If you are a beginner to freshwater fish keeping, you may find the following posts very helpful.
Ammonia Instructions when Cycling with TSS+ or other Bacterial Starter
Easy First Tank Setup & Guide
Why can't I have more fish.....
Abbreviations, Initialisms, Acronyms, and other Lingo
Starting Fish Keeping - List Of What You Need To Own And To Know
Important - Great article about Stress and its Role in Fish Disease'
Quarantine Tank Setup
Acclimating Fish to Your Aquarium
Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle
With the substrate you've chosen, I wouldn't add anything for a while. Eco complete leaches ammonia for the first few weeks so adding fish isn't safe.
Adding fish isn't safe if you choose a different substrate either as the tank still needs to cycle as LaTulip mentioned. This usually takes around four weeks so no fish should be added to the tank before this process is done. If you do not know how to cycle a tank there are great articles about this everywhere if you just google 'how to cycle a tank'.
There are two ways of cycling: with fish or without. I suggest you do it without as it requires much less work of you and you don't harm any live animals. Fishless cycling also leaves room for mistakes which is great if you're new to the hobby.
What I would do is get the tank up and running. Add water, add decorations, substrate, plants, etc., but no fish. Cycle the tank and once it's done add fish but not too many all at once or you run the risk of getting into a minI cycle.
Yeah, ask kiks said, you can do it either way.So, I'll just get right down to it. I recently acquired a JBJ RL 45, and I'm looking to starting a freshwater tank, but I have no idea how should go about adding things into the tank. I've been looking around for a definitive answer as to whether I should add fish or plants first, and I've been getting a lot of mixed answers. I have CaribSea Eco-Complete Substrate ready to use, just not sure how soon I should add things in. A guy at my fish store told me I'd be able to add fish in right away, but from other videos I've watched, it seems plants always go in first.
I'd wait on the plants for at least 3 weeks. The cycle is for bacteria in the filter.Yeah, ask kiks said, you can do it either way.
You'll want to get a water test kit, so you can keep an eye on the levels.
Doing a fish in cycle is a lot more work (that's how I did it when I first started since I did not know what the cycle was)because you have to do 25 - 50% water changes every other day during the ammonia stage and 25 - 50% water changes daily once your nitrates begin. It's a lot of work but definitely doable, but it's uncomfortable for the fish. It's like being really really hot, you are uncomfortable but you will live. The fish and left over food work as your ammonia source.
If you decide to go fishless you will need to add ammonia or something to work as your ammonia source, you can research more about it since I haven't done it myself, I don't want to give any recommendations on this route.
You can and should add your plants right off the bat, so add your rocks, wood, decorations, and what have you, then if you are going to do a fish in cycle you may want to wait a few days. You will also want to make sure you get a water dechlorinator, the most popular being seachem prime. This is important unless you are using well water. Since city water has choline added to to it, every time you add water, the chlorine kills your beneficial bacteria. Prime can also make the ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites not harmful to your fish for 24 hours. It's especially important during a fish in cycle.
Something else you can do to help, is switch up your media in filter. You may want to go to YouTube and look up " my filter" (haha yep, my filter) and search through his videos to see if he did a video for your filter type, or at least on close to it. I removed the activated carbon and added Biohome Ultimate Media, it comes with trace minerals thay both help with water parameters and is a good place for beneficial bacteria.
I hope some of those these pointers help out, if you have any questions, let me know.
Sounds good! My first tank was a 32 Gal saltwater tank and I thought it would be pretty similar, but the more research I do, the more I realize how different the upkeep isI’m a newbie also, and almost everyone here says you should cycle your tank first. I’m going to follow this thread because my son (5years) is wanting to start his own little freshwater tank. Check out the nitrogen cycle link in the beginners page. It has tons of information.
Thank you! I'd been having a pretty difficult time getting a straight answer, so I figured forums are probably the best place to go since there are thousands of people (like yourself) who are more than happy to help. As far as stocking the tank, are you talking about adding plants right off the bat? I don't know how capable I am of keeping aquatic plants, so I was thinking of doing exclusively low-light plants. For lighting I have a Fluval Aquasky, I hope that'll be enoughI'm glad you asked questions here before throwing fish in!
Kiks gave you good advice. Aquarium soil balls (like what you have and ADA aquarium soil) are full of ammonia and will raise your tank's ammonia for 2 to 3 weeks. Another thing it does it drops your tank's PH like a rock. My hard, high PH water in San Diego (7.9 PH and 13 KH) dropped to about 6.4 PH after a day or two. Your PH level isn't all that important, but when it changes drastically like that, it can shock and kill your fish. I've also noticed plants don't do well right away in this soil. They don't like PH fluctuating like that.
I personally would setup the tank, fill it with soil and de-chlorinated tap water and just let it run. Follow the substrate instructions and do water changes ever couple days to keep the PH swings at bay. After 2 or so weeks, your cycle should be making progress and the PH swings will lessen. I'd start adding pure ammonia at this point as the substrate won't leach that much anymore. There's tons of info on this website about fishless cycles.
Once the cycle is done, you're good to add some plants then fish!
The only thing I disagree about with Kiks is that I'd say you can fully stock the tank at once. If you cycle the tank with pure ammonia like I suggested (after 2 weeks of letting the substrate run its course), your tank will have more bacteria than a fully stocked tank needs. This is because you can add more ammonia to your tank during the cycle than your fish will be able to produce.
Some great news is that you're starting out with a 45 gallon tank. Most people start with 10 to 20 gallon tanks (I did) and it's not as forgiving as a larger tank.
I added plants right away and had no issues in my 20 gallon heavily planted and I'm currently in the process of doing the same in a 55 gallon, however, seems that others disagree with me, so I can only speak from my experience. I am somewhat new, so maybe you might want to wait. It al depends on how well you maintain it I suppose! In my 20 gallon, I have the fluval aquasky and it's done really well for me, my plants are doing really well. I have a bunch of different plants wgrowing with that light so you should be ok.Thank you! I'd been having a pretty difficult time getting a straight answer, so I figured forums are probably the best place to go since there are thousands of people (like yourself) who are more than happy to help. As far as stocking the tank, are you talking about adding plants right off the bat? I don't know how capable I am of keeping aquatic plants, so I was thinking of doing exclusively low-light plants. For lighting I have a Fluval Aquasky, I hope that'll be enough
The Ammonia leaching is very good to know, thank you! Is there any point in no-fish cycling where adding plants in would be too early? Another question; with the substrate I have, would I need to add any extra nutrients or anything? I'm planning on having strictly low to medium light plants.