20 Gallon Tank New fish keeper! Got some questions

cloverpile

Hello! This is my first post in this forum and I’m very happy to be here
Last night my sibling got her very first fresh water 20 gallon tank! I set it up for her and have been the one doing research, whilst educating her as well of course. But I have some questions for stocking her tank and would really appreciate anyone’s help :]
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Currently in the process of getting more hides!
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The fish she had in mind for her set up:
honey gouramis and black skirt tetras most definitely! Along with either some blue velvet shrimp or cherry shrimp.
Still thinking about the other schooling fish to include in the tank but she does like sword tails and harlequin tetras!
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Here are my questions:
After the Nitrogen cycle has completed I’ve been looking at sources explaining that schooling fish such as black skirts and harlequins require at least 5 in each school. Which is no problem at all! But I read on many threads explaining that you shouldn’t add more than 3 or 4 fish to a new tank since that can dangerously raise ammonia levels and mess up the whole cycle!
Im thinking of getting my sister her honey gouramis first, two of them to be exact, but how long do I wait until I can get the rest of the fish? Since I’m getting schooling fish next will they be okay with having 3 or 4 in a school in the mean time? Do I always quarantine fish when getting new batches of them?
Can I also get shrimp for the tank the same day I get her gouramis? Do I clean the tank at all after the nitrogen cycle has finished or leave it as is for my fish that I will be adding?
If I want to add more fish of the same species such as the black skirts in the future, will they join the school already in the tank? Or will they form their own school? With these species in mind should there be any gender preferences because of temperaments? Since honey gouramis are on the larger side, will they eat the shrimp I plan to add?
Thank you so much for the help to anyone who comes across my post!
 

Pfrozen

I would stock 3 at a time and leave 1 week in between to be safe. Make sure to test your parameters every day. With a more mature tank its not much of a concern but with a new tank you need to be careful. They will be fine as trios for a week, no issues there at all.

Just clean the tank as part of your regular maintenance or if its dirty. 40% weekly water change is a good benchmark for new tanks.

You should always quarantine but with a new tank your first fish will be the only ones in there. If you have cause for concern after 1 week then just wait a bit longer to add more and monitor them closely.

Shrimp should be the very last thing you add as they eat biofilm and that takes time to accumulate.

Don't worry about gender ratios with those particular fish, maybe just get 1M/2F for the honeys. The tetras will be okay unsexed. Black skirts are bigger so I wouldn't push the stocking too much if you get those. 6 black skirts and 3 honeys with some shrimp and a single swordtail would be good for a 20g. keep in mind that swordtails can grow to 4 inches or larger over time.. I believe that the minimum tank size for those guys is 30g.

If it were me I would stock 3 honeys, 12 harlequins, and the shrimp. A smaller tetra like the black phantoms would be a better choice over the black skirts but that's personal preference. 3 honeys, 6 black phantoms, and 8 harlequins would also be acceptable in that case but the stocking would be at 100%, probably a bit more than most are comfortable with. For reference my own 20g has 5 honeys, 5 otos, and 4 amanos. I consider it to be fully stocked

Inverts generally aren't considered to be part of the bioload unless they are larger like mystery snails, nerite snails, and amano shrimp.

Hope that helps :)
 
Upvote 0

Ouse

Welcome to Fishlore.

Whoever said to add a few fish at a time in a newly cycled tank is correct. In a cycled tank there’s enough beneficial bacteria to convert all ammonia produced by the fish into nitrate. Add lots more fish at a time and ammonia will slip through until the bacteria colony catches up with it.

Whoever said the minimum should be five fish per shoal isn’t correct. I see no such thing as a minimum or magic number however you can expect many to say the minimum shoal size should be six fish. Ignore that; I don’t even know where “six minimum” originated from or why it’s so widely accepted. Fish can’t count therefore they’d feel no different in a shoal of four or five fish than a shoal of six. The real aim is to stock up on as much fish as the tank size allows for.

Harlequins aren’t tetras, they’re rasboras. They’re also one of my favourite fish.

Before I answer the other questions pertaining to stocking, what is the tank size in gallons and, more importantly, what are the tank dimensions?

Edit: NVM I missed the “20 gallons” in the title. :facepalm:
 
Upvote 0

awilkinson871

I always recommend quarantining new fish before adding to a tank. The last thing you want is to add a sick fish that has a disease that will kill everything else. The honey gouramis are great to add first, but the shrimp should be several months later. They eat biofilm and need enough of it to grow and lots of hiding places (live plants, rock, caves) for molting. I tend to wait at least 2 weeks between fish additions to ensure there are no spikes in ammonia or nitrites to deal with. Ideally I add fish, get some for the quarantine (they stay for 3-4 weeks), then once quarantine is done they get added and refill quarantine. Schoolers can be tricky. I usually like 6-8 minimum in a school so I would do 3-4 at a time until your school is as full as your like. Since the tank is a 20 gallon, I would only do one school. Save the other school for the next tank..lol.
Always check the water parameters daily while cycling and for the first 2 weeks after adding any fish. I then check the water a couple times a week for the first 6 months.
 
Upvote 0

cloverpile

Welcome to Fishlore.

Whoever said to add a few fish at a time in a newly cycled tank is correct. In a cycled tank there’s enough beneficial bacteria to convert all ammonia produced by the fish into nitrate. Add lots more fish at a time and ammonia will slip through until the bacteria colony catches up with it.

Whoever said the minimum should be five fish per shoal isn’t correct. I see no such thing as a minimum or magic number however you can expect many to say the minimum shoal size should be six fish. Ignore that; I don’t even know where “six minimum” originated from or why it’s so widely accepted. Fish can’t count therefore they’d feel no different in a shoal of four or five fish than a shoal of six. The real aim is to stock up on as much fish as the tank size allows for.

Harlequins aren’t tetras, they’re rasboras. They’re also one of my favourite fish.

Before I answer the other questions pertaining to stocking, what is the tank size in gallons and, more importantly, what are the tank dimensions?

Edit: NVM I missed the “20 gallons” in the title. :facepalm:

Yes I noticed my mistake with the harlequins saying they’re ‘tetras’ knowing well they’re rasboras right after I hit the post button!! Least to say I’m embarrassed omg :,]
Thank you for answering some of my questions btw! And yes it is a 20 gallon what do you recommend stock wise?
I would stock 3 at a time and leave 1 week in between to be safe. Make sure to test your parameters every day. With a more mature tank its not much of a concern but with a new tank you need to be careful. They will be fine as trios for a week, no issues there at all.

Just clean the tank as part of your regular maintenance or if its dirty. 40% weekly water change is a good benchmark for new tanks.

You should always quarantine but with a new tank your first fish will be the only ones in there. If you have cause for concern after 1 week then just wait a bit longer to add more and monitor them closely.

Shrimp should be the very last thing you add as they eat biofilm and that takes time to accumulate.

Don't worry about gender ratios with those particular fish, maybe just get 1M/2F for the honeys. The tetras will be okay unsexed. Black skirts are bigger so I wouldn't push the stocking too much if you get those. 6 black skirts and 3 honeys with some shrimp and a single swordtail would be good for a 20g. keep in mind that swordtails can grow to 4 inches or larger over time.. I believe that the minimum tank size for those guys is 30g.

If it were me I would stock 3 honeys, 12 harlequins, and the shrimp. A smaller tetra like the black phantoms would be a better choice over the black skirts but that's personal preference. 3 honeys, 6 black phantoms, and 8 harlequins would also be acceptable in that case but the stocking would be at 100%, probably a bit more than most are comfortable with. For reference my own 20g has 5 honeys, 5 otos, and 4 amanos. I consider it to be fully stocked

Inverts generally aren't considered to be part of the bioload unless they are larger like mystery snails, nerite snails, and amano shrimp.

Hope that helps :)
This helps so much I really appreciate it! Should I wait a week or more to add the shrimp after ever fish has been added as well since I'm going to add them very last? Ooh I didn’t know you could have more than 2 honeys since they’re gouramis and I have a 20 gallon… is 5 the max I could house if I only wanted honey gouramis? Im honestly afraid of getting fry in my tank so I’m trying to avoid housing males and females together so am leaning more towards having females only. Or would that be wrong because of aggression and the risk of fin nippers?
 
Upvote 0

Pfrozen

Yes I noticed my mistake with the harlequins saying they’re ‘tetras’ knowing well they’re rasboras right after I hit the post button!! Least to say I’m embarrassed omg :,]
Thank you for answering some of my questions btw! And yes it is a 20 gallon what do you recommend stock wise?

This helps so much I really appreciate it! Should I wait a week or more to add the shrimp after ever fish has been added as well since I'm going to add them very last? Ooh I didn’t know you could have more than 2 honeys since they’re gouramis and I have a 20 gallon… is 5 the max I could house if I only wanted honey gouramis? Im honestly afraid of getting fry in my tank so I’m trying to avoid housing males and females together so am leaning more towards having females only. Or would that be wrong because of aggression and the risk of fin nippers?

Honeys are very peaceful, aside from small chasing you won't notice any aggression. The males and females won't be spawning regularly either, if it does happen then the fry will all get eaten by the tetras/rasboras

5 is a good number if you wanted to do a species only honey tank. I keep 2 males and 3 females. I had another female but lost it due to heatwave and I didn't give my wife very good instructions on how to feed them :(

If you want to keep it simple then 3 honeys and 12 rasboras with cherry shrimp would be absolutely perfect. Peaceful and easy to take care of. The rasboras don't spawn under normal conditions either
 
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cloverpile

Honeys are very peaceful, aside from small chasing you won't notice any aggression. The males and females won't be spawning regularly either, if it does happen then the fry will all get eaten by the tetras/rasboras

5 is a good number if you wanted to do a species only honey tank. I keep 2 males and 3 females. I had another female but lost it due to heatwave and I didn't give my wife very good instructions on how to feed them :(

If you want to keep it simple then 3 honeys and 12 rasboras with cherry shrimp would be absolutely perfect. Peaceful and easy to take care of. The rasboras don't spawn under normal conditions either
You’ve been so helpful and patient with me I cannot thank you enough here! <3 Ah I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of one of your honeys btw :,[
I’ll explain these options to my sister and see what she thinks.
I always recommend quarantining new fish before adding to a tank. The last thing you want is to add a sick fish that has a disease that will kill everything else. The honey gouramis are great to add first, but the shrimp should be several months later. They eat biofilm and need enough of it to grow and lots of hiding places (live plants, rock, caves) for molting. I tend to wait at least 2 weeks between fish additions to ensure there are no spikes in ammonia or nitrites to deal with. Ideally I add fish, get some for the quarantine (they stay for 3-4 weeks), then once quarantine is done they get added and refill quarantine. Schoolers can be tricky. I usually like 6-8 minimum in a school so I would do 3-4 at a time until your school is as full as your like. Since the tank is a 20 gallon, I would only do one school. Save the other school for the next tank..lol.
Always check the water parameters daily while cycling and for the first 2 weeks after adding any fish. I then check the water a couple times a week for the first 6 months.
This was so helpful, thank you very much! <3
 
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Pfrozen

You’ve been so helpful and patient with me I cannot thank you enough here! <3 Ah I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of one of your honeys btw :,[
I’ll explain these options to my sister and see what she thinks.

Hey no problem!

There are lots of other options to consider so let me know what she likes later and I can try to help you out. 20g is large enough that you can keep a lot of the tetras and rasboras. Honeys are gorgeous fish on their own though so nothing wrong with that choice at all! I love my honeys
 
Upvote 0

Ouse

In a 20, I like the idea of a honey gourami trio and a shoal of harlequin rasboras. Scratch the skirt tetras completely.

Honey gouramis like to have cover in the top third of the water column where they swim. Floating plants and/or tall plants that reach near the surface are helping. Live plants are always better than artificial plants. The rasboras are middle swimmers and will leave the honey gouramis alone. They don’t swim deep into any provided caves and are open water fish for the most part. You’ll observe the rasboras sticking together more closely than the honeys.

There could be room for bottom dwellers and invertebrates too as the fish mentioned so far steer clear of the lower water column.
 
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cloverpile

In a 20, I like the idea of a honey gourami trio and a shoal of harlequin rasboras. Scratch the skirt tetras completely.

Honey gouramis like to have cover in the top third of the water column where they swim. Floating plants and/or tall plants that reach near the surface are helping. Live plants are always better than artificial plants. The rasboras are middle swimmers and will leave the honey gouramis alone. They don’t swim deep into any provided caves and are open water fish for the most part. You’ll observe the rasboras sticking together more closely than the honeys.

There could be room for bottom dwellers and invertebrates too as the fish mentioned so far steer clear of the lower water column.
Ahh I see I see! So if I were to get 3 gouramis would it be preferred to have the harlequins as mentioned? Or can I do a school of black skirts instead and that would be fine/compatible?
What would you recommend for bottom dwellers?
 
Upvote 0

Azedenkae

After the Nitrogen cycle has completed I’ve been looking at sources explaining that schooling fish such as black skirts and harlequins require at least 5 in each school. Which is no problem at all! But I read on many threads explaining that you shouldn’t add more than 3 or 4 fish to a new tank since that can dangerously raise ammonia levels and mess up the whole cycle!

Hi there!

I can help you with this question. How many fish you can add at once after the cycle actually is not actually a specific number (whether independently or dependent on the size of the aquarium), but rather the method in which the tank was cycled.

If say one just dosed ammonia and consider it cycled when the ammonia is eventually converted to nitrate, then the recommendation is one fish at a time with careful monitoring.

If instead one ensures the tank can handle say 2ppm ammonia/day and consider that cycled, then a full stock can be added all at once, though with monitoring. 2ppm ammonia/day is the max amount of ammonia considered likely for a fully stocked tank, even one that is 'overstocked', would produce. But monitoring is needed, because of course if a fish dies, the amount of ammonia produced can increase above 2ppm/day.

If one ensures the tank can handle 4ppm ammonia/day, then same with above, except it's less worrisome, because even if a fish die, you do have that buffer to handle the extra ammonia produced.

So yeah, I guess my question is then, how did you cycle your tank?
 
Upvote 0

Ouse

So if I were to get 3 gouramis would it be preferred to have the harlequins as mentioned? Or can I do a school of black skirts instead and that would be fine/compatible?
Here’s what I’ll recommend: add all three honeys in at once. Wait a week or two after that and then add harlequins. I’ll recommend no more than ten harlequins total as a rough guide and that you add three or four at a time.

Honey gouramis and harlequin rasboras are both originating from Asia. Adding a shoal of skirt tetras ruins this consistency because they’re South American. If mixing continents isn’t your cup of tea, then steer clear of tetras. I’m against adding skirt tetras to the tank anyway because they’re boisterous in temperament and will crowd a 20 gallon which contains honey gouramis and a decent shoal of harlequins as well.
What would you recommend for bottom dwellers?
Before we go ahead with this I want to ask: what does the bottom layer of the tank look like? Can we have a pic? I ask because many people ask what bottom dwellers they can stock up with however it’s later discovered that the bottom of their tank is too crowded with carpeting plants and decorations to be ideal for them. Bottom dwellers require a mix of both open space and hiding space.

I really like Malaysian trumpet snails. You might like them, but you also might not because they reproduce rapidly and become very apparent in aquariums. Depends on personal taste. Snails just scratches the surface on what can be kept at the bottom.
 
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cloverpile

Hi there!

I can help you with this question. How many fish you can add at once after the cycle actually is not actually a specific number (whether independently or dependent on the size of the aquarium), but rather the method in which the tank was cycled.

If say one just dosed ammonia and consider it cycled when the ammonia is eventually converted to nitrate, then the recommendation is one fish at a time with careful monitoring.

If instead one ensures the tank can handle say 2ppm ammonia/day and consider that cycled, then a full stock can be added all at once, though with monitoring. 2ppm ammonia/day is the max amount of ammonia considered likely for a fully stocked tank, even one that is 'overstocked', would produce. But monitoring is needed, because of course if a fish dies, the amount of ammonia produced can increase above 2ppm/day.

If one ensures the tank can handle 4ppm ammonia/day, then same with above, except it's less worrisome, because even if a fish die, you do have that buffer to handle the extra ammonia produced.

So yeah, I guess my question is then, how did you cycle your tank?
I only got it set up last night but so far I added 10ML of both api stress zyme and stress coat to the water then added a pinch of fish food! I was just about to go to the store and wanted to ask if I should buy any other kinds of conditioners/chemicals for my water to help the cycle :] I’m also gonna pick up a testing kit and look for some more hides.
 
Upvote 0

Azedenkae

I only got it set up last night but so far I added 10ML of both api stress zyme and stress coat to the water then added a pinch of fish food! I was just about to go to the store and wanted to ask if I should buy any other kinds of conditioners/chemicals for my water to help the cycle :] I’m also gonna pick up a testing kit and look for some more hides.

Oh yeah that's true, my brain died for a second there forgetting when you set it up.

So yeah, good that you are doing a fishless cycle. I would have not recommended StressZyme during the cycling process, it's not likely exactly what you want, seems more like heterotrophic probiotics that just kinda clean up your tank in general. Useful, but not quite the nitrifiers you want to establish.

Here is my recommendation. Do your fishless cycling with ammonia (ammonium chloride) rather than fish food, will save you a lot of hassle and you can easily track your progress, as opposed to guessing at it. Use something that actually has nitrifiers in it, like Dr. Tim's One and Only Nitrifying Bacteria or FritzZyme TurboStart 700. In fact, I'd only really suggest the latter. If you LFS does not have it, order it. Yes, even if it might take some time to arrive, I would much rather you use Fritz than any other bottled bacteria product.

Then follow the typical fishless cycling guide, though I suggest dosing ammonia each time both ammonia and nitrite have reached 0, rather than just when ammonia reaches 0.
 
Upvote 0

Ouse

I was just about to go to the store and wanted to ask if I should buy any other kinds of conditioners/chemicals for my water to help the cycle :]
Don’t. I would stay away from most chemicals you find at the pet shop. All you have to do is add either pinches of fish food or liquid ammonia daily over four to six weeks and monitor ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels with an ideal test kit. I was under the impression that your tank is finished cycling, which in that case it would process all ammonia and nitrite into nitrate.

I’m not familiarised with products that claim to instantly cycle aquariums, so I have nothing to add on that.

The only chemical you should regularly be using is dechlorinator during the weekly water changes we must perform on our aquariums. This depends on wether your water source contains chlorine and/or chloramines. Dechlorinator (many here recommend Seachem Prime) is handy to always have on you. Always have some and never allow yourself to run out of it.
I’m also gonna pick up a testing kit and look for some more hides.
API Master is a good kit, but most test strips are very inaccurate and will misguide you like they have with most of us here. API Master is used by most members here, although not me.
Here’s what I’ll recommend: add all three honeys in at once. Wait a week or two after that and then add harlequins. I’ll recommend no more than ten harlequins total as a rough guide and that you add three or four at a time.

Honey gouramis and harlequin rasboras are both originating from Asia. Adding a shoal of skirt tetras ruins this consistency because they’re South American. If mixing continents isn’t your cup of tea, then steer clear of tetras. I’m against adding skirt tetras to the tank anyway because they’re boisterous in temperament and will crowd a 20 gallon which contains honey gouramis and a decent shoal of harlequins as well.

Before we go ahead with this I want to ask: what does the bottom layer of the tank look like? Can we have a pic? I ask because many people ask what bottom dwellers they can stock up with however it’s later discovered that the bottom of their tank is too crowded with carpeting plants and decorations to be ideal for them. Bottom dwellers require a mix of both open space and hiding space.

I really like Malaysian trumpet snails. You might like them, but you also might not because they reproduce rapidly and become very apparent in aquariums. Depends on personal taste. Snails just scratches the surface on what can be kept at the bottom.
Just making sure you didn’t miss this post by me. ;)
 
Upvote 0

cloverpile

Here’s what I’ll recommend: add all three honeys in at once. Wait a week or two after that and then add harlequins. I’ll recommend no more than ten harlequins total as a rough guide and that you add three or four at a time.

Honey gouramis and harlequin rasboras are both originating from Asia. Adding a shoal of skirt tetras ruins this consistency because they’re South American. If mixing continents isn’t your cup of tea, then steer clear of tetras. I’m against adding skirt tetras to the tank anyway because they’re boisterous in temperament and will crowd a 20 gallon which contains honey gouramis and a decent shoal of harlequins as well.

Before we go ahead with this I want to ask: what does the bottom layer of the tank look like? Can we have a pic? I ask because many people ask what bottom dwellers they can stock up with however it’s later discovered that the bottom of their tank is too crowded with carpeting plants and decorations to be ideal for them. Bottom dwellers require a mix of both open space and hiding space.

I really like Malaysian trumpet snails. You might like them, but you also might not because they reproduce rapidly and become very apparent in aquariums. Depends on personal taste. Snails just scratches the surface on what can be kept at the bottom.

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8F30D5A9-C03B-464B-8F2F-A1B0D5F5DC04.jpeg
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Here’s some pics! I’m going to the store later to buy more hides. When we got our set up the store was 10 minutes to close time so we didn’t have enough time to really look around for more hides haha.
Don’t. I would stay away from most chemicals you find at the pet shop. All you have to do is add either pinches of fish food or liquid ammonia daily over four to six weeks and monitor ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels with an ideal test kit. I was under the impression that your tank is finished cycling, which in that case it would process all ammonia and nitrite into nitrate.

I’m not familiarised with products that claim to instantly cycle aquariums, so I have nothing to add on that.

The only chemical you should regularly be using is dechlorinator during the weekly water changes we must perform on our aquariums. This depends on wether your water source contains chlorine and/or chloramines. Dechlorinator (many here recommend Seachem Prime) is handy to always have on you. Always have some and never allow yourself to run out of it.

API Master is a good kit, but most test strips are very inaccurate and will misguide you like they have with most of us here. API Master is used by most members here, although not me.

Just making sure you didn’t miss this post by me. ;)
Yes! I will let my sister know about the honeys and harlequins being better suited tank mates. Hopefully she doesn’t huff and puff about it since she was so set on black skirts haha. I want what’s best for her first tank, so thank you for your patience so far <3
Btw what testing kits do you recommend instead?
 
Upvote 0

Ouse

I recommended API Master as a good test kit, but I’m not sure what else is available to you. I use NTLabs’ liquid test kit but I think that’s exclusively found in the British Isles.

It’s a nice setup. Definitely get some hides if you can. I like to use pieces of driftwood as cover for fish. Others might chime in with what they like to use; often terracotta plant pots and ceramic caves.

Corydoras, kuhli loaches, amano shrimp, neocaridinas, nerite snails, trumpet snails, bladder snails, all of these are suitable bottom dwellers that instantly came to my mind. Still not even scratching the surface of what there is. Kuhli loaches are also Asian, so if you are interested in an Asian theme then stock with a small group of these. Same with the amanos, although they can be kept in large numbers as they’re very undemanding.

Bottom dwellers you might get recommended by someone but should NOT use in this setup: otocinclus and Siamese algae eater (abbreviated SAE) instantly pop into my head. Otocinclus don’t prevent algae (despite the belief they do) and require a long established tank to survive. They eat mostly microfauna on all surfaces and there’s not enough developed in new setups. They’re quick to starve. Siamese algae eaters don’t prevent algae either and will be too much for this tank.

Once bottom dwellers are added, the tank should be completely stocked at all levels.
 
Upvote 0

cloverpile

Oh yeah that's true, my brain died for a second there forgetting when you set it up.

So yeah, good that you are doing a fishless cycle. I would have not recommended StressZyme during the cycling process, it's not likely exactly what you want, seems more like heterotrophic probiotics that just kinda clean up your tank in general. Useful, but not quite the nitrifiers you want to establish.

Here is my recommendation. Do your fishless cycling with ammonia (ammonium chloride) rather than fish food, will save you a lot of hassle and you can easily track your progress, as opposed to guessing at it. Use something that actually has nitrifiers in it, like Dr. Tim's One and Only Nitrifying Bacteria or FritzZyme TurboStart 700. In fact, I'd only really suggest the latter. If you LFS does not have it, order it. Yes, even if it might take some time to arrive, I would much rather you use Fritz than any other bottled bacteria product.

Then follow the typical fishless cycling guide, though I suggest dosing ammonia each time both ammonia and nitrite have reached 0, rather than just when ammonia reaches 0.
Should I only use the api stress zyme and stress coat only when I’m doing a water change then instead of for my cycle?
I’ll definitely look into buying ammonium chloride and fritzzyme turbo 700! If I buy these can I still add them to my water in the tank that already has the api added in it? I already added the api chemicals to the water when I set up the tank.
 
Upvote 0

Azedenkae

Should I only use the api stress zyme and stress coat only when I’m doing a water change then instead of for my cycle?
I’ll definitely look into buying ammonium chloride and fritzzyme turbo 700! If I buy these can I still add them to my water in the tank that already has the api added in it? I already added the api chemicals to the water when I set up the tank.
No StressCoat is fine, that's a different product altogether that works to just make the water safe. StressZyme introduces microorganisms that will compete with nitrifiers, which is not really optimal during the cycling process. You should be good to buy the new products even with what you have added.
 
Upvote 0

Pfrozen

Should I only use the api stress zyme and stress coat only when I’m doing a water change then instead of for my cycle?
I’ll definitely look into buying ammonium chloride and fritzzyme turbo 700! If I buy these can I still add them to my water in the tank that already has the api added in it? I already added the api chemicals to the water when I set up the tank.

Yout don't need stress-zyme or stress coat at all. Those are gimmicky chemicals that won't do much for your fish. You should never medicate unnecessarily anyways.

All you really need long term is water conditioner like Seachem prime. Fritz turbo and ammonium chloride will help you get cycled a whole lot faster for now... within a few weeks give or take

In the future if you want to add something beneficial to the water try indian almond leaves or a few alder cones.. no need for anything else unless you have a clear issue. The only chemical I really use in my tanks is dewormer medicine like Flubendazole if I get a new fish and suspect parasites

Edit: Mizing continents is "okay" because "Asia" is a pretty broad locale. Harlequins have been found from Thailand to Malaysia, while honeys are found near India. I would look more at the water conditions that they live in more than anything else. For example, ember tetras pair perfectly fine with honey gourami.. embers are from Brazil but their ideal parameters overlap with honeys. Your fish see a lot of things in your aquarium that they wouldn't see in the wild anyhow. I agree that mixing continents is tricky with more intermediate fish like cichlids (mixing south american cichlids like apistogramma with other continents is doable, mixing African cichlids generally is not), but for a beginner setup you don't really need to worry about these things.

Now, that being said, I pay attention to pH and hardness a lot more than other do. Yes, a lot of fish "can" live in water outside of their ideal range, but people fail to realize that the immune system can only do so much... even if they "look" fine they will not be as hardy. Endlers for example- you can keep them in acidic water but in the long run they will not live out their full natural life span. In nature they were collected from an incredibly hard-water basin filled with runoff and algae
 
Upvote 0

cloverpile

No StressCoat is fine, that's a different product altogether that works to just make the water safe. StressZyme introduces microorganisms that will compete with nitrifiers, which is not really optimal during the cycling process. You should be good to buy the new products even with what you have added.
I see, thank you very much for all of your help! <333
Yout don't need stress-zyme or stress coat at all. Those are gimmicky chemicals that won't do much for your fish. You should never medicate unnecessarily anyways.

All you really need long term is water conditioner like Seachem prime. Fritz turbo and ammonium chloride will help you get cycled a whole lot faster for now... within a few weeks give or take

In the future if you want to add something beneficial to the water try indian almond leaves or a few alder cones.. no need for anything else unless you have a clear issue. The only chemical I really use in my tanks is dewormer medicine like Flubendazole if I get a new fish and suspect parasites
Argh I should’ve known that brand would’ve been better!! I was in a hurry at the store and choose api instead because it worked just fine when I had a tank myself when I was younger. That’s no excuse really since I was only 10 when I had that tank and it was my mother taking care of the tank rather than myself ha! Looks like I’ll be purchasing that seachem prime as well.
Does medicating the water or fish when unnecessary affect it in anyway?
I recommended API Master as a good test kit, but I’m not sure what else is available to you. I use NTLabs’ liquid test kit but I think that’s exclusively found in the British Isles.

It’s a nice setup. Definitely get some hides if you can. I like to use pieces of driftwood as cover for fish. Others might chime in with what they like to use; often terracotta plant pots and ceramic caves.

Corydoras, kuhli loaches, amano shrimp, neocaridinas, nerite snails, trumpet snails, bladder snails, all of these are suitable bottom dwellers that instantly came to my mind. Still not even scratching the surface of what there is. Kuhli loaches are also Asian, so if you are interested in an Asian theme then stock with a small group of these. Same with the amanos, although they can be kept in large numbers as they’re very undemanding.

Bottom dwellers you might get recommended by someone but should NOT use in this setup: otocinclus and Siamese algae eater (abbreviated SAE) instantly pop into my head. Otocinclus don’t prevent algae (despite the belief they do) and require a long established tank to survive. They eat mostly microfauna on all surfaces and there’s not enough developed in new setups. They’re quick to starve. Siamese algae eaters don’t prevent algae either and will be too much for this tank.

Once bottom dwellers are added, the tank should be completely stocked at all levels.
You have been oh so helpful with my thousands of questions haha! Thank you so much so far <3 I’ll discuss with my sister about having a honey, harlequins, and either corydoras or shrimp combo!
 
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IzabelB

Not sure if someone already said this but I just wanted to add that it looks like you have Java fern planted into the substrate. If their rhizomes are buried then the whole plant will die. You can bury just their roots or tie them onto your hard scape instead.
It looks great otherwise, I love that piece of spiderwood.
 
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cloverpile

Not sure if someone already said this but I just wanted to add that it looks like you have Java fern planted into the substrate. If their rhizomes are buried then the whole plant will die. You can bury just their roots or tie them onto your hard scape instead.
It looks great otherwise, I love that piece of spiderwood.
Oh yes! We have the rocks, fake plants, and very little of the substrate (like 3 or 4 little pebbles) keeping the Java down! I made sure none were submerged in the substrate. Thank you so much! It was the last piece there at the shop I’m so lucky I was able to snatch it. It really is a beauty :,]
 
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Pfrozen

I see, thank you very much for all of your help! <333

Argh I should’ve known that brand would’ve been better!! I was in a hurry at the store and choose api instead because it worked just fine when I had a tank myself when I was younger. That’s no excuse really since I was only 10 when I had that tank and it was my mother taking care of the tank rather than myself ha! Looks like I’ll be purchasing that seachem prime as well.
Does medicating the water or fish when unnecessary affect it in anyway?

You have been oh so helpful with my thousands of questions haha! Thank you so much so far <3 I’ll discuss with my sister about having a honey, harlequins, and either corydoras or shrimp combo!

The brand of water conditioner doesn't really matter :) as long as it removes chlorine. Seachem claims that their Prime "detoxifies" nitrites and ammonia but that is purely a function of pH. There is some evidence to suggest that Prime pushes the equilibrium of ammonia in water closer to the non-toxic side but the difference is so minimal. It's basically just a marketing tactic

I ran out of Prime the other day and used Aqueon conditioner instead. None of my fish died :D
 
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cloverpile

The brand of water conditioner doesn't really matter :) as long as it removes chlorine. Seachem claims that their Prime "detoxifies" nitrites and ammonia but that is purely a function of pH. There is some evidence to suggest that Prime pushes the equilibrium of ammonia in water closer to the non-toxic side but the difference is so minimal. It's basically just a marketing tactic

I ran out of Prime the other day and used Aqueon conditioner instead. None of my fish died :D
That makes sense! Again, thank you very much for all of your help <3
 
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cloverpile

Oh yeah that's true, my brain died for a second there forgetting when you set it up.

So yeah, good that you are doing a fishless cycle. I would have not recommended StressZyme during the cycling process, it's not likely exactly what you want, seems more like heterotrophic probiotics that just kinda clean up your tank in general. Useful, but not quite the nitrifiers you want to establish.

Here is my recommendation. Do your fishless cycling with ammonia (ammonium chloride) rather than fish food, will save you a lot of hassle and you can easily track your progress, as opposed to guessing at it. Use something that actually has nitrifiers in it, like Dr. Tim's One and Only Nitrifying Bacteria or FritzZyme TurboStart 700. In fact, I'd only really suggest the latter. If you LFS does not have it, order it. Yes, even if it might take some time to arrive, I would much rather you use Fritz than any other bottled bacteria product.

Then follow the typical fishless cycling guide, though I suggest dosing ammonia each time both ammonia and nitrite have reached 0, rather than just when ammonia reaches 0.
Ok! I plan to order dr tims ammonium chloride along with that turbo start 700 and seachem prime. In what order do I use those and when do I use them? I’m getting an api master test kit as well!
 
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Azedenkae

Ok! I plan to order dr tims ammonium chloride along with that turbo start 700 and seachem prime. In what order do I use those and when do I use them? I’m getting an api master test kit as well!
Coolio.

So Seachem Prime you dose each time you add water to the tank to detoxify it, whether it's the first time, for top ups, or for water changes. The first time you add water to the tank you can add water first then Prime, but afterwards preferably you'd mix water with Prime prior to adding to the tank.

Ammonium chloride when you want to start cycling, and TurboStart 700 I'd recommend about half an hour after dosing ammonium chloride, just to ensure it is mixed well. ^_^
 
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cloverpile

Coolio.

So Seachem Prime you dose each time you add water to the tank to detoxify it, whether it's the first time, for top ups, or for water changes. The first time you add water to the tank you can add water first then Prime, but afterwards preferably you'd mix water with Prime prior to adding to the tank.

Ammonium chloride when you want to start cycling, and TurboStart 700 I'd recommend about half an hour after dosing ammonium chloride, just to ensure it is mixed well. ^_^
I see… another person replied earlier that I should dose my tank with the ammonium chloride daily for 4 or 6 weeks does that seem alright? If yes do I also add some turbo start after the daily ammonium dose?
 
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Azedenkae

I see… another person replied earlier that I should dose my tank with the ammonium chloride daily for 4 or 6 weeks does that seem alright? If yes do I also add some turbo start after the daily ammonium dose?
Oh sorry, I have not been reading other people's comments, there are too many lol.

There are multiple different ways to cycle. I would not suggest dosing ammonium chloride daily for 4 to 6 weeks, or for any set period of time for that matter. How long a cycle goes for is going to be unique to each tank, and especially if you are using TurboStart 700, it may go for far less. A week even, or less.

What I would do, is follow a very simple methodology.
  1. Dose 2ppm ammonia, measure ammonia after about 30 minutes just to ensure you do have around 2ppm.
  2. Then dose TurboStart 700.
  3. Every 24 hours, measure ammonia and nitrite. If they are not 0, rinse and repeat until they both read 0 (or ammonia reads 0.25ppm, sometimes the API test kit seems to register 0.25 rather than 0).
  4. If you had read 0 ammonia and nitrite 24 hours after dosing 2ppm ammonia, congrats, your tank is cycled! You may want to do another round of dosing to be sure.
  5. If it took more than 24 hours to read 0 ammonia and nitrite after dosing 2ppm ammonia, then re-dose 2ppm ammonia and repeat from step 3.
  6. Change water if needed if nitrate gets too high.
Tada!

So a few reasons and notes about my method:
  1. Different nitrifying species grow at different rates, and really even if they are the same species, different tank parameters and setups - temperature, pH, etc., can result in different growth (or reproduction, rather) rates anyways. So rather than following a set timeframe that may not be applicable to you specifically, just test the nitrification capacity along the way. You'd know exactly when your tank is cycled then.
  2. This cycling method essentially focuses on having the nitrifiers reproduce at the fastest rate they can, while still allowing you to keep track of the cycle. I am not a big fan of constantly dosing ammonia everyday no matter what, or dosing ammonia when ammonia reaches 0. Three reasons, firstly ammonia-oxidizers do not need to be provided a constant supply of ammonia, they can easily go for months ammonia-starved, so a few day is nothing. Secondly, the rate-limiting step is 99% of the time nitrite-oxidation, not ammonia-oxidation. Even while ammonia-oxidizers are not necessarily reproducing, it's not really slowing anything down since you are limited by the growth of the nitrite-oxidizers anyways. Lastly, this let's you track your cycle. If you keep dosing ammonia, you are likely to just end up with a nitrite spike (if there's going to be nitrite produced), one that goes beyond the highest reading possible for nitrite. So you won't know how it is changing - whether it is increasing, plateauing, or decreasing, because for a long time it'll always just read off the charts. Here, you can actually tell, okay, so the nitrite is being consumed by nitrite-oxidizers, and at what rate, good, etc.
  3. 2ppm is my recommended dosage, because that is the expected amount a fully, fully stocked tank produce a day. There are multiple benefits - you can do a full, or if you don't want to, a larger stock at once, beneficial for introducing schools of fish. You are able to also ensure you have enough biomedia in the tank to house enough nitrifiers. That is something much better figured out before any fish is in the tank. Anyways, dosing 1ppm works too, evidence suggests unless the tank is super super fully stocked, the amount of ammonia produced by a fish tank may be closer to 1ppm than 2ppm. 4ppm is a 'stretch goal', but is what a lot of aquarists aim for nonetheless because it ensures a 'buffer' in terms of nitrification capacity, in case something goes wrong. It does take longer to cycle this way though. 2ppm I find then is a good mid-point.
 
Upvote 0

Karmie121506

Hello! This is my first post in this forum and I’m very happy to be here
Last night my sibling got her very first fresh water 20 gallon tank! I set it up for her and have been the one doing research, whilst educating her as well of course. But I have some questions for stocking her tank and would really appreciate anyone’s help :]
———————

E843A4AC-8B77-42EF-ADA0-83E42BD0D555.jpeg

FA4C8979-5BDB-4829-859B-CCE448812382.jpeg
Currently in the process of getting more hides!
———————
The fish she had in mind for her set up:
honey gouramis and black skirt tetras most definitely! Along with either some blue velvet shrimp or cherry shrimp.
Still thinking about the other schooling fish to include in the tank but she does like sword tails and harlequin tetras!
———————
Here are my questions:
After the Nitrogen cycle has completed I’ve been looking at sources explaining that schooling fish such as black skirts and harlequins require at least 5 in each school. Which is no problem at all! But I read on many threads explaining that you shouldn’t add more than 3 or 4 fish to a new tank since that can dangerously raise ammonia levels and mess up the whole cycle!
Im thinking of getting my sister her honey gouramis first, two of them to be exact, but how long do I wait until I can get the rest of the fish? Since I’m getting schooling fish next will they be okay with having 3 or 4 in a school in the mean time? Do I always quarantine fish when getting new batches of them?
Can I also get shrimp for the tank the same day I get her gouramis? Do I clean the tank at all after the nitrogen cycle has finished or leave it as is for my fish that I will be adding?
If I want to add more fish of the same species such as the black skirts in the future, will they join the school already in the tank? Or will they form their own school? With these species in mind should there be any gender preferences because of temperaments? Since honey gouramis are on the larger side, will they eat the shrimp I plan to add?
Thank you so much for the help to anyone who comes across my post!
That is gorgeous!! you should put in some neon tetras and dwarf gouramis would look great in there. Only thing being is that dwarfs are prone to iridovirus that only dwarfs get.
 
Upvote 0

WendiWoo

Hi. I've had GREAT success using API Quick start. It really does cycle immediately as long as you add a dose with every water change. You get a big bottle and it lasts over a month. Never had any spikes like just normal cycling. After a month, there's the "normal" tank bacteria that builds and you can quit using it. It's GREAT for fish in cycle. Without fish, do same thing but add food. API test master test kit is a must.
 
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