Complete Novice just bought a tropical set up

  • #1
Hello there,
I have only ever kept a gold fish, he is about 6 years old but they are the easiest thing in the world to look after. I now bought a 60 litre biorb with lots of decor and a pebble shaped heater for £80 which I thought was an absolute bargain!

Now the water has been in there about a week with no fish and is at 25-26ºC.

I have bought an ammonia testing kit as well as a 6 in 1 kit (which reads nitrate, nitrite ph + - and some other stuff I don't understand)

I was planning on buying some Danios to cycle the tank with or is this cruel?, this is what I have read online anyway but I have no idea what I am doing or what to look for except make sure ammonia is as low as possible. I bought an ammonia remover but surely if I remove it all the bacteria won't have anything to eat.

Also when changing the filter do you need to recycle all over again as I've heard most of the bacteria lives in the filter?

Sorry for all the questions but I want to get this right with little or no casualties.

Ive heard 1cm of fish per litre so my plan for the tank is to cycle with 5 or 6 danios, then add a few neon tetras maybe 6-8?, then once levels get back to 0 a few black & white mollies and maybe 1 or 2 'feature' fish once I've had the tank 6-8 months running nicely.

Any thoughts? I've heard of fishless cycling but heard it can take months which seems excessive?

I could be misinformed with any of this info so please excuse any mistakes

Thanks in advance for any info & advice.

  • #2
HI there, and welcome to Fish Lore!

You don't need to change the filter media unless it's completely falling apart. When that time comes, just toss new filter media in the tank somewhere and allow it to sit for a month to colonize beneficial bacteria before adding it to your filter.

Ignore the 1 inch per gallon rule as there's a lot more that factors in besides the length of the fish.

If you cycle the tank as I've mentioned above, it will give you two weeks to make a well informed decision on what fish you want to get.

  • #3
I am a novice also but you've come to the right place.

I think most people agree that a fishless cycle is the way to go, it can be very stressful to the fish. I cycled using fish food. Yes it takes awhile, but there are quicker options.

I've been told never change your filter media. Just rinse it out in the water that you drain out with your water changes.

Good luck!
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
Thanks for the replies guys,
Ive just ordered some tetra safe start a 100ml bottle... do I pour the whole thing in a 60ltr tank?
And I have some household ammonia (ammonia 9% & water) and have a dropper.
I will do this and hopefully it will start the cycle effectively.

Thanks again
  • #5
yes, pour in the whole bottle of TSS. You can never have too much good bacteria! Just make sure you shake it really well

some other members can help you with the ammonia question.
  • #6
Please see your other thread regarding stocking PRIOR to purchasing your fish and TSS. Thank you.


  • #7
If you have a filtered aquarium with a goldfish running for 6 years now, then you have a cycled tank. Just borrow part of the filter media (a sponge, ceramic rings, whatever it has in it) for the new aquarium to kickstart your cycle.

TSS and borrowed media should both be used with fish in the aquarium to feed the bacteria. Ammonia adding type of cycling should be done without the fish. Household ammonia is probably gonna have soap in it. Shake the bottle up. If it foams or suds, then it's got soap and can't be used.
  • #8
On day 15 do a water change and add fish.

I respectfully disagree. It is my understanding that when you are using TSS, you add the fish at the same time that you add the TSS.
  • #9
I respectfully disagree. It is my understanding that when you are using TSS, you add the fish at the same time that you add the TSS.

Thanks... I've edited my post, even though I cannot find any indication anywhere online stating you cannot use pure ammonia in conjunction with TSS to fishless cycle.
  • #10
Thanks for the replies guys,
Ive just ordered some tetra safe start a 100ml bottle... do I pour the whole thing in a 60ltr tank?
And I have some household ammonia (ammonia 9% & water) and have a dropper.
I will do this and hopefully it will start the cycle effectively.

Thanks again

Don't use household ammonia.


  • #11
Phew, I'm not confused anymore...... LOL
  • #12

Your profile also mentions that you are not aware of the nitrogen cycle. I strongly recommend you read the posts on this site about it, as it is the cornerstone of the hobby in so many ways.
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
I'm confused... lol,
I have a bottle of 100ml TSS, a bottle of ammonia (suitable for fishless cycling it says on the front?), The filter sponge from my goldfish tank. Can someone explain in what order I put everything in? and do I put the TSS in with the fish? sorry for the confusion!
  • #14
I'm confused... lol,
I have a bottle of 100ml TSS, a bottle of ammonia (suitable for fishless cycling it says on the front?), The filter sponge from my goldfish tank. Can someone explain in what order I put everything in? and do I put the TSS in with the fish? sorry for the confusion!

Take the filter sponge from your goldfish tank and put it in the new filter. If you have done a water change or added declorinated water to the tank, wait 24 hours before adding the TSS. Pour the TSS into the tank. Use the entire bottle. Add fish to tank.

You do not use ammonia when using TSS. TSS is used when you cycle the tank with fish. Ammonia is used when you cycle without fish.

since you have sponges from an old filter and TSS, your tank should cycle very quickly. Don't do any water changes for 2 weeks.


  • #15
Personally, I would only use the seeded filter media from the goldfish tank. As long as it has currently been in use, it is still viable and would give you a pretty much instant cycle.
  • #16
I agree with Lynda.
  • #17
Welcome to the Forum Stem and Krysty...

I will tell you the hardest thing for me was the total confusion. But in time it will begin to sink in. Take it slowly and ask question is about all I can say. I still need to know so much more and there is an amazing amount of stuff to learn. 1 question will bring up a hundred more.

I wish you luck and enjoyment, which I know you will receive from your fish friends even Goldy...
  • #18
Hello everyone. I am new to this board and new to the hobby of aquariums. I am 24 and have had chronic Lyme disease for the past 3 years so I have a ton of time on my hands since I am unable to work right now and thought this would be a great hobby for me. I have been doing a ton of research the past few weeks but it feels like I haven't even scratched the surface and its kind of overwhelming haha. Anyway my plan is to start a 55 gallon African Cichlid tank. I know it will be a little challenging seeing that I'm a complete newbie but like I said I have all the time in the world right now. I will be purchasing the following on craigslist for a total of $250.

Does everyone think this is a good deal?
Is there anything that you would upgrade on this list for an African Cichlid tank?
Anything else I need to purchase that isn't on this list?

I will be asking many more questions once I get going. I read all about cycling so you don't have to worry about that .
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks everyone!!!!



  • #19
Seems like a good deal, the only obvious thing that I notice missing is sand or gravel.

Make sure you really know what you are doing before you mess with that pH stuff, and probably better to use SeaChem's buffers (more stable result).
Viriam Karo
  • #20
Agreed, it seems pretty good. But make sure the tank is in good shape, and that it holds water, and that the stand is in good shape too.

I would say just ditch the chemical pH stuff. You don't want proper 7.0 for African cichlids anyway. Do you know what the pH of your water is coming out of the tap?
  • #21
Welcome!! Sorry to hear about the Lyme disease.
I hoe you find this hobby fun! We are here to help if you have any questions.
  • #22
Oh, and don't forget… best to sterilize everything since you don't know what the previous owner may have dealt with before disassembling.

And WELCOME to Fishlore!


  • #23
Thanks everyone! I stopped at a local fish store and they recommended coral shell substrate or something like that. It supposedly naturally raises the ph. I had my tap water tested and they said everything looked good. I believe my ph was 7.4 or 7.5. I wasn't planning on touching the chemical ph stuff. I asked the owner a bunch of questions regarding the condition and everything seems good but I'll definitely look before I purchase it. What's the best way to sterilize the equipment?

  • #24
I would clean with a 10% bleach solution, then… rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse,… and rinse again. And when you've finished, and you're sure it's clean… rinse one more time

Good things they didn't give you gravel; I would have suggested you toss that.
  • #25
I think it sounds like a great deal, especially with the filter. New it runs $200 on Amazon.
Trevor Powell
  • #26
I agree with what everyone said here but I don't agree with cycling off the bat with cichlids. Sounds like you are going after a used tank and that is good but I still wouldn't start of with cichlids. Make sure you cycle with cheap sturdy fish like danios or another variety. Cycling with used gravel that is clean and well washed with treated water ie no chlorine should only take a week or 2. Then When the tank is ready after a couple weeks sell them back to lfs store and go for what you want. Only exception being angels that I can think of. They are very clean fish and sturdy to boot. Just don't buy wild angels. They are the exception. They have a poor resistance to ammonia / aquarium life. Heck they may even die if you don't acclimate them right if you are a newb stay away!


  • #27
I disagree that cycling with "cheap sturdy fish" is any better than cycling with expensive fish. Please plan for a fishless cycle, as patience now will pay off.

Trevor, the OP specified African cichlids. Angels weren't being considered.
  • #28
Thank you everyone! I definitely plan on doing a fish less cycle. No rush
  • #29
The only other thing is an air pump. Warmer water tends to have less oxygen cichlids I think prefer there water around 80*F . An Air pump would provide a little extra oxygen to the water.
  • #30
HI everyone, I am looking to get started in aquariums. I have a 10 gallon tank that is completely empty and ready for a fresh start, definitely looking for easy to find very hardy and easy to care for fish, and some advice on what equipment to buy. My price range is fairly cheap and id rather have this just as a tiny starter tank to see if I enjoy keeping an aquarium. I have kept some fish before a long time ago in this tank some zebra danos (which I now know should not be in a 10 gallon tank) they lived for about a year then died of ammonia levels that were too high. Anyways just looking for advice on basically everything I need to know to start my aquarium.


  • #31
Welcome to the forum and back to fish keeping. Do you know what the nitrogen cycle is? If you don't than just click on it and it should take you to a link that explains it. Next you will need to decide how you want to cycle your tank doing a fish in cycle which I did using Tetra Safe Start. Or a fishless cycle with ammonia. There Is information on both ways on the forum.....I started with the 10 gal tank kits, that come with everything. The heaters were the cheap non adjustable heaters that you can pick up cheap at Walmart and with in a few months 2 of the heaters malfunctioned sending the heat up to the mid nintey degrees and I lost a couple of fish. I replaced all three with Penn-Plax Cascade adjustable 10/40....50 watt aquarium heater. The tanks also came with a very small 2/10 internal filter. They didn't work very well either. I have very heavily stocked tanks so I upgraded the filters to the Aquaclear 30 HOB filters. Two of those stopped working. I am probably the only one on this forum that doesn't care for them . However I changed all of mine to the Penn-Plax 400 internal cascade filters and I am very happy with them. IMO it does a much better job of keeping my gravel clean . I cylcled all three tanks using the fish in TSS cycle method. . Alison
  • #32
It looks like a fishes cycle would be better.
  • #33
You can keep a couple of platys in there. They're hardy and easy to care for. Or 3-4 guppies.
  • #34
Both methods work . I just have no patience. I set up the tanks with dechorinated, water. I put in the substrate, heater, filter,plants, decorations and let the tank run for about three of 4 days, just to make sure all the equipment was working, and that there were leaks in the tanks. Then I went to the store and in my case I bought 6 neon tetras and a bottle of Tetra Safe Start. I came home and put the bag of fish in the water to come up to temperature, and emptied the whole bottle of TSS into the tank and even rinsed out the bottle in the tank to get out every last drop. Once the fish were at the same temp I netted them and put them into the tank. Then for the next 2 weeks I did nothing except feed them and did twice daily head counts. The only water that I added was to make up for evaporation, with prime treated water. At the end of the 2 weeks the tank was cycled to the bioload of the fish that were in there. The neons are fine and have been there over a year. Alison


  • #35
that sounds good but I haven't really decided what fish I want to put in the tank yet if u had any other suggestions of good starter fish for a 10 gallon
  • #37
Welcome to Fish Lore!!!! Nice to have you here!

Okay, well, Anders gave you a pretty good idea of what fish you can keep in there. Remember though, if you get something like guppies, platies, or Endler's livebearers you'll need to get all one gender, as they are livebearers and will produce a ton of fry otherwise. Also, females can come home from the store pregnant and can actually wait a long time before dropping the fry, so you might want to just stick with males.

Well, for starters, you'll need a bottle of Tetra Safe Start (TSS) and a bottle of pure ammonia to get your cycle started if you want a fishless cycle.

Also, for water changes and gravel vacuuming, you'll want a water siphon/gravel vacuum, I use the Aqueon ones.

For décor, choose stuff that the fish can hide in and just to provide an interesting environment. If you go with a betta, make sure to run your fingers around, through, and over any decorations to check for rough spots and sharp edges that can tear the fins.

I don't know much about live plants, but I have heard that silk plants are gentler on the fins, again, if you decide on a betta, this would be more important.

Anyways, hope I was able to help some.
  • #38
A school of pygmy cories might be doable...At least according to seriouslyfish


  • #39
In my experience, pygmy cories are too active for a 10g. I had some in mine and they were active at first but eventually showed listlessness and they slowly (over a few months) died off. @Coradee has also had hers in a 10, and they were more active and happier when moved to a bigger tank.
  • #40
I was thinking of getting some neon tetras and tss to start the cycle, is that a bad way to do it. and what kind of specs do I need for the equipment (i.e. what type of filter, etc.)

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