Plants/fish/cycle for new 55 gallon - best way to do it? Question

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by JSK, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. JSK

    JSKValued MemberMember

    Hi all. First of all, thanks to everyone that has given advice to me so far about kits, components, etc. I've pretty much decided on my 55 gallon and have picked out the filter system, heater, light, etc. I'm psyched.

    So, I already know I want live plants, and it seems that a good species to start with is Java Fern, and maybe one other hardy, low-light species (advice welcome!). I've got a plan in my head for the rocks I am going to use, substrate, plant position, etc. I stopped by my LFS on Saturday and the gentleman (owner's husband) was very helpful. He suggested cycling the tank first with a few hardy fish, then adding plants after the cycle so they would not be damaged by the ammonia and would have the nitrates. This makes sense...except...

    First, I plan on cycling without fish. I am tempted to try TSS, or just use pure ammonia. Second, I kind of want to get the plants in before I add fish, because I suspect I will be moving stuff around, etc. until I get it the way I want. It seems like it would be nice to have the environment more or less set up when the fish are added.

    My question: what it the best order or way to do this?

    Should I set up the tank with plants first, let the plants get established, then do a cycle (maybe with TSS and a few Dwarf Guorami)? or....

    Cycle the tank without fish, add plants, let them get set, then add fish? or....

    Cycle, add fish, then plants?

    Those that have set up planted tanks from the start...what has worked for you?

    As always, thanks in advance!
  2. Shawnie

    ShawnieFishlore LegendMember

    If it were me, id get tetra aqaua safe , your plants, and tss...decorate and fill the tank with your aquasafe conditioner..add your plants ....get the tank to where you want it ...after adding your aqua safe conditioner, get your fish and add them with the tss....wait a week and go from there....

    a few questions for you tho....whats your ph in your tap? if under 7, id go the fishless cycle route as tss needs ammonia not ammonium(under a 7ph isnt ammonia but ammonium) to live....other than gouramis , what fish are you planning on stocking in the tank? gouramis are fish I wouldnt use with tss to get the tank going...they are stressed enough without adding to that as most arent kept in good conditions at the LFS....they dont like other of their own kind and most are kept in a tank full of other gouramis...
  3. Meenu

    MeenuFishlore VIPMember

    If you go with TSS, I would get 2 bottles for a 55 gallon, personally. For my 30g, I had to use the largest bottle, labelled for 75 gallon tanks. I would go with a 75 and a 30. It's pricy, but worth it in my opinion. And make sure they aren't expired. I purchased and unsuccessfully used 3 expired bottles before I finally figured it out (although each was unsuccessful because I kept messing up).

  4. OP

    JSKValued MemberMember

    Shawnie - Great advice on the Guoramis...I thought they were good "starter" fish but maybe not. I am open to suggestions, for sure.

    The water at my house (in Denver) is a bit basic - usually comes out at around 7.4 or so (measured by the pH meter in my lab). However, (not to be contrary, but just to clarify), the ammonia/ammonium ratio won't change much by moving from just above 7 to just under 7 (or vice versa).

    The pKa of the reaction NH3 + H(+) <--> NH4(+) is around 9.24. That means that at pH = 9.24, you will have 50% ammonia (NH3) and 50% ammonium (NH4(+)). If you drop to pH = 7, you will have <1% ammonia, and >99% ammonium. Here's a table:

    pH %ammonia
    7.0 0.5
    7.5 1.5
    8.0 4.7
    8.5 13.7
    9.0 35.8
    9.5 62.1

    This table is based on the known physical constants of the reaction (and actual measurments) What this means is that as the pH goes up, slightly more of the compound is in the ammonia state, but still most is not...until you get to very high pH.

    I know there are books out there that make it sound as if a big switch from ammonia to ammonium occurs at pH 7...they are not correct (the chemistry is clear on this). It is correct that the ammonia concentration keeps dropping as you move below pH = 7, but it already VERY low anywhere between ph = 7 and 8.

    In a tank, as ammonia is removed by the nitrosomonas, some ammonium will convert to ammonia to maintain the correct ratio, so you don't run out of ammonia.
  5. Shawnie

    ShawnieFishlore LegendMember

    too much detail for me :;rlill take your word for it:happy0034:...I just know under 7 ph, TSS doesnt do as well and the ammonia/ammonium in your tank, is much longer than a week...which isnt good for fish no matter what raitio it is ;)...good luck!!!
  6. Meenu

    MeenuFishlore VIPMember

    JSK, what kind of tank do you want to end up with? Are you wanting a community tank with a few centerpiece fish? Or do you prefer larger, more aggressive cichlids?

    For a community tank, you could go with guppies, platies, mollies, danios, corydora catfish or bristlenose plecos, with centerpiece angelfish or gouramis. Also something to consider when deciding on your stocklist is fry. Do you want fry? If not, then get only male livebearers. If there are fry, do you want to save them or let nature take its course and just leave them in the tank?
  7. OP

    JSKValued MemberMember

    Shawnie...gulp...sorry for the detail...I've got a PhD in Chemistry so this stuff kind of flows out at randome times...:)

    Meenu - I'm not really into an agrresive Cichlid tank. I was thinking of a community tank and a few centerpieces. I'll admit I am still reading and researching the many!

    Not really into breeding or fry - it would be ideal if that did not occur, to be honest. If I let nature take its course after fry appear, my 9-year old daughter will NOT like it...
  8. Meenu

    MeenuFishlore VIPMember

    Then I would suggest males for any livebearers for sure.
    When I decided to get a tank, I asked my little boy if he wanted lots of little fish or a few big fish, and he picked little ones. That's how I ended up with a community tank.

    You could go with:
    3 male guppies
    3 male platies
    3 male black mollies
    10 corydora catfish or 2 bristlenose plecos
    6 zebra danios/glofish
    2 honey gouramis
    10-15 neon tetras

    It would give you a fun, colorful, nonaggressive tank.

    Another option would be to go with a couple of different schools of tetras, some bottom fish, and a few guppies for a pop of color....

    Stocking is the most fun. :) If you want to do angels, then you don't want to go with the small tetras. I've been reading up on that, and apparently if can be fine, but when the angels get big enough, your neons disappear. Your 9 year old may not like that too much. ;)

    edit: I did 3 each of the livebearers because I've learned from Shawnie that more than 3 male guppies in a tank with no females will fight. I didn't know if this applied to mollies and platies as well.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2009
  9. flyin-loweWell Known MemberMember

    I recently cycled a tank successfully with TSS and the only fish that didn't survive was a dwarf gourami. I will probably get another one in a month or so because I have read that they are hardy fish but mine died about 10 days after I added the TSS. I got a credit for it but I haven't replaced it yet, Im going to wait a little longer.
  10. OP

    JSKValued MemberMember

    Thanks for the gives me ideas for what to stock and what not (at least initially). Can I run a list by you guys? Here is a stocking list of fish I like and might want to end up in the tank...of course, not all at once...but over time:

    Kuhli loach – 3
    Harlequin Rasbora – 6
    Cardinal tetras – 12
    Honey or Dwarf Gourami – 2

    I might start with the school of tetras, let them get set, and then add the others bit by bit. I also really like a few inverts...such as red cherry shrimp.

    From what I can tell, these should all do well in similar water conditions and temps, but am I overstocking?

    Edit: oops, should add that it is a 55 gallon, and will be planted.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2009
  11. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    If you do get two Dwarf Gourami's keep an eye on them. Many times Dwarf Gourami's don't get along very well with one another. I had gotten two before I learned that they many times are not compatable, but got lucky because they get along great in my 36 gallon tank. You should be fine with two in a 55 since they would have enough room to develope their own territorrys, but it woiuld be prudent to keep an eye on them in the beginning.

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