Swapping tanks and new tank. Question

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by robhill1965, Mar 21, 2010.

  1. robhill1965New MemberMember

    I'm pretty new to this but I have learned a great deal in a short time, especially on this site. Thank you in advance for being so tolerant of us "rookies" and being such a wealth of information. Seems to be a recurring theme here. We don't do the research until it's too late.

    My roommate was caring for two aquariums when I moved in 5 months ago. I noticed he wasn't really dedicated enough so I have tried to step in and got hooked.
    I have added a few fish of my own and just set up a new 20 gallon tank. I used the "Jungle Brand - Start Right" and Aquarium Salt. I am on well water so I had assumed the clorine levels are low to non existent. I have spent the last 3 hours reading the forums here and realize I need to get the master test kit.
    The pet store advised me to wait at least 24 to 48 hours before adding fish. I had already added some Red eye neons to one of the "older tanks" that also had a red tailed shark (4 to 5 inches long). The shark occassionally chased the older tetras but now he was chasing AND nibbling the new red eye's who crammed themselves behind some rocks, upside down, nose down or what-have you in terror. I had to move everything around to keep them from killing themselves by not being able to move but this left them no place to hide and the shark was in hog heaven, relentless and just terrorizing the new guys. Spur of the moment, I checked the temp of the new tank and since the "Start Right" bottle claimed it made the water safe immediately for fish, I put the shark in the new tank to get him away from the new fish after only 6 hours of setup. As you might have guessed, he was dead within 45 minutes! I saw him acting very strange, panicked and stuck him back in his original tank where he promptly died.

    I'm posting to help educate "newbies" like myself and, I of course, have a question or two:

    The "Jungle Brand Start Right" I used claims ("Makes water safe for fish immediately"). Obviously incorrect. The pet store says 12 to 48 hours. Your site is talking about weeks so, I'm a bit confused on the first cycle time although the master test kit should clear up that question right?.
    Could I take some of the water from the two established tanks (a 20 and 29 gallon) to establish the new 20 gallon? If so, how long before adding new fish. (As I stated, I will be getting the master test kit, I'm just looking for a time estimate?

    The two established tanks have been so poorly maintained that there are crusty mineral deposits everywhere and I would like to completely empty them out and get them clean, but of course that means two more cycles and I NEED to get the new tank up so I have a place to put the transplanted fish while I clean and chip away their current tanks. Also, I'd like to move the big parrot, his cichlid buddies and friends to the bigger 29 gallon tank. Then move those residents to the smaller 20 gallon tank except for the big 10 inch plecostamus.

    Here's the history and setup of the three tanks:

    -(1st 20 gallon) Setup for at least 4 years. Populated with (1) Blood Red Parrot Cichlid about 4.5 inches long; (1) Jelly Bean cichlid about 1 inch long; (2) Convict Cichlids about 1 inch long; (1) Tiger Barb about 1 inch long; (1) Penguin fish? about 1.5 inches long; (2) Plecostamus about 4 inches long; and (2) unknown/mildly agressive/look similar to a trout in shape and silverish pink.
    I just replaced the whole air pump assembly as well as the filter pump and treated the tank with a 5 day broad spectrum fungus, ick etc remover as the water was extremely cloudy despite water changes and the big parrot was getting black spots and hovering over the air bubbles like he needed more oxygen. Additionally, the other tank had a fungus problem on two rasboras eating their mouths away and it could spread with the net so I treated both. Water is nice and clear now and cutting down on feeding has seemed to stabilize if not cure the problem (cichlids are little piggies!). I'll get that master test kit to finnish getting that tank healthy and balanced.

    -(29 gallon) Setup for at least 4 years. Populated with (1) 10 inch Plecostamus; (5) Black Red Eye Neons; (6) Silver Red Eye Neons; (2) Corey Cats...(these 13 fish are all about 1 inch long; (2) Corey Cats about 2 inches long; (2) ?penguins? about 1.5 inches long; (1) (sp?) Coolie Loche (brick red about 3 inches long; and a whole mess of little snails that invade about once a month! There used to be (2) Rasbora's I didn't notice the fungus soon enough and the treatment was too late and they both died. I treated this tank with the same thing I treated the 1st 20 gallon with and things seem to be fine. (btw, the two small corey cats were transpanted from the 1st 20 gallon tank as someone; I think the Jelly Bean Cichlid; was eating away at their fins! He's quite the little trouble-maker...I named him Fester!

    -(2nd 20 gallon) Started 03/20/2010. I didn't rinse off my rocks and gravel but did rinse the carbon filter. Used the Start Right and Aquarium salt from
    "Jungle". It is unpopulated.

    All three tanks are using a mechanical filter with activated carbon. The 2nd 20 gallon has one of those "tube style" aeroators (sp) about 6 inches long that gives you a nice curtain of bubbles I'm hoping will work better than those little stone aeroators. Cleaning the tank with 30% water change ever 2 weeks or so. Feeding: Shrimp pellets for the parrot and corey cats; small cichlid pellets for the little cichlids; algea disks for corey cats and plecostamus; flakes for the rest. Rinsing filters every water change with tap water (won't do that anymore!).

    So, should I completely start over with this new tank? Is it necessary to rinse your gravel/rocks/sand? There is a plastic smell or something when I open the lid and smell the water (could be the new light cover, could be something on the gravel?). Can I do a water change on the two older tanks and use the old water to fill the new tank? And, can I scoop out the gravel with the snails, boil the gravel to kill off the snails too small to see and put it back in or will I have to go through another cycle?

    Sorry for such a LONG post. Hopefully I've given enough info here at the beginning that you won't have to keep asking questions to get the whole picture.:;scuba
  2. Craig-DValued MemberMember

    I lost track of the questions in all that, but here's what I can tell you: The only product on the market known to quickly cycle a tank with the correct bacterial is Tetra Safestart. It's hard to find in stores, but is easily available online. The time to cycle a tank from scratch will vary, but it sems for most to take around 30 days. It is not recommended that you do it with fish. I recommend you read the articles on the nitrogen cycle onthis site. Transferring water from one tank to another will not seed a tank. There is little bacteria free-floating in the water. You need to transfer filter media and substrate - that's where most of your bacteria resides. Rinsing anything in a cycled tank with chlorinated tap water instantly kills the bacteria you need. Rinse only with treated tap water or discarded tank water.

    Those plecos have to come out of those tanks. 55 gallons at a minimum is recommended for all plecos save the bristlenose. I hope I addressed all your questions. If not, I'm sure others will add to what I said.

  3. 2focusdNew MemberMember

    Well, that's definitely a lot of questions, but I'll do my best to chime in some as well.

    First and foremost, the pleco and the cichlids/blood parrot NEED to go to a bigger tank, like at the very least a 55G. Blood parrots can get huge and are immensely cramped in a 29G tank, and plecos are probably one of the best fish for producing tons of waste plus they get huge, so they need a massive tank as well.

    Secondly, you should ALWAYS thoroughly rinse any new gravel before putting it in the tank as it's usually loaded with chemicals that'll at the very least cloud your water. More than likely that's what your plastic smell is. Also, as already stated, using water from another tank isn't going to be enough to cycle it, you'd need to soak the new filter media in the old tank for a couple weeks in order to cycle it that way.

    I've never used any of the quick start-type chemicals before so I'm not sure why it said it'd be immediately safe for fish but clearly wasn't. Poor shark :( As you probably noticed through that experience, sharks are quite aggressive and will ultimately kill any sort of small community fish you put in with it, such as your tetras. I'm not sure what a penguin fish is nor do I know how barbs do in high-pH water like what is required by cichlids, nor do I know how cichlids will react to these "invaders" in their tank when they're already cramped to begin with.


  4. claudiclesWell Known MemberMember

    Question from another newbie: the stuff you are using to treat your water- is it just to dechlorinate it, or does it specifically say it will cycle the tank? Most of the water treatment on the market just seem to remove chlorine, hloramine and possibly ammonia with some other chemical to treat fishes slime coat so if you well water is truly not chemical treated you probably don't need it. I use rain water so I don't have to treat my water at all prior to adding it to the tank. If it claims to be a product which cycles the tank, that is a different story. Most people here are skeptical about any such claims except Tetra Safe Start. And if you add it to cycle your tank you need to have a source of ammonia in the water to get it to cycle too. There are several ways to do this and plenty of reading in this forum or on the main site about how.
  5. robhill1965New MemberMember

    Thanks for the quick responses. Sorry again for that loooong initial post. I was seeing alot of questions back and forth on posts I read this morning so I figured I'd cover as much of the anticipated questions at first.

    Since I posted, I emptied that new 20 gal tank. Pulled out and rinsed the rock and gravel. Since I'm reading that you need amonia to start the cycle, I did a 25% water change on the two established tanks but poured that water "and waste" into the new tank. Tossed one of the two filters from each of the established tanks (2 total) into the new tank since that's where the "good" bacteria" is hopefully colonized.
    There is a post from one of the moderators on how to use amonia to build up the nitrites to in turn build up the nitrates. Tomorrow I'll get some pure amonia and that master test kit and basically babysit it until I see the amonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels balance each other out?
    -I know now about rinsing the gravel. I just posted that I didn't so as to paint the total picture.
    -These established tanks aren't mine and I didn't choose the fish that are in there. I'm not sure if I can talk my roommate into getting rid of any of them. I did add the convicts, jelly bean, 6 of the tetras and mostly to help keep the bottom clean, the cory cats. Some of those I'm sure I can take back to the pet store.
    -The two posts above are mentioning "plecos". I don't know what a "pleco" is.
    -I'm on "well water" so there shouldn't be any chlorine but, as I said, I'm not going to be rinsing the filters in tap water anyway.
    -He's gone but the shark actually never hurt the other fish. He DID chase them from time to time but the new fish he was relentless and chewed on their tails. I'm told he was originally with the parrot and was just beating himself up against the bigger fish and had to be moved. He was a cool fish about 5 inches long. It really sucks I'm trying to get these fish healthy and I ended up killing one.
  6. robhill1965New MemberMember

    To answer "Claudicles"

    The stuff I used was: (front label)
    Jungle Start Right with Allantoin. Complete water conditioner. Removes chlorine & chloramine.
    (back label)
    MAKES WATER SAFE FOR FISH IMMEDIATELY. Reduces stress, removes chlorine and choramine, neutralizes harmful metals, stimulates fish slime coat naturally, adds beneficial electrolytes. And now START RIGHT contains allantoin a soothing natural protectant that promotes healing of wounds and infections.
    ( it talks about the dosage then...)
    Use START RIGHT when setting up a new aquarium, making regular water changes, adding fish and when fish are injured from fighting, netting, or disease. junglelabs.com

    Obviously, it "might" make water "chlorine and chloriamine" safe for fish but it's certainly not designed for cycling. I'll go by recommendation here instead of the pet store or labels from now on.
  7. ShawnieFishlore LegendMember

    Welcome to fishlore!!
    remember one thing, ALLOT of us started out as you are now.....heres some advice I can offer (others have done well also)

    getting the tanks cycled are going to be first and formost ....even the long running tanks, can have mini cycles if not taken care of properly...so investing in the test kit is a GREAT beginning...kens has a great deal on his ..the api master liquid kit has all you need an will do 100s of tests...heres a link for you   scroll down and you will see the api master kit

    jungle start right, is as you know, not the proper bacteria :( but alls not lost!! as craig suggested, tetra safestart is the only one I also know of, that does what it says....other wise, you can use the pure ammonia as you saw, or put a piece of raw fresh shrimp in a net and leave it be.....if you go the safestart way, you need to add fish to the new tank at the same time....heres a link for that https://www.fishlore.com/fishforum/aquarium-nitrogen-cycle/58116-q-tetra-tetra-safestart.html ..using water from an established tank, will do nothing but add waste to your new tank..which you dont need .....your bacteria is in your media/subtrate/decorations etc...not free floating in the water..fresh water is best...be careful removing filters from established tanks, as you could throw them into a mini cycle really fast....again without a test kit, you wont know for sure.......

    as far as your stocking, im sure if you read around the site more, you will know where that stands.....but getting the tanks back in shape/properly cycled, will do wonders for your sanity and the fish :)

    I also have well water and have rinsed my media/done water changes etc, for years with it....of course everyones wells are different but test for the ammonia/nitrites/nitrates when you get your kit, to make sure they arent in there, and you will have a start on at least that part.....good luck and dont loose faith!!
  8. Goldwing_DonWell Known MemberMember

    ok as i read this you say you have been using salt in your tank..you can not put your corys or any other scaleless fish in that tank as the salt will kill them.. I'm hoping im reading this wrong as it would be sad for you to come so far just to lose them..
  9. robhill1965New MemberMember

    Click the camera icon to the left.....:;juggle

    Here it is so far. Per Shawnie, I have a fresh, (not so fresh now), shrimp in a net hanging out in there. Ordered the test kit. Waiting.

    Btw, I've treated the other two established tanks about a month ago. No ill effects to the Corys or Loche.

    I've talked to a couple of other people who have been fish keeping for years. The have started new tanks and put fish in within 48 hours with no chemicals, amonnia, etc. Most of the area is on well water and I'm at 6,000 feet here. Could the water be that clean since not only close to the mountain (base of the Grand Teton), but actually "in" the mountains? Maybe the salt killed the shark? Maybe the chemicals from not rinsing off the new rocks and gravel at first? EXTREMELY PERPLEXING.........
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2010
  10. robhill1965New MemberMember


    :;hf Well, thanks to everyone for their advice! My new tank is successfully cycled! I stocked it with 4 skirted tetras; 2 (1.5") Silver Dollars; 5 Corys ((2) 1.5" browns and (3) 1/2" albino: (1) black molly; and (1) silver with a high dorsal molly.
    I think the two molly's were sick from the LPS. I noticed some white stuff on the black molly. started treatment with the "life guard". The silver molly became lethargic and couldn't float. Had to euthanize. The black molly is getting better.
    I think I found out what killed the shark though. I got some more of the natural rocks for a different tank. When I started to rinse them, I noticed a strong chemical or plastic smell. After closer examination, I could even scrape off some waxy substance from the stones. I boiled them 3 times before adding them to my other tank and informed the LFS. They say they will contact their supplier.
    One more thing, I have really been wanting to get a Betta. My gut reaction was they can't be happy in those bowls at the store. I was told the common lie that it was "normal" for Betta's to live in that small enviornment and they were used to dirty, stagnant water. I got one yesterday in a fairly large bowl then saw how quickly the water got dirty after feeding. He also seemed cramped like a prisoner in a cell. I jumped onto fishlore and started reading. I am going to try him out in my new 20 gallon. It seems the tank buddies might be ok with him especially since "he's" the newcomer and might not be so territorial. If it doesn't work out, I'll get another 10 gallon tank. He won't go back to a bowl! So far so good though. He's already more active and inquisitive. The other fish seem to be fine with him as well.
  11. robhill1965New MemberMember

    It's been a week now and the Betta, while spending most of his time in the upper back corner by my tall plant, seems to have acclimated just fine. Strangely, the Black Molly (half his size) is attracted to him and even pushes in to eat the Betta Bites. The Betta doesn't even show aggression when that happens. He's ventured around the tank, but does keep near the glass and usually near the top (to breathe I'm sure is part of it). All in all, he seems much happier with more room, heat, and filtered water. I'm getting a new 10 gallon tank though today just in case. I'll get it cycling and it can be a quarantine tank or something.

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