Archived message board.
New Tank Questions
Badmans Tropical Fish Message Center: General
message area: New Tank Questions
January 08, 2002 - 01:14 pm
Ok, so I am new to this hobbie and now know that it would
have been very helpful to have found this site before I
made all the mistakes. The Genises section here has been
Here is my question.
I have a 20 gal. tank and a 29 gal. tank. They are both
set up all wrong. For example the gravel is not higher in
the back than in the front. I have killed too many fish
do to overcrowding before the cycle happens and much more.
Is there a way to fix these issues? If I had no fish I would
just start over but I do have fish. I am going to buy a
55 Gal. and start it right. Any suggestions would be helpful
on how to correct the problems that already exist. I can't
put all my fish together as I have an oscar and a jack Dempsy
in my other tank.
This is really a fun hobbie though.
My first sword tail just had 15 little fry. Cool
January 08, 2002 - 03:34 pm
David your gravel isn't that big a deal. I have it level
in my 29 gallon for 5 years with no problems(before
I read it should be higher in back). Start your 55 gallon
with a good filter (no UGF) to start with, also
invest in a quality heater like EBO, Rena or Tronic. You
can try to seed the new if you have any media and decor
on your old tanks that you can transfer...that will cut
your cycle time down. Make sure you do still check for ammonia
etc..since there is no absolute time frame for seeding from
another tank! Starter fish may be a problem with the jack
dempsey or Oscar, but maybe you can catch the starter fish
and move to your 20 gallon when you are ready to move one
of the big ones. Other solution may be a pleco and feeding
it zucchini since there wouldn't be any algae in the
new tank and it would starve.
January 08, 2002 - 03:35 pm
I don't know how hardy plecos are for cycling though..so
don't take my okay on it! Maybe someone else has an
January 08, 2002 - 03:58 pm
David, I am not sure what you are asking? If you have read
the genesis section of the site, you are off to about as
good a start as any of us can give you here. On doing your
55, just follow what is written. Start out with 2 fish,
go slowly and add a couple at a time, with at least a week
or two in between.
As far as the other two tanks you have, all you have to
do is rearrange the gravel. You didn't mention if you
have live plants, which would play a factor on how easily
this could be done. You also didn't mention how many
other fish you have besides the two so we really have no
way of telling you how to manage them. About the only thing
I can say is that Oscars and JD's do get rather large,
and a 20 or 29 is really not adequate to house them. I don't
understand why Joyce mentioned a pleco for cycling a new
tank. These do not do well unless they are in an established
tank of 6 months or older. Even tho you can hand feed the
zucchini, they still need algae in the tank to gain the
nutrients they need.
Give us more information on what type filters, what other
type of fish you have, etc., how long you have had the tanks
up and running and what you might want to possibly put in
the 55 and maybe we can help you further.
January 08, 2002 - 04:38 pm
Kick the impression I got was that he boutght the 50 gallon
for the Oscar or Jack Dempsey. These fish might eat or terrorize
any of the cycle fish that I can think of! Everyone I know
that has an Oscar only keeps a catfish with it for tank
companion. I don't really know of any other fish he
can really keep in a 50 gallon with an Oscar??? The only
other thing I could think of was moving any fish he does
cycle with back to the 20 when he decides to put the Oscar
in the larger tank! He can't really keep an Oscar in
the 20 or 29 gallon too much longer.
January 08, 2002 - 05:01 pm
Thank you for your information. Sorry I wasn't clear
on what I had.
I have a 10 Gal. right now and it has a pair of swordtails,
2 pair guppies, no live plants etc. That tank has a heater,
a power filter, and an under gravel air bubble thing.
I also have a 29 gal. tank with 1-oscar, 1-jack dempsy,
5 african cycklids, and one bola shark. No live plants.
What I am trying to figure out is now that these two tanks
are already set up I know there are mistakes. I would like
to re-set them up but have no where to put the fish. Should
I just live with it the way it is now till I can buy a bigger
tank? Or should I get rid of the dempsy and oscar?
I know this is alot of information I am just trying to get
it done right.
January 09, 2002 - 07:21 am
What African Cichlids? It will really help us with providing
information. Cichlids of any kind are territorial and they
may tear each other up in a 29 gallon tank. If you can find
a home for the oscar and dempsy it would probably be a much
better idea with the many problems you will soon be facing.
You are going to have enough trouble providing room for
the bala and other Cichlids. If the Africans are rift lake
they should be in a species only tank. Five krib in a 29
gallon is way too many also! Find a good cycle fish that
you want to keep for one of your tanks and get the 55 going.
If you have Krib they will get along fine with Badmans suggested
first fish(see fish profile on main board). If you
have Rift Lake that's another discussion entirely!
January 09, 2002 - 09:13 am
You keep telling us that the tanks are set up all wrong.
Do you mean you don't like the looks of them or is something
mechanically wrong that the tanks are not operating properly?
In either case, though, it is relatively easy (however,
time consuming) to change things.
I know very litte about cichlids so I will let Joyce handle
that end of it. If you think you want to tear these tanks
down and start over, the fish "can" be moved to
buckets of tank water that correspond to their size with
airstones while the change is taking place. I will alert
you, though, that the change must be done in one day, and
a good portion of your tank water should be kept, along
with the old filter media which should be kept moist with
tank water so as to not destroy the bacteria colonies.
For all intense and purposes, the 29 gallon is not near
large enough for the oscar and JD. If you are thinking of
purchasing a larger tank, then I would wait until you can
get it. If it would go where the 29 gallon is now sitting,
the above technique can be used to have the 55 fairly cycled
when you start. Any gravel from the old tanks would also
help with keeping as much bacteria colonies as possible.
Think of it this way. If you were going to move and wanted
to take your fish with you, the above is basically what
you would do.
If you are rethinking your fish, I am sure as long as they
are healthy, the LPS would maybe trade you for something
else. Let us know what you decide and how it all flies.
January 09, 2002 - 11:14 am
Thanks again. I am sorry to have taken up so much of your
time and I appreciate your answers.
Do the bacteria colonies live in the gravel even if the
gravel was dry for a couple of days or is it only if the
gravel came right out of a running tank?
The nearest pet store to me is about 3-4 hours away. I think
I need to get rid of the oscar and JD before it gets too
Anyone out there want them???
January 09, 2002 - 11:22 am
I do have 5 african cyclids. I really don't know what
kind exactly. 1 black, 2 purple, 1 orange, and one striped.
I guess the problem is that I got them from someone as a
gift and they didn't say exactly what kind they are.
I would love to show you a photo of them and have someone
tell me what kind they are. Is that doable??
January 09, 2002 - 11:40 am
If you are talking purple and orange please do a search
on the web on African Rift Lake Cichlid or you can send
me a pic. click on my email. These fish have very specific
requirements and some can get very large. If they are haps
they will soon outgrow your tank. Mbuna stay small, but
can be extremely aggressive depending on what you have.
I keep my Africans in a 75 gallon tank with very high ph
and high water hardness. I also add African Rift Lake Cichlid
salt to the tank. Also I have about 7x filtration and change
water weekly. These are really not fish for beginners unless
you are willing to take a lot of time researching them.
They are also a bit prone to parasitic infections so if
they start scratching on rocks you should treat. Also rocks
are a must for mbuna and shells are a must for some of the
Lake T shelldwellers. You really need to try to at least
identify the Lake they come from! I would guess at Lake
Malawi as Lake T aren't always as colorful and Lake
Victoria fish are rare. Orange may be a psuedotropheus zebra.
Striped could be auratus (melachronis conspec)and
big trouble! I am really guessing on these..there are a
ton of pics of African Rift Lake fish on the web!!When I
have time I can try to identify, but realize you are speaking
of hundreds of different fish from two Lakes alone. Check
out Badmans Rift Lake article on the main page and you will
get an idea of the type of setup you should provide to successfully
maintain these fish. I could give you pages of advice, but
the trickest part to keeping this fish is to go for a certain
'type', throwing them all together with no identificationis
really asking for problems. Some of these fish have been
known to take over 100 gallon tanks and kill the rest off.
Are these adult fish or juvenilles or don't you know?
I try to keep a moderately aggressive tank, so all can hold
there own with none getting too bullied. I just had a fitting
comment made by someone very familiar with these fish at
a huge LFS store he said, keeping these fish can sometimes
be a crap shoot. There are many risks involved.
January 09, 2002 - 02:40 pm
having you help me identify the fish would be a great help.
I will photograph them today and send them to your email
address. Thanks again for all the help. It is great to have
people like you and kick out there to help all of us on
January 09, 2002 - 05:53 pm
David they sure look like Lake Malwi African Cichlid. I
sent you my guesses. If you do a search on the web for African
Rift Lake fish you will find tons of information. These
fish are becoming pretty popular in spite of the large tank
requirements and water chem necessary to keep them. Good
luck. If you have any specific questions let me know, sorry
if I sounded kind of negative. All your fish really need
a lot of space and just cannot be successfully kept in a
small tank. Oh by the way if your gravel dried out in your
tank accident it would not keep the bacteria going. So watch
the ammonia levels on the new ten gallon and make sure it's
still cycled. Gravel must be kept wet or the bacteria die
off. Also if you decide to get tanks for any of these large
fish remember no Undergravel filters. Oscar and African
Rift Lake fish dig.
January 24, 2002 - 03:41 pm
I am upgrading to a 29 gallon tank (walmart package
from Aqua Tech) from a 10 gal. I have 1 red tail shark,
1 pleco, 1 red platy and an angelfish. They are all happy
with each other at the moment. Any suggestions on what breeds
may do well wiht these fish? I'd like to add more color
to the community, but keep the harmony I have now. Also,
do I need a powerhead and/or undergravel filter? Some people
at local pet store say yes, but what are the advantages,
will powerhead throw my angel around? Also, I'd like
to add some live plants...any suggestions. Will live plants
root in a small gravel?
My next question is what to do with the 10 gal. I have left.
We want to set it up again, schooling fish? I don't
want to breed though. Thanks for you help!
January 24, 2002 - 05:07 pm
I don't know about the plants because I don't have
any live plants, but as for the rest.... I think the platy
would like some friends, but if you do not want fry, be
careful. I can almost guarantee if you put male and female
platies together, there will be fry! Also maybe add some
tetras or cherry barbs? I don't think you need an UGF
or powerhead, the hang on back filter should be enough.
As for the 10 gal tank, I would keep it for a quarantine
January 24, 2002 - 07:29 pm
The angel will definately eat platy fry so he doesn't
have to worry about that one and I agree platy do better
in a small group. Skip the UGF it will eventually build
up gunk under the filter plate and they can really be a
pain. A HOB filter is all your really need, but a biowheel
will also give you nice filtration on the 29 gallon(penguin
or emperor). Cherry barb are a great suggestion as I
keep with my angelfish and they ignore each other. The male
cherry is really red and the female are pretty nice looking
Suggestions for the leftover 10 gallon white clouds and
cory? Easy to keep and small fish. You could also try the
platy in a small group of 3 with a couple of corys.
January 25, 2002 - 08:59 am
Marie and Joyce, thanks for the suggestions. LPS suggested
gourami's as well for the 29. I am considering NOT doing
the live plants or at least waiting ahwile on them. I picked
up an Emperor per your suggestion. I think it will work
well. Do you suggest a bubble wall? Does that add anything
to my setup or just looks. Should I move my present tenants
in the 10 gal. over to the 29 gal. 1 at a time? Any timeframe
I should wait before adding additional fish?
This may be a dumb question, but as for rocks/driftwood,
can these items be pulled from local streams, etc. and prepared
in a way that I can use them in my tank? LPS prices on rocks
and wood seem outrageous. Any online shops with better prciing?
Thank you for your help, this message board has been a huge
help for me.
January 26, 2002 - 07:51 am
A lot safer to use items from the LFS store. Driftwood if
not soaked for a long period of time can turn your tank
brown. Rocks you just never really know what's in them???
Anything from outside should at the very least be boiled.
I always go with the safer bet...the store. Unless you seed
the new tank from the old remember it has to cycle!! You
may be better cycling first with a few small cherry barb
and moving over your friends from the 10 later. Even if
you try to seed by transfering filter media, water or decor
there is still a chance the tank may cycle. The bubble curtain
is really not necessary it just looks pretty. Hope that
helps let us know.
January 27, 2002 - 04:15 pm
Joyce, thank you! I didn't grab your message until Sunday
so I missed your advice on the move. To update you where
I am, I moved my small community into the new 29 Friday
night. Everyone seems to be doing alright. I setup new tank
with new gravel, new rock and swahala wood (soaked and
rinsed for 24+ hours)(both from LPS) and
some plastic plants to start with. All fish aappear to be
very happy with the new space. It's great to see the
angel swim freely wihtout the constraints of the 10 gal.
Pleco has attached himself to many objects and shark has
decided he likes the new slate to hideout under sometimes.
I am very pleased to see their reactions. I held off on
feeding the first 24 hours, did a complete test (ammonia,
PH, nitrate, etc.) all came in around normal except
for pH 7.6+. This doesn't shock me as the 10 gal
always stayed around the same, even wihtout PH lowering
treatment. The new tank has new filter (came with setup),
but I released fish into the 29 with water from the 10 gal.
It has been 48 hours now and I will test again on Monday.
I am keeping records as to chart the progress. I also added
treatments for new tank setup (Cycle (added bacteria),
Aqua Safe and Easy Balance from Tetra). The tank will
probably cycle right? 95% of everything is new. In the past,
my feeding techniques have been heavy causing me problems.
I am going with the theory of not allowing the flakes to
hit the gravel. The Angel and the Platy seem to grab the
food right away. I am not sure what the shark is eating,
and the pleco is sucking on the wood and back wall. Should
I get rid of the bubble wall? Shoudl I add a power head?
So, what's next...keep testing....what else should I
be looking for? I'd like to add more fish once the cylcing
has occured....I will probably add some more platy (2-3)
how do you tell male vs. female? Also, will take suggestion
on the cherry barbs.
I have another question, I inherited a Emporer filter from
a saltwater setup. I have washed it out repeatedly, scrubbed
off excess salt and build up and soaked it near boiling
water for 6 hours. Is it safe to use this in a freshwater
setup or should I disregard it and purchase new Emporer?
At the moment I am using the filter that came with the tank
setup kit that I bought from Walmart. It is an Aqua Tech
product, and it is supposed to be rated for the 29. I want
the benefits of the Emporer but wasn't sure whether
its former salt usage was safe.
Thanks again for your help!
January 27, 2002 - 08:10 pm
Keep an eye on that angel. Just transfering water from the
10 to the 29 is probably not enough to cycle the tank. It
usually takes about 7-10 days for ammonia to build up to
dangerous levels in a tank that has not cycled. That's
why most fish stores are pretty safe with a 7 day guarantee.
Angelfish do not really do very well in new tanks, so even
though it acts happy now you may be in for problems. Sharks
are in the barb family and shouldn't be as touchy in
a cycling tank. Anyways don't assume since the fish
act fine the first few days that things are good. Keep testing
for a ammonia spike and don't feed very much.
Did you ever read the Genesis article on the main board?
It will give you a good idea of what to test for and when.
As far as the saltwater filter if you can replace all the
media it might be okay. I think emperors have biowheels,
so you may have to get a new one? Anything that the saltwater
has soaked into I wouldn't really trust. Plastic is
pretty inert and shouldn't really be a problem. However
I've never really tried it so maybe someone else has
a different opinion on transfering the filter?
I always had trouble telling males fish from females, but
usually with the livebearers the female is a bit larger
than the male and fuller through the stomach area. When
I bought mine the female was pregnant(so easy to tell)
If you see any with a small black area near their belly
it may be a female that is ready to have young. Swords are
a lot easier to sex because of the sword. Platy also have
gonopodium it's just harder to see because they are
small. Most pet stores sell young fish which makes ID'ing
a lot harder.
January 28, 2002 - 12:12 pm
I watch the angel very closely. Everyday i inspect her.
I will be doing another batch of tests tonight and a 10%
water change (every 2-3 days right?). I will also
keep the feeding to a minimum. I just finished reading the
Genesis article, very helpful.
back to the Emperor: I don't have any instructions with
it, so how do i operate it? I have a new Bio-Wheel, and
some new carbon cartridges, but I notice a gray lever in
back and the tube which sprays water on the bio-wheel. Does
the gray slide bar control flow? If so, then what is recommened,
up for max flow? Down for minumum? Is it okay to stwcih
over to the Emperor even though i have been using the other
Aqua-Tech filter since start-up?
I am still waiting to hear if anyone else had tried the
switch over from salt to fresh with a filter.
January 28, 2002 - 02:13 pm
FYI on the Emperor 280 salt to freshwater switch. I just
got off the phone with Marineland customer support and they
said as long as I thoroughly cleaned the 280 with hot water
ans scrubbing, I effectively killed all bacteria that would
have come with the used 280. I should be all set to start
using the 280 on my freshwater setup.
January 28, 2002 - 04:24 pm
You don't say if the Aqua tech was transferred from
your other tank. If you start using another filter and remove
the old one you are just creating a more probable re-cycle
situation. The more media you can retain from an old filter
the better as it does hold some beneficial bacteria. In
other words if the aqua tech was running on the 10 gallon
for over a month it's best to try to use both filters
for a few weeks so the good bacteria transfers to the new
filter. If you just started using the aquatech in the last
few days it probably won't make much difference. Good
luck as I would never attempt cycling a tank with an angelfish.
January 29, 2002 - 05:40 pm
as i've never had a tank smaller than 55, read with
it is curious that someone above recommended not to use
an undergravel filter. it has been my experience (since
'88 or so,) that an UG with powerhead(s)
is a salvation.
i started with the older (siphon) filters, but discovered
the following procedure lets larger tanks be set for up
to two years without a major reset:
1. use a deeply ridged UG and power-heads that are vastly
over-powered. (my current batch has "volume controls".)
2. above the UG, add a couple of bags (in my current
110 long, i used 2.5 sofa-pillow-sized bags) of filter-floss.
spread them fairly uniformly to about 5 inches from the
glass. when the tank is developed, this provides such a
huge surface area for bacteria (NOT filtration)
that frequent water changes are not necessary. ALSO, use
distilled water to prevent adding metallic salts, but you
may want to check your DWater source since it is not always
pH neutral (mine is pH 6.4 - 6.8)
3. add plenty of gravel. if the tank doesn't look like
it has too much gravel, you don't have enough. as above
(110 long,) i used 200 pounds (4 bags x 50 pounds)
of "pea-pebbles" from walmart. ($3 a bag x 4
= $12 plus tax.)
4. to prepare the gravel, you will need some buckets. first,
with larger "ace" buckets, fill half full with gravel,
add water to over the gravel and add about 3/4 of a cup
of clorox. stir with a mop handle and let sit for 30 minutes.
with smaller buckets, barely cover the bottom and rinse
clear (and i mean clear) with running water. if
you put too much gravel in the rinse bucket, the process
will be very slow. less is better and faster.
5. don't worry about landscaping. dump the gravel to
cover the filter floss.
6. slowly add water. if your water is high/low in the PH,
consider spending $.58/gallon on distilled water at walmart.
7. attach and activate power-heads and hang-on filter(s)
8. run for 5+ days.
9. add 50 small fishing minnows. (they are $2.60 here
and work as well as the barbs i used to use.)also add
two decent pinches of BIOZYME (.5 teaspoon)
10. feed these fish like crazy (i did 6+ pro-quatic
auto-feeds per day, set at half volume.) i also fed
about 10 wardley shrimp pellets a day, inducing a frenzy.
11. after 5 days, the ammonia will go through the roof.
(aquarium pharmaceuticals nh3/nh4 test showed over 5.0)
12. after 5 more days, the ammonia was zero by the same
test. when this happens, the tank is ready.
13. net the minnows and landscape. (i also removed/added
20 gallons, using distilled water.)
14. i added (two days after the partial
8 bleeding heart
3 honey dwarf gourami
2 sunset gourami
2 pearl gourami
3 green cory
I have not lost a single fish at this point (20 days
January 30, 2002 - 06:43 am
In the first place some fish ie Oscars will dig up an undergravel
filter,rendering it usesless. In the second I have three
UGF filters running on my tanks. Do I like them NO! Someday
when I have the energy I will tear them out. Do they work
okay, one has been running 5 years. Do I have additional
filtration on these tanks YES and one is heavily planted
with java fern. The HOB filters are a lot easier to maintain
and keep clean for most fish keepers. Not everyone does
water changes every week or two like I do. Most people throw
the fish in and let things go until the water turns green.
So why recommend a filter to them that is hard to maintain?
Twenty days is hardly enough time for a UGF to breakdwown
and become clogged.In the past UGF filters were revolutionary,
but today things have moved on with better forms of filtration
for aquariums. Try getting back to us in 2-3 years and voice
your opinion on the UGF filters. Also there is nothing wrong
with using a couple of gallons of distilled..if you are
using pure distilled you are robbing fish of essential nutrients
that can affect their health over time(Some of my tetra
are over 5 years old how about yours?). Also hate to
clue you but if the biozyme is too old it does not work.
Bacteria does need a food source (if you think this
one out) and simply cannot get food in a bottle.
January 31, 2002 - 01:34 pm
Different strokes for different folks.