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fish tank

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by struggle, Aug 18, 2008.

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  1. struggle

    struggle Minister of Fire

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    My wife to my surprise suggested a fish tank for my sons birthday. I bought one today that is an Aquea brand with a bow front 26 gallon.

    Any tips on this as this will by my first experience with a fish tank. It comes with filter and heater and basic start up stuff.

    I know about the set up a couple of days before getting fish in it. We will let my son pick out some fish to start with and it will be in his room as well. His birthday is not until the mid september.

    Advice?? from the fresh water tank pros here ;-P

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  2. Sledge&Wedge

    Sledge&Wedge New Member

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    You're going to want to "cycle" the tank, which is to say get the right bacterias established. If you do not over stock the tank and get relatively hardy fish it will simply occur on it's own in about 3-4 weeks or (at better pet stores) you can buy live bacteria and add it to the tank when you put the fish in and it will be "instantly" cycled; I cant think of the brand name right now but it's the only "instant cycle" product that actually works, it's kept refrigerated at the store and is live, anything else someone tries to sell you to speed up the "cycle" is a farce. Going back a little, the tank set up process/cycle is basically 1- tap water (and everything else, ie decor gravel/sand) goes into the tank, assuming your tap water is good (PH and quality wise) step 1 is done, if it is bad you'll want to add a dechlorinator type product. 2- hardy fish are added. 3- fish poop, create ammonia (which burns fish gills), ammonia brings along nitrate bacteria which feeds off it (reduces it), eventually nitrites that eat nitrates show up and your cycle is pretty much done, a balanced fish environment has been created. During the process you'll want to do water changes fairly often to reduce the stress on the fish, replacing 30% of the water while the ammonia is high and then the same amount once a month there after. Hopefully that made some sense. Try not to pick a fish that will outgrow the tank too quickly :)
  3. Sledge&Wedge

    Sledge&Wedge New Member

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    did a quick websearch for the "instant cycle" product, it is called bio spira. Here is the daily log of someone who used the product in setting up a small tank- http://www.hoerl.com/biospira.html ; it's worth a look and shows typical results for using the product. Letting it occur naturally takes longer and has MUCH higher spikes in ammonia and nitrate (which can kill less hardy fish and damper the experience).

    You'll want a water test kit as well (minimum you want to be able to check ammonia, nitrate and nitrite). something like this would be optimal- http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=3578 4345 17338 4454&pcatid=4454

    some sort of sand/gravel cleaner for changing water and, well, cleaning... the python systems that hook right up to a faucet are great but probably overkill for 26 gallons, something like this and a bucket will do the trick and can be found locally:
    http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=3578 3728 3761 3889&pcatid=3889

    I've had 10, 30, 65 and 125 gallon tanks and 3000 gallon koi pond so feel free to fire any questions and I'll try my best to answer
  4. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    You can try those products. A popular one is called "Cycle". I don't necessarily buy that the bacteria are alive when you get the bottle.

    If you know someone with a healthy tank- then you can transport some water or filter media to your tank to get the cycle going with your first few fish.

    Don't buy goldfish. They make a huge mess and spoil the water a lot for their size.

    A couple of tips- go for smaller fish. That old "the fish only grows big enough for the tank" will produce very unhealthy, stunted, unhappy fish in a polluted tank.

    Look up the fish varieties first. Many varieties will be agressive, and the others will just sulk or get killed. Not a nice setup at all! Even the same variety- you may have males that will pick on other males.

    If you're on well water, then you don't need to dechlorinate. If you are on city water, then dechlorinate overnight before water changes (5 gal bucket, and dechlorinator solution- may have some in the startup). The other thing to watch is pH. If the pH is wrong- the fish may die in just a few hours. Get a test kit, and adjust the water before adding to a tank with fish.

    Add fish slowly. The general rule is 1" of fish per gallon- that is when they are full sized. Fish grow faster than you would guess. Start with a few fish, or that cycling problem will really stress/kill them. Add a few more after it's cycled, then anthoer few in a couple more weeks.

    Easy fish to start with are guppies. They come in great varieties and are pretty. They mate like crazy, though, so you'll have to find an outlet for babies (great if you have another tank of cichlids- LOL).

    I am a big fan of gouramis- if you can find male and female dwarf blue gouramis- then how they act and mate is an incredible show to watch! A good pick for a tank that size. If I didn't have oscars and a green severum in my tank (live forever), I would have all gouramis in my 72 gal bow front.

    For small fish, after the first variety you can fill in with neons. Colorful, small, and active. They liven up and fill out a tank.

    So- remember- cycle, pH, chlorine, and temperature. have fun, and
  5. tkirk22

    tkirk22 New Member

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    I have a dozen gold fish in an outdoor pond. They started out as 10 cent feeder fish several years ago and are now 5-10" long. They have withstood some major adverse conditions and just keep on going. We also had/have some of those more exotic algae eaters. They die or commit suicide every couple years.


    Bottom line: Start with the easy fish at first until you learn.
  6. Czech

    Czech Minister of Fire

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    Not sure what your local laws are, but local fish are fun too. We had a tank with sunnies and crappies, a small bullhead, and even a finger length pike that didn't stay long for obvious reasons. Don't forget to float the fish in the water in the bag for a couple hours to temper before adding.
  7. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    I'd suggest more like 15 minutes in the bag to avoid oxygen deprivation (open the bag when you do this).

    Local fish will generally get too big for this tank. Sunnies and crappies will get too long to comfortably turn around in there. Bullhead and pike are obviously way too big.
  8. struggle

    struggle Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for all the input so far. I figured this would be a lot more than just filling the tank and getting fish. I will get a water test kit for sure. We are on city water.

    Keep the types of fish coming to look at for purchase.
  9. Sledge&Wedge

    Sledge&Wedge New Member

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    African Cichlids are pretty interesting fish. Very colorful and a lot of them would never outgrow a 26 gallon, then again, depending on the type, they can be pretty aggressive or territorial, ie taking up half the tank for itself (think sunny nest) or flat out chasing and killing other fish... but, still very good looking:
    http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=african cichlids&btnG=Search Images&gbv=2
    http://malawicichlids.org/work.aspx

    I guess the decision comes down to if you/he will want one interesting (perhaps territorial fish), 2-3 compatible and smaller size fish (like compatible A. cichlids) or a "community tank" with say 2-3 mini schools of small fish. Smaller fish (guppies aside) can be fickle, especially when bought at places like Petco, where disease and water quality are questionable at best.

    You could consider smaller discus fish too, but at adult size they probably get too large for a 26:
    http://images.google.com/images?gbv=2&hl=en&safe=off&q=discus fish&btnG=Search Images
    Getting something that will outgrow the tank is probably best avoided, you'll either end up giving it back to the pet store or buying a bigger tank.

    Another thing about cleaning the tank, is when cleaning the filter, do not clean it thoroughly or totally, it's where most of your good bacteria lives and thoroughly cleaning could cause you to go through a mini cycle again. Not knowing what kind of filter came with the set up, ill just go on the basis that nearly all use a sponge, a carbon bag (to start) and then some type of media (bio balls, ceramic tubes, even lava rock). When cleaning you don't ever want to thoroughly clean the top media (bio balls, ceramic rings etc) a light swish in a bucket of the used tank water is plenty. The sponge, you can squeeze out and rinse and reuse multiple times before replacing; the carbon is not worth buying, I'd use that space in the filter for more of the final media. A balanced/cycled tank does not have cloudy water or smell; the only time I ever used the carbon was after medicating a tank. By the way, while your tank is cycling (unless you use the biospira) it's Very likely that the tank will get somewhat cloudy, that's a bacteria bloom.
    As someone else mentioned you may also be able to get/buy some used filter media from the pet store, whether it is some bioballs or a chunk of a sponge, if I couldn't find the bio-spira I'd try and do that, BUT only if the fish in the store are healthy and the people really know what they're doing (ie Not Petco).
    Lastly, pick the liveliest fish when you do choose, even if it means making the guy chase the thing with his 3" net for 5 minutes :)
  10. Czech

    Czech Minister of Fire

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    I eat the local fish when they get too big for my pond or tank, hard times I guess, least I know what they've been eating!
  11. struggle

    struggle Minister of Fire

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    We do not have many choices for getting the fish from and Pet Smart is where I bought the tank set up from. The lady I questioned quite a bit said she currently has 4 different tanks personally going at her home and the last one she got is a 45 gallon one. She seemed to have a pretty level headed about what she said and how she answered my questions.

    I see one of the biggest hurdles is setting the tank up with the right Ph balance before we get some fish in it. After all I it is a birthday gift but it will take some days to get it initially up and running.

    I only want to start out with maybe 4 fish and then build from there. I really do not see ever getting above 20 fish. I would say no more than 15. I am a bit concerned though that it could become addictive though and a future larger tank down down the road.
  12. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    If you had 20 fish, then they would be limited to about 1.5" long each (when they are full grown) or else they will pollute the water too much. Remember the 1" of fish per gallon guideline. Of course many overstock a tank successfully- but it will require more maintenance and a little experience.
  13. Sledge&Wedge

    Sledge&Wedge New Member

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    I agree with goodbye pants, that many fish, even small, is a Lot for a 26 gallon, and small fish from the major stores are sadly very prone to dying off (and it wouldn't be your fault). If you do stock to that level, I'd go with a good size filter, and filter ratings are very misleading. Something that says it's rated to filter 30 gallons is more suited to 10 realistically. If I had a 26 gallon I'd put an aqua clear 110 on it, which per it's rating would be "way" overkill put in practice, perfect. When I had my 125 gallon running I ran three Aqua clear 110's and A Rena Filstar XP3 on it, which by the book would be enough to filter 505 gallons, that tank only housed a school of 7 red belly piranha for what it's worth.
    If you haven't chosen yet, I'd really consider using sand as your base (vs gravel), it involves a tiny amount of upfront work, so your filters do not suck it up, but it's easier to clean and worlds better looking imo.
    I'll see if I can dig up some old pictures of my tanks, I may only have shots of the pond now though.

    BTW if you're considering adding "drift wood" as decor, getting it water logged as soon as possible is a good idea. Many people tie them to bricks and place them submerged in garbage cans for quite some time, Ive found using plastic ties and decent size suction cups to be great in holding down wood that still wants to float. So many directions you can go really, heck, you can literally even safely mail order fish (w/guarantee) but that's probably not in the cards now. best of luck and enjoy!
  14. struggle

    struggle Minister of Fire

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    After reading this over a few more times I am thinking maybe 10 fish but start with three. I told my wife that we are going to have to explain to my son that we will just not be able to fill the tank and go get fish that night. I am planning on going and letting him pick out the decor of the tank and we will set it up and get it running for a couple of days and test the water and then if acceptable we will then go get fish.

    I am thinking of getting a air wand or some type of thing that creates bubbles. Is there any issues with these? DO they need to run all the time or just when you want them to? Any added benefit in having such a thing other than looks.

    Once we get it set up and fish in it I will have to post a picture.
  15. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    If the filter dumps the water into the tank hard, then it should be well aerated. Extra air cannot hurt, though. There are 2 problems with turning them on and off- 1) if not careful about pump placement, I am told that a siphon could occur when the pump is off- emptying the tank on your floor and killing the fish, 2)air forced into the tank will blow out some CO2 in the water. CO2 in the water (from fish respiration) makes it more acidic, so turning the air on and off may cause pH swings. I wouldn't worry about the second one. The siphon potential- I have never had happen, but I worry about it. You can get a check valve to prevent it.

    I used to inject CO2 into my tank from a home-made generator (sugar water and yeast in a 2L bottle- boosts live plant growth), and the pH swings were a potential issue. For a few fish in a well-stirred tank- shouldn't be a problem.
  16. oilstinks

    oilstinks Feeling the Heat

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    Dont change all your water at once. Change about 20% every two or three weeks so you leave some of the microorganisms needed.
  17. sapratt

    sapratt Feeling the Heat

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    What kind of water do you have city water, or well water?
  18. Woodrat

    Woodrat New Member

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    Surprised that with all of the great information that was mentioned, no one pointed out one of the big pitfalls of having fish (especially if you have kids)--- people tend to "kill their fish with kindness" when it comes to FEEDING them too much & too often. It's amazing how quickly a tank can " go bad" if there is constantly an overabundance of food in there.
    As someone else mentioned--overcapacity is always good when sizing filters--- you'll never regret having "too much" filtration, but too little or even "just enough" is a disaster in the making! I have 2 that are rated for 75/90 gal tanks running in my 50 gal tank-never any problems ---also cheap insurance if one fails when you're gone for a week. Think NASA-style backup..


    Best wishes- Woodrat
  19. struggle

    struggle Minister of Fire

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    Well hope you guys do not get mad at me but yesterday I took the tank set up back. After much reading and about set up I decided I am going to wait until my soon to be 7 year old son is old enough to be able to help operate a tank as I do not want it to fall completely on me and that was what it was starting to look like.

    Funny thing when I took the tank back the girl at the register mentioned she was having problems with getting parasites in her tank at home and even suggested they could be coming from the fish at the store?? Someone mentioned that the big box stores could have fish with problems and maybe this would be an example of that.

    Thanks everyone for info on this matter as it has helped make a better choice for now.
  20. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    No way should anyone be upset!! Good for you! What I get upset at is when people buy a setup without doing homework and say "well if they die- they're just fish". You did your homework and made the responsible decision (you know what and when your kid is ready).
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