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Old 05-03-2022, 11:13 AM   #1
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New fish owner

Hello, new fish owner here. Me and my girlfriend decided to take the dive into aquarium owning. Currently have a 29 gal tank setting up (will add a picture) and wanted to get some feedback on my plans of stocking it. Currently im thinking of adding the following numbers. 3-6 corydoras, either 10 cardinal or neon tetras or 6 cardinals and 6 neons, and then after they settle, i want to add 1 or 2 female betas in as the centerpiece of the tank. My questions are, are those numbers ok, and is my setup ok for that? I saw that corys dont mind the clutter. Just wanted to confirm 3-6 is an ok number for this setup. Will be adding 2 beta hammock leaves, and prob swaping out some of the plants to add a couple taller ones if the tetras need something taller, if not, i like the way the tank looks now, but only if my tetras will be fine with it, being the middle dwellers. Any and all suggestions welcome
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Old 05-03-2022, 11:30 AM   #2
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Welcome to the community. Looking forward to seeing and hearing about what you are getting up to.

I dont see any issue with your plans re: stocking. 6 corys will be better than 3.

As to your aquascape, if you are happy with it, its fine. I would personally put some taller stuff at the back. And an aquascaping tip if you are able to do it now you have set everything up. A black background to the tank makes everything in the tank stand out more and also hides any equipment down the back of the tank.

I cant see a heater in the tank. And there might be a stick on thermometer at the back? I would put that at the front where you can easily see it, although if its a stick on you probably wont be able to move it.

As a new fish keeper, what do you know about the nitrogen cycle? How are you planning on cycling the tank? A fish in cycle or a fishless cycle? Do you know how to do either of these? Or have you never heard of cycling?
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Old 05-03-2022, 11:40 AM   #3
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The heater is in the back right under the filter nub, hidden by that black plant with red tips. I believe thats what you are thinking is the thermometer., i have a stick on thermometer on the right side of tank. And as for the nitrogen cycle, i have heard the term, but am kinda learning as i setup, but deff wont put fish in untill im fully knowledgeable. I have a friend thats walking me through some stuff, just wanted to get multiple voices in. The sand was washed and water added sunday. 2 different water treatments (that came with the tank kit) were added, and water has been cleaning up since. As far as cleaning, i was told 25% water changes every month, but still need to get more info on that.
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Old 05-03-2022, 01:36 PM   #4
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The nitrogen cycle is the natural processes that go on in your tank that convert ammonia into less harmful substances.

Ammonia gets into your tank through various pathways. Fish waste, decaying uneaten food, and dead, decaying plants are common ammonia sources in an aquarium. Its also possible your tap water is an ammonia source. Chloramine is a common water treatment and when treated with most water conditioners the bond in the chloramine breaks and releases ammonia into the water.

Ammonia can be toxic to fish, depending on how much there is, and what the pH and temperature of your tank water is.

The first stage of the nitrogen cycle is the removal of ammonia. If you have real plants in your tank some of this ammonia will be absorbed as part of their natural growth. Generally though ammonia is consumed by denitrifying bacteria that lives mostly on your filter media. These bacteria consume the ammonia and produce nitrite. Unfortunately nitrite is pretty much as toxic to fish as ammonia.

The second stage of the nitrogen cycle is the removal of nitrite. A different denitrifying bacteria will consume the nitrite and produce nitrate. Nitrate is much less harmful than ammonia and nitrite, and for most aquariums the nitrogen cycle ends there. Excess nitrate is removed through your regular water changes.

A further stage of the nitrogen cycle can also happen, but its difficult to remove all the nitrate from a typical freshwater aquarium. Plants will absorb some nitrate in a similar manner to how it absorbs ammonia to grow. There are also nitrifying bacteria that consumes nitrate and gives off nitrogen gas which will simply offgas from your aquarium. This nitrifying bacteria is difficult to grow in freshwater aquarium.

“Cycling” a tank is the process you go through to grow denitrifying bacteria in your aquarium to consume ammonia and nitrite. You are said to be “cycled” when you have enough bacteria to consume all the ammonia and nitrite that your tank produces and turns all of it into nitrate. If you test the water of a cycled tank you should see 0 ammonia and nitrite and some nitrate.
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Old 05-03-2022, 01:37 PM   #5
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To cycle a tank you need to grow denitrifying bacteria to consume ammonia and nitrite that your tank produces. The bacteria needs an ammonia source to grow colonies sufficient in size to consume all the ammonia and resultant nitrite and turn it into nitrate which typically you remove through your regular water changes.

Two commonly used methods to cycle a tank are called a “fish in” cycle and a “fishless” cycle.

A fish in cycle uses fish waste as an ammonia source and regular water changes are undertaken to ensure that water parameters are maintained at relatively non toxic levels. This has been the go to method to cycle a tank for many years, and it commonly is the way new fish keepers cycle a tank when they have bought fish with no knowledge that a tank needs cycling and how to go about it.

Pros.
- You get to keep “some” fish pretty much on day 1 of setting up your tank.
- More consistently gets you through your cycle.
- Only real choice if you already have fish.
- If done simply, eg stock lightly, add fish slowly, you can fishless cycle safely without testing. Although testing your water while cycling is still a good idea.

Cons.
- Lots of water changes, especially if you are doing a fish in cycle with a fully stocked tank.
- Although you should be doing plenty of water changes to maintain relatively safe water, your fish will be living in waste which isn’t ideal.
- Can take a long time (several months) to go from an empty tank to fully stocked if done safely.

A fishless cycle uses an ammonia source to replicate the fish waste that a tank of fish would produce. This ammonia source can be pure ammonia, an aquarium specific ammonium chloride product like Dr Tims Ammonium Chloride, a cocktail shrimp or fish food.

Pros.
- You cycle the tank before adding fish, therefore they shouldn’t be exposed to their own waste.
- No need for regular water changes while your tank cycles.
Can be quicker to go from an empty tank to fully stocked.

Cons.
- Needs patience, you will be looking at an empty tank for several weeks.
- More technical approach requiring dosing ammonia and will need to be done alongside regular testing.
- Less consistently successful than fish in cycles, especially with new fish keepers who don’t understand the process and expect it to run to a timetable.
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Old 05-03-2022, 01:38 PM   #6
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Let us know if you want some advice or a process for either of the ways to cycle a tank.
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Old 05-03-2022, 01:41 PM   #7
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The nitrogen cycle is the natural processes that go on in your tank that convert ammonia into less harmful substances.

Ammonia gets into your tank through various pathways. Fish waste, decaying uneaten food, and dead, decaying plants are common ammonia sources in an aquarium. Its also possible your tap water is an ammonia source. Chloramine is a common water treatment and when treated with most water conditioners the bond in the chloramine breaks and releases ammonia into the water.

Ammonia can be toxic to fish, depending on how much there is, and what the pH and temperature of your tank water is.

The first stage of the nitrogen cycle is the removal of ammonia. If you have real plants in your tank some of this ammonia will be absorbed as part of their natural growth. Generally though ammonia is consumed by denitrifying bacteria that lives mostly on your filter media. These bacteria consume the ammonia and produce nitrite. Unfortunately nitrite is pretty much as toxic to fish as ammonia.

The second stage of the nitrogen cycle is the removal of nitrite. A different denitrifying bacteria will consume the nitrite and produce nitrate. Nitrate is much less harmful than ammonia and nitrite, and for most aquariums the nitrogen cycle ends there. Excess nitrate is removed through your regular water changes.

A further stage of the nitrogen cycle can also happen, but its difficult to remove all the nitrate from a typical freshwater aquarium. Plants will absorb some nitrate in a similar manner to how it absorbs ammonia to grow. There are also nitrifying bacteria that consumes nitrate and gives off nitrogen gas which will simply offgas from your aquarium. This nitrifying bacteria is difficult to grow in freshwater aquarium.

“Cycling” a tank is the process you go through to grow denitrifying bacteria in your aquarium to consume ammonia and nitrite. You are said to be “cycled” when you have enough bacteria to consume all the ammonia and nitrite that your tank produces and turns all of it into nitrate. If you test the water of a cycled tank you should see 0 ammonia and nitrite and some nitrate.

Ok, so what steps should i be taking to assure im keeping up with this. Im gunna pick up test strips on the way home so that i can make sure its all good before i introduce fish. Currently have no real plants, may or may not introduce them, so suggestions for both scenarios would help. I did the treatment, and rinsined the cartridge from the filter a couple times during the initial water clean as instructed from my friend, and now the waters clear. What else should i do to start the correct cycle
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Old 05-03-2022, 01:54 PM   #8
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Just from reading a bit into that, i think the fish in cycle looks like the better path, being that im a beginner, it seems like the better way without full knowledge of the science. So what would your suggestions be for who to introduce first and how often to cycle water (and maybe a crash course on that so i dont screw that up completely as well) based on my stocking plans.
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Old 05-03-2022, 01:55 PM   #9
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To cycle a tank you need to grow denitrifying bacteria to consume ammonia and nitrite that your tank produces. The bacteria needs an ammonia source to grow colonies sufficient in size to consume all the ammonia and resultant nitrite and turn it into nitrate which typically you remove through your regular water changes.

A fish in cycle uses fish waste as an ammonia source and regular water changes are undertaken to ensure that water parameters are maintained at relatively non toxic levels.

Set up your tank. Make sure everything is running smoothly. Make sure you have used a water conditioner product with any tap water you have put in your tank. Seachem Prime is a water conditioner that will also detoxify some ammonia for a day or two, so is a good choice for a water conditioner while cycling a tank with fish.

You should have a test kit. Preferably a liquid test kit. It should test for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.

In ideal circumstances you should be starting a fishless cycle with a low bioload (number of fish). 1 small fish per 10 gallons/40 litres is a good number of fish, but this can be tweaked a little for fish that are social and don’t do well on their own. Ideally a hardy type of fish. You may have fully stocked (or overstocked) your tank before you knew about cycling. In these circumstances, if its not possible to return fish, you will have to make the best of it.

If you haven’t already done so, add your fish. Acclimate them to the water in your tank before doing so.

Feed lightly to start with. Daily as much as is eaten in 2 minutes, or as much as is eaten in 3 minutes every 2 days. You can increase to full feedings if you are confident your parameters aren’t getting too elevated too quickly and water changes don’t become a daily thing.

Start to regularly test the water for ammonia and nitrite. At least daily. Depending on your bioload you could start to see ammonia quite quickly. Nitrite will likely take a little longer to appear.

Your target should be to keep ammonia + nitrite combined no higher than 0.5ppm by changing water whenever your water parameters exceed this target. 0.5ppm combined is a level of waste that is sufficient for your cycle to establish but relatively safe for your fish.

If you see 0.5ppm ammonia and 0.0ppm nitrite (0.5ppm combined) then leave things be. If you see 0.5ppm ammonia and 0.25ppm nitrite (0.75ppm combined) then change 1/3 of the water. If you see 0.25ppm ammonia and 0.75ppm nitrite (1.0ppm combined) then change 1/2 the water. If water parameters get worse than these levels it may require multiple daily 50% water changes to maintain safe water conditions. This is more likely to happen with a fully stocked tank.

Remember to add water conditioner whenever you put tap water in the tank.

Over time the frequency of water changes and amount you need to change to maintain your ammonia + nitrite combined target will reduce. You can also start testing for nitrate and should see this rising. If you are finding the ammonia and nitrite in your tests are consistently low, and you aren’t already fully stocked, you can add a few more fish. It may take a few weeks to get to this point.

Once you add a few more fish, continue to regularly test the water and continue to change water if you exceed the 0.5ppm combined ammonia + nitrite target. With added bioload the frequency of water changes and amount you need to change may increase again until your cycle has caught up. Again once you are consistently seeing low ammonia and nitrite you can add some more fish. Rinse and repeat with testing, water changes, and adding fish when safe to do so until you are fully stocked.

You can then cut back on water changes to control nitrate only. Typically you want to keep nitrate no higher than 40ppm, but I would recommend changing some water every 2 weeks even if your water test says you don’t need to.

A fish in cycle from an empty tank to fully stocked can take several months.

A good way to speed up this process would be to put a small amount of filter media from an established filter into your filter, or get a sponge from an established filter and squeeze it into your tank water. Perhaps you have a friend who keeps fish who could let you have some? This will seed your filter with the bacteria you are trying to grow and speed up the process.

Another option is bottled bacteria like Dr Tims One + Only or Tetra Safestart. These products wont instantly cycle a tank as they claim but in a similar manner to adding established filter media they can seed your filter with the bacteria you are trying to grow to establish your cycle. These products are hit and miss as to whether they work at all, but are an option if established filter media isnt obtainable and may speed up the process from several months to several weeks.
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Old 05-03-2022, 01:56 PM   #10
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From the fish you are planning on keeping i would probably start with 3 or 4 tetras.
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Old 05-03-2022, 02:14 PM   #11
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Ok, ill give that another read when im with her so we can read it over. Which method do you prefer? We dont have any fish yet so we can surely give either one of those methods a run. And with the water changes, i am just taking out 20% or so of the water (or whatever the nitrate+ammonia entails) adding tap back into the tank and then putting the appropriate amount of conditioner in, or conditiong the water before i re introduce the water. What should my target be before i add those first 3 or 4 tetras in, should i test my water before or just add the fish?
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Old 05-03-2022, 02:24 PM   #12
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I prefer fishless cycle, i trust the process and dont go into it with illusions it will be quick.

But. We get a lot of traffic on this site with troubles cycling tanks. By far we see more issues with people not being able to progress a fishless cycle. They dont really understand the process so dont do it properly, expect it to run to a timetable, or they do everything right and it still doesn't work. When they switch to fish in it gets the job done, and if its done properly relatively risk free.

If you have a friend who keeps fish already, take note about using some established filter media or even just squeezing a sponge from their filter into your water. Either will help a lot.
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Old 05-03-2022, 02:30 PM   #13
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Ok, i think ill give fish in a go. And as for a friends media,i think thats doable, i have a friend with like 5 tanks. Only question being, how would i put that media into my tank. My hang on back filter has 2 components, the. Cartridge, which i believe has what you call the media in it (the beads and such) and the small rectangular sponge. Or the other method. If he just brings. A bowl of his water over with his sponge, i could just squeeze that right into the tank? Would that be before or after my 4 tetras are in
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Old 05-03-2022, 02:32 PM   #14
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You need to use a water conditioner whenever you add new tap water. Whether you change 20% or 50% put enough water conditioner in to treat a full tank before you add your new water.

The water in your tank will be just whatever comes out of your tap as it should just be tap water and water conditioner. Its only when you fish swimming about pooping in there that you normally see anything than whats in your tap water. If your tap water is good quality you should see zero ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Its always a good idea to know the parameters of your tap water.

It is possible that your water is treated with chloramine rather than chloramine and this will show as ammonia in your water test. Some nitrate is common is often present too, as most countries allow some nitrate to be present in potable tap water. I have about 5ppm nitrate in my tap water.

Let us know what your tap water and tank water tests as if you are concerned.
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Old 05-03-2022, 02:34 PM   #15
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Just try and fit some media into your filter. Or just squeeze a sponge into the water. Do that a day before getting fish.
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Old 05-03-2022, 02:35 PM   #16
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You need to use a water conditioner whenever you add new tap water. Whether you change 20% or 50% put enough water conditioner in to treat a full tank before you add your new water.

The water in your tank will be just whatever comes out of your tap as it should just be tap water and water conditioner. Its only when you fish swimming about pooping in there that you normally see anything than whats in your tap water. If your tap water is good quality you should see zero ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Its always a good idea to know the parameters of your tap water.

It is possible that your water is treated with chloramine rather than chloramine and this will show as ammonia in your water test. Some nitrate is common is often present too, as most countries allow some nitrate to be present in potable tap water. I have about 5ppm nitrate in my tap water.

Let us know what your tap water and tank water tests as if you are concerned.
So water out, add full tanks worth of conditioner to tank, then new tap in? Also, ill test my tap when i get home. Just with normal test strips id find at petco?
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Old 05-03-2022, 02:48 PM   #17
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Liquid test is better than test strips. Test strips are better than nothing. Note if you go with strips, ammonia test is usually seperate from the 5 in 1/6 in 1 test strips so you will probably need to buy 2 different sets of test strips.

If you want a recommendation then API Freshwater Master Test Kit covers what you need (pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate), are accurate enough for what you are using it for, and although more expensive up front than strips up, as you get 100s of tests from a liquid test kit, they are more cost effective than strips.
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Old 05-03-2022, 03:25 PM   #18
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Awesome! I will look into all of this and get back to you with any more questions, thank you so much for all your help!
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Old 05-03-2022, 07:41 PM   #19
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Old 05-04-2022, 08:18 PM   #20
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It begins

Today we introduced 4 red eye tetras into their new home. Our tap water tests as 0 ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. The little guys seem to be happily exploring their new area as a group. Heres hoping for a sucessfull nitrogen cycle
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