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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2015, 09:02 PM Thread Starter
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New Guy Issues

I have always wanted to have an aquarium since I was little, so starting this is great thing for me. I thought I've read enough. Researched enough to get stuff going fairly easy. If I can get this first tank going. I really want to do more. But I am having some issues.

So bare with me. I am a newbie at this.

I have a twelve gallon tank (figured I'd start small) still undecided on type of fish I should/want to put in it.

I have live (umbrella and another i cant recall) which are doing great and growing well and plastic plants (for color)

Some decorative coral stuff for hiding (which is probably too much)

55 watt heater and the filter with all the media (sponge,carbon,bio)

Now....I put my tap water in (which is well water) I knew from get go my water is extremely hard. Buy I wanted to try it just to see if I could avoid buying water for now....but things have gone south as far as being fish safe.

I've been going to petsmart and petco...the real fish stores around me are 45 min away and seem to be shady but I think I may need to venture further for advice. But I've been doing what they have said to get my ph down...I put prime in it and other water conditioners.

From all the testing ... all that seems wrong is my PH is what they say ... so high its off the chart. Everything else is in range.

So on one guy said to put this powdery stuff in to bring it down, which was a mistake I know now. The water got really cloudy for days. Then noticed it building up on the plastic plants and all over the heater. The water is clear now other than that. But the ph is still off the chart.

So tonight plan on starting all over. And cleaning everything. But what I need to know is....

should I use my well water again using a liquid ph downer, or use bottled water and if so is there a specific brand that's good or use distilled and put the minerals in.

I'm to a point I don't know what's best. The tank has been running for a month.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2015, 09:31 PM
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First, if the coral is real it brings up PH. No salt water items in freshwater tanks.
Remove anything like this, add new well water. Try to change most of the water and
do it twice about at least 4-5 days apart. Then after the second time and letting it set in there for no less than 24 hrs test again. They do have high and low test range kits.
See what you come up/w after that...
Then this is a good question...where do the pet shops get their water from ?

The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line...in the opposite direction...
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2015, 09:31 PM
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Well. lets back up a step.

Get a test kit that will test GH, KH, pH to help with the current issue.
Also will need ammonia, nitrite and nitrate tests.

Chemistry concept:
pH is not a stand alone value.
The minerals in the water control the pH.
So, if you try to adjust the pH, the minerals in the water will just bring it back to whatever level is right for those minerals.
To properly control the pH, you start by controlling the minerals.

But even that is putting the cart before the horse.

The REAL first questions is...

Will the water you have work for ANY fish?

Many fish thrive in hard, alkaline water.
Most aquarium plants will thrive in most water chemistry.

So...

Do you really need to alter the water at all?

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Please do the tests on the tap water, or get them done, and report back:

GH
KH
pH on some tap water that is pretty much right from the tap
pH on some tap water that has sat out for 24-48 hours
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While you are waiting, adjusting water and 'scaping the tank, do this fishless cycle, too.

Cycle: To grow the beneficial bacteria that remove ammonia and nitrite from the aquarium.

Fish-In Cycle: To expose fish to toxins while using them as the source of ammonia to grow nitrogen cycle bacteria. Exposure to ammonia burns the gills and other soft tissue, stresses the fish and lowers their immunity. Exposure to nitrite makes the blood unable to carry oxygen. Research methemglobinemia for details.

Fishless Cycle: The safe way to grow more bacteria, faster, in an aquarium, pond or riparium.

The method I give here was developed by 2 scientists who wanted to quickly grow enough bacteria to fully stock a tank all at one time, with no plants helping, and overstock it as is common with Rift Lake Cichlid tanks.

1a) Set up the tank and all the equipment. You can plant if you want. Include the proper dose of dechlorinator with the water.
Optimum water chemistry:
GH and KH above 3 German degrees of hardness. A lot harder is just fine.
pH above 7, and into the mid 8s is just fine.
Temperature in the upper 70s F (mid 20s C) is good. Higher is OK if the water is well aerated.
A trace of other minerals may help. Usually this comes in with the water, but if you have a pinch of KH2PO4, that may be helpful.
High oxygen level. Make sure the filter and power heads are running well. Plenty of water circulation.
No toxins in the tank. If you washed the tank, or any part of the system with any sort of cleanser, soap, detergent, bleach or anything else make sure it is well rinsed. Do not put your hands in the tank when you are wearing any sort of cosmetics, perfume or hand lotion. No fish medicines of any sort.
A trace of salt (sodium chloride) is OK, but not required.
This method of growing bacteria will work in a marine system, too. The species of bacteria are different.

1b) Optional: Add any source of the bacteria that you are growing to seed the tank. Cycled media from a healthy tank is good. Decor or some gravel from a cycled tank is OK. Live plants or plastic are OK. I have even heard of the right bacteria growing in the bio film found on driftwood. (So if you have been soaking some driftwood in preparation to adding it to the tank, go ahead and put it into the tank) Bottled bacteria is great, but only if it contains Nitrospira species of bacteria. Read the label and do not waste your money on anything else.
At the time this was written the right species could be found in:
Dr. Tims One and Only
Tetra Safe Start
Microbe Lift Nite Out II
...and perhaps others.
You do not have to jump start the cycle. The right species of bacteria are all around, and will find the tank pretty fast.

2) Add ammonia until the test reads 5 ppm. This ammonia is the cheapest you can find. No surfactants, no perfumes. Read the fine print. This is often found at discount stores like Dollar Tree, or hardware stores like Ace. You could also use a dead shrimp form the grocery store, or fish food. Protein breaks down to become ammonia. You do not have good control over the ammonia level, though.
Some substrates release ammonia when they are submerged for the first time. Monitor the level and do enough water changes to keep the ammonia at the levels detailed below.

3) Test daily. For the first few days not much will happen, but the bacteria that remove ammonia are getting started. Finally the ammonia starts to drop. Add a little more, once a day, to test 5 ppm.

4) Test for nitrite. A day or so after the ammonia starts to drop the nitrite will show up. When it does allow the ammonia to drop to 3 ppm.

5) Test daily. Add ammonia to 3 ppm once a day. If the nitrite or ammonia go to 5 ppm do a water change to get these lower. The ammonia removing species and the nitrite removing species (Nitrospira) do not do well when the ammonia or nitrite are over 5 ppm.

6) When the ammonia and nitrite both hit zero 24 hours after you have added the ammonia the cycle is done. You can challenge the bacteria by adding a bit more than 3 ppm ammonia, and it should be able to handle that, too, within 24 hours.

7) Now test the nitrate. Probably sky high!
Do as big a water change as needed to lower the nitrate until it is safe for fish. Certainly well under 20, and a lot lower is better. This may call for more than one water change, and up to 100% water change is not a problem. Remember the dechlor!
If you will be stocking right away (within 24 hours) no need to add more ammonia. If stocking will be delayed keep feeding the bacteria by adding ammonia to 3 ppm once a day. You will need to do another water change right before adding the fish.
__________________________

Helpful hints:

A) You can run a fishless cycle in a bucket to grow bacteria on almost any filter media like bio balls, sponges, ceramic bio noodles, lava rock or Matala mats. Simply set up any sort of water circulation such as a fountain pump or air bubbler and add the media to the bucket. Follow the directions for the fishless cycle. When the cycle is done add the media to the filter. I have run a canister filter in a bucket and done the fishless cycle.

B) The nitrogen cycle bacteria will live under a wide range of conditions and bounce back from minor set backs. By following the set up suggestions in part 1a) you are setting up optimum conditions for fastest reproduction and growth.
GH and KH can be as low as 1 degree, but watch it! These bacteria use the carbon in carbonates, and if it is all used up (KH = 0) the bacteria may die off.
pH as low as 6.5 is OK, but by 6.0 the bacteria are not going to be doing very well. They are still there, and will recover pretty well when conditions get better.
Temperature almost to freezing is OK, but they must not freeze, and they are not very active at all. They do survive in a pond, but they are slow to warm up and get going in the spring. This is where you might need to grow some in a bucket in a warm place and supplement the pond population. Too warm is not good, either. Tropical or room temperature tank temperatures are best. (68 to 85*F or 20 to 28*C)
Moderate oxygen can be tolerated for a while. However, to remove lots of ammonia and nitrite these bacteria must have oxygen. They turn one into the other by adding oxygen. If you must stop running the filter for an hour or so, no problem. If longer, remove the media and keep it where it will get more oxygen.
Once the bacteria are established they can tolerate some fish medicines. This is because they live in a complex film called Bio film on all the surfaces in the filter and the tank. Medicines do not enter the bio film well.
These bacteria do not need to live under water. They do just fine in a humid location. They live in healthy garden soil, as well as wet locations.

C) Planted tanks may not tolerate 3 ppm or 5 ppm ammonia. It is possible to cycle the tank at lower levels of ammonia so the plants do not get ammonia burn. Add ammonia to only 1 ppm, but test twice a day, and add ammonia as needed to keep it at 1 ppm. The plants are also part of the bio filter, and you may be able to add the fish sooner, if the plants are thriving.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2015, 11:13 PM
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I recommend either of the methods mentioned above. The one method I DO NOT recommend to new folks is trying to change the water!!
If your shop has sold you products to do this, I also don't recommend them??
As mentioned there are many fish who live in the hardest fresh water around so the better solution when meeting hard water is to find the fish who like the water you have. Trying to learn to defeat nature is a very long and difficult process, far better left for many years later.
PH is more like a secondary cause of fish problems. I consider it somewhat like air temperature is for humans. When it is not right, it wears on us and over time, can make us ill. But if it what we grew up in and it feels normal, we might not notice it as long as it stays steady. Fish often don't require a specific PH as long as it is somewhat steady. That is where trying to adjust it can really get us in trouble. It's high so we "adjust" to much lower and then is goes back up when we change water. Meanwhile the fish can't ever get used to what he finds.
If your shop has not mentioned getting the "cycle" right, consider them a good place to avoid as it is one of the most basic items to keeping fish.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2015, 11:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Please do the tests on the tap water, or get them done, and report back:

GH
KH
pH on some tap water that is pretty much right from the tap
pH on some tap water that has sat out for 24-48 hours
__________________________________________________ _______
__________________________________________________ _______
Rate this as the first thing to do.
Maybe provide for tap and tank.

My tap water changes throughout the year.
On city water even changes are still seen.

If changing your tap water can be avoided, it is best.


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Growing is not that difficult.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2015, 11:58 PM
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You hear a lot of people that work at the pet stores parrot the same propaganda about PH. They have no concept about any other minerals and how they impact water. The snake oils like ph down are a temporary solution to a permanent problem. Your best bet is to find out what fish like to live in your type of water. You'll need to check the PH, KH, GH. General hardness is most important to fish. I agree that water manipulation requires experience but if your going to try it, reverse osmosis/distilled water is the way to do it, eliminating tap water.


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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-05-2015, 05:30 AM Thread Starter
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thank you so much for everyones advice...sorry it took so long to get back here.....this is what I did....

once I got to the real fish store...(I wrote the post when I left and read replies when I got there) I talk to the store guy....and steered me toward their RO water which was 12 bucks for the container with water and 79 cents a gallon for refills, so I got 15 gallons.....got the stuff to put in that they said I needed and all is well.....I tested the first day...it was soft and low PH as it should have been....added stuff for 5 days...testing a few times....after a week..the water was great, testing well....so I went and got some fish....

I got 3 glofish tetra, a black skirt tetra(my fav) and a marbled molly they all seem happy in their new home. which I think one tetra is male and the rest female....pretty sure the molly is a male...(I named him Biff (a bit of a bully)).....

after 9 days, water is clear and crisp, testing well...and they are all still alive lol....so that's a plus id say... I am enjoying them....but..............

I don't think this molly is fitting in to well....if I sneak in the room I don't really see it, but when they know im there...that molly is raising hell....the tetras are not really id say schooling more so hiding from the molly.....that molly is chasing them all over the place...and I know they nip a little bit and chase...but I think its too much...cause they don't look as happy as they did, its hard to explain but I can see it...even im like omg leave them alone already, he chases the black skirt the most, that's the bigger of the tetras in there.

should I get a female in there or another molly to play with? then take them out when I get another tank after they grow a bit? and if so would the type of molly matter?

any answers would be great about that.

point being though...they are alive, the tank is clear, levels are great...plants are growing, they are all eating enough, and Ill keep getting my water from the fishroom, even though its a drive, its worth it.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-05-2015, 04:21 PM
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What I would have done is kept it simple. Hard water + 12 gallon tank = shell dwelling cichlids from Lake Tanganyika.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-05-2015, 04:35 PM
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koda, it may be worth your while to purchase an RO unit, you can get a good one, brand new, for $200. You'll probably save that much in gas by not going to the store anymore and if you run across issues like blue green algae, you're going to need a lot of water to do water changes so it's a worthwhile investment.

Don't overfeed the fish and keep your substrate as clean as you can.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-05-2015, 04:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Koda Shy View Post
thank you so much for everyones advice...sorry it took so long to get back here.....this is what I did....

once I got to the real fish store...(I wrote the post when I left and read replies when I got there) I talk to the store guy....and steered me toward their RO water which was 12 bucks for the container with water and 79 cents a gallon for refills, so I got 15 gallons.....got the stuff to put in that they said I needed and all is well.....I tested the first day...it was soft and low PH as it should have been....added stuff for 5 days...testing a few times....after a week..the water was great, testing well....so I went and got some fish....

I got 3 glofish tetra, a black skirt tetra(my fav) and a marbled molly they all seem happy in their new home. which I think one tetra is male and the rest female....pretty sure the molly is a male...(I named him Biff (a bit of a bully)).....

after 9 days, water is clear and crisp, testing well...and they are all still alive lol....so that's a plus id say... I am enjoying them....but..............

I don't think this molly is fitting in to well....if I sneak in the room I don't really see it, but when they know im there...that molly is raising hell....the tetras are not really id say schooling more so hiding from the molly.....that molly is chasing them all over the place...and I know they nip a little bit and chase...but I think its too much...cause they don't look as happy as they did, its hard to explain but I can see it...even im like omg leave them alone already, he chases the black skirt the most, that's the bigger of the tetras in there.

should I get a female in there or another molly to play with? then take them out when I get another tank after they grow a bit? and if so would the type of molly matter?

any answers would be great about that.

point being though...they are alive, the tank is clear, levels are great...plants are growing, they are all eating enough, and Ill keep getting my water from the fishroom, even though its a drive, its worth it.
Sounds like a great solution.....so long as you dont mind always taking that drive back to that store to purchase ro water every time you need to do a water change (lets assume you know that needs to be done on a regular basis) and/or purchase your own RO/DI filter. Not to mention RO water is stripped of everything so you'll still need to buffer it with something. Seems like a waste of time especially if you're only planning to keep what you already bought. RO water is a necessity in a reef tank and is hardly necessary to keep most freshwater species.

Dont skip the basics that everyone has suggested. You still have not indicated what your water is showing? What is the ph of your water? Did you test once from the tap and again after it sits for 24-48 hours? What about gh and kh?

You seem to be choosing the hardest most difficult solution first when there could be an easier way!

Rich's Fishes
Curator of an ever growing fishroom that currently houses 30 different tanks. Most full of at least water....some even have fish!
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-07-2015, 03:23 PM
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You can also collect rainwater. Do not collect it when it first starts raining, wait till the rain washes the crud off the roof. I used a coffee can with a hole punched in the bottom and a piece of tubing inserted in the hole. I filled the can with carbon.
Mix it with your tap at varying densities and test it, or bring it to the pet store so they can test it for you.

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