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Discussion Starter #1
Hey,

So my 38G is in the process of cycling and i have a few questions.

My tank was set up with some generic gravel and few plants. The next day, while at my LFS, they told me i could put some fish in to start things off.

I purchased, 6 5-Banded barbs, and 1 cory catfish and about 12 plants. They also gave me a big bag of gravel that was in one of their tanks to help accelerate the process with the good bacteria present in the gravel.

I took my ammonia and nitrite readings a couple of minutes ago and both read 0ppm. Yesterday my ammonia read about 0.25 ppm.

My question is: how will i know when my tank is full cycled? When will it be ready for a good number of fish? I would like to add all 6 of my clowns at once to encourage schooling; HOWEVER, their health is way more important. The fish currently in the tank are veyr active and love to hide under the drift wood when i walk by, otherwise, they are swimming around my tank like crazy.

Temp aroung 78. 12 hours light (crappy fluorescent light right now)
 

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The LFS gave you bad advice. You need to keep a careful eye on your ammonia. Even if they gave you some gravel to help accelerate the process the bacteria still has to get established everywhere in your tank and filter. Your ammonia readings can fluctuate high and low even through out the day (ask waterfaller). I would stuff the tank with fast growing plants. If you have some Najas sp 'Roraima' stick that in there. I know there is a plant club in MD. Post in their section and ask from some cycling plants. Someone will have some you can pick up, I'm sure. Wait a while to add your clown loaches.
 

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The nitrogen cycle goes Ammonia --> Nitrite --> Nitrate. So your ammonia will increase, around the third/fourth day after adding fish you should start seeing some, then it will decrease as Nitrite increases, usually about a week after introducing the fish. Finally, the Nitrite will decrease as Nitrate increase. Your cycle is complete once you see the nitrites go back down to 0 ppm. Full cycling could take a couple months, water changes will stall the cycle, so try to avoid doing large water changes unless it is necessary. You should test for Nitrates every couple of months and do regular partial water changes to keep the levels down.

Like Tex Gal said, get plants. Some people do a "silent cycle" by using plants. I always add plants from the start and it really helps!

Although I'm just getting into wanting to seriously have a planted tank, all I did before was stick some plants in, put one of the plant growing lights in my hood and call it a day. lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
My tank is stuffed with plants. I am seeing some pretty good growth on my midground plants (pictured below). I dont know the name of them but maybe someone does.



So my best course of action is just to monitor my ammonia and nitrite levels carefully? What if i never see a spike in ammonia? Will the bacteria somehow prevent the ammonia from building up to a point where i will see the nitrite spike? I only care about the health of the fish and they appear to be doing great, if they get sick then ill start doing water changes.

I took the LFS's advice considering i had been away from aquatics for quite some time. The fish he suggested are quite hardy, so i hope they stay healthy.
 

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Six clown loaches will eventually be too much for that tank, just to let you know in case you didn't. They can get to be about a foot long. They're fine for now though. You also might want to add a friend for your one cory, they are very social fish and like to be in groups.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
How long does it take for loaches to grow? The ones i plan on buying are little babies - at or about 1 inch long. By the time my loaches outgrow my tank, i hope ill be able to get a larger tank, lol :)
Should i get the same species of cory, or does it not matter?
 

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A group of cories will shoal, but usually only if they are the same species. So if you want them to shoal, get the same kinds.
I have 2 peppered, 1 albino, and 1 emerald, the two peppereds stick together and the albino and the emerald stick together. I was told that the albinos were the same species as the peppereds... so I dunno what his deal is, lol.

The fastest period of growth for the clown loaches is from 1" to 4", after that, they grow slower. Even that can take a year or so.
 

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IMO you'll need to upgrade to a 125gal tank within 6 mos and a 300gal tank within a year or two if you get 6 clown loaches. Don't get them. I've seen a 12" clown loach that was only 2 years old (it was kept in a 300gal tank).

Yes- you need to keep a very close eye on your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates. I think with your plants and some established gravel there is SOME chance that your tank may never experience an ammonia spike, but there's never any guarantee. I suspect yours hasn't spiked yet, but will. And it's not uncommon for multiple spikes as the tank's N-bacteria population blooms, crashes, blooms, crashes... and finally stabilizes.

You'll know your tank is done cycling when you can do a 50% water change and there's still no ammonia or nitrite readings afer 24 hours.

You may experience mini-cycles each time you add to your bioload (anyone might) so it's always a good idea to keep those tests handy.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
How many loaches should i get? I thought 5 was a minimum for them to be happy. I love clown loaches and they will be the centerpiece of my tank.

Do they mix well with YoYo loaches?

Also, im heading to the LFS for some plants. Should i pick up another cat fish? Perhaps slowly increasing my fish count will aid in cycling my tank?
 

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How many loaches should i get? I thought 5 was a minimum for them to be happy. I love clown loaches and they will be the centerpiece of my tank.

Do they mix well with YoYo loaches?

Also, im heading to the LFS for some plants. Should i pick up another cat fish? Perhaps slowly increasing my fish count will aid in cycling my tank?
Did you read Lauralee's post? You have a 38G She recommended a 125g. You are short 87 gallons! She is correct. They grow quickly. I'd never have less that 3, and 5 or 6 is better. They grow large. Yo Yo loaches can get bossy. They can get up to 6". They need to be kept in groups of at least 3 as well. You need to rethink your "want list" or get a bigger tank.

You said your tank is "stuffed" with plants. Here are some links to heavily planted tanks.

http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/...ium/13191-do-i-need-feed-endlers-heavily.htmlPost 394
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/t.../76359-suga-shack-saras-55-gallon-56k-27.html

Post 81
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/tank-journals-photo-album/81879-125-gal-b-day-present-2-a-6.html

Post 92
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/tank-journals-photo-album/79420-29-gal-journal-7.html

The reason I show you these is so that you can have a prospective. It's good to experience many many successes. By getting A LOT more plants you will keep your fish safer. Just buy some cheap fast growers. When you are done with them and the ones you really want to keep are grown, you can sell the ones you don't want and get all, plus more, of your money back.

By choosing the correct fish for your size tank you will avoid deaths, traumas and disease. You won't get attached to fish just to have to give them away later. It's all win/win.

Just a few ideas for fun but smaller bottom dweller fish:
Cory catfish- many varieties, they school, great cleaners.
Khuli loaches - they are a screem, they play together, they school, they are fun to watch.
Bumble bee gobies - they don't have to have brine water like some say. They are adorable.
Sumo loaches - great color. They scurry around.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Hi,
I have a few questions about my tank again.

So ive been testing the Ammonia and Nitrite everyday, i have yet to see anything. I have even added a Red-Tailed shark to my tank. The place i went to, House of Tropicals, suggested i put in this cycling solution: http://www.hagen.com/uk/aquatic/nutrafin/index.cfm

I have added about half the bottle, its rather small, and add about a cap full daily. Like i said, ive had plants, gravel from another tank, and fish pretty much from day one. I have yet to see any marginal spike in my ammonia or nitrite. Do you think i've skipped the spikes with the additives?

Also, if my water level is low, can i add water or does everyone wait to do a water change. The level is a little bit lower than the exit of power filter head, thus water is crashing onto the top (slightly) and creating a lot of surface disruption.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I tested my water today. Ammonia was at or around 0ppm, but my nitrites spiked to 0.50ppm. What should i do. Wait it out and monitor and see if it goes higher?
 
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