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Old 10-12-2010, 06:35 AM   #1 
WashingtonCowgirl
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Exclamation Starting Over, Need Help and Advice

Ok, so I kinda jumped into the fishy thing without everything that was needed and without being very knowledgable. Tomorrow I get my christmas money (I asked for it early, like I do every year lol) and was wondering what are the things that are absolutely nessacary to have healthy fish and good water.

Things I have:
Tanks
Fish (they will probably be in cups with daily water changes during the cycling process)
Plants
Aquarium gravel
Filters
Live plants

Things I know I need:
Water test kit (any reccomendations?)
Pure ammonia

What else is needed? Should I get a special substrate for the plants for under the gravel? I have heard to just use organic potting soil without anything added to it, is this ok? I would be best if I could buy this stuff at Petco or Petsmart, because I can't order online :/
Thanks in advance for the help!
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Old 10-12-2010, 06:58 AM   #2 
ashleyy
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You'll probably need a heater with winter approaching. I saw a video on YouTube about setting up a tank with live plants and they used some Tetra plant soil that came in a little green bucket and then they put gravel over it. I don't know about the organic potting soil, but I would try to find the plant soil ffrom a pet store before using that. I'm just paranoid of messing up some how and having to start all over lol.
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Old 10-12-2010, 07:07 AM   #3 
WashingtonCowgirl
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ashleyy View Post
You'll probably need a heater with winter approaching. I saw a video on YouTube about setting up a tank with live plants and they used some Tetra plant soil that came in a little green bucket and then they put gravel over it. I don't know about the organic potting soil, but I would try to find the plant soil ffrom a pet store before using that. I'm just paranoid of messing up some how and having to start all over lol.
Yea definitly don't want to have to start over... again! lol. I forgot to add heater, we do have those as well :p
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Old 10-12-2010, 08:59 AM   #4 
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I've heard good things about API Master Test Kit. It's 33 dollars at my Petsmart, however, it seems like it would last a pretty long time. They also have an API ammonia test kit by itself (included in the master test kit), which is 9 dollars.

I got the ammonia test kit and Jungle 6-in-1 for the rest of the stuff (it tests nitrate, nitrite, hardness, chlorinity, alkalinity, pH) since out of the tap my hardness/pH/alkalinity are stable (no chlorine, either, but I condition anyway). I'm just interested in knowing about the presence of nitrite and nitrate, so the general ballpark works for me, but for the ammonia I want to know exactly and I wanted the kit to be up for a lot of tests for cycling purposes.

Just what I did, since I didn't feel like springing for the 33 dollar test kit.
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Old 10-12-2010, 09:29 AM   #5 
wallywestisthebest333
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It sounds to me like the only thing you're worried about right now is cycling your tank. =]

How many tanks do you have and what size are they? =]

No matter how you decide to cycle your tank it's gonna take FOREVER.

Unless you seed the tank by either:
1) Finding someone nearby with an aquarium that's already cycled and take some of their filter media and gravel and putting it in your filter and tank...
or
2) Use a bacterial colony in a bottle

I suggest going to either Dr. Forster and Smith's Aquatics or Pet Blvd to get some Dr. Tim's Nitrifying Bacteria or Tetra SafeStart.

The cheapest place is Pet Blvd and that's where I got my TSS but use it at your own risk. <=/ I wasn't completely positive about how safe my credit information was with Pet Blvd when I bought from them. <=/

Dr. Foster's and Smith is certified safe and therefore better to buy from even though the prices tend to be higher. =]

You can't usually find the products in stores so that's why I'm giving you links. =]

If you go with the Dr. Tim's bacteria then it's best to get it shipped overnight.

Also here's a page about fishless cycling with Dr. Tim's bacteria and pure ammonia. The same rules apply if you decide to use Tetra SafeStart (TSS) instead. =]

Now know this first: I haven't gotten the chance to cycle my tank yet... =/ Life has been odd the past summer and semester. =/

So I'd wait till someone on here who's used Dr. Tim's (which I think is most popular) or TSS comments. =]

As for the Master Test Kit or no it's up to you. We highly recommend it though as it's the most accurate and handy for testing your water to find out its conditions if/when your fish gets sick. Also it's extremely accurate and useful for cycling purposes.

Last edited by wallywestisthebest333; 10-12-2010 at 09:32 AM.
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Old 10-12-2010, 10:59 AM   #6 
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Thanks Wallywest, I have a 5 gal and two 1 1/2 gallons. My Petco sells Safestart, so I will probably use that. I will check out that link. I have read a few pages on cycling and they never made much sense, but I'm starting to get it lol... slowly :)
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Old 10-12-2010, 04:32 PM   #7 
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You're Welcome! =]

Are you sure it's Tetra SafeStart and not Tetra AquaSafe? They look almost exactly the same. =] I thought Aquasafe was SafeStart once and almost bought it before I took a good look at the name! XD

you could also cycle using the bacteria and 1/2 or a whole small cocktail shrimp in pantyhose. Just leave the shrimp in there for a few days, test the water to see if the ammonia is between .25 and .5 ppm add the bacteria and then just wait a week or so and test the water.

If the ammonia is gone and you've gone through all the proper spikes and drops then it'll be cycled. =]

Last edited by wallywestisthebest333; 10-12-2010 at 04:34 PM.
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Old 10-12-2010, 08:55 PM   #8 
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Ok. I will double check on the names :p I know that they sell Marineland Bio-spira but only the saltwater version :/ And is it possible to cycle a 1 1/2 gallon? I always heard that you couldn't for some reason
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Old 10-13-2010, 01:16 AM   #9 
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It's definitely not ideal--perhaps with a sponge filter, extra gravel, and a heaping amount of live plants you could make it work, but it will be unstable and susceptible to mini-cycles. You may want to just upgrade to a larger tank.

As far as substrate goes--soil can be difficult for beginners. It clouds the water and can be difficult to cycle with. If you want a good planting substrate, I recommend Eco Complete. It's a bit pricier than regular gravel, but it's the most user friendly and requires no rinsing at all.

As for keeping the fish in cups.. you should get larger temporary containers. I recommend Rubbermaid/Sterilite plastic storage bins from walmart or target. They are only about $3 for a 2-4 gallon bin and are very useful as hospital tanks, quarantine tanks, and for moving water around for water changes.

If you're short on money, I highly recommend shopping online, since even with shipping the prices will be much more reasonable and the variety is much wider than a pet store's. If you're in the US, I recommend shopping here: http://www.fosterandsmithaquatics.com/ If you're Canadian, here is a comparable site: http://www.bigalsonline.com/

IIRC--BioSpira was bought by Tetra, so it is now called Tetra SafeStart.
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Old 10-13-2010, 05:25 AM   #10 
ilovebunnies
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Silly you, you forgot to add a light to the list! If you plan on keeping live plants you may want to research them first. Some good plants for beginners are moss ball, java moss, java fern, and anabis (I think that's how it is spelled). CF bulb is usually good for these plants.

You may also want to consider Fertilizer (both micro and macro) and CO2. But only if you want to use difficult plants. The plants I recommended above do fairly well without this extra stuff.

Check out www.plantedtank.net for information. It's a good website and the people on there know their stuff. I go there to ogle their tank pictures.

Last edited by ilovebunnies; 10-13-2010 at 05:28 AM.
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