Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   Graduation from 30 Gallons to 55 Gallons...HELP! (

oop.allie 02-22-2009 08:32 PM

Graduation from 30 Gallons to 55 Gallons...HELP!
I have received a 55 gallon tank (that has been unused for 4 years) from a friend. It is very dirty from being in storage, so a bit of work will have to be done to get it ready for fish. I have several questions:
  • Should I remove the rocks and clean them? If so, how?
  • What is going to be the easiest/best way to clean the hood/filter? It has a lot of crusty stuff on it...
  • The filter....I'm not familiar with ones this has the wheel things. Do I discard them and get new ones or keep them?
I'm sure there are more questions I'm not asking....this tank is gigantic in comparison to my 30 gallon and is VERY dirty....but I'm eager to get it up and running.... Any advice or time-saving tips would be greatly appreciated!

JohnnyD44 02-22-2009 08:50 PM

First off, congrats on the upgrade! 55G are great, I got one comin!! I'm assuming that the tank has been empty and without water for four years. If thats the case.....

1) Concerning the can take them out and vigoursly wash them in a water/bleach solution....when you're done make sure you rinse, rinse, rinse and rinse again!!! Then let them air dry 100%

2) The crusty stuff might be calcium-deposits built up....the easiest way to clean them is just use a paper towel and water(atleast thats what I do) for the filter, you can disassemble it the best you can and soak them in hot water and rinse rinse rinse and let them air dry.

3) Do you know the name of your fiter? If it's a bio-wheel filter, and they've been sitting out for 4 years...without a doubt the bacteria is dead. You will need to get new ones. They are available at any of your LFS.

The best way to get your tank up and running is making sure you let it cycle.....a fishless can read up on it with this link:

Fishless Cycling Made Easy

It will take anywhere for 3-6 weeks to cycle. It's a very important process which will make your life and your fishes life a lot easier in the long run.

Do you have a subtrate to use? Make sure that gets in there before you fill your tank up!!

Any thoughts on the fish you wanna use yet?

Any more quesitons, feel free to fire away, the people on here are experts!

JohnnyD44 02-22-2009 09:18 PM

There's another post a few threads down that also has some information on fishelss cycle, you may want to check it out

oop.allie 02-23-2009 03:55 PM


The hood is coming clean from soaking....the tank, well...elbow grease is helping with it. I'm avoiding the rocks for now....that job is too daunting....LOTS of rocks for the 55G tank....

The filter is a bio-wheel filter....I'll have to check out my LFS for the wheels and filters.

Question - will vinegar help w/ the crusty stuff or should I keep away from it?

As for stocking the tank, the same friend that gave me the tank is shutting down a 90 gallon tank. I'm getting some fish from that tank - 2 bala sharks and 2 cichlids of some variety. I'm a little concerned b/c my 30 gallon has smaller fish - danios and platy...lunch for the others, but this friend had mollies in the tank w/ them and they didn't become lunch....we'll see. I also have a rubberlip pleco.

Thanks for your help!

JohnnyD44 02-24-2009 06:47 AM

You'll be fine with vinegar, mix it with water to dilute it a little bit and it'll take the mineral build up right off!

You may want to check out the compatibility with those cichlids and the sharks with your current stock of platys and danios. Ask someone else on here who knows more about cichlids

Tyyrlym 02-24-2009 09:26 AM

Actually you don't need new biowheels. Biowheels are perfectly fine unless physically damaged. If the material is still in good condition and the wheels spin just fine don't buy new ones. Give them a good rinse and they should be good to go. If you really want to you can get new ones but I don't think its necessary. My biowheels had been sitting unused for over a year when I got them. They aren't pretty but they work just fine.

The rocks aren't a big deal. A good scrub and a soak will do fine. My advice is to use either a vinegar/water or bleach/water mix. Vinegar is easier on you but bleach is sort of the nuclear cleaner, virtually nothing survives it. Vinegar works best for the crusty deposits. If you use vinegar I usually go with a 5:1 to 10:1 water to vinegar solution. If I use bleach I go with a 10:1 or even down to 20:1 solution. Bleach takes a few more precautions because after using it you need to thoroughly rinse whatever got washed in it and then let it air dry for several days until you detect no more bleach odor. For washing rocks I'd just get a pail of my cleaning solution of choice (vinegar or bleach) and dunk the rocks. Give the a good scrub with a stiff brush and then let them dry.

A good long dry out will have killed off any waterborne nasties that might have been on the rocks. All you're doing is knocking off any dirt or grime that may be on them and getting rid of anything they might have picked up during storage, like a hitch hiking bug.

Do not use commercial cleaners or limescale removers. Both contain chemicals that are not only lethal to fish, but difficult to get off your tank.

Tyyrlym 02-24-2009 09:28 AM

Oh, I forgot to mention...

The bala sharks are not suited to a 55 gallon aquarium. They can reach over a foot in length and are prodigious swimmers. A tank six foot long and two wide is the bare minimum for them. The cichlids you'll need to be more specific about. Dwarf south american and even some africans are fine. Some of your larger Africans and American cichlids will kill off the smaller fish either through predation or simple harassment.

JohnnyD44 02-24-2009 09:33 AM

so if the wheels sit out, and the good bacteria dies off from drying out, new bacteria can build up again even though they sat out?

I thought they'd be goners! well, I learned something!!

vinegar is easier on your skin too i think, i had a cut when I used some bleach, it didn't feel too great!

Tyyrlym 02-24-2009 12:08 PM

The bacteria are gone. The structure of the wheel is fine though. There's nothing fancy about the wheels. It's just a pleated rough cloth like material, it has no special properties.

Fishcricker 02-24-2009 03:33 PM

You can use vinegar to remove the calcium deposits possibly with a soft bristle brush( Only to be used for aquariums though). Rinse afterward. Toss the bio whell and get another. Do not boil the rocks as some rocks will explode when doing this.

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