06-09-2007, 12:08 PM
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I noticed that you said you got a 10 gallon kit from petsmart. The Hang on back filter that comes in those is the Topfin 10 gallon filter. It is much like the whisper filter but without the extra sponge for bacterial growth. There lies the downfall. While you have been doing your fishless cycling, bacteria has been growing on the white filter cartridge in the filter. Some bacteria will reside in the gravel and in the water but the majority of it colonizes in the filter where there is an abundance of water flow and oxygen. That means then that when you go to change your filter cartridge, you will throw away all of that beneficial bacteria that you worked so hard to build. When you change the cartridge, the best thing to do is actually to cut the foam off of the old one (or take out the plastic skeleton of it) and place it behind the new filter. This will let the bacteria from the old filter transfer to the new, cleaner filter. It's kind of a pain in the butt though so you may consider getting a new filter in the near future.
As far as stocking the tank, get an idea of all of the fish you will want in there once it is fully stocked. Then start off with the strongest and least aggressive fish you can get. Putting aggressive fish in last makes sure that they do not establish total dominance of the tank. Corydoras catfish are great and a pair of them will do an awesome job of cleaning excess food off the gravel. Gourami's are a great colorful addition but can sometimes be aggressive, though i have had good luck with them. Fuller bodied fish are great to look at too but keep in mind, the fuller the body, the higher the matabolism and the more waste output they have. Thats why Goldfish
(very full bodied fish) are so messy