any aquariatics out there

  lofty29 08:57 08 May 2008

Hi, just wondering if there are any tropical fish keepers on the forum, have visited some fish forums but the people on there seem a bit snobby, if you know what I mean. Well here goes, I understand the water cycling chemistry, ammonia-nitrite-nitrate, bacteria cycle, but where does the bacteria in a new fishless tank setup come from in the first place, also what happens if for some reason you suddenly loose the bacteria and the ammonia levels shoot-up. according to the theory you are supposed to start the cycle without fish so what do you do with the fish in the fortnight it takes to complete a new cycle. Sorry if I appear a bit thick.

  Shortstop 11:49 08 May 2008

Well, I used to keep about 4 fish tanks, but was hoping that someone more acedemic than I would reply.

Anyhow, I always left a new fish tank up and running for at least 2 weeks with no fish at all - but this was not to allow the ammonia/nitrite/nitrate/bacteria cycle to start but to allow other [unwanted] chemicals in the water to break down - such as chlorine & flouride - which happens naturally over time. With regards to the beginning of the cycle, this usually starts by putting plants into the water to help break down nasties which can be done in the first 2 weeks. This has 2 benefits - first plants are relatively cheaper than fish and secondly as a by-product they begin to release nitrates that then attract bacteria. The next step is to SLOWLY introduce fish to add the nitrite/nitrate. I usually only allowed a couple of small cheap fish in case it was too early [FYI, my preferred fish was a couple of guppies as they are hardy, add a bit of colour and are relatively easy to look after].

The next stage was to add more fish - but always slowly. I know of many friends who added a lot of new fish too quickly. The nitrite/nitrate balance went haywire and they loast all their fish! The other thing to remember is the size of any fish you already have. I had a friend who added some lovely [quite large] angel fish - who ate all his lovely neons ....

Any other questions I can help with, please feel free to use the direct contact envelope!



  Belatucadrus 13:22 08 May 2008

Not sure how you're going to achieve that as anything capable of sterilising the tank to that extent will probably kill the fish too.
You can get bacteria cultures like Hagen Cycle or Tetra Bactozym from petshops to help mature the filters. If that doesn't help try adding a cheap airpump powered corner filter stuffed with activated carbon.

  lofty29 17:09 08 May 2008

Thanks for the replies guys, the higher technical people on the fish forums, go on about the ammonia cycle and seem to be based on nothing in the tank but dechlorinated water to which ammonia is deliberatly added, so I could not see where the bacteria came from in the first place, but also seem to say that once the cycle is complete if you do not have enough fish in the tank then the bacteria will starve. Perhaps snobby was the wrong word, superior, is better. I got the impression that unless you had the all singing/all dancing top of the range kit, you were not really behaving properly. Whereas people on pca do not seem to care what you have got, or how thick you are pc wise, you are welcome

  Forum Editor 18:20 08 May 2008

with new filters, gravel/sand, etc., and leave it running for a week or so you'll have bacteria in there. Add some plants and run the tank for another week, and you'll be in business, although your bacterial count will be relatively low - the plants will be consuming nitrogen. Bacteria are everywhere on the planet, and you need to do no more than provide a suitable habitat for them to establish and flourish. I'm in favour of letting plants do the cycling at first, because they tend to prevent the ammonia and nitrate peaks that can occur at first. If you know someone who has a clean, healthy tank pinch a jam-jar full of water from it to give your bacterial colony a kick-start.

Add fish slowly, and the bacteria will multiply accordingly - they'll keep pace with their food supply. Just remember that aquarium fish are swimming in their own toilet, so carry out frequent partial water changes - you'll soon get into a routine. The key is not to add too many fish at first, and grow plenty of plants.

Good luck, it's a fascinating pastime.

  SB23 19:04 08 May 2008

As I was once told on the forum, "Google is your friend", and I have found lots of info with regards to setting up tanks.
I'm just about to start a tropical tank, and although I used to keep cold water species, I've been surprised at the info actually out there.

One site, click here, I have found really interesting, and I've even found places near to me in Lincolnshire.

Thanks to the internet, I now know the capacity of my tank, the amount of light, heat and the flow rate that my filter will need to be able to deal with in gallons / litres.

  Forum Editor 19:35 08 May 2008

I started my first tropical aquarium 25 years ago, and it was all a total mystery at first. It either gets in your blood or it doesn't, there are no half measures, and if you get the bug you'll soon acquire the knowledge you need.

Tropical freshwater fish come from a variety of habitats, and most of them can tolerate a degree of fluctuation in both temperature and water chemistry, although some of them can be pretty picky when it comes to the PH value.

The best advice I can offer is that you read about the fish before you buy them, so you don't end up with a tank full of fish that would not normally see each other in their natural habitat. If you get the mix wrong there will be strife in the tank - often at night - and the result will be stressed or dead fish. Aim to start with what's called a 'community' tank of fish that will happily cohabit, and don't overdo the numbers. Fish can be very territorial, so give everyone room to hide from unwanted attention, and don't cover the bottom of the tank with brightly coloured or very pale gravel, it stresses the fish.
They have mostly evolved so that predators find them hard to see against the bottom of the river or stream bed - the perfect gravel or sand colour will mean that you can hardly spot the fish if you look into the tank from above.

  SB23 20:37 08 May 2008

Its in my blood alright, always has been, but tropical fish are a new direction for me, as its always been cold water fish.
All I can say is, well done to my local aquatics centre for all the extra info I now have.

  Belatucadrus 21:23 08 May 2008

I used to have two Oscars in one tank until one night they went off each other in a spectacular and very aggressive fashion. Interesting experience being woken in the wee small hours by what sounded like the clumsiest burgler in creation.

  Jake_027 23:27 08 May 2008

I had a tropical fish tank up until the beginning of this year, I no longer have the time to look after it so I gave my fish to a friend. I'd echo what others have said-be patient, I know I tried to add fish too quickly the first time round and it all went wrong, but after two weeks your tank should be ok. A few things, if you get plants, I'd recommend trying to get ones with large leaves as small leaves can end up clogging your filter meaning the tank gets dirtier much sooner. If you have a light don't leave it on too long (6 hours maxish per day), otherwise you'll end up with a tank covered in algae! Don't clean the tank too often, once a month was ample for me (of course other people may do it more often) but once the tank and fish have settled in they tend to maintain themselves. And finally, if you can find a local shop rather than a chain store eg.pets at home, make full use of it. I am lucky enough to have a shop opposite my house more or less, and they'll be able to tell you what does and doesn't get along and tell you things you won't read in books. Also they are often helpful with regards to advice and treatment of various problems. My local shop were also cheaper than anywhere else, the fish were bigger, more active and healthier, and as I was there regularly I also got 10% discount off anything I bought, making it cheaper still.

Most of all, enjoy fishkeeping :)

  robgf 01:20 09 May 2008

I've kept fish for about 37 years, tropical and cold water, although I prefer cold water.

I just wanted to add, don't get too carried away with all the filters, PH levels etc. You can waste so much time and money worrying about the technical side of fish keeping, that you miss out on the fun of knowing your fish.

I have found the most important things to running a happy tank, are, don't overload the tank with too many fish and regular water changes.

You can get by with a bare minimum of equipment. I don't even use filters in my tanks nowadays and have no problems, in fact I very rarely lose a fish.
IMOP excessive filters and pumps actually shorten the life span of many fish, through stress. Try putting your ear against the glass, the fish have to live with that noise, all day long.

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