Diary Of A 55g Build

Discussion in 'Freshwater Aquarium Builds' started by Bruce Thompson, Apr 17, 2018.

  1. Bruce Thompson

    Bruce ThompsonNew MemberMember

    Here we go. I've got the tank in place and running. Now to see if I can have the patience to complete a fishless cycle.

    Here's what it looks like at the moment:

    I've just added two bags of BioMax to HOB to boost the surface area for bio-filtration, and I'm just starting to read some Ammonia (0.25 PPM), no Nitrite or Nitrate yet, but then I just found out I'm not shaking the second bottle enough so maybe that's a false 0. We'll know more when I test again tomorrow.

    I'm trying to be patient. Honest!

    The plan is to build it out as a moderately planted tank, with a nice community of:
    - Neon Tetras
    - Fancy Guppies
    - Sword tails
    - Cories (Bronze? Dwarf? Haven't decided yet)
    - A snail or two or three
    - Perhaps some Ghost shrimp
    - Maybe a couple of Dwarf Gouramies.

    Haven't really decided yet fully, and my wife hasn't given me her ideas yet either, so the stock plan is a work in progress.

    The plan is to get the cycle established, then:
    - Introduce one fish, probably a shoal of 8 or so Neons
    - Wait. A week or two, let them get settled.
    - Add a few plants. I'd like to get kind of fill the far left corner with a bit of a jungle, then spread out to low plants in the foreground right corner.
    - Wait. A week or two, if I can manage it.
    - Introduce another fish. Maybe the guppies. Figuring 2 or 3 males and 4 to 6 females.
    - Wait.
    - Repeat.

    I don't want to overload the tank, but I really REALLY want to start stocking NOW!!! hehe

    I'd love to hear any thoughts, suggestions, etc etc. I'm sort of pretending I don't know anything, because the last time I had a tank was over 10 years ago and so much is new! Plus I only had middling success before at best, and I really want this tank to shine.

  2. Brannor

    BrannorValued MemberMember

    Below is my 55G. I didn't even know about Fishless cycles until we had already put fish in the tank... (and we have young daughters who at the time, wanted fishies!

    Guppies (about 40 fry at present from varying parents) - 11 Adults at present after two tragic losses in the last few days.
    2 Dwarf Gouramis (1 Neon, 1 Flame)
    3 Bristlenose Catfish (1 will be moving to a 23G soon)
    8 Neon Tetras (may be joining the catfish along with 2 swordtails and some male guppies)
    4 Yellow Shrimp (though not sure all 4 are still alive, at least 3 are...but so many places to hide...

    At worst, I'll add some more fish after the Guppies settle in time... might try 5 Kuhli Loaches...

    And I'll likely add some ghost shrimp to my 55G soon too. :)
    Adding some RCS to the 23G.

    Still working on filling up the plants...but waiting/hoping the java fern gets going and the grasses take off.
    Good luck with your cycle. I look forward to tracking your progress.

  3. OP
    Bruce Thompson

    Bruce ThompsonNew MemberMember

    That's a gorgeous tank you have there!

    Looking over your fish list, I'm getting the feeling I'm not totally off my chump on what I'm thinking (well, not about that anyway :-D ).

    The last tank I cycled I did with fish, and I lost at least half of them while the tank cycled. As I recall, fishless cycling was just starting to be talked about and there was a fair bit of controversy at the time about whether it was worth it or not. Prevailing wisdom seemed to be "Meh, buy junk fish and let them do it for you".

    Seems opinions have changed :)

    I really like how you've got the different zones in your setup with the various elements providing quite a different feel as your eye moves across along. I'd love to achieve something like that with mine.

  4. Hunter1

    Hunter1Well Known MemberMember

    Cycling with neons will be a disaster IMO.

    Zebra danios are a sturdy fish that will handle the ammonia and nitrites during cycling.

    But they are a kool water fish so may limit what you can add later unless you rehome them.

    Cherry barbs would be my second choice, anything but neons.
  5. OP
    Bruce Thompson

    Bruce ThompsonNew MemberMember

    Ah, should probably have been clearer. I'm determined for this to be a fishless cycle. It'll kill me (patience? Me? nah), but I don't want to introduce any fish at all until I can go 2ppm Ammonia to 0ppm Ammonia, 0ppm Nitrites in 24 hours or less.

    I love Zebras too, just haven't decided if I want a small shoal of them as well (in all honesty.... probably ;-) )

    I'd love some Cherry barbs, they're very pretty, but don't they tend to harass others?

  6. Hunter1

    Hunter1Well Known MemberMember

    “Cherry barbs”. Not in my opinion. Tiger barbs do.

    I have 9 cherry barbs that I keep in a 20 T just to keep the cycle going as it’s a quarantine tank/ rearing tank.

    I have moved pregnant guppies, juvenile platys into the tank with them, no issues.

    They seem very docile and have been in that tank 5 months.
  7. OP
    Bruce Thompson

    Bruce ThompsonNew MemberMember

    Thanks Hunter, you're right it was the Tigers I was thinking of. I'll have to give the Cherrys a good look.
  8. OP
    Bruce Thompson

    Bruce ThompsonNew MemberMember

    Why does cycling take so long???? Kidding, the tank's only been up and running for .... what, four days now? Did I mention that I have issues with patience? ;-)

    At least I'm seeing a gradual increase in Ammonia, now to see Nitrites and Nitrates follow suit.

    Here's today's numbers:
    - Temperature: stable at 77.0 +/- .1
    - pH: stable at 7.8
    - Ammonia: 0.5 ppm
    - Nitrite: 0
    - Nitrate: 0 (this time I'm confident this is accurate, I properly shook up the second test solution prior to adding it)

    I've got some Ammonia Chloride on the way, so I'll be able to force the Ammonia level to 2ppm which I think will help push things along. Right now I'm adding a pinch of flakes twice a day to help get things started.

    A question I do have: My LFS advised me not to put plants in until I've got my first fish settled and I'm beginning to wonder about that advise. The reasoning given was that until I've got fish producing food for the plants, they'll be starved for Nitrates. It seems to me that since I'm forcing the cycle and will be seeing Nitrates soon, doesn't that mean that there _will_ be food for the plants? I'm not suggesting I'd turn the tank into a jungle before adding any fish, but I'd like to have some greenery in there for them to swim around/hide in, etc. What do people think?

  9. Hunter1

    Hunter1Well Known MemberMember

    I’ve put plants in all of my tanks, both slow cycle and immediate cycle.

    I didn’t notice that but the statement does make sense.
  10. Brannor

    BrannorValued MemberMember

    My wife's tank (23G) was fishlesh, plantless and just had driftwood in it for the first week (along with media from my tank and a bunch of algae wafers and flakes) but now has a bunch of plants, 3 guppies and (oh dear...) 10 RCS. The Ammonia is only barely showing but nothing on Nitrite/Nitrate...so I get you, patience... hmm. I'm probably going to repeat the mistakes of the past... Don't give in like I have...twice now it seems. When I seeded my tank with plants, the mass-chain LFS sold my wife semi-aquatics so I watched and fought in vain to save several plants that just melted... was very depressing until I learnt about aquatics vs semi...

  11. psalm18.2

    psalm18.2Fishlore LegendMember

    I've cycled all my tanks with plants. Never had an issue.
  12. OP
    Bruce Thompson

    Bruce ThompsonNew MemberMember

    Maybe when we get back this weekend (quick road trip to So Cal), I'll swing by one of the LFS and grab a few starter plants...

    It just looks so bare and lonely in there!

  13. Hunter1

    Hunter1Well Known MemberMember

    There are some great on-line plant sellers that do a great job, great value.

    I order from wetplants.com. 1/2 the price for plants 2Xs as big.
  14. OP
    Bruce Thompson

    Bruce ThompsonNew MemberMember

    Thanks, I'll look into that!
  15. OP
    Bruce Thompson

    Bruce ThompsonNew MemberMember

    Progress, of sorts. I got Dr Tim's pure ammonia today. For a first try added 100 drops (not enough to get to 2 ppm, but should be enough to be measurable, counting drops was making my eyes cross...) (anyone know off hand how many drops in a ml? I need 220 drops to get 2 ppm in my tank)

    Temp: 77.1
    pH: 7.8 (maybe 7.9? hard to read)
    Ammonia: 1 ppm
    Nitrite: 0 ppm
    Nitrate: 0 ppm (maybe 1 or 2? It's not the perfect match to 0 it was yesterday I don't think, but no where near 5)

    Memo to self: When doing the Nitrate test, don't grab the Ammonia #1 solution instead of Nitrate #1!

    The good news is, we're going away for a couple of days so I'm just going to let it sit and cycle. The bad news is that my Coffee Roaster went and died on me. Sunday after we're back will be spent tearing it apart and trying to figure out what's wrong, rather than obsessing over the tank. Soonest I'm going to be adding anything then will be the weekend of the 28th.
  16. Brannor

    BrannorValued MemberMember

    Dr Tim's Aquatics - Ammonium Chloride - Aquarium Fishless Cycle - 60ml
    2 oz (59 ml) bottle of reagent grade ammonium chloride for use when fishless cycling. Concentration is 50 mg/ml of total ammonia-nitrogen (TAN). Dose 1 drop per gallon of aquarium water.

    1 drop equals 0.05 ml so this bottle will treat 1,180 gallons.

    Generally during a fishless cycle one needs to add ammonium chloride to their tank 3 or 4 times so this bottle is enough ammonia to cycle aquariums up to 250 gallons.

    Some conversions:

    • 1 teaspoon equals about 5 ml which is 100 drops.
    • 1 tablespoon equals almost 15 ml which is 300 drops
  17. OP
    Bruce Thompson

    Bruce ThompsonNew MemberMember

    Fantastic, thanks!
  18. OP
    Bruce Thompson

    Bruce ThompsonNew MemberMember

    Back after a couple long days driving :)

    Temperature seems to be not as stable as I'd like, it was 78.5 when we got in last night, and it's 78.1 now. So the range it's been over is 76.8 to 78.5 in the last week. Going to have to keep an eye on that.

    Here's today's number:

    Temperature: 78.1
    pH: 8.2 (inching up a bit but not dramatic and haven't done a single water change yet)
    Ammonia: 1 ppm (I've got an auto-feeder adding a pinch of flakes twice a day, so perhaps not surprising)
    Nitrite: 0.25 ppm (First time I've had measurable Nitrites!)
    Nitrate: ~2.5 ppm (Darker than 0, not as dark as 5. Also first detectable Nitrate!)

    Overall, it looks like it's proceeding well. I'll let the auto-feeder run out today or tomorrow, then see how the levels settle out. Once I see definite 0 ppm on Ammonia, I'll dose it up to 1 ppm then watch to see if Ammonia and Nitrite levels drop to 0 with 24 hours. Once I see that I'll know it's cycled.

    Probably going to add a couple of plants next weekend...
  19. Hunter1

    Hunter1Well Known MemberMember

    Congratulations on the progress.
    I wouldn’t worry about that small of a temperature swing over a week.

    I was gone all day today and left windows open and no air. It was 84 when I got home. I cooled house to 77.

    My tanks probably rose 1.5 degrees. 1.5 PH would have killed em, 1.5 degrees in temperature, no issues.
  20. OP
    Bruce Thompson

    Bruce ThompsonNew MemberMember

    Great, thanks Hunter. I'm less worried about swings while I don't have fish.... but once I have fish I was a tad nervous.