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Getting a pre-owned fish tank ready...

(9 Posts)
MrsGravy Sun 26-Jun-11 14:21:58

Our neighbours have given us a big (looks like 60L) tank and stand complete with gravel, sand, ornaments and filter. I've given it a good wash in hot water (no detergents or anything) and am washing the gravel seperately. Is there anything else I need to do to it? I understand I need to set it up then leave it a few weeks to make sure the water is ready. We are going to get cold water fish, was thinking gold fish but from reading on here the tank won't be big enough.

EauRouge Sun 26-Jun-11 17:17:06

Afternoon smile What a fantastic freebie!

60 litres is actually a really good size for your first tank, not so big that it takes hours to clean and not so small that it's tough to keep the water in good condition.

Yes, it will be too small for goldfish but you could keep a shoal of 6-8 white cloud mountain minnows OR a single male paradise fish depending on your water parameters. You'll need to test the pH to see which fish are suitable. Do you know if your water is soft or hard?

It does take quite a few weeks to prepare it for fish but if you take the time to do it then you can avoid all sorts of problems that are normally associated with new tanks. Have a read of this, it explains the basics.

I would replace the filter media, you just need a couple of normal sponges in there. Don't worry about carbon or zeolite although if your tap water nitrAte is really high then you might need a nitrAte remover.

You'll also need a water test kit. The liquid ones are more accurate and cheaper in the long run than the dipstick kind. You'll need to be able to test for ammonia, nitrIte, nitrAte and pH. One like this will do the job.

Cleaning-wise you are doing the right thing, use really hot water and give it a good clean with a sponge or cloth. Don't use any detergent because it's a bugger to rinse off. Then you're good to go!

HTH, let me know if you need to know anything else.

MrsGravy Sun 26-Jun-11 19:20:47

That is really helpful, thanks so much! I was wondering what to do about the filter. It's a lot more complicated than when I last owned a goldfish - won in a local fair!! I'd rather do it properly though and teach the kids the value of looking after pets as well as possible.

MrsGravy Mon 27-Jun-11 15:43:42

Ok, I have more questions i'm afraid! I have my new filter media and am going to set the tank up tonight. Do I dechlorinate the water first and then start adding ammonia? Also I do have a heater for the tank but thought coldwater fish would be easier, the man in the shop says this isn't the case and I could try some tropical fish like corys or tetras. Is that true?

NotQuiteCockney Mon 27-Jun-11 15:45:38

I've had tropical fish, and goldfish.

Tropical fish are definately less work. Guppies make new guppies for you automatically, and are waaaay less work.

NotQuiteCockney Mon 27-Jun-11 15:46:15

I don't know what the amonia is for - I would just dechlorinate the water and leave it running (filter and plants) in it for a week or two.

EauRouge Mon 27-Jun-11 17:18:02

The ammonia is to build up the supply of good bacteria in the filter. If you don't do a fishless cycle then the fish end up swimming around in ammonia and then nitrIte, both of which are poisonous. Doing a fishless cycle means that when you put the fish in the tank there are already enough nitrifying bacteria in the filter to cope with the fish waste and you don't end up with new tank syndrome.

You do need to dechlorinate before you add the ammonia because the chlorine in the water will stop any of the nitrifying bacteria from growing. For this reason you should also never rinse your filter sponges in tap water.

Tropical fish are no easier or harder really, minnows are dead easy to look after as are paradise fish. It all depends on your water params, quite a lot of the tropical ones need soft acidic water so if that's what is coming out of your taps then go for it. Choose very very carefully though, there are hundreds of different species and some are easier to look after than others. I can give you a few suggestions if you tell me what sort of water you have smile

MrsGravy Mon 27-Jun-11 19:55:58

Thanks again EauRouge, my water is soft but not sure how acidic. I'm about to order a water testing kit from ebay. I think I'm just going to go for the minnows actually, everything I've read suggests they are ideal 'first fish' and they look really pretty.

EauRouge Mon 27-Jun-11 20:07:27

They are lovely fish and they're very easy to look after.

If you look on your water company's website it should give you some idea of your water's pH but testing for yourself is the best way to know for sure. Let some water stand for 24 hours and then test, once it's settled you'll get a more accurate reading.

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