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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

My attempts to get a fish tank and put fish in it and have it be a successful experience have been thwarted repeatedly by bad advice from pet stores.

Can someone guide me through the specifics of starting up a freshwater fish tank? I only plan to have fish.

I really don't have room for more than a 10 gallon tank - so assume that is what I will get. If that is too small, please let me know and I will forget the entire idea.

1) What do I NEED to buy for the tank?
2) What might I WANT to buy for the tank to make it more interesting/fun?
3) What is the detailed and complete process of setting up the tank?
4) What is the recommended timing of what needs to be done and when, before I put fish in the tank?
5) What is the recommended timing for maintenance of the water? Water changes? How much? When to vacuum?
6) What fish are recommended as hearty enough to survive a beginner fish-keeper?
7) About how many fish can I put in the tank, and what is the process of adding them?
8) How do I set up the biological filter?
9) How do I get the tank to "cycle" properly?

Please assume I am an completely ignorant to how to take care of fish, and assume I am a close friend for whom you want to help have a positive experience.
Your help is greatly appreciated.

P.S. I saw there were a bunch of beginner links on this web page that are supposed to bring me through the process, but for some reason none of the links seem to be working at this time; hence my post here.

Thanks!
Juggernaut
 

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Hi,


P.S. I saw there were a bunch of beginner links on this web page that are supposed to bring me through the process, but for some reason none of the links seem to be working at this time; hence my post here.

You are requesting a huge amount of information. Try accessing it again, as you may have a temporary glitch at your end. I have just accessed numerous submissions witthout problems.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
You are requesting a huge amount of information. Try accessing it again, as you may have a temporary glitch at your end. I have just accessed numerous submissions witthout problems.
hhmm...strange.

I tried another computer and it still does not work...
I tried another browser and it still does not work...

Does this link work for you?
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/viewtopic.php?p=87814#87814

For me, this link and all those in that section just give me a blank page...

I am referring to the "Starting and Maintaining Freshwater Aquarium" section in the "important topics" section
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/freshwater-aquarium/important-topics-257/

Are you saying those links are all working for you?

Thanks
 

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Odd, those links aren't working for me, either.

A list of things you absolutely need for the tank -
*A filter. There are many different brands and types, you can try a sponge filter or a hang-on-back filter. I really enjoy the Aquaclear hang on back filters, the AC 20 would be great.
*A heater. Again, many different kinds. A 50 watt heater should do the trick.
*A test kit. API Liquid Freshwater Master Test kit is used by almost all of us.
*A light. Should come with the tank set up. If you want live plants (we can get into this later), try to find a tank with either a fluorescent light or an incandescent.
*A water conditioner. Prime by Seachem or API Stress Coat are good brands.
*Substrate. This can be either gravel or sand, I personally prefer sand. It's easier to clean in the tank and doesn't have to be aggressively vacuumed, but it's up to you.
*Clear tubing/gravel vac for water changes. This is the easiest and least stressful way to do water changes.

Things you may want -
*Decorations. I personally like my tanks to look as natural as possible, so I use driftwood, dead sticks, and live plants. Again, personal preference.
*Python automatic water changer. I made one for myself for about $15 bucks.
*If you go the route of live plants (highly recommend, they're no more difficult to care for than fish), a complete fertilizer. I recommend Seachem Flourish Comprehensive Plant Supplement.

I'm going to avoid the cycling question and leave that for someone else, as I don't cycle my tank. I use lots of live plants from the very beginning, and these render the cycling process null. If you're interested in this route, just ask and I can detail it for you.

For maintenance-
Water changes should be done every week, once a week, with 50% (so for you, 5 gallons) of the water being taken out. At each water change, rinse your filter media in the used tank water you just pulled out. Vacuum the substrate at each water change. After you have removed the water, add water conditioner to the tank suitable for 5 gallons of water. Then add water from the tap that is approximately the same temp as the tank.

***Note: personally I add cold water from the tap with a hose hooked up to my faucet, but I add this water REALLY slowly, to mimic rain water. Personal preference and equipment available.

There is no 'set up' of the biological filter. The 'beneficial bacteria' will colonize on their own, in your filter media, on the tank walls, on the decorations, etc.

Now, to fish. We can't recommend fish until we know your tap water parameters. These are gh, kh, and ph. You can find these online from your water supply site, or ask if the pet store can test for them. If the latter, ask for the numbers. Many people have different meanings of 'soft' and 'hard', so the numbers are important.

If you can't make heads or tails of the document, link it here and someone can take a look at it for you.
 

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I agree with all the above advice. I will talk you through cycling.

There are basically 2 ways to cycle. Fish-in and fishless. Most of us here prefer to fishless cycle as the cycling process is dangerous and cruel to fish. However, if that is the route you choose to go, then it can work.

To fish-in cycle you will set your tank up, condition your water, let the pump and heater run for about 24 hours and then get some hardy fish. I used tiger barbs when i fish-in cycled. For 10 gallons you would need about 6. You will also absolutely have to have the api master kit so you can test for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. Do you understand the cycle?
Everyday you should be testing for ammonia, which fish excrete as waste. Ammonia will spike to usually 1-2. When you see this, keeping testing ammonia and start testing for nitrites. As ammonia drops you should see a nitrite spike. When nitrites spike begin testing for nitrates too. As nitrates rise, ammonia and nitrites will disappear. Your tank is fully cycled when ammonia and nitrites read 0 and nitrates are present. I suggest not doing any big water changes until you are cycled as you will just set the process back, and this is why we dont like to do fish in cycle. The high ammonia and nitrites are harmful to the fish and they may not survive. This whole process will take anywhere from 4-6 weeks.

To fishless cycle you will use an outside source of ammonia. You can use straight ammonia that u buy. You can use fish food and just put a little bit in everyday. As it begins to rot it will produce ammonia. U can put some raw shrimp in a pantyhose and place it in the tank. Any of these work but the raw shrimp i think is the fastest. You can take the shrimp out of the tank once you get 1-2 ammonia and see some nitrites. The process after that is the same as above. Once you have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 10 nitrates you are cycle and ready for fish.

I use AqAdvisor - Intelligent Freshwater Tropical Fish Aquarium Stocking Calculator and Aquarium Tank/Filter Advisor to stock my tanks but you have to have an idea of what u want. We need to know the ph of your water and the gh at a minimum so we know what fish r best suited for your water. Hope this help!
 

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As for those links not working, we are aware of that. Those posts are quite old. At some point that particular set of `guides`will be movedérewritten into the Reference Material area.

Nothing to add to what others have askedésuggested. A 10g is not large, so fish will have to be carefully chosen, but once we know the water parameters of the source water (tap) being GH and pH we will be able to offer suggestions. I would have live plants though; smaller tanks benefit even more from the stability plants afford water.

Byron.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hi all. Thanks for all the help!

I had Petsmart test my tap water and write everything down:

Nitrate - zero
Nitrite - zero
Hardness (GH) 75 (soft)
Chlorine - zero
Alkalinity (KH) 80
pH 7.8
Ammonia - zero

Does this help decide which type of fish I should get?

Is there any special treatment I need to do to my water?

Thanks!
Juggernaut
 

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Great!

Hi all. Thanks for all the help!

I had Petsmart test my tap water and write everything down:

Nitrate - zero
Nitrite - zero
Hardness (GH) 75 (soft)
Chlorine - zero
Alkalinity (KH) 80
pH 7.8
Ammonia - zero

Does this help decide which type of fish I should get?

yes it does. You have soft water so you want to get fishies that prefer soft water. Luckily for you, most fish do lol. your water is almost identical to mine. Do you live in Alabama? lol. pH is high, but that is fine. fish adapt well to pH as long as it STABLE. My pH is 7.8 and i've had no trouble with my fish. What do you have in mind?

Is there any special treatment I need to do to my water?

Yes, you still need to get a dechlorinator. I suggest Prime. Even if it is testing negative, I would still treat my tapwater before adding it to a tank. Plus prime detoxifies amm and its derivitives. One bottle will last you a very, very long time with a 10 gallon tank.

Thanks!
Juggernaut
 

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quick question, do you live close to petsmart so that taking them to test your water regularly (while cycling this means daily) would be easy? if not, you should invest in a liquid tester kit. I suggest API freshwater master kit. You can get it from amazon for about $16.00 and it'll last you quite awhile.
 

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I like the harlequin rasbora. They are a shoaling fish so you would need atleast 6 of them. Check em out. They should do well in your water.
 

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Whatever you decide to buy, I'd suggest getting it on Amazon or DrFostersandSmith.com only due to price. PetSmart and Petco's tend to post things at rediculus prices. If you like something at petco or petsmart at least check those 2 websites to see if it's cheaper. I saved $40 on a filter that should have been $70 but it was on sale at one of those sites for $30 and I just had to obtain $20 more worth of stuff for free shipping so I added some water treatment and fish food which I needed anyway.

As for cycling, since you're looking stuff up BEFORE running and buying everything then wondering why your fish aren't doing so well, I commend you. Thanks for asking before hand.

Just google "Fishless Cycle" and have a "API Master Test Kit" (cheap on amazon, like $40 at petsmart/co) so you can check out your Ammonia/Nitrate/Nitrites so you'll know when you're fully cycled then you could add fish.

If Fish In cycle you'll still want that kit and definatly a 5 gallon bucket ($3 at home depot) and a gravel vac and you'll have to do a water change EVERY day till it cycles.

Fish in or Fishless, you're looking at anywhere from 2-6 weeks of cycling. Be prepared for that.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
I agree with all the above advice. I will talk you through cycling.

There are basically 2 ways to cycle. Fish-in and fishless. Most of us here prefer to fishless cycle as the cycling process is dangerous and cruel to fish. However, if that is the route you choose to go, then it can work.

To fish-in cycle you will set your tank up, condition your water, let the pump and heater run for about 24 hours and then get some hardy fish. I used tiger barbs when i fish-in cycled. For 10 gallons you would need about 6. You will also absolutely have to have the api master kit so you can test for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. Do you understand the cycle?
Everyday you should be testing for ammonia, which fish excrete as waste. Ammonia will spike to usually 1-2. When you see this, keeping testing ammonia and start testing for nitrites. As ammonia drops you should see a nitrite spike. When nitrites spike begin testing for nitrates too. As nitrates rise, ammonia and nitrites will disappear. Your tank is fully cycled when ammonia and nitrites read 0 and nitrates are present. I suggest not doing any big water changes until you are cycled as you will just set the process back, and this is why we dont like to do fish in cycle. The high ammonia and nitrites are harmful to the fish and they may not survive. This whole process will take anywhere from 4-6 weeks.

To fishless cycle you will use an outside source of ammonia. You can use straight ammonia that u buy. You can use fish food and just put a little bit in everyday. As it begins to rot it will produce ammonia. U can put some raw shrimp in a pantyhose and place it in the tank. Any of these work but the raw shrimp i think is the fastest. You can take the shrimp out of the tank once you get 1-2 ammonia and see some nitrites. The process after that is the same as above. Once you have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 10 nitrates you are cycle and ready for fish.

I use AqAdvisor - Intelligent Freshwater Tropical Fish Aquarium Stocking Calculator and Aquarium Tank/Filter Advisor to stock my tanks but you have to have an idea of what u want. We need to know the ph of your water and the gh at a minimum so we know what fish r best suited for your water. Hope this help!
Hi,

Thanks for the information.

For a 10 gallon tank, how much food should I "feed" the tank each day to help build up the ammonia?

Also, where can I buy ammonia if I want to start by doing that? Petsmart only seems to sell stuff that removes ammonia.

Thanks!
Juggernaut
 

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check hardware stores for janitorial ammonia. It shouldn't bubble when you shake it. Either way you will want a master test kit from amazon.

For fish food you just need a small pinch
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Discussion Starter #14
check hardware stores for janitorial ammonia. It shouldn't bubble when you shake it. Either way you will want a master test kit from amazon.

For fish food you just need a small pinch
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Hi,

I got the ammonia level up with the fish food alone.

It was not coming down at all after 2 weeks so I added some of the bacteria that you can buy as a tank starter & the ammonia is now starting to come down.

Once I have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 10 nitrates and I am ready for fish, what do I do with all of the food debris that is hanging around in the tank? I presume I need to vacuum it out, but when do I do it - before or after adding the fish? I am a bit confused on this point.

Thanks!
Juggernaut
 

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I would personally do A gravel vacuum before and do maybe like a 25 percent water change. New fish don't beat right away. Maybe feed them a very small amount of fresh food 6 hours later.
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Before adding fish, do a thorough vacuuming and major water change --- >60%. There is little bacteria in the water column, so your cycle will not be effected.

For my information: what brand of bacteria in a bottle did you use? How much? How quickly did it work? What were your readings before adding it? What are your current readings? Thanks in advance for the info.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Before adding fish, do a thorough vacuuming and major water change --- >60%. There is little bacteria in the water column, so your cycle will not be effected.

For my information: what brand of bacteria in a bottle did you use? How much? How quickly did it work? What were your readings before adding it? What are your current readings? Thanks in advance for the info.
Thanks.

I used this:
Tetra Safe Start&#0174 Aquarium Starter - Fish Care - Fish - PetSmart

I added 3/4 of the small bottle (says can be used for up to 30 gallons).

We started at a level greater than 4 (somewhere between 4-8) - I think we are on day 3 now & the level is down to around 1. I hope the tank does not have too much ammonia, but so far those little guys seem to be eating it away slowly.
I have not checked the nitrite and nitrate levels yet.

Juggernaut
 

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I would personally do A gravel vacuum before and do maybe like a 25 percent water change. New fish don't beat right away. Maybe feed them a very small amount of fresh food 6 hours later.
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Hi again,

I have the tank set up:
ammonia 0
nitrite 0
nitrate 20

Do I need to just add one fish at the start?

I am concerned that with the gravel vacuum and water change that the bacteria there will not have enough ammonia to feed them. (Can't believe I am worrying about feeding bacteria!!)

So should I still just add one fish to the tank, or should I add more than 1, or does it not matter at this point?
(I think they want to get dalmation mollys or perhaps glow-fish.)

Thanks!
Juggernaut
 

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thbeneficial bacteria are on the surface of the aquarium gravel and your decorations keep in mind when you grab a vacuum that you're not going to get 100 percent of the litter so they will always be something for them to feed on. when you start adding fish do it slowly so that way the bacteria have time to reproduce they usually do this within 24 to 48 hours so if you add one fish do another fish in a couple of days. if you Add a school of fishjust keep an eye on the ammonia levels and maybe do one or two extrA gravel vacuum the first two weeks
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I use voice to text so if anything is spelled wrong blame it not me lol
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