Buying a Used Aquarium
I saw a nice deal on craigslist for a tank, filter and heater. The filter is an Emperor 400 (very nice) but has been dry for quite some time. What do I need to do to get the filter going again?
Also, he said the tank had previously been treated for ich. Should that raise any red flags for me?
Thanks in advance, obviously I'm new here!
Ah craigslist, how I love thee.
First off price. Get exactly what he's going to be selling to you and compare it to what the same gear would cost you new. If he's asking more than 50% retail he's off his rocker. If he's asking 30% or less give it some serious thought. Remember, you're buying used and have no idea what he's REALLY done with it.
The filter will have to be restarted, no getting around it. Once the filter dries out the beneficial bacteria die and that's the end of it, now its just plastic and a cool paddle-wheel. Read up on cycling as you're going to have to do it.
I can give more detailed advice on cycling if you want it but my biggest thing, Do not trust the bacteria in a bottle. I speak from experience.
The ich treatment should raise flags if you're planning on keeping invertebrates. Shrimp, snails, corals if you do saltwater, all are highly intolerant of copper. Most ich treatments contain copper, lots of it, because the ich parasites are invertebrates. At this point things are hit and miss. Depending on how often and how severly the tank was treated some of the copper may have been left behind. There's really no way you're going to be able to tell without buying a copper test kit and testing it after you fill the tank. Alternately, and I'm sure this will draw some stern glares from some quarters, you can always toss in a few ghost shrimp. Its up to you, twenty bucks for some copper tests you'll use once or a dollar on a half dozen feeder ghost shrimp, your choice. It sounds a bit heartless but that's how I tested my tank, tossed in an amano shrimp and hoped for the best. Yes, he's still going strong as are his two buddies. Of course if you don't care about keeping invertebrates you're in the clear.
I figured I would have to go through the cycling period again. I was just wondering if I needed to get new wheels for some reason or another, so it sounds like I just need to treat it like a new filter. I'm not going to keep any saltwater fish or invertebrates. Will giving the tank a good scrubbing with aquarium disinfectant cover most of my bases?
So long as the wheel isn't heavily damaged and everything still fits together you're good to go on the filter. Just give it a quick test to check its operation and if everything goes ok you're good. If not Petsmart often stocks spare biowheels or impellers. Just note, your biowheel doesn't have to be perfect to work. Neither of the ones on my Penguin 300 or the one on my Penguin 170 are very pretty, they all have bent or misshappen paddles but they work just fine.
Don't bother buying any kind of disinefectant. I used a vinegar/water solution to clean all the small parts and a 5-10% bleach/water solution to clean the tank. Just let everything air out until you can't smell anything and you're good to go.
I would buy new gravel and clean the tank out with aquarium rated disinfectant. Personally, I would use bleach and then wash out REALLY well. I would do the same with the filter and really check the impellar. Maybe even test the pump tomake sure that it works. Yes, I would get a new wheel. You have no idea what was or was not done to it. If it's a good deal, I say go for it. I got all my tanks used and with precautions taken, it's gone well.
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