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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Had an aquarium growing up and now that we've settled into our new house, I figured it was time to finally get back into the hobby. Here is my setup (note: this is purposefully low-tech since I want to ease back into having an aquarium, hope to move into higher-tech setups down the road):

36 Gallon Aqueon Bowfront
Aqueon 30 Power Filter
Heater that came with the tank (part of a kit)
Tetra 40 Air Pump with 2 air stones
40 lbs of Eco-Complete and 15 lbs of black aquarium gravel mixed in
Zoo-Med Flora Sun Bulb
Plants currently in the tank: (Dose with Flourish Excel daily)
- Micro Sword
- Melon Sword
- Banana Plant
- 2 Java Ferns (trying to get it to attach to driftwood)
- Anubias
- Cherry hedge (yes, I goofed on this one apparently after reading up on it in these forums it apparently is not a true underwater plant and will eventually die, oh well)

Now here is my question.....I did all kinds of research on cycling. I setup the tank with everything above on 9/13. I decided to cycle with some hardy fish and my LFS recommended 2 swordtails. They have been doing great ever since then. This past weekend, I went into another LFS and had my water tested and everything was perfect. I was expecting maybe a spike in ammonia (or nitrites if it was cycling extra fast). The guy there said those 2 fish weren't enough to get my tank cycling. My parents still have our tank from when I was younger and they want to get rid of it (and haven't been taking care of it). In there were 2 black skirt tetras, 3 glowlight tetras, and 2 neons. They've been pushing us to take the fish so they can pitch the tank. Since I was told the 2 swordtails weren't enough to get my tank cycling, I went ahead and took all my parents' fish. I put them in this past Saturday (9/19). Now I should note that these guys were used to living in pretty bad conditions since my parents weren't keeping up the maintenance and some of them are ancient (the black skirts are approaching 8 years old). My question is, everyone seems to be doing fine in my tank and seems happy as can be. I've read that live plants, running an air pump, and eco-complete all are very good for the cycling process and can even speed it up. Is this true?? Is this why all seems to be well in my tank so quickly?? Could my tank already be cycled this fast or is that not possible?? Just wanted to get the opinion of some on this board.

Even though everyone is happy, I still plan on waiting a few weeks to add the following to complete our new tank (opinions on the stocking plan are welcome as well!):

- 3 schwartz cories
- 4 neon tetras (to help out the 2 poor guys left from my parents tank)
- 1 male betta
- 1 raphael catfish
 

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I dont think you're "cycled" yet by any means, but as long as you're feeding lightly and keeping an eye on water quality everything should work out fine. No matter how long your tank has been set up, once you add more fish to the equation there is a chance your tank will cycle all over again. There is only a certain amount of bacteria in the tank and filters at a given time (based on the amount waste available for the bacteria to feed on), so when you substantially increase the amount of waste in the tank, it will take some time for the bacteria population to grow and catch up. The 2 swordtails you had were certainly enough to get a bacteria population started, it just wasnt a very big one, and wasnt one that was going to be able handle much in the way of additional ammonia.

The plants in an aquarium definitely can use up alot of the waste that fish pruduce, but i doubt they are having that much of an impact at this point. None of the plants you listed are very fast growers, which means if they arent growing fast they arent using up those nutrients. The sword you have can be a "nutrient hog", but i believe it takes up most of its nutrients through the root system and not out of the water column. I would also guess that the amount of light you have is barely going to be sufficient to support plant growth. You didnt state the wattage, but one fluorescent tube over a tank that size isnt going to do much of anything for plant growth. So now we're talking slow plants that are barely growing anyway, so not they REALLY arent using much in the terms of fish waste/nutrients.

What you could have / should have done was add the filter from your parents tank to yours and you would have had an instant mature filter, which would have taken care of any water quality issues you had. And the bacteria colony would have colonized your filter too, speeding up the maturation process. But im guessing its too late for that, right?

Too make this long story shorter though...just feed lightly for awhile, every other day for atleast 2 weeks is what i would recommend. I would also consider upping the amount and number of water changes you are doing too. And then slowly pick up the feeding schedule after that until you are at your normal feeding regiment. Just take it easy, and everything will be ok. As you mentioned these fish are pretty tough...they should be fine as long as you treat them with some semi caution.
 

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What you should have done, and do in the future, is taken your parents filter and plopped it on your tank. That way you "instantly" cycle since you are bringing a filter loaded with bacteria into your tank and dont have to worry about the cycling process at all. Seeded media is the fastest way to cycle your tank.

Just keep testing the water and an eye on the fish and you should be alright.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies so far....

I don't think my parents have torn down the tank yet, so I could still use their filter. I was aware of how good that could be for cycling. However, I was a little cautious due to the filthiness of my parents tank. I mean, I can't even describe to you how nasty this was. Their were "curtains" of algae and the water was a light green/brown tint. I had never even seen that before. I have no idea when they last did a water change. Basically, I was afraid there was something in their tank that I wouldn't want in mine!! However, I guess the fish were alive and well in there, so I guess it's safe to say they don't have any diseases. Is it safe to say, no matter how nasty the tank conditions, their filter will still be beneficial for my tank?
 

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If the tank has been running for a while now without fish in it then there will no longer be bacteria present and using their filter won't do you any good. You don't actually have to use their filter, just take some of the media out and put it in your filter.
 
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