Final Checklist for Aquarium

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by OT4, Jul 7, 2014.

  1. OT4

    OT4Valued MemberMember

    I'm in the final stretch of preparation for my first real tank! I'd just like to go over everything (and I mean everything) That I have done and will do. Please tell me if I should do anything.
    • I have a 20 gallon tank
    • I have plenty of artificial plants and rocks (for hiding places) and will use white sand (sand because I will have a few corys)
    • A friend of mine will give me a filter that he used, so I don't have to cycle my tank
    • I will use a heater to keep the temp correct for tropical fish
    • I will use seachem prime before I put fish in, and in the water when I do a water change
    • I will do a water change once a week, removing 25% of the water

    Once again, please give me some feedback!
    That's about it. One last question I have is what fish should I start with. I want a tropical fish that's colorful, hardy, and can live with other fish that ill add later on. Also, what food should I buy? Thanks!
  2. poeticinjustices

    poeticinjusticesWell Known MemberMember

    Hello and welcome :) I'll let some other people comment on stocking, I don't keep anything but goldfish and a betta. But there was one thing I want to comment on...

    The filter your friend is giving you - is it still actively in use? Sorry if this seems like an obvious questions, I just want to be sure. If the filter hasn't been in use for awhile, then it won't be cycled anymore. The bacteria need food (ammonia) and the filter media should be wet and well-oxygenated. You might also want to ask your friend some important questions about the tank this filter is running on. If he has had any recent disease outbreak, death, added anything new like plants, fish or inverts. This is to keep disease from being transferred to your new tank.

    Also, I noticed you did not mention a test kit. This is really important to maintaining a healthy cycle. Even with seeded filter media, you may experience a brief mini-cycle depending on the bioload and number of your fish. The API Freshwater Master Test Kit is the one most used around here because it is the most accurate for its price range. It will test for everything but water hardness, which you can purchase separately.

    I like to recommend, just in case, that people read and re-read on the nitrogen cycle. Those words should be in blue. There are also lots of great resources in the stickies and articles for beginners.

    Good luck and please don't hesitate to ask any questions you might have :)
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2014
  3. Adam55

    Adam55Well Known MemberMember

    I would be very careful with that cycle statement, even though you are getting a filter. Is the filter coming right off a running and established tank? And this seems like a weird question, but is the friend giving you the filter or the filter with the media already in it? If it's the filter with the media already in it, is it coming off the existing tank and going right onto yours? If not, the bacteria can die and your tank will cycle. If it's just the filter itself, or it it's been sitting around unused, your tank will need to cycle.

    On a bit of a side note, your friend can expect his or her tank to cycle if it is an extra filter they have running on their own tank. Their tank is going to lose half it's bacteria once that filter comes off.

  4. OP

    OT4Valued MemberMember

    Yes, the filter will come straight out of his tank, but I'll ask him if he's done anything recently with the tank. For the test kits I was going to but a ammonia monitor (it's a round thing made by seachem that sticks on the side of your tank and tells you ammonia levels) other than that, I was just going to go to pet smart every few days and have them check my levels untill it's stable. Should I still get a test kit?
  5. poeticinjustices

    poeticinjusticesWell Known MemberMember

    I always think having your own test kit is important. Strange behavior that might be because of an ammonia/nitrite spike or pH swing doesn't always occur during business hours, you know? It'll also help you determine your maintenance regimen. Plus I just don't like to rely on the people at the pet store. I had an employee tell me you didn't have to shake the nitrate bottle really well and then go on to say that I had basically 0ppm nitrates in my goldfish tank. He even "challenged" me to run the test myself. Well, lo and behold, I did not have 0ppm nitrates hah.

    Last edited: Jul 7, 2014
  6. FiscCyning

    FiscCyningValued MemberMember

    I would also recommend getting your own test kit. Those stick in meters aren't always the most accurate. You can get an API freshwater master test kit for around $25 online or at petsmart and it will last you for years. It makes it much easier on you and may even be more cost effective than the gas of driving to petsmart every time you need a water test! It also saves you the stress of having a sick fish after hours and not being able to check the water.
  7. OP

    OT4Valued MemberMember

    But filters have to be changed about once a month, don't they? Does that mean that the tank has to cycle again, every time it gets changed?
  8. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    Filters shouldn't be changed until they fall apart. But many filters have a cartridge that is made of floss stretched over a plastic frame, and encapsulated inside the floss is carbon. But the problem with carbon is that after about 3-4 weeks it becomes saturated with the impurities it has removed from the water and stop working, So filter manufacturers tell you to change the cartridge every 4 weeks since that way you always have fresh carbon or because it is a nice steady revenue stream.

    But as you mentioned replacing the cartridge will remove all your bacteria causing the tank to loose it's cycle. So what you need to do is cut a slit in the cartridge and dump out the carbon, so you can keep using your cartridge. (just swish it in some dirty tank water when doing a water change to get the debris out of it). Then you need to choose whether you want to add loose carbon back in or not use carbon at all, since it's not something that must be used.
  9. hollie1505

    hollie1505Well Known MemberMember

    There's a few odd bits to be added to the list as well; I have two thermometers, one for the tank, one for my bucket, and a good digital one to take precise readings.

    A siphon and gravel vacuum to do your water changes.

    A colander or breeding net to separate bullies or the bullied is useful, especially in community tanks where some fish may take a dislike for others.

    A plastic cup or dish that has never been washed is good yo have so when you refill your tank you have something to aim for so as not to disturb the substrate.

    I would recommend the api freshwater master test kit (for the reasons mentioned above)

    I would also buy some spare filter media as you don't know the state of the media you are buying. I always have spare sponge in for when I need to change it, which is rarely but I like to hoard :)

    I have a 25gal with neon tetras, guppies, corydoras, a dwarf gourami. I would get some colourful male guppies to start with. Possibly start with three? If you are getting a quality filter that has just come off a tank be sure to keep it wet during the transition and only add it when you have the fish as they will feed the BB.xx
  10. Harlebleondora

    HarlebleondoraWell Known MemberMember

    What temperature is the tank?
  11. OP

    OT4Valued MemberMember

    My filter has two parts, a black peice that is for bacteria, and the blue part with carbon in it. U have a gravel vac and bucket, but I just forgot to put it in the list. Thanks though.. And I don't know what temp my tank will be. I'll just base it on whatever fish I have.
  12. hollie1505

    hollie1505Well Known MemberMember

    the carbon will probably have run out by now, it is only activated for 3-4 weeks. Is it still in your friends tank? or in a tank that contains fish?

    You may also have to do bigger water changes or more frequent depending on your bioload/parameters once your tank is established and in the early days you will want to test the water daily to ensure your fish are in no danger. Have you considered getting your own test kit?

    Do you have an idea of any kind of fish you want? Even just one? Then we can give more detailed advice on what fish to start with.xx
  13. OP

    OT4Valued MemberMember

    I was actually thinking of getting the exact fish you have. The only difference is that I want a honey gourami instead of a dwarf. I just went out and bought a test kit. The filter my friend is giving me is still in his tank. It is most likely old, but I don't care if the carbon isn't working. Ill just take the carbon out like jdhef said.

    I have another quick question. When I filled my tank with water as a test, after letting it sit in the tank for a few hours, it started to smell stale. Why is that? Will that happen with the tank with fish?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 17, 2014
  14. hollie1505

    hollie1505Well Known MemberMember

    Sounds like a good plan. Just keep a close eye on your water for the first few weeks and do regular water changes :) it depends what you mean by stale? If I let a glass of water sit for a few hours it wouldn't smell but if I let it sit for a few days it would. Water movement would stop the water becoming stagnant but it shouldn't smell, especially not after a few hours. How does it look? Is there anything other than water in there? I once has some conditioner that smelled rather funky!

    As much as I love my DG, the honeys look beautiful.. So vibrant! Looking forward to seeing your tank!x
  15. OP

    OT4Valued MemberMember

    Actually, a better description of the smell would be that it smells like chlorine. I just put water in my tank, and after a few hours, it smelled like chlorine. I just added seachem prime, and it says that it removes chlorine, so hopefully it removes the smell.
  16. bescher

    bescherValued MemberMember

    There are many questions people skirted around.
    He really doesn't understand the filter, and that the filter contains different parts. Someone talked about one cartridge. We don't know what kind of filter he has.
    My hang on the back filter has three different cartridges.
    He needs to know the difference between them and what their functions are.
    1. Mechanical, these are made of foam generally and can be changed on a regular basis
    2. Chemical, this is the one with carbon in it and yes it can be used longer but cutting a slit in it and refilling it?
    3. Biological: this is where the good bacteria is and again it all depends upon his friends aquarium whether it's good or otherwise

    I understand that there are filters out there that only have one cartridge (whispers come to mind)
    But then you have AquaClear filters that everything comes in one basket
    So he really needs to find that info before we can really talk to him
    Don't you think guys?
    Just saying and my two cents worth
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2014
  17. Aquarist

    AquaristFishlore LegendMember

  18. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    Yes if the OP would fill out his Aquarium Info, it would go a long way in helping people give helpful answers.

    You can update you Aquarium Info by clicking on "Forum Actions" at the top of the page then choosing "Edit Profile" from the drop down menu. But if you are on a mobile device you may or may not be able to do that.
  19. hollie1505

    hollie1505Well Known MemberMember

    I agree. Knowing the make of filter would make it a lot easier to explain but, I think Adam55 gave a great explanation.

    It can be very overwhelming to find out that you don't just plug your filter in and get going, I like the 3point explanation you (@bescher) gave - very simple!xx

    OT4 - Have you read up on the nitrogen cycle?x
  20. bescher

    bescherValued MemberMember

    Are you asking me about the cycle? If so yes I do and yes he may very well need to do that as well

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