Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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fishyfarts 12-30-2010 09:49 AM

hello and sum help please
I'm another one of those peeps who purchased that kit from Petco with the 14 gal outfit. I thought it would be big enough for me because I don't care to have a big operation going on. Just thought I'd like a neat little tank to watch while I'm in the living room.
Well, I've done tons of research so far and I'm kinda getting the whole cycle thing. I don't think I've made any big oopsies! quite yet. But before I do and waste a lot of time and moola which I hate, I need some advice on what to do next.
First off, I picked up some simple decorations, gravel, a few fake plants, background, and a silly skeleton-on-the-toilet bubbler and installed them and filled the tank with water. I live outside the city limits and have well water. See where I'm going? hehe Well the next day I picked up some interesting rocks at a nearby gravel pit which I thought fit nicely and were free. Two of them are made of sand stone, and one looks like it may have some very small rust spots along some cracks but not from being in my tank -so far. So first off I'm wondering if these sand stones may have a negative effect on my water chemistry that I should know about.
Second, I am not rushing purchasing the fish since it seems obvious from my research that especially with a smaller tank it is very important to know what's gonna fit and have the tanks water prepared right. So I picked up the expensive liquid API test kit and went about testing my water on about the third day of the filter running. Again I used my hard well water which has been run through a water softener. My tests showed the pH to be off the chart on the high end, the Ammonia was present, Nitrate was zero, and Nitrite I believe was zero. So I tried adding a very small amount of lemon juice which was a trick I learned from hydroponics to adjust down the pH but all I did was make my previously clear water a bit cloudy. So the next day I picked up Some pH Down from API. A normal dose is 2 drops per gallon and so far I lost count but probably have easily over 110 drops and no change at all in the colors. Low pH test comes out blue. High pH test comes out lt. purple. As for the Ammonia I picked up some flakes which come in a small yellow cup dispenser (forgot brand name) which supposedly have dried bacterium that will get my cycle going on breaking down the Ammonia, which I'm hoping may end up clearing the water again.
I have concluded that the pH Down is intended to change pH in very small increments and I could very well use the whole bottle before I realize any change in pH. So at this point should I give up on the well water, pull as much out as I can and fill back up with maybe some distilled water from the store? Or should I wait. At this point I'm at day four and I've heard it can take awhile. I'm in no hurry but then again I don't like wasting time. Another thing; I tested the water before the rocks were added but is it possible they could compound my issue. My instinct tells me the rocks are fine. I just want to be as descriptive as I can of the situation so I can get some good advice. And finally, my Ammonia is at .5ppom, is that too high to introduce a fish or two to get the cycle going with the bacteria or do I need to do something more with that. Maybe the distilled water will take care of that too.
thanks for any help.

fishyfarts 12-30-2010 12:01 PM

I think my biggest question is what to do about the pH since I really don't see much about this problem so far or maybe I'm making a big thing about nothing? I need someone to tell me one way of the other, please.
Evidently, the ammonia may actually be a blessing to get the cycle going from what I've read so far.
great site BTW!

fishyfarts 12-30-2010 12:04 PM

just read the rock boiling thread and yes some rocks bubbled for awhile! seems your gonna let me answer my own questions. lol

redchigh 12-30-2010 12:21 PM

Sandstone will raise your already-high kh and ph... Don't bother with lowering the ph.

Just find fish that like a high ph. Assuming your ph is around 8? I'd go with livebearers or danios.... CPD's might even work.

First change the water and get that lemon juice out though. Also, get that rusted rock out of there. The rusty spots show metal deposits- metals can easily kill your fish.

If you want to soften the water, you can use bottled water, RO water, or you can add peat to your filter.

Romad 12-30-2010 12:36 PM

What redchigh said. You should start over with clean water and no rocks until you know they're safe for the tank and won't affect your ph.

Good luck and welcome to the forum.

fishyfarts 12-30-2010 12:43 PM

thank you very much for helping, I am realizing I have not been as carefull as I was thinking. I do love those rocks but I'll have to get rid of them. I'm tempted to go with some water from the store.
Is there a preference for either distilled or spring water?
If I can find some driftwood, (I live by lake Michigan), how do they make it sink? and is there a special process for sterilizing?

Sorry, for the noob questions I know it's a pain reiterating the same things over and over. quick links are fine too
thanks again

redchigh 12-30-2010 12:53 PM

Well, wood absorbs chemicals that it has contact with.

You can find some wood, scrub it (to remove dirt and mold), boil it (to remove parasites), but there's still a pretty big risk of the wood leeching oil, pesticide, fertiliser, ammonia, etc.

If you use distilled, then don't use it by itself... Something like 2 parts well water to 3 parts distilled should be fine.

mjbn 12-30-2010 12:57 PM

Leave your pH as is. My pH is WELL off the charts of 3 different test kits and all my fish are fine. As long as you slowly adjust/introduce your fish to your water, they'll be fine. I have neon tetras, guppies, and kuhli loaches if that makes a difference. To get your cycle off to a quicker start, you could get some danios, which are known as strong hardy fish that CAN live through the cycling process. It's up to preference though, really. Some people find it inhumane to do so, so its your choice. Just use regular tap water, with a dechlorinator of course. As i said before, fish are most likely to adjust to your water params. For example, neons prefer soft, acidic water (below 7.0 pH), but my water is, like i said, off the chart on both hardess and pH. But they're completely happy and healthy now, going on 5 months in my tank. I've had the tank for only 7-8 months as well, which shows that if you correctly introduce your new fish, which of course also depends on the fishes hardiness, (neons these days are not so hardy though), you can still keep them safely in a tank that is opposite of their "usual conditions". Don't waste money on store bought water. It is better to adjust your fish to your water than to change your water source completely. Let me know if you want me to explain how to slowly/safely introduce your fish to YOUR water params.

fishyfarts 12-30-2010 01:49 PM

thank you very much for the thought involved in your relpy.
Yes, I have read some limited material about introducing fish. Something to the extent of setting the bag from the store in the tank so the temps can equalize. then adding a little tank water to the bag at a time. As far as how long this process should take I have no idea and also what to do if the fish start acting weird shortly after that, I'd probably just throw my hands over my head and run out the front door screaming. lol
so any help you can give would be great.

I'm also thinking about adding some plants too. Maybe the pottery heads with the mossy looking plant I saw at Petco. Kinda look like a Chia pet. Maybe start with that and see what happens with my ammonia, too.
I like the danios especially the glofish. I'm cheesy, i know. But I was hoping to have a little more variety. Maybe some bottom dwellers, mids and upper, but I realize I'm limited by the 14 gal size. need to do more reading.

mjbn 12-30-2010 01:56 PM

The whole introduction process should take at most an hour and atleast 30 minutes. I doubt that the fish will act weird when you add water in the bag. They will squirm around, but only because the water being added will "push" them around in the bag, so be gentle when doing so. Unless ofcourse, you're adding some water with high ammonia, nitrite, nitrates or something. They may get really red gills from ammonia burns if it's too high.

As for danios, i like glofish, but the thing is that i think they are geneticaly engineered, so i do not know if they are as hardy and strong as regular danios. I would not know though, as i have never given them a try yet. As for bottom dwellers, you can get maybe 4 or 5 kuhli loaches. Very fun to watch, especially at their night dance parties:D They are usually very shy for the first week or two. Just don't flash lights at them at night trying to see them, hold back your curiosity.. i couldn't... haha. But they should start coming out during the day a lot more after they're comfortable in the new tank. The eat flakes/bottom feeder tablets and aren't only found swimming on the ground. There are kuhli loaches (stripped) and black kuhli loaches (solid brownish black). They reach 4 inches AT MOST, but usually stay under 3-3.5 inches. Heres a video of them eating(:

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