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New Tank

ownedbycats
June 3rd, 2012, 07:06 AM
I babysat my brothers African dwarf frogs and liked them so much I wanted a pair of my own. I did my research, found out how to cycle a tank, and ended up changing my original plan form getting a 5 gallon tank to getting a 20 gallon tank, partly because I decided I wanted fish, too.
I thought I would set up a thread explaining what I was learning and show pictures of the set up process.

Tank arrival and inspection. "cat"fish anyone?

ownedbycats
June 3rd, 2012, 07:16 AM
Cycling

Aquariums eventually have a mostly invisible cycle going on that lets you keep your fish healthy and alive. If this cycle didn't exist, toxic ammonia would quickly build up and poison your fish. This is how the cycle works:
Fish produce liquid and solid waste. The liquid waste contains ammonia, which is poisonous. It can cause burns to a fish's fins, gills, and insides if it gets above 0.25ppm, which takes very little time.
Fortunately, bacteria build up in your filter that use ammonia and turn it into nitrIte. NitrIte is also poisonous, but a second bacteria shows up that processes this chemical and turns it into nitrAte. NitrAte can reach much higher levels before becoming dangerous and if you have live plants they will use it to help them grow.
Aquariums don't come with this bacteria, the bacteria build up slowly over time. There are three ways to get this bacteria to grow.
The easiest way is to place a bit of filter media from an already cycled tank's filter in your filter. It will have bacteria on it, and if fed ammonia, the bacteria will multiply and colonize the new filter. You need to be careful. If the tank you get filter bacteria from has disease present you may bring in disease causing bacteria along with the helpful bacteria. Unfortunately, I know no one with an aquarium currently up and running.
You can start the cycle without fish by dumping measured amounts of ammonia in you tank (BEFORE you add fish), watching the levels of ammonia and nitrIte, and when they reach zero and you start seeing nitrAte appear you know you have bacteria established and add your fish.
If you can't find pure ammonia, you can do a cycle with fish, but to keep the fish unharmed you will need to do daily, maybe twice daily, water changes and test the water frequently to keep your fish healthy. This is what I did, since I couldn't find ammonia I could trust to be pure.

ownedbycats
June 3rd, 2012, 07:23 AM
The fish I used to cycle my tank are called Harlequin Rasboras (R. heteromorpha). They were very tiny when I got them and their colors hadn't come in yet, so they were mostly silver, black and big eyes.
I was changing almost 10 gallons of water every day to keep levels well below the dangerous range. If you aren't prepared to do a lot of work to keep your fish healthy, this is not the best way to start a tank. I knew from researching what I was getting into, and chose month when I would have the spare time to do this. I gave up lurking on this site so I would have time, and am only posting now that my tank is cycled and my water changes are down to once or twice a week.

ownedbycats
June 3rd, 2012, 07:24 AM
Harlequin rasboras when they first arrived.

hazelrunpack
June 3rd, 2012, 01:01 PM
Very cool! I never realized it was so much work to start a tank! :eek:

At what point can you add fish and your frogs?

I love your catfish! :flirt: :D

ownedbycats
June 3rd, 2012, 01:16 PM
My cycle went fairly smoothly. About two weeks after I got my tank up and running, my ammonia readings dropped to 0 and nitrIte started appearing on the tests. That meant the bacteria were moving in. Then the nitrItes started dropping and nitrAtes started appearing. I knew exactly what I was going to get when my cycle was finished and....my heater broke.
Brand new, only used for two weeks, all directions followed to the letter, and the supposed to be completely immersed heater leaked. I didn't notice right away because I had it hidden behind a tall plant. When I noticed my temperature dropping, I checked the heater and the heating coils had water swirling around them and they were all rusty.
This was declared completely unsafe and I went to the store to replace it. I spotted this guy on a shelf and couldn't leave him behind.

hazelrunpack
June 3rd, 2012, 01:18 PM
Oh, man, that's one magnificent betta!!! :cloud9:

Bummer about the heater! :frustrated: Will the rust affect the quality of the water at all or was it confined to the faulty heater?

ownedbycats
June 3rd, 2012, 01:23 PM
Now, almost two months after I started, my cycle is finished, my fish have grown and so have my plants, and I have added red cherry shrimp as a cleanup crew. They eat any food my fish haven't finished. I'm not done yet. I still want to add more plants, some drift wood, some small catfish.
Oddly enough, I still haven't been able to get any of the frogs that started this whole journey, but I plan to add some as soon as they are available.

Note: my tank is divided into 5 gallon and 15 gallon sections. The betta and frogs will be in the 5 gallon, the shrimp, harlequins and catfish will be in the 15 gallon section. Bettas will tolerate other fish as long as the fish doesn't look like another betta, but shrimp are considered a wonderful snack. My other fish are and will remain too small to eat adult shrimp.

hazelrunpack
June 3rd, 2012, 01:27 PM
Your betta must think he's died and gone to heaven with all that room!

Shrimp are kinda cute... they look like wee little crayfish! :lovestruck:

I'm looking forward to pics of the frogs. I don't think I've ever seen any before....

ownedbycats
June 3rd, 2012, 01:55 PM
I don't have them yet. African dwarf frogs aren't very colorful, they stay quite small (about an inch and a half), and have absurdly long feet with see through webbing. They breath air, but unlike most frogs never leave the water. They may float on a leaf for a while, but otherwise they stay completely immersed. Not like bullfrogs, where you frequently find them hopping around on land.
The fish store guy said his last order didn't arrive and it would take two weeks for the next one to go through and be shipped. I like his store because he quarantines/medicates new arrivals and I can't remember ever seeing a dead fish in one of his tanks. I could get the frogs from a big chain store I won't name, but in both stores they have here in town every time I go in I see at least one dead fish. I don't think they quarantine either. I'd rather wait and get healthy well cared for critters than be impatient and make my entire tank sick.

ownedbycats
June 3rd, 2012, 01:58 PM
Oh, and the betta loves that all that space. He comes swimming to the front of the tank whenever he sees me. I've taught him to follow my fingers around the top of the tank for food. He even tries to fight the cat through the glass. The gray cat Seuss in the pictures at the top of the thread likes to harass the betta by patting the glass with his paw. The betta will swim at him and try to bite him thorugh the glass. This is why my tank has a lid, although since Seuss cracked this one by sitting on it, I'm looking for a stronger one.

hazelrunpack
June 3rd, 2012, 04:55 PM
Too funny about Seuss!! :laughing:

The frogs sound like fascinating creatures! Can't wait till the shipment comes in! :highfive:

ownedbycats
June 14th, 2012, 12:51 PM
Well, the frogs are still unavaible, but there have been some additions to my tank.
They are called Daisy's ricefish after the lady who discovered them, and will get more color as they get older. The males will be blue with red fins and the females will be yellow with red fins. There were supposed to by 2 males and 2 females, but I ended up with one female and 3 males. I will probably take a male back and trade for a female so my one female has company. I have woken up twice since I got her to find her with eggs. The rice fish are the ones without black triangles on their sides.
Also, by betta has been building a bubble nest. Unfortunately I disturbed his big version when I changed the water and the bubbles broke, but he has started a new one. The shiny silver things on the bottom of the leaf are bubbles blown and collected by the betta.

Barkingdog
June 14th, 2012, 04:17 PM
The fish I used to cycle my tank are called Harlequin Rasboras (R. heteromorpha). They were very tiny when I got them and their colors hadn't come in yet, so they were mostly silver, black and big eyes.
I was changing almost 10 gallons of water every day to keep levels well below the dangerous range. If you aren't prepared to do a lot of work to keep your fish healthy, this is not the best way to start a tank. I knew from researching what I was getting into, and chose month when I would have the spare time to do this. I gave up lurking on this site so I would have time, and am only posting now that my tank is cycled and my water changes are down to once or twice a week.

When I had goldfish I never change the water everyday and my fish lived for 8 years.
I was also told to not change all the water in the tank as it was not good for the fish.


your fish are beautiful! Has your cat gone after them yet?

hazelrunpack
June 15th, 2012, 12:02 AM
Very cool, obc!! Will the fry survive if the eggs hatch or do you have to partition off a maternity ward? :) How does a betta keep the bubbles from bursting?

ownedbycats
June 15th, 2012, 05:28 AM
Barkingdog - Did you realize common goldfish can live for more than 20 years if properly housed and fed? And can get to at least a foot long? I saw one my LFS was babysitting that had gotten that big, and was thicker through the body than my arm (granted, I'm skinny but still). Even the fancy goldfish can live for over 15 years (like many purebred dogs, inbreeding has shortened the lifespan of the fancies)
Water changes ARE important. You don't have to do them every day, once your tank is cycled and you have bacteria to remove ammonia and nitrItes for you. I'm down to once a week now. I just didn't want to risk my fish getting their gills, eyes, and skin burned by ammonia, so I did a water change whenever the ammonia reached .25 ppm. You have to do them carefully, though, making sure that you have the temperature is matched and that you have added a dechlorinator to remove any chlorine or chloramines added by cities to kill bacteria. Chlorine/chloramine will kill the bacteria in your tank that eat ammonia and nitrItes. By water change I don't mean you need to take out all the water and replace it, just some. I took out out half my water (10 gallons) and replaced it with fresh, dechlorinated water diluting the ammonia down to .125. If you haven't been doing water changes and suddenly do a big one, the shock of sudden change in water quality, even for the better, can stress the fish and make them vulnerable to disease.
I just learned all this when I started doing research before getting my tank. There is a lot of conflicting information out there and a lot of misinformation.
My cats follow the fish and occasionally pat the glass when the fish are near. The betta will actually swim up and challenge the cats through the glass. I'm not leaving the lid open when I'm not there because I'm pretty sure at least one cat would help himself to a fish snack.

Hazel - I don't know if the fry will survive. This is a relatively new species, and I can't find a whole lot of information about them. That means that even if I do end up with surviving fry, I have no idea what they need nutritionally. The information I can find is turning out to be inaccurate. I bought these fish because they are supposed to be a peaceful schooling species. One male has won the sparring and is keeping the female in what he has declared his half of the tank, and the other males and all the harlequins in the second half. Granted, no one has had their fins shredded, or appears injured in any way, but I'm not sure chasing all the other fish into a corner and keeping them there ought to come under the classification of "peaeful".
Also, I have no idea how the betta keeps the bubbles from popping. I do know that if the water current is too strong the bubbles will pop. Possibly why he needed the leaf, it may protect against the flow of water enough to keep the bubbles intact.

marko
June 15th, 2012, 08:22 AM
really enjoying the lovely fish pix :highfive:

hazelrunpack
June 15th, 2012, 09:19 AM
There is just an awesome amount of information in this thread, obc! Here's an odd question for you, though--how do fish react to copper? :o We have well water that tastes great and tests out perfectly for everything else, but is very high in copper. We have to filter it before drinking it or cooking with it...that's how high the copper is (evidently the aquifer the well tapped into runs past the copper deposits near here). I'd love to try a tank, but if fish are intolerant of copper, everything would have to be filtered or transported in from some other water supply... :o

ownedbycats
June 15th, 2012, 11:14 AM
Hazel - I just did some Googling. I already knew that most invertebrates (like my shrimp) are very sensitive to copper. Sadly, it sounds like fish are also more sensitive to copper than people, so if you are already having to filter your water for you, it is likely unsafe for fish.
If you decided to run a small tank with distilled water, be aware that some minerals are necessary and you would have to put back some of what you take out. That's the extent of my knowledge of what distilled water tanks require. :laughing:

Barkingdog
June 15th, 2012, 11:30 AM
Barkingdog - Did you realize common goldfish can live for more than 20 years if properly housed and fed? And can get to at least a foot long? I saw one my LFS was babysitting that had gotten that big, and was thicker through the body than my arm (granted, I'm skinny but still). Even the fancy goldfish can live for over 15 years (like many purebred dogs, inbreeding has shortened the lifespan of the fancies)
Water changes ARE important. You don't have to do them every day, once your tank is cycled and you have bacteria to remove ammonia and nitrItes for you. I'm down to once a week now. I just didn't want to risk my fish getting their gills, eyes, and skin burned by ammonia, so I did a water change whenever the ammonia reached .25 ppm. You have to do them carefully, though, making sure that you have the temperature is matched and that you have added a dechlorinator to remove any chlorine or chloramines added by cities to kill bacteria. Chlorine/chloramine will kill the bacteria in your tank that eat ammonia and nitrItes. By water change I don't mean you need to take out all the water and replace it, just some. I took out out half my water (10 gallons) and replaced it with fresh, dechlorinated water diluting the ammonia down to .125. If you haven't been doing water changes and suddenly do a big one, the shock of sudden change in water quality, even for the better, can stress the fish and make them vulnerable to disease.
I just learned all this when I started doing research before getting my tank. There is a lot of conflicting information out there and a lot of misinformation.
My cats follow the fish and occasionally pat the glass when the fish are near. The betta will actually swim up and challenge the cats through the glass. I'm not leaving the lid open when I'm not there because I'm pretty sure at least one cat would help himself to a fish snack.

Hazel - I don't know if the fry will survive. This is a relatively new species, and I can't find a whole lot of information about them. That means that even if I do end up with surviving fry, I have no idea what they need nutritionally. The information I can find is turning out to be inaccurate. I bought these fish because they are supposed to be a peaceful schooling species. One male has won the sparring and is keeping the female in what he has declared his half of the tank, and the other males and all the harlequins in the second half. Granted, no one has had their fins shredded, or appears injured in any way, but I'm not sure chasing all the other fish into a corner and keeping them there ought to come under the classification of "peaeful".
Also, I have no idea how the betta keeps the bubbles from popping. I do know that if the water current is too strong the bubbles will pop. Possibly why he needed the leaf, it may protect against the flow of water enough to keep the bubbles intact.

Yes , I know goldfish can live 20 years if you have a huge tank or pond. My goldfish lived longer than people I know that had them. Most people I know said their fish dies in a few weeks. I changes the water once a week and treated it too, the water it really horrible where I live. I thought you meant you where taking all the water out of the tank.

hazelrunpack
June 15th, 2012, 07:31 PM
Sadly, it sounds like fish are also more sensitive to copper than people, so if you are already having to filter your water for you, it is likely unsafe for fish.


Ach, bummer. :( I never thought to Google it... :o (D'oh :laughing:)

ownedbycats
July 16th, 2012, 09:46 AM
I have now had the African dwarf frogs for two weeks, have had one near disaster, and discovered that the commercially prepared food most recommended for frogs is unavailable and been forced to go with the more natural food: frozen worms and insects. It appears that the food made specifically for aquatic frogs has been discontinues, and every site devoted specifically to these frogs says that fish food is bad for them and can eventually kill them. Bloodworms being recommended, thats what they are getting. (I use tweezers though, I refuse to actually touch those worms:D) The betta has to be fed seperately, or he eats everything and the frogs get nothing. He cleans the tweezers off before they get near the frogs.
Other than stealing all the food, the betta and the frogs mostly ignore each other. The betta followed the frogs around for the first day or so, now I've seen him swim over them so close his fins brush them, and neither react.
They have three black claws on the back feet to help launch themselves and climb and dig, but no claws on the front feet. There is also webbing between the front feet, but it's hard to see in these pictures.
Can you find the second frog in the second picture?

ownedbycats
July 16th, 2012, 09:56 AM
This is the near disaster I mentioned in the last post. (I'm also posting another couple shrimp pictures just because.) Everyone survived, miraculously without injury.

I woke Friday night to Dad pounding on my door. I thought my alarm clock had failed to go off, and told him something along the lines of "I'm up, go 'way, I'll get dressed". Dad insisted I open my door, and I checked my clock, it was too early for work. I opened the door and Dad is standing there with a glass in his hand and in the glass in a little bit of tapwater was my smallest frog! Half asleepI dumped the frog back in the tank and went to bed, and pieced together this story the next morning:
Mom had seen Misty and MooBoots sitting side by side staring at something under the shelves by her door. She investigated because usually Misty and MooBoots are incapable of sitting side by side without a fight. Only at mealtimes do they manage to coexist in near proximity without swats being exchanged, and even then Misty can't resist the occasional grumble. Mom found one of my frogs hopping along. Keeping curious cats back, she called for Dad to come upstairs and help. Dad, unaware of exactly what the cats were hunting, told her to leave them alone they were perfectly capable hunters and could kill whatever it was on their own. Mom insisted he come up because she couldn't keep the cats back and catch the frog at the same time, so Dad grumbled his way upstairs, only to be completely surprised to see one of my frogs hopping along, a little frantically by now. To get there, the frog had to have scrambled out of the half inch space left by my lid, dropped 12 inches to my dresser top, dropped approximately another 3 feet to the floor, crawled under my door, and hopped another six or seven feet, avoiding the cats those last few feet. Amazingly, the frog is swimming and eating and all limbs appear to be working.
The next day I was awake enough to realize something must have made the frog unhappy enough to leave the tank. I checked all the water parameters (pH, nitrite, nitrate,) they were all normal. Then I thought to check the temperature. The heat wave raised the temperature of the tank by about four degrees, and my glass lid insulated the water so it wasn't cooling down. I worried about keeping the tank warm enough, I never thought to worry about overheating in Canada, but then sustained temperatures over 30C are really unusual for us. According to the weatherman, we usually get 14 over 30C days all year, We have already reached 16 and still have half the summer yet to go. Now I know the problem, the tank is cooled down, and the gap in back is temporarily closed with a piece of plastic canvas until I can come up with a more permanent solution.

hazelrunpack
July 16th, 2012, 10:33 AM
Ooooooo....lucky little frog!! :eek: Off to an adventure already and he just arrived! :laughing: Glad it worked out and I hope you can thwart your little escape artist! They sure are cuties!!

How do you separate the betta when it's feeding time?

The shrimp are really cute, too! (Never thought I'd say that about shrimp :D) Do they scavenge for food or do you have to feed them special food, too?

ownedbycats
July 16th, 2012, 11:17 AM
I already had the betta trained to come to the same corner of the tank for each meal (Everything that eats learns quickly where the food is:D) I never threw away the cup he came in, because it turned out to be the perfect size for refilling my filter after a water change. I scoop him up in the cup and he gets his bloodworms there, and when he goes back in the tank he cleans up anything the frogs haven't eaten yet. I did this the other day and realized just how much he has grown. He has doubled in size since I got him, and he now almost touches the sides of the cup. He doesn't stay in there long, just till the frogs have eaten enough to get nice round tummies.
Future frog escapes have been foiled by a piece of plastic canvas over the gap.
The shrimp basically eat any left over fish food, so I deliberately feed a little more than my fish can eat so there will be some left for the shrimp. I also add an algae tablet every couple days since cherry shrimp are primarily algae eaters.
I got the shrimp because they were a pretty red, and thought I should have some scavengers. They are a lot more interesting than I thought they would be.

hazelrunpack
July 16th, 2012, 10:26 PM
Very cool that your betta is so well trained--and growing like a weed! Must really like his awesome new home!!! :D

I never even knew there was such a thing as an algae tablet! :o I always thought the idea was to avoid having algae in your tank...

ownedbycats
July 17th, 2012, 05:13 AM
Some fish are plant/algae eater. Most pet fish are insectivore/carnivores, but there are enough common fish like plecos and catfish that need plant material in there diets that algae wafers get made. I even occasionally catch my insectivore ricefish nibbling on the edge of a wafer, but they don't eat much of it.
Some algae is inevitable, but you do want to avoid lots algae, if too much shows up it usually means something is unbalanced. Either you have too much light or it's left on too long, or leftover food (algae uses this as fertilizer), or waste from you fish, or..... (dozen more causes I haven't been told about yet)

Oh, did you find the hidden frog yet? I'll give you a hint: look in the plant.

hazelrunpack
July 17th, 2012, 09:50 AM
heheh I found that one right away! The other frog down in front was harder for me to find! :o Something about the plant with flippers caught my eye right away! :D

ownedbycats
July 18th, 2012, 05:41 AM
I guess I am so used to looking for them under the "log" (if you can call something about 2 inches tall a log) I figured that would be the easy one. The driftwood is pretty twisty and has a couple humps that make caves. Each frog could have his/her own little cave when they aren't roaming the tank, but they seem to like cramming in on top of each other.

hazelrunpack
July 18th, 2012, 08:38 AM
Awwww....they're good buddies!!! :lovestruck: Maybe even closer than that! :eek: Got a nursery for tadpoles...just in case? :o heheh

pbpatti
July 18th, 2012, 10:37 AM
ownedbycats, thank you for posting all of this, i am finding this thread very interesting. I don't have fish, have no desire to have fish but learning about them is great.

ownedbycats
July 19th, 2012, 08:29 AM
Hazel - I'm pretty sure both my frogs are female (males have a gland behind their front legs that looks like a pale pink dot and neither of mine have a dot) so tadpoles are unlikely.

Patty - I'm glad you're enjoying the thread. I started this thread partly to share what I was learning because I'm finding fish (and frog) keeping really fascinating.
I'm finding there is a lot more to fish keeping than I thought, you don't just dump fish and water in a bowl and feed every day. There's learning about water chemistry, and plants. And each species of fish has slightly different requirements.
Once a tank is up and running maintenance isn't hard, but getting it started is work. It's worth it when you get to see happy fish swimming around doing fishy things.

ownedbycats
January 16th, 2013, 03:46 PM
Update: Frogs and betta lived together peacefully until the beginning of December, when I caught the frogs taking bites out of the betta's tail.
Betta now has his own tank, free of frogs.
Big tank is currently suffering from an outbreak of black beard algae, due to a sudden increase in length of lighting per day.
Lesson: No sudden major changes. I should have extended the lighting period by about 10 -15 minutes, waited a couple days, and then extended it again, etc. giving my plants time to adjust. Better yet, I need to get a light timer that will turn my light on and off at the same time every day.

hazelrunpack
January 19th, 2013, 09:11 PM
I'll bet the betta is relieved to be free of frogs! :eek: :D

Does the black beard algae hurt the critters or just the plants?

ownedbycats
January 25th, 2013, 01:09 PM
Just the plants. It completely covers the leaves so the plants can't get any light. Basically, since I know what caused it, I have to fix my light timing, trim and remove all leaves with BBA on.
I'm trying to figure out if there is any way I can keep the patches on my rock without it spreading to my plants. It actually looks pretty neat on the rock, like a fuzzy outline, and can't damage the rock. Not so neat looking on the plants it is smothering and killing. Healthy plants are green or red, not black.