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Fish Project For 4 Yr Old And Daddy 40 Gallon Tank

Discussion in 'Welcome to FishLore' started by HobbyNovice, Apr 22, 2019.

  1. HobbyNoviceNew MemberMember

    Hi everyone,

    My son, for his 4th birthday wanted a fish tank, so my wife and I agreed it would be a great project for him and I. We have no clue what we are doing and probably over stocked our tank. We have 4 Bala Shark, 1- Rainbow Shark, 1-Pictus Catfish, 2- Dwarf Gourami,
    7-Tiger Barbs and 3 mystery snails.

    Our 4 yr old while being supervised by our 16 yr old dumped an entire container of food into the tank, on Tuesday evening. When I got home, I vacuumed the tank did a 50% water change, another 25% on Friday...we are having difficulty keeping the ammonia down, today the nitrate and nitrite levels were high. I did a water change of 13.5%.

    I am using api QuickStart, as instructed by the folks at petsmart.

    Thanks for any helpful advice.
  2. JellibeenWell Known MemberMember


    Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? how long has your tank been set up for? You won’t be able to keep ammonia and nitrite down until the tank is cycled.

    Your tank is definitely overstocked. Bala sharks are very active and get pretty big. I’m not great at stocking advice, but i’m sure someone else on here will help you come up with a plan that fits your tank.

  3. TheBettaSushiWell Known MemberMember

    We all started out with not really knowing what we’re doing but in time you’ll figure it out.

    I’d suggest that you keep doing water changes (daily if you have to) until the ammonia is down significantly and you can use seachem prime to detoxify ammonia/nitrites/nitrates to make it safe for your livestock in the meantime.

    Did you cycle the tank before adding fish?

    What test are you using?

  4. HobbyNoviceNew MemberMember

    Unfortunately, No. We were instructed by the associates at petsmart, and they said this QuickStart would allow us to add fish same day, not knowing anything about the nitrogen cycle, we went with the flow.

  5. JellibeenWell Known MemberMember

    Ahh. Unfortunately petstore employees often don’t know what they are talking about. Quickstart speeds up the cycle, but it still isn’t instant.

    I suggest reading up on doing a fish-in cycle. You should be able to click on those words which will take you to some information about it.
  6. AJEFishlore VIPMember

    First, welcome to fish lore. I see a few problems with your tank. 1. The bala sharks will get big and will need over triple your water volume, the rainbow shark will need at least 55g in a community setting, and the tiger barbs will harass and kill any long fin fish, so the gouramis will be ripped to shreds eventually, and they will also try to eat the snails. Good luck
  7. HobbyNoviceNew MemberMember

    I am using JNW direct test strips and Tetra Easy Strips for ammonia
  8. TheBettaSushiWell Known MemberMember

    Ah ok don’t worry, get the seachem prime... it’s going to save you and your 4 year old a lot of heartache. You can dose that every 24-48 hours to lock up the ammonia/nitrites/nitrates until everything stabilizes. It’s also a live saver on the days when you can’t do a water change the same day... it will give you a bit more time to get to a water change.

    If you haven’t already, I would also pick up api freshwater master test kit as it is the most accurate test for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. The readings will help determine how much water to change when spikes arise.

    If you’re able to return or rehome the sharks, I’d start by doing that as well as dosing with prime.
  9. thequietman44Valued MemberMember

    Yes, I would say it's definitely overstocked :eek:. If this is a kit from PetSmart it's likely the filter is undersized for the tank which won't help. It sounds like the tank hasn't been cycled, so you're going to be fighting ammonia until that happens. Seachem Prime can help detoxify the ammonia, but you'll have to do daily water changes. If you have any friends with a stable aquarium you can see if you can borrow some used filter media from them to kickstart the cycle.

    Immediate emergency aside, you'll probably need to move the sharks and catfish eventually. They can all get very large and a 40g won't be adequate.

    That said, don't feel bad if you were misled by PetSmart employees. They often just repeat what they've been told and have little fish-keeping knowledge.

    EDIT: So in the time it took for me to type a reply it looks like 7 other replies were already posted which cover everything in better detail o_O. All good advice, I hope you can get things under control without any losses!
  10. HobbyNoviceNew MemberMember

    We are planning a getting a larger aquarium, and dividing the livesto

    Thank you .
  11. AJEFishlore VIPMember

    How large?
  12. HobbyNoviceNew MemberMember

    I’m looking for 150-200 gallon
  13. HobbyNoviceNew MemberMember

    I am awestruck at the learning curve and the level on information required to keep fish.
  14. AJEFishlore VIPMember

    Ok, should be good
  15. thequietman44Valued MemberMember

    I'm awestruck at the thought of having a 200g aquarium :woot:

    It can certainly feel overwhelming when you have to try to take it all in immediately. Sorry you got thrown in the deep end as it were. It's really not that complicated once you have a cycled tank, and the good news is the larger the tank the easier it is to maintain a stable environment. You're also getting a lot of experience with possibly the most important thing in fishkeeping: regular water changes :).
  16. TheBettaSushiWell Known MemberMember

    Once you get the hang of it, it won’t be so difficult as it may seem right now. We all learn something everyday even those of us who have been in this hobby for years. Once you’ve learned and have been through trial and errors, you’ll find what works for you and it will be well worth it and so rewarding in the end. What works for some will not work for others... this is the biggest problem I have come across in my years of fish keeping. This is why it’s important to gather as much information I can beforehand so I don’t have any potential losses.

    Once your tank is cycled, you will feel much better about it.

    Patience is key when it comes to fish keeping (something I’m still learning) but trust me, all will be fine. People get into fish keeping and quickly get out because something happens... as long as you stay consistent, you’ll be fine and your fish will be thriving in no time. Just do a little more research next time so you can aim towards success.

    Aqadvisor.com is a good tool to start with. This can help determine which fish/inverts will be suitable in your tank. Remember, it’s only a guide and you’ll need to do a bit more research about each species to make sure it will work for you.

    Some have had great success with keeping certain fish with others that aren’t advisable or compatible with each other while others have seen the trauma it can cause. Make your fish selection wisely and always have a backup if things don’t work out (either by taking it back to the store or rehoming in a different tank in your home or to someone else).

    Best of luck to you and if you need anything, we are all here to help the best we can.
  17. MamaLlama76Valued MemberMember

    Hi 4 yr old and Daddy,

    I am new on FishLore forum, but I was once upon a time a "fish lady" (and THE plant lady) at a PetSmart in Indep., MO approximately 20 years ago (back when I was in college). When I was working there, employees were trained to be at least somewhat knowledgeable, and I apologize that the staff you encountered probably had little idea what they were talking about.

    Am I reading this right that your tank is 40 gal?

    As the previous poster mentioned, you are dealing with an uncycled tank. Had I been the person who waited on you at the store, I would have recommended using StressZyme by API and the sister product StressCoat for protecting the fish's slime coat etc (if I remember correctly, the later also removes chlorine/cloriamines from your tap water...don't quote me on that, as I'm am on a farm with well water, so I dn't have chlorine in it.) I've tried a lot of "tank cycling" products and StressZyme worked the best for me everywhere I have lived and had fish (moved probably 25 times in my 43 years of life and have kept fish on and off for over 30 years...and I totally remember the days when tank cycling products weren't on the market yet.) I also would have recommended running your new tank for at least 1-2 weeks with StressZyme , inexpensive live plants (plants are wonderful, they give surface area for good bacteria to grow) and maybe a snail or two or a couple of cheap feeder goldfish (fish/invertebrate that you aren't planning to get "attached to" so IF you lose them to new tank syndrome, you don't feel so bad about it.) The light bio-load of a few plants (which will use the nitrates once that cycle going) and a few goldfish in a 40 gallon wouldn't overwhelm the system you are creating, but would provide the Co2 and a little bit waste needed to feed those tank cycling bacteria.

    If you have a local (non- big box) fish/pet store within a reasonable driving distance from you, pay them a visit. They are usually have much better informed staff and are in the business of not only getting people into the aquarium hobby, but keeping people in the hobby. Usually they want to see customers grow and learn, and are willing to teach new fish keepers what they need to know to be successful. Back in the day, we used to have to find a local store or somebody who was breeding fish in their garage of whatever and ask for a few handfuls of gravel from a cycled older tank or an "old filer pad" or sponge from a sponge filter (or if you were lucky their water from a water change, to get a new tank established.) If you have a nice "mom and pop" fish store, it is worth asking for a few handfuls of substrate or filter media they were going to throw out anyway, even is they charge a small fee, it would be worth it to really get your cycle established and not have to replace the fish you bought. That said, sounds like maybe there are too many/or too large (fully grown sizes) of fish for a 40 gallon in total, especially for where your nitrogen cycling is at the moment. If you know somebody else (co-worker, friends family, etc.) who have aquariums for 6 months or more and could either take a couple off your hands temporarily or permanatly that would be helpful until you are better established..this would help relieve the bio-load on your tank while it's getting up to speed.

    What type of filter are you using? Many of the traditional hang on back and canister filters are not maximized for ideal filtration. WHY? The manufacturers and stores don't want you to know that because they make a lot of their money selling you those throw-away filter cartridges. You and your family could have a lot of "family night" fun watching aquarium fish videos learning about the fish you have, fish you might want to try someday and general fish keeping topics on YouTube. Try typing in" maximizing your aquarium filtration" on a YouTube app to find more ways to help create an environment in which your fishy pets will thrive.

    Yes you want to gravel vac and get out what you can of the dumped fish food and do some water changes maybe every other day for a while. (Please note though that water changes in and of themselves do create stress on the fish too and removing too much of the water also reduces the population of your beneficial bacteria colony (always added more cycling bacteria culture when you water change to help reduce the stresses on the fish and bacteria colony). By all means get that decomposing fish food out, it will create more toxins and molds that are detrimental to the fish. Once that is accomplished do regular water change twice weekly for a month or so...then if your biological filtration is in a great place you may need to do it only weekly, unless another problem arrises. Meanwhile, learn about ways to grow a huge colony of beneficial bacteria (I really recommend adding sponge media to any filter you are running and there are many ways to do this, ditching the throw-away cartridge that are usually used as media in most filters and replacing with sponge media or bio-rings/balls is a great place to start...look for how to vids on YouTube) that can handle the amount of waste your current fish are producing. And definitely try adding live plants to help use the by-products of the nitrogen cycle.
  18. MamaLlama76Valued MemberMember

    WOW! 150-200 gallon! If you can find a "used" one that had a thriving environment just a short while ago (existing gravel/subrate etc, that would be very helpful in getting it going and providing your fish a great home.)
  19. MamaLlama76Valued MemberMember

    Good luck! Wish you guys the best. Glad you are willing to stick with it through the "newbie" fish keeper growing pains!
  20. HobbyNoviceNew MemberMember

    I’d like to express our gratitude to those who responded, and provided excellent advice. I found a couple of local fish stores and visited them both, one was very nice and willing to price match online vendors...also have been taking in hours of you tube videos, reading articles, threads and talking with others.

    I bought the Seachem Prime, as advised
    My wife ordered API QuickStart and Fluval Cycle.

    We were able to get the Ammonia nearly .25
    General hardness 120ppm
    Chlorine 0
    Nitrate somewhere between the 100-250ppm
    Nitrite lil bit darker than 20, but not as dark as 40ppm
    Carbonate 40ppm
    Alkalinity 120ppm
    pH 7

    I’m going to do another water change....and buy some sponge to pre-filter our hang on back filter...