Following the research done on keeping Rheoheros lentiginosus here, this thread serves as a blog/journal/diary/tracking of the setting up of an aquarium for this species of central american cichlid.
Parameter measurements are all done with API test kits, except for temperature which is measured with the Hanna Checktemp Digital Thermometer.
Full setup list, total cost: $899.11
Aquarium & Stand
Equipments and their Accessories
Aquarium Decorations and Substrate
My next four R. lentiginosus has arrived!
Packaging from CotA is great. Seems like they use methylene blue to help the fish during transport... I think. Not sure, just know that the water is blue. One of the bag was leaking water.
With these, I did not add the water in their bag to the tank... in hindsight, I probably should have not done that with the other four R. lentiginosus either. But anyways, too late. So I just cut the bags and scooped each fish into the tank.
We have a bit of an issue.
These are much larger than the other four, lol. They are not as active as the previous four, and lies on the substrate almost constantly - especially the one that was in the leaking bag. I am keeping an eye on them to see how they fair.
It's been about an hour and they are getting a bit more active, but yeah, still not great.
With that said, could also just be due to the length of transport. I estimate the previous four to have been transport maybe 18 hours max. The new ones, probably more like 30.
That concludes this thread. Next part continued here.
So… turns out there were some confusion on my part. I had another shipment of snails incoming for a different tank via USPS. I had saw a shipment of R. lentiginosus coming from UPS and figured it was from CotA but turned out it was from TuiC, just that Kevin (from TuiC) did not send a separate email letting me know the fish was shipped but Dan (from CotA) did.
So yeah was a bit surprised when the UPS shipment came and it was fish from Rio Chacamax lol. But yeah quickly figured I actually do indeed have two separate USPS shipments coming in, one containing the R. lentiginosus from CotA. Unfortunately they seem to be taking some time to get here. Flights from the south east seems to be a bit delayed versus flights from north east.
Packaging by TuiC was great, very well done. Each fish had its own bag and there was padding to ensure they would be safe during transport. I added the four fish together and then poured everything into my tank.
No I don’t acclimatize, quarantine, etc. my fish or anything, I tend to just dump them straight in. Doesn’t mean that is what I’d recommend for everyone, that’s just how I roll lol.
I measured parameters of the tank (top) and the water in the bags (bottom) and they were pretty much identical, tank water is just slightly more alkaline.
Water in the bag was 25.2C, while the tank was a whopping 28.7C! Whoops! Luckily according to my research, they can do fine in temperatures up to 30C, so should be okay for now.
I have removed the partition at the back side of my lids to give more air and heat exchange, but now there’s a decent gap. Hope the fish won’t jump out.
Well at least now I can install the autofeeder.
Andddd here are the fish! Or two of them anyways.
Final look. Green because of algae I suppose, and probs a bit of tannin at the very least.
More updates to come!
Today I have started to see baby snails all over, whooo! Hopefully the fish will eat the snaile, and if so, hopefully the snails will somehow maintain a constant population going.
Dan from CotA has sent the fish today and expected arrival is either tomorrow or Wednesday, though tracking by UPS so far indicates tomorrow! Yay!
Fish from TuiC has not been sent yet.
Alright, Kevin has responded to my order from TuiC today and order is done. 4x R. lentiginosus var. Rio Chacamax also coming on Tuesday. :D These ones are slightly smaller (1.5 - 2") than the ones I got from CotA, and are a bit cheaper ($20 vs. $28).
Alrighty, measured ammonia and nitrite today and both are zero, i.e. the tank is cycled - or at least as close to being able to be considered 'cycled' as possible when cycling without certain limitations in place to ensure only/mostly nitrifiers growing.
Ammonia and nitrite progress over the past week or so. It looks weird because of the irregularity of measurements. Ammonia was 0.5ppm on June 30th (as I mentioned previously), and when I came back from the long weekend it was zero, and nitrite dropped during that time.
I re-dosed ammonia twice afterwards, not quite waiting for nitrite to hit zero, thus you can see nitrite rising a bit each time, though today it has managed to finally zero out, so that's great. I have re-dosed ammonia, probably to around 1.2ppm or so (again, the dosing is not 100% accurate). Will see how well things are. With that said, at least based on the amount of nitrite produced, seems like most of the ammonia dosed is consumed by nitrifiers and not by something else, which is great.
Snails and scuds are generally doing fine, despite the ammonia/nitrite, and I also added like three teaspoons of marine salt (Red Sea Coral Pro salt, just some that I still have on hand). I tend to add salt to all of my freshwater aquariums just to generally improve the health of fish when they come in. Doesn't work with all fish as some are sensitive to salt, but for cichlids it is generally fine.
Quite a few snails died mysteriously though. Doesn't seem to be because of the salt, because plenty are alive and breeding, plus the amount I added should not be enough to kill them off. On that note, yeah there are snail eggs everywhere, including on the glass, so I need to hold off on cleaning the glass for some time to let my snail population build.
I have also put in my fish orders now, knowing my cycle is most likely coming close to an end soon. I ordered four from Cichlids of the Americas (CotA), and four from Tangled Up in Cichlids (TuiC), reasoning I already discussed in my research thread here. Dan from CotA is great, was very quick in responding and order is done. $200 for four fish from him, should be between 2-2.5". They will be shipped Monday. TuiC has not replied yet, so... yeah. Still time though.
Snail eggs! Yes, reproduce! REPRODUCEEEEE!
Fourth of July!
Hoping that nitrite would drop to zero today, but alas it did not. Is around 0.5ppm, which is well, good, given previously it was off the charts. I did end up re-dosing ammonia, aiming for 80 drops of Dr. Tim's ammonium chloride to get 1ppm, but I ended up overdosing. Measured an hour later and yeah, seems like I got somewhere between 1 and 2ppm.
I added some (30+) bladder snails and (100+) scuds to the tank, hoping they'll rapidly multiple and become a very good food source for the R. lentiginosus later on. The snails I can see out and about, but cannot see anymore scuds... I assume they are still somewhere in the tank.
Day 11, ammonia has basically approached zero, though still a bit of nitrite. Nitrate is surprisingly low, especially given the expectation that it can read falsely higher due to the presence of nitrite. Though this is expected, given that aside from the 1ppm ammonia I initially dosed, the rest of ammonia is expected to come from decaying algae wafers, leaves, and other organic substrates, which also feeds the growth of non-nitrifying microorganisms that consume ammonia as a nitrogen source rather than an energy source and hence don't produce nitrate. I also added some plants about two days ago, which would have also contributed to what we are seeing here.
That means that once I am done here, it won't be 'cycled' following the first definition here, but rather the third. It's not necessarily bad per se. But... not best.
Added some clams. They are soooo tiny and cute.
I also got a timer for the light, just one of those simple outlet timers. Set the light to be on from 10am to like 11:30pm or so. I.e. 13.5 hours.
So I found out there is another seller with R. lentiginosus collected from a different locality. My plan now is to buy four from Cichlids of the Americas, and four from Tangled Up in Cichlids.
So, day 9 of cycling.
Last night (left side) I tested the water and saw quite a lot of ammonia, and then also nitrite. This morning (right side) I believe I can see a bit more ammonia (hard to tell in pic), and definitely more nitrite. I'd say nitrite yesterday was 0.5ppm, while today is a solid 1ppm or more. Always hard to tell with the API test kit.
I made quite a lot of changes to the tank over the last few days, so absolutely not unexpected to see this. Here are the changes:
Added about 28g of Aqueon algae wafer.
Added some substrate and water I got from a forest stream (about an eighth of an approximately 250ml water bottle).
Added two pieces of bark that I got from a forest.
Combined with the leaf litter, yeah definitely expecting a bit of ammonia.
Using the formula laid out here, the 28g of algae wafer alone could produce as much as 14ppm ammonia. Of course, and I am hoping, quite a bit of the nitrogen produced from all this may be promoting the growth of algae and biofilms.
A few days ago I ordered some bloodworms, clams, amphipods, and bladder snails. The algae and bacterial biofilm should be a good source of food here.
So anyways, the cycling process continues. Once ammonia and nitrite drops to zero, I'll start testing the cycle by dosing ammonia.
I have come to accept the need for patience here, and just hope for the best when it comes to grabbing the R. lentiginosus. If they become unavailable, then I'll just have to accept it and go with some other fish. But I really, really, really want the R. lentiginosus. This is a problem nowadays I guess - sometimes one wants to set up a tank properly, but there's a lot of time pressure to skip steps.
Day 5. So, cycling seems to be trudging along!
Starting to see nitrite. So that’s a good sign. Ammonia is still around 1ppm-ish or slightly higher. Could just be more ammonia is being produced from decomposing leaves and such. Or could just be due to nitrification still being slow. After all, 1ppm ammonia produces 2.7ppm nitrite, so given the current amount if nitrite measured it would not be surprising to see an imperceptible change in the ammonia reading.
The tank has became even clearer today, though it has turned somewhat green. A good sign too. Algae, growwwww! No seriously, for this tank I want algae to grow.
My flow + oxygenation design works! Air from the sponge filter is distributed leftwards by the wavemaker, and the internal filter breaks the air bubbles up even more and distributes it even more widely. Should be good for the R. lentiginosus.
Over 24 hours later after dosing FritzZyme 7, and I am starting to pick up nitrite. Now, there have been a lot of things that I have done to the tank that can make parameters go weird, from the fertilizer to adding algae wafers to dead leaves. However, there are only few metabolic processes that would likely produce nitrite in an aquarium, including both nitrification and denitrification.
It is quite unlikely for denitrification to be occurring here to produce nitrite, and as far as I can tell none of the sources of nitrogen I used should have nitrite specifically, so... looks like it may be indication of nitrification. With that said, I cannot be sure. There has been too many variables added for there to be certainty (which is also why normally when I cycle, I tend to limit variables as much as possible).
Day 4: Anddd just a bit more clearer. No visible changes in ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate readings still.
Today I was out in the yard and grabbed some random dried and drying leaves on the ground to add to the tank. This will hopefully form some of the leaf litter that the fish can overturn in search for prey.
While we were at it, I also crushed up some algae wafers to toss into the tank too. I also have some potting mix that I added too, along with a pinch of organic fertilizer. Hoping to get some algae to grow asap, so then I can move to the next step of the setup phase.
I want to emphasize, and fully disclose, that this is not how I would typically cycle a tank, tossing in a bunch of random stuff (not the ammonia, established biomedia, FritzZyme 7, those make sense), but the dirt, algae wafers, leaves, etc. Because of the rarity of the fish I am trying to purchase I am afraid they will be sold before my tank is ready, and that would be a shame. So I am hurrying through some steps that may cause trouble in the future - i.e. that I may not actually achieve a robust nitrification capacity for the tank this way.
However, I am a seasoned aquarist and will be able to deal with the issues that arise later (algae blooms, bacterial blooms, etc.). If you are a beginner reading this, I would definitely advise cycling properly to avoid (a lot of) issues that could arise later that you may not be able to deal with (in time/effectively/efficiently).
Whooo! This bad boy just arrived. Dosed the entire bottle in the tank, let’s see how it goes. Keep in mind this is not the concentrated version, i.e. FritzZyme TurboStart 700, but the less concentrated version, so it will probably be much slower. So I am pretty keen to see how it works out.
My second order of smooth stones has arrived too, so have added to the scape. This is what it looks like now, and I think I am happy to keep it like this for now.
Day 3! The tank has cleared up significantly.
The filter floss arrived yesterday, so I tried wrapping it around the wavemaker and the internal filter but... it did not quite work out as intended. It actually prevented too much flow, surprisingly. So instead, I just have a bit above the wavemaker to taper the noise of the air bubbles hitting the surface.
I measured ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate today. Still around 1.5ppm, 0ppm, and 0ppm respectively. Not surprising though.
I estimated that each MarinePure sphere in my established tank probably only handles 0.06ppm ammonia a day, and that's if it is all equal. Three handles 0.18ppm ammonia in the 10gal, so in a 40gal would only handle 0.045ppm ammonia a day, maximum. Though I doubt that is the current rate of nitrification, probably less given how I have it all set up. That would only produce about 0.164ppm nitrate, which of course would not really be registrable with the API nitrate test. So... yeah. Unless I add a lot more nitrifiers quickly, I probably won't see much of a change any time soon.
So, after about a quarter of a day, there has been no change in ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate levels.
This is not unexpected given the small amount of biomedia I moved over, but well, let's just say I was somewhat hopeful I would see at least a little bit of nitrite.
I am not exactly a patient person, so I have decided to order FritzZyme 7 to get the cycle to go faster.
Last night and today. Things have been moved around a bit, I did stick my hand in to change the scape around. Also added two established MarinePure spheres from my current tank to the internal filter, and placed another one next to the sponge filter. Let’s see how the seeding process goes.
It’s been about two hours since I dosed Dr. Tim’s ammonium chloride. I tried to do exactly 80 drops but added more by accident, plus at the beginning had quite a bit of liquid just fall out. So should be more than 1ppm.
Indeed, ammonia seems to be just over 1ppm. No nitrite or nitrate yet though.
Tuesday 21/06/2022, I woke up to see the tank less cloudy than yesterday - seems like the sand and stuff is settling down.
Note, this is with no filter floss yet, i.e. no fine mechanical filtration attached to the filters or wavemaker, which means the water is largely clearing up on its own rather than having fine particles trapped.
I just measured some parameters using API test kits and got:
Phosphate: ~0.25ppm (I really can't tell with the phosphate color chart)
Why measure now when I have not done anything to the tank yet? Good question - to establish a baseline.
So I made the Amazon order on last Thursday evening and everything except the filter floss and sand arrived on either Friday or Saturday. Yay! This is why I can't help myself but to order from Amazon. Things come quick. The sand came on Sunday, and filter floss is still on the way. That is expected, the eta was by this week anyways.
However, the bark was not what I expected so had to refund that... need to get something to replace it now. Gonna have to think of where...
Today (Monday), I went to Petco and grabbed myself everything else I needed - i.e. tank, stand, lid, and lights.
The tank is now set up!
Here was the steps I did:
Built cabinet, placed aquarium with added padding underneath the tank.
Added the driftwood, just a broad idea of where and how it should look, to the back left and front right corners.
Set up the sponge filter, wavemaker, internal filter, and heater.
Poured in the two bags of sand, mixed with a small bag of gravel I already have on hand.
Replaced all media in internal filter with MarinePure spheres, placed the remainder of the MarinePure spheres at the base of the two driftwood corners and around the base of the sponge filter.
Added the smooth stones, mainly to cover the MarinePure surrounding the sponge filter, but also to decorate the open spaces. Realized I did not have enough stones, so ordered some more. The stones look great!
Filled up the tank with tap water.
Added Prime (2x dosage, just to be sure).
I was gonna show a pic of the dry set up (i.e. before filling with water, but it was incomplete and some things had to be done with water anyways...) also I forgot to actually take the pic lol.
So we'll see how it looks like once it IS set up instead.
I will let things settle overnight - that way if anything immediately releases ammonia or whatever, I'd know. So then I can kinda expect it if something is off with the parameters during the cycle. Of course there can be things that decompose and slowly release ammonia over time, but eh. Can't account for everything when one's in a hurry. And yes, I am in a hurry. I have so much to do before I can actually even order the R. lentiginosus!
Anyways, pic(s) of the setup will come tomorrow, provided it is less cloudy.
I know some of y'alls are curious about the cost of setting up the whole tank. Once I have the fish in the tank and everything is good, I'll itemize it all for y'alls!