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Help w/ new aquarium


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Hello,

We are new to the hobby and have been getting lots of various advice and trying to understand everything. This got long.. sorry for novel. Just trying to learn and figure out what to do. ūüôā

We purchased a Top Fin Corner tank on April 30th.  We got everything  up and running and were told to let it cycle for 7-10 days before adding fish. We also used Prime and Stability during the whole process. We kept having issues with the water being cloudy and were told that this was a bacteria bloom and to not add fish till this bloom passed. We were using testing strips during this process on the daily. Once the strips registered our ammonia at safe we took it in for a water test. They used strips as well and said all was good. We got 2 glo neon tetras and a small albino BN pleco.  The bigger of the tetras died within  8 hours. We tested the water and the PH seemed high, so we added a PH powder to lower the PH. This seemed to work well and the other smaller glo tetra seemed to calm down and seemed fine. The next day in the afternoon we added a small amount of fish food. The smaller fish died later that evening. When both of these fish were going they seemed to be having a swimming issue, they were just floating around as if they had no control over their movements.  Small pleco was still kicking.  We figured he was probably going to be gone soon as well.  ** Soon after all this we did a water change.  We thought OK, maybe new tank syndrome.  Pleco is still swimming through. 

 

*Currently today.. We have not added any other fish. Our little pleco is growing and still swimming about.  We are now testing water with an API freshwater kit. All levels test fine , however we keep having issues with our ammonia reading . We can't seem to get it to go below a 0.25 range. Even after water change. Four days ago we bought a better filtration system. Aqua Clear Power Filter for a 20 gallon.  We wanted to be able to add bio media and ammonia chips and have options and our current filtration that came with the tank was only a cartridge insert. We have both filters running as we wanted to make sure to let the new filtration take hold with any sort of bacteria. After a couple of days we noticed our water was getting cloudy again. This lasted for about 12ish hours, and then everything cleared again.  Last night we started seeing little micro bubbles in the tank floating around. they are not sticking to anything, just floating to the top. Water is clear looking. ** Mr. Pleco hasn't really eaten much but stuff on the tank walls. Until 2 days ago. I dropped an algae waver close to the area where has been hanging the most, inside an octopus cave. Once he realized it was there, he was chowing down on it. He also pushed it all into the cave and has continued to almost finish it off. He still swims about the tank attaching to various things and the walls. Seems to getting some personality about it. He/ she?? occasionally goes to top of tank and swims up above water, does this off and on for about 5 mins then proceeds back to his cave or the walls. Growing and not showing signs of stress. 

Wanting to add more fish , but not until we get everything stable, but we can't seem to get there. We add stability to the filtration either every other day or every day to keep things safe for the Pleco with risen ammonia level. 

 

* Tank info..

Top Fin Corner 10 gallon tank *running w/ filter cartridge that came with and an Aqua Clear Power Filter Model 20

PH levels steady around 7.0-7.4, Nitrates and Nitrites test at 0. Ammonia color with test kit is light green. Looks to be around the 0.25 level. Water temp runs 72-76 degrees. 

 

Sorry for the long post! ūüôā¬†Just a couple of newbies trying to get things going right..¬†

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My first thought is, good on you. You seem to have really done an admirable job for your first aquarium.

 

As for dosing stability, you shouldn't need to anymore. The BN pleco alone is enough to feed the beneficial bacteria. Stability works over a 3 day period. So say, you dose stability on day 1, and by day 3 the excess bacteria has come and gone 'cloudy water'. What's left is the beneficial bacteria keeping balance in the aquarium. As for 'he/she', if the fish has few/short whiskers, its a female, if long and numerous, its a male. 

The more you feed the more waste the pleco will produce. Besides that I'm not sure why you keep having ammonia. A plant could alleviate all ammonia from your tank, I highly recommend at least one plant.  Is this also after a water change? Water conditioner's like Prime will give false ammonia readings for a few days after a water change. 

As for why you lost fish 'assuming you cycled the tank' it could have been ph shock. The damage could have already been done that's why the fish died later as well. Most pleco's however especially BN's are very hardy. 

How high is your PH from the tap? If the fish you purchase are coming from say, 7.0 and you place them in 7.8, that could be quite a shock. So for further stocking, maybe you should slowly acclimate new additions to your aquarium water. 

'IF' your tank has not cycled completely and you find nitrites, then you can continue and cycle using the 'fish-in' method. Use prime to detoxify nitrite and do a 30% WC once a day. Too much and you crash the cycle, too little and the nitrites will take off. But you should not need to dose for waste cause that BN will do all of that for you. I've completed a 'fish-in' cycle with stability and prime in around 6 days using a BN, its definitely doable. 

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Here is a couple of photos. We have since removed the bubbler. And BN Pleco has gotten a little longer. We got it when it was tiny. I noticed the other day it's starting to get 2 little nodules popping up right below the eyes. Since you have a BN , what's personality like. Mine seems to getting a little crazier by the day. Is it normal for them to occasionally go to the top of the tank and burst out of the water a few times? Will sometimes dart up, , like if we didn't have a cover on it, it might just jump out. Then moves on about , goes into the cave and just chills. I've read they do this to aid digestion. Also getting more active during the day. 

Towards the evening we change the light to a dark blue  light and then turn off at night.  Thanks for the input, we are going to stop adding the stability and see what happens after a couple of days. 

20210509_194109.jpg

20210509_194122.jpg

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I can't add anything more than what @Solidus1833 said, which I completely agree with.  Keep up with the water testing and give it some time.  It's possible that the glow tetras were weak animals, sadly.  I would also second looking into some real plants if that is available to you.  I also second testing your tap water to see what baseline you are working with.  And chemical pH adjusters are really difficult to keep up with and over time can do more harm than good by making your pH unstable. I also recommend focusing instead on keeping your PH stable - wherever it is at -- and then finding fish that do well in those parameters or come from similar water parameters (the store where you get fish from should be able to tell you what their pH is, at minimum) -- or if the fish are coming from very different pH, then slowly acclimate them.  Let us know if you want more info or pointed towards rsources on acclimation process. 

Before adding additional fish, I would also wait a few weeks and at minimum until you see no ammonia, no nitrite, and some nitrates to know your tank is cycled.  This can take longer than what you were led to believe - up to two months.   

We have only had our bristlenose plecos for a couple months -- small like yours when we first got them -- but I have never seen them go up to the surface.  That could be a symptom of the ammonia or nitrites if you have any in the water.  I would actually put the bubbler back in, oxygenation is usually helpful in the aquarium.  

I know there is a LOT of information and misinformation out there and it is a literal minefield for beginners.  I got my first tank in December 2020 (well first one in decades so I was basically starting over) and I feel like I have learned so much since then.  You got this!  

Edited to add: with the live plants, sorry if I'm just telling you something you already know but be sure to get a plant that can actually survive under water.  I see lucky bamboo sold all the time at Petco and Petsmart as a "underwater" aquarium plant but it will rot and cause way more problems.    

Edited by SWilson
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I agree with  @SWilson about the BN behavior, 

While I've not owned a BN for a while now, I've had 3, two that lived to about 11, and the third  I rescued then rehomed. I've never seen a BN 'attack' the surface. I've seen em sort of graze above the waterline if you have calcium deposits or algae. My corydoras and dojo loaches do this all the time. Well the dojo loaches are more making their very own machine gun noises for fun. Also creating fish flatulence (on demand). You have an air-stone which was going to be my first question, so to be honest I'm not sure. 

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So I have seen BN plecos ‚Äúattack‚ÄĚ the surface. Most people don‚Äôt know but plecos actually can take¬†oxygen through their digestive tract. Usually when water oxygenation is low.
Your best bet is to get a few live plants inside your tank. 

Edited by Sun.singh1991
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Your BN pleco would appreciate a small piece of drift wood to hide in and rasp.. it's good roughage and a fibrous source of food.  They also love a weighted down slice of blanched zucchini.  You won't be cycled until you have Nitrate readings of 5-20 ppm.  Add a few fish slowly letting the bio load keep up then wait a week, or you could have a cycle stall with too many.  Some tanks once cycled will run naturally at .25 ppm ammonia such as mine.  Should It read .50ppm for any reason (overfeeding, dead fish)  then I do a water change.  @NewerFishPersonWelcome to the forum!

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We have considered adding a live plant to the tank. Just not sure the best way to go about it. What are good starter plants that can be easily added to a tank?  All we have currently is just the blue gravel. I don't want to disrupt things too much, especially if we are still trying to finish a cycle.  As far as our little BN going to the top, I honestly don't think it's an oxygen issue. He spends a lot of time just hanging around the tank and hanging in the cave. There is plenty of current from the new running filter, in fact this crazy little pleco seems to play in it. Swims to the middle to chill on a leave that moves in the current, it's funny. 

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Stable water levels are more important than trying to chase the perfect levels, unless you have a fish that has specific needs. Most fish can adjust and acclimate to the ph in your tank. This is important if the ph of the water you are adding is different than your tank. You don’t want to balance to a lower ph, do a water change and have ph rise, then add stuff to bring it back down. The fluctuations will be much harder on the fish than letting them adjust, also much less stressful for you.

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12 hours ago, awymorePDX said:

Have you ever seen Nitrite or Nitrate when you test the water? If the only thing the water tests are showing in Ammonia, then your cycle is not complete.

We did at one point seem to have a spike of both, and then everything leveled out. It was at that point that we tried the first fish. Currently when testing though, we dont get a reading of either. When we tested yesterday we did notice that the Nitrate was slightly looking like it was changing colors, looks about the same today. It's a low reading on it, but does seem to be changing slightly. 

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3 hours ago, NewerFishPerson said:

What are good starter plants that can be easily added to a tank?  

Floating plants would be super easy: frogbit, water lettuce, salvinia, red root floaters - you can often find those online. There is also duckweed which is very efficient at taking up nutrients but a lot of ppl don’t like it because it is small, hugely prolific, sticks to your arms when you reach into the tank, and seemingly impossible to get rid of if you ever want to. 
 

you probably would want to avoid plants that primarily take up nutrients from the soil - so Amazon swords, vallisineria to name a few examples.  This will be the most work and least helpful right now.  Your inert gravel will not sustain them without adding roottabs and they may slightly help with the cycle but won’t help much with taking up ammonia and/or nitrogen in the water.  
 

epiphyte plants (I think that’s the Right word) like Java fern abs anubias take up nutrients from the water column instead. 
 

A great combo for your tank might be to get a piece of driftwood from an aquarium store, online, or ive even seen them at petco (do not use the grapewood sold for reptile enclosures) and a Java fern and attach the Java fern to to driftwood. Lots of videos and articles online about attaching Java fern to stuff like this
 

another option is to remove the lid from your hang on back filter and start propagating pothos, tradescantia, etc in there. 
 

any of these will work great in combination. 

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