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Old June 3rd, 2012, 07:06 AM
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New Tank

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?
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Old June 3rd, 2012, 07:16 AM
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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.
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Dr. Seuss~DLH (brother's cat)~June 2007-
Misty~DSH (my cat & Mooby's mom)-?-
MooBoots(Mooby) ~ DMH(Mom's cat)~July 21, 2008-
Sunshine~ Golden retriever X white german sheperd (Dad's dog)~October 24, 2008-

Last edited by ownedbycats; June 3rd, 2012 at 12:52 PM. Reason: spelling/grammar/more info
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Old June 3rd, 2012, 07:23 AM
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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.
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Old June 3rd, 2012, 07:24 AM
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Harlequin rasboras when they first arrived.
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Old June 3rd, 2012, 01:01 PM
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Very cool! I never realized it was so much work to start a tank!

At what point can you add fish and your frogs?

I love your catfish!
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Old June 3rd, 2012, 01:16 PM
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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.
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Old June 3rd, 2012, 01:18 PM
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Oh, man, that's one magnificent betta!!!

Bummer about the heater! Will the rust affect the quality of the water at all or was it confined to the faulty heater?
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Old June 3rd, 2012, 01:23 PM
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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.
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Old June 14th, 2012, 04:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ownedbycats View Post
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?
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Old June 15th, 2012, 12:02 AM
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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?
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Old June 15th, 2012, 05:28 AM
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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.
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Dr. Seuss~DLH (brother's cat)~June 2007-
Misty~DSH (my cat & Mooby's mom)-?-
MooBoots(Mooby) ~ DMH(Mom's cat)~July 21, 2008-
Sunshine~ Golden retriever X white german sheperd (Dad's dog)~October 24, 2008-

Last edited by ownedbycats; June 15th, 2012 at 05:55 AM. Reason: spelling, didn't answer Hazel's question
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Old June 14th, 2012, 12:51 PM
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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.
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Dr. Seuss~DLH (brother's cat)~June 2007-
Misty~DSH (my cat & Mooby's mom)-?-
MooBoots(Mooby) ~ DMH(Mom's cat)~July 21, 2008-
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