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New to the fish world
Old 06-14-2010, 03:30 PM   #31
 
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It sounds as if you need to stop the water changes as long as the fish don't appear to be struggling. This is where learning the nitrogen cycle comes into play. The bacteria need some ammonia to feed on in order to produce nitrite. Nitrite is the waste product of the bacteria that feed on the ammonia. Then more bacteria feed on the nitrite, their waste is nitrate. If there is not ammonia in the tank long enough to feed the bacteria, the colony will die out... so when you eventually back off of the water changes, you will be starting from the beginning all over again and the culture you got from your lfs will have been pointless.

When a tank is fully cycled it will have produced first ammonia, then ammonia and nitrite at the same time, then no ammonia and some nitrite, then nitrite and nitrate at the same time, until eventually everything is fully broken down and there are enough bacteria to keep up with what waste is in the tank, leaving you with only nitrate showing up in the tests. So a healthy, cycled tank, should read 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and nitrate of 20 or less. It is possible to prolong the cycle by removing all ammonia as soon as its in the tank, which is what it sounds like you're doing. The longer you prolong the cycle the longer it will take before you can safely add more fish.

At this stage, cycling with fish... the only time you will want to do water changes is if the ammonia spikes very high and it appears to be affecting the fish. If the fish seem to be doing fine, then best to leave it alone and let nature take its course. Keep feedings light, only as much as the fish can completely finish within 1 minute, and only once/day. Anything beyond that will add extra waste to the tank because it begins to break down so quickly... and that can lead to danger levels for the fish. During cycling your tank should be adjusting to accommodate the amount of waste that the fish and food are putting into the tank.

The cycling period, even with fish, averages about 6 wks. If you have not starved the bacteria culture you got from your lfs, then I would expect that same time frame. If you have starved the beginning culture, the tank may take longer to cycle, and the ammonia levels may go higher than they would otherwise (while waiting for new bacteria to get started). If you write down the test results and continue to test every day or 2, you should be able to see the changes taking place.

If your fish begin acting "different" such as sitting on the bottom of the tank, or hang out at the surface gasping, get lethargic and inactive, stop eating, or have any dramatic change in color, then its time to check your water with the tests and post here so we can help determine if water changes are indeed needed, and how much and how often. Thats what we're here for... we will coach you through this 1 step at a time. If the fish continue to act fine, then don't worry. Tiger barbs are pretty sturdy fish and are often used for cycling. If you keep the amount of food to a minimum, there should be no reason for the waste levels to cause them an issue.

Hope this helps.
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Inga (06-14-2010)
Old 06-14-2010, 03:58 PM   #32
 
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Alright, that is exactly what I needed to hear Bettababy. That is kind of what I thought too but every time I mentioned .25 Ammonia to people they would always say "Ammonia will kill your fish, you need a partial water change" It was my understanding I needed the Ammonia to spike to increase the Nitrite and then Nitrate levels. Thank you so much for your explanation, it was perfect.

I will back off of the water changes, I didn't do any this morning and I only did one since the filter media was added so hopefully I didn't starve it off. The Tiger barbs seem to be doing quite well actually. They remind me of a 3 year old on a sugar high swimming at amazing speeds from one side of the tank to the other. They seem to enjoy the little cave and wood too and use it as obstacle courses. Glad to hear I am not doing them any damage by letting small amounts of ammonia in the tank. I didn't want to kill them or hurt them just to get my tank cycled.
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Old 06-17-2010, 08:36 PM   #33
 
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Well my Barbs are acting a little funny. Actually only one of them is acting funny. It seems to be a more solitary creature. Isn't this odd for a Tiger Barb? I thought they were supposed to enjoy groups. The one just sort of hangs around by the heater or the filter. It goes nose down and sort of rests there. At first I thought it might be dying but then it has moments of high energy. It also shows a great deal of interest in eating and doesn't seem unbalanced or anything. The fish certainly isn't gasping for air at the top or anything. Just thought this was odd behavior. Anyone ever notice this in their Tiger Barbs?

My levels still seem alright. The Ammonia is finally starting to spike. It is up to .50ppm. It doesn't seem to be bothering the other fish. I know I was supposed to hold off from doing water to let the cycle happen.

Also, Is it alright to have a tank with plastic and silk plants and also have a few live plants?
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Old 06-18-2010, 12:44 AM   #34
 
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Yes, you can mix fake and live plants as long as you have enough light to support the live plants.

The tiger barb you mentioned sounds stressed. How many are there of the tiger barbs? In small groups of less than 5 it is more common for them to stray and not stay in a school... and even with bigger schools, some stray from time to time, they don't stay always together. That is all normal. The more decor you have in the tank the less stressed the fish will be. Keep an eye on that fish just to be sure it doesn't show symptoms of the water quality affecting it... but so far it sounds like you're doing just fine. Keep close watch on the testing. If ammonia is up to .5 then it should be time to start checking nitrite as well as ammonia... watch for the rise in nitrite and decrease in ammonia.
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Old 06-18-2010, 02:57 AM   #35
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Hi Inga & welcome...I don't think the dempseys are a good choice for your first "community" tank, you might want to read up on them, but they are hardy. The best advice i can give you is "look before you leap". Especially if you're a "softie". Or plan on having several tanks - for fish that don't work with other fish. Go to the library or a second hand store (save $) and buy a good information book (not just a picture book, or a "fish for dummies") If you find a fish you especially like the look of - go home and READ/RESEARCH it! How big? Aggressive/non? What food - live/flake? Good w/plants/no plants? Temperature conditions? The store might even have a book you could take a quick peek at for info. Don't rely on people in stores (unless they're the owners of a private fish store)- it's scary how little most of them really know about fish (if they even have any). Then when you bring your new babies home, watch them, for days even. They will tell you if they're happy; colour, fins up, resting as well as moving, "nesting"...and if the fish seems "off", he probably is - watch and learn. And accept that there will be casualties, but they won't all be your fault. I once lost a whole 8 gal tank of new cichlid fry/young (about 3 batches/ over 40 babies) when a heater separated on me and fried the lot - literally (sorry for the pun), when I was at work. Cleaning out that tank with all the tiny skeletons was one of the worst things I've ever had happen. But there were more babies and more tanks and many more years of enjoyment, so don't let the downs make you give up. We'll be here too.
Good luck
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Old 06-18-2010, 04:44 PM   #36
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bettababy View Post
Yes, you can mix fake and live plants as long as you have enough light to support the live plants.

The tiger barb you mentioned sounds stressed. How many are there of the tiger barbs? In small groups of less than 5 it is more common for them to stray and not stay in a school... and even with bigger schools, some stray from time to time, they don't stay always together. That is all normal. The more decor you have in the tank the less stressed the fish will be. Keep an eye on that fish just to be sure it doesn't show symptoms of the water quality affecting it... but so far it sounds like you're doing just fine. Keep close watch on the testing. If ammonia is up to .5 then it should be time to start checking nitrite as well as ammonia... watch for the rise in nitrite and decrease in ammonia.

Because I am a world class putz, I have been testing everything, every day. Guess it makes me feel like a good fish mom and that I am doing all I can to keep them healthy.

So far, my solitary fish is still solitary most of the time. It was that way from day one, it just seems more as of late. It will go and swim with the other 2 on ocassion but then it will go off on it's own and sort of sit there with his tail in the air. Resting, I suspect. The other 2 fish float their tails up on ocassion too but are very hyper and seem to enjoy every inch of the tank. I am getting more stuff in the tank so they have several different options for hiding. If the tail floating isn't normal for this species then I suspect the fish had issues right from the start. They seem healthy other then that and when they do that, it almost seems like resting and is short lived for the 2 more social fish.



Taz, Thanks so much for the nice welcome. Yes, I guess when it comes to living things, I am a bit of a softy. My original plan was to get a 20-30 gallon tank and save a few feeder fish from death by big fish. Then I saw the electric Blue Jack Dempsey and desided on a bigger tank. Now, It seems 60 gallons isn't really big enough for them anyway so... I will find other options. There are so many.

I appreciate all the help you guys are giving me. I know for now it is a bit of a waiting game but just like a new mom, I am probably over thinking most of it. I want what is best for my little fish. ha ha
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