Nephew's 29 gallon jungle

GabeLeo

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We have a nephew that we took in and the other day he said he wanted to have a fish tank in his room. I had almost everything needed in the basement and in my current freshwater tank to setup a 29 gallon for next to nothing. He said he wanted it to look like a jungle. I took him to the LFS and let him pick out a fish he really liked and he liked platys. I have never kept hard water species before so I had to do some research on how to keep a tank stable with higher pH and alkalinity than I get from my source water. So I figured I would keep a journal to track the progress of the build and cycle.

Started with a 29 gallon standard aquarium I hadn't used in years. I had a T5 light in the basement with a 10000K bulb and blue light bulb. I'm sure they aren't good anymore so I will have to get some new bulbs and later I will upgrade to some LED when we have the funds. I also had a Marineland canister filter that I had on my 110 gallon tank which means this tank is ridiculously over filtered if there is such a thing. It was sitting dry for the last two months with its filter media still in there so I rinsed it all out thoroughly and hooked everything up. I had some old wood that I wasn't using and used that. To raise the pH I used a cichlid sand substrate and thanks to advice on here I added some crushed coral to the substrate.

I waited a few days and then added the ammonia yesterday, 3.5 ml to get the ammonia to 3ppm. Today the test results were as follows (Using API):

pH 7.4
Ammonia 1ppm
nitrite 0ppm
nitrate <5ppm

I am assuming that there was still an active bacteria to take care of nitrite and some for the ammonia in the old filter. I know that these can survive dormant for a few months.

We went to the LFS today and picked out some plants. 2 african swords, cabomba, 2 anubais to start the aquascape. My nephew picked this plastic ornament he thought would look nice. Usually I hate fake stuff in a tank but its his tank. I made "trees" out of some wood and java moss I had in my tank and also a little wisteria to simulate a jungle canopy. I used a piece of drift wood to hide the intake for the filter. If all goes well the cycle will be done in a couple weeks and we can add the fish. Honestly, I'm kind of pumped cause I have been itching to start a new tank. I figured we would start with the platys and some guppies and maybe a sailfin molly for a centerpiece fish. And if I can find them, some amano shrimp for jungle "bugs".

Here's some pics. I hope it will look more "jungle" like once the plants start filling out.

steven's tank 1.jpg
Steven's tank filter.jpg
 

kallililly1973

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Looks good! Looking forward to seeing how it fills out. I'm positive you already know to keep a very close eye on your parameters before adding anyone. Good luck!!
 

MissNoodle

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Gonna look fantastic, and excellent choice of fish. Platies are awesome, and a sailfin molly... ugh i love them!
 
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GabeLeo

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Dosed a full dose of ammonia yesterday. Ammonia got down to .5ppm before dosing yesterday so it's moving right along. The dose yesterday brought it up to 3ppm. pH is steady at 7.4 so that's good. Tests today showed ammonia at 1ppm and nitrite is at showing but not up to 5ppm, Nitrate is showing but its not up to 5ppm yet.
 
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GabeLeo

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Thanks everybody!

Did the tests today and the results. API Master

pH 7.4
dKH 9
GH 9
Ammonia .25ppm

Looks like I am right on target as far as the right parameters for livebearers but of course the cycle is still a ways off. Coming along nicely though, only took two days for ammonia to go down to .25ppm. Didn't bother with the nitrite or nitrate. I was only testing those cause I was curious.
 
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GabeLeo

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ammonia 0
nitrite 1ppm
nitrate 5ppm

Which means it will be cycled any day now.
 
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GabeLeo

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Woo hoo! Ran the tests today and ....

Ammonia 0ppm
Nitrite 0ppm
Nitrate is between 5 and 10ppm

I think this tank is cycled! Last ammonia dose was Thursday so it only took four days for ammonia and nitrite to drop to 0ppm. I did another full dose today just to verify that it is ready for fish. If both ammonia are 0ppm tomorrow, I will take Steven to the LFS to pick out his fish!! Hopefully that sailfin molly is still there I saw the other day. He was gorgeous!
 
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GabeLeo

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test results

pH 7.4
Ammonia 0ppm
Nitrite .5ppm
Nitrate 5-10ppm
dKH 9
GH 11

Well it's not cycled. I knew I shouldn't have told Steven we could get fish after school today. Maybe I will test again at 1pm cause that will be the official 24 hours mark. I wanted to get the water change done before he got home from school.
 
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GabeLeo

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I did some research and asked some questions and decided the tank was ready for some fish. Not all at once but a few. I did a 90% water change and took Steven to the LFS to pick out his fish. We got 6 platys, a sailfin molly and, because I couldn't resist, an unside down catfish. He is pretty cool. I did the full battery of tests today and:

pH 7.4
Ammonia 0 ppm
Nitrite 0 ppm
Nitrate 0-5 ppm
Alkalinity 5 dKH
GH 8

The water out of my tap is very soft, usually 2 dKH and 3 GH so the drop in these numbers is to be expected. I also expect them to bounce back up once the coral rubble has a chance to dissolve more.

If all goes well, in a couple weeks we will get I'm thinking 10 guppies, some shrimp and snails. I love diversity in a tank.

It still needs a backdrop but I'm looking for one that will enhance the jungle theme.
first pic with fish.jpg
 
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GabeLeo

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Well I messed up. I was super busy this week and didn't watch his tank closely enough. I also thought I explained thoroughly enough how to feed. I work second shift after he gets home from school so while I am home the light is off. I looked in the tank yesterday and it was full of uneaten fish food and the molly had died. I took the molly out and today I taught him all about the nitrogen cycle and why you shouldn't overfeed a fish tank. We did all the tests and as I suspected the ammonia was .50 ppm. Nitrite was 0 ppm and Nitrate was only 5 ppm. We did a 75% water change together with primed and temp matched water. Also added a little aquarium salt for good measure. The remaining 5 platys and upside down catfish seem fine, no symptoms yet of ammonia poisoning. We will monitor the ammonia levels over the next week and water change as needed.
 

gandalf1420

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That’s too bad. Mollies are kind of sensitive to water parameters, but platies are tanks (machine lol). Hopefully it works itself out. My sister (7yo) had a betta tank in her room...over feeding...sigh. At least your nephew seems to be old enough to not unrelentingly yell “I only put a tiny pinch” when the evidence says otherwise lol.
 
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GabeLeo

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That’s too bad. Mollies are kind of sensitive to water parameters, but platies are tanks (machine lol). Hopefully it works itself out. My sister (7yo) had a betta tank in her room...over feeding...sigh. At least your nephew seems to be old enough to not unrelentingly yell “I only put a tiny pinch” when the evidence says otherwise lol.
It was really my fault. He is 16 with Aspergers so some things are challenging for him but I think this tank is a good thing for him to learn and focus on. We are going to feed the tank together today and he can see exactly how much to feed.

We tested again today and ammonia was between .25 and .50 ppm so we did a 40% water change with primed and temp matched water. Basically it looks like we are doing a fishin cycle.
 
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