bio-wheel but I just ordered a canister filter (Eheim Ecco Comfort Canister Filter- 2234) to run in addition to the bio-wheel and in place of the UGF. It's supposed to be enough to filter the whole tank if the bubbling from the bio-wheel annoys. I'd like to keep the plant portion simple at this point and get complicated later if it all goes well.

Thank you,
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