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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
hey guys. im new to the aquariums. i am going to buy a my first very soon. im lookin at about 20 to 30 gal. i have read up on cycling a new tank. to do fishless what needs to be in the tank just the substrate, heater, filter. or do i need all the decor i plan on putting in. what works best or easier. also what are your opinions on the starter kits. i was thinking it would be best to get one versus getting everything seperate. or do you guys highly recemend against it. just remember ive never had a tank before. so im looking for a simpler set up to start. also in the 20 to 30 range what am i looking at for fish selection? any help would be greatly apreciated. thank you in advance.
 

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good to see you did your research on cycling your tank 1st, you want to have all decor in your tank while you cycle.

As for the starter kits, it depends on were you are buying it from, for example a petsmart starter kit comes with all their generic filter,heater, air supply and such, i would suggest STAY AWAY from that, even the people i spoke with in petsmart said their stuff sucks... i ran an auquaclear 300 on my 29 gallon for 5 years and i never had a problem, I now run it in a 55 gallon no problems... make sure you get enought of a heater to cover your tank get somthign that says up to 30 gallons... same goes for the air suppy make sur eyou have enouugh water movement to prevent stagnent water...

As for the fish its really up to you, a few questions whats the PH and Hardness on your tap water?????
 

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the starter kit i was looking at was made by marineland. it wasn't petco brand. and it was 28 gallon bow front. if the kit isnt store brand do you think it is ok. i mean to start with, remember ive never done this before. not sure of the ph and hardness of my tap water. its town water so im sure it has quite a bit of chemicals in it.
 

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First thing to get is the API master test kit, it tests for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and low and high pH. It is your first and best investment. Test your tap water right out of the tap, then take a quart container and fill that and let it sit with the top off for 2 days and test it again. Some tap water is low pH out of the tap because it is low in O2, then it will rise as the CO2 offgasses and O2 rises. You want to know what you're dealing with. Also, API makes a KH (carbonate hardness) test kit, and this will tell you how well your tap water will hold the pH over time. This is not as important, so you can probably just bring a sample of your water into your LFS (local fish store) and have them test it for you.

To give you an example of how important it is to know your water, our tap water here is pH 8.8+ (off the scale) and it doesn't change over time sitting out, but in my tank it quickly stabilizes to 7.5 ish. One day, after the recent snow melt, the ammonia was 3 ppm, which at high pH is extremely toxic. Also, the phosphates are at time 10ppm, which is no harm to fish, but I get mad algae because of it.

Second most important thing is Prime water conditioner. It is ALL you need for chlorine/chloramine and detoxification of your tap water. It is highly concentrated, so 1 500ml bottle lasts forever. You do not need stress coat or any of that junk.

Cycling: First, I wouldn't use any bottled junk to try and speed up the cycle, it's a waste of $$. Put in substrate, filter, heater & water and that's really all you need to start, decor is OK too. Bacteria form on all surfaces, the more surface, the more bacteria.

Fishless cycle is ok if you're patient, because you have to add ammonia daily for 6 weeks until the cycle is complete, this is probably the safest way. I've heard you can drop a piece of frozen shrimp in the tank and this will feed the bacteria as it breaks down. Never tried either of these myself.

Fish cycle is OK too, just get hardy fish like Mollies or Platies who can take the chemical swings. DO NOT USE GOLDFISH. They are a coldwater fish, and are dirty. Feed very small amount 2-3 times a day while cycling, make sure it is a VERY small amount so it all gets eaten right away.

Jump start: This is what I did, it involves some risk. If you can find a store that has some tanks that run on a sponge filter, see if they will squeeze out all the junk out of the sponge into a bag of water and dump this in your tank. Instant bacteria colony. Your tank will probably still mini-cycle as the full colony of bacteria forms, but when I did this on my 55, neither my ammonia nor nitrites ever went above 0.5ppm, and they were both a 0 within 2 weeks. The risk is that you have to know that your fish store you get it from is reputable, and that there have been no sick fish in the tank you get the filter from. Plus, most of your petco, etc box stores use commercial systems and not sponge filters, so you're going to have to find a mom-and-pop type store, but these are usually much more reliable than your box stores anyways.

Live plants will help with water quality also, they will suck up nitrites during your cycle and are prettier than fake plants.

I gotta go to bed...hope this helps you start
 
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