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Author Topic: Aquarium homeostasis  (Read 1120 times)
FoalMom
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« on: February 07, 2017, 04:20:13 PM »

About 10 months ago, I set up and stocked a 5 gallon cube aquarium for the first time.  I went by the large (Smart) box petstore's advice.  I started with some fine gravel, but the tank was getting very cloudy and I was having to clean it alot.  I changed to larger 1-1.5" rocks at the bottom and it seemed to fix everything.  It has now been 8 months since I have changed any water or had a filter in the tank.  I have 1 betta, 1 platy, and 2 neon tetras that are healthy and happy.  The water is clear and tests perfectly, but there is a small bit of yuck under the rocks.

Over the past year I have learned alot!  By reading and talking with people.  I did about everything wrong.  Is a self-sustaining aquarium a good thing or a bad thing?  Will it hurt my fish to put the filter back in and change their water?

I am now starting a new 37 gallon tank.  I am doing things right this time...I think.  I started out with about 60 ounces of water and a plastic plant from my little tank.  Then filled the tank about 2/3 of the way with distilled water, tank starter, water conditioner, and aquarium salt.  I waited 2 days, then started putting big pinches of food in the water daily and cranked up the temperature to 82.  It has been 2 weeks now and I still have not had any ammonia or nitrites show up.  I think I should have by now.  Yesterday I topped it off with more distilled water and turned the temperature back down.  Fish go in tomorrow.
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russ
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« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2017, 12:03:58 AM »

Hi Mom,

OK, here we go...........

"The water is clear and tests perfectly, but there is a small bit of yuck under the rocks."

Nothing is perfect. The best we could achieve, at most, is most excellent Without posting what your water actually test out at, "tests perfectly" is very relative. The yuck under the rocks is going to go through a mineraliztion process that will ultimately end up producing ammonia.

" Is a self-sustaining aquarium a good thing or a bad thing?"

It is definitely a good thing, however, very few hobbyist are able to achieve this and will ultimately not remain 100% self-sustaining. One main thing is that water will evaporate and without a miniature rain machine hovering over your tank, well you get the picture. It is much more difficult to set up and maintain (lets say help it along a tiny bit) a 'cycling' aquarium than the average setup with filter and other support equipment. Cycling involves much more than just the nitrogen cycle. There are many 'cycles' going on inside an aquarium. But I redress.....Having a near self-sustaining tank is still a good thing. You can sit back and enjoy without all the usual maintenance. (Not withstanding periodic water tests to make sure things are running right).

"Will it hurt my fish to put the filter back in and change their water?"

Putting the filter back in?...Nope. Change their water?....Perhaps. If you haven't been performing partial water changes (should be at least once per week), chances are your replacement water will throw all your tank water parameters off unfavorably for your fish. Distilled water? Why? If you are using a water conditioner to neutralize chlorine/chloramines, use regular tap water to the same temp as your tank water, then add appropriate amount of conditioner to the change water prior to adding to the tank.

Here is a good link to breaking in your tank prior to adding fish:

http://www.badmanstropicalfish.com/forum/index.php?topic=1023.0



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TwoTankAmin
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« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2017, 10:03:55 AM »

I will go one further. There is no such thing as a self sustaining aquarium. I have read a lot of the research related to fish and keeping them. I have never ever seen any science which indicates that cleaner water harms fish in any way.

That yuck is likely a part of the natural filter that develops in any tank.

The odds are your new tank is not cycled. Adding the fish should make the ammonia show up. Then you may be in for some issues.

The bacteria etc, we need to keep a tank healthy can not survive on distilled water. Further, they do not live free swimming in the water, so moving over the water from the old tank did nothing isn't this respect.


I do not agree with the cycling methodology outlined in the above link. For one it is outdated. One does not need to dose and test, one can use a known ammonia source and an ammonia calculator. There is no need to add more than 2-3 ppm of ammonia and at over 5 or more you are working against yourself. The actual biggest problem in cycling is not the ammonia so much as the nitrite. Let this get too high and it starts harming the ammonia bacteria. Most nitrite tests do not measure high enough and this can mean one might need to do diluted testing.

Flake fish food is a very poor source of ammonia, you cannot control the levels and it is likely to foul the water and/or cause a bacterial bloom. it is east to get ammonia for cycling in America such that there is no reason for one ever to use fish during cycling.

There is also 0 need for salt in your tank. it is likely to do more harm than good long term since it never evportates, it can only be removed via water changes.

Finally, your water tests perfectly you claim. Can I ask what your GH and KH are and failing that what the TDS might be?

Tetras are a schooling fish, they cannot really be "happy" in twos. You meed at least 6 and more is better.

I wrote an article on fishless cycling a couple of years back for another site. I am going to quote just the part with the specific directions for doing a proper fishless cycle. You are free to use this method and to ask me any questions about it you like. I should mention that over the years I have cycled about 100 tanks and generally run my own bio-farm for cycling new filters and keeping cycled ones, removed from tanks, cycled. Also, the method below is designed to prevent any issues with high nitrite stalling a cycle. The method, if followed to the letter, cannot produce nitrite levels that high.


Ready – Set – Cycle

Day 1 Set up your tank with the décor etc. Fill it with dechlorinated tap water and add the filter and heater. Turn everything on and wait for the tank temperature to reach the desired 75 - 85 F range. Make sure the tank runs for at least a couple of hours no matter what. You should already know the parameters of your tap water and that they are in a proper range for cycling.

Please note, the average fishless cycle should require a total of between 5 and 6 ammonia additions (Doses) as described below.

Add the initial amount of ammonia (Dose #1). This should be an amount that should produce a test kit reading of 3.0 ppm (1 ppm = 1 mg/l). We strongly advise that fish keepers new to cycling do not exceed 3 ppm of ammonia. Too much ammonia and/or dosing it too often will usually work against the process rather than helping it. Please use the dosing calculator found here Ammonia Calculator to determine the initial amount for a tank your size and for the % strength ammonia you are using. (Please read the Suggestions and Trouble Shooting section below on calculating the volume of your tank.)

Record the actual amount of ammonia you add for the initial dose as it will serve as the base amount for calculating a later maintenance addition. To be sure the ammonia has time to circulate in the water, wait about 30 minutes after adding it to test the level in your tank to confirm it is close 3 ppm. The ammonia calculator is usually more accurate than a test kit.

Now comes the hard part- you need to be patient as mostly what you will be doing is waiting and testing and waiting some more.

Days 2 and 3 Do nothing.

Day 4 Test for ammonia and nitrite.

Days 5 and 6 Do nothing.

Day 7 Test for ammonia and nitrite.

Continue testing every 3 days (Days 10, 13 etc).

If at any time after the first ammonia addition (Dose #1) you test and ammonia is under .75 ppm and nitrite is clearly over 2 ppm, it is time to add more ammonia (Dose #2). Add the same full amount as you did the first time. Now, begin to test the ammonia and nitrite levels every other day. (You should be seeing nitrate soon if you have the kit.)

After the second ammonia addition (Dose #2), while waiting for nitrite to rise, peak and drop, the bacteria will need a maintenance feeding (Dose #3). Give the bacteria a “snack” by adding 1/3 of the full dose when you get two consecutive every other day ammonia test readings of 0 ppm,. This “snack” (Dose #3) should be needed somewhere between days 21 and 27 of the cycle. Only a single snack dose is needed.

After the maintenance feeding (snack Dose #3), whenever you test and ammonia is .25 ppm or lower and nitrite is clearly under 1 ppm, it is time to add another full ammonia dose (Dose #4) and then test in 24 hours.

If ammonia and nitrite both read 0 ppm, you are cycled. Do a large water change, be sure the water is the proper temperature, and add fish. The odds are this will not be the case quite this soon.

If ammonia and nitrite do not both read zero, continue to test daily. Whenever ammonia is again at .25 ppm or less and nitrite is clearly under 1 ppm, add the full amount of ammonia (Dose #5) and test in 24 hours. Follow this pattern of testing and adding (this would be Dose #6, #7 etc.) until both tests do read 0 ppm within 24 hours. The cycle should not take much longer to be completed and even with slower tanks one should not need to go beyond Dose #6 or #7.

A major benefit of this fishless cycling method is that you can now fully stock your tank in one go. This means an average stocking level for your tank size. It certainly does not mean you can stock heavily or over stock. If for any reason you are unable to stock the tank when it is cycled, you can continue adding ammonia to keep the tank cycled. For this you should add the 1/3 snack amount every 2-3 days. The bacteria do not need to be fed every day and will be fine. Don’t forget the water change before adding the fish.




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FoalMom
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« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2017, 11:50:24 AM »

See, I keep on learning.  It appears as if I have done it all wrong again.  The reason I use distilled water is because my well water has big chunks of rust and methane gas in it.  I can go to town and buy the distilled water real cheap.  My new tank has 0 ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates...GH is 25....KH is 0...Chlorine is 0...and pH is 6.8.  The old tank is more jacked up this morning.  I checked it 3 days ago and it was fine.  I now have a nitrate of 20, and a pH of 7.8.  Yikes.  Still have ammonia, nitrites, chlorine, and KH at 0.  GH is 75.  Maybe I SHOULD change their water.

Another thing about water changes.  If you do a 50% water change, aren't you taking out and diluting all the good stuff as well.  Why don't you have to cycle the tank again with all the new water in it?

Maybe I will move my neon tetras into the new tank and get them some friends.

Thank you so much for your kind and patient replies!  I am sure there will be more.
Lyn
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TwoTankAmin
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« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2017, 04:48:28 PM »

There are things in water that fish and other organisms in a tank need. this is even more the case if one has live plants. The bacteria that process ammonia and nitrite need  a few other things. oxygen is one and inorganic carbon is another . the can get this from one of two places in most fw tanks- from co2 dissolved in the water or from carbonates. Carbonates are a main contributor to KH. One of the things one may need to monotr during a cycle is KH as when I drops too low, the cycle stops.

Pure water is two things, a poor conductor of electricity and devoid of almost anything but water and naturally dissolved gasses from the air. If you wish to use it I would suggest you reconstitute it with the proper minerals and trace elements etc. These will ad GH and KH and other things. Think of distilled water as a blank slate which you can do anything you want with. You can make it hare or soft or in between, You can make high or low pH and in between.

When we set up a tank we are creating a closed environment. Almost nothing goes in we do not add. Gasses exchange naturally. Over time bad things tend to build up and needed things get used up. Water changes are a reset to the "normal"parameters by removing things not wanted and replacing thing that are which have been depleted.

I have a site where I think you should read as it is one of the better somewhat comprehensive explanation of things without being overly technical. Go here http://fins.actwin.com/aquariafaq.html and click on Your First Aquarium Read as much as you want, but for sure read the sections on
Preparing Your Water
Practical Freshwater Chemistry


Buying water will get expensive over time. You are probably better off buying your own small Reverse osmosis unit. Chunks of rust can be filtered out easily, I am not sure on the gas or other stuff that might be there.

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russ
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« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2017, 08:32:53 AM »

"When we set up a tank we are creating a closed environment. Almost nothing goes in we do not add. Gasses exchange naturally. Over time bad things tend to build up and needed things get used up. Water changes are a reset to the "normal"parameters by removing things not wanted and replacing thing that are which have been depleted."


That is a good, easy to understand explanation. I used to just say that GH accumulates in the tank while KH gets used up, but yours is better  happy


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TwoTankAmin
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« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2017, 11:40:36 AM »

@russ- TY

When one has usable tap water, it makes things so much easier. When one needs to find alternatives to one's tap, the chemistry becomes more serious.

I should have done better editing the above post though Sad

That site I like to link new hobbyists to is actually a mirror site for thekrib.com. I used it 17 years ago when I got into the hobby and have been sending folks there ever since. I found it to be pretty accurate but probably in need of updating. However, the two sections I mentioned on water chemistry are still pretty much dead on. The best part about them is they put things in pretty simple easy to understand terms.
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“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan
russ
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« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2017, 09:46:01 PM »

I remember using the Krib years ago also. Was a decent site and I still refer back to it once in a while. Remember Pets Forum on CompuServe?
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"For every difficult question, there is an answer that is clear and simple and wrong."
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