Starting my aquarium back up with different kind of fish & a snail, questions...

Discussion in 'Snails' started by christin3rd, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. christin3rdNew MemberMember

    Hello there my name is Christina, this is my first time using these forums and I just had some questions about starting my aquarium back up... I have a 5.5 gallon freshwater tank and a month ago my goldfish died and I read a bunch of things that said the 5.5 was too small for him... So I decided to get different fish this time around. I'm not sure what was wrong with my fish because he was perfectly healthy and I left for a week came back and he looked terrible then died the next morning =(... So I obviously want to clean the whole tank out in case it was some kind of disease or something. But I'm assuming that I need to get rid of the rocks that were previously in the tank? (which is a shame cause I just put them in right before I left) and also what should I do about my aquarium decor/fake plants? How do I properly clean them? Along with the walls and bottom of aquarium?

    Also, I am deciding to get 2 guppies and 1 snail... I just want to know as much as possible about the two. I know that I need a heater for both (which I have bought already) but I don't know if I need to feed snails anything? And is regular aquarium gravel okay for snails? or do I need to get those smooth looking rock gravel? Also, I have aquarium salt that I used to put in with two other chemicals when I added new water but now I'm not so sure that aquarium salt is okay to use with a snail? and how long do I need to filter out my new aquarium water before I put my new fish in?

    I hope this isn't all too overwhelming but I am a newbie and just want to make sure everything is right. Thank you for any help and answers to any of my questions! =)

  2. kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    Welcome to FishLore! :)

    First things first, I see you don't know about the nitrogen cycle. I urge you to click on the underlined text and read up on it. Success is impossible without knowledge of the nitrogen cycle, and it will tell you why your goldie died.

    In a nutshell, when fish poop, it sinks to the bottom of the tank and starts to decay, producing ammonia (the stuff that makes cat pee smell bad). Ammonia is toxic to fish. This is why you have a filter - not necessarily to filter out chunks from the water, but because beneficial bacteria live in the filter media and consume ammonia. Unfortunately they produce nitrite, which is also toxic to fish. There is a second type of bacteria that consumes nitrite and produces nitrate, which is only harmful in higher concentrations. Aquarists change a portion of the tank water roughly once weekly to keep the nitrate level down.

    Goldfish poop a LOT. This is why they need big tanks; not necessarily for room to swim around, but for volume to dilute their waste. There are always pictures at pet stores of goldfish in tiny bowls, but if you kept one in there it wouldn't last long. Depending on the type of goldfish, fancy versus comet, they need 20 (for fancys) to 30 (for comets) gallon tanks, plus 10 gallons for each additional fish. I'm not sure how frequently you were changing the water, but unfortunately it's not too surprising that a goldfish didn't make it after a week in the same water. :(

    You definitely don't need to throw anything away, just give it a good rinse. In the future, if you want to clean anything in your tank, you'll want to make sure to clean it in a bucket of water taken from the tank, because chlorine kills the beneficial bacteria. (They live mostly in the filter since filter media is so porous, but they live to some extent on all surfaces in the tank.) However, since I'm guessing the tank is dry and thus the bacteria are dead, you don't need to worry about it. Don't rinse in soap though, as any residue that gets in the tank is very harmful to fish. I just use warm water, but I know some people use a dilute vinegar solution, especially for hard water marks.

    Are you planning to get a bigger tank? Two guppies would probably be alright in five gallons, but if you got a 10 gallon tank (which is only about $12) then you could keep more guppies. Also, if you were thinking of getting a snail from Petsmart/Petco, they carry mystery snails, and they also have high bioloads (fancy talk for "they poop a lot"), so you couldn't have one in a 5 gallon tank, but a 10 gallon would be sufficient.

    Many people don't feed snails, though I like to toss in algae wafers or shrimp pellets from time to time. Some snails also like foods like cucumber and zucchini. They'll also eat any food that your guppies miss, but there shouldn't be too much of that, because that would mean you were overfeeding. :) Regular gravel is just fine for snails.

    ******NO SALT!!!!!******

    I hope I made that obvious enough ;) Salt is BAD NEWS for snails, and some fish like catfish which don't have normal scales. Most members don't like to use salt ever, myself included, though there are also members who think it has its uses. In my opinion, there are so many critters that don't like it, and it can often irritate a fish rather than help cure it, so I'd rather not risk it. I don't even have any of the stuff. If you get a snail then NO SALT EVER but if you don't get a snail, and want to treat with salt (other members who use it can help with when and how much) then that's fine.

    Employees at pet stores will tell you to just run the filter for 24-48 hours before putting fish in, but that's a bunch of baloney. You need to grow stable colonies of the two types of bacteria, so that your fish will be safe from ammonia and nitrite. There are a few ways you can do it: either buy a bottle of ammonia and put some in; the bacteria will naturally start growing. It'll take 4-6 weeks before you can add any fish. If you don't want to wait that long, then you'll need to buy a bottle of a product called Tetra SafeStart. It contains the bacteria you need. Pour it in the tank and add the fish within two hours. The bacteria will cling to the filter and surfaces and start to grow. No water changes for two weeks, and at the end, you should be set.

    Whichever method you use, you'll need to buy a liquid test kit. Don't waste your money on strips, they're not very accurate and cost more in the long run (the liquid kit lasts awhile). If you go with the "bottle of ammonia" route, then you'll need to test frequently to make sure you add the right amount of ammonia (not enough and you won't get a big enough colony, too much and they'll actually be harmed by it), and to make sure the cycle is progressing: that is, ammonia levels drop after you add it (showing that the bacteria is consuming it) and you start to see nitrites and then nitrates. If you go with the "Tetra SafeStart" method, then NO TESTING during the two weeks, but test at the end to make sure the cycle has completed (sometimes it doesn't work, and then you'll need to buy another bottle). Here's a thread that answers a lot of questions about TSS:

    Hope this helps, and feel free to ask any other questions you think of :)
  3. jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    Hi Christina, I don't really have anything to add since you got a great reply from kinezumi already.

    But I would like to say welcome to FishLore! This is a very friendly forum full of people who really want you to succeed and who are eager to answer any questions you may have. No one ever gets angry because they think you are asking to many question and no one here ever thinks any question is stupid.

    I would like to reinforce what was mentioned above about learning/understanding the nitrogen cycle. It is really the most important think to under stand when keeping fish.

    I would also like to mention that a 5.5 gallon tank would be great for a Betta (but betta's really need to be kept alone so you would have only the one fish if you went that route).

    Good luck!
  4. christin3rdNew MemberMember

    Sorry it took me so long for a reply I have been super busy. Thank you for such an awesome reply though!

    My fish tank is still filled with the water I haven't had time to clean it out (I'm a college student and my fish died right before finals so I was too busy and now I'm visiting my parents for winter break) but anyway, I use stress coat and start zyme(I think thats what its called) everytime I put new water in my tank, so if I'm using this stuff will it only take like 2 days to filter out? And I wish I could get a 10 gallon but I had just bought this 5.5 gallon tank at petsmart and I'm really tight on money and plus the stand that I have my fish tank on I dont think its big enough for a 10 gallon anyway... But if I'm cleaning my tank out every week can I still get a snail? I was really looking forward to getting one =(... But thanks again for any help!
  5. kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    I know how that goes, I'm a college student too. Hope finals went well :) A few things:

    1. The start zyme stuff is no good. It outcompetes the good bacteria you want, but it's the wrong kind, so it dies off and you have to add it every week. Unfortunately this means you don't have any of the right bacteria grown, but since the tank has been empty so long, it probably would have died off anyway. Looks like you'll be starting the cycle from scratch. That's okay though, it's good to start off on the right foot :) I'm not sure what you mean by "filter out" but you'll want to start with fresh clean water anyway :)

    2. You could keep other snails, just not mystery snails (the kind Petsmart sells) because they produce too much waste. There are other kinds of snails though, like nerites (you'd probably want to stick with a horned nerite, since they stay smaller). They're nice because they can't reproduce in freshwater, though I suppose you'd only have one anyway :p Another type is assassin snails - they eat other snails (good for pest snail infestations), but they can reproduce . There are also colony-type snails that reproduce, like Malaysian trumpet snails. Take a look on Google and see what you like :) I have all three that I mentioned.
  6. christin3rdNew MemberMember

    By filter out I mean when you let the water filter itself for a few days before you add the fish so that the water is safe for the fish. And can I get any of those snails at petco or petsmart? Thanks again for the help =)
  7. pirahnah3Fishlore VIPMember

    great advice above very well written.
  8. kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    I urge you to read the following link: If you had a solid understanding of the nitrogen cycle, you would know that "letting water run through the filter for a few days" is baloney and does nothing. I don't know why pet store employees bother feeding people that bull; why both making people wait? If you're not going to tell people how to properly cycle their tank, telling them to wait two days isn't any better. Sorry, end mini-rant :p Anyway, please read that link. Or re-read my "in a nutshell" segment in my first post. You'll be completely emptying and cleaning your tank, then setting it back up (to make sure there isn't any gunk in the gravel) and choosing one of the two methods of cycling: either fish-in with Tetra SafeStart, or fishless with pure ammonia.

    Also, I don't think Petsmart or Petco has anything but mystery snails, but once you get 50 posts you can order other snails from other members on FishLore.