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Seeking advice from the fish gurus

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Seeking advice from the fish gurus
Old 02-18-2012, 10:57 AM   #11
 
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Awesome! Pleco and Goldie are on their way out the door within the hour, so there's that problem solved. I'll set up the new tank and toss some fishy flakes in to get that process started (I only mentioned shrimp because one of the ways to start the tank cycle mentioned putting a dead *FOOD* shrimp in, so the decomposition of it will get ammonia in) I don't have room to keep both fishtanks up indefinitely, so for the time being, froggy is stuck in with the fish - so far he's actually doing very well in there, seems happy and playful is eating well and isn't spending much time at the surface or taking breaths, and he should be fine with the taller tank, according to what I've read. Should it become a problem, I can probably downgrade him to a 3 gallon critter keeper or something similarly tiny and more manageable in my home.

Now... once I have BOTH aquariums set up and cycling, at which point should i transfer my fish from the smaller to the larger? Since both are uncycled. . . should I just leave them in the tiny tank for 6 weeks or so and then switch them? Or can I change them over once the larger aquarium has gone through it's first cycle of cloudy-to-clear? I don't want to hurt anyone, or stress them out anymore than they already are, but I know that they'll have more room to stretch out in the larger tank, and want to tear down ONE of them as soon as it is possible to do so, as both tanks together take up far more room than I can manage for long!


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Originally Posted by ladayen View Post
The bacteria cling to surfaces, very little of it is free floating in the water, changing water in the tank will have little impact on the cycle of the tank. It will remove excess ammonia/nitrites making it clean for the fish though.
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Originally Posted by redchigh View Post
Change the water as often as you feel like it.
So... I don't have to worry about new water messing up the cycle, VERY good to know! But I'm still concerned about HOW to change the water properly. I plan to change it this afternoon, as soon as the Pleco and Goldfish are gone, but what do I have to do to the water to protect the fish from a shock? All I have right now (and what I used before putting the fish in originally) is a tiny bottle of DeCHLOR that they told me to use at the petshop, and no thermometer. I can physically scoop out several gallons of dirty water (and add it to the cycling larger tank), but then do I just gently dump in DeCHLOR'd tap water? Can I use warmish tapwater to keep the temperature close to what it is the main tank? Should I let the tapwater sit out for a few hours first? I don't want to make a huge mistake here!

Last edited by Chesh; 02-18-2012 at 11:09 AM..
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Old 02-18-2012, 12:23 PM   #12
 
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Hi Chesherca! I'm so glad you found us. Welcome to TFK. We have ALL been in your shoes but there are hundreds of years of experience in here. (once you build up enough posts you can enter the chat room to talk directly to some of us. I Think you need to post 15-20 times first. Keeps the spammers out.)
Anyway I'm still sencing some confusion. No problem. You should have a thermometer and a bucket and a bottle of De-chlorinator. Each amouint of water you remove from your tank, must be replaced with water from your source/tap.... exact same temperature as your tank's water, then add the appropriate dechlor to the bucket and then slowly pour the water into the tank. Eventually you can/should have seperate buckets/therm tools for each tank you have. no cross contamination with diseases. And eventually you may set up a 2nd tank.
Also the Good Bacteria will live on gravel, plastic plants, rocks, sides of the tank, in the filter on the bio wheel if you have one, or in the media/filter pads, sides of the filter inside. Not in the water. This is where the ammonia/nitrite/nitrAtes build up but the bacteria live on the items in the tank and feed off of these in the water. Make sense? Which means never clean your entire tank/scrub it as you will send your tank thru another cycle. Never wash items in tap/chlorine water. Use treated de-chlor water to do this.
You change the water using exact temp/de-chlor and this reduces the "levels" as you work your way thru the 3 stages of the bacteria cycle.
The best testing kits, which are more expensive are the API Liquid testing kits. You do not need to buy anything that is a meter that sticks on the side of the tank that says "safe'. You are better to actually test the water using little test tubes and chemicals. There is also a paper strip type of testing kits available but they can be very unreliable as they pick up moisture and humidity over time.
Lastly if you have the budget you can eliminate all of this cycling by adding a bunch of Live plants. They will assimilate all of the bad stuff and your fish will not be hurt by the cycle process.
However I do want to say that all creatures and plants need a light cycle, so 8 hours on and then off. use a timer if you can. We all have a circadian rhythm and need light and darkness. You can set them to turn off at the girls bedtime, or I keep mine on till 11 so that I can watch them late at night when I am home. just make it consistant.
As for the size of the tank, always use the biggest you can, horizontally the biggest is best as fish travel distance when swimming. But add the height if you have it. If you need to clean that tank out, use vinegar and water, salt and water, a scrubby pad. Rinse, rinse, rinse.
You can move the gravel, rocks, plants, filter, water and fish straight over to the new tank right away, but do not clean the filter out or any of the rocks. move all as is and keep going with water changes and testing. Top up the new tank with same temp/dechlor water from your new bucket.
The more water volume the better for water stability. consider a drop of food colouring in a cup of water vs that same drop of colouring in your 10 gallon, or a 20 or 30 gallon. Dilution is your friend!! But be consistant in temp and de-chlorinator.
Good luck ! You are well on your way to success!!
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Old 02-18-2012, 12:29 PM   #13
 
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Without going in to ridiculous amounts of science it is actually quite important to have the fish there to start of the nitrogen cycle as the "flake method" does not in fact do this adequately, and often this way can take months rather than weeks to achieve a good and stable cycle.

More importantly I would advise as Redchigh has said, to go and get a good quality test kit, this will help you be able to see what is actually going on in your tank and how to act accordingly.
Again as Redchigh has said, get to know your fish and what normal looks like for them, that way you will be able to see if they are struggling and hanging out just under the surface, and yes the 50% water change at that stage would be the way to go.

I think personally that with the care that you are showing and with some of the advice you now have you will be able to minimise the deaths, but in answer to your question on how to do the water changes, the answer is.... gently!!!!!
When you use tap water as most do, make sure you add the tap water conditioner before it hits the tanks and then when you put it in, do so gently with as little rough and tumble as possible, use a jug rather than the bucket for example.
As for how often ... speaking personally I have had success with cycle periods doing changes of 20% per day for about two weeks, but at the same time monitoring the water with a good test kit.

Last edited by Snappyarcher; 02-18-2012 at 12:33 PM..
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Old 02-18-2012, 12:54 PM   #14
 
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I can not thank you ENOUGH for all of your help in this!!! The new tank is up and filled, but no fish are in there yet. I'm actually going to get new gravel for the bottom of it, as the gravel that we already had isn't so good for the frog - some of the pieces are smaller than they should be, and when he gets a bit bigger he may accidentally eat them - not good. I also still have to get a filter for this big tank... so I'm going to leave it as is, and do a bit of a water change on the old tank. In a little while (when the girls get up from naps) we're heading out to the pet store to pick up what we need (thermometer, heater, test kit, filter for the bigger tank, gravel... and a couple of plants to help get things together more quickly - and whatever else I forgot, lol) Then I can take everything out and switch it to the bigger tank. Will putting fresh gravel in there mean that I shouldn't switch the fish over so soon?
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Old 02-18-2012, 01:22 PM   #15
 
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not as such.... if you put all the suff in form the old tak you are putting the bacteria that is there in with it but by putting the new gravel in its not as if you are removing any so id just do things as follows:

In the big tank:
Place new filter in it with some of the material from the other filter to seed it
Put all the gravel into the tank that you want in there
Do a 50% water change from the old tank but keep the water and put this into the new bigger tank
After topping up both tanks with fresh and prepared water, do tests on both tanks to get baseline readings and then go from there and put the fish in.
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Old 02-18-2012, 02:15 PM   #16
 
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When you bring home your new gravel rinse it in the sink, there is NO good bacteria on it yet, just dust particles that will make your water cloudy. First use of the gravel needs a good rinse. After that, always use a de-chlorinator in the water so that any item being returned to the tank does not have it's good bacteria killed by chlorine.
At some point when you get your test kit home, test your tap water and know your numbers. My municipality's water is .20 ammonia out of the tap, 0 nitrItes, and 0 nitrAtes. That means if I test for ammonia after doing a water change I cannot expect a reading of .15 logically. As all new water I add is already higher than that. Follow me? Without live plants the nitrogen cycle can take from 6-8 weeks to get thru.
Most of the de-chlor products, especially Prime which is a bit more expensive but goes alot further... 1 little cap full for 50 gallons... can be used at 5x the quantity in an emergency. An emergency is when your city does a chlorine dump into the system to kill of bacteria in the spring time, (could be anytime if you live in a hot climate). You will smell the chlorine when running the water at the tap doing dishes or whatever. If it is that bad then wait a few days to do that water change if you have to. Lets just say you start to get very conscious of water quality all the time. lol. There is also the issue of Chloramine which is another topic to deal with.
Now another reading that is good to know is your water's PH. 7 is neutral. Your water will have it's own set reading and no matter how much people try to adjust it, it will find its way back to its set reading. Do not make attempts to adjust PH but rather find fish suitable to your PH. Live bearers like a more basic water, Guppies, Mollies, Platties, Swordtails. But many prefer the lower more acidic. Adjusting PH levels is dangerous and can cause a tank to crash and kill your fish. So there is another batch of products you do not need to spend money on!!
PH does come into play when you bring home new fish. Rest the bag in the tank to equalize the temperature in the bag to the tank's temp. Open the bag and using a little cup, dribble some tank water into the bag every 5-10 minutes to adjust the fish to any potential differences in PH. Try over an hour to double the bag's water. When ready net the fish into the tank rather than pouring the store's water into your tank. Reduces exposure to disease.
Now that you've learned all this, I'm sure you now understand why bringing home 2-3 fish at a time is much better than 12-15 at once. Causing a upset in the ammonia cycle.
Looking forward to pictures!!
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Old 02-18-2012, 02:43 PM   #17
 
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Kudos to you! You're recognizing a problem, and trying to educated yourself and remedy it. KUDOS!

Admittedly, I just skimmed through this thread. I will try to read it more thoroughly later. But I want to make very clear one point, the most important, that there may have been some confusion on previously. Forgive me for underlining, but it really is that important. You have living beings in your care now, and your highest priority is their well-being (as you know, and are trying to do! =).

Do a 50% water change (with gravel vac) anytime the Ammonia or Nitrite is over 0ppm, anytime the Nitrate is over 20ppm, or weekly, whichever comes first!

Since right now that you don't have a test kit (the API Master Kit is the way to go, as mentioned previously), assume that you have Ammonia and/or Nitrite and do a 50% water change (with gravel vac) everyday. Be sure to use a water conditioner and get the new and old water temps to match. When you get a test kit, then you can test everyday through the cycle and do 50% water changes (with gravel vac) when needed as dictated above.

The advice on getting a heater and feeding the fish very sparingly is solid. After getting a heater, I would research the fish's individual temperature requirements, find the lowest common denominator, and set your heater for that. (Have a thermometer to check the temp, heater dials cannot be trusted.) The lower temp keeps their metabolism low, which helps produce less waste during the cycle. After the cycle is done, you can adjust the temp, if that's even needed.

Here's the best link on the Nitrogen cycle: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/f...quarium-74891/

The advice on getting fast growing, floating plants is solid. These suck up the ammonia before it gets a chance to harm the fish. The more the better. Water Sprite floating is primo. Hornwort is good, but sheds. Pennywort is good. Get lots of these. It doesn't have to be pretty. And besides helping mitigate the cycle, it provides cover for fish to reduce stress, also important in your sitch.

Both Ammonia and Nitrite are very toxic. You've seen how they can cause short term problems, even death, with your guppies. Exposure to them can also be damaging over time. Just because your fish may look 'fine' now doesn't mean that their gills and bodies haven't been eating up. Often fish die later, after the cycle, from damage done during, with a "fish-in" cycle.

You can also, in combination with floating plants would be ideal, "seed" you tank with beneficial bacteria. If you know anyone (NOT the pet store) that has an established, HEALTHY (no history of disease!) tank, you can borrow some media to put in your tank to jump start the bacterial production. You just take the seed from one tank, keep it wet in tank water, no washing or rinsing, and directly put it in your tank. Media that can be used includes filter cartridges or media, substrate/gravel, decor, and plants.

Also, in the pic, what is the fish on the far left? If that is what you were told is a Common Pleco, its not. It appears to be sometime of Corydoras, but its hard to see. If it is a Cory, it could possibly fit into your community, but needs a group of at least 5 of the same species. And we can't add any more fish right now. So, if it is a Cory, make sure it goes to a home that either has more of that same species, or can acquire more.

You can click on any shaded name like Guppy to read more. Also at the top of the page, you'll see the link for "Tropical Fish Profiles" with which you can research fish OR plants. All purchases should be researched first, both fish and inverts, and dry goods. Everything you purchase. The hobby can suck all your money up, and it would behoove you to research first so you don't waste money and/or lose lives.

Deep breath! We'll get you through this!
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Old 02-18-2012, 05:36 PM   #18
 
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If it was up to me, I would split the fish you have into both the tanks, and run a 'fish-in cycle' in both. The toxins would build up slower, and you'll be less likely to lose fish.
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Old 02-18-2012, 10:58 PM   #19
 
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Thanks again for all of this fantastic advice! Went back to PetSmart today (had things to return anyway) and asked a few questions. Two of the employees told me things that I now know to be completely incorrect. . . so I just left and went to my local fish store and had a nice conversation with a man who has been working there for 15 years. Based on what both you and he have advised me, I've decided to keep the gravel that was in the original tank for now... the man at the LPS said that he has never in the time they've carried them seen the frogs ingest any and come to harm - though he admits that it conceivably could be possible - he's doubtful. Since the frog is such a tiny little guy, he should be fine with it for now. AFTER my tank stabilizes, I'll start slowly changing out the gravel for new, one hand-full at a time, so not to disrupt the cycle that hopefully will be in existence by then.

I got my heater, thermometer, a bunch of Anacharis and Hornwort plants (hornwort was the only one they had of the ones MinaMinaMina suggested, I hope the Anacharis will be okay?) . . . the only thing that I didn't get was the all-important testing kit! People around here must have fish fever, because both shops were sold out of them until next week. I called a few other petstores, and nobody had the freshwater kit - only the simpler ones, like the sticks and the ones that stick to the tank - in stock. I ordered it from Amazon, so it should be here by Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest. I don't like to wait on something SO important, but. . . I already know so much more than when I started, I'll just have to pray that with frequent water changes, a bigger tank, plants, and no plecos or goldfish, we'll make it though okay.

So I set up my tank, and did a 50% water change on the old tank (putting the old water in the new tank) and while the water was coming up to temperature, I slowly started moving gravel and decorations over . One HUGE slip-up. . . my husband, meaning well, tried to help me while I was putting the kids to bed. He started transferring over some of the gravel, and our little 'house' that the frog likes to hang out in. Um. But he doesn't pay attention to the aquarium as much as we do, and realized a few minutes later that the frog was still IN the house - and this was before the temperature was right. It was still in the ballpark range for the species, but he went through a massive temperature switch. Then... when he realized he was IN the house... he put him BACK into the original tank *bangs-head* He *SEEMS* fine... a bit more skittish than usual, but I was expecting that, anyway. I'm hoping he comes through this okay, poor little dude has had a hard life!

Everything else went smoothly... I got the temperature up in the big tank, and am currently running both the filter from the 10gallon with all the yummy guck from the old tank still inside, as well as a brand new one properly sized for the 28 gallon tank. Over the course of several hours, I've S L O W L Y moved all of the fish (and the poor little frog - AGAIN) into the new tank using the methods you have recommended. Now I'm just praying for the best. So far everything looks pretty good. The water is a little bit cloudy, which concerns me, but the fish seem to be managing quite well. Of course, I learned from the last time that looks can be VERY deceiving to those of us who don't know what to look for! Crossing my fingers that everyone will be alive and well tomorrow. I feel like if they can survive the night, their odds of making it through this will go up. Not sure if that's TRUE, but - one day at a time, right?!!


Quote:
Originally Posted by MinaMinaMina View Post
Also, in the pic, what is the fish on the far left? If that is what you were told is a Common Pleco, its not. It appears to be sometime of Corydoras, but its hard to see. If it is a Cory, it could possibly fit into your community, but needs a group of at least 5 of the same species. And we can't add any more fish right now. So, if it is a Cory, make sure it goes to a home that either has more of that same species, or can acquire more.

You can click on any shaded name like Guppy to read more. Also at the top of the page, you'll see the link for "Tropical Fish Profiles" with which you can research fish OR plants. All purchases should be researched first, both fish and inverts, and dry goods. Everything you purchase. The hobby can suck all your money up, and it would behoove you to research first so you don't waste money and/or lose lives.
Thank you for stopping by with your advice and encouragement! The little pinkish fish on the top left in that shot was our sole-remaining goldfish. She's now gone to a new home. The Pleco is hard to see - he's in the 'cave' on the bottom left - he really blends in very well. He's a normal pet-store algae eater/suckerfish - greenish brown with black spots - he ALSO has gone to live in another home. Everyone else is here and accounted for! Here's a bigger image that I've labeled, if you want to see what's going on better! There is one apple snail missing from this shot - he was hiding behind the frog's 'house' at the back of the tank.




aaaand . . . since you mentioned my "community" (provided there IS one after all this is said and done!) I have a couple of questions about it. I've been learning as much about the critters I have here as I can, as far as water requirements, this is what I'm getting:

Dalmation Molly: Medium hard to hard (10-30 dGH), basic (pH 7.5 to 8.5), temperature 70-82F

The African Dwarf Frog: 70 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit, and a Ph of around 6.

Neon Tetra: Soft (less than 4 dGH) and slightly acidic (pH less than 7.0), temperature 68-78F.

Guppy: Medium hard to hard (9-30 dGH), basic (pH 7-8.5), temperature 64-82F.

The African Dwarf Frog should be kept in an aquarium with the temperature ranging from 70 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit, and a Ph of around 6.

Apple Snail 22-26C (72-79F) Hard water pH range: 7 - 7.5 (Below 7 can create shell erosion)

Admittedly, this is too advanced for me - and I probably shouldn't even be WORRYING about it until these guys make it through the next few weeks. . . but my basic question is this: CAN these guys all happily live in the same tank? I mean, they seem to get along okay, and temperature-wise seem fine (I have the tank set right now at 76, which is a bit high for the tetras, though within the range) but they prefer wildly different water hardness and PH levels. And, of course, the profile for nearly EVERY fish I own (and frog!) says NOT to use them when starting a cycle! Ug. Another concern is that I'm getting different information on the same fish from different sources. It's hard to know what's TRUE.

Also... with this information:
Quote:
Originally Posted by MinaMinaMina View Post
After getting a heater, I would research the fish's individual temperature requirements, find the lowest common denominator, and set your heater for that. (Have a thermometer to check the temp, heater dials cannot be trusted.) The lower temp keeps their metabolism low, which helps produce less waste during the cycle. After the cycle is done, you can adjust the temp, if that's even needed.
I'm thinking I should turn the tank down to . . . 72 until the cycle has been established in my tank? I set my tank not based on this information, but based on what the 10 gallon NON heated tank was reading. Even without a heater, it was pretty toasty in there. So I guess I'll give the fish overnight to adjust then drop the temperature down a bit so that they can have their low metabolism and stop pooping up their tank so much!!! ;) That's IF the temp will even drop! I was pretty surprised to find the 10 gallon so warm without a heater going at all...

So... if you aren't totally tired of me yet, keep the advice comin'! I've learned so much over the last couple of days. And I thought fish would be WAY less work than my 2 dogs and kitten!

Last edited by Chesh; 02-18-2012 at 11:11 PM..
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Old 02-18-2012, 11:45 PM   #20
 
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Gotta say we are very proud of you guys!! It's a great lesson for the girls to say, Mommy and Daddy were wrong, we did this.... and we fixed it. We'll do our very best to fix our mistakes. And kids do have to learn about death too. And there is a pair of Mollies in there.... there will be babies some day soon. That's another story. lol
Loved the part about the hubby and the frog house. doh!! ahhh....doh!!! oh I laughed! (we've all done it by the way!)
Looking forward to hearing how the next few weeks go. Keep us posted. Good luck.
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