Confessions of a New Tank Beginner *UPDATED*

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uprightandlocked

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Hi Folks,

I have been learning SO much since I started reading (obsessively, even!) these boards. Prior to this, I always assumed that you set a tank up, added some water, let it sit a couple of days and added your fish. Everyone was happy, life was beautiful, and so was your tank.

I had NO concept, whatsoever, of the Nitrogen Cycle or the fact it heavily influences the outcome of the tank and community of fish I would place in there.

So, today, I finally bought an API Master Test Kit. I was kind of nervous, because I probably should have done this from the beginning, and I was fearing the results!

My tank is officially on Day 9. Below is the transcript of the journal I've been keeping about its progress. Please don't flame me for the early introduction of fish, my LFS said it would be okay because they are all hardy! Now I'm trying to make things right!

Day 1: Set up my 10 Gallon Aquarium with an Aquaclear Power Filter, Heater (automatically keeps tank around 78 degrees) and used AquaPlus Tap Water Conditioner to reduce Chlorine and Chloramine. I also used Stress Zyme to add beneficial bacteria and speed up the process.

Day  4: Added fish (2) Female Lyretail Mollies, (1) Male Red Swordtail, (1) Female Mickey Mouse Platy

Day 6: Death of Female Mickey Mouse Platy. Added (1) Male Molly

Day 7: Added more Stress Zyme, per the directions on the bottle

Day 8: Added 2 Tablespoons of Aquarium Salt (per directions on the container) and introduced a small amount of Java Moss

Day 9: Tested water chemistry. Results below:


Temperature: Approx. 77 degrees (thermometer is on opposite side of tank from the heater)
pH: between 7.6 and 7.8 using the hi-range test. pH is 7.6 on the normal testing scale.
ammonia: 4 (WOW!)
nitrIte: 0.25
nitrAte: between 5.0 and 10.0

Now, I am assuming that the ammonia level is high because I am hopefully spiking in the cycle. Is day 9 too soon for this to happen if I used a product to hopefully speed up the process?

Also, if I perform a partial water change to reduce that level, do i have to add the entire dose of AquaPlus for 10 gallons, or just a reduced ammount corresponding to the amount of new water I add?

Any other insight for my water peramaters? The fish all seem to be doing well. They are eating and active and have lots of personality. The male Molly is relentlessly chasing the females!

Thank you ... I can't wait to learn more about this as I go through the process. Hopefully no irreversable harm has been done!

-UaL

EDIT: I will be testing the parameters again on Thursday. The API Kit recommends every other day testing for the majority of these tests.
 

Luniyn

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Re: Confessions of a New Tank Beginner

Definately do a water change to get those ammonia levels lower. Do maybe 20% and test tomorrow and if they are still high do another 20% until they get under control. And you only add enough of the AquaPlus to cover the amount of water you are adding not enough for the whole tank as the rest of the tank is already treated. Other then that you've already gotten nitrites, so thats a very good sign! Keep up the good work and you've be done in no time.
 
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uprightandlocked

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Re: Confessions of a New Tank Beginner

Luniyn said:
Definately do a water change to get those ammonia levels lower. Do maybe 20% and test tomorrow and if they are still high do another 20% until they get under control. And you only add enough of the AquaPlus to cover the amount of water you are adding not enough for the whole tank as the rest of the tank is already treated. Other then that you've already gotten nitrites, so thats a very good sign! Keep up the good work and you've be done in no time.
Thanks for the reply! What would be an acceptable level at this point in time for the ammonia levels to be at? I know at the end of the cycle I want them to be 0. But for now, how low should I aim for getting it? Thanks!
 

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Re: Confessions of a New Tank Beginner

Luniyn said:
Definately do a water change to get those ammonia levels lower. Do maybe 20% and test tomorrow and if they are still high do another 20% until they get under control. And you only add enough of the AquaPlus to cover the amount of water you are adding not enough for the whole tank as the rest of the tank is already treated. Other then that you've already gotten nitrites, so thats a very good sign! Keep up the good work and you've be done in no time.
AquaPlus is a water treatment? My local LFS told me to treat the whole tank everytime I do a water change/cleaning. Meaning I put in 4 oz. of water treatment for my 39 gallon tank (1 oz. per 10 gallons).
 

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Re: Confessions of a New Tank Beginner

uprightandlocked said:
Thanks for the reply! What would be an acceptable level at this point in time for the ammonia levels to be at? I know at the end of the cycle I want them to be 0. But for now, how low should I aim for getting it? Thanks!
At a pH of say 7.7 (since you seem to be between 7.6 and 7.8 at the moment) and your temp of 77oF, if you total ammonia level is 4ppm then 0.11ppm of that is free ammonia. 0.02ppm is unhealthy for the fish (though they can live in that level for several days before showing bad effects) but at your level it is borderline critical and needs to be lowered as soon as possible. You should shoot for keeping the total ammonia down at 1ppm or less, which isn't easy to do during this phase of the cycle. Even at 1ppm you are still at a toxic level of 0.028ppm so it's still not healthy for the fish for too long of a time. Unless you can get it down to 0.5ppm in the next day or two, you might want to look into getting a ammonia detoxifier like or . If you get one of those (or a similar one) then it would take the place of the AquaPlus. To get your levels down now, I would do a 50% water change, and then tomorrow I would do a 20%-25% water change and keep doing that each day for the next few days to keep the levels low and see how your water tests.


MudHog said:
AquaPlus is a water treatment? My local LFS told me to treat the whole tank everytime I do a water change/cleaning. Meaning I put in 4 oz. of water treatment for my 39 gallon tank (1 oz. per 10 gallons).
Yes AquaPlus is a water conditioner to remove chlorine from the water and break up the chloramine bond (if you have chloramines in your tap water). It is only needed on the new water you are adding because you've already used it on the water in your tank. It won't hurt anything if you have been using that amount, but it isn't really adding all that much either other then making you have to buy another bottle sooner (possibly why they told you that in the first place). These products do have some other good things in them like slime coat treatments or vitamins, but if you want to add those then there are better products out there to do that with and save this just for treating new water.
 

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Re: Confessions of a New Tank Beginner

I understand that if you pretreat the water that you are adding to your tank use the amount of conditioner for the water you are adding, if you are adding untreated water into your tank you should add enough to treat the amount of water in your tank.
Good luck!!
 

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Re: Confessions of a New Tank Beginner

Always pretreat for chlorine and other disenfectants. Chlorine is put in our water to kill bacteria and if you put untreated water into your tank you could kill off the bacterial colonies. It is just as easy to pretreat and a safer choice if you have sensitive fish.
mojo
 
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Re: Confessions of a New Tank Beginner

mojoman101 said:
Always pretreat for chlorine and other disenfectants. Chlorine is put in our water to kill bacteria and if you put untreated water into your tank you could kill off the bacterial colonies. It is just as easy to pretreat and a safer choice if you have sensitive fish.
mojo
How long before adding the water to the tank do I have to pretreat it? I did a partial water change yesterday and pretreated the water but only minutes before placing it in my tank.

Tomorrow I will re-test all of my levels, I was unable to do so today. Hopefully the ammonia went down, if even slightly!
 

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Re: Confessions of a New Tank Beginner

we treat the water when we put it in jugs. Then add it to tanks as needed. Most water treatments work immediately.
 
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Hi All,

Today I came home after being out of the house since yesterday morning. I found my female silver lyretail molly hiding amongst the java moss. She is much thinner today than she was when she left. I had thought she was pregnant when I brought her home from the store. I cannot tell if she aborted or gave birth. Would I be able to see fry this early on if they were born and not eaten? I don't see anything that resembles fry.

Also, her dorsal fin (is this the correct term? the one on top) seems to be slightly tattered and I think she may have Ich - there are two or three white spots on ther tail. This has me worried because I am in the middle of cycling this tank. Also, the male is being VERY aggressive towards her. He will not stop chasing her and she either wedges herself between the filter intake and the tank or the thermometer and the tank to hide from him. Should I return him to the pet store or will this behavior stop?

Also, I tested my water chemistry. Nothing is changed. Ammonia is still 4.0. NitrIte is still .25 and NitrAtes are still between 5.0 and 10.0. I will perform another partial water change today and hope it helps.

Should I remove the male from my tank and treat the tank for Ich? No other fish have white spots on them. Thanks for your help.
 

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Keep doing water changes to get that ammonia under control. The stress of the cycle is why fish get infections like your female seems to have (I think it's fin rot and not ich as fin rot would lead to the tattered dorsal fin and the white spots on the tail though a picture would help to be certain). It's possible that the male is acting aggressively because she is weak, or if she is/was pregnant then that could have something to do with it. But I've never tried to breed my fish so I will leave that to someone more experienced. In any event, this is also adding to her stress levels and she needs to be treated based on whatever illness she has. If you can separate them, even if you have to move her to a bucket and put an air stone in it to keep it aerated for a few days to help her calm down. You could also start her treatment in the bucket as well.
 
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I will set up another tank today to hold her in. Should I use the same water she is currently in? Or should I use partial current tank water with the remainder being new (but treated) tap water? Is a 2.5 gallon tank big enough to be a "hospital" tank? I have never used a hospital tank before. Any advice on setting one up (and quickly!) is greatly appreciated.

-Tony
 

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Yeah a 2.5 Gal will work fine as a hospital tank for 1 fish. Unfortunately setting one up quickly without a cycled tank to take media from is hard unless you can get a hold of some bio-spira. On the plus side though, with a lot of water changes you can keep the ammonia levels low in the tank for the time that she is in there (hopefully she'll get better in a week or so). Also just feed her once a day and just enough for her to eat every piece of food and not let any fall to the tank bottom. And yes start her out there with water from your main tank (about 75% of the water in the hospital tank should be from the main tank to start with) and add a little new treated water just to get her going. Then the next day do a 25% water change to get a good deal of the ammonia out. After that do a 0.5 gal water change every day to keep things fresh.

Once you are able to move her back, if you want to keep this tank going fishless then you could drop a few flakes of food in every 12 hours and don't do any water changes. The ammonia levels will spike and you can fully cycle this tank and have it ready for when ever you need it. Just note that without fish you must always keep adding a few flakes of fish food to keep the supply of ammonia up (even if the tank doesn't show any when tested) so the good bacteria have enough to eat.
 
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Hi All,

I set up a hospital tank this afternoon. Per the advice of my LFS I purchased both Melafix and Pimafix. He says to use them in conjunction with each other. If I remember correctly there has been some controversy surrounding Melafix for use with Bettas. Does this also apply to other Labrynth fish? My sick fish is a molly. I havent added any medication yet until I consult you guys!
 

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Yes you can not use Melafix with any Labyrinth fish. However, I don't think a molly falls under that category so it shouldn't be a problem.
 

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Mollys are livebearers so they should be fine with Melafix and Pimafix. Anabantoids (Labyrinth fish) are the only fish that those meds can kill.

We setup a 2.5 gallon minibow as our q/h tank and since it hasn't been cycled, we use NovAqua+ (Prime would be good too) on the water that goes in it. We also do a 50% water change every other day. We have Otos in there and they've been doing well with this system, even with 5 otos in there.

Livebearer males will routinely harass females unless you have 2 females to each male. Pregnant females get even greater harassment.

Do you have VitaChem? It would help her recover and regrow her fins better. - we use it on all our fish, healthy or not.
 
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Hi All,

Some more updates! The hospital tank is up and running. It is a 2.5 gallon tank equipped with a Fuval 1 Plus filter (so no carbon for the meds) and I also have a Hydor Mini 7.5 Watt heater installed, but currently not turned on (the tank is hovering between 80 and 82 degrees right now after just a couple of hours of use of the heater). As soon as I noticed the high temperature I unplugged the heater. I also gave my Molly her first dose of both Melafix and Pimafix. The water in the tank is 75% water from the community tank and 25% new water treated with AquaPlus. Do I need to add an airstone for her or is she okay with the filter?

Also, after taking that two gallons-ish of water out of the community tank, I treated some new tap water and added it in there. So I performed two water changes today in the community tank. After retesting the Ammonia level, it is down to 2.0 - cut in half! Tomorrow I will test again.

Any more advice for helping my sick Molly? You guys have been great, so far!

Also, I have to female Molly's in my community tank, including the one currently in the hospital tank.
 

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She'll definitely need an airstone, it will help her out. That vitachem is the only other thing i'd recommend (DFS orders usually take a few days it seems).

sounds like she got it because of the pregnancy.. which could last a LONG time.. if you see that 7.5w making it too hot or too up & down, i'd really recommend the 25w visitherm or there's a little 50w submersible for around $14 at wally-world. the main thing is to keep her temp constant and comfortable. (a ziplock bag with a few ice cubes in it can help lower the temp somewhat slowly and doesn't seem to cause great stress.)
 
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Thanks, FL. I added an air-line in there. It doesn't have a stone on the end, its just blowing bubbles, but I hope it helps out. Tomorrow I'll buy a stone if you all still think that is necessary (is it?). Also, I just thought of something. The community tank was previously treated with Aquarium Salt (the prescribed amount for 10 gallons). So 75% of the water in her tank has come with some amount of salt in it. Now, should I add more salt to her tank for the new water? I have read that it helps recovering Molly's. Or is that not necessary because there is already a little salt in it? Thank you!
 

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uprightandlocked said:
Thanks, FL. I added an air-line in there. It doesn't have a stone on the end, its just blowing bubbles, but I hope it helps out. Tomorrow I'll buy a stone if you all still think that is necessary (is it?). Also, I just thought of something. The community tank was previously treated with Aquarium Salt (the prescribed amount for 10 gallons). So 75% of the water in her tank has come with some amount of salt in it. Now, should I add more salt to her tank for the new water? I have read that it helps recovering Molly's. Or is that not necessary because there is already a little salt in it? Thank you!
It would be hard to measure the salinity and be sure of an exact amount so it would be your call on that. If you do add some, perhaps 25% of the recommended amount for the quantity of water that she's in would be the best dosage.
 
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