Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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el Mattador 11-19-2008 02:56 PM

My First Tank - suggestions
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Hi everyone, I'm new to this site. I've been looking around and it seems like you all know a lot about this stuff, so any suggestions you can give will be greatly appreciated!

The setup I have is a 29 gallon tank, which is pretty bare right now. I put the water in last night and added the conditioner that it came with and tested it with a 5 in 1 tester. It said: NO3 - 0, NO2 - 0, GH - 150, KH - 180, ph - 7.8. I think th ph is a little high and the gh is also a bit high? What should I get these levels to before puting in the fish?

I now have the water up to 80 degrees and this morning added the large rock (which I wet and scrubbed first), and then also added 3 aponogeton bulbs and 3 lilly bulbs.

I'm trying to decide what kinds of fish to get. I'm thinking of starting with some danois and tetras. Also - I'd like some kind of cleaner fish - one that glows as slowly as possible since I've seen that some plecos grow super fast. There was some kind of chinese cleaner fish at the store - does anyone know about these? If anyone has any ideas about a good mix of fish for my tank size, which would include bottom, middle, and top dwellers, I'll take any suggestions. Any help would be awesome.


SolaceTiger 11-19-2008 03:04 PM

Well, I don't know if you know about cycling, but you're gonna wanna leave you tank sit for about a month or possibly longer to make sure everything stabilizes and there's enough beneficial bacteria to support your fish. And when you do get fish, only a get a few at a time so you don't cause an ammonia spike.

I'll let the experts here take it further than I have. Glad to have ya joining the hobby! And the site, welcome.

aunt kymmie 11-19-2008 03:40 PM

Hi there and welcome to the forum. I took the liberty of pulling from a prior thread. It's alot of information to digest but it helped me tremendously. Good Luck!

"Cycling" a tank is the process of culturing colonies of beneficial bacteria in your tank. Fish waste (urine and feces), decaying plant and animal tissue and decaying fish food all create ammonia in your tank. Ammonia is highly toxic to fish and can kill them even at low concentrations. In order for your fish to survive in a fish tank, they can't be exposed to ammonia. Luckily, there is a type of bacteria that converts the harmful ammonia into another chemical called nitrite. As ammonia is introduced to your tank (either by adding fish or another ammonia source) these bacteria multiply. Eventually, there are enough of them to completely convert any ammonia that is introduced to the tank into nitrite. Unfortunately, nitrite is just as toxic to your fish as ammonia, if not moreso. However, there is a second type of bacteria that converts this nitrite into nitrate, a chemical that is only harmful to fish in very large concentrations. As the first type of bacteria convert ammonia to nitrite, the second type of bacteria begins to grow in number. After more time, there are enough of these bacteria present to convert all of your nitrite into nitrate. After both types of bacteria are established, your tank is "cycled." At this point, you should never have detectable levels of ammonia or nitrite in your tank and you only need to do water changes to keep the nitrate levels in check.

There are two ways to cycle a tank, fishless and with fish. When cycling with fish, the fish you add act as the ammonia source during the cycle. However, because the ammonia and nitrite that are produced during the cycle are toxic, you need to do water changes frequently when cycling with fish to keep them alive. The second way is to cycle without fish and use some other ammonia source, such as pure ammonia, fish food or even an uncooked shrimp. This is the preferred method as it allows you to stock the tank as you please (instead of with the fish you cycled with) and also doesn't subject any fish to ammonia or nitrite poisoning.

The best way to monitor the progress of the cycle is to get a good liquid test kit like the API Freshwater Master Test Kit. It contains tests for pH as well as ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Testing the water lets you know exactly how far along the cycle is and when it's over, and therefore when it's safe to add fish.

Since the bacteria that you grow during the cycle aren't waterborne (they live on surfaces in the aquarium like the gravel, decor and especially the filter media) you can transfer some of these items over to a cycling aquarium from an established tank to help speed up your cycle

aunt kymmie 11-19-2008 04:43 PM

I also wanted to respond to your question on the algae eaters. Anything with the words "Chinese" and "Algae" scare me off. I've read numerous times that chinese algae eaters grow rather large and become extremely territorial & aggressive as they get older so not an ideal candidate for a peaceful community tank.

I've got an albino bristlenose pleco and I'm told they max out at 4 to 6 inches. Bristlenose plecos are great at consuming algae and I'm really happy with my little guy.

My ph sits at 7.8 and it has not been a problem for me. The key to PH is stability. Most tank bred fish are hardy enough to adapt to a steady PH level as long as you acclimate them properly.

el Mattador 11-19-2008 04:48 PM

Thanks for the info. I'm wondering if I need to wait for a long time since the levels in the water seem right when I look at the color charts. It's a brand new tank, and theres no fish yet, so is it still possible for the chemicals to get out of whack with just the filter running?

SolaceTiger 11-19-2008 05:09 PM

Well, ideally when your tank is done cycling, it should have 0 ppm of ammonia, 0 ppm of nitrites, and 10 ppm or so of Nitrates. Nitrates are good as long as they're between 10 and 20 I think... don't let it get above 20 though.

jeaninel 11-20-2008 12:49 PM


Originally Posted by el Mattador (Post 153347)
Thanks for the info. I'm wondering if I need to wait for a long time since the levels in the water seem right when I look at the color charts. It's a brand new tank, and theres no fish yet, so is it still possible for the chemicals to get out of whack with just the filter running?

The reason your water levels tested 0 is because there is no ammonia source in the tank yet. You need to cycle your tank first with an ammonia source. Read up on how to cycle your tank. Aunt kymmie provided you with some information on cycling. Fishless cycling is preferred but if you do decide to use fish only add a few (danios are pretty hardy and often used for cycling) and then don't add anymore until your tank is fully cycled. A cycling tank is very hard on fish and often ends up with dead fish. The cycle process varies but usually takes anywhere from 4-6 weeks.

aunt kymmie 11-20-2008 12:59 PM

el Mattador-

Yes, please read up on the cycling process. I didn't know about fishless cycling when I started and used fish for the process. I was lucky to not lose a single fish in the process but I was diligent with my water changes and tested my water parameters daily. When I set up my next tank I'll go fishless.

I asked a gazillion questions in the process and everyone here on the forum were great in regards to their help. Good luck!


iamntbatman 11-20-2008 02:42 PM

For simple practicality reasons, cycling fishless is definitely the way to go. You won't kill fish during the cycle, you don't have to return fish you don't want or build a community around them (although you did mention you want zebra danios, which are pretty ideal cycling fish), and you don't have to constantly monitor your water parameters and do water changes during a fishless cycle because you don't have any fish to keep alive. Also, cycling fishlessly can allow you to stock your tank more quickly. If you cycle with fish, your tank only has enough bacteria to handle the bioload of *those* fish, but if you do it fishlessly you can build up much bigger bacteria colonies.

Also...are you using those 5-in-1 test strips? I recommend getting yourself a good liquid test kit like the API Freshwater Master Test Kit. It'll run you about $30 in a store and about half as much online from places like Aquariumguys or Drs. Foster and Smith, but it's much more accurate than the test strips and is actually a lot cheaper in the long run because you get a lot more tests out of it (around 100 per bottle) than you do out of the strips.

I agree - skip the Chinese Algae Eater. A small species of pleco, like a bristlenose, rubber lip or clown pleco, is a better choice, although you'll need to add some driftwood to the tank for them to gnaw on.

mattyphilly 11-20-2008 03:48 PM

put some fishfood in the tank and u'll see ure ammonia hit the the roof when the food has been rotting for a day or two. When this happens it'll go down again and when u test 0 nitrites, u can start adding fish...a few at the time. From that moment onwards u shd do a weekly water change and u shd be ok.
Chinese algae eaters get too big for ure tank....mine are abt 8 inches long,bought them at 1 1/2 inch a year and a half ago. Mine are cute and not aggressive (big tank), but i heard they have a bad reputation. And dont expect for 'cleaner fish' to clean the tank, cos they dont. U'll have to do that
There's a lot of L-numbers that stay small. I have an L201 and it only grows to be 3-4inches. L-numbers that stay small usually cost more.
If u're not gonna add live plants, then i would put an airstone. And without plants, i wouldn't get the L-number either

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