Adding another group – am I pushing it?

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natnat
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Joined: Fri Nov 12, 2010 8:56 am
Location: South Africa

Adding another group – am I pushing it?

Post by natnat » Fri Nov 12, 2010 9:08 am

Hi I am new to this forum and to Loaches and need some advice. I have a relatively new, but fully cycled 550 litter (135 gallon) tank. In it are; 3 blood red parrots (about 3 inch each), 4 severums (about 2-3 inch) and last week I added 5 clown loaches they are approximately 4-5 inch each, so far they acclimatized very nicely. Today I came across a person who has 7 loaches he wants to sell. They are larger than the one I have (about 8-9 inch) those 7 loaches have been together for at least 2 years. I have 2 question, firstly (if I decide to take the 7 larger loaches) would a total of 12 loaches not be too many for my setup? And secondly would the new arrival, being larger and a coherent group, not bully my 5 smaller loaches.

I will appreciate your thoughts

starsplitter7
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Post by starsplitter7 » Fri Nov 12, 2010 9:39 am

I am not sure about the size of the tank and the inhabitants. Often loaches and cichlids are not the best companions, but if the cichlids are soft water, it may work if they are not aggressive.

As far the loaches go, loaches definitely like the idea of the more the better. Big, small, doesn't matter. They should all be happy together. They will fight for dominance, but those fights are generally not with a lot of damage.

My biggest worry would be crashing the tank with the huge addition of bioload to a new tank. Maybe if the other person could hold the fish while your tank becomes more established, or if he could give you some gunky filter material to help build up your bacterial biofilter.

natnat
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Joined: Fri Nov 12, 2010 8:56 am
Location: South Africa

Post by natnat » Fri Nov 12, 2010 9:59 am

Hi, thank you for your response. The cichild i have are also requiring lower PH so the conditions are similar. You are correct about overloading the system; it is a newly established tank and I need to be very cautious. There is another thing i didn’t mention and maybe I should. I “stumbled” upon those loaches when I responded to a “for sale” ad for a fish tank. In the tank , I discovered when I got there, were the clowns. I was shocked at how small the tank was for that size and number of loaches (about 150 litter), there were absolutely no hiding places, the water seem unclean and the clown loaches were terrified. I am not sure how the person manage to keep them for so long. Nevertheless they didn’t seen sick in any way and I couldn’t see any white spots. Should I be concerned about it?

starsplitter7
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Post by starsplitter7 » Fri Nov 12, 2010 10:12 am

I would be concerned. Do you have more than one tank? Maybe you could quarantine the new comers in another tank for a month or so. Maybe the person would let you purchase the tiny tank, and you could use it for quarantine. You could clean it , keep the filter and gravel somewhat dirty, add some caves and observe the fish for a month and make sure they are healthy and then slowly add them to your larger tank. Then take the old filter off the quarantine tank and add it to the new tank -- so you could move over the established biofilter. Or if the people don't want to sell the tank, maybe they would let you borrow it a month, so you can safely quarantine the fish.

Those poor fish certainly need a new home. :)

natnat
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Joined: Fri Nov 12, 2010 8:56 am
Location: South Africa

Post by natnat » Fri Nov 12, 2010 12:38 pm

Thank you again for the post, i dont want to buy his tank, its overpriced and i will never use it his filter is part of the tank so there is no chance he will let it go separately. what if i introduce the loaches in stages, as in 2 at the time a week apart, would that ease the load and shock to my system?

Diana
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Post by Diana » Fri Nov 12, 2010 10:07 pm

It takes longer than 2 weeks to build up the population of nitrifying bacteria to handle that much of an addition.

Here are a few ways to move faster, but relatively safely:

Buy more of the correct species of nitrifying bacteria.
look for Nitrospiros on the package.
Tetra Safe Start, Dr Tim's One and Only, and Microbe Lift's Nite Out II are the three products that have the right bacteria. Do not waste your money on anything else.

Trade the filter media that has already been supporting the fish. Offer the guy new media, and you take the old. Rinse it in water that has been removed from the tank, but don't over do it. While the bacteria do cling pretty well, you sure do not want to wash the media in anything that would kill them.

Split the filter media in your existing tank, and set up a quarantine tank for the new fish. Add LOTS of aquarium plants to both tanks. Live plants will need light to thrive.

Grow your own. Here is the fishless cycle. Do this on a new (or used) tank and filter that is the right size for a quarantine tank. It will take about 3 weeks to grow your own bacteria, but it can go faster if you add some media from your own established tank. Not too much, don't want to cause problems there! Perhaps as much as 25% of the filter media from the established tank can go to the new quarantine tank to jump start the bacteria population.

Fishless Cycle
You too can boast that "No fish were harmed in the cycling of your new tank"
Cycling a tank means to grow the beneficial bacteria that will help to decompose the fish waste (especially ammonia). These bacteria need ammonia to grow. There are 3 sources of ammonia that work to do this. One is fish. Unfortunately, the process exposes the fish to ammonia , which burns their gills, and nitrite, which makes their blood unable to carry oxygen. This often kills the fish.

Another source is decomposing protein. You could cycle your tank by adding fish food or a dead fish or shellfish. You do not know how much beneficial bacteria you are growing, though.

The best source of ammonia is... Ammonia. In a bottle.

Using fish is a delicate balance of water changes to keep the toxins low (try not to hurt the fish) but keep feeding the bacteria. It can take 4 to 8 weeks to cycle a tank this way, and can cost the lives of several fish. When you are done you have grown a small bacteria population that still needs to be nurtured to increase its population. You cannot, at the end of a fish-in cycle, fully stock your tank.

The fishless/ammonia cycle takes as little as 3 weeks, and can be even faster, grows a BIG bacteria population, and does not harm fish in any way.

Both methods give you plenty of practice using your test kit.

How to cycle a tank the fishless way:

1) Make sure all equipment is working, fill with water that has all the stuff you will need for the fish you intend to keep. Dechlorinator, minerals for GH or KH adjustments, the proper salt mix, if you are creating a brackish or marine tank...

2) Add some source of the bacteria. Used filter media from a cycled tank is best, gravel or some decorations or a few plants... even some water, though this is the poorest source of the beneficial bacteria.
Bacteria in a bottle can be a source of these bacteria, but make sure you are getting Nitrospiros spp of bacteria. All other ‘bacteria in a bottle’ products have the wrong bacteria. (This step is optional. The proper bacteria will find the tank even if you make no effort to add them)
The more you Fishless Cycle
You too can boast that "No fish were harmed in the cycling of your new tank"
Cycling a tank means to grow the beneficial bacteria that will help to decompose the fish waste (especially ammonia). These bacteria need ammonia to grow. There are 3 sources of ammonia that work to do this. One is fish. Unfortunately, the process exposes the fish to ammonia , which burns their gills, and nitrite, which makes their blood unable to carry oxygen. This often kills the fish.

Another source is decomposing protein. You could cycle your tank by adding fish food or a dead fish or shellfish. You do not know how much beneficial bacteria you are growing, though.

The best source of ammonia is... Ammonia. In a bottle.

Using fish is a delicate balance of water changes to keep the toxins low (try not to hurt the fish) but keep feeding the bacteria. It can take 4 to 8 weeks to cycle a tank this way, and can cost the lives of several fish. When you are done you have grown a small bacteria population that still needs to be nurtured to increase its population. You cannot, at the end of a fish-in cycle, fully stock your tank.

The fishless/ammonia cycle takes as little as 3 weeks, and can be even faster, grows a BIG bacteria population, and does not harm fish in any way.

Both methods give you plenty of practice using your test kit.

How to cycle a tank the fishless way:

1) Make sure all equipment is working, fill with water that has all the stuff you will need for the fish you intend to keep. Dechlorinator, minerals for GH or KH adjustments, the proper salt mix, if you are creating a brackish or marine tank...

2) Add some source of the bacteria. Used filter media from a cycled tank is best, gravel or some decorations or a few plants... even some water, though this is the poorest source of the beneficial bacteria.
Bacteria in a bottle can be a source of these bacteria, but make sure you are getting Nitrospiros spp of bacteria. All other ‘bacteria in a bottle’ products have the wrong bacteria. This step is optional. The proper bacteria will find the tank even if you make no effort to add them. However, the more starter colony you can add, the faster the fishless cycle will go.

3) Add ammonia until the test reads 5 ppm. This is the non-sudsing, no surfactants, no-fragrance-added ammonia that is often found in a hardware store, discount stores, and sometimes in a grocery store. The concentration of ammonia may not be the same in all bottles. Try adding 5 drops per 10 gallons, then allowing the filter to circulate for about an hour, then test. If the reading isn't up to 5 ppm, add a few more drops and test again. (Example, if your test reads only 2 ppm, then add another 5 drops) Some ammonia is such a weak dilution you may need to add several ounces to get a reading.

4) Test for ammonia daily, and add enough to keep the reading at 5 ppm.

5) Several days after you start, begin testing for nitrites. When the nitrites show up, reduce the amount of ammonia you add so the test shows 3ppm. (Add only half as much ammonia as you were adding in part 4) Add this reduced amount daily from now until the tank is cycled.

If the nitrites get too high (over 5 ppm), do a water change. It can happen that the bacteria growth is slowed because of the high nitrites. Reducing the level of ammonia to 3 ppm should prevent the nitrite from getting over 5 ppm.

6) Continue testing, and adding ammonia daily. The nitrates will likely show up about 2 weeks after you started. Keep monitoring, and watch for 0 ppm ammonia, 0 ppm nitrite and rising nitrates.

7) Once the 0 ppm ammonia and nitrites shows up it may bounce around a little bit for a day or two. Be patient. Keep adding the ammonia, keep testing ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.
When it seems done you can challenge the system by adding more than a regular dose of ammonia, and the bacteria should be able to remove the ammonia and nitrite by the next day.
If you will not be adding fish right away continue to add the ammonia to keep the bacteria fed.

8) When you are ready to add the fish, do at least one water change, and it may take a couple of them, to reduce the nitrate to safe levels (as low as possible, certainly below 10 ppm) I have seen nitrate approaching 200 ppm by the end of this fishless cycle.

9) You can plant a tank that is being cycled this way at any point during the process. If you plant early, the plants will be well rooted, and better able to handle the disruption of the water change.
Yes, the plants will use some of the ammonia and the nitrates. They are part of the nitrogen handling system, part of the biofilter, they are working for you. Some plants do not like high ammonia, though. If a certain plant dies, remove it, and only replace it after the cycle is done.

10) The fishless cycle can also be used when you are still working out the details of lighting, plants and other things. If you change the filter, make sure you keep the old media for several weeks or a month. Most of the bacteria have been growing in this media (sponges, floss etc).
38 tanks, 2 ponds over 4000 liters of water to keep clean and fresh.

Happy fish keeping!

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Keith Wolcott
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Location: Charleston, Illinois USA

Post by Keith Wolcott » Fri Nov 12, 2010 10:47 pm

Seven clowns at 8-9 inches is a huge bioload for this size of tank and even if you could introduce slowly, I would would think long and hard before adding them. My guess is that if you are successful, you will be doing very large water changes very often in order to keep the nitrate under control.

natnat
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Nov 12, 2010 8:56 am
Location: South Africa

Post by natnat » Sat Nov 13, 2010 1:29 am

Correction 7 clowns @ 5-6 inch

Diana
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Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2006 1:35 am
Location: Near San Franciso

Post by Diana » Sun Nov 14, 2010 6:07 pm

Given the info in your first post, I am not sure that your tank has even finished cycling from adding your first amount of clown Loaches.

Given that new fish from any source can introduce parasites and diseases to each other...

Given that the stress of capture and transport can weaken the immune system and therefor make any diseases that are present attack the fish more virulently...

I would get the new fish into a quarantine tank, not your main tank, and make sure the Q-tank is fully cycled either using the fishless cycle method, or by adding the correct species of bacteria from a bottle or a fully cycled tank (ie: the media that has already been supporting these fish)
38 tanks, 2 ponds over 4000 liters of water to keep clean and fresh.

Happy fish keeping!

NancyD
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Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2006 9:17 pm
Location: SF bay area,US

Post by NancyD » Sun Nov 14, 2010 7:30 pm

That's a lot of new additions in a "recently" cycled tank, the cichlids are sort of bottom fish too. I'd be worried about osmotic shock adding large fish from an undermaintained tank to a less than established tank. Taking fish from a grungy tank & putting them into a newly cycled tank is asking for trouble, a quarantine tank is a must to slowly get them used to clean lower TDS water. I know you'd like to "save them" but it's best to acclimate them slowly to new conditions. Good luckif you decide to do it.
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