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Beginner Questions

Badmans Tropical Fish Message Center: Beginner freshwater : Beginner Questions


Friday, November 30, 2001 - 04:31 pm
I've just began keeping a freshwater tank .... First time fish keeper and of course I did it all @&& backwards .... Bought on a Pity impulse, Betta in a small cup, felt sorry for him ... got the tank etc then and there....
I got the Eclipse System 12 and then with tank and fish in tow decide to research on the web about keeping a tank and fish .... ( first mistake ) ....
Second mistake purchased along with the Betta some scavengers (4) Cory Cats ( 2. Peppered and 2. supposed to be Zebra but they have no black stripe so I don't really know what they are, possibly Bronze ?)..... set up the tank, cleaned everything, added water conditioner, Ammonia Clear, Correct pH (7.0) etc, got the temp to 80 degrees, let the fish float and added them.....THEN found out about cycling the tank and what that entails..... now I had 5 fish total to cycle a 12 gallon tank ..... possible ???

Set the tank up 11-12-01 ... did 20% water change the 15th, another on the 19th, 21st, 26th and one on the 28th.... ( all 20% treated water ).
On the 21st I got some pH and Ammonia/Nitrite test kits.... to the best of my ability ( couldn't really match the color cards exact ) the temp was 80 degrees, pH 6.8 Ammonia between .5 and .25, Nitrite .3.... on the 28th, temp was 81 degrees, pH 7.0, Ammonia .25, Nitrite .3 to .2 .....

1st Question:
My Betta Died yesterday .... from a picture I found on the Web, it looks like Dropsy .... he stopped coming up for food some days before (Betta Bio-Gold bits) but would take some frozen brine ( just a bit ) .... a few days before when I noticed him acting differently I added some Doc Wellfish's Aquarium Salt but only half dosage as I read Cory's don't like salt but I thought it might ease the Betta some .....yesterday he wouldn't come up at all and stayed in one of the caves all day coming up very few times for air..... his head and stomach looked very bloated and looking down on him his scales were open like a pine cone..... now Dropsy is just my guess from what I have read and the picture I found .... But could it be something else that I could have prevented ? ... from the water readings I listed could it have been the water conditions? and/or Ammonia and/or Nitrite poisoning?
Anyway, it was very sad as this was a beautiful fish and he only lasted two weeks in my care.

2nd Question :
It's now been 2 weeks and three days ..... the tank water is crystal clear, I keep reading it should cloud during cycling, so I don't know if I'm doing something wrong and the tank is not cycling properly.... the Cory Cats seem fine, they swim in groups, break up and dart to the top for air and like to swim up and down the sides with their reflection and they all eat fine.

3rd Question:
I will wait another month or so before adding any more fish... I would like to add another Betta then , is it possible whatever killed my first Betta is still lingering in the tank ? .... how should I treat the tank if so ? .... when I add the next Betta I will also add (2) Otto's and that will be all..... will this work for a 12 gallon, 7 small fish ?

Well, that's all my questions for now.... I'm sure I'll have more as time goes ..... Sorry about this long drawn out mail ..... any advice will be greatly appreciated.



Friday, November 30, 2001 - 04:59 pm
Patrick I only had one tank out of five cloud, so that's really not a good check. Did you read genisis and basics on Pat's main site? A nitrate check is actually the best indication the tank has cycled, but to keep things simple 5 weeks should be a safe guess.Just make sure you keep an eye on the ammonia although with the corys it shouldn't be too bad of a problem. They are getting a gulp of air at the surface. Seven fish is kind of pushing it in a 12 gallon especialy since the betta will get fairly good sized. I would stick with what you have for now. If after six months your tank is still going well and you see some algae you might consider the ottos. Ottos will do better if they have algae to eat and you won't have any for awhile!
As for anything lingering in your tank, you should be okay if the betta had dropsy(it can develop from poor water quality...which is what you had in an uncyled tank). I would worry if the illness is ich.



Friday, November 30, 2001 - 06:27 pm
Joyce, thank you for your response and advice .... I didn't read genisis but will after this post.... I'm bummed Dropsy can be brought on by poor water conditions, the poor Betta would have been better off in that cup I "thought" I was saving him from .... but I know better now and will definitely wait for my tank to fully cycle before adding another in a month or so.... Hopefully these corys will survive through it ....
Would you happen to know if there is a more clear and accurate way of testing the pH and Ammonia etc than the "match the color" kits .... it's hard ( well, maybe it's just me ! ) but it's difficult to get a clear reading .... if I walk out of my office from under the florescent lights the reading looks different.... I was hoping there was a device that would read it more accurate... ??..
I appreciate your advice !



Saturday, December 01, 2001 - 07:49 am
You can check out and see what they offer. Look under specialized products for Sharp testers and smart meters. They only problem is cost! A ph smart meter with .01 accuracy will run you 89.95. A ph sharp tester with .02 accuracy 49.95. It's a lot cheaper to get used to the color matching! You can call your local water company to find out your starting ph unless you have well water.



Wednesday, December 05, 2001 - 01:55 pm
I wouldn't bother with anything expensive for a test kit. I used Doc Wellfish (has a picture of an owl on the front). I agree that it is hard to match colour exactly but you don't really need to. Your ammonia, Nitrite should not stray above the lowest levels even when cycling. If they get too high, do a water change.

With regards to tank size, my first recommendation would be to upsize. The bigger the better (subject to space/monetary limitations of course). You will always want more fish (all of us do ). Alternatively, if you can't get anything larger than the 12 gal, make sure you have adequate filtration for your fish load. If you are going to overload on a tank that size, I would recommend hooking up a couple of penguin bio-wheel mini's. Together, they will filter 200 gallons per hour which will at least help to keep ammonia/nitrite down. Also, make sure to do regular water changes. Good Luck



Saturday, December 15, 2001 - 09:32 pm



Sunday, December 16, 2001 - 01:15 pm
Maxed in my opinion. Oscars get to be huge fish and they probably eat any small ones anyways.



Monday, January 07, 2002 - 05:35 pm

Well, I finally took the plunge (no pun intended) and got me a proper tank setup! and it cost me alot of my hard earned cash.

I got me a Jewel 40gallon tank, with heater and mechanical/biological/carbon filter. Just put me plants into the tank, and now i have my 2 shark catfish in there.

So my question is, am i better off leaving just the 2 shark catfish on their own, or should i add my 2 bala sharks to the tank?

Bearing in mind that i really want my catfish to grow to the length they should.

Thanks for any help given, i`m just really impressed with the level of knowledge you guys have and believe it or not it has enabled me to help others.

So cheers guys.



Tuesday, January 08, 2002 - 07:33 am
Newfish we need more details. Did you seed the new tank or is it cycling? By the way I just saw a catfish that was at least 3 feet at a fish store this past weekend. I don't know anything about shark catfish, but if one grows that big you are really in trouble!



Tuesday, January 08, 2002 - 07:39 am
Irredescent shark(catfish) get to be 40" long. I don't know if this is your shark catfish, but if you want them to grow to the length they should you'll eventually need a 200 gallon tank???? I don't think catfish grow too fast though so hopefully you will have time to sort things out.



Tuesday, January 08, 2002 - 04:14 pm

Well blimey.. i hope they do not grow that big, i was told about 12" ,the species is arius seemani.

As for the tank, it is the biggest i can fit in my home.. so i hope they will not grow beyond that size.

Oh, the tank is pretty well cycled. my oxygen, nitrite and ammonia levels all read fine. and i am obviously keeping an eye on them.

Have you any ideas what sort of salt i should add to the tank, as I have read that they enjoy a little salt in the water.

thanks for advice so far



Tuesday, January 08, 2002 - 04:45 pm
You can buy Aquarium salt pretty cheaply at just about any LPS store. I have some in a cannister and it's probably the best choice. Irredescent sharks are a different hopefully you'll be okay. My catfish(plecos) take many years to grow large! I was under the impression that catfish didn't really need salt, so you might want to verify that.



Wednesday, January 16, 2002 - 05:37 pm

I wanted to extend my thanks to Joyce and Paul for your help on my posts this past Nov.
I am the beginner with the small tank (Eclipse 12).... my tank is finally cycled ( I'm ecstatic :-)
pH 7.0 ... Nitrite 0 .... Ammonia 0 ..... Looks beautiful..... ( posted that with pride :-) ... told you I'm ecstatic ).
I now need to get the nitrate test kit and insure with that ( if my understanding is right that is the final test to be sure cycling is complete) ... right ?

Took your advice and left the same fish (4) corys, did not add any more .... they survived this and seem to be thriving.
The only advice I did not use, well right now anyway :-) ... is getting the larger tank .... but that will come soon enough :-) ... I feel the urge to set up one at home and the bigger the better .... this one is on my desk at work and is the largest I believe I can handle here.

Thank you both for all your help, you certainly put me at ease and let time do it's both have been lifesavers !

Thanks again !!



Wednesday, January 16, 2002 - 05:39 pm
One more post: ..... Didn't mean to leave out my thanks for Badmans site !! .... Thanks !!



Thursday, January 17, 2002 - 07:38 am
Glad to help Patrick ...hmmm maybe sometime I'll try one on my desk at work?



Thursday, January 17, 2002 - 04:21 pm
Joyce, I would totally recommend a tank on your desk ..... let me tell you, it's a brilliant stress reliever :-) ....... I find myself staring into the tank many, many times throughout my work day and especially while on the phone .... it's got to be the BEST work therapy I've found :-) .... and with your knowledge and love of fish the fish you bring will be sure to benefit also .....



Friday, January 18, 2002 - 07:37 am
I might end up staring at the fish and never get anything done? Bet you have a crowd at your desk peeking at the fish.



Thursday, January 24, 2002 - 02:34 pm
Oh yeah .... fish in the work place tend to get very popular ..... :-)

I have a question but I'll make a new post under "overstocked" as this post "beginner questions" one is getting rather long !



Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 04:53 pm
My 29gal has been up for 5 weeks now but two weeks ago a major brown algae bloom started. I've done two partial water changes in the last two weeks but the algae refuses to subside. In addition, my water is a bit cloudy--is this just bacteria gaining a foothold? I only have 14 fish in my tank and just two deaths so far, one, two weeks ago was an albino cory (his two mates died within 7 days from purchase so I suspect they weren't in good condition) and another one, my flame barb, died yesterday from what looks like dropsy. Other than that, my other fish (all tetras) seem to be doing fine. I do keep the fluorescent light on all day but that is the only light the tank receives--no sunlight. How can I get rid of the brown algae?



Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 07:02 pm
Wow cut that fluorescent light down to about 8 hours a day. That is way too much light for a tank ! Even planted tanks don't need the lights on all day! Ottos are good at eating algae, but your lighting is definately contributing to the problem. The cloudiness may be a bacterial bloom from too many nutrients, make sure you aren't overfeeding.


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