View Full Version : Begining to cycle 60 gallon tank

08-04-2008, 05:35 AM
Hello everyone,

I just got my first fish tank! My girlfriend has been bugging me to get one since she's got a 20 gallon and so I decided to give it a shot. So far I'm really enjoying it. My dad's friend had an old 60 gallon tank that he wasn't using which he had stored in his barn for the past 10 years, I asked him if I could have it and it became mine.

Spent all day yesterday cleaning, boiling, and filling/refilling (lol, long story) the tank and then bought a test kit, a water heater, and the solution to decholrify the water. I think I'm about ready to start cycling.

My question is, am I ready? I've done research and I could probably spend hours searching and reading on here, but I figure someone has to have a pat response answer my question and it would help put my mind at ease.

I'm thinking about forming a community/dwarf chiclid tank, and it seems logical to me to start the cycling process with some Zebra Dainos as I've read a lot of people do. I'm thinking of buying 5, any other suggestions?

I guess I'm just looking for general knowledge here, like I said, probably posted somewhere else, but humor me. ;) Nice to be here guys. Here are a few pictures of my progress so far.




PS: I apologize for the rather (In my opinion) tacky substrate, but I am a poor college student who can only afford to do this because the most expensive stuff was given to him for free. :(

08-04-2008, 05:47 AM
Firstly, hello and welcome home to the A.C.!

Secondly, download the free e-book here (http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/Tropical_Fish-A_Beginners_Guide.pdf) and read up on the different types of cycles, fish, fishless, and fish with a planted tank.

Thirdly, most of here do fishless cycles for a number of reasons. 1. There is less stress for the fish and you, although fishless cycling a tank is a patience-builder, but a good warm-up to the patience you'll need later for the hobby. Many of us have done this are always more than willing to help if cycles get stuck or if you need advice as it cycles. 2. Whilst the tank cycles, you can start planning exactly what type and how many fish you'd like to have given the limitation of the size of your tank. Whilst you could cycle with the danios, they may not fit in with your plan for the other fish that you would like to keep. 3. Go to the beginner forum and look for the compatibility charts to help you started. If you are ever unsure, it's always better to ask here first before getting the fish--Saves lots of nightmares and issues later.

08-04-2008, 06:13 AM
Thanks man, reading that now. Glad to see I did almost all of it correctly so far!

08-04-2008, 06:15 AM
It would be alot easier to get some of your g/f's established media into your filter to avoid going through the cycling process, just slowly add in fish to not overload the bioload from her media.

08-04-2008, 06:16 AM
i agree with ramguy, borrow a bit of here media, and get the 5 danios. the bacteria should have time to populate to meet the ammonia the danios produce, and after you can slowly stock the tank.

08-04-2008, 06:46 AM
No point getting the danios if you wanna go with a cichlid tank tho. They won't fit in.

Figure out what fish you want first, then get some of your gf's filter media, and then immediately put 2-3 fish in and slowly add more over the next few weeks until you are stocked.

The reason to wait until you get fish before you get the cycled filter media, is because if you put in the filter media now, then need another 2-3 weeks to decide on fish, the filter bacteria will have died off.

As an alternative, you could get some mystery snails to keep the bacteria alive while you decide on fish. Or any other algae eater you wanna go with.

08-04-2008, 07:06 AM
I agree. Just get some of her media and maybe even some of her water if she is ready for a water change. When you move her media make sure you keep it in some water from the aquarium it came from otherwise you will kill the good bio. Once you do that let it run for two weeks with just 2 or 3 fish. Might as well start with the fish you would like to have in the long run as they should be fine during your cycle. Good luck.

08-04-2008, 08:12 AM
Thanks for the tips guys, I already got a bag of water from the local fish store from one of their established tanks and added it to my own. Did that yesterday. I might be way off base, but I *think* some of the smaller chiclids could get along with the Danios?

Lady Hobbs
08-04-2008, 09:21 AM
Water adds no bacteria to your tank. Bacteria lives on the surfaces.....gravel and filter media. The transfer of water does nothing for you.

I would let that tank sit there as it is for several days due to the fact it was stored for 10 years. The seals could have become dried out in all that time. Or start a fishless cycle so you have time to find out if there are any leaks but........if you are dying to get it going, and I see that you are, you can easily start with some fish.

Small tanks should definately be cycled prior to adding fish. The water becomes very toxic due to the low concentration of it. Obviously, 10 gallon gets very high toxins but you're talking 60 gallons that will become far less toxic. People that have a 10 gallon tank and are not knowledgable about the nitrogren cycle run into problems because they run out, buy a new tank, set it up and add 20 fish. You have a much larger tank and are doing your research first and there is no problems in cycling with fish if it'd done correctly.

This is where a API Liquid test kit comes in very important and something you need when keeping fish anyway. Something like having a car but no jack.

If going with dwarf cichlids, the apisto are small and can go OK with many community fish. Or just a tank of them is also nice.


As mentioned above, you can grab some of your G/F's filter media from her 20 gallon and add some of the fish you want. It should not be put in your filter until you are ready to add some of your fish so the bacteria on it does not die.

With her "seeded" media you should be able to stock your tank with several fish. Don't forget that her filter media already is teeming with bacteria. I certainly wouldn't mess with 2 or 4 danios or you'll be cycling that tank for 2 years. :) Get yourself 10-12 fish and then every other week, add maybe 4 more.

Blue Rams, Kribs and Keyholes are other dwarf cichlids. You'll find you'll enjoy your tank more if you have more fish of one or two kinds than 20 species and only 2 or 3 of them. Most fish are social and like several of their own but it really is better to go with all cichlid or all community IMO. When buying cichlids, also go with more females than males. You will need lots of hiding spaces in that tank if you want cichlids also. They do not like open area's like you have. Fill it up with fake plants and wood and rocks to make them feel secure.

Cycling with fish is very easy if you have the test kit and do your testing daily, be prepared to do water changes when needed and don't go nuts with over-stocking the first few weeks.

NEVER add water from a fish store to your tank! Even when buying their fish, net them and put them in your tank. Fish stores generally carry ICK.

08-04-2008, 09:22 AM
Thanks for the info.

I was just going to go to the beach tomorrow and find some killer rocks larger than the ones I have in there to make some larger structures. I'm studying geology here at Western, so I'm a bit of a rock geek.

I'll definitly grab some of that filter media as soon as I can, it might be easier to just get some from the fish store downtown though. She goes to college here but moved to Anacortes for the summer, so it's a bit of a drive.

I just tested my pH and ammonia levels in the tank. My ammonia test came back positive at about .5-1 ppm where as earlier today I measured it at 0 ppm. Figured I'd mention it since I'm still learning how to interpret exactly what that means.

08-04-2008, 09:34 AM
I forgot to mention that I'm going to do my first partial change tomorrow.

I was also wondering how most people do partial changes after they've got fish in the tank, to avoid shocking them with a water temperature change how do you fill the tank? Don't you have to treat the water before adding it?

08-04-2008, 09:40 AM
I forgot to mention that I'm going to do my first partial change tomorrow.

I was also wondering how most people do partial changes after they've got fish in the tank, to avoid shocking them with a water temperature change how do you fill the tank? Don't you have to treat the water before adding it?
We normally treat the water to remove chlorine and then get the temp as close as possible to the tank's temperature. Pour it into the tank into another holder that is held under the water level to prevent high currents in the water.

Lady Hobbs
08-04-2008, 09:42 AM
Why are you doing a partial water change yet? You need change out no water until you see ammonia levels beginning to get a bit toxic to them. For this, you need a test kit or you won't know what your levels are. If your ammonia level does not get toxic, no water changes are necessary.

You MUST use a dechlorinator unless you have well water because the chlorine in tap water will kill the bacteria.

You simply remove some water with your siphon hose into a bucket and refill it with your dechlorinator with the water temp at or near what you removed.

08-04-2008, 09:47 AM
I've got a test kit for Nitrite, Nitrate, Ammonia, and pH, and I've already dechlorinated the water in the tank. I think I just need to get some filter media tomorrow and then wait.

08-04-2008, 06:16 PM
So I've been doing a lot of reading (I was up until around 4:00 AM last night reading random links lol) and I think the ammonia I'm testing in my water is a false positive from the dechloridization process. I've heard that can happen, and it makes more sense. Any feedback?

08-04-2008, 08:03 PM
So I've been doing a lot of reading (I was up until around 4:00 AM last night reading random links lol) and I think the ammonia I'm testing in my water is a false positive from the dechloridization process. I've heard that can happen, and it makes more sense. Any feedback?

One data point is the ammonia levels in your native tap water. If it has some ammonia, then I believe the water treatment will convert it so ammonium (not positive - it will depend on which treatment you use) which will still test as 'ammonia'.

One thing to clarify (apologize in advance if this is too basic) is that when the other posters say to get some 'filter media', they don't mean brand new media from the shelf. They mean media from a filter that's been up and running in a cycled tank. In other words, media that's loaded with good bacterial.

08-04-2008, 08:11 PM
Oh, I understand that part. But I really do appreciate all of the n00b friendly advice here. I went to the fish store and they didn't recommend the fishless cycling with pure ammonia like I had read a lot of places. Bellingham has a REALLY nice fish store, and all their fish are always very healthy, so not saying you guys are wrong, but since they were right down the street I just bought some Danios and will be cycling with them. The store has a policy that says you can bring the fish back after cycling and trade them if you don't want them, which is pretty cool. Not sure if other stores do that.

Like I said, I'm a n00b.

Anyways, wish me luck.

08-04-2008, 08:32 PM
They probably didn't reccomend the fishless cycle because they want you to buy some of there cycling chemicals to cycle your tank. I found that my lfs didnt reccomend a fishless cycle either and wanted me to use the cycling stuff so they may have just been trying to push a product.

08-04-2008, 08:39 PM
They didn't try to sell me anything, simply recommended buying fish. So I guess they did. lol

But regardless I was going there looking for ammonia anyways, but they didn't have it.

08-04-2008, 08:49 PM
FWIW, when I was starting my second tank, I talked to people at 4 different pet stores (two chains and two specialty store) and each of them either didn't know what fish-less cycling was, or they had heard of it but discounted it.

This isn't a commentary on fish-less cycling; I personally think it's great. It's just one small data point on what I came across here in the Portland area.

Sounds like you are in good shape, PETC. Pics are expected as soon as you get things set up.....

08-04-2008, 09:23 PM
Here are some pictures from today.




08-05-2008, 07:29 PM
The smallest danio died last night. :(

Ammonia is up to 2 ppm. No Nitrite yet. My girlfriend is bringing some of her gravel and a plant up for me.

08-07-2008, 01:07 AM
Well, things are going well. Ammonia is rising and nitrite is at least traceable, so I did a water change and fed the fish yesterday.

My apartment is a 3rd story apartment and it gets rather hot during the day (around 85 degrees inside.) I've got all of my windows open, plus all of my doors, and all of my fans going, but I'm still having problems keeping the tank temps below 84-83 degrees (according to my laser temp reader, it could be +/- a few degrees.)

I've put the filter in a bucket and added water and ice to it, but it doesn't seem to have much of an effect. I've also turned the heater down to 75 degrees, so it's not on ever. I've also turned off the lights and blocked ALL of the windows in the apartment with curtains and still the tanks temp stays high.

I DO NOT have the funds to afford a chiller/AC for my apartment. It rarely gets this warm in Bellingham, but I'm still worried. Any advice?

08-08-2008, 04:46 AM
Hello? Anyone home? ;)

08-09-2008, 04:03 AM
Well, I think it's simply a matter of keeping the apartment well ventilated, so I'll go out and buy some fans to keep the interior temps down. It rarely gets all that warm here anyways. Thanks anyways guys. :)