Beginner, Loads of Mistakes - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 10 Old 03-29-2017, 01:38 PM Thread Starter
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Question Beginner, Loads of Mistakes

Hi Everyone,

This is going to be long, so bear with me as I'd like to explain the whole story so you can pick it apart as to all the ways I've screwed up and help me make better choices on my new 29gal.

I'd been begging my husband for a fish, forever. I knew nothing, really, other than feed and clean the tank. About a year ago we bought a beta and a nice 3 gal aquarium for him with some artificial plants. I learned a lot from caring from him as we went through some learning curves. We had issues with the water, so I know now but not then. But eventually my beta "Ajax" is doing well. To those that want to understand what I learned is beta's do not like aerators. I had an air stone with a filter and as soon as I removed the air stone, my beautiful Ajax made me a bubble nest. I got him a yellow mystery snail which I've read too much about which are apple snails, but they’re not...depending on whose post you read. They seemed fine, but then my grumpy betta decided he didn't like my "Hertz" and decided to nip all his long beautiful feelers off. So I decided that I needed a new tank for Hertz, of course ;). So this is where everything gets interesting.

First the 10 gallon fiasco (still ongoing)

I bought a 10 gallon tank with a nice 20 gallon filter, a stupid nice heater (we live in the mtns and it gets stinking cold). I bought some sand substrate, two live plants, a few decorative pieces (hide caves/logs). Everything arrived and I put it all together and boom insta tank! lol I had done some research, but tbh there is so much information on the internet that contradicts itself and I was really confused by a sure way of knowing when it's "safe" to add fish.

I got 3 male guppies from my local fish store and floated them and dropped them in. Now I realize that there is a much better way to introduce your new fish to your aquarium, but I didn't realize this until later...to be explained. LOL

They all seemed to be doing well, but looking back I'm not honestly 100% sure. I mean, how can you really tell they are happy and healthy? I don't remember exactly how they were acting, as I didn't "see" anything strange, but I don't think I would have realized anything strange was happening...they were swimming after all right? I can say none of them were just laying at the bottom, they were all eating and swimming around. Perhaps slightly stressed, but nothing that seemed crazy.

I waited a week with them in the tank to make sure all was good and dandy, and then went to add more. I went to a different fish store (nothing relevant just as the location we were it was closer) and picked out 3 harlequin, 4 rummy nose, and 2 panda Corydoras Catfish. Before you yell, scream and jump up and down...I know this was WAY too many new fish to introduce at once to a new tank. But again...I know this now....not then.

I got home, floated them all and then dump! This is where **** hit the fan. Everything seemed ok to start, but then it just went crazy. I had one rummy nose that was darting from one side of the tank to the other. Swimming sideways and just going nuts. I think at first I just thought he was having a ball and excited to be in a new pretty clean tank...LOL oh so naive. I lost him pretty quickly, but once I did I think I went into full panic.

Research, research and more research. I figured it was something with the water, but I had no testing supplies so I was shooting on just what I was reading as the possible causes. I started adding some conditioner to the water, thinking it had some chlorine (our tap water is stupid hard) or something and I didn't treat it properly. At this point I lost one additional rummy nose (if I recall correctly) and my harlequin had little color, but my guppies seemed to be ok.

So the conditioner didn't seem to be making a difference, and my husband has a PH meter (electronic) he uses for his hydroponics so we decided to test the ph. It was at like 8 so we decided to get some ph up/down and get the ph down. I put the ph down in and got it to read 7 on the ph meter. An hour later, right back up to 8.

So...more research, research research.

I found out that it's basically because of our water. It can hold a ph of 8 so yes I can forcibly bring it down to 7, but it will only stay there for a short while then naturally it will go right back up to 8. I cannot remember the exact scientific terms or reasoning but it looked like the culprit was my tap water hardness.

Luckily, we have a beautiful RO system (2 in fact) so I decided to do 30% water changes and just add RO water. By this point I had some of those test strips but it was reading weird. It had my water as low alkalinity, but my PH reading at 8 still. No nitrates, chlorine, but the hardness, was up to around 400 ppm.

Again, I'm freaking out because I'm down to one rummy nose and that one is struggling. My guppies are swimming up and down on one corner, and my harlequin seemed to be doing ok. My smaller of the two cory's died, but he seemed pretty weak to start so I wasn't really surprised.

I keep trying ph down, and RO water changes and nothing seems to be working. So, I did more research and decided my tank was not cycled and basically I was killing my fish.

I took out the pretty underwater river aerator I bought because I read that it wasn't necessary as I had a filter, and that the aerator wasn't really making a difference. I removed it because I thought I might be making too much of a current in the water which is stressing my fish out. That also didn't make a difference. Within a day or two, two of my three guppies died. This was a complete shock to me as they were eating and swimming then one died and the next day another did.

I decided at this point I was doing WAY too many changes WAY too quickly and I needed to let my tank sit. I figured there was a good chance that all of my fish would eventually die, but that I had to let my tank "cycle" and if I needed to, start from scratch.

So that's where I am right now. I have a much nicer testing kit to test my water, so here is where the 10 gallon is:

PH: 7.6
High Range PH: 7.8
Ammonia: 4.0
Nitrite: 1.0
Nitrate: 10
Hardness: 75
Chlorine: 0
Alkalinity: 40

I have done the following to help the tank cycle:
I added rocks from my beta tank that's been set up and running for well over a year.
I added a air stone that creates less current than the underwater river I had.
I added a piece of driftwood from an already established tank (from the fish store).
I lowered my heater down to about 77 degrees. I noticed during the afternoon the temp could reach 81/82 which I read can kill the fish because it carries less oxygen.

I have the 3 harlequin still alive and kickin (1 actually survived ich with no treatment which I was super impressed.) I lost the last cory this morning and I have the one guppy left and one rummy nose who seems to be adopted by the harlequin.

What I've learned about my 10 gallon. First and foremost I shouldn't have added that many fish to a newly set up tank. There wasn't enough bacteria present to carry the new fish addition and a combination of the new fish, the not properly cycled tank, and way too many water changes basically made me a murder.

So where are we now?

My husband wants a glo aquarium so I'm going to transfer my remaining fish into a 29 gal aquarium (not immediately hush I'll get there LOL) and then beef up their schools so they feel safer. Then turn my 10 gallon into a black light color show for him. My beta will stay in his 3 gallon home, he loves it there.

So now on to my 29 gallon and where I need some help and any feedback you have is SOOOO appreciated.

So I got the 29 gallon, rinsed it out and rinsed all the supplies.

I bought 40 lbs of CaribSea Eco-Complete for substrate and a really nice large piece of driftwood. I painstakingly filled up all 29 gallons with RO water, screw tap water! I put in the substrate and soaked the driftwood for about 8 hours before putting it into the tank. Right now the tank ONLY has the substrate, RO water, filter and the driftwood. I'm letting it sit for right now until I have some feedback. Hopefully!

I would love some guidance on when I should put my fish from my 10 gallon into my 29 gallon. I realize I need to introduce them correctly. Meaning I'll scoop them up and then every 30 min add one cup of the new tank water into their holding container. After a few hours of doing this I will net them out and put them into the new tank. But when? I don't want to kill any more of them but I also know waste is a necessity to help cycle the tank. I was thinking about just putting my snail in there and giving him a few pellets letting him put waste in the tank for the bacteria, but will he be enough?

I also don't want my 10 gallon to start going down the tubes so I don't want to remove them too early from the 10 gallon, seeing i need that tank more established to be feel comfortable with putting the glofish in there.

I will also be moving my Aponogeton Ulvaceus Bulb to the new 29 aquarium. It's not growing upwards, but the leaves all grow down, so I'm assuming this has to do with the tank/nutrients. The new substrate for the 29 gallon is supposed to support live plants much better. I'm also adding Echinodorus Aflame Purple Knight Red Amazon Sword, Dwarf Baby Tears and Twisted Vallisneria Spiralis Torta Vallis. I'll be adding a VivaGrow DN RGB LED Aquarium Light and my plan is to have 8 Harlequin (plus one adopted rummy nose), 4-5 corys's and 4-5 guppies. I won't get any more rummy nose because I've just heard so much about how sensitive they are and I don't want to kill any more. If you have any suggestions on fish/school sizes I'm totally open. I guess I figured the best decision for the fish was to give them the proper school size, vs appeasing my need for a variety of fish.

I think I covered everything, but please let me know if you have any questions, feedback, advice, direction, etc. I don't have any water tests yet for the new tank, I just got it filled and filtering this morning so it's a little too early to be able to know where the tank is going to be.
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post #2 of 10 Old 03-29-2017, 05:32 PM
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Wow you like to write. LOL


First, a ph of 8 is not necessarily bad. Low ph means high co2. high ph means low co2.


I my FW planted tanks even those with peat moss have a pH of 8.4-8.8 with the api high range ph test kit. Peat moss did lower the ph for a few weeks but after that the pH rose to over 8.


You might take a look at the methods in my signature. In case the signature is visable here you go: https://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/a...-build-295530/


The idea is to use peat moss in the substrate (prevent hardness build up), capped with sand, and lots live plants planted before the tank is fille with water (prevents muddy cloudy tank at first). You wait a week then add a single male guppy or platy. wait another week then add 2 females and start feeding 1 flake per day. In a few months you will have a tank full of plants and fish.




Best tank ever
my .02

maintain Fw and marine system with a strong emphasis on balanced, stabilized system that as much as possible are self substaning.

have maintained FW systems for up to 9 years with descendants from original fish and marine aquariums for up to 8 years.

With no water changes, untreated tap water, inexpensive lighting by first starting the tank with live plants (FW) or macro algae( marine)

see: https://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/a...-build-295530/
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post #3 of 10 Old 03-29-2017, 05:42 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beaslbob View Post
Wow you like to write. LOL


First, a ph of 8 is not necessarily bad. Low ph means high co2. high ph means low co2.


I my FW planted tanks even those with peat moss have a pH of 8.4-8.8 with the api high range ph test kit. Peat moss did lower the ph for a few weeks but after that the pH rose to over 8.


You might take a look at the methods in my signature. In case the signature is visable here you go: https://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/a...-build-295530/


The idea is to use peat moss in the substrate (prevent hardness build up), capped with sand, and lots live plants planted before the tank is fille with water (prevents muddy cloudy tank at first). You wait a week then add a single male guppy or platy. wait another week then add 2 females and start feeding 1 flake per day. In a few months you will have a tank full of plants and fish.




Best tank ever
my .02
Yes, sorry! It was super long, but every time I read someone else's question the first response was "we need more information" so I tried to provide as much information as I possibly could remember (I'm probably OCD on detail). The single guppy is a great idea, I have my lone ranger who survived the holocaust so I'll throw him in there next week. For now I've got about 5 plants in there with a solid light. I've also got a small heater (my big beefy one is for the 10 gallon fishies for now), a filter and a piece of drift wood on my substrate. I'll keep it slow and steady and let it churn for a few days. Should I do any water changes between now and next week on the new tank?
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post #4 of 10 Old 03-29-2017, 05:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishyginner View Post
Yes, sorry! It was super long, but every time I read someone else's question the first response was "we need more information" so I tried to provide as much information as I possibly could remember (I'm probably OCD on detail). The single guppy is a great idea, I have my lone ranger who survived the holocaust so I'll throw him in there next week. For now I've got about 5 plants in there with a solid light. I've also got a small heater (my big beefy one is for the 10 gallon fishies for now), a filter and a piece of drift wood on my substrate. I'll keep it slow and steady and let it churn for a few days. Should I do any water changes between now and next week on the new tank?

I don't do water changes.


If your plants are true aquatic and fast growers like anacharis, water sprite, various grass like vals (short for a big word I can't spell LOL) then you don't need water changes. If the plants are not all that, then water changes are not going to maintain the tank anyway.


One hint is the plants should have new growth in that first week. And pH should be rising as well. You could have some nitrates but only short minor ammonia/nitrite spikes.


FWIW the not adding food seems critical. When I fed that first fish, he always died on the 5th day just like clockwork. And was bottom hanging and slow moving from day 3 on. With no food added he has always survived that first week. The second fish added after the first died always lived.


Best tank ever.


my .02

maintain Fw and marine system with a strong emphasis on balanced, stabilized system that as much as possible are self substaning.

have maintained FW systems for up to 9 years with descendants from original fish and marine aquariums for up to 8 years.

With no water changes, untreated tap water, inexpensive lighting by first starting the tank with live plants (FW) or macro algae( marine)

see: https://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/a...-build-295530/

Last edited by beaslbob; 03-29-2017 at 05:55 PM.
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post #5 of 10 Old 03-29-2017, 06:02 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beaslbob View Post
I don't do water changes.


If your plants are true aquatic and fast growers like anacharis, water sprite, various grass like vals (short for a big word I can't spell LOL) then you don't need water changes. If the plants are not all that, then water changes are not going to maintain the tank anyway.


One hint is the plants should have new growth in that first week. And pH should be rising as well. You could have some nitrates but only short minor ammonia/nitrite spikes.


FWIW the not adding food seems critical. When I fed that first fish, he always died on the 5th day just like clockwork. And was bottom hanging and slow moving from day 3 on. With no food added he has always survived that first week. The second fish added after the first died always lived.


Best tank ever.


my .02
No way, really? That's fantastic. I swear there is no "right" way to do this, but apparently what I did was wrong LOL. I read every where you are supposed to do water changes every week. I didn't want artificial plants, when I could use live ones and actually create a better eco system, so it's great to know this will actually stop the need for water changes.

From my research they all should be solid. Have Red Amazon Sword, Dwarf Baby Tears, Twisted Vals and Aponogenton. I just put them in the new tank today so I'll keep an eye on them and make sure they are showing some new growth in the next few days.

What is considered a minor/short spike? Should I be testing every day? Several times a day?
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post #6 of 10 Old 03-29-2017, 06:11 PM
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Hi! Welcome! You have learned a lot!
I know you are asking about the 29 but your 10 gallon is a time bomb with a short fuse. People here recommend a product called Prime to make the ammonia safe for your fish. I've never used it but 4PPM ammonia is stressing your fish. With the 29, be patient but remember that once you get the 10 gallon running properly you can use that filter to seed the new tank. Or you can move the guppy over and have him get the cycle started.
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post #7 of 10 Old 03-29-2017, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stan View Post
Hi! Welcome! You have learned a lot!
I know you are asking about the 29 but your 10 gallon is a time bomb with a short fuse. People here recommend a product called Prime to make the ammonia safe for your fish. I've never used it but 4PPM ammonia is stressing your fish. With the 29, be patient but remember that once you get the 10 gallon running properly you can use that filter to seed the new tank. Or you can move the guppy over and have him get the cycle started.
Hi! Thank you! As much as I learned, I feel like a child when it comes to this. It's like you think you know how to do this, and then everything goes nuts. I've learned a lot of lessons with an actual tank of fish (vs a just a beta).

Thank you for the note on my 10 gal (you are amazing for reading the whole thing). I added my Natural Rapport all in one just now, and I'll give it about 30 min and retest the water to see where it's at.
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post #8 of 10 Old 03-30-2017, 03:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishyginner View Post
No way, really? That's fantastic. I swear there is no "right" way to do this, but apparently what I did was wrong LOL. I read every where you are supposed to do water changes every week. I didn't want artificial plants, when I could use live ones and actually create a better eco system, so it's great to know this will actually stop the need for water changes.
also very controversial LOL. Sure if ammonia suddenly spikes up to over 8 ppm (a toxin added) then a 50% water change to 4 ppm is called for. But that is an emergency situation.


What happens is the tank builds itself up to where the "stuff" being removed equals the changes between water changes. So a 10% change will eventually result in a tank with 10 times the change between water changes. 20% 5 times, 33% 3 times, 5% 20 times, 1% 100 times and so on,.


If the ammonia is being consumed by plants and bacteria then the ammonia in the tank will not be changed with water changes and in fact the new water could add ammonia. Ditto nitrates and everything else.


Quote:

From my research they all should be solid. Have Red Amazon Sword, Dwarf Baby Tears, Twisted Vals and Aponogenton. I just put them in the new tank today so I'll keep an eye on them and make sure they are showing some new growth in the next few days.
sounds good. I have no luck with red swords and aponogenton I think is a slower grower. I really like anacharis especially for establishing new tanks.
Quote:

What is considered a minor/short spike? Should I be testing every day? Several times a day?

1 spike


A day or less. ammonia less than .5 ppm nitrItes less than 3ppm or so. With planted tanks it is possible to have an initial nitrate spike of 10-20ppm for a few weeks. Because the plants are consuming ammonia not nitrates for nitrogen. then as the bacteria increase and consume the ammonia, the plants switch to nitrates and the nitrates jump down.

maintain Fw and marine system with a strong emphasis on balanced, stabilized system that as much as possible are self substaning.

have maintained FW systems for up to 9 years with descendants from original fish and marine aquariums for up to 8 years.

With no water changes, untreated tap water, inexpensive lighting by first starting the tank with live plants (FW) or macro algae( marine)

see: https://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/a...-build-295530/
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post #9 of 10 Old 03-30-2017, 07:04 PM
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Beginner, Loads of Mistakes

Well I'm sorry but I didn't read your original post - just way too long.

Some things I saw looking through - weekly water changes are not necessary for the vast majority of setups. Conversely, no water changes at all is only something you can get away with on very specific setups. That leaves MOST tanks falling somewhere between once a week and never. Nothing groundbreaking there . I used to do weekly water changes for years but for the last several years I do water changes every 1-2 months.

That all being said, I agree with the weekly water change brigade with respect to new aquarists. It's just a much more sound approach to start out with a more rigorous regimen. Doing that, you can settle into a long term routine. Starting out with a more lazy approach means you don't have the foundation to fall back on when things aren't going well. It's the same principle as dealing with kids and dogs - far better for you to be strict to start and loosen up later than it is to be loose to start and then try to impose rules and boundaries when they are older.

I agree that there is no "right" way to do it, but there are most definitely ways that yield better results than others for one type of setup vs another. Question you need to ask yourself is how good do you want to be? One of the traps on these forums is looking down on good and better because they aren't as good as the best. But just because something isn't the best doesn't mean it's garbage! Good is still good, and better is still better than good.

125 - BGK, chanchito cichlid, pictus cats, silver dollars, palmas bichir
125 - cichlids (severums, bolivian rams, chocolate), rainbows ( turquoise, red), loaches (angelicus, zebra, kuhli and horseface), plecos (BN, RL and clown), denison barbs, tiretrack eel, pearl gouramis, betta
90 - Congo tetras, african knife, upside down cats, spotted ctenopoma, kribensis, delhezzi bichir
2.5 - betta

Last edited by jaysee; 03-30-2017 at 07:06 PM.
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post #10 of 10 Old 04-01-2017, 12:19 PM
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Beginner, Loads of Mistakes

Here's my two cent and experience:
30 gallon:
I know it's depressing but I would let it run, plants and wood and filter included, for three or four weeks before adding fish. After add them in slowly, bi- weekly.

Sword plants:
These are slowish growers that need a lot of fertilizer or similar. Of my 6 tanks, they only do well in my soil tanks

Sand tanks:
Sand is my favorite substrate, the only thing is it compacts and builds gas bubbles. In response you have two options: disturb the sand a lot so these bubbles never form, or don't touch them so that they never pop. As a beginner I would go with the first option, while these gas pockets have many benefits they can become disastrous if they burst and may not want to be a risk you take so early in the hobby.

Soil tanks:
I won't stop you but I suggest not looking into those until you get experience

Apotegen ulvaceus:
These is an extremely fast grower, in my experience, and is what I call a snuffer plant. This plant grows long roots and will pull out a ton of nutrients, slowing the growth of your other plants. Put this bulb in the substrate pointy side up and make sure you can see most of it as the bulb needs light too.

Rummy nose:
Don't give up on them, but these are fish you should only add after a few months of the tank running

Tanks with plants:
This will sound weird, but don't make planted tanks too clean. When dead leaves and poop fall onto the sand and decomposes into fertilizer, just like in a garden

Plants will stop water changes:
Semi-true. While the tank is young, you should still give it water changes but after a couple months may be able to slow down to just top offs

10 gallon:
Definitely a ticking time bomb like someone else said

jaysee's comment:
I agree with him/her/them, don't skip the good for the better. That's the mistake I made starting out; I skipped from what was "good" to what I heard was the "best", not knowing the best required a lot of experience.

Final:
Don't give up. The first time I set up my own tank, it was a 20 gallon with soil (yes potting soil) as the substrate. It was beautiful for about a month before I turned into a mess. Years later, with a lot of research, my favorite tank is a 55 gallon with soil (still putting soil) that has been active for a year and I still get occasional "uh oh's" in that tank. It all comes with time


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Last edited by kedre; 04-01-2017 at 12:28 PM.
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