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Discussion Starter #1
OK, so I did find a pretty good deal on a tank on Craiglist. So as of now, I have a ~46 gallon bow front (36''x16''x20''), stand, lighthood, and AquaClear 50 with water just waiting the next steps.

So far I have;
- cleaned the tank, filter
- Purchased, cleaned and installed a few decorations (sorry no live plants, that just seemed over my head for now)
- Purchased, cleaned and installed some fairly fine gravel. I have 50 lbs in there for now, do I need more? It is ~1.5" deep.
- Purchased and installed a Marineland Stealth 200W
- Filled the tank with tap water
- Added Tetra water conditioner
- Added Tetra 'Safe Start'
- Tank is currently fishless, but I have 2 little ones (kids that is) that are dieing to see something swimming around in there.

Some questions;
- Do I need more gravel?
- I currently have all of the media types in the filter. Is that preventing the cycling from moving forward. It hit me that if the Bacteria in the 'Safe Start' will feed on ammonia, yet the filter is removing it, then I am essentially slowing the bacteria that I added. Or do I not understand how this works?
- I purchased a test kit, but have not broken it out yet. Will there be recommendations in the documentation about what levels I am shooting for? If not, where can I find that?
- When people say add ammonia, do they literally mean a capful of the stuff you get at the grocery store or is there something specific for aquarium use?
- To appease the kids (and myself to some extent) I may go ahead and add a few fish. I asked the Petsmart lady and she said Neon Tetras would be one option, but I gather from another thread that this is not entirely true. Anyone have any recommendations for a good starter fish? I ultimately want to make this a community aquarium (although I am reading a bit on Cichlids), so I am hoping for something that plays well with others, once I can add others.
- I think the filter than came with this is a little undersized based on most folks saying to upsize one over what is recommended. I have considered going canister, but that is a big financial increase over a larger powerfilter. Is it really that much better?
- Last question (for now ;> ), should I go ahead and plan to get an air pump and airstones? Since I don't have any plants I could see oxygen being an issue. If so, do I need a pump sized for my tank or since it would only be running the airstone(s) should I get something smaller?

Thanks, and I'll try to post some pics in the next few days. I'm not sure I love my decoration choices (afterall I am a guy) so I would be interested to get some opinions...
 

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OK, so I did find a pretty good deal on a tank on Craiglist. So as of now, I have a ~46 gallon bow front (36''x16''x20''), stand, lighthood, and AquaClear 50 with water just waiting the next steps.

So far I have;
- cleaned the tank, filter
- Purchased, cleaned and installed a few decorations (sorry no live plants, that just seemed over my head for now)
- Purchased, cleaned and installed some fairly fine gravel. I have 50 lbs in there for now, do I need more? It is ~1.5" deep.
- Purchased and installed a Marineland Stealth 200W
- Filled the tank with tap water
- Added Tetra water conditioner
- Added Tetra 'Safe Start'
- Tank is currently fishless, but I have 2 little ones (kids that is) that are dieing to see something swimming around in there.

Some questions;
- Do I need more gravel?
since you are not planting the tank 1.5' of gravel is plenty.
- I currently have all of the media types in the filter. Is that preventing the cycling from moving forward. It hit me that if the Bacteria in the 'Safe Start' will feed on ammonia, yet the filter is removing it, then I am essentially slowing the bacteria that I added. Or do I not understand how this works?
without an ammonia source you are not cycling the tank yet. when you add a source (bottled ammonia or fish) the media will help cycle not prevent it. the media in the filter is where the majority of the beneficial bacteria that converts the ammonia, created by the fish, grows and converts ammonia to nitrites then nitrates.
- I purchased a test kit, but have not broken it out yet. Will there be recommendations in the documentation about what levels I am shooting for? If not, where can I find that?
you will need this once you add an ammonia source to determine how much ammonia is in your tank and to monitor where you are in your cycle. once cycled you will have 0 ammonia. 0 nitrites and some nitrates.
- When people say add ammonia, do they literally mean a capful of the stuff you get at the grocery store or is there something specific for aquarium use?
yes. but be sure to find ammonia without perfumes or dyes.
- To appease the kids (and myself to some extent) I may go ahead and add a few fish. I asked the Petsmart lady and she said Neon Tetras would be one option, but I gather from another thread that this is not entirely true. Anyone have any recommendations for a good starter fish? I ultimately want to make this a community aquarium (although I am reading a bit on Cichlids), so I am hoping for something that plays well with others, once I can add others.
true. neons are not the best fish to cycle with. i recommend cycling without fish but if you choose to use fish i usually recommend zebra danios. they are a very hardy fish.
- I think the filter than came with this is a little undersized based on most folks saying to upsize one over what is recommended. I have considered going canister, but that is a big financial increase over a larger powerfilter. Is it really that much better?
for a 46g two AC50's will do fine.
- Last question (for now ;> ), should I go ahead and plan to get an air pump and airstones? Since I don't have any plants I could see oxygen being an issue. If so, do I need a pump sized for my tank or since it would only be running the airstone(s) should I get something smaller?
if you have enough filtration agitating the top of the water you do not need an airstone. bubbles are for aesthetic reasons and are not necessary. unless for some reason you need more surface agitation to aid in gas exchange. i would recommend having one on hand just in case you may need one later. if for any reason you need to medicate the tank. many medications used deplete the oxygen from the water and the added surface agitation of bubbles will help.
Thanks, and I'll try to post some pics in the next few days. I'm not sure I love my decoration choices (afterall I am a guy) so I would be interested to get some opinions...
IMO a natural looking tank is the best looking. many cichlids want caves and some fish want shells, you will need to research what fish you want and their specific needs and go from there. researching what fish to get may be a good distraction for your children during a fishless cycle. in reality most FW community fish do not care what their tank looks like. its for you and the children. if they want a nemo decoration let them have it. i know someone who has luke skywalkers ship sunk into their tank.
 

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First off did you add tetra safe start or tetra aqua safe? They are two different products. If it was indeed safe start that you added depending on when you added it you might need to start over. I have done a lot of research on this product and it appears to be the only product that will cycle a tank as advertised and has the correct bacteria in it. Some other products don't have aquatic bacteria in them and you need to add it to the tank weekly for the life of the tank, this is no good. The problem is that you need to add fish at the same time that you add the tetra safe start. The bacteria in the tetra safe start needs the ammonia that is produced by the fish in order to survive. Without any ammonia in the water the bacteria will die and it will not work.
Basically with the safe start you need to fill your tank and treat it with the water conditioner to remove the chlorine. Wait 24-48 hours and then add at least the correct dosage if not close to double the dosage of the safe start and add fish. Since it is not a chemical and only a live bacteria you would have to add huge amounts to cause problems. The last tank I did I used a dose for 90g in a 75G tank. Wait for 7 days without doing anything to the water and without testing it. During those seven days if you do test the water you can get some crazy readings that cause some people to do a water change or treat the water and this kills the bacteria. After 7 days test your water and you should be very close to being cycled (if not fully cycled). If not wait another 3 days and test again. At this point if you still have small amounts of ammonia you can then start doing water changes. I have cycled tanks with this product and it works if it is done correctly. I know some people try to use it with a fishless cycle and add it to a tank that has ammonia readings of 2-3 ppm and it does not work. The bacteria can't handle that "shock", and that is why you add fish at the same time. The ammonia is close to zero and gradually goes up. There are a lot of people who don't believe in using any products to cycle tanks but I can tell you that this is the one product that does work.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
First off did you add tetra safe start or tetra aqua safe? They are two different products. If it was indeed safe start that you added depending on when you added it you might need to start over. I have done a lot of research on this product and it appears to be the only product that will cycle a tank as advertised and has the correct bacteria in it. Some other products don't have aquatic bacteria in them and you need to add it to the tank weekly for the life of the tank, this is no good. The problem is that you need to add fish at the same time that you add the tetra safe start. The bacteria in the tetra safe start needs the ammonia that is produced by the fish in order to survive. Without any ammonia in the water the bacteria will die and it will not work.
Basically with the safe start you need to fill your tank and treat it with the water conditioner to remove the chlorine. Wait 24-48 hours and then add at least the correct dosage if not close to double the dosage of the safe start and add fish. Since it is not a chemical and only a live bacteria you would have to add huge amounts to cause problems. The last tank I did I used a dose for 90g in a 75G tank. Wait for 7 days without doing anything to the water and without testing it. During those seven days if you do test the water you can get some crazy readings that cause some people to do a water change or treat the water and this kills the bacteria. After 7 days test your water and you should be very close to being cycled (if not fully cycled). If not wait another 3 days and test again. At this point if you still have small amounts of ammonia you can then start doing water changes. I have cycled tanks with this product and it works if it is done correctly. I know some people try to use it with a fishless cycle and add it to a tank that has ammonia readings of 2-3 ppm and it does not work. The bacteria can't handle that "shock", and that is why you add fish at the same time. The ammonia is close to zero and gradually goes up. There are a lot of people who don't believe in using any products to cycle tanks but I can tell you that this is the one product that does work.
I guess I added both. I added the standard water conditioner first, to get all of the non-acceptable stuff out of the tap water. Then I added the Safe Start. Sounds like all of the bacteria would have died in the tank by now if there was no ammonia to support them. I will try to start over and include the fish this time...
 

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I would not recommend Neon Tetras, I learned it the hard way a few days ago.

After having done a ton of research, and trying them out myself, I would agree with zebra danios, the white cloud minnows if your temperature is mid 70s and lower (cheap and pretty hardy), or certain barbs.

Just keep in mind that if you intend to do cycling with fish, you may not want to go for your favorites or more expensive ones because the ammonia will likely do permanent damage to the "cyclers" and they will never live out their full potential.

P.S. What exactly is a filtration media? I'm not sure which component this is. And what is it's significance to the bacteria?
 

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The filtration media is what you use in your power filters .For example , most HOB filters use slide in cartridges that are ployfiber (mechanical filtration) on one side or both , just according to what brand you use with activated carbon (chemical filtration) inside them . As your tank cycles and water passes through them the good bacteria grows on them (bio-filtration) , the longer they have been in use the more bacteria you have livingon them . When I change mine , I only change one at a time ,so I always have one covered in good bacteria .
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I added 7 Zebra Danios last night. All seems well. They are definitely a little lonely in the tank. It's like 7 mice sharing a castle...

Anyway, some others I am thinking of adding over the next week or 2;

- Black Tetra
- Kuhli Loach
- Striped Panchax Killifish
- Some type of Gourami (a good community fish)
- Boeseman's Rainbowfish
- Julii Cory

Anyone have any other community fish taht they are fond of that I should look in to?
 

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I love tetras! The more tetras in a tank the happier I am. Glass Catfish are pretty cool. Pretty sensitive to water condition though. Bristle Nose pleco or oto for algea control
 
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