Please give advice! New Tank owner having trouble!! - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 19 Old 12-28-2010, 03:04 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Please give advice! New Tank owner having trouble!!

Having some trouble/concerns about new tank. New to maintaining an aquarium... Please give advice?

Here's the Stats:

Aqueon size 14 glass tank 20"x10.5"x16.5"H
Aqueon quietflow power filter
50W submersible heater
Bubblestone & Gravel

Stock: (4 Fish Total)
One 2" 'Giant Danio'
One 2-3" 'Common Pleco
One 1.5" 'Starfire Glofish'
One 2-3" 'Diamond Tetra'

Is this too many fish? It feels like the tank is empty! Once the water issue is corrected, is it okay to add any more fish?

I wasn't told by Petco people that we needed to cycle the tank when I asked what to do to get started... (Didn't even know what cycling was before I found this forum...) As per their 'fish expert'; I set up/filled tank Saturday morning and used Tetra AquaSafe to condition water and ran with heater/filter for approx. 36hrs. then added fish Sunday evening (plus a tiny Neon Tetra that barely survived 8 hours...)
Since Monday afternoon, tank has clouded. (Not severely, but noticeable) I picked up test strips this morning. Ammonia is at ZERO... Nitrate meaures 'Normal'... Water is 'Soft' ... pH = 'Neutral ... Alkalinity is Low to Moderate, Nitrite looks like its somewhere between .5-1.0 The tank Temp is steady at 74 degees... Honestly, though... I hope I'm reading the test strips correctly! So I have elevated NITRITES?? What to do about that?

I put in about 5ml of the Nitraban last night... since what I read on other sites seemed to indicate that I might have elevated nitrates...

I have the following onhand... Tetra "NitraBan" Easybalance... Tetra "AquaSafe"... Jungle "Correct pH for Community Tanks"... Jungle "AmmoniaClear" and the Aqueon 'WaterConditioner' that came with the tank...

I think the fish are acting strange... last night the Danio was hovering at the top of the water behind the heater... The glofish will swim around a little and then look like he's stuck in on spot & fighting a strong downward current... Today the Danio and Diamond Tetra are hiding in the back corner... They all seem to hide when I turn on the hood light... Could it be too bright? They all seem happier when light is off!

ALSO! I've been reading people suggesting 20% or 50% or whatever 'water changes' that means one should remove & replace that amount of water, I assume... But when replacing the water, what should one be using? Tap water with the water conditioner added? Does the new water have to sit out for any length of time before being added to tank??

Advice please! :) Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 19 Old 12-28-2010, 04:51 PM
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Test strips are not accurate. You should use api master test kit.
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Jessibel (12-28-2010)
post #3 of 19 Old 12-28-2010, 05:15 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you... I assume (hope!) I can find that at Petco? I just did a 2 gal. water change and the fish seem a little happier. Swimming around more!

Should I try to do a 10-20% water change every day for the next few weeks until the tank has cycled properly?

Also, Dyson (my Pleco) has been 'hiding' right behind the filter all day... is that normal? (Picture in my 'Aquarium' Album)
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post #4 of 19 Old 12-28-2010, 05:42 PM
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Welcome to the forums, lets get started here,

First if you haven't already read this post do so as it will help answer a few questions .

As for stocking you are way over stock just for the simple fact your pleco really needs a much much larger tank once it starts growing and most tetras do better in groups.

Weekly water changes should always be done and can be 20-50% depending on what you feel is right but as you are now fish in cycling you should be checking your water parameters with a good liquid test kit as mentioned above at least every other day and do water changes as they are required(most likely 3 - 4 times weekly until the cycle as finished). If you use a fast acting water conditioner you can add it right to the tank just before your readd water, many of us here use prime which will also detoxify ammonia nitrites and nitrates for a time which will aid in your fish in cycle.

As for your chemicals the only one you should be using is a good water conditioner the other ones might actually hinder your cycling process, and the only reason you should use a pH changer is if you are keeping species out side of their recommended pH level, this involves some home work and research of each fish. We have a tropical fish profiles section that can get you started on the top menu bar. And even then its usally not recommended to use chemicals as these as they can lead to drastic pH swings with water changes and time.

As for hiding in fish, it could be something wrong but in most cases with new fish they are just adjusting to their environment, leave the light on and they will get use to it.

Hope this gets you started, let us know if you have any more questions.
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post #5 of 19 Old 12-28-2010, 05:42 PM
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Water changes are always good. It could be too much ammonia or not enough oxygen. Get the test kit and test your water. That will give you the info you need. Not sure about the pleco/ Someone else will answer that. I notice every once in awhile my fish become lethargic then I do a 30 pecent water change and they perk right up. I tend to think it's ammonia build up.
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Jessibel (12-28-2010)
post #6 of 19 Old 12-28-2010, 06:29 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info! Its frustrating knowing that with only 4 fish in the tank I'm already technically 'over stocked'. It seems like such a big tank! The whole setup was actually a Christmas gift for my 4 & 5 year old daughters... when we brought them into Petco to choose their new pets, we told the 'expert' exactly what setup we had & asked what would be best to put into the tank...(We bought the whole setup there a few weeks ago) He basically pointed to all the tropicals and said "Any of these... but you should only have up to five." And never mentioned that perhaps we should choose only one type of fish... I asked about the plecos, because I remember ours being a big help with the algae in the aquarium I had as a kid, and he said "Yeah... so pick 4 other fish and I'll grab you a pleco." And then actually gave me one of the bigger ones in the tank... I wish he had mentioned that the others were 'schooling' fish and that we should choose one type! The girls would've been just as happy with a handful of GloFish or Neons, etc. had we only given them that option... (i.e. "Okay, we can pick 4... what colors do you want?") I will have to try to find a smaller fish-only store in the area for the future, so I can actually get some accurate information when shopping for supplies!

As for the chemicals, I'll be returning them if I don't need them... Is the Tetra AquaSafe a good water conditioner to use for the water changes? I brought home the little bottle I've been using for my 2.5 gal. tank I have in my classroom... (I've had a Zebra Danio in there for almost 2 years now... I never really thought about chemical levels and stuff, just changed the filter cartridge regularly and changed the water/rinsed the gravel/wiped the tank out every once in a while when it started looking yucky... I Guess "Zippy" has been lucky!) But anyway, If there's a better brand I should switch to, let me know! I'll get it, instead!

I don't know why I thought Aquarium ownership would be so simple and low-maintenance! lol. When my husband suggested getting the girls a fish tank for Christmas, I thought it sounded like a great idea. I guess I never noticed all the work my parents must've had to do to keep up on the 20gal. I had in my bedroom and their two big tanks full of oscars... I'm just glad I didn't let hubby talk me into getting them each a goldfish!!
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post #7 of 19 Old 12-28-2010, 06:41 PM
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The only thing I use when I do a water change is dechlorinator and api stress coat. I do a 30 percent water change a week. I have a 30 gallon bow front tank. I have

6 rasbora tetras
2 guppies
1 dwarf gurami
3 neon tetras
2 platies
3 cories

Once the tank is cycled it is very easy. Less than a half hour a week.
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Jessibel (12-28-2010)
post #8 of 19 Old 12-28-2010, 07:09 PM
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Hi Jessibel,
the Tetra Aquasafe is a good brand of water conditioner so no need to return that. Have a read of the link provided in the prior post about cycling and get a liquid test kit (ditch the strips). Once your tank is cycled it will get much easier. Starting up a tank and cycling it is the hardest part.

As for the fish, is there anyway you could return some? The pleco will grow too big for the tank and the Giant Danio also gets to a good size (4") and is very active so not a good fit for that small of a tank. You could get more of the glofish to make a school of 6. They will be much happier in a group. Or, have a read through the fish profiles and look for a fish that stays small...around 2" or less at adulthood. But don't add anymore fish until the cycle is complete.

Good luck and don't hesitate to ask more questions. There's lots of helpful people here who have been through the same experience you are going through.

150 Gallon - Mostly American Cichlids
135 Gallon - Angelfish Community
75 Gallon - Odd couple (Polleni/Angelfish)
55 Gallon - African tank
20 Gallon Long - QT
10 Gallon - Empty
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Jessibel (12-28-2010)
post #9 of 19 Old 12-28-2010, 07:58 PM
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As fishingfor2001 said, after your tank is established, maintenance is easy. Regular water changes and a gravel vac don't take long.

Unfortunately, pet shop employees vary in their knowledge and expertise and you aren't the first person to have been given incorrect information and unsuitable fish. But you are ahead of the game because you've found out what a new owner needs to know. A lot of new owners find out about cycling only after their new fish have died on them which is even more upsetting and discouraging.

Yes, I'd insist that the shop take back the unsuitable fish. In choosing some suitable small fish, could I suggest that you not get glofish? They are genetically modified. It's up to you, of course - sorry to add to your information overload.
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Jessibel (12-28-2010)
post #10 of 19 Old 12-28-2010, 08:57 PM Thread Starter
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I appreciate everyone's encouragement and advice! I will call Petco tomorrow and see what their policy is on returning live fish. (The receipt says 'freshwater returns must be returned withing 30 days of purchase.") What's the best way to return a fish? lol. A Ziploc bag full of tank water? So I should bring back the Giant Danio and the Pleco... right? (I'll miss my little Dyson! lol) Should I then just keep ONLY the glofish and the diamond tetra UNTIL the tank has been properly cycled? Also, if Plecos are out of the question for a tank this size is there any other option for a bottom-feeder type that would help with algae control in the future? Like a mini-pleco? lol. Or is that why some people have snails in their tanks?

Also, stupid question, does anyone know the actual capacity of the Aqueon 14? I originally thought the '14' meant 14 Gallons, but I think I might be incorrect on that...

And one more question... I know that having live aquatic plants in the tank helps somehow with cycling... I wouldn't mind adding one to help it out, since our synthetic ones are a little cheesy... But I've never had a live plant in an aquarium before so I wouldn't know where to begin... is there a way to have some kind of self-contained plant in some type of container in the tank so I wouldn't have to worry about soil or something under the gravel? I'm really clueless about that... And how does it work with lighting? Are the aquarium hood lights sufficient to sustain aquatic plants? Or am I getting ahead of myself and should I wait on the fish tank gardening til I get everything else straightened out? Haha.

Wow... the more I read and think about it, the more clueless I realize I actually am about this stuff! Haha! Somehow my Daughters' Christmas present is turning into a new Hobby for me! (My Tupperware Business is going to suffer!)

Thanks Again!

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