Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Sheen 07-20-2013 06:26 AM

Starting new 30 gallon tank

I had an African cichlid tank many years ago that I thoroughly enjoyed. I'm back at it but do not remember much about how to begin a tank and the types of fish that will live best together.

The only fish store in town is Petsmart and they had me add a bag of African cichlid sand to my tank which has made it cloudy for many days now. Still waiting for it to clear up before I begin. What can I do to help the process of clearing the water?

It is only 30 gallons so I know I have limitations. I would prefer to have a peaceful tank with beautifully colored fish. Please let me know if you have suggestions for me. :-D

Thank you so much!

Tazman 07-21-2013 11:00 PM

First of all welcome to the forum and back into tropical fish keeping. :wave:

First, there are several things which will need doing BEFORE any fish go near the tank.

Cycling the tank to create a colony of good bacteria used to break down waste. You can do this a number of ways, although I would highly recommend the fishless cycle for a number of reasons. 1), you dont potentially harm any fish as conditions in the tank are very toxic during this stage, 2) using a fish (alive) to cycle a tank means 1 of 3 things, you keep the fish and have to work out a stock around that fish, you kill the fish (cruel), you try and take it back.

You can read a well written article on cycling here

While the tank is cycling, you can work out a stock list, sadly though in a 30g tank you are very very limited in terms of what cichlids you can put in, I would always recommend at minimum a 40g breeder or ideally a 55g+ tank.

Reason is cichlids require space, not only for territory but also swimming. Smaller tanks offer neither unfortunately. Now this doesnt mean all cichlids are out the question, colorful ones sadly though are, they need a bigger tank due to aggression and ratio stocking levels, most African Rift lake cichlids need to be in groups of 5, 1 male to 4 females to spread aggression from a spawning male.

Before I offer any suggestions as to potential stock, one CRITICAL piece of information is needed from you....what are your water parameters from the tap/faucet.? Messing around trying to get the correct pH, hardness level is not easily done in a smaller tank. This information can be got from having a test kit, API master Freshwater with a separate kit for GH and KH, this will give you everything you will need to monitor the tank while it cycles so you can see the progress, in the future it will also allow you to see how well the tank is doing.
The other way to get this information is to take a sample for your tap/faucet to a local fish store, MAKE SURE they write the actual numbers down though, good, low are NOT acceptable in monitoring the tank.

I know this is a lot to take in but for the well being of both the fish and the success of the tank, they are needed.

Welcome again and look forward to getting this tank going with you :-)

Sheen 07-23-2013 01:09 PM

Hey Tazman!

Thanks so much for taking the time to reply to my post and to provide such great info!

The tank has been cycling fish-free for two weeks. I had it checked today and they say it's "perfect".

The numbers are:
ammonia .5
nitrite 0
nitrate 0
pH 7.2
alkalinity 120
hardness 75
chlorine and chloramine 0

I hope that tells you something. :-)

What do you feel is easier to care for; the African or South American?

Thank you again!

Tazman 07-24-2013 08:48 PM

The numbers look a bit low for ammonia on a fishless cycle? What are you using to feed the tank?

In terms of looking after, in my opinion African, as mentioned though you are going to be very limited as to what you can successfully keep in that tank long term.

Sheen 07-25-2013 06:54 AM

Good morning!

Tropical fish flakes. I'm just putting a pinch in once a day. Is that enough?

Do you have suggestions on the Africans?

Thank you again!

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