New tank log- it's started! 55 Gallon Tank

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by JSK, Dec 22, 2009.

  1. JSK

    JSKValued MemberMember

    Taking the plunge! After a lot of research, reading of this forum, visits to shops, and price comparing...I came home on Saturday with a new stand and a 55 were ecstatic!

    Today we drove all over town. Got pool filter sand, drftwood, some rocks, API test kit, a different thermometer...all set. The filter sand required a drive across Denver. I paid $11 for a fifty pound bag (I bought two). It was more than I hoped to pay, but it looks great. Driftwood, some black slate and lace rock from LFS...not cheap but they look great on the white sand. The kids and I had a blast setting it all up today, and my wife lent her artistic advice!

    Filter and heater are running now....I will pop in some ammonia tomorrow to get the cycle amped up.

    Hey, I have an HOB filter and would like to add some scotchbrite pads to provide more bacterial growth surface...I'm told the green ones are bad, white are good. True?
  2. flyin-loweWell Known MemberMember

    What type of HOB filter do you have? I use aqua clear's and they have plenty of media (carbon, sponge, and ceramic disc's). I can't tell you if green or white is good or bad but with the sand, rocks, and everything else you have I think you will have plenty of places for bacteria to live.
  3. Lucy

    LucyModeratorModerator Member

    It sounds like a really nice tank! I hope you share pictures soon.
    I'm not sure of the scotch bright sponges. You have to make sure there aren't any detergents or soap already in them.

  4. OP

    JSKValued MemberMember

    I will most definitely post some pictures soon. It is a little cloudy right now - I washed the sand like crazy, but probably a little dust got through, and dssolved gases are coming out as the water warms. I keep looking at it and trying to decide if the rock placement is "perfect." :) My son (6) is enamored with plecos and so we had to get just the right rock for "his" future pleco...have to find a species that will stay small. Daughter (9) loves Dwarf Gouramis so may have to get one or two of those.

    Right now I am running a "Top Fin 60" filter which came with the kit - I probably will either replace it (canister) or add another soon (after New Year) since I would like more GPH. Good advice on the filter material- I probably will add some ceramic rings and some floss...I also saw a good article on about DIY cartridges using 100% polyester fiber matting.

    Anyway - I also plan on adding some Java Fern and maybe some other low-light plants tomorrow. Excited.
  5. Dolphini

    DolphiniValued MemberMember

    Maybe you could get a Bristlenose pleco for your son? I think they stay relatively small for the plecos, 6" at most I've heard.

  6. Lucy

    LucyModeratorModerator Member

    Sounds great.
    One word of caution. Dwarf Gouramis are beautiful fish with great personalities.
    However, I'd advise to stay away from Colisa lalia. They're prone to Dwarf Gourami Disease. It's a viral infection and sadly, it's not curable.
    It's a horrible disease and I'd hate to have your daughter watch a pet pass.
    Instead, maybe look at the Banded Gourami (Colisa fasciata) or Thick Lipped (Colisa labiosus)
    Sparkling Gouramis (also immune) are super cute, but may be too small for the other inhibitants of your tank. They make a cool clicking noise. lol

    I think there may be others that have an immunity, but I can't think of them right now.
    Maybe someone else can chime in.
  7. OP

    JSKValued MemberMember

    Lucy, Wow had not heard of the Dwarf Gourami Disease, thanks for clueing me in. I'll look into it more, but it sounds like going with another species might be the way to go. Thanks again.
  8. Lucy

    LucyModeratorModerator Member

    Your welcome. Definitely do some of your own research so you can make your own choice.
    I know other members have them and haven't had problems. However, other members, including myself have lost them.
    Best of luck, what ever you decide.
    Have fun stocking! You and your kids are going to love it! :)
  9. Aquarist

    AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Hello JSK. Everything is sounding great! For filter floss I use 100% Poly, high loft, batting material from the craft department at WalMart. It comes in a big roll. No additives or chemicals in it. It's in a clear plastic bag with a light green label. Very reasonable price too, and it lasts a long time.

    I'm not sure about the Scotch Brite sponges either. Never used them. As mentioned above make sure that they are free of soap and all chemicals! :)

    Here is a link on Gourami disease that Lucy has mentioned above.

    Best of luck! I'll be looking forward to seeing your photos!
    Happy Holidays!
  10. OP

    JSKValued MemberMember

    OK, the new tank is cycling - I hope. In order to get things started I added some pure ammonia to 5 chemistry degree helped there as I was able to calculate exactly how much ammonium chloride to add...after adding it and waiting a bit I check with my API kit - right on 5 ppm.

    That was 12/ is 12/28 and so far the ammonia has not budged. I just tested it and it is still at 5 ppm and the nitrite is still at zero...patience....should I be nervous?

    The water is yellow, but I'm OK with that because I have some driftwood in there. The water was a bit cloudy when I first set up the tank, I suspect that was because I did not wash the substrate as well as I thought. But, it is clearing now.

    I also decided to upgrade my filter to a canister (Eheim 2217) which I found online for $140. I just ordered it from PetSmart.

    Plants arriving from on Wednesday (LFS did not have what I wanted).

    Thinking about stocking...
  11. HitchHiker

    HitchHikerValued MemberMember

    It took me a full week before my ammonia levels even began to drop. Just hang in there that is the best that I can say. It gets really exciting when they do finally start to drop. If you would like here is the link to my log.
  12. OP

    JSKValued MemberMember

    Tested ammonia again today and saw no change, still looks like 5 ppm (7 days after start). This prompted a conversation with a colleague at work that set up a 60 gallon recently (its a nice tank). I asked him if I could get some of his gravel to kick-start my tank...he agreed and will bring it in tomorrow.

    But, he also wondered if my 5 ppm ammonia was just too high to really let the bacteria get a foothold...he thought starting at a lower dose would be better. I noticed on the Q&A with Tetra about TSS, they state that anything at 4 ppm or above is toxic to the TSS bacteria, and it is best to use it before adding fish or when ammonia is below 2 ppm or so. This suggests to me that I would have been better off starting my cycle at 1-2 ppm, rather than 5 ppm.

    Anyway, he is going to bring me the gravel and a bottle of TSS (the store near his house stocks it, but not the store near mine)...he is encouraging me to use the TSS as he had great luck with it. He showed me the recorded readings from his TSS-started cycle and they looked great.

    So, I think I might try the gravel +TSS...but I feel like I should drop the ammonia before I put either in the tank. I could do it by a 75% water change, or by using some sort of ammonia lock (but not enough to completely lock up all the ammonia)....what do you guys think? I am also putting in some live plants tomorrow night, but I suspect they will not have much of an effect in the short-term.

  13. thorpbrianValued MemberMember

    Just so you know TSS is meant to be used to cycle the tank with fish. So if you want to use it I'd do a large water change using a non-ammonia locking water conditioner and add about 1/3 of the fish stock for your tank (I cycled my 55 with 6 zebra danios). Then let the tank sit for 7 days without doing anything before testing your water parameters. If they aren't at 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and 5+ nitrates wait 3 more days and test again. I've used TSS to cycle all three of my tanks successfully.
  14. OP

    JSKValued MemberMember

    Yeah, that is good advice. I also thought about just doing almost a 100% water change and then using TSS the "normal" way. But, I kind of wanted to get my plants established first before adding fish, and while the plants were growing, let the tank cycle.

    If I understand TSS correctly, it provides the live bacteria in a concentrated and relatively stable form. The fish are added soon after the TSS in order to generate the ammonia/ammonium needed by the bacteria. seems like one could supply the ammonia directly just as well...with care not to go over 1-2 ppm.
  15. OP

    JSKValued MemberMember

    On Wednesday (1/30) I came home to see that my live plants arrived from - I was quite pleased at their size and health. I also brought home some substrate from friends at work that have mature tanks. I tested the ammonia again and it had not moved...still right at 4-5 ppm. Because I was worried that the ammonia was too high and not letting the bacteria get established, I decided to do a few things to try and get the cycle started, or at least help it along.

    I did a 75% water change...this brought the ammonia down to 1 ppm (as expected). I put the donated substrate into my filter housing. Then, I added the live plants (Water Sprite and Java Fern). We had a New Year's Eve Party the next day...lots of comments on how the tank looked good..."but where are the fish?" :)

    Of course, I told people about the cycle - it is amazing how many people answer with "Well, when I had an aquarium many years ago, we never did any of that...I just added water to the bowl and a few goldfish, and it was fine." I ask them how long the goldfish lived, and the answer is usually "...well, I don't remember exactly, not too long I guess..."

    Today (Saturday) I tested the water...ammonia still looks to be around 1 ppm, but lo and behold, the nitrite is appearing! Only 0.25 ppm, but it was 0 before, so something is happening. Yay!

    I'm still waiting for my canister filter to arrive, when it does I will add it (leaving my HOB on as well). I'm also expecting an air pump and stones to arrive soon, which I will add to keep the water oxygenated for the bacteria.

    I have not done any fertilizers for the plants, should I do that soon or wait a bit?
  16. wedge212New MemberMember

    Quick question - where did you get the Ammonium Chloride for cycling your tank? I've been driving around looking for it to no avail.
  17. nerite0479

    nerite0479Valued MemberMember

    Would you recommend Liveaquaria's live plants?

    Would you recommend liveaquaria's live plants JSK?I have been thinking about buying live plants and wanted some recommendations on where to buy some.

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