cycling for a pictus catfish
hello i just got a 50 gallon tank set up with undergravel filter 2 power heads and 350 gallon per hour filter. i just filled it this morning and plan on running it for 48 hours. my quiestion is i plan on getting 3 pictus catfish but i want to cycle my tank first. what fish should i use to cycle my tank in preperation of my pictus. i want fish that will be able to coexsist with the picrus after the cycling stage. any help would be great im new to this and want to do it right.
Well, any way you cycled it should get it ready for pictus. The any fishless cycling method is preferable to cycling with fish for a few reasons. Firstly, cycling with fish exposes those fish to ammonia and nitrite, both of which are toxic to fish and can cause long-term health problems (or, in any amount higher than just barely detectable, can be deadly in very little time). Secondly, certain fish make much better cycling fish than others because they're hardier and less expensive. Zebra danios are a common choice. However, this means you have a tank full of zebra danios that you either have to rehome or plan a stocking list around. Finally, although this is debated, some people (myself included) believe that the water changes necessary to keep even the hardiest fish alive during the fish-in cycle can prolong the cycling progress. There are good arguments on both sides of the debate, though.
Despite the debate, both sides agree that a fishless cycle is better. There are many ways to do it. The three most common are to use either a) doses of pure ammonia to stimulate and fuel bacterial growth, b) "feeding" the tank with fish food, which rots and produces ammonia or c) using a frozen shrimp (the kind you'd eat) and letting that decay in the tank. Personally, I prefer the third method. Pure ammonia can be hard to track down, and the ammonia method, while very precise, requires you to test the tank fairly regularly and dose ammonia daily. The fish food method just seems to create a lot of mess in the tank and never really produces that much ammonia. The shrimp method provides a steady source of ammonia without requiring you to do anything. Just toss the shrimp in a filter media bag or some pantyhose, then stick it in the tank. Test the water every few days just to keep your eye on the ammonia and nitrite spikes, wait for both of these to go to zero (anywhere from two to eight weeks) and for a steady positive nitrate reading. At that point, remove the bag of shrimp and toss it, do a large water change to bring nitrate down to a reasonable level (<20 ppm is fine) and you're ready for fish.
Any of these methods requires the use of a good liquid test kit to keep an eye on water parameters. Technically, you should be able to add a "full load" of fish after completing a fishless cycle, but in my view it's always safer to add fish in small batches every few weeks. Also, any cycling method can be sped up by using filters or filter meda (or even decorations) from an established tank to "seed" the bacteria colonies in the new tank.
What do you plan on keeping in the tank? Just pictus? How many?
thanks for the info but im looking for fish i can cycle with that will be able to live with 2 or 3 pictus that way when the cycle is over and i put the pictus in they will be able to coexsist with them.
Maybe some giant danios. They would be to big for the cats to eat.
Tiger barbs would be another option.
Be sure to buy the water test kit and for the fishes health try to keep ammonia and nitrites under .25 ppm. I have done fish cycles without any loses, but it was a lot of hard work. Daily water changes for a while.
Of those two, I would probably go with the danios. Barbs are fairly hardy but in my experience tiger barbs aren't quite as hardy as danios. Not to mention that those long flowing whiskers on the pictus might serve as targets for the nipping that tiger barbs are known for. Finally, pictus cruise around the lower to mid levels, while the danios stay mostly near the top of the tank. The barbs would share swimming space with the pictus, which would mean they'd cross paths more often and you'd have fairly inactive upper levels of your tank.
Twistersmom is absolutely right about keeping those ammonia and nitrite levels as low as possible. Large daily water changes go hand-in-hand with fish-in cycling.
thanks for the advice i was thinking the same things about the barbs not beeing good tankmates for the pictus.
instead of adding fish to start the cycle, maybe put in some small amount of food to get the cycle started but it usually takes a few weeks not a few days..... pictus would prefer it if you mmake it at least a week before adding them. also, you can try some beneficial bacteria in a bottle which will add bacteria to your filter and make it more able to break down ammonia into nitrite and then nitrate.
ok i bought 8 zebra danios to start the cycle in my 50 gallon tank. its been a week today my Ph is at 7.2 nitrate at 10 niteite at 0 and amonia went up over the week from ,25 to .50 i did a 20% water change. i also did use that benifitial bactaria. every thing seems to be going good the fish are very helthy and fun to watch hopfuly within in 5 more weeks ill be able to get my 2 pictus. i was wondering what other fish i could or should put with the pictus when the tank is done cycling any ideas would be great. thanks
Use of a product called "cycle" [or similar biological agent--not sure if this is what you mean by beneficial bacteria] significantly reduces fish stress (and in my experience prevents loss completely) when cycling with a few hardy fish. Your fish are looking fine now because the present ammonia reading is not a problem at your pH (and assuming a temp around 78F) but it will probably rise and may be then, plus the nitrite spike is yet to come.
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