Peer Review Appreciated
I would greatly appreciate any concerns or suggestions.
Two days ago I purchased a 5 gallon (hexagonal) aquarium. The filter is incorporated into the hood of the tank, pumping water over a blue mesh filter laced with charcoal, then that water rolls a bio-wheel.
The tank has been running for 48 hours and I have a heater rated for 2 to 5 gallon tanks. The temperature has held steady at about 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
I would like to begin cycling the tank with 5 to 7 Neon Tetras. I figure I'll start out with 5 until the tank is properly cycled. Since this is a heavy load to introduce to an uncycled aquarium, I intend on doing a 15 - 20% water change every day or every other day depending on ammonia levels.
I have approx. 3 inches of tan gravel at the bottom of the tank. I strained the gravel beforehand to prevent any extra dust and particles.
The tank has many (also cleaned) artificial silk plants to provide ample cover.
Charcoal laced filter - Will this eliminate too much ammonia to allow beneficial bacteria to grow? I'm also worried that it will leach toxins back into my tank once it has reached capacity.
Fish Load - The end goal of this tank is to have only Neon Tetras (7). Are these fish appropriate for cycling a tank, if not would Guppies be a good substitute?
Water Change - From what I've read and past experience, during the cycling phase frequent water changes should be performed. Is a 15 - 20% water change every other day too much or too little?
Temperature: I have also read that Neon Tetras prefer a slightly cooler temperature, between 72 - 78 degrees Fahrenheit. As previously stated, the tank is currently 80F. Should I turn off the heater or will they adapt to this slightly higher then recommended temperature?
Thank you to anyone who can help me with this!
I will answere the questions one at a time, from the beginning.
1.) I would not use neons to cycle the tank. These fish are too delicate. Choose a fish like pearl danios instead.
2.)Charcoal does not remove ammonia.
3.) Rather than neons, I would suggest cardinal tetras. They are much hardier and have more color.
4.) Water changes should be determined by the water parameters. I would recommend 50% when needed. No gravel stirs, however.
5.) they should adapt, but why not turn the heater down instead of turning it off?
One other thing, do not change water so often. This will remove more ammonia than charcoal ever thought of removing. If you remove so much water all the time it could lengthen your cycle to several months instead of 6-12 weeks.
Update: (04 - 22 - 2008)
Thanks to everyone who provided me with advice! It made a world of difference.
I let the tank sit for another day, giving it 72 hours total to run and let everything balance out.
I purchased 4 Zebra Danios and after allowing them to float at the top of the tank in their bag, I placed them in the tank. They seemed to appreciate the heavy planting and for the first day all they did was hide and dart around the plants. I intend to keep them, I don't think it is fair to use them to cycle the tank and then just get rid of them. Plus, they're very pretty fish.
So far the tank has remained crystal clear, the filter cartridge has a little bit of dirt on the surface, from the food is my guess. There is no oder in the room or when I smell the surface of the water. I still need to purchase a full scale test kit for Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates, and PH.
Every day or so I remove 10% of the water and replace it with spring water. I brought one of my samples to the pet store and they said that the ammonia is building up but there is also a small amount of Nitrites so that's good.
In other news -
I purchased a Betta fish and currently have him in a 1 gallon tank with an under gravel filter. This is not his permanent home, I'm using it as a quarantine tank since he's from Walmart and... I don't trust them.
The Bettas final home will be the newest 5 gallon I purchased. This tank I'm going to do a fishless cycle, adding small amounts of ammonia. Perhaps if I tank my time, have a little patience, he will be much happier in the long run! I wasn't going to buy any more tanks, but seeing that poor beautiful Betta laying in a Dixie sized cup with cloudy water broke my heart.
As always, any input is appreciated!
Sounds like your well on your way to MTS (Multiple Tank Syndrome). It's an incurable disease :)
I know this sounds horrible, but buying an fish from those conditions just tells the employees that work there that yes, treating a betta like that is ok. Instead of buying them, as for a manager and let them know that this treatment is NOT ok. Proper treatment of bettas is apparently becoming known because more LFS's are starting to either keep their bettas in cubicle tanks with filters or are integrating them into their other stocked tanks. I've heard a few memebers on here that even Petsmart is starting to do the same thing with the new stores. So, no more buying dying fish. That's just another $4 in their pockets.
sounds like your doing well. :)
Update: (April 28th, 2008)
Just wanted to provide another update as a thanks to everyone who has helped me out!
The tank is doing fantastic! I have been able to purchase a full scale test kit, it contained several vials and various bottles that you drip and then compare colors.
I tested for everything it had. My ammonia levels are just barely readable, my nitrite levels are ever so slightly higher, but still in the green, and my nitrates are slowly building. Now that I have nitrates building I have started to perform a 10 - 15% water change every 3rd day and that seems to keep the levels in check.
Again, thanks so much to everyone that provided me with help and advice!
What is your tap water's parameters? My tapwater has nitrates. Before I tested, I thought I was on the way to a cycled tank, but it turned out my tap water is horrible.
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