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post #1 of 10 Old 02-08-2010, 01:54 AM Thread Starter
Question New to Fish with a New-to-Me Aquarium

Hey everyone! At the risk of sounding ignorant, I'm going to jump right in ...

My daughter's OT recomended fish for therapy for her autism.

I have never owned anything more than one betta in a vase (he did make it 3 years!).

So I'm really really new!

I bought a 55g tank this weekend and hauled it to my house with all the fish (what a chore!) We tried to save as much water as possible at least 50%.

All the fish made it okay, but I re-homed three (personal choice there)
Here is what I have:
2 Angelfish (about 4 inches nose to tail)
2 congo tetras (about 2 inches each - no coloring)
1 parrot fish (about 3 inches)
1 Red Fin Shark (about 1.5 inches with some injuries ?tank mate ?tank decorations)
2 Kuhli loaches (about 2 inches)

After 24 hours here are my readings:
Temp = 78.3
PH = 7.8
Amonia = 0
Nitrate = 0
Nitrite= 0 *shouldn't this have some reading, or am I in for a tank cycle?

(getting a kH and gH testing kit soon - but I know the water here is HARD as can be)

The condition of the tank was bad, there was a filmy mold on the light fixtures, mold in the tank I had to scrape with a razor blade and lots of salt water/hard water crusts on all the tank fixtures and filter. The carbon filters were covered with black sludge, but I rinsed them and am reusing them till the tank clears more then I plan on replacing them. I guess the black sludge is good for the biofilter(?) so I left those as is, only lightly rinsed them in the used "old" tank water.

I just now noticed the angels have little white spots on their tailfins - maybe 2 or 3 on each. Nothing on the bodies of the fish or on any of the other fish at all.

So here are my questions:

1. Should I start treatment for Ick now, or wait a few days for further water cycling, because the instructions say to do a 50% wc after treatment, but I think it might stress the fish too soon.

2. The red tail Shark - I'm not sure he's happy, he hides out under a decoration even during feeding. I can't see the extent of his injuries, but my brother doesn't think that its bad. I also read he was uncompatible with Angelfish and Parrots - anyone else have this issue?

3. The previous owners used aquarium salt but I read that it was bad for loaches, should I continue to use it? Is there a way to test for too much salt?

4. Last but not least, do I really need a plecostomus? the one that was in there wasn't eating the algae that I could see, since there was such a large amount. Right now there would be nothing for him to eat since I rinsed it all away.. but I really don't like plecos (another personal choice I guess)

Thanks for any help/suggestions - sorry for the mispellings - its late here and I'm tired
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post #2 of 10 Old 02-08-2010, 03:05 AM Thread Starter
Oh - another question -

I have no live plants so do I need to have the lights on during the day even when I'm not home? If so, how much "lights out" time do my fish need?
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post #3 of 10 Old 02-08-2010, 04:03 AM
iamntbatman's Avatar
Welcome to the forum! Sounds like you're off to a really good start!

You really don't *need* the pleco. What species is it? If it's a common pleco, you should definitely rehome it as it will grow too large for a 55g. Of course you can rehome it even if it's a species that would do fine in your tank if you don't like it.

Personally, I would lose the blood parrot. For one thing, I don't really like them anyway (I think they look kind of dumb plus I'm against the whole parrot industry - ask me about it sometime, haha). More importantly, though, they can be pretty rowdy fish. Docile for cichlids usually but it might get pushy with the angels and I suspect he's the culprit behind the shark's injuries. When it gets bigger it will probably eat the loaches. The angels *might* eat the loaches, too, but angels don't really seem like the type of fish to go rooting around for critters from the bottom to eat so they might be perfectly safe. Someone who knows about this particular pairing would have to weigh in.

What sort of substrate do you have? The loaches would really appreciate a sandy substrate as they love to burrow.

As for the rest of your stocking, depending on which of the fish you like and are planning on keeping, I would at least increase the school sizes for the loaches and tetras as these are schooling fish and are much more comfortable in larger groups.

I think you're reversing your understanding of nitrite and nitrate. Nitrite should be zero in an established tank, but a zero reading for nitrate is very suspect, especially given that this is a long-established tank that hasn't been maintained well. It could be that the owners did a gigantic water change before you picked it up so that you wouldn't take a reading and see a nitrate reading through the roof and change your mind about it.

Ditch the salt. Definitely not needed and as you suggested, it'll bother the loaches.

You can leave the lights on from about sunup to sundown. Fish like their day/night cycles just like we do.

Finally, can you post a picture of the angels? That'd be an easy way of telling you if it's ich or something else.

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post #4 of 10 Old 02-08-2010, 04:28 AM
Austin's Avatar
1. I don't think it would be bad to treat them right away. Maybe add 1/2 a dose or so of ich medicine. Take out the carbon filter too. This answer I'm not too sure about, but this is what I would do.... I'd just treat it a little bit, and if the angelfish are healthy it should go away... A few spots of ich I think they would be fine if you treat them asap.

2. If anything is bothering it, it is probably the Parrot fish. When it grows it'll probably be fine... I see they can get up to 1/2 a foot? But, it won't get big enough with it being picked on all the time. It'll probably die... I'd rehome him or the parrotfish.

3. I don't think any of those fish need salt. And I do think it irritates some.... Thought it irritated angelfish as well but idk.

4. You don't need a pleco, but if you decide to keep it you can feed it algae wafers I think, until algae grows. I bought a pleco recently for my heavily algae'd tank... the algae is really starting to go away.
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post #5 of 10 Old 02-08-2010, 01:13 PM
cmc29's Avatar
I keep kuhli loaches and the sand is a must have for them IMO, especially if you plan on keeping the larger fish in tank. My loaches burrow through the sand under driftwood and rocks in my tank, it's really very cool. I have three of them in my 29 gallon. They love to root through my live plants(it's really not hard to set up live plants). They mostly stay to their own individual hiding spots, but you'll see them group together sometimes too. They need safe havens. I also have an RTS in this tank, he does not bother the loaches at all.

I think its AWESOME that you're setting this tank up for your daugher. One of my good friends has a son with autism, and he set a tank up for 2 years ago. His son loves it!!
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post #6 of 10 Old 02-08-2010, 02:52 PM Thread Starter
Just for giggles (and since I'm home with a sick child - human, not fish) I did a Aquarium stocking calculator - with what I currently have in the tank here is what the results said:

Warning: At least 5 x Congo Tetra are recommended in a group.
Warning: Blood Parrot is too aggressive to co-exist with Congo Tetra.

Warning: Blood Parrot is too aggressive to co-exist with Kuhli Loach.
Warning: At least 5 x Kuhli Loach are recommended in a group.
Warning: Your selected species may eventually require 107% of your aquarium space. You may need to deal with territorial aggressions later on. Try removing some of (Pterophyllum scalare, Blood Parrot, Pangio kuhlii) or get a larger aquarium tank.

Hmm.... glad I re-homed three fish before I brought it home. Nothing confirms the shyness of my RTS, though.

Looks like the parrot will be the next to get a new home.
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post #7 of 10 Old 02-08-2010, 04:02 PM
You don't "need" a pleco. One thing to consider is that the pleco will add to the bio-load of the tank. They are pretty massive waste producers and a lot of people have the opinion that their benefits are outweighed by their waste producing abilities.


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post #8 of 10 Old 02-08-2010, 04:44 PM
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First of Welcome to our Forum!

Have you always washed all the filter pads real good like the rest of the tank?
Then more then likly if you did you'll be up for a mini re-cycle there and that's why both NOs are 0.
NO2 should be 0 in general but your NO3 in a established tank usually goes around somehwhere's of 5-10mg/l
Your best bet for a GOOD test kit is API; they may seem pricy at first with $5 per bottle; but trust me that is THE best long term invest you can do for your tank.

Pers I'd make the stock lil more ideal; you can talk to your local fish store about trading some in all fish store owner I met so far will do that (not the chain stores but the mom & pap store's)
I'd give away the parrot & Shark and the Plco (since you don't like them anyway and there's no NEED to have them, that's a myth really)
Then add 4 more Congo's and something like 4+ Kuhli or if you don't like them at all and find it better suitable with something more active for your daughter there; trade them in for Cory Cats.

Why do you wanna treat for ich...does anyone there have white spots or just preventive?
Ditch the salt that's actually bad for the Congo's and Angels.

You don't have to have plants; but it sure makes the fish happier in a more natural set up (happier fish = healthier fish) and its a ever changing picture of your tank with the plants growing. Plus plants act like a mini lil bio filter inside the tank if you will and so they help you with the maintenance.
If you like to see some 55's with plant; look here to the left under my name there's a tap called "Aquarium" and you'll see all mine listed there with pictures of the tanks & plants.

What water conditioner do you use? And are you aware a water change each week will be necessary? (Sorry if the Q sounds stupid but I donno you and I don't know what you already do or do not know )

And just out of curiosity if that's not a too personal question (or if you rather you can send me a PM as well) I used to voulunteer working with autism kids and I'd be curious to know what the expected impact is with the tank set up your therapist is after there?

~ Life Is Too Short, Break The Rules, Forgive Quickly, Kiss Slowly, Love Truly, Laugh Uncontrollably And Never Regret Anything that Made You Smile.
Life May Not Be The Party We Hoped For, But While We're Here, We Should Dance. ~
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post #9 of 10 Old 02-08-2010, 08:21 PM Thread Starter
Originally Posted by Angel079 View Post
Have you always washed all the filter pads real good like the rest of the tank?

Why do you wanna treat for ich...does anyone there have white spots or just preventive?

What water conditioner do you use? And are you aware a water change each week will be necessary?

I'd be curious to know what the expected impact is with the tank set up your therapist is after there?

I can't say I have always washed the filter pads since I just got the tank. I used tap water on the disposible filter and gently rinsed (more like dipped) the bio filter in exsiting tank water. I don't think that the disposible filter pads were ever changed in the 1 year the previous owner used the tank.

I see some small white spots on the angelfishs' tails, but my brother does not think its ich, so I elected not to treat but to keep an eye out.

I use API tap water conditioner removes both chlorine and chloramine. Since I needed the buckets for the move, I have 7 - 5g buckets so I can do up to a 50% water change. I plan on doing 10-15% water changes weekly. I also have the API testing test kit, but it doesn't have kH/gH.

I re-homed the blood parrot, and the tank seemed to sigh with relief. She was really pretty (all controversy aside). But I think she was too agressive.

My brother is going to be getting his tank set up again because of me, so he might take the RTS eventually. He is trying to talk me into a pleco, but I'm going to stand firm.

I only know what I have read on forums like this one and on information from dear old google (which is contradictory at best).

As for my daughter I don't mind answering
The usual impact of fish on autism is just a calming influence, I think. With my daughter it has to do with stimulation. She has issues with over stimulation, so the fish tank is one way to "desensitize" her. Daily we spend time sitting with her on my lap and me pointing out things to gently overwhelm her, but not enough to throw her into a meltdown, I have been increasing time in front of the tank a little each day. She also has issues with touch and "getting dirty" so I make her feed them too, so she gets to touch flakes and pellets. She's really so dainty trying not to touch the food. But she does like watching them eat. So far it has been great and not too stimulation much for her.

Thank you everyone for being so patient and gentle with me as I learn!
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post #10 of 10 Old 02-09-2010, 11:03 AM
Angel079's Avatar
Reason I asked: Rinsing filter parts in tap water (with the chlorine) will kill off the beneficial bacteria and can cause a new cycle.

Minor ich spots can be well treated by raising the Temp (at least successfully happened in my tanks) so with Angels needing 80F as it is; just raise it to the max you can w/out stressing the other fish.

Ideally you may wanna change 30-40% water weekly (dep on stock, I'm not sure what you kept in the tank and what you may have given away).

Really there's no need for a pleco unless you really really love the fish itself; otherwise I'll just add to your tanks bio-load for no reason at all.

Had you considered live plants for the tank? That way it would be a ever changing picture as the plants grow (not over night but over time) ?

~ Life Is Too Short, Break The Rules, Forgive Quickly, Kiss Slowly, Love Truly, Laugh Uncontrollably And Never Regret Anything that Made You Smile.
Life May Not Be The Party We Hoped For, But While We're Here, We Should Dance. ~
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