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Impending Disaster?
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romcarlo
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Joined: 07 Jan 2007
Location: Arizona

PostPosted: 2007.01.08(Mon)0:01    Post subject: Impending Disaster? Reply with quote

So as new fish keepers my husband and I prided ourselves on all our research prior to starting our tank, as well as the the "awesome Petsmart employee" we talked to on our first shopping venture. Now, after perusing this website and others we've discovered we made about a zillion mistakes...and that Petsmart employees don't always know what's best.

The situation at hand is that about a week ago we dechlorinated our water and put in some bacteria starter, waited two days, and then in added 6 silver hatchetfish and 4 platys over about two days time. We didn't cycle our tank, and we added WAY too many fish at once. They seem happy and healthy, and our test strips show high pH, alkalinty, and hardness, but no Nitrates or nitrites.

I guess my question is: Are we just on the brink of a horrible spike in nitrates and nitrites, and are our poor fish going to have to deal with it all? Our has it somehow magically cycled? We can't start over correctly, but want to make sure we do everything we can to keep them healthy and happy.

Oh, and Question 2: We chose live plants (now I realize not a great choice for beginners), and just planted them in medium-sized gravel. No substrate either. They seem OK also, but we're afraid for their survival as well.

Thanks for your patience and help! We appreciate your more experienced opinions.
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cito
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Joined: 14 Aug 2006

PostPosted: 2007.01.08(Mon)0:12    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do you have an ammonia test? If not, you need one ASAP! Your ammonia has probably already spiked. Oh, and I reccomend getting test kits w/ drops from good brands like Aquarium Pharmaticals (sp?) and tetra as they give more accurate readings. I also reccomend you pick up a bottle of Seachem Prime for when you do your frequent water changes (to keep levels down.) So, yes you will get spikes. As for your plant question, your gravel is yor substrate Smile but it's not the best for plants, but it's not impossible to grow them in it. Can you tell us what kind of lighting you have? (Watts, type of bulb) Also, what plants are they? Oh, and we'll also need your tank size.
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romcarlo
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Joined: 07 Jan 2007
Location: Arizona

PostPosted: 2007.01.08(Mon)13:05    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll have to research the plant type, but I beleive the bulb is 19 watts and it's a 20 g tank. Seems very bright. We don't have an ammonia test- we'll have to get one tonight.
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DF Bobo
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Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Location: Canada

PostPosted: 2007.01.08(Mon)13:56    Post subject: Reply with quote

if you have low light plants like cryptocoryne, java fern, java moss, or anubias, that amount of lighting will suffice, but barely and the cryptocoryne species might not make it. the other 3 will probably okay in your low light tank. none of those plants will need any additional fertilizers or CO2 since the lighting level is so low, which will simplify things for you. if you ever upgrade your lighting though, you'll need to do some research. live plants will take up some of the ammonia and nitrites and could help keep the spikes under control if they happen. my question is what do you mean by bacterial starter? I want to know what product you used. as far as I know, the only "bacterial starter" that works is bio-spira, which should cycle your tank in about a day, but that is the only one that works so fast, as far as I know.
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Nova_C
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Joined: 03 Nov 2004
Location: Calgary, AB

PostPosted: 2007.01.08(Mon)16:18    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your tank has not cycled. If it had, there'd be nitrates in the water.

The ammonia test is a must right now as it'll already be building up. A nitrite spike right now would be a good thing as it'll mean the first stage of the cycle is underway.

Read the article http://www.aquahobby.com/articles/e_ciclo.php to learn more about the nitrogen cycle.
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Osprey
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Joined: 15 May 2006
Location: Okotoks, AB

PostPosted: 2007.01.08(Mon)20:28    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do buy some Prime. It detoxifies ammonia in the tank, which will help your fish make it through this difficult period. Do FREQUENT (every other day, or even more often, if you can) water changes; around 30% of total water volume. You can do larger water changes, but make sure you match the temperature of the new water with that of the old, otherwise your fish will go into shock. Leave the pH as it is; nitrites are more toxic at a lower pH and messing around with pH can shock your fish.
The lighting over your tank will be fine for most hardy beginners plants. I've grown anubias, crypts, java fern and amazon swords just fine in lower light than yours. Finer gravel is good for growing plants in, you're only likely to end up with problems if you have great big rocks as substrate. A low-light, low-tech planted tank is easier to look after than a tank without plants.
Unfortunately, I'm willing to bet the employee didn't tell you to limit yourself to low-light plants. You may even have ended up with some terrestrial plants, which will rot. Switch the plants for hardy ones and you'll be fine. Don't worry about upgrading your lighting or CO2 injection. You don't need it unless you want high light plants.
Good luck!
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Cathy G
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Joined: 27 Jan 2006
Location: Wisconsin

PostPosted: 2007.01.08(Mon)20:47    Post subject: Reply with quote

Add one tablespoon salt per 10g's water. This reduces the amount of nitrite poisoning the fish have to endure by interfering with their osmoregulation. (Their gills won't absorb as much nitrite if there is salt in the water...)

Don't you hate learning lessons the hard way? You've got to be really careful with fish store employees, some are better than others, but often they don't want to send you home without buying fish. Even if you aren't cycled yet...
Cathy
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eelman
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Joined: 26 Dec 2006

PostPosted: 2007.01.08(Mon)22:58    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure if adding any solids to the water would be a good idea, as that might raise the pH, and then:

"The total ammonia in an aquarium will be present in two forms: ammonia (NH3) and the ammonium ion (NH4+). The proportion will depend mainly on pH, and to a lesser extent temperature. At alkaline pH, more of the ammonia will be present as the more toxic NH3, while at acidic pH, more of the less toxic ammonium (NH4) will be present. Ammonia poisoning is therefore more common at alkaline pH."

source (found it with google): http://www.thetropicaltank.CO2.uk/cycling2.htm
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