First Tank; Could Be Worse!
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First Tank; Could Be Worse!

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First Tank; Could Be Worse!
Old 01-30-2011, 03:55 AM   #1
 
First Tank; Could Be Worse!

Hello Everyone! This is my first post and hope to join the community here! I've been going solo it seems for awhile now without getting advice from other freshwater enthusiasts. I do have multiple questions, and hopefully my noobishness won't be an issue! I'd appreciate any criticisms positive or negative.

I am new to my latest addiction of owning a fish tank. I purchased a 55 gallon tank starter kit @ petsmart back in November. The filter is a TopFin 60. I put in gravel, many fake plants and decorations along with a 12" airstone and a 4" round airstone. After a couple months of research, some dough, and experiencing the stress of toxic water levels along with multiple water changes, I believe I'm starting to pull myself out of the novice hole and new tank syndrome! I put the starting bacteria and tap conditioner a week before I started to put fish. The first 4 fish I put in in the first week of December are still alive (including the blood parrot cichlid). The only deaths I've had was the second batch of 4 (2 mollies, a green spotted puffer, and a gourami) except for the puffer luckily! Since the first week of December I've been slowly (or at least I think) adding fish. I now have 29 happy/healthy fish in my 55gal! Here's what I got:

1 Albino Cory, 1 Pleco, 4 Guppies, 3 Platies, 1 Molly, 1 Blue & 1 Gold Gourami, 1 Powder BLue Dwarf Gourami, 1 Kissing Gourami, 5 Black Skirt Tetras, 1 Congo Tetra, 1 Glowlight, 2 Neon and 2 Black Neon Tetras, 1 Bleeding Heart Tetra, & 1 Turquoise Rainbowfish, 1 Green Spotted Puffer & 1 Blood Parrot Cichilid.

After doing some math, the sum length of my fish is about 48 inches rounding up. I know eventually this will be considered an overstocked tank if not already. The Blood Parrot is obviously the most aggressive fish in the tank, with the rainbowfish being mildly aggressive in 2nd place. The worst the rainbowfish will do is chase around a black skirt tetra or the bleeding heart around for a few seconds and then stops. At almost all fish stores I've purchased fish at, they tell me the cichlid is going to kill all the other fish! He is territorial every so often and especially during feeding. Ironically, he is the most scared fish when someone walks up to the tank. Dang Hybrids! All the other fish are very friendly towards each other including the puffer. Funny enough, the only fin nipping occurred early on to to blood parrot, who has fully healed. I am working on saving money for a 30g for the puffer. I know it needs to be transitioned from FW to BW and eventually to SW if I'm not mistaken? As for the Cichlid, he is only 3 inches long. What length would I need to move him? Or should I move him asap because he is kind of a bastard to all the other fish?

A month and a half ago was when my levels started to go off. My NitrItes were pretty bad, which is why I think the 3 fish that died did. The ammonia has almost always been a little higher than I'd like it to be, and every once in awhile it will spike. Although, I've used ammonia neutralizer a handful of times, I have the API master test kit, so even the converted non-toxic ammonia is picked up by the test (so it says). I just don't know how quick the non-toxic ammonia is filtered out. My tank right now:

pH: 7.4
Ammonia: ~.25 ppm
NitrIte: 0
NitrAte: 0
Temp: 77-78

The pH has pretty much been at 7.4 since I started the tank. I've tried to bring it down to 7.2 with pH down, but it barely brought it down. The more and more I research, the more I read about using the least amount of chemicals as possible. I've been doing 10%-25% water changes daily for the past week in order to control the ammonia levels, also added a little bit of beneficial bacteria every now and then. For almost a week now I've had 0 nitrates and nitrites but plenty of ammonia! When I do my water changes, I tend to gravel vacuum 1/2 the tank. Did I eliminate too much beneficial bacteria by gravel vacuuming and/or changing the filter at the wrong time (after a heavy gravel vacuuming)? Or maybe there are too many beneficial bacteria competing against each other?

I'm doing the best I can, but still learning more everyday.

Any input to help me understand my tank better is welcome! My fish and I thank you for your time!

Nemi
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Old 01-30-2011, 03:59 AM   #2
 
Forgot to mention I have added the correct amount aquarium salt to my tank. Also, I feed my fish once a day now alternating between frozen brine shrimp one day and flake the next. I am super careful not to overfeed now because I am fairly sure this was the reason for high ammonia levels for so long.
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Old 01-30-2011, 08:26 AM   #3
 
There's quite a lot of concerning issues going on in your tank. Firstly the amount of fish you have when ammonia levels are still high because the tank is uncycled. You're doing the right thing by monitoring ammonia and doing regular water changes - keep on top of this. There should not be any ammonia present in the tank when cycled and nitrites should be low. One possible route to reducing your ammonia quickly could be by using live plants, which will utilise the ammonia to grow - read byron's stickies in the aquarium plants section of this forum for a great guide to keeping them if you're interested.

You say that you're 'changing the filter' i'm not sure what you mean. If you're just doing biological filtration the filter material doesn't really need changing unless it falling apart. it should be gently cleaned in water from the tank every month or if its full of gunk that is preventing the flow of water. Cleaning or changing the filter material too often will kill off the beneficial bacteria and will lead to ammonia problems

Secondly, as you've already worked out, the mix of fish you have is not good. The parrot and the puffer are not good community fish and would do best to be re-housed. The other fish you have could make a nice peaceful community (though i'm not sure about the gouramis - maybe someone else will chip in with some advice on them)

Finally, many of the fish you have are shoaling fish and are best kept in groups. When these fish are kept in small groups or singly, they become stressed and more likely to have disease problems. They will also become more aggressive because they feel stressed. Of the fish you already have, the following should be in groups, preferably of 5 or more: albino cory, congo tetra, glowlight, neon and black neon, bleeding heart tetra and rainbowfish. I would not advise adding any more fish while you still have ammonia issues but you should really consider eventually increasing the numbers of these shoaling fish.

sorry if this seems like a lot of info in one go!



Last edited by sik80; 01-30-2011 at 08:35 AM..
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Old 01-30-2011, 09:20 PM   #4
 
Thank you for your help! Plants sound like a great idea, and I will look more into them. By changing the filter I meant the actual media. Perhaps I should just rinse instead of completely replacing every couple of weeks. Already working on trying to get the GSP and BPCichlid out. As for the shoaling fish, the 5 neons like to all hang out. The bleeding heart, cory and rainbowfish all seem to be doing fine on their own. Is it truly unethical not to? Excuse my ignorance. Is it possible to never get any more of the same type and for them to live healthy long lives still?
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Old 01-30-2011, 09:35 PM   #5
 
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Hi Nemi
May I ask what exactly IS the correct amount of salt that you mentioned? You have a freshwater tank, which doesn't need salt so if you could clarify. I do know some people add little amounts of it so just checking.
You said it was a 55 correct? Let us know, Thx
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Old 01-30-2011, 09:49 PM   #6
 
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Your shoaling fish can live long lives alone. Healthy or happy though, is another question. A shoaling fish gets stressed out really easily when its alone, leading to health problems.

And I don't think that all of those gouramis are going to work out so well together in the long run, especially not if any two of them are males.

Also, from what I understand, corydoras and most tetras don't appreciate salt. I wouldn't recommend using salt at all in any freshwater tank, unless using it to treat an illness in the tank.
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Old 01-30-2011, 10:06 PM   #7
 
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as another person from florida your PH is much lower than mine ;) 7.4 is fine it really is.My tap ph is 8.4. to 8.6

PH down is only temporary. Water has a natural buffer meaning the ph will swing back up to 7.4 on its own. So PH down will only put a temporary bandaid on the ph. Plus at 7.4 you dont need to adjust it for a community tank.

I was using Proper PH 7.0 and it did work. However it made my water cloudy and left a white film on everything.

The differnce with proper PH is it rebuffers the water so you dont get PH rebound. While this did not seem to harm my fish I have had m ore success using reverse osmosis water 50% and tap 50% brings my ph to about 7.6 my fish seem better off now that im not dumping chemicals into the tank. The water has become much more clear as well.

Your tank hasnt cycled until you see nitrate show up and no ammonia dont jump the gun like I did 4 weeks ago. I have had to do crazy water changes and thank goodness my fish have tolerated everything I have done to them.

Your tetras need more of their own kind to group with to be more comfortable. Some of the other fish im not familar with.


However most importantly unless your PH is 8.6 like mine dont fiddle with it. The fish can adjust to the ph and its better than them dealing with PH changes. Reverse osmosis water has a low ph so when i combine it with the tap water it rebuffers the PH to a lower figure. I really do think your PH is fine. You need to be more concerned with Ammonia, Nitrate and nitrite.
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Old 01-30-2011, 10:57 PM   #8
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sik80 View Post

... If you're just doing biological filtration the filter material doesn't really need changing unless it falling apart. it should be gently cleaned in water from the tank every month or if its full of gunk that is preventing the flow of water. Cleaning or changing the filter material too often will kill off the beneficial bacteria and will lead to ammonia problems...



Just to reiterate...when you clean the filter (it should last quite a while) make sure you do rinse it with old tank water to get the gunk off...if you use water from your faucet the chemicals in it will kill all the bacteria that you want to keep...(something I learned from experience)

Also..thanks for asking instead of just getting embarrassed and continuing ahead...I have learned that the best thing to do is ask someone who knows....forums are even better cause you get sooo many people who know what they are doing and get everyone's opinion instead of just one person's :)

plus its great fun to get to know people :)
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Old 01-31-2011, 04:11 AM   #9
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nemi View Post
By changing the filter I meant the actual media. Perhaps I should just rinse instead of completely replacing every couple of weeks.
do not replace the filter material - you will loose all of the beneficial bacteria and the ammonia will no longer be converted to nitrites and nitrates > problems. gently rinse the filter material in tank water every month or 2, no more. Don't wash it completely as you'll be washing away the good bacteria
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Old 01-31-2011, 05:55 PM   #10
 
Don't just stick plants in your tank either, many plants don't tolerate salt very well and will die. You'll need to get ride of the salt if you want to keep most fish from South America, such as the tetras and corydoras.

Plants are not as hard to care for as most people, Seachem Flourish comprehensive is a great liquid fertilizer that will allow your plants to grow very well and stay healthy if you choose to get live plants.
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