Emergency Filter - The Planted Tank Forum

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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-07-2013, 07:48 PM Thread Starter
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Emergency Filter

Okay so I have been working on a planted tank for a few months now. I've been babying my plants and focusing on them since the beginning. I haven't been using a filter, just doing water changes every week or week and a half. Here is the problem: My mom thought it would be a nice gesture to get me some fish for the tank. I came home from work yesterday and there were 2 tiny Ottos and 2 small Buenas Aires Tetras sitting next to the tank. Having nowhere to put them, I added them to my planted tank. I wasn't ready for fish, but I don't want them to die. Which route can I go to not kill off my plants, but to keep the tank clean and fresh for the fish in terms of a filter? I'm planning to go to Petsmart tonight after work and make something happen. I don't need my new guys getting ammonia burns and what not. All advice welcome. **If taking them back were an option, that's what I'd go with, but it's not**

The tank is a 20 gallon. I have the temp at 74 and the plants are all thriving, if that helps in terms of filters. I considered setting a ten gallon up quickly and attaching a carbon filter to it for the fish, but I can't keep that up forever as it'd be too small. I don't want to kill my fish or my plants.

Last edited by klawran1; 01-07-2013 at 07:54 PM. Reason: Left out information
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-07-2013, 08:17 PM
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As long as the tank is fully cycled then you can add fish in there. What are your readings?

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-07-2013, 08:19 PM Thread Starter
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I haven't had a chance to check. I work until 10 pm most nights due to job #2 and I have to be at job #1 at 8 am. I put them in, went to sleep, and went to work. I don't feel that I have enough plants to keep the ammonia levels down. I haven't checked it in awhile. I didn't want them to sleep in bags last night and suffocate.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-07-2013, 08:27 PM
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You might not like to hear this but I would return it to the LFS from where your mom purchased it until I know tank is suitable for fish. Unless you are absolutely sure your tank is cycled. You can always bring a sample of your water to Petco/LFS to have them check your water parameters for free.

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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-07-2013, 08:32 PM Thread Starter
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As I said, that's not an option. She purchased them from a mom and pop shop. They won't take them back. I called them this morning. I'll hook up a carbon filter (one I already have) and sacrifice my plants if I have to in order to keep my fish alive. I don't want to sentence them to death over my mother trying to be nice.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-07-2013, 08:46 PM
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In that case, see if you can find some friends that you can borrow some of their media to help your cycling faster.

You can also purchase Top Fin Bacteria Supplement from Petsmart to dose in your tank as well and use either a sponge filter or hob filter for that tank.

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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-07-2013, 08:50 PM
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Why would adding a filter harm your plants? You'd get some nice circulation and oxygenation. Just throw on a filter and get your parameters checked.

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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-07-2013, 08:52 PM Thread Starter
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I was looking into the spongefilter since it will still leave the nutrients my plants need. I wasn't sure if it would help ammonia or not. As I said, I've been focused on the plants and so far that have been thriving. I wasn't ready for fish.

From what I've read, a carbon filter will kill my plants since they take away the needed nutrients. Am I able to use one if I get the top fin suppliment you mentioned? Will it replace what the filter takes away? I'll be off work in ten minutes and heading to the store. Thanks for all of the help thus far.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-07-2013, 08:57 PM
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I have carbon and fluff filters running in my tanks for a couple of years. No problems with the plants. Unless you have dosed a lot of Nitrogen those fish should be OK with a carbon and fluff filter until a sponge gets started.

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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-07-2013, 08:59 PM
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Get just a plain sponge filter or a HOB that doesn't use charcoal.

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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-07-2013, 09:01 PM
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The Top Fin bacteria supplement is what will help you kick start your tank for faster cycling. You will still need some type of filtration setup whether its a sponge or hob filter.

You might want to read into fishless cycling or the process of cycling your tank. You will have a better understanding of ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, etc.

The bacteria will help convert from ammonia>nitrite>nitrate in a nutshell.

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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-07-2013, 09:28 PM
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If you don't have a filter to use on it, you could do an easy DIY filter with some quilting batting or filter floss, a small water bottle and a powerhead.

Unless you have some heavy ammonia and nitrites from ferts, setting up a fresh new 10g to put the fish in is more likely to kill the fish when it starts to cycle than putting them in with the plants.
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-08-2013, 03:58 AM Thread Starter
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I hooked up my top fin filter and did a water change. The ammonia is high. I'm going to get ammonia reducer tomorrow and try it out. The fish are eating and surviving. I just need then to hold on for me until tomorrow. I got a few free pH test strips, but I'm not sure what I'm looking g for since I don't know what kinds of strips they are and I don't have a key to the color. I assume the pH is high. Thanks form hanging in there with me. My filter is running with fresh water and my ammonia will be taken care of tomorrow.
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-08-2013, 04:08 AM
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You've got a 20 gallon tank and four (4) small fish. You don't need a filter at all. I had way more fish in my dirt tank on my back porch and never had a filter. Rarely did water changes.
Ammonia is high. How high? Even high after your WC?
One of the most important things I learned in my first year keeping fish is not to bother screwing with the pH. Most fish are more resilient than we give them credit for and will adapt to your pH. Mess with it and your constantly chasing it.

What part of FL?

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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-08-2013, 04:11 AM
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Just keep up on the water changes...
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