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New Tank Questions

Badmans Tropical Fish Message Center: General message area: New Tank Questions


Tuesday, January 08, 2002 - 01:14 pm
Ok, so I am new to this hobbie and now know that it would have been very helpful to have found this site before I made all the mistakes. The Genises section here has been very helpful.
Here is my question.
I have a 20 gal. tank and a 29 gal. tank. They are both set up all wrong. For example the gravel is not higher in the back than in the front. I have killed too many fish do to overcrowding before the cycle happens and much more. Is there a way to fix these issues? If I had no fish I would just start over but I do have fish. I am going to buy a 55 Gal. and start it right. Any suggestions would be helpful on how to correct the problems that already exist. I can't put all my fish together as I have an oscar and a jack Dempsy in my other tank.
This is really a fun hobbie though.
My first sword tail just had 15 little fry. Cool



Tuesday, January 08, 2002 - 03:34 pm
David your gravel isn't that big a deal. I have it level in my 29 gallon for 5 years with no problems(before I read it should be higher in back). Start your 55 gallon with a good filter (no UGF) to start with, also invest in a quality heater like EBO, Rena or Tronic. You can try to seed the new if you have any media and decor on your old tanks that you can transfer...that will cut your cycle time down. Make sure you do still check for ammonia etc..since there is no absolute time frame for seeding from another tank! Starter fish may be a problem with the jack dempsey or Oscar, but maybe you can catch the starter fish and move to your 20 gallon when you are ready to move one of the big ones. Other solution may be a pleco and feeding it zucchini since there wouldn't be any algae in the new tank and it would starve.



Tuesday, January 08, 2002 - 03:35 pm
I don't know how hardy plecos are for cycling don't take my okay on it! Maybe someone else has an idea.



Tuesday, January 08, 2002 - 03:58 pm
David, I am not sure what you are asking? If you have read the genesis section of the site, you are off to about as good a start as any of us can give you here. On doing your 55, just follow what is written. Start out with 2 fish, go slowly and add a couple at a time, with at least a week or two in between.

As far as the other two tanks you have, all you have to do is rearrange the gravel. You didn't mention if you have live plants, which would play a factor on how easily this could be done. You also didn't mention how many other fish you have besides the two so we really have no way of telling you how to manage them. About the only thing I can say is that Oscars and JD's do get rather large, and a 20 or 29 is really not adequate to house them. I don't understand why Joyce mentioned a pleco for cycling a new tank. These do not do well unless they are in an established tank of 6 months or older. Even tho you can hand feed the zucchini, they still need algae in the tank to gain the nutrients they need.

Give us more information on what type filters, what other type of fish you have, etc., how long you have had the tanks up and running and what you might want to possibly put in the 55 and maybe we can help you further.



Tuesday, January 08, 2002 - 04:38 pm
Kick the impression I got was that he boutght the 50 gallon for the Oscar or Jack Dempsey. These fish might eat or terrorize any of the cycle fish that I can think of! Everyone I know that has an Oscar only keeps a catfish with it for tank companion. I don't really know of any other fish he can really keep in a 50 gallon with an Oscar??? The only other thing I could think of was moving any fish he does cycle with back to the 20 when he decides to put the Oscar in the larger tank! He can't really keep an Oscar in the 20 or 29 gallon too much longer.



Tuesday, January 08, 2002 - 05:01 pm
Thank you for your information. Sorry I wasn't clear on what I had.
I have a 10 Gal. right now and it has a pair of swordtails, 2 pair guppies, no live plants etc. That tank has a heater, a power filter, and an under gravel air bubble thing.
I also have a 29 gal. tank with 1-oscar, 1-jack dempsy, 5 african cycklids, and one bola shark. No live plants. What I am trying to figure out is now that these two tanks are already set up I know there are mistakes. I would like to re-set them up but have no where to put the fish. Should I just live with it the way it is now till I can buy a bigger tank? Or should I get rid of the dempsy and oscar?
I know this is alot of information I am just trying to get it done right.



Wednesday, January 09, 2002 - 07:21 am
What African Cichlids? It will really help us with providing information. Cichlids of any kind are territorial and they may tear each other up in a 29 gallon tank. If you can find a home for the oscar and dempsy it would probably be a much better idea with the many problems you will soon be facing. You are going to have enough trouble providing room for the bala and other Cichlids. If the Africans are rift lake they should be in a species only tank. Five krib in a 29 gallon is way too many also! Find a good cycle fish that you want to keep for one of your tanks and get the 55 going. If you have Krib they will get along fine with Badmans suggested first fish(see fish profile on main board). If you have Rift Lake that's another discussion entirely!



Wednesday, January 09, 2002 - 09:13 am
You keep telling us that the tanks are set up all wrong. Do you mean you don't like the looks of them or is something mechanically wrong that the tanks are not operating properly? In either case, though, it is relatively easy (however, time consuming) to change things.

I know very litte about cichlids so I will let Joyce handle that end of it. If you think you want to tear these tanks down and start over, the fish "can" be moved to buckets of tank water that correspond to their size with airstones while the change is taking place. I will alert you, though, that the change must be done in one day, and a good portion of your tank water should be kept, along with the old filter media which should be kept moist with tank water so as to not destroy the bacteria colonies.

For all intense and purposes, the 29 gallon is not near large enough for the oscar and JD. If you are thinking of purchasing a larger tank, then I would wait until you can get it. If it would go where the 29 gallon is now sitting, the above technique can be used to have the 55 fairly cycled when you start. Any gravel from the old tanks would also help with keeping as much bacteria colonies as possible.

Think of it this way. If you were going to move and wanted to take your fish with you, the above is basically what you would do.

If you are rethinking your fish, I am sure as long as they are healthy, the LPS would maybe trade you for something else. Let us know what you decide and how it all flies.



Wednesday, January 09, 2002 - 11:14 am
Thanks again. I am sorry to have taken up so much of your time and I appreciate your answers.
Do the bacteria colonies live in the gravel even if the gravel was dry for a couple of days or is it only if the gravel came right out of a running tank?
The nearest pet store to me is about 3-4 hours away. I think I need to get rid of the oscar and JD before it gets too much trouble.
Anyone out there want them???



Wednesday, January 09, 2002 - 11:22 am
I do have 5 african cyclids. I really don't know what kind exactly. 1 black, 2 purple, 1 orange, and one striped. I guess the problem is that I got them from someone as a gift and they didn't say exactly what kind they are. I would love to show you a photo of them and have someone tell me what kind they are. Is that doable??



Wednesday, January 09, 2002 - 11:40 am
If you are talking purple and orange please do a search on the web on African Rift Lake Cichlid or you can send me a pic. click on my email. These fish have very specific requirements and some can get very large. If they are haps they will soon outgrow your tank. Mbuna stay small, but can be extremely aggressive depending on what you have. I keep my Africans in a 75 gallon tank with very high ph and high water hardness. I also add African Rift Lake Cichlid salt to the tank. Also I have about 7x filtration and change water weekly. These are really not fish for beginners unless you are willing to take a lot of time researching them. They are also a bit prone to parasitic infections so if they start scratching on rocks you should treat. Also rocks are a must for mbuna and shells are a must for some of the Lake T shelldwellers. You really need to try to at least identify the Lake they come from! I would guess at Lake Malawi as Lake T aren't always as colorful and Lake Victoria fish are rare. Orange may be a psuedotropheus zebra. Striped could be auratus (melachronis conspec)and big trouble! I am really guessing on these..there are a ton of pics of African Rift Lake fish on the web!!When I have time I can try to identify, but realize you are speaking of hundreds of different fish from two Lakes alone. Check out Badmans Rift Lake article on the main page and you will get an idea of the type of setup you should provide to successfully maintain these fish. I could give you pages of advice, but the trickest part to keeping this fish is to go for a certain 'type', throwing them all together with no identificationis really asking for problems. Some of these fish have been known to take over 100 gallon tanks and kill the rest off. Are these adult fish or juvenilles or don't you know? I try to keep a moderately aggressive tank, so all can hold there own with none getting too bullied. I just had a fitting comment made by someone very familiar with these fish at a huge LFS store he said, keeping these fish can sometimes be a crap shoot. There are many risks involved.



Wednesday, January 09, 2002 - 02:40 pm
having you help me identify the fish would be a great help. I will photograph them today and send them to your email address. Thanks again for all the help. It is great to have people like you and kick out there to help all of us on our journey.



Wednesday, January 09, 2002 - 05:53 pm
David they sure look like Lake Malwi African Cichlid. I sent you my guesses. If you do a search on the web for African Rift Lake fish you will find tons of information. These fish are becoming pretty popular in spite of the large tank requirements and water chem necessary to keep them. Good luck. If you have any specific questions let me know, sorry if I sounded kind of negative. All your fish really need a lot of space and just cannot be successfully kept in a small tank. Oh by the way if your gravel dried out in your tank accident it would not keep the bacteria going. So watch the ammonia levels on the new ten gallon and make sure it's still cycled. Gravel must be kept wet or the bacteria die off. Also if you decide to get tanks for any of these large fish remember no Undergravel filters. Oscar and African Rift Lake fish dig.



Thursday, January 24, 2002 - 03:41 pm
I am upgrading to a 29 gallon tank (walmart package from Aqua Tech) from a 10 gal. I have 1 red tail shark, 1 pleco, 1 red platy and an angelfish. They are all happy with each other at the moment. Any suggestions on what breeds may do well wiht these fish? I'd like to add more color to the community, but keep the harmony I have now. Also, do I need a powerhead and/or undergravel filter? Some people at local pet store say yes, but what are the advantages, will powerhead throw my angel around? Also, I'd like to add some live plants...any suggestions. Will live plants root in a small gravel?

My next question is what to do with the 10 gal. I have left. We want to set it up again, schooling fish? I don't want to breed though. Thanks for you help!



Thursday, January 24, 2002 - 05:07 pm
I don't know about the plants because I don't have any live plants, but as for the rest.... I think the platy would like some friends, but if you do not want fry, be careful. I can almost guarantee if you put male and female platies together, there will be fry! Also maybe add some tetras or cherry barbs? I don't think you need an UGF or powerhead, the hang on back filter should be enough. As for the 10 gal tank, I would keep it for a quarantine tank.



Thursday, January 24, 2002 - 07:29 pm
The angel will definately eat platy fry so he doesn't have to worry about that one and I agree platy do better in a small group. Skip the UGF it will eventually build up gunk under the filter plate and they can really be a pain. A HOB filter is all your really need, but a biowheel will also give you nice filtration on the 29 gallon(penguin or emperor). Cherry barb are a great suggestion as I keep with my angelfish and they ignore each other. The male cherry is really red and the female are pretty nice looking too.
Suggestions for the leftover 10 gallon white clouds and cory? Easy to keep and small fish. You could also try the platy in a small group of 3 with a couple of corys.



Friday, January 25, 2002 - 08:59 am
Marie and Joyce, thanks for the suggestions. LPS suggested gourami's as well for the 29. I am considering NOT doing the live plants or at least waiting ahwile on them. I picked up an Emperor per your suggestion. I think it will work well. Do you suggest a bubble wall? Does that add anything to my setup or just looks. Should I move my present tenants in the 10 gal. over to the 29 gal. 1 at a time? Any timeframe I should wait before adding additional fish?

This may be a dumb question, but as for rocks/driftwood, can these items be pulled from local streams, etc. and prepared in a way that I can use them in my tank? LPS prices on rocks and wood seem outrageous. Any online shops with better prciing?

Thank you for your help, this message board has been a huge help for me.



Saturday, January 26, 2002 - 07:51 am
A lot safer to use items from the LFS store. Driftwood if not soaked for a long period of time can turn your tank brown. Rocks you just never really know what's in them??? Anything from outside should at the very least be boiled. I always go with the safer bet...the store. Unless you seed the new tank from the old remember it has to cycle!! You may be better cycling first with a few small cherry barb and moving over your friends from the 10 later. Even if you try to seed by transfering filter media, water or decor there is still a chance the tank may cycle. The bubble curtain is really not necessary it just looks pretty. Hope that helps let us know.



Sunday, January 27, 2002 - 04:15 pm
Joyce, thank you! I didn't grab your message until Sunday so I missed your advice on the move. To update you where I am, I moved my small community into the new 29 Friday night. Everyone seems to be doing alright. I setup new tank with new gravel, new rock and swahala wood (soaked and rinsed for 24+ hours)(both from LPS) and some plastic plants to start with. All fish aappear to be very happy with the new space. It's great to see the angel swim freely wihtout the constraints of the 10 gal. Pleco has attached himself to many objects and shark has decided he likes the new slate to hideout under sometimes. I am very pleased to see their reactions. I held off on feeding the first 24 hours, did a complete test (ammonia, PH, nitrate, etc.) all came in around normal except for pH 7.6+. This doesn't shock me as the 10 gal always stayed around the same, even wihtout PH lowering treatment. The new tank has new filter (came with setup), but I released fish into the 29 with water from the 10 gal.

It has been 48 hours now and I will test again on Monday. I am keeping records as to chart the progress. I also added treatments for new tank setup (Cycle (added bacteria), Aqua Safe and Easy Balance from Tetra). The tank will probably cycle right? 95% of everything is new. In the past, my feeding techniques have been heavy causing me problems. I am going with the theory of not allowing the flakes to hit the gravel. The Angel and the Platy seem to grab the food right away. I am not sure what the shark is eating, and the pleco is sucking on the wood and back wall. Should I get rid of the bubble wall? Shoudl I add a power head?

So, what's next...keep testing....what else should I be looking for? I'd like to add more fish once the cylcing has occured....I will probably add some more platy (2-3) how do you tell male vs. female? Also, will take suggestion on the cherry barbs.

I have another question, I inherited a Emporer filter from a saltwater setup. I have washed it out repeatedly, scrubbed off excess salt and build up and soaked it near boiling water for 6 hours. Is it safe to use this in a freshwater setup or should I disregard it and purchase new Emporer? At the moment I am using the filter that came with the tank setup kit that I bought from Walmart. It is an Aqua Tech product, and it is supposed to be rated for the 29. I want the benefits of the Emporer but wasn't sure whether its former salt usage was safe.

Thanks again for your help!




Sunday, January 27, 2002 - 08:10 pm
Keep an eye on that angel. Just transfering water from the 10 to the 29 is probably not enough to cycle the tank. It usually takes about 7-10 days for ammonia to build up to dangerous levels in a tank that has not cycled. That's why most fish stores are pretty safe with a 7 day guarantee. Angelfish do not really do very well in new tanks, so even though it acts happy now you may be in for problems. Sharks are in the barb family and shouldn't be as touchy in a cycling tank. Anyways don't assume since the fish act fine the first few days that things are good. Keep testing for a ammonia spike and don't feed very much.
Did you ever read the Genesis article on the main board? It will give you a good idea of what to test for and when.
As far as the saltwater filter if you can replace all the media it might be okay. I think emperors have biowheels, so you may have to get a new one? Anything that the saltwater has soaked into I wouldn't really trust. Plastic is pretty inert and shouldn't really be a problem. However I've never really tried it so maybe someone else has a different opinion on transfering the filter?
I always had trouble telling males fish from females, but usually with the livebearers the female is a bit larger than the male and fuller through the stomach area. When I bought mine the female was pregnant(so easy to tell) If you see any with a small black area near their belly it may be a female that is ready to have young. Swords are a lot easier to sex because of the sword. Platy also have gonopodium it's just harder to see because they are small. Most pet stores sell young fish which makes ID'ing a lot harder.



Monday, January 28, 2002 - 12:12 pm
I watch the angel very closely. Everyday i inspect her. I will be doing another batch of tests tonight and a 10% water change (every 2-3 days right?). I will also keep the feeding to a minimum. I just finished reading the Genesis article, very helpful.

back to the Emperor: I don't have any instructions with it, so how do i operate it? I have a new Bio-Wheel, and some new carbon cartridges, but I notice a gray lever in back and the tube which sprays water on the bio-wheel. Does the gray slide bar control flow? If so, then what is recommened, up for max flow? Down for minumum? Is it okay to stwcih over to the Emperor even though i have been using the other Aqua-Tech filter since start-up?

I am still waiting to hear if anyone else had tried the switch over from salt to fresh with a filter.

Thanks again.



Monday, January 28, 2002 - 02:13 pm
FYI on the Emperor 280 salt to freshwater switch. I just got off the phone with Marineland customer support and they said as long as I thoroughly cleaned the 280 with hot water ans scrubbing, I effectively killed all bacteria that would have come with the used 280. I should be all set to start using the 280 on my freshwater setup.



Monday, January 28, 2002 - 04:24 pm
You don't say if the Aqua tech was transferred from your other tank. If you start using another filter and remove the old one you are just creating a more probable re-cycle situation. The more media you can retain from an old filter the better as it does hold some beneficial bacteria. In other words if the aqua tech was running on the 10 gallon for over a month it's best to try to use both filters for a few weeks so the good bacteria transfers to the new filter. If you just started using the aquatech in the last few days it probably won't make much difference. Good luck as I would never attempt cycling a tank with an angelfish.


paul putkowski

Tuesday, January 29, 2002 - 05:40 pm
as i've never had a tank smaller than 55, read with caution.

it is curious that someone above recommended not to use an undergravel filter. it has been my experience (since '88 or so,) that an UG with powerhead(s) is a salvation.

i started with the older (siphon) filters, but discovered the following procedure lets larger tanks be set for up to two years without a major reset:

1. use a deeply ridged UG and power-heads that are vastly over-powered. (my current batch has "volume controls".)

2. above the UG, add a couple of bags (in my current 110 long, i used 2.5 sofa-pillow-sized bags) of filter-floss. spread them fairly uniformly to about 5 inches from the glass. when the tank is developed, this provides such a huge surface area for bacteria (NOT filtration) that frequent water changes are not necessary. ALSO, use distilled water to prevent adding metallic salts, but you may want to check your DWater source since it is not always pH neutral (mine is pH 6.4 - 6.8)

3. add plenty of gravel. if the tank doesn't look like it has too much gravel, you don't have enough. as above (110 long,) i used 200 pounds (4 bags x 50 pounds) of "pea-pebbles" from walmart. ($3 a bag x 4 = $12 plus tax.)

4. to prepare the gravel, you will need some buckets. first, with larger "ace" buckets, fill half full with gravel, add water to over the gravel and add about 3/4 of a cup of clorox. stir with a mop handle and let sit for 30 minutes.

with smaller buckets, barely cover the bottom and rinse clear (and i mean clear) with running water. if you put too much gravel in the rinse bucket, the process will be very slow. less is better and faster.

5. don't worry about landscaping. dump the gravel to cover the filter floss.

6. slowly add water. if your water is high/low in the PH, consider spending $.58/gallon on distilled water at walmart.

7. attach and activate power-heads and hang-on filter(s) AND HEATER(S)

8. run for 5+ days.

9. add 50 small fishing minnows. (they are $2.60 here and work as well as the barbs i used to use.)also add two decent pinches of BIOZYME (.5 teaspoon)

10. feed these fish like crazy (i did 6+ pro-quatic auto-feeds per day, set at half volume.) i also fed about 10 wardley shrimp pellets a day, inducing a frenzy.

11. after 5 days, the ammonia will go through the roof. (aquarium pharmaceuticals nh3/nh4 test showed over 5.0)

12. after 5 more days, the ammonia was zero by the same test. when this happens, the tank is ready.

13. net the minnows and landscape. (i also removed/added 20 gallons, using distilled water.)

14. i added (two days after the partial

22 lemons
14 serpae
8 bleeding heart
3 honey dwarf gourami
2 sunset gourami
2 pearl gourami
3 green cory
2 kribies

I have not lost a single fish at this point (20 days later.)



Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 06:43 am
In the first place some fish ie Oscars will dig up an undergravel filter,rendering it usesless. In the second I have three UGF filters running on my tanks. Do I like them NO! Someday when I have the energy I will tear them out. Do they work okay, one has been running 5 years. Do I have additional filtration on these tanks YES and one is heavily planted with java fern. The HOB filters are a lot easier to maintain and keep clean for most fish keepers. Not everyone does water changes every week or two like I do. Most people throw the fish in and let things go until the water turns green. So why recommend a filter to them that is hard to maintain? Twenty days is hardly enough time for a UGF to breakdwown and become clogged.In the past UGF filters were revolutionary, but today things have moved on with better forms of filtration for aquariums. Try getting back to us in 2-3 years and voice your opinion on the UGF filters. Also there is nothing wrong with using a couple of gallons of distilled..if you are using pure distilled you are robbing fish of essential nutrients that can affect their health over time(Some of my tetra are over 5 years old how about yours?). Also hate to clue you but if the biozyme is too old it does not work. Bacteria does need a food source (if you think this one out) and simply cannot get food in a bottle.



Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 01:34 pm
Different strokes for different folks.


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