New in town, from Iowa 55 Gallon Tank

  1. dhriscerr Initiate Member

    I just got a 55 gallon tank with accessories for my daughters for Xmas. I have never had anything but gold fish and that was when I was a kid, so I am looking forward to this adventure and feel a lot more comfortable now that I found this site. I set the tank up on December 7th, let it sit for 2 weeks at 80 degrees with Tetra Safestart before adding fish. This is the set up so far, 200w 75g submersible heater, Aqua Clear 70 filter, with normal filter media on bottom, ammonia reducing middle insert, and biomass on top. 2 Large Stump Decor, 3 small, 3 medium and 3 large fake plants. I bought 3 real plant bulbs (Before I started reading anything, no idea what kind and havent broke the gravel yet), and 65lbs of Mixed natural color gravel. Last monday (7 days ago) I added 6 tiger barbs. I have done a 10% or 5.5 gallon water change every other day for this week, each time adding the correct ammount of tetra safestart to the new water.

    I just bought 5 in 1 test strips 2 days ago and an API ammonia and PH test kit with PH booster and reducer included today. (Doesn't look like many of you are fans of the test strips so I will probably get a master freshwater kit for more accurate water tests).

    My water tests as follows: Temp 78 degree's F, 10ppm Nitrate, 0ppm Nitrite, .25ppm Ammonia (according to the chart with my ammonia test kit with my PH level and temperature the ammonia levels is 14% toxic so .25 X 14/100 is .035ppm toxic?) HERES THE KICKER my PH level is off the charts, its at the 8.4 level or the highest on my test strips, and my API kit only goes to 7.8 and its the highest color on that chart as well.

    So I have a few ?'s (and the moderators can move this to another section as well)

    1. I am in the start of my nitrogen cycle (or atleast I believe to be in the start, since I didn't start testing immediately) and I have ammonia levels, they should drop to 0 once i start producing Nitrite, so is it safe to use the PH adjuster I got with my PH test kit, or should I let the Nitrogen cycle finish first and just keep doing water change outs?

    2. I have heard that Tetra safe start can cycle a tank in as little as a week, since I didn't start testing right away, should I still assume I am on my ammonia stage, since I have no nitrite? or could I be past that and into the Nitrate, but have a little ammonia still? (I did have those 3 plant bulbs in the tank that could have sped up the process from what I have read?)

    3.....Anything I may have missed or need to be aware of please do not hesitate to give me some constructive critisism or feedback.

    Thank you in advance!
     
  2. agabr123 Fishlore VIP Member

    Hi and welcome to fishlore! :)

    First, your guess is right, i'd definitely suggest picking up the API master kit. it's MUCH more accurate than the strips and accurate readings are so important!

    I'd go ahead and test your tap water as well, just to make sure that your nitrate/ammonia readings aren't from that, which would be a pain.

    Now, with the tetra safe start if you want to try to use it you need to follow the directions to the letter otherwise it wont work. You need to get a bottle for the full size of your tank and add in the entire bottle with the fish that you're going to want to have in the tank already in there. Although you may want to, don't test the water and don't do any water changes for at least 7-10 days. at the end of that time, test your water to see if you get 0ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrite, and 5-20ppm nitrate. if you do, then you can change the water and start doing water changes weekly of about 20%. if not, give it another day or two and if it STILL doesn't work then you'll probably want to switch to doing 50% daily water changes until the tank is fully cycled naturally.

    Also, be SURE that you have tetra safe start and not tetra aqua safe, which is a water conditioner.

    I would pick up some Prime to use as your regular water conditioner, it's what i use with every water change and it's much more concentrated than others so it will last longer and works really well :)

    I wouldn't recommend using chemicals to change your pH, at this point a stable pH is going to be much healthier for your fish than using chemicals to try to change it. however, you can change your pH naturally using certain things. here's a link explaining it a bit better https://www.fishlore.com/Articles/PHArticle.htm

    what are your stocking plans for the rest of the tank? tiger barbs can be pretty aggressive, so it's important to keep an eye on them, but it's good that you've got a school because that will keep their aggression lower :)
     

  3. dhriscerr Initiate Member

    I was really going for an agressive tank, I wanted salt water initally, but almost everyone I talked to told me to start with a freshwater tank because saltwater is really hard to start with and to get use to maintaining freshwater first.

    Eventually I hope to have: 6 Tigers, 2 (other barbs, green tiger, ruby)? 1 Rainbow shark, Placo, and maybe 2 silver dollars? That should be about 45 inches of fish? I don't know for sure yet though, still looking around a lot, going to see what other people like, and what my 2 daughters want in "their" fish tank. Nothing is set in stone, Do you have any ideas on what would make good tank mates?

    I wanted a Clown Loache but they said to get 4 of them, and they get huge!
    :animal0068:Hello. I've merged your posts to save some space. There is an EDIT key at the bottom of every post that you can use for corrections or additional thoughts should you not have any responses.
    Thanks!
    Ken
     
  4. agabr123 Fishlore VIP Member

    yeah a clown loach is definitely not a good idea in that tank, they need schools like they told you and they do get very, very large.

    i probably wouldn't put the rainbow shark and the pleco together on the bottom, the shark's tend to be a bit territorial, although in a 55 you might be alright but i'll let someone with more experience with the sharks answer that for you :)

    also, be careful what KIND of pleco you're looking at, a common pleco needs at least a 75+ gallon tank and they can get HUGE (i've seen up to nearly 2 feet). a bristlenose pleco would be a good choice at about 7 inches.
     

  5. Aquarist Fishlore Legend Member

    Hello DHR and Welcome to Fish Lore.

    Here is a link on Tetra Safe Start (TSS) that you may find helpful. Great advice from Agabr123.
    Q & A With Tetra about Tetra SafeStart

    Using chemicals to adjust your pH levels can be risky. They are unstable and can even cause your pH to crash resulting in fish loss. Be sure to check out the link Agabr123 gave you for natural ways of altering your pH.

    API Master Test Kit has a high pH and a low pH test. If you decide to buy each test separate then go for the high pH test since you already know you're water is at the top of the low one. (and you already have the low end test)

    Best of luck and keep us posted. I hope you can share some photos along the way.
    Ken
     
  6. dhriscerr Initiate Member

    Yeah, I am looking at Clown Pleco, or anything that gets about 6" or so. I might look at Guarami's or Tetra's as well. I definately want a shark, a sucker, and some semi aggressive active schools.

    In the end 8-10 Barbs at 3" each, a rainbow shark at 4.5-6" Pleco at 6" would be 40-42" that could leave me enough for 2 silver dollars or something close to another 10"...........in optimal conditions of course, and they would be added 25% at a time to accept the new Bio load. I don't think any of those produce excess waste such as gold fish or oscars so I should be able to get close to or a little under the 1" per gallon rule.

    "Before you jump all over me I know that is just a rule, and I will take more things than that into consideration before overcrowding"
     
  7. Meenu Fishlore VIP Member

    Can you check the bottle - is it Tetra Safe Start or tetra Aqua Safe? Sounds like you are using Aqua Safe to me.
     

  8. dhriscerr Initiate Member



    Yes it is Aqua Safe, my mistake. I am still trying to figure out why I have almost no Ammonia, or Nitrite after 8 days of fish? Shouldn't my Ammonia have started going up by now?



    p.s. going to post pics on the picture forum
     
  9. Meenu Fishlore VIP Member

    Aqua Safe is a water conditioner. You can add it every time you add new water to the tank. It removes chlorine, chloramine, and heavy metals from your tank. It does not help cycle your tank, like Tetra Safe Start does. TSS is basically a bottle of beneficial bacteria that you can pour into the tank, and the ammonia from fish waste will feed it, letting it colonize on the surfaces in your tank and media.

    Test strips are not accurate, and you won't be able to get precise enough readings from them to know when your tank is cycled. Most of the people on this site use the API master test kit, which includes liquid tests for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH. You've already got some of these tests. In my opinion, it is worth returning the strips if possible, and buying the other liquid tests instead.

    I am missing which fish you already have.
     
  10. Wrtbrgr87 Member Member

    I'm in Iowa too, Dubuque actually, where are you from? What a coincidence!
     

  11. Omgami Member Member

    Welcome. Your 'daughters" tank sounds like its coming along. Have you ever heard of fish addiction or MTS ? I don't want to suggest anything here but denial of tank ownership is a major step toward MTS, afterall you need at least one tank of your own!
    good luck on the cycling.
     
  12. 1hawaii50 Member Member

    Welcome to Fishlore!
     
  13. mosin360 Well Known Member Member

    Where in Iowa you hail from? I've done some living in Harlan, Ames, and Cedar Rapids.