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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-17-2011, 01:32 AM Thread Starter
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Question New to fishkeeping, cycling a 10 gal?

Hello everyone,

I just recently got a 10 gallon aquarium, it came as one of those kit set ups, with a generic HOB filter, a lid, lighting and all that good stuff. I had a few questions though, starting with cycling...

I've heard of fishless cycling where pure ammonia is introduced to the aquarium. Now, I have a small betta set up (my betta is in about a one gallon at the moment, I'd love to add him to the 10 gallon in the near future depending on what fish I decide to stock it with - thinking of platys and perhaps something else, but I don't know what and I'll probably stick to just platys for now...) and I was wondering whether the tank would still cycle if I added some of the betta tank water into the 10 gallon when I do water changes. Or am I better off with the pure ammonia? What if I throw some fish flakes in there???

Secondly, I wanted to ask a bit about biological filtration. My tank setup came with one of those charcoal filters, but I hear those can actually be detrimental to tank health if you have a planted aquarium or if you don't change the filters out within a timely manner. I've heard of using everything from nylon/plastic pot scrubbers to ceramic rings and bio balls as biological filters (the stores around here don't sell ceramic rings, by the way...) and I've also heard the bio balls only work great in a wet/dry environment. Apparently lava rocks are cheap, but not the best, and that, for the money, the nylon pot scrubbers work GREAT. I'll admit... I went ahead and bought some pot scrubbers. I had to cut the darn thing in half to get it to fit in with the carbon filter, and fish out the pieces that escaped >_> May I ask where exactly these biological filters go in a HOB filter? I'm sorry if I sound clueless, but people seem to be "layering" their filter media! Are they laying them horizontal in the filter well or vertically? I put the pot scrubber just behind the carbon filter that came with the tank for the time being. I plan to get rid of the carbon filter after I get my plants if possible, and replace it with polyfill or quilt batting or something (or should I buy the kind of filter floss from the petstore that you just cut out and fit into the filter?) Do I need more filtration media than what I've specified?

Am I missing anything? Is there any information you guys could all give me to help me out? I know I should add just a few fish at a time, and I'm just a tad bit fuzzy on quarantining. For instance, if I bought the platys I wanted and they all seemed fine after a good amount of time, then I added my betta, is there any risk of him contracting something funky because they are from two different environments? Even if the temperature and ph are the same? Sorry for all the questions! If I need to go out and buy ammonia or grab some different filter media, I will. My family are all suspicious of the biological filter media, so I'm walking on the edge of a knife with the idea of adding it in! I'll go out and buy some ph testing supplies tomorrow. Thanks for any help guys,

Kat

Last edited by kitkat5; 01-17-2011 at 02:32 AM.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-17-2011, 03:07 PM
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Any source of ammonia works, the fish flakes are fine. Add some gravel from the betta tank, too, to speed things up (they'll be housing some beneficial bacteria).

What filter do you have? Yeah, you just layer the media (as for horizontally or vertically, I guess that would depend on the media you're using and the filter). Whatever you have to catch general debris (usually looks like a sponge or something) should go on the bottom. After that, you can put any other media like poly filter. Carbon and/or ceramic rings should be towards the top. I agree, the Carbon won't be beneficial here. Activated Carbon is great for saltwater tanks but almost useless for freshwater. You don't really need poly filter/filter floss. It can be used to polish the water, though. I would look into getting a sponge to catch larger debris before the water hits the rest of the media. I find it odd that you can't find the ceramic rings, do you have the AquaClear brand? They have their own version and you don't need an AquaClear filter to use it.

Platies prefer cool, fast moving water. Bettas are tropical and need warm water without strong currents (because of their long fins). You might be able to get away with keeping them together by finding some middle ground (maybe 75 degrees with moderate current and plants to baffle the flow) but I would consider other tank mates. Corydoras catfish are much more adaptable to temperature and are quite peaceful. You'd want a small species like the pygmy cories. Some of the tetras are too nippy for a betta but they'd be worth a look. Cherry barbs can also make fine tank mates provided the water isn't TOO warm (they wouldn't be happy in the 80's). Cherry shrimp and amano shrimp would work with a betta that isn't particularly predatory. Oto cats can live with bettas but need a mature, stable tank. Endler's livebearers (basically wild-type, hardier guppies) can be great tank mates provided you find healthy ones (they're used as feeders). I just wanted to give you some more options--the platies could work but there are better fish for your set-up .

You generally quarantine in a separate tank. But if you just want to quarantine the initial fish before adding the betta, wait at least 4-5 weeks. Most diseases show themselves by then and you'll know the normal behavior of your new fish, they'll be eating well, etc.

Oh, and consider getting some hardy live plants. They'll help a TON with cycling your tank and also give you something to fall back on if you add fish too early by accident (the plants can absorb ammonia, possibly saving your fish from poisoning). Java ferns, water wisteria, and anubias are all hardy, low-light species that will stay small enough for a 10-gallon. They require no extra care besides being in the water and having some light.




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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-17-2011, 11:43 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply, Sasami,

I've always been interested in the cherry barbs, and once upon a time was considering them as tank mates for my betta. I will once again look into them. I found some fluval biomax bio rings, and apparently these work just fine as filter media, so I have those in the well of my filter (dunno whether I mentioned, its a top fin 10... I may upgrade in the future). Thanks for that tidbit about filter floss, I'll look into sponges instead. A guy (I'll admit, it was at petsmart) warned me that if I removed the carbon filter, I could end up with a build up of waste. I don't know whether this is true or not, because it seems to me that so long as I have an established bacteria colony growing on the other filter media, they should perform basically the same job as the charcoal filter (only they won't take up the plants' food!) I went ahead and got an anubias and java fern in addition to my two bamboo plants. I've also found some pure ammonia to feed my water until I can hopefully get some bacteria growing. I read that feeding until it registers as 4 ppm is good, and then to wait til the numbers fell to know whether the cycling was progressing. Any other tips?
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-18-2011, 11:50 AM
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Carbon filters are a money-making scheme when it comes to freshwater aquariums. They don't do anything important that a biological filter can't do but need to be replaced constantly. And they don't remove "waste" or any debris so that guy must not have known what he was talking about...it's a chemical filter, not a physical one (the sponge grabs debris).

I would remove the bamboo plants. They can't live submerged long-term and will begin to rot after a while. They aren't truly aquatic.

That sounds fine. The exact numbers really don't matter...you just want some readable amount of ammonia to start your cycle. I haven't had to cycle a freshwater aquarium in a very long time but I always just threw in some fish food. Same concept.

Make sure you have tests for nitrite and nitrate. Even if ammonia drops to 0, you're not cycled until nitrite is 0 and there is some readable nitrate. Then, add a small amount of ammonia and make sure that again, ammonia/nitrite are 0 and nitrate is readable.




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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-18-2011, 07:21 PM Thread Starter
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Alrighty then, I'm glad to know that those carbon filters aren't a necessity. I'll go ahead and remove the lucky bamboo, and be sure to keep tabs on my water chemistry. Thanks a ton ^_^!

-Kat
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