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Thread: Beginner Help

  1. #1

    Default Beginner Help

    0 Not allowed!
    Hello all,

    Recently, my aunt passed away and I sort of inherited her fish. By that I mean no one else wanted to take care of them, so I volunteered to take care of them because I didn't want anything to happen to them. Well, long story short, I am trying to be a responsible fish owner and wanted a little advice. I have read through a lot of online media concerning freshwater aquariums, but was hoping that this community could fill in a few blanks for me.

    She had 4 tiger barbs and a pleco in a 5.5 gallon tank. I am not sure how long she has had them. But I was afraid that this tank was not large enough for them. I don't have a ton of room in my house so I opted for a 26 gallon bowfront tank. Along with this, I also got an API Freshwater Master Test Kit so that I would be able to monitor the water.

    This morning I noticed the smaller tank was a bit cloudy and immediately tested the water. The ammonia levels in the tank were up quite a bit so I did about a 35% water change. This normalized it a bit more, but I am concerned that I need to do more. I have also read that it is not good to do too many water changes, as this could shock the fish. Any advice here?

    I have also cleaned and added water to the new tank. I have put in the appropriate amount of water conditioner as well as a bacterial supplement that is supposed to start the "good" bacteria growing in the new tank. The water temperature is almost up to the 78 degrees that I was told is the recommended temperature for Tiger Barbs. How long should I wait before moving the fish to the new tank?

    Also, concerning the water change I performed on the smaller tank this morning. When performing a water change, am I supposed to remove the fish from the tank before doing this? I wasn't sure, but was more concerned with the ammonia levels. I removed the water, and the decorations, cleaned the sides of the tank as best as I could, cleaned the decorations, and replaced the water with new water (after adding water conditioner to it and allowing it to sit for a about 10-15 minutes).

    I sincerely apologize about all the beginner questions, I am just trying my best to take care of these fish and don't want anything to happen to them. Thanks in advance for any responses that I can get. And please tell me if anything I said in here is incorrect. This is all new to me, as I have never had a real aquarium; I am still learning.

  2. #2


    0 Not allowed!
    First of all, I'm very sorry for your loss.

    You're right in saying that the little 5.5g tank is too small for Tigers and Plecos. And depending on what kind of Pleco it is, the 26g tank could even be too small for him later on. It's kind of bordering on being a bit too small for the Tigers once they start to grow too. But at least you've saved them from the little 5.5g tank, that's a good start! Is there any chance that you know what kind of Pleco it is? Or could you take a picture of him for us?

    The cloudy water. I'll start with the little tank first. When you cleaned up the tank, did you clean out the filter? If there's actually a filter on it. The good bacteria lives in your filters, and that's what keeps your tank cycled. If you've washed the filter out with plain old tap water, the chlorine will kill off the bacteria, sending the tank back into a cycle, bringing on that cloudy water.

    In basic terms, cycling is the process of growing good bacteria in your filter media (the sponge, cotton wool, filter cartridge). The fishes waste will produce ammonia, which kicks off the cycle. Once the ammonia starts, bacteria starts to grow that eats the ammonia and turns it into nitrites. Once the nitrites start, then a bacteria starts to grow to eat the nitrites and turns it into nitrates. After the cycle is complete, your tests should read 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, and you will be seeing nitrates when you test.

    You need to do water changes during a cycle, when there is fish in tank, to keep the ammonia and nitrite levels down to less toxic amounts. When you start doing your water changes, do not change the water so that you get a 0reading of ammonia or nitrites, and do not clean your filter. And make sure you use dechlorinator every water change. Chlorinated water will kill off the good bacteria. You need to have ammonia and nitrites in the water to keep the cycle going, until it completes. You need to keep testing, and only do enough water changes to keep the ammonia between .25ppm and .50ppm. Eventually the ammonia will lower to 0 as the bacteria grows enough to eat it all. The nitrites will do the same thing. They will show up on your tests, they will rise, then lower as the bacteria grows.
    Three-fourths of the Earth's surface is water, and one-fourth is land. It is quite clear that the good Lord intended us to spend triple the amount of time fishing as taking care of the lawn. ~Chuck Clark

  3. #3


    0 Not allowed!
    I have attached an image of the pleco. I apologize about the quality of the image, a) he wasn't being very cooperative, and b) i had to resize the image so that I could upload it here. If you cannot see it well enough, just let me know and I will upload the image to another site and post a link to it here.


    As far as the filter, I did not wash it out, as I have read in a few places that you don't want to do that. Everything I have read, said the same thing that you did about the good bacteria and the filter, so I did not wash it out for fear of disrupting that cycle.

    And, at the very least the 26 gallon tank will be a good home for them for now. I just need to clear a little space out in my office so that I can get a larger tank. From everything I have read, the tiger barbs and the pleco need about a 40 gallon tank. Is that about right? Or should I try to go a bit larger?

    As to the other part of my question, now that I have the 26 gallon tank up and running, should I go ahead and transition them over to that?

    Thanks a ton for your quick reply, and I do truly appreciate the help.
    Last edited by webs5361; 11-17-2012 at 11:43 PM.

  4. #4


    0 Not allowed!

    Here is another shot of him with him being a bit more cooperative.

  5. #5


    0 Not allowed!
    I would transfer the fish to the larger tank - 5.5gal is really too small for those fish - running the 26gal with no ammonia being added won't do anything positive - no bacteria will be growing. You will be cycling the tank with fish which means you will need to watch your water parameters closely - you can not let your ammonia go over .25ppm - anything higher could harm the fish.

    Once you read the sticky here on doing that, you will know what you need to test and how often to change your water.

    If you have the option of purchasing a larger tank, I would do that - what I've learned from this forum is to get the largest tank you can afford - maintaining good water parameters is easier with a larger tank and will provide more swimming space for your fish.

  6. #6


    0 Not allowed!
    Move the filter on the small tank over to the 26g when you move the fish, taking care to keep it wet. It will help the cycling process greatly.

    Also, the gravel would be good to add.
    20 gallon with a male betta, neons, glowlights, and red cherry shrimp. (work in progess) Recently added a few LIVE plants and driftwood, Woooohoooo!

  7. #7


    0 Not allowed!
    I'm thinking that the media from the smaller filter should be put into the new filter along with the new media to "seed" the new media with existing bacteria - agreed, that, as well as adding the gravel (which also has some bacteria - the filter has most of it) will help cycle the filter faster, but you still need to monitor the parameters.

  8. #8


    0 Not allowed!
    Alright, so I have now transferred all the fish into the new aquarium and have put the filter from the smaller tank into the filter of the new tank as well to help the process along, as you all have suggested. As far as monitoring the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels is concerned, should I test the water daily? or just every few days?

    I truly appreciate all of the advice. This has made this whole situation a lot easier for me. You guys rock!

    I also should say that I am really getting into having an aquarium. Although, I never realized what all went into having an aquarium and keeping it healthy. I think this is going to be a fun hobby for me.

  9. #9


    0 Not allowed!
    Not sure if anyone has answered, didn't really read the whole thing. But that is an L-148 pleco, or "spotted rubber lipped pleco". It should be fine in the 26 gallon as long as he had driftwood and his diet is supplemented with things like zucchini and cucumber.
    Coastie-to-be... hopefully.

  10. #10


    0 Not allowed!
    Thanks so much Northerly. I was hoping someone would be able to answer what kind of pleco he was. Until that question was raised earlier, I had no idea that there were so many different types. I have scouring the web trying to figure it out. I had also read that they do need driftwood and am going to run to a petstore tomorrow and see if i can't find some for him. Also, when you say that he needs zucchini and cucumber, will fresh zuchini and cucumber do? Or is there a special type of fishy-type food that has this in it? And if it is the fresh stuff, do I just cut it into small pieces and drop it in to him?

    I apologize once again for all the questions, I am just trying to learn as much as possible about the fish. They are really starting to grow on me.

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