New Tank: Needing Advice
This is my second round at the whole fish keeping hobby. I used to fool with it when I was younger and of course had no idea about all the science involved in it. No wonder why all my fish kept dying! Haha.
Anyway, I decided to dive back into it again recently and bought a complete used setup. I never liked getting fish from the store and since no one sells them close to where I live now, I decided to try ordering online. So I did that and they arrived safe and sound yesterday.
Which brings us to now. Let me start by saying my first mistake was ordering fish and then deciding to research. I had no idea you were supposed to cycle the tank, etc. BUT, the fish are here and there's no getting rid of them now, so my only option is to hopefully get the tank established without a loss.
I had one day to set the tank up before the fish came, so I tried to find a solution to hopefully make the water tolerable and keep ammonia levels under control. From what I read, Tetra SafeStart was about my only reliable option to jump start the cycle. So I declorinated the water, put in the SafeStart, added some Tetra Smart Balance, and some API salt (didn't know about the salt either until after the fact. I hope this isn't too big of an issue though.)
I have some decorations, 3 fake plants, gravel, 1 small air stone, and a bubble chest. T8 light. 20 gallon tank. Fish are 2 Tiger Barbs, 2 Topsail Platy, and 2 Boesemani Rainbow. Ordered from Live Aquaria and are pretty small (around 1-1 1/2 inch).
Now that you know what I have and the situation, I'm turning to you guys to help me through this successfully. I know I made some honest mistakes and what makes it worse is I literally have no way of getting rid of the fish. Period. But, I feel confident disaster can still be avoided and I'm a quick learner.
I'll attach a pic of my aquarium if that helps. I guess my concerns right now are: is the way my tank is arranged alright? Do I have enough air bubbles to provide oxygen? I've read that no water changes should be performed for around 10 days to let the SafeStart work. Is this correct? My water is slightly cloudy and was like this before fish were put in it. I know this is not anything caused by stuff in the tank because it is all stuff used by the previous tank owner and I washed everything with warm water before filling the tank. Will this go away or are there things I need to do to fix it?
The fish seem happy and not under much stress. They are swimming around all levels of the tank and ate well this morning. One of the barbs seems to want to hide up top behind some plants most of the time, but will swim out every now and then. Is this behavior normal or should I be concerned?
What food(s) should i feed these fish? I've got some Wardley Tropical Fish Flake food, but should something else be provided in addition to this, say some freeze dried food like blood worms or something?
Anything else that needs to be addressed would be helpful as well.
On a side note, I have a master test kit on the way. I'm having to suffice with ammonia test strips right now (better than nothing). Readings have been below .25 but of course I can't get an exact number.
Sorry for the long post. Hope I'm not over paranoid, but want to do this right and not screw up any further.
Last edited by PianoPlayer07; 07-20-2013 at 01:05 AM.
Welcome to the forum, and back to fishkeeping!
First and foremost, go and read this thread on cycling with fish. Don't listen to what they say about SafeStart. It won't keep your fish healthy. You'll need to be vigilant and watch your parameters and immediately do water changes to keep the ammonia and nitrites down to safe levels. The lowest reading you can get with the strips (.25ppm) is the threshold for trouble with both of those, so as soon as it shows up, do a 50% water change.
And I quickly ran your stock through AquaAdvisor, since I'm still a beginner and learning myself. :) It sounded like you have two types of schooling fish in there, and you do (the Barbs and the Rainbows). They won't stay happy with their current numbers for long, and I'm not sure your tank would be able to support proper schools of both. Someone with more experience should be along to help with that.
Just an update this morning (fish have been in tank for 2 days). Fish seem to be livening on up and adjusting nicely. They have ate well both mornings. The colors on everybody are really beginning to pop even though they are young. Surprisingly the water seems a little more clear as well, so hoping it will be nice and sparkly in a few more days. Checked ammonia levels with my strips and the reading was the lowest thus far, zero. Again, I have an actual master test on the way so this method will have to suffice for now. My local store was out of stock.
No water changes yet, but let me get clarification on this matter: do I only need to change a percentage of the water when ammonia levels begin to go back up? Or should it be done on a schedule? Both?
Finally, I could kick myself for overlooking that two of my species were schoolers. Guess I got the kid in the candy store syndrome. They do have a mate at least, so I'm thinking maybe I can add around 3 more barbs when the tank gets stable to make a school and deal with the rainbows as the situation presents itself. I'm hoping they can suffice as is since I won't have room to add more. They seem to be making friends with the Platy, though, so maybe that's good.
Will the schoolers be able to survive if they are kept as is? Because I've read several accounts of schools dwindling down to one and the lone fish survived for years thereafter. Just makes me think they'll be ok, even if they aren't as perky as normal.
AFAIK, schoolers tend to be skittish and stressed out when they don't have a large-enough school. I haven't tried caring for any schooling fish myself yet, so I have no direct experience to give advice from, only things I've picked up from reading the board here.
As far as water changes go, you should change the water at least once a week, even if parameters are fine, and then as needed if the ammonia or nitrites (once you can test for them) go up. There's things that we can't test for in the water (like various hormones: growth stunters, breeding, stress) that can only be removed through water changes. In natural environments, water is constantly moving and flowing, getting rid of the old, stale water and introducing new. Since our tanks are enclosed systems, the water changes mimic the natural flow of water and help keep the fish healthier.
Good advice stardancer, always buy "schooling" fish in groups of at least 6, IME, at least 10 are better.
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Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit. -Vince Lombardi
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See my profile for my tanks and what fish I keep
Thanks for the advice so far guys. I think I'm gonna let things play out as far as the numbers go for now anyway. Fish seemed a little weird acting this evening and hovering around the top. Checked ammonia and of course it had spiked to .50. Did a large water change.
I'm surprised more haven't chimed in on my other questions yet. I appreciate the two that have, though.
Anyone mentioned the fact that Boesemani get quite big and like hard water. The platies also like it harder than the tiger barbs. A pair of tiger barbs is going to be trouble.
Please see my responses above
Originally Posted by PianoPlayer07
46 gal fw tank with black skirt tetras, neon tetras, spotted corys, cherry barbs, otoclinus, snails & 4 amano shrimp - plastic & live plants
5 gal QT
Remember: Our job is to take care of the water our fish live in
At the moment, i wouldn't worry about numbers of schooling fish etc.
Your big problem is not letting ammonia spike and kill everything, so keep testin and keep water changing, that'll be going on for a while. My only additional suggestion is to stop or drastically reduce feedings.
More food = more ammonia, not feeding them for a while won't hurt them at all and will give you a better chance of reducing deaths.
150g Malawi + Cuckoo cats
45g Community - Pearl Gouramis, Tetras and Crayfish
As a beginner who just went through something similar (my son showed up from school with a bag of four fish, forcing me to rush out and buy the first tank I found), here is what I did:
- I immediately bought a liquid test kit and measured daily.
- Anytime I saw a reading at 0.25 ppm or above for ammonia or nitrites I did a 50% water change. My water changes were very frequent at first!
- I fed the fish sparingly... I fed them every day, but would give them "normal" food one day, and a very reduced amount the next.
- I used API stress zyme, which was recommended by my LFS. I don't know if it did anything or not, I will let others chime in on whether the stuff is useful or not.
My tank was cycled and consistently reading 0 for both ammonia and nitrites after about 4 weeks of this routine.
In essence, I am repeating what everyone has already said: for the next 4 weeks or so, you will need to manage your tank aggressively. Still, I am proof that it can be done!
Make sure to read the article linked by Flyby Stardancer above on cycling with fish. All you need to know is there!