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thedarkwisdom

Newbie Help!

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Hi everyone!

So basically I learned a bunch of stuff within 3 days. To start off with:

My boyfriend surprises me with a panda moor fish, and one of those marina cool 7 (1.77 gal) tanks. I'm excited and pretty much think I'm set for a goldfish, right? However, after much reading and research on the web, I learn I am far from it. Okay, now please don't be harsh on me because I knew nothing about fish, and still kind of dont, and I would really like some help. I find out that its around 20gal give or take for each fancy goldfish.

Day 1: I set up this stupid "goldfish tank" with the water, put in a capful of conditioner and the bio support that the thing came with, not really knowing what it was, but just following the directions. I put in the panda, and everything seemed fine at first.

Day 2: I go to the pet store and get a small black lionhead and put him in the tank too, along with a cherry shrimp and an amano. I'm aware that the goldfish will most likely eat the shrimp, but I was okay with it because the panda was not eating the flakes. Also, my friend gives me a brand new dwarf moss (i think it's what she called it) and I put it in the tank and weighed it down with a rock. The fish seemed happier with it, especially the shrimps. I also did much research and come to find out about "cycling" and such. I was really overwhelmed, but was going to try and figure it out.

Day 3: I go to mmm, buy a 20gal glass tank, quiet flow 50 (250 gph), undergravel filter, some large smooth gravel for the bottom (i had read about not getting small gravel), two silk plants, a nitrate testing kit, an ammonia testing kit, and a "microbe-life aquarium cycling & water conditioning kit" this When I got home I throughly washed the rocks, the filters, and the plants. I filled up the tank, started up the filter and waited a bit to make sure everything was running fine. Then I carefully followed the instructions on the kit and put in the stress relief, special blend aquarium bacteria, and nite-out. I waited around 5 hours for the whole thing to run for a bit and then I tossed in the black lionhead. I noticed he was eating all the food, so I figured I'd keep the panda in the small tank for a bit and make sure he was well fed and grew a bit before I put him in the 20 gal with the lionhead. I also did some tests and there was 0ppm of nitrate, but I think around .30ppm of ammonia in the 20 gal. In the smaller tank there was 5.0-10ppm of nitrate (it was a yellowish orange) and I think around .40ppm of ammonia in it.

Day 4: I woke up this morning and saw my panda was dead :[ I think perhaps it was ammonia poisoning because I noticed him gasping a lot at the top of the tank. The lionhead looked fine, and I gave him just enough food so he ate all of it. I also checked the other tank and saw the amano was still alive (I think the cherry got eaten).

So what should I do? I know the tank needs to cycle and such, and hopefully the lionhead is going to survive, but I still feel confused about the cycling process. On the bottles of the aquarium kit, it says that I should be adding capfuls of the biostuff every other day, something. I've read a lot, and most sources say 30 days for it to be completed. I also think I'll start keeping a chart, if that helps, because I've seen charts online and usually theres a peak. I feel a little overwhelmed, and I don't want this poor fish to die, so please give me some advice.

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Get rid of all of the gravel and the under gravel filter. All these do is harbor waste. The Quiet flow should be good since it does 250 gallons per hour. Once the tank is barebottom do a large water change daily of at least 50% to get these levels down.

Make sure you do not get anymore fish a 20 gallon is the best for one fancy goldfish and an additional 10 for each one afterwards.

Do you have a nitrite test kit?

You did good by getting a 20 gallon tank for the fish :) Also I would recommend switching from flakes to a good pellet food and frozen foods. Some good pellet foods are omega one and hikari sinking pellets.

As for the cycling you'll start with ammonia, which will then be turned into nitrite and then nitrate which needs to be kept below 20. The ammonia and nitrite are toxic as I'm sure you know in which the water changes will help a great deal. In your filter you will have filter media. I suggest filter floss, sponge, and ceramic rings. Just stuff the filter full with these instead of using those cheap cartridges that they sell. Those are a rip off. The sponge, floss, and ceramic rings help with the beneficial bacteria. Do not rinse this off with tap water. Just leave it a lone while your tank is cycling.

What is the biostuff called? Usually this stuff doesn't work but you may have some success with it if you already have nitrates. Try pouring it in to the filter box.

I hope this was enough general information for you and not too confusing (I hope!) If you have anymore questions please please please feel free to ask :)

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Actually I got a nitrite, not nitrate kit. I had read in places that barebottom was the way to go, but I also read that the fish liked to forage around in the gravel, and my lionhead looked pretty happy when I'd see him doing it.

I'm still a little confused about the cycling. How often should I test the water? And how can I still when the ammonia is being taken in?

So far: I'll get pellets, take out the under gravel filter and the gravel, do a 50% water change, and get some sponges and stuff for the filter. What does the carbon do in those things any ways?

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For beginners, we suggest barebottom. It is just so much easier when you are just starting. Maybe in the future you can add some back in.

You should test the water at least twice a day. Before and after your water change. You test before to see how big of a water change you need to do. For example, if your ammonia is at 1 you will want to do a 75% water change or larger. If it is at .50 you will want to do 50% or more. You then test your water after the change to make sure you got it in an acceptable range. If not, you change out more water. You can also test in the morning and night time. That will help guide you to knowing if you need to do multiple daily water changes should your levels rise too quickly.

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Ashlee made an excellent post explaining for you!

As for the carbon all it's used for is removing medication in the water and you don't really need it unless you have medication, because over time it starts leeching impurities back into the water which isn't good.

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Okay, so I'll get rid of the gravel for now.

So I'll test the ammonia level, and depending on its ppm, I'll do the water change. Then tomorrow morning, check again and do the water change in accordance? I saw a cycling chart, and the ammonia level is supposed to peak on day 7, right? So...after a week the ammonia should start declining, right? And around day 18 the nitrite peaks and then starts declining?

I think I'm just confused on the bacteria part. How am I for sure to tell they are in there? What signs will I see to let me know that the cycling is working?

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Oh, hi! You've come to a great place!

You CAN leave the gravel - just make sure you vacuum it thoroughly with your siphon when you change the water. The undergravel filter is probably not a great idea - I would get rid of it.

Test your water every day for awhile until you're sure you're cycled. I just upgraded to a 55 gallon for my two orandas, and experienced a cycle "bump". I'm testing the water at least once a day (it's strangely addicting to test it! Weird, huh?) and doing lots of big water changes, so I feel your pain.

I'm so sorry you lost your little panda. :cry

You're gonna have to do daily water changes for awhile, but it'll only be 10 gallons or so at a time, so that won't be too bad. You can't let your ammonia get past .25! You want it close to 0 all the time. Ammonia = BADNESS. Don't clean your filter! If you absolutely must, rinse your filter media in tank water (in a fish safe bucket - one that's never been used for cleaning! No soap or chemicals in it!) and put it back in the filter ASAP until you're cycled.

You will know you're cycled when your tests show 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and some nitrates.

Carbon. It's good for removing odors or medications from the water. If you use it on a regular basis, you have to replace it once a month otherwise it will start leeching everything it's absorbed BACK into the water. I don't use it myself. I think it's a way to sell more filter media pads! The manufacturer will tell you to replace them every month, to get rid of the old carbon. You can slit your filter media pads if they contain it and throw it out. That way, you can rinse and re-use the pad over and over and over again! The filter pads (media) grow the beneficial bacteria that make the cycle happen. They also trap poo and other debris. Rinse them in tank water and rarely replace them! When you throw them out, you are also throwing out your wonderful beneficial bacteria (BBs!)

I love my goldfishies to pieces. No other fish is as intelligent, beautiful, or personable as a goldfish, IMO.

Welcome, again. There are a lot of experienced keepers on here and they will give you great advice. They have helped me over and over again!

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Yes you do a large water change depending on if it's high. So for example if it's 1 you can do a 50% water change to get it down to .50

The cycling chart is a good example of how it will work. Some cycles take longer some are shorter. (Mine took 2 months) But yes it should start declining around those periods of time.

You'll know they're there when your ammonia levels and nitrite levels start going down. They just need time for their colonies to get large enough to start processing it efficiently. You can also raise the temperature around 76 degrees to help it cycle faster as the bacteria will proliferate in warmer temperatures.

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You CAN leave the gravel - just make sure you vacuum it thoroughly with your siphon when you change the water.

I really wouldn't in her case. It's too much trouble right now with all the potential issues it may cause with the ammonia levels and food getting in it.

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When I take the water out for cycling, I'm going to use a siphon. Should I take the fish out and put him in a little bowl of water while I dump more water in? Also, I have to use tap water from my bathtub because the tank is in my room upstairs. I know I have to put in conditioner every time new water is added, so should I wait until I've dumped the new ten gallons in the tank to put the conditioner in, or should I put it in the bucket before? I really don't want to screw this up. I miss that little panda :[

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You CAN leave the gravel - just make sure you vacuum it thoroughly with your siphon when you change the water.

I really wouldn't in her case. It's too much trouble right now with all the potential issues it may cause with the ammonia levels and food getting in it.

Well, you're probably right. I bow to your experience and know-how.

Blackchubby:

When I take the water out for cycling, I'm going to use a siphon. Should I take the fish out and put him in a little bowl of water while I dump more water in? Also, I have to use tap water from my bathtub because the tank is in my room upstairs. I know I have to put in conditioner every time new water is added, so should I wait until I've dumped the new ten gallons in the tank to put the conditioner in, or should I put it in the bucket before? I really don't want to screw this up. I miss that little panda :[

Tap water's fine, just as long as you de-chlorinate it and match it for temperature to the tank water. Leave the fish in! Uhhh, I de-chlorinate it in the jugs I carry it in, but you CAN do it in the tank, but then you have to de-chlorinate for the entire size of the tank (does that make sense?). If you are de-chlorinating IN the tank, then you have to de-chlorinate the entire 20 gallons. If you de-chlorinate the water before adding it to the tank, then you just have to de-chlorinate THAT water in THAT container.

BTW, the de-chlorinators work instantly! Good luck!

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It is best not to remove your fish. I usually do a big water change, to the point of the fish barely being covered. Then I slowly add water back in. When I used to use buckets I would add the conditioner to the bucket of water then add that to the tank. Make sure the temp and PH is the same. Get that nitrate test kit. You will want to test for ammonia and nitrite twice a day. Let the testing be your guide as far as water changes go. Don't let ammonia or nitrite rise above .25ppm. Cycling takes a good while, maybe even six weeks. You may also want to test your tap. It is possible that your panda brought some bad bugs into your lionhead, so keep a close eye on him. Eventually you will want to get some prazi and treat him for flukes. You are doing great so far!

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I'm not exactly familiar with pH in a tank. What levels of pH are good/bad? I'll go get a test kit for that too, today.

What if I test my tap and the ammonia levels are high in the unconditioned bucket before i put it in the tank? And what if the pH is different than the tank, what should I do?

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The most important thing about the pH is that it stays stable, so whatever it is, test it regularly for a while to make sure it is consistent. I'm not sure exactly what the upper and lower bounds of "okay" are, number-wise, so post the results when you get them and someone more experienced can advise you on that.

The best advice I can give you about cycling is this: Be patient, and settle in. I wouldn't put too much faith in "ammonia should peak on the seventh day" or anything like that. It really varies, so try not to get frustrated if things don't move along as fast as you'd hope. But the good news is, you're not alone! Good luck, and keep us all updated!

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Okay so I went to the store and got a sponge and little ceramic rings. On the package of the rings it says that they will fill up in a month or something and I need to replace them. Is this true? Because I thought we wanted to keep the bacteria in here.

I also found out that the ammonia in my tap water is .50. What should I do? I'm considering going back to the store and getting a neutralizer, putting that in the bucket water, and then throwing that into the tank.

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Prime is a good conditioner to use. Check it out when you go. It does so much more than most others conditioners.

Others have the same problem with ammonia in the tap so I'm sure someone will come along that can tell you what they do in that situation. ;)

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Nope you don't need to replace them, it's just a ploy to get you to buy more.

As Vahlla said you can use prime to treat your water with. One capful treats aproximately 50 gallons so you can always use it to treat your tap water. I know some people may age their water as well in a tub.

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I have ammonia in my tap water and the Prime conditioner takes it out.

I was in the same shoes as you a year ago, lost a few fish my first month to water quality and the first to life in a bowl. Got into the hobby knowing nothing about it and have learned so much! So dont be hard on yourself, you have learned a lot already and its a lot to take in and understand but I caught on pretty fast and so far, things are going great with my fish :)

Cycling is very confusing, I know. I actually have my tank (50g) that has been running for over 6 months and still isnt cycled. Dont worry, this is very rare and most are cycled by two months. But I just wanted to let you know this so you dont stress TOO much about the cycle because even though its a pain in the butt, you'll get through it just fine. All you have to do is extra water changes to keep the ammonia/nitrites from getting too high (try to keep under .25.

I am not sure if anyone has mentioned this yet but API makes a test kit that includes ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, and PH. It is drops that go into the water and give you the most accurate results. The testing strips arent the best to give accuracy.

Good luck!!

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Thank you so much for your help. I have those API tests, and that's what I've been using. I went to the store today and got another panda moor. The lionhead is laying on the bottom of the tank...I hope he's just resting or something. When I come near the tank he gets up and swims around...I don't want that chubby little thing to die =[

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If I may make a suggestion...hold off on getting any new fish until your tank has finished cycling, and when you do, QT the fish first before adding them to your main tank. This way, you'll minimize the risk of adding diseases to the tank. :)

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Hello and welcome to the forum! Alex is right... the last thing you want to do right now is get more new fish. The cycling process is very harsh on the fish (the lionhead is probably bottom-sitting due to stress) and adding another fish is only going to make conditions more stressful. Further, a 20 gallon tank isn't a great long-term home for two goldfish anyway. A 29 gallon would be ideal.

Just keep testing the water with your test kit and doing plenty of large water changes. You may find that you have to do as many as two 75% changes each day during the cycling process. That Microbe-lift product you used is a good one though, so hopefully that will help shorten the cycling time. I would pour the product directly onto the filter pads as this will help it establish faster.

Have you tested the pH of your tap water and your tank water? It's important that they match, because fluctuating pH during water changes causes a lot of stress to the fish as well.

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Hey everybody,

So I've been cycling and such. The fish look really happy and healthy, and occasionally I'll see them resting on the bottom for a bit, but it's nothing serious.

However, my black lionhead is missing a few scales on one side of his body. I've looked at the patches and there isn't any fuzzy or fungal looking things, and I've been watching him, he hasn't been rubbing up against anything either. Could he be losing scales from stress? I don't want to medicate him immediately because I don't want to stress him out, and I'm not for certain that it is a parasite or fungus.

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Are you able to post a picture?

What are your current water readings? Did you ever test the tap pH as Sakura asked?

Is there anything in the tank that could have caused the damage?

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I'll take a picture ASAP. I've been testing pH and it's at 7.5ish. There's only silk plants in there. I'll look again today to check for fuzz.

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Have you checked the tank water for the other readings?

:)

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