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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Some of these things I'm sure have been covered but here I go.

1. The best way to cycle a tank is with ammonia. Less chance of a recycle. During this process, cycle 1 or 2 ten gallon tanks for hospital and new fish. Keep some cheap hardy fish in the ten gallons to keep the cycle going.

2. Learn YOUR water. Twice a week water changes may be good for others but not you. Learn your PH, GH etc. If you have copper pipes make sure you have water treatment that helps with metals. keep a good water test kit. Sometimes a recycle won't show up on a test kit. If your wondering why your fish are breathing heavy after their first water change in a new set up. This may be the problem. This is the only time I recomend treating your tank with bio in a bottle. Water changes will help your fish grow and grow healthy.

3. Playground sand from Home Depote = Lots of cleaning, fine light colored sand. Water filter sand from a pool place = Less cleaning darker more coarse sand. Both cheap and nice. Rocks from landscaping places are the best way to save. There is an artical on what rocks to avoid. Branches...(Don't laugh)...Yes branches from a tree or bush can be used. How? Find a SMALL branch that's basicly dead already. Take your new found twig and put it in a bucket of treated water for a week. Let it mold. Now sit it in a dry place (Not outside) and let it sit for another week. Wallah!! It's ready to go. Do not try this with a whole bush or part of a tree trunk! It will stink. Don't ask me how I know.

4. Patience and discipline. These 2 words seperate a beginner from a Vet. I cannot begin to tell you how important these words are....So let me begin. Example. You walk in a pet store. You see "that" fish!!! The one that you only saw in an Ad Konings book. You start checking your change pockets. You hope that know one else see them. Or the one employee in the place who know cichlids don't put up a NFS sign on the tank. ...And then.......You realize they are not the best of health. What to do? Remember those ten gallon tanks you have? Told you they would come in handy.

5. Do not cross breed. A lot of work was put into names of these fish. Dont let it go to waste. In the dog world it's ok to have half breeds. You can walk with each other......meet people......play catch.........save each others lives etc. Great! Just not in the fish world.

6. Food. Learn what your species eat. Some fish can only eat Veggies. Brine shrimp is good for blue color and light yellow. Krill and blood worms are good for reds and a warmer yellow. Sometime krill and bloodworms can make blue more purple-ish. Do not over feed. This means pancakes and sausages are out of the question.

7. If you have a hyper dominant fish use a mirror on the side of the tank. He'll spend a lot of time fighting his reflection and not the other fish. You can also use a clear peice of plexiglass to seperate him from other males till they find a spot to defend. Also helps with new males are introduced to a tank.

8. Breeding. Learn before you buy fish how they act after they spawn. We all know a M. Auratus is very agressive. But we find out the hard way that a Geo. Tetracanthus can have all of your other fish shaking in a corner when they have brood. Live brine shrimp can help some wild caught fish breed. Zaire Blue Fronts females will choose a male. If he is not the dominant fish they may not mate. You have to remove the dominant male till you find the right match. this is not always the case. You may get lucky on the first male. It's always good to by a group of these not a pair. (please share how fish you worked with behave)

9. How to spot hormone fish. Example; You walk in a store. You see this list of fish. Peacocks.- Yellow, reds, sulfer heads, OB's. Haps.-Ahli. Mbunas- OB fullaborni, red zebras, colbolt blue. Tangs- Powder blue Vents....along with. Lots of colored snails...Different colored parrot fish...Koi. There are no females in the whole store. Some males look dull in some tanks. Some very bright. (Even the sub dominant males). Some tanks have lots of males that have that "Show fish" dorsal fin. If you see this there is a 90% chance you just entered the hormone zone.

10. If you order fish online ask for a pic of the fish. A good dealer will take the time to send one. Don't start thinking your fish will look like the ones in an Ad Koning book. This man has takin a lot of great pics. Just remember. They are great pics. Southwest-good. Ups, FedX-good luck. Have them shipped airfreight if you can. They take better care of livestock.

Pease.....If you see anything wrong (outside of my spelling) or would like to share some tips that may help. Please do. I also know most of this has been covered but some of us newb's would like to put our mark on the site. :wink: Good to keep things fresh.
 

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MODS.

This should definitely be a sticky!
 

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I think in general it is ok advice but if there is talk of it maybe being stickied or people maybe read it and take it as gospel I need to pick on it a little bit:

1. The best way to cycle a tank is with ammonia. Less chance of a recycle. During this process, cycle 1 or 2 ten gallon tanks for hospital and new fish. Keep some cheap hardy fish in the ten gallons to keep the cycle going.

The ONLY way to cycle a tank is with ammonia. Ammonia can come from fish, decaying food, or out of a bottle. I think what you meant to say was "The best way to cycle a new tank is by the fishless cycling method with bottled clear ammonia", but even still that is just opinion. Some people do just fine cycling the old fashioned way with dithers and slowly adding to the bioload, depending on the stocking method. You also left out important parts such as seeding with established media when possible, and the consideration of bottled bacteria products such as Dr. Tim's.

Also, I wouldn't say it is necessary to cycle 10g tanks and keep them running non-stop if their purpose is for hospital and new fish. You can run sponge filters for a couple weeks in the main tank in anticipation of new arrivals and then add the cycled sponge filter to the quarentine tank when the fish arrive. You can keep a sponge filter running in the main tank all the time in case of emergency, but for hospital tank often times you're treating with meds that can destroy bacteria colonies anyways so the important thing is water movement and frequent water changes. Having a couple established tanks on hand may be a good method for some people, but others may only want to pull them out when needed.

2. Learn YOUR water. Twice a week water changes may be good for others but not you. Learn your PH, GH etc. If you have copper pipes make sure you have water treatment that helps with metals. keep a good water test kit. Sometimes a recycle won't show up on a test kit. If your wondering why your fish are breathing heavy after their first water change in a new set up. This may be the problem. This is the only time I recomend treating your tank with bio in a bottle. Water changes will help your fish grow and grow healthy.

I think you're focusing on the wrong things here with the water. To give complete advice about water changes you have to mention nitrate. Pick a level of nitrates you feel is acceptable for your fish (opinions vary) and set your own water change schedule to maintain this level or less based on your own tank size and bioload. pH, GH, etc has different priorities to different people and different fish so part of learning what they are are learning what are acceptable levels for the fish you want to keep and how to maintain them.

By "recycle", I assume you mean ammonia or nitrite spike. If there is ammonia or nitrite in the water, it should show up on a test kit. If a water change disturbs the bacteria colony, the fish shouldn't show effects of a spike immediately after. It will take a while for ammonia or nitrite to build up. If the fish do show symptoms of a spike, the first step should almost always be to do a water change to dilute the ammonia or nitrite causing the ill effects. Bottled bacteria may help a little here but people do not always have some on hand. Once tanks have been cycled, the bacteria can usually multiply quickly to adapt to changing bioloads. If you have a minispike, by the time you order bio in a bottle and wait for it to be delivered, you can do water changes and probably by the next day or 2 tops your bacteria will have caught back up.

Can't argue with the last sentence: Water changes are mandatory.

3. Playground sand from Home Depote = Lots of cleaning, fine light colored sand. Water filter sand from a pool place = Less cleaning darker more coarse sand. Both cheap and nice. Rocks from landscaping places are the best way to save. There is an artical on what rocks to avoid. Branches...(Don't laugh)...Yes branches from a tree or bush can be used. How? Find a SMALL branch that's basicly dead already. Take your new found twig and put it in a bucket of treated water for a week. Let it mold. Now sit it in a dry place (Not outside) and let it sit for another week. Wallah!! It's ready to go. Do not try this with a whole bush or part of a tree trunk! It will stink. Don't ask me how I know.

Good info on the sand and rocks although I might argue that collecting rocks yourself might be a better way to save rather than paying for rocks ;)

I don't know about your info on branches. Since this is the african cichlid subforum, driftwood typically isn't recommended. This is because the tannins that leach out can lower pH, and africans typically prefer higher pH. Using "live" wood that hasn't gone through the natural processes to become driftwood can leach much more, and also decay in the aquarium - typically not goot for any aquariums let alone african tanks. If it has worked for you great, but not typically something I would consider good general advice for african cichlids.

4. Patience and discipline. These 2 words seperate a beginner from a Vet. I cannot begin to tell you how important these words are....So let me begin. Example. You walk in a pet store. You see "that" fish!!! The one that you only saw in an Ad Konings book. You start checking your change pockets. You hope that know one else see them. Or the one employee in the place who know cichlids don't put up a NFS sign on the tank. ...And then.......You realize they are not the best of health. What to do? Remember those ten gallon tanks you have? Told you they would come in handy.

I think your example here contradicts the point you were trying to make. Impulse buying is the epitamy of a lack of patience and discipline. So what if you have a 10g tank ready for the fish, then what? How many fish especially african cichlids can remain in a 10g tank their entire lives? not many... A display of patience and discipline in this example would be to have a cycled quarentine tank ready to go for any new fish that will ultimately be added to your existing stock, visibly sick or not, and then locating healthy, good quality stock, whether it be from a LFS or online. You should also already own the permanant home for the fish, whether it is an existing tank or a new tank you need to buy and set up. Buying sick fish is never a good idea, as it leaves you to deal with it and fix it. If they are a species you have to have, chances are they are not so rare as to only be found at that one particular LFS, so with a little bit of patience and discipline, you will be able to locate healthy stock elsewhere. And you should always research the species you want before you buy, to make sure you can provide for them through their entire lives, and that they are compatible with any existing stock they may be added to - impulse buying is usually done without any prior research.

5. Do not cross breed. A lot of work was put into names of these fish. Dont let it go to waste. In the dog world it's ok to have half breeds. You can walk with each other......meet people......play catch.........save each others lives etc. Great! Just not in the fish world.

There is more to it than this. Most people don't set out with the intention to cross breed. Ensuring it doesn't happen is more about picking appropriate stocking lists than just "not doing it". Some times, no matter that efforts taken to avoid crossbreeding, sometimes it just happens. In most cases, any hybrids created can be taken care of by "letting mother nature run its course" in the display. And if hybrids do survive and the owner wants to keep them, there is nothing wrong with it so long as he or she does the responsible thing by never giving away, giving to a friend, selling, trading, keeping fry from, etc, them. If they never leave your tanks, they're not hurting anything.

6. Food. Learn what your species eat. Some fish can only eat Veggies. Brine shrimp is good for blue color and light yellow. Krill and blood worms are good for reds and a warmer yellow. Sometime krill and bloodworms can make blue more purple-ish. Do not over feed. This means pancakes and sausages are out of the question.

In general, a staple flake or pellet is all that is required for aquarium fish. Most are formulated with the ingredients to bring out all the color in the fish. For almost all african cichlids, NLS cichlid formula can be fed to all of them as a staple. Nothing else required.

7. If you have a hyper dominant fish use a mirror on the side of the tank. He'll spend a lot of time fighting his reflection and not the other fish. You can also use a clear peice of plexiglass to seperate him from other males till they find a spot to defend. Also helps with new males are introduced to a tank.

I don't know about this mirror trick. Never heard of anyone doing it before. Might be something interesting to try, but I suspect it would cause more stress to the rest of the tank. In general, the way to deal with hyper dominant fish is to remove them to one of your 10g quarentine tanks you've got cycled for a few days or a week or 2, and then return him back to the main tank. The theory is that the heirarchy will reset, and he will no longer be dominant. Sometimes, rearranging the aquascaping fixes problems. Sometimes, when all else fails, hyper dominant fish need to be rehomed if they're too aggressive.

I would like to hear more about this mirror trick though.

Not much to say about #8. Good advice and part of the whole compatibility consideration and researching fish before you buy. Even if keeping fry is not a goal, keeping fish that rigorously defend spawns in a community setting can end in disaster after the first spawn for the rest of the tank mates.

9. How to spot hormone fish. I will add that finding a good fish store will pretty much eliminate this problem without having to try to identified fish that have been hormoned for appearance. The reviews here are a good place to start to find either a local or online reputable fish store. If you have to make the judgement call yourself, either find somewhere else you won't have to worry, or if there are no other options, then you're stuck with what they can get so it doesn't really matter.

Aside from doing it to get a bigger profit off of younger fish, does hormoning hurt fish in any way long term?

10 is pretty good advice. Goes back to doing research and reading reviews to find a reputable online fish store. UPS and FedEx are not bad ways to ship. If the shipper knows what he's doing they're be packed well to hand any normal condition. Airfreight is more expensive so its a tradeoff. My fish came fedex over the coldest night of the winter right after a storm shut down the memphis hub, and my shipment arrived in about 18hrs after shipping with no losses. After that, I wouldn't hesitate to go with fedex any time.

So, those are my thoughts. In general not bad advice, but I just wanted to clarify somethings to make it even better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Good post. Thanks for making things more clear. I tried to get more detailed but when I was done the site asked me to log in again and I lost everything. lol. So this time I kept it short and sweet hoping that anyone reading can firgure the details and leave room for pitching in. Thanks.

The mirror trick works. Really well for those with out a bunch of tanks. Or if you do. I like to use the wall tile mirror (1 square piece) you see at home depote.

The branch thing. Keep them small. the higher your kh in your water the better. As long as you do water changes once a week your ph will be fine. This is just for small decore around the edges of rocks etc.

The extra sponge filters. Love those hydro sponge filters. The best. Yet they're ugly in a tank. I have them and some spares in mine but some people dont like the look of them in there main show tank.

Again I wanted to get more detailed but after spending 2 hours on the original topic I wrote and then loosing it :x I spent 20 to 40 minutes on this one. I got sleepy :zz:

Now share some tricks that know one may know of........Or mating habbits and behaviors some fish have. :popcorn:
 

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Myrock and Rhinox,
you guys rock, you have helped me immensley and I appreciate all the help you have given
Cheers from Canada!
I just dont know what happened the first time
its a mystery! :fish:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The "mirror trick" for those wondering......Works better on Malawi cichlids than on Tangs. Malawi males take another male of his kind as more of a threat.
 

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I have one question about fishless cycling. What is the kind of ammonia that is safe to use for fishless cycling? And where do you buy it? The only bottled ammonia I've seen is bottled for cleaning and I assume it has additives to assist with cleaning but that would not be conducive to the good health of the fish that are eventually added to the tank.

On other subjects.

1. I keep 2 Hydor sponge filters powered by a dual outlet air pump running continuously in one of my growout tanks. I hide them with plastic plants so they're not real noticeable. That way I always have colonies of bacteria available to transfer to another tank if needed.

4. I have found the best practice is never to buy fish that you are seeing for the first time. Window shop first. Then think about whether or not the fish will fit in with your established fish. Anticipate potential problems. Research the species on this site. Only if you are satisfied that the balance of factors weigh in favor of purchasing the fish should you return to the fish store and buy it.

7. I've also used a mirror. I bought an old used tank about 25 years ago that came with a mirror as a background. The tank is long gone, but the mirror remains on a newer tank. I originally used it on my angelfish tank because it provided the appearance of more depth. But I no longer keep anything but Malawi cichlids in any tank the mirror fits. I've noticed dominant males challenging their own reflections in the mirror. I never seem to notice a lot of aggression in the tank. Perhaps the aggression is channeled towards the reflection as opposed to the subdom male. It's just my subjective observation, but I think it helps.
 

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Malawi Mac said:
I have one question about fishless cycling. What is the kind of ammonia that is safe to use for fishless cycling? And where do you buy it? The only bottled ammonia I've seen is bottled for cleaning and I assume it has additives to assist with cleaning but that would not be conducive to the good health of the fish that are eventually added to the tank.
in the tank.
At the grocery store, on the "cheap" store-brand shelf. The bottle has ingredients, look for ammonia and water only.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
If you have a question on cichlids this is the best place to ask. local PS guys 95% of the time know just about as much as you. 20 years ago a LPS guy told me to do a water change once a month. At the time some believed that more than that would harm the fish :? Imagine the names my fish called me as I sat there looking at them with a pizza and this goofy grin on my face after week 3. I did it that way for a year. :oops: In this hobby your always learning something new. I learned something new today. So ask. There are people on this site that are very good. And hundreds of minds thinking, beats one brain guessing. The library section is very helpful. Read that first. Then shoot your question.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Here is an example of a tree branch I used. Not to big. Java moss attached to it. Ph fine. No staining the water.
 
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