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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
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.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
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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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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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
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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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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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
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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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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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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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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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
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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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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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
High as in the darkest the test strip goes is hunter green, the color my water read on the strip. Immediate water change at ten at night and the ammonia dropped to a lighter green. Better but still not good. In time when my plants get bigger and I have more, I hope to try filterless like I'd planned to do. A sudden appearance of fish didnt help the plan. Thank you all again for the immediate help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I'm proud to report that as of this morning, my ammonia levels are right where they should be. My fish are swimming happily, nipping at the plants, and eating the pellets I'm dropping in rahter than flitting around frantically. Such a relief. I think I'm going to stick with the filter I have for the time being and see how it goes. It's not disturbing the plants, nor is it stirring up my substrate. I'm going to keep an eye on everything and hope for the best. :proud:
 

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You need Nitrospira species of bacteria for the tank. Read the label. Do not waste your money on anything that does not specify that particular species.

Any sort of filter will help, but the Aquaclear line is quite good. Large volume for media, and you put in your choice of media. It comes with a thick sponge, carbon and bio media (at least they used to, I have not bought a new one for a long time). None of this cartridge nonsense.

Activated Carbon DOES NOT remove plant nutrients. Period.

Keep up the water changes to keep the ammonia under .25ppm, and the nitrite under 1 ppm. Lower is better. When nitrite shows up add salt (NaCl) at the rate of 1 teaspoon per 20 gallons. When you do water changes add that to the new water (if you do a 5 gallon water change add 1/4 tsp to the new water).
When the Nitrospira kicks in and is handling the ammonia and nitrite quit adding the salt.
This is a very low level of salt, quite acceptable to the plants and fish that 'don't like salt'.

Buenos Aires Tetras nip some plants. Have your Mom buy a separate tank for them, since she bought the fish without asking you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I won't do that. I hardly think spending $3 on fish trying to be nice to your daughter constitutes having to spend $170 on a tank with everything I need. Thanks anyway. I'll take the advice. As of right now, ammonia is still stable. I got ammonia tabs too.
 

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Pixel Prestidigitator
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You need Nitrospira species of bacteria for the tank. Read the label. Do not waste your money on anything that does not specify that particular species.

Any sort of filter will help, but the Aquaclear line is quite good. Large volume for media, and you put in your choice of media. It comes with a thick sponge, carbon and bio media (at least they used to, I have not bought a new one for a long time). None of this cartridge nonsense.

Activated Carbon DOES NOT remove plant nutrients. Period.

Keep up the water changes to keep the ammonia under .25ppm, and the nitrite under 1 ppm. Lower is better. When nitrite shows up add salt (NaCl) at the rate of 1 teaspoon per 20 gallons. When you do water changes add that to the new water (if you do a 5 gallon water change add 1/4 tsp to the new water).
When the Nitrospira kicks in and is handling the ammonia and nitrite quit adding the salt.
This is a very low level of salt, quite acceptable to the plants and fish that 'don't like salt'.

Buenos Aires Tetras nip some plants. Have your Mom buy a separate tank for them, since she bought the fish without asking you.
He's got 3 fish. In a 20 gallon tank. He doesn't really need any filter at all.
 
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