I need some advice on moving some fish that have out grown the tank they're in. I am moderately experienced with fish, I guess I would say. I understand the basics pretty well, nitrogen cycle, maintaining a tank, basic treatments for things such as ick, etc...
O.k., here's my situation. about 5 years ago, I moved, and I was going to be in a temporary living situation, due to my job, and may have had to completely relocate again, so I moved the tank to my mothers house, so I wouldn't have to move it continuously. They've done well, she feeds them, I change the filter, clean the tank, do maintenance, etc... as needed when I go over there. I have not moved the tank again, basically, because I'm scared. In it are, two clown loaches, 6+ inches long, around 7 years old. 1 yoyo loach, probably around 5 years old, and 1 Angelicus Botia, I've had for almost 7 years. Plus a plecostomus, who has to be over 8" long. All of this, in a 20 extra tall tank. It is very well established obviously, a thick layer of gravel, very low maintenance.
So, I need to get all of this into a bigger tank. I am a reptile keeper. I have extra tanks. I have a very clean, sanatized 55 sitting around doing nothing, that would look great with some large loaches. So, how do I go about this? Obviously I need to set the 55 up and get it cycled, but what is the safest and fastest way to do this? Just set it up, get some inexpensive "dirty" fish to get the cycle going? Would it help to transfer some water &/or some of the gravel out of the established tank before the fish to help jump start the new tank? Or would that be too dangerous to the old tank. I don't plan on keeping fish in the old tank if I can pull this off safely. I am apprehensive because I rather like my two large clowns especially. Thay are the two coolest fish I have ever seen.
Do you plan on upgrading the filter as well or just use the old filter?
Do you plan to move the gravel over too?
If you simply move over the old filter and gravel to your new tank (without letting them dry on the way, and do it fast), you get to keep almost 100% of the beneficial bacteria. Because these good bacteria are mostly colonizing on your filter media, the remaining are mostly in the gravel but not nearly as much as in the filter media.
The old tank water holds next to 0 beneficial bacteria because they only colonize surfaces. So there is no value in transferring the old water for nitrogen cycle. However, by transferring old water, you actually avoid the chance to shock the fish in new water. even though you use the same water source, the water PH and hardness in the tank as well as the nitrate concentration can be different in the tank and fresh tap water. So you do get some benefits by using the old water.
I think I am going to get a new filter, the one on there is old, it still works well, but runs about 200 gph if I remember correctly, might be a bit weak for a 55 gal tank though. I would transfer the gravel. My question with that would be, timing? Do I set the new tank up first? and get it to cycle first? Would it be safe to just bag the fish, move the gravel and the rest of the water, add new gravel and water, float the fish, then introduce them? I was thinking of trying to start the tank first, getting it cycled, at least partially, then bagging the fish, transferring gravel and water, and introducing fish. What is the safest way to do this, for the fish. There is no immanent rush.
You have multiple options.
Option #1. Get the new filter, and set it up with the new tank. Do a fishless cycle with pure ammonia. It can take up to 6~8 weeks without bacteria seeding. It can be much faster if you seed it with a piece of old filter media from your old filter, or if you transfer a lot of gravel over but it won't be as effective as the filter media transferring. You can also use Tetra SafeStart as bacteria seeding which was mentioned in this article http://petskeepersguide.com/fishless-cyc...gen-cycle/
Once the fishless cycle is completed, you can move the fish over safely. You can transfer half the water over from old tank before move the fish over.
Option #2. Get the new filter, and have it run along side of your old filter in your old tank for minimal 3 weeks. It will gain bacteria required for the nitrogen cycle. But it is not guaranteed to have enough bacteria to take on all of your fish's ammonia once it is the only filter for your new tank. If you go this router, you can then use the new filter to set the new tank up before moving fish over.
Personally, I prefer option #1 for guaranteed safety reasons for the fish.
I have a question. Do you plan to set the new tank up in the same house as the old tank?
I know about this bacteria seeding. I have never heard of fishless cycling. Do you just ad a measured amount of straight ammonia? Can I do this and seed the tank? I may need some more info on this fishless cycle concept. Do you have a step by step?
And no, the new tank will not be in the same house.
The link in my previous post has quite detailed information on fishless cycle by using pure ammonia. Even with direct links to the needed products required for the cycling process.
Aside the regular tank equipments, you will also need a liquid test kit. I recommend API freshwater master kit. And you need a source of ammonia. If you have Ace Hardware near you, they carry it. Everything is mentioned in the article in my link in the previous post.
Basically you set the tank and everything up first, and drop pure ammonia into the tank in the morning to anywhere between 2~6ppm. Then test it again at night. Keep the ammonia concentration at that level during the entire cycling. Wait for nitrite and nitrate to appear. The final goal is to be able to add 2~6ppm of ammonia in the morning, and get a reading of 0ppm on both ammonia and nitrite at the end of the same day, and the cycle is completed when this goal is achieved.
The whole process can take up to 6~8 weeks without bacteria seeding. Yes, bacteria seeding is highly recommended for fishless cycle since it can speed up the cycling process by weeks. As the article in the previous post link mentioned, you can seed it with a piece of filter media from your existing established filter, or with a product called Tetra SafeStart which is the only working live bacteria product on the market at this moment.
The amount of ammonia required for the fishless cycle does not need to be precise. All you need is to aim for anywhere between 2~6ppm. You can do it by add a few drops (start small) of ammonia and take a test with your test kit, if it measured at 1ppm, then you just need to do another triple dose if you aim at 4ppm. Simple as that.
Although with your heavy fish load, I would aim at 5~6ppm of ammonia. I aimed at 5~6ppm ammonia myself, because I had to get full stock of fish for my tank due to I had to order them all at once online.
Sorry, I hadn't read the article yet, my bad That's almost genius. So the questions I have now, before I start this.
You say it is good to use some of the filter media from the old filter. The 20 gal tank has a marineland/penguin brand on the back, the thing to transfer there would be the "biowheel"? If I don't use the same brand of filter on the new tank, would this still work, and how would I use the bio wheel to do this? (I am thinking of getting a canister or wet/dry type filter for the new 55 gal).
I had already thought of transferring the gravel, but what are the risks to the old tank and it's inhabitants while I am waiting for the new tank to cycle, if I transfer some of the gravel, and/or, how much is safe to transfer? I have about 1.5" of gravel in the 20 extra high. I don't want to put too much stress on the old tank while waiting.
And lastly, what filter would you recommend for a 55? I was thinking along the lines of a canister, a fluval or something similar. I could get one of the higher volume marineland back-mounted filters, they have always done well for me, but, I have never set up a 55 gal. Well, never without something that wasn't eating rodents or bugs
Yes, rip a piece of the biowheel off and stick it into the new filter. However, if you worry it might disrupt the nitrogen cycle in the old filter (which is will if you take a too large piece off), you can always use other methods to seed the bacteria. Such as some gravel. Just some, like a handful. Although, it will not be nearly as efficient as a piece of filter media for bacteria seeding, because filter media holds way more beneficial bacteria than the gravel due to much larger surface areas within the filter media and it will be directly in contact with the new filter media.
You can always use the Tetra SafeStart as bacteria seeding if you worry about crash the cycle in your old tank before you can finish the cycle of the new tank.
It is the only proven working live bacteria product which can aid the nitrogen cycle. It is also mentioned in the article in my previous post.
Other methods include getting a new filter first, and have it run along side of your old filter in the old tank for minimal 3 weeks before transfer it to the new tank. As I mentioned in earlier posts, this method does not guarantee the new filter alone will have sufficient amount of bacteria to take on all of the ammonia once it is the only filter in the new tank since the amount of bacteria needed for taking on your fish load will be split between the two filters.
But it won't be a problem if you transfer both the new and the old filters over to the new tank after they ran along side of each other in the old tank for weeks.
For the size of a 55 gallon tank, I would definitely recommend a canister filter. They are the most efficient filters around, and they make 0 noise.
I would personally recommend EHEIM brand (a German brand), since I use one myself and it is quite good. But Fluval is definitely a solid brand for canister filters, and Rena is not bad either.
If you do fishless cycle, make sure you have a liquid test kit. API freshwater master kit is the most common liquid test kit used for aquarium water testing.
It is actually recommended to have for all fish keepers even if your tank is already cycled.