Questions about new aquarium.

Bub

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I decided to start up my aquarium again, 5 years after my last one which I screwed up. This time I want to make sure I do everything right, so bear with me through some dumb questions....

I have a 10 gal tank with an activated carbon filter. I just filled the tank tonight, after washing the gravel and ornaments, and I'm not sure if I'm supposed to leave the filter off (or at least remove the activated carbon cartridge) when I add the treatment stuff (Stress Coat and Stress Zyme). Would the activated carbon filter remove those treatment chemicals that I put in? If so, should I run the filter for a day or so to clean the water, and then add the chemicals and remove the cartridge for a little while? Or vice versa? Or can I run the filter with the activated carbon cartridge in it AND add the chemicals simultaneously?

Should I use 2 air stones or can I get away with 1?

As for fish, I learned the hard way in the past that adding too many fish too soon is a very bad idea. So, do you think 1 Dwarf Gourami and 2 Swordtails is ok to start with or is that still too much?

Thanks
 

Isabella

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Hi Bub, and welcome to Fish Lore

First of all, before you add any fish to your aquarium, you need to cycle your tank. This way, when your tank is cycled, no fish will die shortly after you get them. Cycling a tank is a process that on average takes 1 month to complete. It is about letting the beneficial bacteria to develop in your tank, so that they can consume toxic nitrite and ammonia. There are at least 3 basic compounds present in aquarium water that aquarists are concerned with: ammonia (very toxic to fish), nitrite (also very toxic to fish), and nitrate (not toxic but may be if at high concentrations). Cycling a tank ensures that there will be no ammonia and nitrite at the time you get fish; if any of these 2 compounds are present, the fish will either get sick or die. Ammonia and nitrite MUST ALWAYS be at 0, and nitrate should be kept as low as possible. You keep nitrate low by water changes, which I'd recommend to be 25-30% a week (depending on your fish load). Here is more information about cycling a tank: https://www.fishlore.com/NitrogenCycle.htm

After your tank is cycled, do not add all fish at once. Stock your tank gradually, 1-2 fish at a time. You can be adding 1-2 fish, say, every week or two. If you add all fish at once, ammonia and/or nitrite will rise to toxic levels and kill your fish. This is because there are bacteria established when the tank is cycled, but not enough of them to deal with a sudden large fish load. That is why it's safer to stock your tank gradually. And remember not to overstock: have 1 inch of fish for every gallon of water (or better, for every 2 gallons of water). And it's also not good to add too large fish to a small tank. For example, imagine a 10" fish in a 10 gallon tank ... doesn't make much sense, does it? Such fish would only suffer there.

Once you fill your tank, keep the filter running for as long as it will take to cycle it. Most of the beneficial bacteria get established in your filter. Never rinse your filter sponge in chlorinated tap water, but in your tank water - this way you do not kill the bacteria that are needed to keep your tank cycled. Filter should be ON always. One airstone is enough. Activated carbon can stay in your filter as far as I know. I know that carbon will remove medications from water and other toxic chemicals, and it will generally keep your water clear. By Stress Coat you mean some kind of a dechlorinator? I have a filter with activated carbon in my 30 gallon tank and I never take the carbon out, even after adding new dechlorinated water to my tank. I don't know what Stress Zyme and Stress Coat that you use are for, but if they condition the water and remove chlorine, you can keep the carbon in the filter. I presume you DO have a sponge in your filter ... right? What kind of filter is that anyway?

Dwarf gouramis don't grow too big, and I think they would be OK. But I wouldn't personally put them in a 10 gallon tank (however it is up to you). For a 10 gallon tank, I'd recommend some small fish like neons, and the like. Swordtails would be OK I suppose. But you may want to wait for others to tell you about the fish you want to have. As long as you don't add too large and too many fish as for a 10 gallon tank, you should be OK.

OK, that's enough for now. I hope that helps Ask if you have any further questions.
 
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Bub

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Thanks. I actually was reading about the nitrogen cycle and whatnot just a little while ago. I know the tank needs to be cycled for a while before adding the fish, I just didn't realize it needed to be done for that long (1 month). Anyways, the activated carbon cartridge for the filter does have a sponge in it. As for the chemicals I mentioned, are water conditioners. The former is a dechlorinator and the latter adds bacteria to the water to speed up the cycling process.

So, if the activated carbon is going to remove those conditioners then doesn't it defeat the purpose to have the carbon cartridge in the filter when i first add the chemicals? Sorry, I'm sure this is a really simple thing I'm just having a massive brain fart over it right now. ???

I have test kits for Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, PH, GH, KH, etc. Do I need to cycle the tank for a definite amount of time or just until all test results fall within acceptable ranges? I'm hoping the Stress Zyme will speed up the cycling process so that it doesn't take a whole month.
 

Isabella

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"massive brain fart" ... LOLOLOLOL  ;D ;D ;D Thanks for making me laugh so hard! LOL, I like that expression, haha ;D

OK, just don't get anymore massive brain farts ... everything will be OK if you follow a few simple rules It's not as hard as it seems. People just need to understand the basic chemistry of a fish tank, especially the cycle process. It's very good that you have all of these tests, they'll be very needed both when you cycle your tank, and throughout your fish hobby.

Once the water is dechlorinated, carbon will not "adsorb" anything from it, as the water is already altered. Carbon does not render dechlorinated water ineffective. I always dechlorinate my water before adding it to the tank. My filter has activated carbon, and everything is always OK. So don't worry about that. As for the biological speed-up of the cycle with the Stress Zyme ... I honestly don't know. I never used any commercial products to cycle my tank. I cycle my tank naturally, without any commercial products. Remember that the more commercial products you add to the water, the worse it is for fish (they create "osmotic pressure" that is unhealthy for fish). Besides, your tank WILL cycle without any commercial products no matter what. You just need to be a little more patient. But if you want to use Stress Zyme, wait for someone here to tell you whether carbon will adsorb it from the water or not, because I don't know.

You don't cycle a tank for "exactly a month". I said that ON AVERAGE it takes about a month. It may take much sooner, or a little longer. You will see as you measure your water parameters. When ammonia and nitrite are at 0, and nitrate is at 0 at best, the tank is cycled. At that point, it's safe to start adding fish GRADUALLY (as I said above).

P.S.1) I personally don't think carbon will adsorb Stress Zyme, but like I said, wait for someone to help you with that.
P.S.2) I don't think anything bad would happen if, for your mind's peace, you removed the carbon from the filter for the amount of time it takes to cycle your tank. Does anyone think Bub could do that?
 

Gunnie

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Welcome to FishLore! It's great to have you with us! I think Isabella has covered the basics very well. Although I do think that when cycling fishless, once the tank is cycled, after that massive water change, you can add all the fish at once that will be living in that tank. I will have to do some more research on that one.

The bigger the tank, the easier it is to maintain because you have more water volume to work with. Hopefully you will get hooked on this hobby like we all have, and your 10 gallon tank will soon become a hospital/quarantine tank to your other bigger tank(s) you will be getting in the future!
 

smillermom

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Hi! I had to quickly cycle a tank due to a friend dumping her fish. I ordered Bio-Spira from a website called "The Fish Store"-(just google them) It was expensive as you want to buy it second day air as it is actually alive bacteria needed for cycling. You add the Bio, add the fish right off, check levels, and be dilligent. It is the only cycling product I know of that actually works. If you are impatient, this is the way to go! Even then, only add a couple of fish every other week!
 
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Bub

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I went ahead and left the filter running with the carbon in it and added the Stress Coat. I'll wait a while before adding the Stress Zyme. I did all the basic tests and the levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are all at zero. The carbonate hardness is 179ppm, and the general hardness is off the chart but I suppose that's to be expected at first. The pH is also off the chart. Will the pH decrease as the GH decreases or should I use the "pH down" solution included with the test kit?
 

Gunnie

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Don't use ph down in your tank. It could make your fish very sick because it causes an unstable ph. A stable ph is much more important than a high ph. Your fish can usually adjust to the higher ph by acclimating them slowly.
 
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Bub

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Well, the test kit only measures up to 7.6, and the color the water turned turning the test was darker than the darkest shade on the color chart included with the kit. So, all I can say is that it's above 7.6
 

Isabella

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Looks like the water from your water supply is very hard, but do not get discouraged by that. There are fish species that like harder water. What people with hard water do is they get fish that are compatible with that pH, instead of trying to commercially change the pH all the time. Constantly adding commercial pH adjusters to your water results in pH swings, which are far worse for fish than maintaining a stable pH. Stable pH is far safer than fluctuating pH, even if it's higher or lower from what you expect it to be. You have two options: (1) try to VERY SLOWLY and gently acclimatize the fish you want, or (2) get fish species that naturally like the pH you have. If you decide to use the first option, when you purchase new fish, float the bag first to stabilize the temperature. Then, like Gunnie said, start pouring your tank water into the bag with the fish very small amounts at a time. When you're done, net the fish and put it in your tank (don't pour the water from the bag into your tank). Plus, do not have your tank lights on during acclimatization. And try to have your room darkened too. The next day, when the fish had the time to get used to its new surroundsings, you can turn your tank lights on.
 

smillermom

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I did as suggested also with the ph. Mine is at 7.6-7.8. Went to many fish sites to find fish that prefer high ph and have not had any prob! Great suggestion!
 
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