Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   new and about to get myself in over my head :) (

Silverfoot 02-28-2010 11:28 AM

new and about to get myself in over my head :)
Hi! I thought I'd introduce myself since I'm new. I'm about to (literally any minute now) get a tank full of fish I know nothing about and I'm rather nervous!

So the story is, I've had this beta for quite a number of months now. I've had him in a 5 gal tank. I read ALL about betas. He has a heater. I keep it at 78 degrees. I do lots of water changes since I don't use a filter. I check his water stats. My water was a little hard so I got him a piece of drift wood. I fed him a variety of foods--soaked pellets, soaked flakes and frozen blood worms. This fish should have been very healthy and happy. But no. His fins were are chewed away--despite trying to fix it with some meds and softening the water. I suspect he might eat them 'though I never caught him.

I pretty much began looking upon him as a burden and an ugly reminder of my giant fail in beta-keeping. See I had this beta in college and I only knew what the fish store guy told me. So he was in half a gallon bowl, whose water I change only once a week, who only got pellets--not even soaked, no heater or anything. And that beta was really healthy. Look beautiful. ARGH!

Well anyway, my neighbors saw my beta and wanted him. (don't ask me why he looks like crap, though his temperament is pretty feisty which I liked) and they have a 35 gallon tank full of freshwater fish (actually the tank and equipment used to be mine from quite a long time ago but my mom gave it away). So we're trading.

I don't know what these fish are or anything. I'll find out as soon as they bring the tank over. And then I'll probably have about a million questions! LOL

I've always wanted to have a planted tank but I'm guessing that's near impossible once you already have fish set up in the tank huh? Hopefully I won't kill off all these fish since I couldn't even do right by my poor beta.

Probably I sound like a horrible person! But I promise I'm a good animal keeper. I have three horses and two cats (as you can see) and I work really hard for all of them to make sure they have the best care. One of my cats has IBD and I spent a long time studying it and figuring out what to feed her. Now she looks great and no more symptoms. Two of my horses are old and one in particular has cushings and needs special treatment and I make sure he gets that and they all look fabulous. It's just this beta that I had so much trouble with! LOL I'm hoping my neighbors will have better luck with him.

Romad 02-28-2010 11:37 AM

Good grief. You should read everything you can about the nitrogen cycle, fish compatability, water parameters, etc... etc... etc.... so you know what you're getting into here.

If it were me (and it's not), I'd want to know everything BEFORE i brought them home.

Welcome to the forum.

Silverfoot 02-28-2010 11:50 AM

I used to know about this stuff because I had a freshwater tank for a while but that was quite a while ago. I guess the thing is I don't know what state these fish are in. I think it's an established tank so it should be all set up but then she said I need to scrub the insides (what is it dirty?). Is there a way to do that with out getting the water all dirty? I've cleaned my beta's tank a lot but I could easily just take out all the water, wipe it down, add in new water without problems. I know you can do this with other fish.

Romad 02-28-2010 12:07 PM

It could be due to lack of water changes or maybe algae. Guess you won't know until you see it.

Sounds like you're somewhat knowledgable in fishkeeping so at least you know what to look for.

Mean Harri 02-28-2010 12:18 PM

Can I ask why people operate like this? Why would you want to take a bunch of live creatures or a creature that you know nothing about. So often we see people come to the forums looking for help. They know absolutely nothing but they dive in head first before even trying to learn about it. No a days with the internet and Google there is no excuse really. At least you are here asking and hopefully learning everything you can. But come on people. People everywhere, where is your common sense? If I sound harsh, well I am. It's how I am. Would you jump behind the controls of a 747 and try to fly it? (disregard if you are a commercial pilot)

Silverfoot 02-28-2010 02:19 PM

This is not how I normally operate actually. I am someone who does a lot of research typically as I did for my beta (little good it did me). I tried to save details to keep my post from being too long but here they are now. I'm working on my master's thesis in biochemistry (actually my department is biochem but my thesis is really more genomics/bioinformatics) and I have moved back in with my parents (shame shame I know) while I am finishing it.

So actually this was something my mom did with my neighbor since they are good friends. She didn't even ask me first, she asked me afterward and I thought, if they already have a tank that is set up and running, cycled, living fish I could take it and refresh my memory about all the care. Like I said, I did have this very same tank before.

And it wasn't until today I realized that the tank was coming over. I thought I was going to have more time. I mean the first time I had this tank, I bought the tank at the store almost on a whim, yes but I didn't buy any fish. I bought some books and I read how to set it up. I did a fishless cycle I remember being quite frustrated that I had to wait so long to get fish.

Ok now that I'm done sort of defending myself a little-- here's the story and it isn't pretty. I was picturing they were going to come over with the tank and then with the water or most of the water in jugs or something. This is how I did it with my beta because we all lost power the other day and my beta's tank was getting cold. So I put all his water into jugs so I could haul the water and his tank to my neighbor's house (they have a generator) and then I poured the water back in so it was still the same water.

What they actually delivered was an empty tank and a gallon container with the fish in it and that's it. In fact she threw out the old filter and gave me a new one. :( And here's the whole story of these fish I now own (she either didn't tell my mom this or my mom failed to mention it to me), she had this tank full of fish and then she got a new one from MallWart and after 3 days (she didn't quarantine) almost all the fish were dead except for these four. It's been a month and these four are still alive.

I'm not sure the exact species but I'll take pictures and/or look them up to ID them. One is a type of shark, the other is a type of the kind that clean the tank (totally blanking on the name), and two are tetra-like schooling fish (not the same species though).

So I cleaned up the tank which was pretty gross and I set it up with fresh water since that's all I had. The water was already slightly warm and I turned on the heater and the filter and bubbler. And I'm going to slowly change the water between their gallon and the tank and then maybe float them in a bag for a while before putting them in.

Then tomorrow I'm going to run to the store (don't think they'd be open by the time I got there today--I live in the boonies) and pick up whatever I need I imagine that will be a test kit, pH up and down (although on the beta board I remember them saying not to use those?).

You're right though, I should have handled this better. I should have called the neighbor myself after my mom told me and gotten more of the whole story and been more assertive about when I could take the tank and maybe go over there and moved it myself or something. I don't mean, by my previous comments, that I am trying to shirk my responsibility in this. Generally I am not this type of person especially with animals but still, I could have played a much more active role in getting it done right instead of how it was handled.

So can anyone suggest where I should go from here? I have read once about doing fish-in cycling and that if you keep on top of things it can work, it's just not ideal.

Austin 02-28-2010 02:50 PM

If the tank has been established for a few months at least, the nitrogen cycle should be complete so I would not worry about that FIRST THING. First things first, don't worry about the fish... even if you know nothing about them you should be able to keep them alive with a few basic things... water changes, temperature, and feeding (assuming the tank is cycled... that's the most difficult part for beginners, but if it is cycled don't worry about that immediately it is something you can learn later.)

So, firstly, water changes... I recommend about 25-35% water change each week, depending on how many fish are in the tank. Buy some dechlorinator, I use Tetra Aquasafe, and make sure to add that to the new water. So, take it out of the tap, add the dosage you need, and the water should be mostly fish-safe. Tr as hard as you can to get the similar temperature. I use a digital thermometer to get the new water to the same temperature as the tank so I can immediately add it.

Secondly, temperature... make sure you have a thermometer and the heater is set right. If your neighbors had the fish previously the heater will probably be somewhat close to what you want. If it is a "high-low" heater, google on how to set it to the right temperature. If it has numbers on it that's even easier. Not knowing the species of fish you have, 76 would probably be a decent goal for now to set it to.

Thirdly, feeding. Don't overfeed that can cause major problems. Feed your fish enough food but so that it doesn't rain down to the bottom too much. Honestly not sure how to explain the amount, but feed them whatever they can consume in about a minute once or twice a day. It's very HARD to STARVE fish so don't worry about that. It's very EASY to OVERFEED fish, so it's better if you are on the low-side of food feeding than the high side until you get more experienced.

And ummm dunno what else to say... there's tons of stuff you'll need to know, but focus on what needs to be learned now. As long as you do water changes right (PH, etc should stay alright) and the tank isn't massively overstocked and it is cycled, you should be fine with not knowing very much to begin with. I'd start researching, though. But there's just some stuff you can worry about later than others.

Are they a bala shark, red tailed shark, plecostomus, barbs?

PaperclipGirl 02-28-2010 03:17 PM

Is there anyway she can give you the old filter? You might need the biofilter material from it, even if it doesn't work. Not sure how long the good bacteria lasts if it out of water, but I would be concerned that the new filter might cause another cycle... but maybe not if she gave you all the substrate...

Just be sure that when you pick up the test kit - you go for a liquid one with pH, NH3/NH4, NO2, NO3 at least, NOT the test strips.

Good luck and welcome back to tropical fish - oh and stop giving yourself grief over your betta!

JohnnyD44 02-28-2010 03:22 PM

Wow, a lot to digest..

I agree with Austin, Harri and Romad

Research and knowledge is crucial...harri said it best about flying a plane....even though most people don't look at fish like they do's still cruel and could've been prevented.......that being said, lets move on.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but your neighbor gave you a brand new filter correct? You are going to need to go through the nitrogen cycle with the four fish you have prepared you may lose the four fish you have, fish-in cycles can be stressful to can read up on the nitrogen cycle prepared for lots of water changes.....

The Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle

pictures of the fish you have would be great....

Here's a shopping list for the store when you go....
API Master Liquid test kit
Fish Net
Water conditioner (absolutely necessary for every water change), prime is a great one.
A python, or 5 gallon buckets for water changes

Don't buy an pH up or down...anything like 'algae remover'.....most tanks are fine without them and it's best not to try and alter your tap waters chemistry..

Thats about all I got for now....

Silverfoot 02-28-2010 04:13 PM

Thanks so much for all this information. Some of it I know and some is very good reminders of what I used to know. She did give me all the substrate.

I'll do some search to see if I can find pictures. I'm pretty sure I can easily ID the shark and the sucker-fish but the others are a bit non-descript.

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