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New Tank?

This is a discussion on New Tank? within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> I have had a 2 or 3 gallon tank with an undergravel filter, that's about 12 years old (it was my mom's old tank), ...

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Old 06-29-2010, 07:20 PM   #1
 
New Tank?

I have had a 2 or 3 gallon tank with an undergravel filter, that's about 12 years old (it was my mom's old tank), for almost 3 months now, and I'm still having issues with balancing out the nitrogen cycle. I've had fish in it for all three months as well.

I have heard that undergravel filters are frowned upon. I was wondering if I started a new 10 gallon tank with some of the gravel from the old tank AND a power filter instead of an undergravel fliter, if this new tank would cycle much better than the 2 or 3 gallon tank with the old tank.

I haven't started a new tank, or bought one for that matter. I was just wondering if the cycle would balance out much easier in a bigger tank with a better/new filter before I go any buy anything. It's very frustrating to have my nitrates and nitrites very high all the time. I've lost fish (including one of my favorites), which makes me very sad.

Please help and let me know if this is a good or bad idea, and/or if it will work better. Thank you.



Also... Is it better to buy fish from a commercially owned store like Petco or is it better to buy from a local pet store?
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Old 06-30-2010, 02:07 PM   #2
 
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Can you post the test numbers for nitrates and nitrites (and ammonia if that is above zero)? "High" nitrates can mean different things to different people, so nitrates may be OK, but the number will tell us. Nitrites should always be zero after cycling, so that indicates a problem. The numbers may help to sort this out.

On the filters, there is nothing wrong with UG filters (I grew up with them, they were the mainstay for decades and we all had lovely tanks), but they do have drawbacks that must be understood. All things considered, I myself would not use a UG but a spongee in small tanks. A small spong filter attached to an air pump would be sufficient and provide good filtration without the drawbacks associated with UG. They also work well with planted tanks, and plants will mean benefits to the water and cycling (plants "cycle" the tank immediately, I can explain this later if you ask).

Cycling times vary from tank to tank, there are several variables involved. Three months seems long, so when we have your numbers we may be able to suggest things.

Byron.
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Old 06-30-2010, 02:19 PM   #3
 
As of right now, I'm not at home and my boyfriend is watching the fish. But I have him doing what I do when I am home. I do about 10-20% water change every other day and when I clean the tank (every two or three weeks) I do about a 50% change. I test the water before I do water changes and the results for the nitrates is always about 40 ppm and the nitrites are around 2 or 3 ppm, even after 3 months of having the tank. Right now I only have a zebra danio, glofish, and a guppy in the tank, so it's nothing too big for the tank. I also try my hardest not to over feed, usually what drops to the bottom of the tank is gone by the end of the night.

I had a serious case of new tank syndrome when I started out, and I lost a few fish. So this is why I was thinking of getting a 10g tank and starting from scratch after reading the fishless cycling method using shrimp, so I can also use live plants in it and what not.

I love having my fish because they are so pretty and colorful, but it makes me sad when I continue losing fish and I cant figure out why.
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Old 06-30-2010, 03:26 PM   #4
 
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Perhaps the nitrite test kit is misreading, or...? Nitrites at 2 or 3 would kill anything in the tank. Maybe it is .2 and .3? Some fish can tolerate .2 for short periods, but the cumulative effects often cause internal issues down the road and early death. There is a cycling issue, and I may have a clue.

When you "clean" the tank every 2-3 weeks, do you take out the decor, gravel and/or filter media and clean them in tap water? This will kill any bacteria and the cycle may start over new every time. Bacteria colonize all hard surfaces under water, and during the cycling stage the substrate (gravel) and filter media (everything inside the filter housing) should not be touched. If the filter clogs and needs rinsing, rinse the media in tank water. Once the tank is cycled and then has established itself (another month or two after cycling) it is OK to vacuum the substrate and rinse filter media more often. You may not have done this, but it is a thought that would explain things.

What water conditioner do you use?

Nitrates at 40ppm is high but nothing that can't be fixed. However, your high (?) nitrite reading plus such frequent water changes suggests to me this reading may not be accurate, and that could be the fault of the test kit. If you have the API kit, the instructions say to shake the Regent #2 for 30 seconds before testing; in fact, it needs shaking for 2+ minutes or it will usually give a false (high) reading. Try that next time you test nitrate and see.

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Old 06-30-2010, 04:52 PM   #5
 
I'm sorry. It was .2 or .3. Sorry. I just forgot to put the decimal in there.

But... That would explain why I am having issues with the cycle and what not. I usually run the gravel through a strainer. I have a gravel vac (a very small one :)), but how would you recommend cleaning the tank without killing the bacteria?

I'm very new to all of this, this is my first tank. So all help is welcomed. Thank you Byron. Sorry for the burden of all these questions.

When/If I start a new tank would you recommend the shrimp method? Or is there another method that you would use for freshwater?
How about plants? Any information on live plants in a tank?

I thought I would plan ahead this time in order to have a beautiful aquarium...
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Old 06-30-2010, 09:03 PM   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doppsterjr View Post
I'm sorry. It was .2 or .3. Sorry. I just forgot to put the decimal in there.

But... That would explain why I am having issues with the cycle and what not. I usually run the gravel through a strainer. I have a gravel vac (a very small one :)), but how would you recommend cleaning the tank without killing the bacteria?

I'm very new to all of this, this is my first tank. So all help is welcomed. Thank you Byron. Sorry for the burden of all these questions.

When/If I start a new tank would you recommend the shrimp method? Or is there another method that you would use for freshwater?
How about plants? Any information on live plants in a tank?

I thought I would plan ahead this time in order to have a beautiful aquarium...
OK, so no more cleaning of stuff until the cycle is done.

After that, vacuum the gravel is fine, it will kill the bacteria, or if it does remove some it won't matter. it is when you're trying to establish the colony of bacteria that you don't want to be killing it off faster than it can grow.

I always have planted tanks, so when I set up a new one, or reset an existing one as I did today, with plants I never worry about "cycling" because the plants use the ammonia/ammonium produced by the fish and faster than bacteria can grab most of it anyway. As long as there are lots of plants, and start off with just a few fish, it works fine.

If you want to know about simple planted aquaria, read the 4-part series of articles at the head of the Aquarium Plant section entitled "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium." I'd be happy to answer specific questions.

Byron.
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Old 06-30-2010, 09:57 PM   #7
 
Once again thanks! :] Sorry for so many questions about everything. It's nice to have this forum for reasons just like this.

So if I set up a 10g tank with plants and a couple hardy fish to begin with, that would work just as well as the shrimp method? Or do I do both at the same time (plants and shrimp, no fish)?

I already have an idea of what I want to stock the tank with fish wise. Lol. I'm trying to plan the next tank out instead of what I did last time with the little one. I'm doing my research this time with plants and filters and the nitrogen cycle. :] That way I hopefully don't lose as many fish, or maybe make it without losing any!
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Old 07-01-2010, 09:28 AM   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doppsterjr View Post
Once again thanks! :] Sorry for so many questions about everything. It's nice to have this forum for reasons just like this.

So if I set up a 10g tank with plants and a couple hardy fish to begin with, that would work just as well as the shrimp method? Or do I do both at the same time (plants and shrimp, no fish)?

I already have an idea of what I want to stock the tank with fish wise. Lol. I'm trying to plan the next tank out instead of what I did last time with the little one. I'm doing my research this time with plants and filters and the nitrogen cycle. :] That way I hopefully don't lose as many fish, or maybe make it without losing any!
If you have plants in the new tank, and I mean several, not just one or two little stems, you can put in a couple fish the first day and there will literally be no cycle. Adding the dead shrimp would foul the water and make a mess in this situation. I have never lost fish in new tanks, and I have never had ammonia or nitrite about zero with the plant method.
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Old 07-01-2010, 09:38 AM   #9
 
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I can vouch for Byron's comment. I did the same thing when i changed literally, everything, in my 55G tank, added fish right way and no problems at all.
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Old 07-01-2010, 01:16 PM   #10
 
Thank you for all the help. This should make my next tank a whole lot easier. It's nice to have a place like this where you can ask questions. :]
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