Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   New Freshwater 55 gallon aquarium! help! (

PhishPhood 12-02-2008 02:03 PM

New Freshwater 55 gallon aquarium! help!
My roommate and I just purchased a used 55 gallon aquarium. We have a biowheel 280 filter and our water is constantly murky. We changed about 20% of the water on last wednesday and it hasn't gotten any better. Do we need another filter? A bigger filter? Any suggestions? This is our first aquarium attempt so we will take any advice! thanks!

Kim 12-02-2008 07:56 PM

Do you know what an aquarium cycle is? How long has it set up and can you give details such as stocking, whether or not you have live plants, and water parameters (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH). Also, water parameters should be taken with a liquid test kit, not strips which tend to be inaccurate. Once we get the answers to these questions we can better help you.

willow 12-03-2008 05:06 PM

hello and welcome.
another question if i may ask,is when you clean the tank
do you clean the filter at all at the moment,and if you do
how do you do it,because if you are washing it under tap water
all the benificial bacteria will die,and you'll have to cycle the tank
all over again.
nice size tank too. :)

PhishPhood 12-04-2008 01:27 PM

I do not know what cycle is.

We currently have 3 orange gouramis and 4 of these zebra-looking fish we got at walmart for 89 cents. Our nitrate level is between 0 and 5 ppm. The pH is approximately 7.2. The ammonia is 0 ppm. and the nitrite is 0 ppm.

We have artificial plants
We cleaned the tank once but it made the water even dirtier so we have been holding out a little on it to see what happens and we have not cleaned the filter but we are about to replace the pad in it.

PhishPhood 12-04-2008 03:06 PM

Oh, and two plecs.

iamntbatman 12-04-2008 05:12 PM

What species of pleco? The common plecostomus can get to 18" or more in length and produces a huge amount of waste so is unsuitable for a 55g tank. Also, they can get territorial as they age so two of them might not get along. You're better off with a smaller species like the bristlenose, rubber lip, or clown pleco. Just be sure to add some driftwood to the tank as just about all plecos need to gnaw on driftwood as part of their diet.

Here's a blurb about cycling:

"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.

FuzzAz 12-04-2008 05:26 PM

How many days has it been running? As long as the filter cartrage is allowing water to flow, do not change it for now. If it is cloged, than rince it in a bucket of dechlorinted water and reuse it. It sounds like you tank has not cycled.

PhishPhood 12-05-2008 10:33 AM

Its been going for about... 3.5 weeks or so

1077 12-05-2008 11:28 AM

Your test results if accurate, indicate that the tank is cycled. You posted 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites,and nitrates between 0 and 5ppm is this correct? If these results were from test strips then I would doubt the accuracy. You also say the tank has been up and running for three and a half weeks. How long have fish been in the tank? Three and one half weeks is rather quick for a tank to mature or cycle but it does happen. Was this tank empty when you set it up? What type of test was used for the results you posted? In any event you have fish in the tank so care must be taken to keep the water clean. I would suggest once a week water changes of 20 percent with new water that has been treated with dechlorinator. I would get a gravel vac sold at many fish stores and vaccum the bottom of the tank to remove uneaten food or poop that will cause ammonia levels to rise to lethal levels. You can vaccum a small area one third, at each water change and a different area each time so as not to destroy the good bacteria needed for the fishes health. You should prolly get the test kit that others have mentioned so that you can test your water to keep the readings you posted which are good if accurate.A cycled or mature tank should ALWAYS read 0ammonia, 0nitrite and nitrates below 30 20 is better yet. The 280 biowheel is a bit small for the 55 gal. I would look at the emperor 400 by marineland cause it's inexpensive, easy to service, parts are easily found, and it provides a very large surface area for beneficial bacteria to colonize. Never clean the biowheels. Just clean the blue cartridges by swishing them around in a bucket of old aquarium water that you take out during WEEKLY water changes and then stick em back in. When they begin to fall apart replace them. I would run the new larger filter if you get one right along with the 280 but I would not clean or rinse the blue cartridges in the new one for at least three weeks. This will allow the filter (new one) To build it's own colony of good bacteria and once it has ,you should not clean both filters at once. Maybe clean one and then the other two weeks later. You can also clean the glass with a clean paper towel folded into fourths. If your tank is indeed cycled and you do not overfeed and you keep up on water changes WEEKLY along with removing the poo from the bottom as described then your fish should remain healthy if they were healthy to begin with. Hope some of this helps.

flight50 12-05-2008 12:02 PM

this tank has quite a bit in it for 3.5 weeks. your lucky if you haven't lost any fish. those plecos could cost you your whole stock. i'm thinking that nothing has spiked yet. i reset up 55 gal on 8/31/08. til this day mine is still not 100% cycled. i have 2 aquaclear 300s with double sponge filters, 86 degree temp, no fish and no plants. i am on the fishless cycle and i have just recently been able to put in 4ppm+ and have my levels at 0-.5ppm within 24hrs for NH3NH4 and NO2. you could have beginners luck but i'd keep a sharp eye on the water parameters if i were you. you may want to quick get that water vac. for quick emergency water changes. one good vac is the python. if they still make them grab it. a little more expensive but much easier to deal with.

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