More Beginner Questions

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First, thanks to all who have taken the time to entertain my questions to this point.  As I consider my upcoming project (creating a new fish environment in my home) I keep thinking about all these random questions.  I'll keep posting them here, so please keep the answers coming!!    Here are a  few more:

1.  I want to accent my regular gravel with some larger river rocks.  I live in Arizona, and we have the market cornered on rocks, we'll never run out of rocks HAHA.  Would it be ok for me to go outside and pick out a few "natural" rocks to put in my tank.  I'd boil them for 20 minutes or so to sterilize them before adding them to the tank.  Any concerns with the rocks leaking some kind of funky minerals into the water that could be harmful to my future fish?

2.  "LFS" = "Local Fish Store"?????  That's my best guess.

3.  I plan on getting an 80 gallon tank.  Would it be more efficient to use two smaller heaters instead of one large heater?

4.  When doing weekly water changes I realize we have to treat the water out of the tap, but how do we address the temperature issue?  Do we use lukewarm water out of the tap, or purely cold water?  If we add the cold water back to the tank, will it cause the temp to drop to a degree as to stress the fish?  For this question, assume a 25% water change.

5.  I want to use pure ammonia to jump start my nitrogen cycle.  Where do I find pure ammonia?  I don't have a chemistry set 

Thanks again everybody, I appreciate the help.  I'll probably be getting my tank the week of Christmas, so that's when the fun will begin in earnest!!!!


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5 to 10 years
Well glad you picked this hobby.
1. Yes boiling should do the trick, but not positive
2. you are correct
3. Yes two heaters are better that way if one breaks the other will keep the temp. until you can get a new one, same thing with two filters
4. If you mean remove chlorine, I let mine sit in my room for a day and the chlorine evaporates, if you treating directly from the tap you try to get it as close to the tank water temp as possible.
5. I don't know, always just cycled it normal.



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Just adding to what ATM already said:

Boiling the rocks is a good thing, but you will also have to check to see if the composition of the rock will leach things into the water that may affect ph or other things in your tank. I believe you can pour some vinegar on the rocks. If they "sizzle", then they probably contain limestone which will raise your ph in your tank. Holey rock is an example of a rock that contains limestone. Many hobbyists use this rock for that very reason, because african cichlids prefer a higher ph.

Definately more heaters are better in a larger tank. 2 heaters will spread the heater better and make if more uniform in the tank. It will help eliminate "cold" spots in the tank. The general recommendation is to get 5 watts per gallon. That means you need 400 watts. 2 200 watt heaters would probably do nicely for your tank. Also keep in mind that there is a great quality difference in heaters just like everything else. Chickadee swears by the Marineland heaters because they have a lifetime guarantee, which is a very good thing. My heaters have been dying on me around the 2 year mark, so this heater might be the ticket. However, I am prone to the stainless steel or titanium heaters because they are unbreakable, and I learned what fish can do to glass heaters in my oscar tank. I also like these types of heaters because the temperature control is usually on the outside of the tank, so it's easy to adjust, and you don't have to stick your hands in the tank.

You don't have to treat your new water by letting it sit a day before adding it to the tank. With the size of the tank you are getting, I would suggest you get a[python[/url] for your tank. You will hook it up to a faucet in your house (I usually hook mine up to the hose outside the front door, but I also live in Florida), and you can adjust the temperature from there. You add the dechlor while the new water is going into the tank. This will also allow you to do as large of a water change as you need to do because temperature will not be an issue. If you have city water, you need to find out if your area treats the water with chloramines also. You cannot get rid of chloramines just by letting the water sit out for a day. This is very important for you to know. Chloramines are just as bad as chlorine for your fish. If you are not sure, simply treat with the water conditioner. Check the bottle and make sure it treats for both.

I have heard that you can get the clear ammonia at WalMart. It needs to be ammonia that contains no detergents or additives. I have also heard that some hardware stores carry it.


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5 years
I also agree with everything that ATM and Gunnie has said. It's definitely better to have 2 heaters, so that in case 1 breaks, you still have the other one working, which will give you some time to buy a new heater and which will help you prevent the temperature from dropping (and possibly making your fish sick or even killing them). If the rocks you find are not calcareous, then they're safe for a freshwater tank. As Gunnie has said, you pour some vinegar on the rock and if it "bubbles" it's not safe. If you pick the rocks from the outside, boil them for some time (I'd say more than 20 minutes; 30 - 60 minutes would be better). BUT remember NOT to take them out of the pot immediately after boiling because if you do, they can EXPLODE! And you can get very hurt. Wait until the boiling water with the rocks cools off completely. As for dechlorinating the water and the temperature, the way I change my water is I take the water from the tap that is the same temperature as my tank water. I pour it in a large bucket and I mix it well there with the dechlorinator. Then I pour that water into my tank. But if your tank is large, you'll probably be using something like the Python for water changes, so in that case take Gunnie's advice. Only when you pour tap water directly into your tank, remember to have it the same or very similar temperature as that of your tank water.
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