In need of some advice for new tank...

jimmysmalls

Hey guys I've been browsing around the forums here for a couple of weeks while I've been setting up our fish tank and this seems like a place full of really friendly and knowledgeable people so I've finally decided to sign up. I'm in need of a little help as I'm not sure what to do at this point. I've had the 20 gallon tank set up for about 3 weeks with just some gravel, filter, a couple plastic plants, a bubbling volcano and a crashed helicopter which I thought was kind of cool.

So I started off by filling the tank with water and conditioned it using prime. Then I started adding a little bit of fish food everyday to try to start the cycle. My first test a couple days ago showed my ammonia was pretty high so I did a 25% water change after doing a little research which seems to have helped with the ammonia I believe. I have the API master test kit and I just did a test and my ammonia seems to be at about .50 to 1.00 ppm, nitrites look to be at 0 ppm and nitrates are between 5 and 10 ppm.

I feel a little lost as to what to do next so I was hoping someone could give me a little direction as I've read so many different things I'm just kinda overwhelmed I guess. I appreciate it guys, thanks!
 

Geoffrey

Welcome to Fishlore

Can you test your tap water? I'm wondering whether or not you have any ammonia and/or nitrate in your water.

As long as the ammonia remains below 4ppm, you're fine. Continue to add the fish flakes (I'd prefer to use an ammonia cleaner without any scents or surfactants that can be bought at ACE hardware since it's less messy). After you're don't see any ammonia or nitrites for several days, you're cycled. If you use pure ammonia, you can dose 2-4ppm ammonia and if it "turns into" nitrate within 24 hours, you're cycled.

Do you have any plans for fish? If you have any other questions, just ask.
 

alink

Welcome to Fishlore!

IMO, using fish food to cycle a tank is a bad idea. You have virtually no control over how high the ammonia gets, it will cloud the tank as it decomposes, and the bottom will get very dirty. I always recommend dosing pure ammonia (with no detergent) with an eye dropper.

Have you tested your water straight from the tap? A lot of times there will be nitrates in tap water (or ammonia and nitrite).

If you have ammonia at .5-1.0 that's good. You need to wait until it is at 0 ppm and nitrite is at 0 ppm. Then redose the ammonia to 2.0 ppm and see how long it takes for your tank to convert it to 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite. If it can do that in 24 hours, then you are cycled and ready to add some fish. This is another reason why using fish food isn't a good idea since you don't know how much to put it or how fast it will decompose.

Unless your ammonia or nitrite get over 4.0 ppm, you don't need to do any water changes since there's no fish in there. If its over 4.0 ppm it can stall the development of your bacteria. So just keep waiting and checking your parameters daily. And go get a bottle of pure ammonia and eye dropper while you are waiting. You can find recommended drop amounts for your tank size by doing an internet search.

EDIT: ninja'd!!
 

jimmysmalls

Thanks for the welcome and the quick replies!

I just did a test on my tap water and it shows ammonia at between 0 and .25 ppm, nitrates at 0 and nitrates at 0. I wanted to use the pure ammonia method but I couldn't find any locally and the nearest ACE hardware is around 50 miles away which seems crazy I know but I live in Kansas and apparently they aren't that popular in my area. So I figured the fish food method was better than nothing.

As far as fish I'm not sure what kind for sure I want to get but I've been thinking about a small school of neon tetras, a catfish of some kind maybe and I'm pretty sure I want to get a pleco. Of course I wouldn't wanna add all those at the same time but those were just a general idea. Again thanks for the replies guys!
 

alink

Is the 20 gallon tank a 30x12x12 or 24x12x16? If its the 24x12x16 then, IMO, a pleco would not be a good choice. If you did get one for either of the sizes, make sure its one that doesn't get more than 4-5 inches and that will seriously impact the amount of other fish you can have because plecos are very dirty fish.
 

jimmysmalls

It's a 24x12x16, I was just thinking of a pleco because I thought they helped clean your tank, I haven't really done my research on them which seems to be obvious now. I'm definitely open to suggestions if you've got some as I'm not set on any specifics.

Do you think I should bite the bullet and make the drive to get some pure ammonia or will the fish food get me to where I'm going at this point.
 

Geoffrey

I'd just keep going with the fish flakes if that's the case, but maybe you can try out other local hardware stores that would sell cleaning supplies. Make sure the only ingredient in the bottle is ammonia and water.
 

alink

TBH, Pleco's make your tank more dirty than they make it clean. Yeah they might eat any algae on the glass walls or off decorations, but they also require fresh veggies several times a week. Don't get me wrong, I love plecos, but in a 20 gallon they just don't have the room to make up for the pollution they give off.

What are you looking for a clean up fish to clean up exactly?
 

Shindy77

You can order pure ammonia here:
DrTim's Aquatics Ammonium chloride - 2 oz bottle
 

jimmysmalls

TBH, Pleco's make your tank more dirty than they make it clean. Yeah they might eat any algae on the glass walls or off decorations, but they also require fresh veggies several times a week. Don't get me wrong, I love plecos, but in a 20 gallon they just don't have the room to make up for the pollution they give off.

What are you looking for a clean up fish to clean up exactly?

I just really thought they helped keep the tank more clean, I know they don't clean your tank for you or anything magical like that and I always just thought they were a neat fish but if they give off that much waste I think I'll pass.

You can order pure ammonia here:
DrTim's Aquatics Ammonium chloride - 2 oz bottle

I haven't heard of this stuff, does it work pretty good?
 

Geoffrey

That's the pure ammonia that we're talking about.
But if you can find it local, that would probably be cheaper.
 

Bijou88

Plecos aren't really great in tanks the size of yours unfortunately, and as others have said they poop a LOT. They're super cool critters though

Where in Kansas are you? I'm in Wichita don't see many Kansans on here.

 

thinkpink94

As someone else mentioned, it doesn't have to be specifically ACE ammonia, it can be from your local hardware store. Give the bottle a shake, if it foams, don't use it, but if it doesn't, it should be okay(but still check the ingredients).

It seems to me like the fish food is working for you though, so why mess with a good thing? Lol
 

Geoffrey

It seems to me like the fish food is working for you though, so why mess with a good thing? Lol
We just don't want it to turn bad later on. The decayed food will be such a mess to clean up later.
 

jimmysmalls

Plecos aren't really great in tanks the size of yours unfortunately, and as others have said they poop a LOT. They're super cool critters though

Where in Kansas are you? I'm in Wichita don't see many Kansans on here.

I live in Iola, a little less than 2 hours from you I believe. I really hadn't done enough research yet on the plecos, didn't realize they were poop machines haha
 

thinkpink94

We just don't want it to turn bad later on. The decayed food will be such a mess to clean up later.

True. I guess it just seemed to me like the tank is pretty close to being cycled so why mix it up? You know? Just my thoughts but I agree, it's definitely the "messier" route.
 

Gena

Plecos are poopy poopers who poop. A lot. They eat constantly and what goes in must come out, so guess what they also do constantly? ^.^
 

jimmysmalls

We just don't want it to turn bad later on. The decayed food will be such a mess to clean up later.

I've checked the local places already but I might have to just venture out of town and grab some since that seems to be what I need. I actually need to get some other things too so it wouldn't be a complete waste of a trip. Maybe I'll try a hardware store in the next town over.
 

Geoffrey

I've checked the local places already but I might have to just venture out of town and grab some since that seems to be what I need. I actually need to get some other things too so it wouldn't be a complete waste of a trip. Maybe I'll try a hardware store in the next town over.
I wouldn't make a special trip. As thinkpink pointed out, it looks like you're almost cycled since nitrates are starting to show and it's already been about 3 weeks. It may take another 1-2 weeks for the cycle to finish up.

Anyways, even if you go out of town, they might not have any either.
 

jimmysmalls

I wouldn't make a special trip. As thinkpink pointed out, it looks like you're almost cycled since nitrates are starting to show and it's already been about 3 weeks. It may take another 1-2 weeks for the cycle to finish up.

Anyways, even if you go out of town, they might not have any either.

That's true but I might as well look if I end up going that way, I doubt I go as far as an ACE but if I go to the next town over maybe I'll get lucky and find some as I'm sure as you guys have said it will save me a bit of a mess and possibly a little time.
 

Dom90

If you're looking for some sort of clean up crew, in a tank size such as yours, snails will do wonders! They eat excess food, eat algae and keep your tank clean basically. Added bonus is they have a very small bioload compared to plecos.


 

Bijou88

I agree, mystery snails do an excellent job of cleaning up leftover food and nerite snails are great for algae. You could maybe do a small school of otos for algae too, I'm not entirely sure of their minimum tank requirements though.
Dom90, I think it's hilarious that you're a snail convert, lol)

 

redorchestra

I used shrimp from the grocery store to cycle my tank. It worked well and wasn't too messy. It would have been better if I put it in a media bag, but it wasn't bad as it was barebottom tank and I changed 100 percent of the water before I added fish anyway!
 

jimmysmalls

If you're looking for some sort of clean up crew, in a tank size such as yours, snails will do wonders! They eat excess food, eat algae and keep your tank clean basically. Added bonus is they have a very small bioload compared to plecos.

I didn't really think about snails to be honest, good idea!

A bit of an update on my situation, I did make it out over to the next town because I needed to pick up a few other things so I dropped by the local hardware store and they had Blue Ribbon Clear Ammonia which after doing a little research decided to buy because a lot of people said they have used it successfully in their aquarium. Now I just have to figure out how much to add to continue this cycling process.
 

Geoffrey

As longs as the ingredients only say ammonia and if you shake it, it doesn't foam up, it should be fine.

If the bottle has the percent ammonia labeled on it, you can use this. This ammonia calculator is at the bottom.
 

Dom90

I agree, mystery snails do an excellent job of cleaning up leftover food and nerite snails are great for algae. You could maybe do a small school of otos for algae too, I'm not entirely sure of their minimum tank requirements though.
Dom90, I think it's hilarious that you're a snail convert, lol)

Lol I find it funny too. I used to dread the ideas of them but now I have them in all my tanks! (Except the flowerhorn one, tried it and he kept poking these XL mysteries I had, took them out, feared for their lives in case they ever flipped over). I have 4 nerites and 2 mysteries in the 75g, 2 nerites in the 20g.

But yes snails are awesome so I highly recommend anyone with a small tank to at least consider one or two. More snails in bigger sized tanks!


 

Jamieb284

I'm just afraid of them breeding and then my tank being overrun by snails!


 

redorchestra

I'm just afraid of them breeding and then my tank being overrun by snails!
Then get nerites, they can't breed in fresh water!
 

Coradee

The thing is, I have clown loaches and a red tailed shark, they feed on pest snails so would they feed on those too?

If you have questions of your own please start a new thread, asking them here detracts from the OP
 

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