Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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uciski 10-29-2010 09:55 AM

New - BostonArea Help needed
Hello -
I have had many small tanks (30) and just volunteered to help my daughter's school with their very large tank in the main lobby.
I think it is beyond my capabilities and wanted some advice.

It's a large tank (larger then a 55) using a Eheim professional II filter system. (I have only used outside filters with my smaller tanks) so already I am not comfortable handling/cleaning this filter system.

2. I do not think the fish are compatible - I have only had community fish - neons etc.
- this tank has 2 very large red hook silver dollar,1 jack dempsey ( I think), 1 gold gourami, 1 kissing fish
total of 5 fish.

3. the algae is VERY bad - the intakes are clogged. (but since I have not been around a canister system-
I am not sure how to attempt cleaning the tubes - need help.

4. best place to get some rock/wood for hiding places for the fish? there are zero decorations/plants.

5. Best way to clean the hood/cover which has lots of build up? mineral

I do not know any local fish stores that would help me. (I just moved from NH to Mass- looking online I see that many store reviews are not positive about asking stores for help).

Since I am volunteering to help with this school tank, does anyone have advice on
1. the fish being ok together, if not who would I contact to perhaps take some of the fish so I can make it compatible?

2. approximate cost of having someone come into the school and clean the filter system / tank?

Once the tank is in better shape (tubes cleaned, algae scraped... and I know more about the canister I think I'll be able to maintain it but right now it's a mess and I am not knowledgeable/comfortable with tank, I really want to get this tank back into the best possible condition.

Thanks for any advice!

Romad 10-29-2010 01:09 PM

i just sent you a private message to get an idea of where you're located.

there are you-tube videos that show how to clean and maintian canister filters. i just purchased one for my 75 gallon in june and it's a breeze. having said that, your first cleaning is probably going to be nasty.

there are so many bad things about what you've posted that i agree on the professional cleaning the first time out. after that, we can walk you through all of the maintenance needed weekly to keep it healthy.

willow 10-29-2010 01:20 PM

hello and welcome.
you're in good hands.

fish joey 10-30-2010 07:42 AM

Welcome to the TFK....if you want to PM your location I might be able to send you to some shops . if Romad ..isnt in your area......sorry cant advise on the filter....

uciski 11-01-2010 12:31 PM

So far so good!
I went to Tropical Isle in Framingham on Saturday. I was helped by a nice guy.
showed me what I needed to do to change the filter out.
I had to call them today because I air locked the canister, and they again were very helpful.

Can I post photos? or make my photo the fish I need to identify?
I think it's a dempsey, but not sure.

Also I am cleaning the lime build up with vinegar - anyone have better suggestion?


also good place to get cheap drift wood or rocks (for hiding) not gravel.

Thanks again for all the help so far!!

Romad 11-01-2010 12:44 PM

Yay!! Tropical Isle is a great place. I'm glad they were so helpful.

For the lime buildup. Depending on how bad it is, vinegar might not remove it all. You might have to get one of those razor thingys (sorry i don't know of any specific to aquariums). You can't use CLR because you're dealing with a tank that's set up already. If you were to use that, you'd have to rinse a hundred times and then rinse again with conditioned water to be safe. If you do have to go that route, let us know.

You can find good deals for driftwood online but your best bet is to check out Craigslist or there are always people selling tanks and supplies cheap.

good luck and keep us posted.

uciski 11-01-2010 12:51 PM

I made my photo the fish. - maybe not a dempsey as I looked online at photos...
the build up is a lot so I will use a razor. (it's thick coat very grainy!)

What is a fair price to offer for driftwood and big rocks? - I want to make sure I don't insult someone or overpay at the same time.

Let's hope that the new water / filter doesn't shock the fish. - it has been 16 months since the last filter change!!! yes 16 months (not a typo). yuck yuck

Romad 11-01-2010 01:02 PM

I wouldn't change the water all at once. It would be better to do a series of water changes over time or else you might really shock the tank. Were you able to keep the benefical bacteria when you swapped out filter material? Hopefully they gave you directions on keeping your cycle intact as well.

Do you have a game plan? Give us a breakdown on what you're going to do.

As for the driftwood, see what's out there at the lfs and plan on half of that. If you buy it used or new, you'll have to boil it for a few hours to remove anything problematic if being used in a tank you don't own or if new, to leech out a lot of the tannins. New driftwood/mopani wood will turn the tank water tea colored for a few months depending on the size of the wood. This is normal but not too attractive. I guess it's the least of your worries tho. with this tank LOL.

uciski 11-01-2010 01:21 PM

So far...
I figured this was a lot for one day - trying to keep the stress level as low as possible for the fish.
This is what I did today -

1st I cleaned the canister filter - I rinsed and kept one of the large foam/sponge filters to keep some of the bio materials, but Tropic suggested that I change everything else due to the amount of time that it's been neglected. $70 in filter supply. :shock:
I added approx. 8 gallons (I think the tank is 75gal) - added appropriate chemicals to have neutral ph and remove minerals/chlorine. (figured I would add this to start slowly getting the water back into proper condition).

I also cleaned the intake and outtake hard tubes that were clogged very badly with long hairy algae.
the tubing itself is not clogged as badly as I thought so I left it for now.

I scraped some of the worst areas of algae off the glass of the tank. (about 1/3) and used the net to get the large pieces out.

They have not done much only feeding and adding water when the level is low for the 16 months.

I think the next step is to get the proper PH for the kissing fish/red hook silver dollar/gourami and jack dempsey. (need to check out how they like it online). - NOT SURE HOW FAST TO DO THIS??

- then slowly remove the lime scale and get some decorations and just keep regular maintenance up.

what an undertaking this is! LOL let's hope they do well over the next 48 hours.

If anyone has suggestions I'm open to hear them - this is the 1st time I am not taking care of platy/neon etc. so this is very different for me. (the big silver dollar is about 5-6 inches tall! )

Romad 11-01-2010 01:47 PM

you should test the ph of the tap water you're using to replace the water. i think you're going to have to invest in a good test kit. API Freshwater Master test kit is readily available but will run you about $30 in the stores. you can find it less online but you don't have the luxury of time at this point. minimally, bring the tap water and a sample of the tank water to the lfs. otherwise, you're not going to know if you have kept the cycle in the tank, what your ph level is at any given time, or if you have ammonia present. this is really important so that you know what your next step is going to be every day.

a good majority of fish will adapt to diff. ph levels but a major swing in ph can be dangerous depending on the fish. that's another reason not to replace all of the water at once and gradually is better. adding chemicals like ph up or ph down is never really a good idea as it only takes care of your water very temporarily and can do more harm than good in the tank.

sorry i know this is a lot but we want you to be successful with this. i'd hate to see you run into issues after all of your hard work.

oh and you really should post before and after pics. we'd love to see what you're dealing with.

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