Becoming educated, needing some questions answered
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Becoming educated, needing some questions answered

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Becoming educated, needing some questions answered
Old 02-04-2011, 09:00 PM   #1
 
Becoming educated, needing some questions answered

Hi. We are new to having aquariums and have two up and running. I wish the pet store had told me to go home and read about the Nitrogen Cycle before allowing me to purchase everything (but then again I could have read in advance as well...so my fault really). ANYWAY, now that I realize you should cycle your tank ideally with no fish I want to do what is best for my two tanks.

Here is what I have:

1. 5 gallon tank with male betta, heater, filter that came with this 5 gallon Hex. A rock cave and some plastic plants. Those marble like things and 'jewels' on the bottom. I've had this up and running for 2 weeks.

2. A 14 gallon with 2 male platies and 3 black skirted tetras, heater, filter that came with the kit, two rock caves, gravel for substrate (am I using that term correctly?) and some plastic plants. I've had this up and running for 1 week.

Luckily, I was told to feed them lightly. Luckily I finally read about the Nitrogen cycle at all and am now testing the water daily. I have added no chemicals other than de-chlorinator, and started with brand new everything (so no previously used filter or gravel, etc). I am using Jungle Lab test strips. All fish seem to be doing great....happy, swimming, eating, etc.

I do have a couple of questions and if anyone who is very knowledgeable wouldn't mind taking the time to answer them I'd be very appreciative. Here they are:

1. The betta's tank had a 0.2 reading for ammonia about 1 week after set up. I did a 20% water change and then the reading was 0. Ever since a week ago the ph has been 7.2, total alk 80, chlorine 0, total hardiness 75, nitrite 0 and nitrate 0. Should something be happening? Are the jewellike things bad at the bottom since maybe the good bacteria can't attach (my own thinking)?

2. Nothing has happened in my 14 gallon tank at all, with 0 readings for ammonia, ph 7.2, total alk 80, chlorine 0, total hardiness 75, nitrite and nitrate 0. Is this normal?

3. For both tanks, do I need to do any water changes or clean anything if these parameters stay like this or do I just let it cycle? Also, should I be trying to vacuum anything?

4. For both tanks the 'directions' that came with the filters say to change them about every 2 weeks. Wouldn't that make the cycling process almost start all over again? How often should you change filters, if ever, or should you just rinse them with water from changes? That one really confuses me.

Thanks so much. I really appreciate any advice.
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Old 02-04-2011, 09:10 PM   #2
 
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First welcome to fish keeping and to the forum. Do not change the filters and do 30% weekly water changes. Also I would suggest getting an API liquid master test kit because strip test kits are very in accurate.
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Old 02-05-2011, 12:05 AM   #3
 
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1. The betta's tank had a 0.2 reading for ammonia about 1 week after set up. I did a 20% water change and then the reading was 0. Ever since a week ago the ph has been 7.2, total alk 80, chlorine 0, total hardiness 75, nitrite 0 and nitrate 0. Should something be happening? Are the jewellike things bad at the bottom since maybe the good bacteria can't attach (my own thinking)? Sometimes the cycle takes a bit to get started. Just keep testing the water and do weekly water changes as suggested unless you get an ammonia and/or nitrite reading. Then do immediate water changes as needed. Once the cycle gets underway you may need to do daily water changes to keep them in check. Also, as Calmwaters suggested, the liquid test kit is much more accurate than the dip strips. You may have ammonia present but the strips are not picking it up.

2. Nothing has happened in my 14 gallon tank at all, with 0 readings for ammonia, ph 7.2, total alk 80, chlorine 0, total hardiness 75, nitrite and nitrate 0. Is this normal? See my answer above. I've had a tank take a week or two to start showing ammonia if there's only a few fish in it. Be patient and be ready to do daily water changes if needed.

3. For both tanks, do I need to do any water changes or clean anything if these parameters stay like this or do I just let it cycle? Also, should I be trying to vacuum anything? You can do a very light vacuuming to pick up any excess food and poo. But, until the tank is completely cycled you'll want to go easy since the bacteria also colonize in the substrate.

4. For both tanks the 'directions' that came with the filters say to change them about every 2 weeks. Wouldn't that make the cycling process almost start all over again? How often should you change filters, if ever, or should you just rinse them with water from changes? That one really confuses me. You are correct in your statement that replacing the cartridges may upset your cycle. Just swish them in some used tank water that you've removed during a water change and put them back in your filter. You'll only need to replace them when they are falling apart.

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Old 02-05-2011, 06:57 AM   #4
 
Smile

Thanks both of you! We are so excited about having fish and our new aquariums! Once started and looking to find information it has been cool to see so many aquarium enthusiasts... it was a world we really knew nothing about! I am thinking it could get a little addicting though! :)

One more question..... What do you do when you go on vacation as far as water changes? Not knowing anything about the whole cycle before we got started, we are going away in two weeks. Now I am realizing this may be a critical time for our tanks. Probably we should just train our pet sitters?
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Old 02-05-2011, 09:03 AM   #5
 
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How long will you be gone on vacation?
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Old 02-05-2011, 09:08 AM   #6
 
A little over a week...a Friday to the next Sunday.
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Old 02-05-2011, 09:20 AM   #7
 
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If it has cycled and is stabke by then you could just do the change when you get home. If not and you trust your pet sitters you could explain to them what they need to do and have them do it.
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Old 02-05-2011, 02:45 PM   #8
 
Thanks! Another question if you feel like answering:

I have read that black skirted (widow) tetras prefer to be in groups bigger than I have (3). Mine seem fine except that they pretty much have established a 'pecking' order with the medium sized one in charge (I think he is male). Ge patrols the middle of the tank making sure the biggest one stays on the left side of the tank and the littlest one on the bottom right or bottom back. If the little one goes to the left the biggest one sends her away too. Would eventually, after cycle is done, getting more tetras (same kind) help them not be so territorial or would it just get worse? As I said, it's not bad... No one is 'stalking' or hurting the little one, but they have made it known where she's supposed to be!
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Old 02-05-2011, 05:20 PM   #9
 
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Yes more tetras would help a lot with the aggression.
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Old 02-06-2011, 06:26 PM   #10
 
Hi again! I got the API master test kit as you suggested! I feel like a chemist but feel much better. This morning I checked ammonia with one of the strips and the directions say to compare immediately, so I did and nothing. About 2 minutes later it was showing dangerous levels.. So then I tested a strip in my regular tap water and waited 2 minutes and it didn't change at all. I then did a 20% change and ran out and got the API kit! It showed 0! Phew! This is more work than I thought/knew, but I can tell I'm going to love it! Already planning another aquarium but this time will cycle the right way first with no fish!
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