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Now what? (for those of us who didn't know about "cycling" beforehand) (Long!)

Discussion in 'Freshwater Archives' started by pinballqueen, Jan 4, 2003.

  1. pinballqueen

    pinballqueen Roleplayer

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    So you've got your first fish tank....or maybe your first in a while.

    Great. Let's get started. I'll bet you filled up the tank, turned on the pumps, lights, and heaters, and let the water age for a day, just to be on the safe side, then bought fish to go into your wonderful new toy, right?

    Now you've gotten curious as to why you're losing fish. So you've gone online, since all the answers to all the questions are on the internet, and stumbled upon this great little forum. Then you read about this thing called "fishless cycling" that everyone seems to be so big on, all the time thinking, "well, that's great, but I've already got fish, so how do I do that now?".....

    There's not a lot of information in the way of cycling your tank with fish out there, because, quite frankly, fishless cycling is the better way to go if possible. It's less stressful on the first fish that go into the tank. But, most of us didn't do it that way the first time out because we didn't know to. So, for those of us (most of us) that buy first, ask questions later, here's a little rundown of what to expect when you've chosen (or stumbled into) cycling the "fishy" way....(grab a seat and get comfy, it's a long post)

    First and foremost, be prepared to lose fish. It's often a part of it. Do a little research, and if you can, trade in the fish that are less tolerant of bad water conditions. If this happens to be "all" of your current fish, well, there you go. Trade them all in, and do a fishless cycle....:rolleyes: If you've got something that is hardy, say goldfish, then you should be okay, providing you've not totally overstocked your tank. Try for one or two fish and no more for the cycling portion of your tank ownership experience, that way you minimize the potential for losses. Use the credit from your trade in to buy a testing kit, and buy the good one with lots of tests in it. You'll need one for ph, ammonia, and nitrates/nitrites at least, and water hardness tests are also a good idea, although not completely necessary to start with.

    Now, what you should expect.... You're going to have an ammonia spike, if you haven't already. Your fish will gasp at the surface, and your trusty test kit will show readings that would be consistent to pouring windex into your tank. Do water changes regularly, and by regularly I mean daily, 20% at least. (Now, don't assume that "at least" means it's okay to dump all the water and refill...that'll just start all of this over...)

    Then your ammonia will even out a little, and you'll have a nitrite spike. Hungry bacteria are munching away on your ammonia problem, and created this one. Once again, your fish will be quite uncomfortable, and your readings will shoot through the roof. Keep up with the water changes, you don't have too much further before other hungry bacteria take over converting your nitrItes to nitrAtes, which are removed by, you guessed it, water changes.

    You'll probably experience at some point in all of this a bacterial bloom, where the whole tank turns milky white, like someone poured chalk or milk of magnesia into your water. This will usually go away in a few days, and it's pretty much the last step in this little drama. Once the bacteria have set up in your tank, you're home free. Now all you have to do is be a responsible hobbyist. Don't overcrowd your tank, don't overfeed its inhabitants, and do regular (this time I mean weekly or biweekly) water changes. Keep your test kits handy, they'll be of great use to you whenever you have more problems in the future (since we will badger you for tank specs and parameters anytime you ask us a question :D) Be patient, this process could take a couple of weeks, or it could take a month or longer. It depends on your individual situation....

    Good luck to you in your quest for a healthy tank. If anyone else has a pearl of wisdom to add, feel free to do so....
     
  2. Faramir

    Faramir The twit from over the pond.

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    I do have a suggestion to add - live plants. They soften the pain considerably. A planted tank often doesn't even have a noticeable ammonia or nitrite spike.
     
  3. streaker1271

    streaker1271 AC Members

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    As I have said in previous posts I plan on getting a 30 gallon tank next month. When I do make this purchase what should I do first because I dont want to lose any fish. Could you all take me through the set up of one and things I may need to read up on and learn first. As I have said at this point in time I have about 10 platys (as I have found out & I am sure there are more to come) and 2 algae eaters. Not sure about the algae eaters. Just wondering about the things I will need so maybe I can start collecting some of the things I need. Like filters, testing supplies and such.

    Thanks!!

    :rolleyes:
     
  4. pinballqueen

    pinballqueen Roleplayer

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    I personally have never done a fishless cycle, which is the easiest way to NOT lose fish. This will be the method I will try when I set my tanks back up after I move...then I'll make judgements as to which method is better (I think I'll be a fishless convert after I try it....it just looks so much easier and less stressful that way...)

    As far as stuff to buy: if you've already got a tank, you've probably got some of it already, but here's a list of things that are good to have when you bring the tank home....

    1. A good dechlorinator. I use Stresscoat, since it's got aloe in it, it's a good multipurpose thing to have.
    2. Testing kits, specifically kits to test Ph, Ammonia, Nitrite/nitrate. The other tests can come later, if you like.
    3. A good gravel vac.
    4. A good filtration system, preferably one larger than you are "supposed" to need for the tank. The more filtration, the better. Use a couple different types, if possible. I used a HOB Emperor and a Fluval canister simultaneously on my 55 gallon. (And even had a UGF in there, too, until I started growing live plants...)
    5. Books on aquarium fish, diseases, etc. If you really want to get nose-down in the hobby and be a real geek....
    6. A net of suitable size for your fish (when they're grown, not just big enough for when they go in your tank...nothing's worse than having to bare-hand catch a fish because your net is too little to catch it...I still have scars from pleco spines....)

    Really, that's all that you really need until you get some fish, at which point I suggest keeping a "fishy pharmacy" with all the medicines that you might need, so you don't have to make midnight trips to Wal-mart when you look into the tank and see ich spots on your fish....

    Must-haves for disease treatment (for my aquarium, anyhow, your experience may vary):

    Aquarium Salt
    Ich-Guard or similar medication, make sure it's safe for scaleless fish if you have any in your tank (most catfish, plecos, mormyrids, and livebearers with babies all need scaleless meds)
    Fungus treatment, whatever brand. I use Fungus Eliminator by Jungle
    Melafix (not a med, but speeds up the process, IMO.)

    Anyhow, you don't have to have this stuff right away, but it is good to have...

    Hope this gives you an idea.... everything but the filtration will run you a grand total of $100 or so (maybe more or less in your area....) Not much when you consider most of these items will last you longer than the fish will, in all likelihood....

    Good luck!

    EDIT: oh, yeah, almost forgot....you'll need ammonia for your fishless cycle....can't leave that out....the clear, detergent-free ammonia from the cleaning supplies department will do.
     
    #4 pinballqueen, Jan 6, 2003
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2003
  5. Flohrie

    Flohrie AC Members

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    I was told never to put any Ammonia near my tank.

    Whats the benifit of it?
     
  6. Faramir

    Faramir The twit from over the pond.

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    If you put ammonia in while there are still no fishes it provides a food source for the bacteria that will oxidise it to nitrite and then to nitrate. It is a process called fishless cycling.

    Of course, if you add it to a tank with fish in, you will most likely kill them stone dead.
     
  7. Richer

    Richer AC Members

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    I assume this thread is up for the people who are already more or less halfway through their cycle. If thats the case, I wouldn't recommend adding live plants at all. Plant lights + ammonia = algae outbreak. It will cause you more headach. Add a million fast growing plants before you cycle. Or don't add till your cycle is complete. If you want more info on cycling with plants, just ask =)

    Other than that, during a fishy cycling, change your water often. Your goal here is not to shorten your cycle, but to make your tank as comfortable for your fish as possible. This may (depending on your fish load) consist of a couple of water changes a day. I guess what I'm trying to say is, don't be afraid of a little work... the lives of your fish are in your hands.
    Of course, ideally, you'd want to see if you can bring your fish back to your LFS, and start your tank on a fishless cycle.

    I'm gonna sticky this thread.

    HTH
    -Richer
     
  8. bek

    bek AC Members

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    ?

    all i have is a fish tank , with fish already in of course, a ph test kit, and two cheap filters (please dont ask me what they are because i dont know)
    i clean my tank usually about once a week, always 100% new water and a few drops of chlorine neutral, filters get cleaned every 3 - 4 days.
    i leave the tank for about 1 hour then the fish go back in, no problems, none of my fish have died or gotten sick.

    so is all this stuffing around really necessary??

    :confused:
     
    #8 bek, Jan 11, 2003
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2003
  9. stargurl

    stargurl AC Members

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    Re: ?

    No, it's not. You don't need to clean the filters so often. Once a month is generally fine, and if you have two, it's best to only clean one at a time. You only need to change about 20-25% of your water at a time, and you don't need to take the fish out to do it.
     
  10. bek

    bek AC Members

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    .

    i wish i could afford a filter that only needed to be cleaned once a month!
     

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