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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-29-2018, 09:30 PM Thread Starter
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Beginner Tank

Hey everyone! I love this forum and have done as much reading as I could before starting a used tank I bought online.

So I started a 10 gallon, had to buy a filter, heater and light. Tank came with gravel and decorations and an air stone.

I also bought a Nutrafin starter set with water conditioner, cycle starter and waste control.

I should also mention that I live in the far North in Canada and my access to supplies is limited to a small pet store and Walmart.

I'm starting this tank after only having goldfish tanks as a child of about 9. I'm using this tank to teach my 6 year old about taking care of animals and about nutrient cycling. I decided to include plants after reading about how beneficial they are to the fish.

I was going to do a fishless cycling process but my son (and I) got really excited so armed with our cycle starter and some optimism, we got 1 zebra danios and 3 glow light tetras plus a tall grass looking plant (in picture). I should also mention I used a potting soil substrate topped with aquarium gravel.

Day 1-3 - fish have been swimming around seemingly very happy, eager appetites but I am cautiously feeding them. The water started out yellow brown and cloudy after I initially filled it but seems to be clearing already. The Nutrafin cycle starter instructions stated to dose daily so that has been done.

I still need to pick up a water testing kit. I meant to pick it up at the pet store when I got the fish, but forgot and now the store only opens tomorrow. From what I've read, I would expect ammonia levels to be peaking soon, I'm hoping by testing tomorrow I can do a water change if necessary. I'm also hoping my small plant is helping to mitigate ammonia levels and may have helped introduce the BB.

My question is how necessary it is to have the air stone running as the pump is loud. I've been doing it in stints to ensure there is enough oxygen in the tank for the fish and the BB until the plant is established.

I plan to add more plants and fish gradually after I'm sure the tank has cycled.
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-29-2018, 09:58 PM
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The necessity of the air stone depends on surface agitation caused by your filter. If there's plenty of surface agitation, it's not necessary at all.

I would be doing daily 30% water changes right now, every other day at most until you're cycled. Ammonia is very toxic to fish and your single plant will not do enough to mitigate ammonia. How thick is your gravel cap? I've never done a dirted tank, but that is large grain gravel and I'd be concerned about soil leaching(that's why your water is brown as I'm sure you know). I'll let someone else chime in, but it might be worth swapping the gravel for some pool filter sand for your dirt cap. Are you planning on adding many more plants?
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-29-2018, 10:52 PM Thread Starter
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Hey thanks! I will get on the water change tonight!

I would like to add lots of plants.

Good point on the soil leaching. Is that bad for the fish or for the plants?

What about fertilizers?
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-12-2018, 03:09 AM Thread Starter
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Hey everyone,

On week three now. Been monitoring the levels with API test strips for a week now and the Nitrite levels are still holding at 3 ppm. I'm doing about 30% water changes every second day and the fish seem happy. I've been trimming any unhealthy leaves off both of my plants.

If anyone can tell me what kind of plants I have that would be great. Our pet shop up here is pretty basic and haven't given me a lot of info on the species.

I've decided to get some driftwood soon as our water is quite hard. As I will be using it to soften the water, do I need to soak the wood before I put it in the tank? I realize it will float at first, but our water is at 120 mg/L and I want as much benefit from the tannins as possible.

My son (6) and I have decided to get a few dwarf corydoras and then fill out our school of small fish once the tank has fully cycled.
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-12-2018, 03:27 AM
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Driftwood isn't going to soften your water if it's actual general hardness.

Most driftwood needs to be thoroughly soaked, but don't be spending money on it thinking it will soften your water, it will not. It will add some tannins which will add to your conductivity and possibly change your pH a tenth of a degree at best, acid.

I would also be very careful if you are sourcing this driftwood from local streams. You could be introducing disease or chemical pollution.

I have to also say that experimenting around with organic potting soil is not a good idea for a first tank.

Many kinds of potting soils use composted animal manure as part of their ammonia source, and this will continue to break down and make your water cloudy, and cause the Ammonia> Nitrite> Nitrate cycle to never finish, and you'll have to do an inordinate amount of water changes to keep the Ammonia and Nitrite level from harming your fish.

If your Walmart has an Reverse Osmosis filter dispenser, you could buy a few gallons of RO water to thin your tap water with. Hard water in of itself is not a curse.

Starting small, keeping it simple..(?)
250 gallon stock tank, "pond"
20 gallon H CBS Shrimp tank

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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-12-2018, 03:33 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Gramps,

I was planning to purchase aquarium driftwood to avoid any chemical issues. Good to know about the water softening, as many articles state that it's one way to help soften the water making it more suitable for tetras.

I will be sure to soak the wood as recommended.

I'll have to look around to source RO water as I don't know of any dispenser here in town.
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-12-2018, 03:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Shaythesalmon View Post
Thanks Gramps,

I was planning to purchase aquarium driftwood to avoid any chemical issues. Good to know about the water softening, as many articles state that it's one way to help soften the water making it more suitable for tetras.

I will be sure to soak the wood as recommended.

I'll have to look around to source RO water as I don't know of any dispenser here in town.
You could buy distilled but it's excessively expensive. though I think our local Safeway sells RO water for $0.25.

Note what I edited my first post about not using potting soil! You are also using a tank cycling treatment, which I assume adds ammonia to kickstart the Nitrogen cycle. Combining the soil and this extra ammonia is asking for a lot of trouble, and possibly killing your fish in the bargain. Fishless cycles are best done with a decent test kit, ( not test strips..) and a lot of research before embarking. You'll need pure 2% ammonia (not the sudsy stuff..) for a fishless cycle. But with small tank stockings, like your 10 gallon with 3 small fish, you could have that tank ready with a fish-in cycle in about a month and a half, and it will be less trouble and expense.

Please reconsider the potting soil, especially if you have water that is close to 8.0 pH out of the tap.

Starting small, keeping it simple..(?)
250 gallon stock tank, "pond"
20 gallon H CBS Shrimp tank

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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-12-2018, 03:56 PM Thread Starter
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Hey Gramps,

I saw the potting soil on a DIY site and see that could have been a mistake. My water always has a colour to it now.

My Nitrite levels are sitting at 3 ppm according to the test strips right now on week 3. I'm doing 30% water changes every other day. I don't have the money to invest in aquarium plant substrate right now but it's in my plan as I grow in learning this.

The cycling treatment I have is Nutrafin Cycle and it claims to actually release the beneficial bacteria into the tank.

I do plan on adding more fish once the tank has cycled. If another month goes by and I'm still getting Nitrite readings, I may have to remove the soil and start fresh.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-15-2018, 12:56 AM Thread Starter
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Hey everyone,

Measured 0 Nitrites this week! Exciting day. Took my son to the pet store and he picked out 2 African dwarf frogs and they are so much fun to watch. They dart to the surface to drink water and have already been busy exploring the little tank. Got frog pellets and blood worms for them but I haven't seen them eat yet.

Nitrate level also dropped this week and I noticed new growth on our first plant. Both plants look vibrant and healthy and I have only had to remove a couple of leaves. I am worried about my snail though as I worry there's not enough algae for it to eat. It is a tiny snail that hopped a ride on our first plant, so I don't think it needs much food, but still.

I am already thinking about starting a bigger tank next winter... this is too much fun
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 03-12-2018, 06:47 PM Thread Starter
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So, we are on week 7.

The tank is going really well. I added 2 pink danios and 3 more glow light tetras, so now the tank is very active. One of the frogs, the female, ended up dying shortly after I added the fish. The male still sings for her at night. I would like to get another female at some point and would LOVE to attempt to breed them, but I suspect that there were too many fish for the other Female frog. Also, having a hard time feeding the frogs and making sure they eat. Even the snails seem to get to their food before they do. I ordered an aquascaping kit that includes long tweezers so hopefully I can place the food right in front of him.

Speaking of snails, the population has grown quickly. I'm fairly certain they are ramshorn snails. I think I am over feeding trying to compensate for the frog not being able to get to it's food. But I'm ok with it, because once I set up the 55 gallon, I intend to bring in either yo yo or zebra loaches so this 10 gallon can act as a breeding tank for snails to feed to the loaches. My son, 6, thinks its a little morbid of me to want to kill all the snails, but I am trying to explain to him about population control. Narcissistic human I am having 3 children myself in a vastly overpopulated planet.... will have to rethink this....

I also added what looks like java moss in patches around the bottom of the tank hoping for it to carpet in time. All the plants are healthy and growing. So far no algae problems despite having a 12-14 hour photo period. In our busy household, I tend to put the lights on in the morning and then turn them off just before bed.

The water quality has stayed fairly steady since cycling. Nitrates started to climb after adding the other fish, but I added the java fern and now they remain just barely traceable on the test strips.
I've started using R/O water to bring the hardness down a bit, but so far haven't seen very much of a change.

Overall, very happy with how the tank is progressing and SUPER EXCITED to start implementing my plan for the 55 gallon.
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 03-12-2018, 09:17 PM
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Do you have updated pictures?

I've never regretted over engineering a system, but often regretted under engineering one.
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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 03-13-2018, 09:34 PM Thread Starter
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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 03-13-2018, 09:37 PM Thread Starter
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Here are some photos.

Added driftwood and some moss. Pink danios were my son’s choice. So is the little monster fish lol.
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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 03-13-2018, 10:06 PM
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Quite the profound statement.



Adult shrimp should be ok in there for a little while. One thing I did notice is the gravel's not nearly thick enough. Remember 4-8 cm over the soil for the 55.

I've never regretted over engineering a system, but often regretted under engineering one.
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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 03-13-2018, 10:32 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah this was the starter tank.

I don’t know about shrimp in the55 gallon. I’m really set on getting loaches.

Shrimp as fish food doesn’t excite me
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