At the ripe age of 61, I've suddenly got sucked back into setting up an aquarium after observing my nephew getting one up and running.
The last aquarium I had was in 1969 but prior to that I maintained approximately 30 aquariums of all sizes and shapes. I had a few wild crafted tanks which supported pond life and had some mosquitos and dragonflies emerging in the basement. I even managed to keep some Dollie Vardin trout alive in a 75 gallon tank co-habitating with tropicals for 4 years.
I was blown away by all the new intracacies involved in keeping a 'modern' aquarium after listening to my nephew and looking through his supplies. The biggest change (to me) is all the water changes called for. I started reading on the Internet and discovered that some people rearing young Discus and Angels changed up to 90% of their water daily....holy macaroni! I never changed my water unless there was a problem. My father who also kept fish did the same.
I never did rear any Discus but I did raise some awesome silver veil-tailed Angels. I know that not everyone changes their water this much but I think 15 to 25% minimum once per week is the norm.
I decided to get a used 55 gal and try doing it the old fashioned way by planting it with lots of plants and go for a biologically balanced tank. A used filter came with the aquarium which is a Marineland Emperor 400. It is pretty similar to the ones I used years ago but has wheels which are meant to be populated by bacteria. I decided to not use charcoal since I was using lots of plants. I was going to put pumice in the filter to harbor bacteria but they only had the reddish stuff at Rona and I was not sure if it was dyed so I bought a box of those ceramic ring things. I put some folded 75 micron silk screen into the plastic holders that slide into the filter to collect some particulate matter.
I plan on making a refugium, living filter in a month or so.
Now, my area of expertise, presently, is multiplying soil microbes for use in nature gardening ( www.microbeorganics.com
) and I was tempted to incorporate some of them directly into the aquarium, however I was scared off by the literature and dire warnings on the Internet about keeping fish. My instinct was to just plant the tank and put in fish like I always did. I'm planning on getting discus babies so I talked myself into this cycling thing. In retrospect after reading Byron, who makes tons of sense, I should have followed my gut...too late. (to follow)
I almost choked when I saw the price of aquarium gravel so I got enough pea gravel and sand and washed and boiled it. I mixed in sphagnum peatmoss with the sand and put it in, rooted the plants into it and covered with 2 or 3 inches of pea gravel then put in the water. My pH is 6.8, teperature 80F.
Now back to my error. I figured that I had to cycle the tank to be thoroughly up with the latest info so I checked the ammonia at zero yesterday and thought not good (I also inoculated with Seachem Stability bacterial spores) Just about 2 hours ago I put in some (1/2 teaspoon) crushed fish food to try to get an ammonia reading and there is where I probably erred. Tonight I'll probably put in more Stability and take all readings tomorrow.
The plants I used; Vallisneria spiralis, Rotala indica, Cryptocoryne affinis, Vallisneria americana gigantea, Wisteria, Java Fern, some Duckweed and some unknowns.
Fish plan; I have put a depost on ten, 1 inch discus which I'm supposed to pick up on the 22nd and I planned on some Malasian snails, Cory cats, (maybe cherry shrimp) and a couple Bristlenose about 5 to 7 days prior to the discus.
Have I screwed up putting in the fish food? Any suggestions regarding the fish and whole set up gratefully received.