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Need Proper Advice after Petco Misinformation

Discussion in 'New to the Hobby Questions and Answers' started by 21stcenturyoracle, Nov 18, 2017.

  1. 21stcenturyoracle

    21stcenturyoracle New Member

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    Hi! I am so new to fish keeping. So humbled. I have always wanted to keep an aquarium since I was a little, yet never had time to invest as I knew it was a lot with water changes and testing. As its on my bucket list, I was inextricably drawn to buying a six-sided 30'' tall 30 gal tank at a garage sale as a "carrot" to keep me focused on Masters coursework rather than watching Netflix. It had an old underground filter with two long air tubes, a broken heater, and a working fluoro light, with a glass top and a stand for $20! Replacing carbon parts to the underground filter, the heater, and getting a big black filter for 50 gal tank, curving mini blue light bubbler, pea-sized rock bottom with larger black stones as pathways to the decorations for $250 later...I'm now in this for real. I put in a bio starter, water conditioner and waited the 3 weeks I was "told to wait" and worse than a 5-year-old not able to wait any longer, went to Petco to get the fish.

    Asking as many "intelligent" questions as I could, I realized that the mysterious cycle people were casually mentioning hadn't really even started and believed 3 fish should be the most to "risk"? Hu? What was I risking that wasn't made clear? I came back from the store - three days ago and upon approval of "fish" guy, (who seemed to know his stuff yet really just wanted to go home) let me walk out with 3 black skirt tetras.
    (I never heard of a fishless cycle until finding this forum tonight)

    I was so thrilled to see these little guys have plucky personality! One was having a great time riding up and down the bubble ring. The other two wouldn't do it! Then one did! Then the other and rushed back to the other one like "See Charlene, told you so!" That made me laugh. I am thinking this is cool, its gonna be ok. They aren't cichlids, but seem to have personality! I fed them all ate and went to bed. Then when I woke up, my plucky favorite of the 3 was cuddling on a rock under the bridge. "Oh, he must be resting, poor little guy". Only to watch him closely and see his fins had been hacked and an eye was bleeding. WTF?

    Did he get tossed around by the current into the temple? Could he have been sucked into the filter? I just couldn't grasp that the other two could have done this. So, I started researching aggressiveness of Black Skirt Tetras and just got annoyed that they would be sold as a trio, or as I learned, guinea pigs to the nitrogen cycle. Then later that day my favorite went missing and I thought maybe he is gonna recover. Nope. The next day (day two) I couldn't find his body anywhere. I moved the big temple and sure enough, the body came floating up. I knew enough I had to get it out or the nitrogen cycle would really go off, yet after reading the fishless cycle process twice...I am so overwhelmed. And grieved that I could have such hubris and not understand the complexities!! Is there not anywhere where life can be simple...tank...water...fish? The hubris! And how I recognized the imperialistic colonizing mentality I am really beginning to wake up to, even trickles down to fish.

    Do I go back and return the two remaining who are constantly at each other yet holding their own (no shredded tails or skirts) in such a huge space or let them ride it out? Can I just help them through it with WC every other day? How much water? The aquarium store I called didn't think it was an issue, was told to wait a week and add 2 more fish. I am not willing to put more fish at risk, yet can the cycle do its thing without more fish?

    IF I take them back complaining they should have never been sold in numbers less than 6-8 and because they did, one was killed, how would I know how far the nitrogen cycle is in the process? If I take readings and share them here can someone help me figure out where in the process I am and how much ammonia to add?

    I am enamored with this beautiful tank and want so much to do the right thing and make it a successful home for fish friends. I can't even dream of what to stock at this point and realize now that I chose pea-sized gravel and have a good movement in the tank, 70 temp, and a normal PH, cichlids are not suitable. (I tried to upload a pic but was given a message that said the file was too big for the server and have no idea how to change that)

    I really like the idea of shoal fish and then have one or two mini groups. I didn't know shrimp were a possibility! Yet like a child, here I am jumping ahead. Hope someone can empathize and help me start over or from here. I appreciate all I've read so far and impressed with the dedication to your hobby and that you would help naive newbies like me. Excited to connect and do things better in future.

     
  2. LyraGuppi

    LyraGuppi Member

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    Welcome to the hobby, and TFF! c:
    Sorry you had to have such a rough start. Fish stores often give out misinformation due to ignorance, but more often, to increase sales. It's very unfortunate, both for the owner and the fish.
    The best thing for the two remaining tetras would be to return them to the store. Fish-in cycles (cycling an aquarium using fish) are very stressful and harder than a fishless cycle. If they are returned, you can do a 100% water change and begin from the beginning of the guide. All you need for water changes is a bucket and a siphon.
    If you haven't bought test kits yet, I'd recommend getting a few! Liquid test kits are the best, strips can be faulty. Many of us on here use API. You'll need ammonia and nitrite tests for a cycle, but nitrate, pH, and general hardness tests are also very useful for the future. If you do do a fishless cycle, you'll need liquid ammonia as well. I bought a gallon from ACE hardware (I believe?). If it does not foam like soap when you shake it, it's safe.
    There are many experienced members on here that can guide you through a cycle if you need something clarified or confirmed. Feel free to ask as many questions as you need.

    EDIT: Sorry, left out a part:
    You can resize photos by first uploading the picture onto a photo hosting site, then following its directions to resize. I like Imgur.
     
  3. 21stcenturyoracle

    21stcenturyoracle New Member

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    Thanks for getting back to me...I'm in the midst of finals...best take them back and start again. sigh.
     
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  4. NickAu

    NickAu Member

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    Hi

    We have all had setbacks but dont let that discourage you when you are ready we will gladly help you set up a great tank.
     
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  5. LyraGuppi

    LyraGuppi Member

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    Nick is right. c: Best of luck with your aquarium, and your finals.
     
  6. Byron

    Byron Member

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    I agree to return the two Black Widow Tetras. Even with a larger group (which is mandatory for all shoaling fish species and even more so with this one) they are still a feisty species and will limit options, so once they're gone you will be able to take the time to plan out your aquarium without having to work around a trouble maker, so to speak.
     
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  7. BettaPony

    BettaPony New Member

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    You don't NEED liquid ammonia, you can also use fish food and feed your invisible fish.:thumbs:
     
  8. essjay

    essjay Member

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    But ammonia is easier. Fish food has to decompose first, and you cannot know how much ammonia the food has made, therefore you cannot know how many bacteria have grown. With ammonia, you know exactly how much you add, and that at the end of the cycle you have grown enough bacteria for a sensibly stocked tank.
     
  9. BettaPony

    BettaPony New Member

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    I know ammonia would be much easier, you just made it seem like you need ammonia. I never should have said anything.
     

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