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Cycling My Aquarium

Home Forums Fresh and Brackish Water Fishes Cycling My Aquarium

This topic contains 86 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  keith565 10 years, 6 months ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 87 total)
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  • #299392

    Sofia
    Member

    Hi there,

    First of all, this is a great site that has helped me a lot so far.

    I am new to fishkeeping, but have done quite a bit of research so far.
    I am getting the complete tropical aquarium set from TetraTec.
    I know that the aquarium needs to mature and that the bacteria grows in the filter. A book I read stated now that live bacteria should be introduced to aid the maturing of the tank for the first 2 months. However, the tank comes with the Tetratec Easy Crystal Filter 250. This uses exchangeable filter pads. Do you know if those come preloaded with the bacteria? If they don’t I will never achieve a mature aquarium in the first place.

    Sorry, this might be a daft question.

    Another question I have is that of gravel size. I read on here that it should be medium gravel (2-3mm). Apart from size, are there any differences? I am planning to have plants, do I need special gravel for them?

    Thanks for your help,

    Sofia

    #304478

    dunc
    Keymaster

    Welcome to the website, Sofia here discussing all aspects of “cycling an aquarium”, but I’ll try and summarise things for you.

    Firstly – the tetratec sponges will be totally dry and unopened, so no, they don’t have any live bacterium. Unless the bacterium have a constant source of ammonia to feed on, they will rapidly die off. A lot of aquarists are suspect of these so-called “live bacteria” bottles availables in most aquatics stores! Anyway, read on… Mollies are often used as they can be particularly tough. In personal experience I find Zebra/Leopard Danios to be unbelievably tough! Naturally, during this time, the tank isn’t the most welcoming home for the fishes. A stringent regime of water changes must be adhered to, literally every few days for the first 4 to 6 weeks. That can be tough, especially if you have a busy schedule.

    Another option is to directly introduce ammonia. Not sure if you’re from the UK, but if you are, Homebase sells “household” ammonia; perfect for the task.

    QUOTE(FishForums.net)
    Yeah, you can’t buy pure ammonia in the UK. It’s dangerous stuff.

    The stuff from Homebase is what you need as Scotslass says. It’s called ‘Household Ammonia’ and is ammonia diluted with water. The final product is 9.5% ammonia (if i remember correctly) and is ideal for cycling your tank.


    You would then dose the tank with ammonia regularly before putting any fishes in, using test kits to measure the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels. Once ammonia and nitrite levels had peaked and bottomed(probably around 4 to 6 weeks time), the tank would be considered mature and colonised with bacteria.

    One method that seems to be in employment more often these days is to add fish food to the tank before adding fishes. Rotten fish food also produces ammonia and thus can similarly trigger the nitrogen cycle. Make sure it all gets hoovered up before the fish go in though!

    Obviously it’s up to you how you do it. If you have time, the first method is perfectly viable – just make sure you really are stringest with those partial water changes (25% or so every 3 or 4 days, especially in the first two weeks). Otherwise be patient and use one of the latter two methods.. it seems to take longer because your aquarium is sitting bare for a month but it does the job and is safer than starting the nitrogen cycle with fishes in the tank.

    As for your second question…

    There’s no real difference in gravel size, merely aesthetics. Aquarists tend to move gravel to one side, put the plant roots in the hole then cover them with gravel to weigh the plant down until it roots. As long as the gravel isn’t so big that that wouldn’t work, and as long as you have enough gravel for that to work, there should be no problem.

    There are specific plant substrates which help plant growth and so on but that’s an entirely different subject!

    Feel free to ask us ANY question, no matter how “daft” you think they might sound! There are a load of articles in the Knowledge Base about setting up aquaria too but we do apologise, very few of them are properly formatted etc at the moment.

    Hope that helps

    #304479

    Sofia
    Member

    Hello Dunc,

    Thanks for your fast response and your welcome! I will read the article now.

    I am in deed in the UK and am planning to get the following fish once the tank is matured:

    4x Platy
    6x Harlequin
    2x Ram
    1x Bolivian Ram
    6x Cardinal Tetra
    3x Ruby Barb
    and 1x Siamese Fighter

    I was planning to get the Platy in first, as I read they were feeding off algae and could help keep a new aquarium clean.

    Re the filter. It says on the box that the filter pad should be changed every 4 weeks, so I will never really end up with a mature aquarium. I assume it must be somehow pre spiked with beneficial bacteria, because it would be impossible to keep fish otherwise (that’s what I think, but I am clueless)

    I will take a look at substrates and decide. However, I was mainly worried about the fins of a siamese fighter, as I read that they could get injured on sharp gravel edges.
    I just don’t want to do anything wrong.

    Re frequent water changes. I am currently still a student, so would have time to do the water changes, especially as I will have handed in my project by then. Are the Platies a viable fish to put in to aid the maturing of the aquarium?

    Thanks in advance for any help

    #304480

    dunc
    Keymaster

    QUOTE(Sofia @ Mar 6 2008, 09:35 AM) < {POST_SNAPBACK}>
    Re the filter. It says on the box that the filter pad should be changed every 4 weeks, so I will never really end up with a mature aquarium. I assume it must be somehow pre spiked with beneficial bacteria, because it would be impossible to keep fish otherwise (that’s what I think, but I am clueless)


    I’ve just had a look at the filter you’re contemplating purchasing and you’re indeed correct, it does say “change the filter cartridge every 4 weeks”. All I can imagine however is that by “filter cartridge”, they actually mean the pre-foam or carbon. If you change the actual filter sponge media every 4 weeks, your fish will be constantly re-living the nitrogen cycle and thus being put through huge ammonia, nitrite and nitrate spikes.

    It’s possible that a small amount of filter media stays in the filter permanently and thus every time new media is inserted it is recolonised, but I’m really not sure. That isn’t a filtration system I’ve heard of before. Maybe Matt will be able to enlighten us when he gets on < {POST_SNAPBACK}>

    I will take a look at substrates and decide. However, I was mainly worried about the fins of a siamese fighter, as I read that they could get injured on sharp gravel edges.
    I just don’t want to do anything wrong.


    That’s an admirable attitude, and one we love seeing in new fishkeepers! Don’t worry about the Fighter’s fins. Most aquarium substrates are perfectly safe and your fighter probably won’t come in to contact with it anyway.

    QUOTE(Sofia @ Mar 6 2008, 09:35 AM) < {POST_SNAPBACK}>
    Re frequent water changes. I am currently still a student, so would have time to do the water changes, especially as I will have handed in my project by then. Are the Platies a viable fish to put in to aid the maturing of the aquarium?


    Unfortunately Platies aren’t as hardy as they once were. They often come in to the shops with rather poor immune systems and thus become particularly susceptible to diseases, especially when in an aquarium which isn’t fully mature.

    Mollies and Danios tend to be your best bet. A little shoal of Zebra Danios can be really attractive in an aquarium – go see if your local aquatics shop has any in, you might find you quite like them!

    #304481

    Sofia
    Member

    Thanks again Dunc.

    I will ask about the filter, but you are right as far as I can see. There are two bits in the filter. They are both exchangeable, but they don’t get changed at the same time

    #304482

    Sofia
    Member

    QUOTE(Sofia @ Mar 6 2008, 10:33 AM) < {POST_SNAPBACK}>
    Thanks again Dunc.

    I will ask about the filter, but you are right as far as I can see. There are two bits in the filter. They are both exchangeable, but they don’t get changed at the same time

    #304483

    Matt
    Keymaster

    Hi Sofia, welcome to the site /tongue.gif” style=”vertical-align:middle” emoid=”:p” border=”0″ alt=”tongue.gif” /> ) chemicals.

    In terms of substrate I’d go for the smallest grade gravel if you can find it. Plants grow better in it. If you want them to grow really well then consider adding a bag or two of a plant substrate product under the gravel. These release beneficial chemicals and minerals slowly and really do make a difference if you’re growing plants.

    As for your fish list…how big is the tank? I’d be wary about adding three potentially territorial cichlids to a small tank. I’ve also seen Siamese fighters attack both rams and Bolivian rams; they don’t tend to get on with any similar-looking species.

    Best of luck with your first tank! /wink.gif” style=”vertical-align:middle” emoid=”;)” border=”0″ alt=”wink.gif” />

    #304486

    Sofia
    Member

    Hi Matt, thanks for the response.

    QUOTE(Matt @ Mar 6 2008, 07:46 PM) < {POST_SNAPBACK}>
    I would say that you can do away with those carbon pads after the first couple of weeks; you shouldn’t need to run those once the tank is mature and they can cause problems if you have to treat the tank for disease, for example, by adsorbing (not a spelling mistake < {POST_SNAPBACK}>
    As for your fish list…how big is the tank? I’d be wary about adding three potentially territorial cichlids to a small tank. I’ve also seen Siamese fighters attack both rams and Bolivian rams; they don’t tend to get on with any similar-looking species.


    I am looking to buy a 60l tetra tank. Measurements are 24″ 12″ 15″ I think.
    Are the cichlids the barbs? Sorry, very new and don’t know their scientific names yet.

    I would love to have a fighter, because he was the one that made me want to start a tropical aquarium, but obviously the fish must be given priority.

    Do you think that even introducing the fighter before the potentially territorial ones would help the situation?

    Thanks,

    Sofia

    #304487

    Matt
    Keymaster

    Hi Sofia, no I don’t think that would help to be honest. The thing with keeping fighters in community tanks (and I assume you’re referring to the long-finned type?) is that their delicate finnage can become damaged very easily…it’s also just too tempting for many species not to just have a nip at it. Tiger barbs are the most commonly-quoted example, but there are loads of fish that will act in a similar way.

    In my opinion a community containing a fighter (because it is possible) should be centred around it. Set the tank up to give that single fish the conditions it needs to thrive, and choose tankmates to suit. For example, fighters are quite poor swimmers due to their long finnage and natural origin. This is a species that likes still water. In a tank with a fast flow from a filter outlet or powerhead, the fighter will always seem to be struggling, and will never be seen to its full potential. For similar reasons avoid any really vigorous feeders, especially if they are bigger than the fighter. Remember this is a slow-moving fish that is a poor swimmer. It will easily be outcompeted for food with the wrong tankmates.

    Finally (for now /smile.gif” style=”vertical-align:middle” emoid=”:)” border=”0″ alt=”smile.gif” />

    #304490

    Sofia
    Member

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for all the advice.

    QUOTE(Matt @ Mar 7 2008, 12:34 AM) < {POST_SNAPBACK}>
    Hi Sofia, no I don’t think that would help to be honest. The thing with keeping fighters in community tanks (and I assume you’re referring to the long-finned type?) is that their delicate finnage can become damaged very easily…it’s also just too tempting for many species not to just have a nip at it. Tiger barbs are the most commonly-quoted example, but there are loads of fish that will act in a similar way.

    I was referring to the long finned one, but after a chat this morning with my partner we decided that we will start off the fishkeeping without the fighter. If we get on well then we might establish a second tank with a fighter the centerpiece /biggrin.gif” style=”vertical-align:middle” emoid=”:D” border=”0″ alt=”biggrin.gif” />

    Thanks for all the responses

    Sofia

    #304491

    Sofia
    Member

    QUOTE(Matt @ Mar 7 2008, 12:34 AM) < {POST_SNAPBACK}>
    You could even choose fish and plants from Southeast Asia if you decide on the fighter, or South America for the cichlids.

    Can you give me an example of South American fish and/or plants?
    I guess the plants are more important for now, as I am far off having any fish yet

    #304498

    Matt
    Keymaster

    Sure Echinodorus paniculatus. These are dead easy to grow and you’d only need a couple in your tank, as the leaves grow quite long. Heteranthera zosteraefolia is really nice, and grows like stink.

    Hydrocotyle leucocephala grows quick too, and needs a lot of pruning. I like the look of the red Alternanthera species as well but never find them easy to grow. I know a good place to get plants online if you’d like me to pm you the link?

    Fishwise, there’s loads of choice. Cardinal tetras are really beautiful, but you’ve already mentioned them. Here’s a few more ideas, all suitable for a small tank L260

    Hope that gives you some ideas Sofia. Don’t forget to keep us updated

    #304502

    Sofia
    Member

    Thanks for that Matt.

    Sadly the guy in the store had no idea about the plants, so I picked a twisted vallis, a Echinodorus andreuxii, Hygrophila rosae australis and I think a Mayaca. I have only tried top identify them myself and it might be wrong.

    We also have a nice piece of bogwood that is covering up the heater.

    I’ll attach a picture, so that you can take a look and let me know what you think

    Attached files

    #304505

    dunc
    Keymaster

    Looking good, Sofia

    #304507

    Sofia
    Member

    Thanks /smile.gif” style=”vertical-align:middle” emoid=”:)” border=”0″ alt=”smile.gif” />

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