The RO unit arrived today, hubby installing it tomorrow. Since reading up on hard water and the RO process I'm actually quite pleased we came upon this. Better drinking water for us and the other animals which is a bonus! So thank you!
As is usually the case when married to a tradesman, I didn't have the confidence that he would get around to removing the old chimney breast in time to fit a 5ft tank for the loaches to grow healthily. So tomorrow we also take delivery of a second hand Juwel 240 litre tank, 120cm wide, so I can rest easy and patiently wait for the 5 footer. We have had to move the living room around to fit it in but it's all going to work really well, out of direct sunlight and right in our eyeline from the sofa so we can enjoy watching it.
The new tank is coming with a UFX filter, bigger than our current one too. So I can hopefully get it cycling asap.
My questions now are around making the move. How do we do it!
In what order do I need to be doing things? Ive ordered more aquatic sand as frankly moving the sand from the original aquarium fills me with dread, so that's sorted. But what do I do next? I want to keep all the plants, bog wood and rocks, just move them over. Possibly add some extra bog wood to grow java moss on, tentative steps into aquascaping.
I've read that I could potentially transfer the old filter media to the new filter and effectively have a ready cycled tank almost immediately, is this possible?
Actually I have too many questions so I shall just await your advice once again, with much appreciation and gratitude.........
Great news on the new tank - ideal for the loaches, and the RO unit too of course.
The way to do the move is to set the new tank in position, add sand and plants/wood/rocks etc then fill with water and dechlorinate. Set the new filter running and set the heater to required temperature then wait around 24 hours for the water to get up to temperature. Then take the media from your old filter and put it in the new one, and finally move the fish.
Make the change to softer water gradually over a few water changes. Change around 25% of the water for a mix of RO and tap water at the right level for the fish (use your gH test to check this). Do this every couple of days and eventually the tank will be reduced to the new softer levels without stressing the fish too much.
Could we do all of that but just run both filters for a few weeks? Not that it makes much difference in terms of time, effort or pfaff, I'm just interested.
Also, around moving the fish, is netting ok or do we need to coax them into a jug and move them that way. I have never netted or moved a fish in my life and I'm a little terrified lol.
We will change the water over to 'part' RO gradually, hubby has the mathematical stuff figured already to do a gradual change based on the tap and RO water readings. In terms of ideal KH for the loaches I'm not yet sure but shall research so we can get it as perfect as possible for them.
The loaches are Winston, Dave and Margaret. Pretty sure Margaret is actually a Malcolm but in this new world of gender fluidity we are happy to go with her wish to be a lady.........hehe!
Running the two filters together is unlikely to work. The number of bacteria present will never be more than the fish can support, and you already have a full complement in the old filter. That means no extra bacteria will grow in the new filter. The bacteria in the old filter won't up sticks and move to the new one as they are quite firmly attached to the filter media. The safest way to ensure the new filter is fully cycled is to move the media from the old filter into it.
You can either net the fish or use a net to persuade them into a container, whichever you find easiest.
In a few months I would hope to perhaps add to the stock - the new tank being larger and with the minnows so tiny I think we have space for a couple more.
What would people advise? The loaches are hopefully going to grow to full size in time so I'm thinking long term. Although we didn't choose these specific fish, their theme seems to be au naturel so I'd like to stay with that and not go for bright colourful fish. I want to keep the tank planted so nothing that will gobble the greenery too.
I haven't even looked into further stocking so just looking for ideas to start, so I can look a bit closer into specific species etc.
Thanks again all, I'm feeling much calmer about looking after these beauties for the rest of their lives, in the knowledge I'm doing everything right!
Loving the update on this - thank you, and keep us posted.
As for future additional stock, take a look at the relevant sections of the various links on weather loaches which I posted previously (Fishkeeping; Seriously Fish; Practical Fishkeeping) and see if they inspire you with possibilities.
I have spent the afternoon washing aquatic sand, messing about with hose and pulling my hair out trying to get the new filter working (turns out it was just an airlock). Im a bit frazzled but it's all up and running.
Got a lovely piece of bog wood and slate stones that came with it too.
So we have filled it with standard tap water with the required amount of Seachem Prime. Didn't want to add any RO yet until the fish are acclimatised (the fish aren't in yet) to the new set up, hopefully that's a good decision.
The water is 14c and so cold it is causing lots of condensation on the outside of the tank, so popped a heater in to get it up to temp. Hopefully that will happen asap because I am seriously excited about seeing the loaches in the new tank!
So, bit knackered now and decided to pop open the Chablis but tomorrow, if it's up to temp, I plan to move over the plants and decor from the old tank, taking time to get it looking perfect. Then transfer the old filter media and as calmly as I can possibly manage, move the fish over.
I have Seachem Stability on hand too, just in case!
Just hope I haven't missed anything. I'm having slight panic attacks as the lid on the new tank (Juwel 240 I think, 1200mm wide one) isn't as sturdy as the old one; I have puss cats who are extremely interested, eek!
Oh good Lordy, discovered today that we actually have a Juwel 350 not a 240!!
The new tank wasn't up to temp this morning (by less than a degree, pfft) so I ambled off to the lfs (I'm even getting in with the lingo now see) for a browse, to kill some time and take my mind off the fact I was starving the fishys in preparation for the tank move.
I was peering into an established 'show' tank, admiring the planting when I saw that it was a Juwel 240 but seemed much shorter than our new tank. Seeing me looking perplexed a staff member came over. After me doing a little arm stretchy, tippy toe representation of the size of the new tank, I was shown a brochure. Low and behold we have a larger tank than we thought!
With this news I walked around the rest of the place, dribbling slightly at the stocking potential, then chided myself and promised not to return before the new tank is settled for a few months.
So by this afto, both tanks were temperature (and Ph) matched so I went for it!
Moved the plants and decor first, I'd already planned where they were going so that didn't take long. Then I spent a few minutes netting all the darn debris from moving the plants - few broken stems and leaves.
I girded my loins and got all prepped for the filter media change. Towels, tubs and buckets, it must have looked like I was preparing to deliver a baby. I filled a tub with old tank water, turned off and disconnected the old filter and lifted out the trays and popped them in the tank water, leaving the air stone going in the old tank (I read that was a good idea).
Then I turned off the new filter, and found I could just swap the trays, I didn't realise they were the same size! Very pleased with that. The new filter is way more powerful, the flow rate is definitely higher, which I guess is better with a much larger tank? I didn't wash or agitate any of the media in the tank water, desperately trying to keep as much good bacteria as possible. So when I turned the new filter back on, whoosh, a load of cloudy water came out.
By this point it was too late to turn back so I braced myself for moving the fishys. The beautiful little beings that this whole crazy adventure has really been about.
Would you believe it, hubby arrived home at that very second and offered to do it for me. He is way calmer than me and more dexterous. He 'jugged' them one by one while I took myself off to the kitchen to clean the cooker hob, which was already spotless; just about vibrating with fear that someone would get mortally injured. Nobody did and all minnows and loaches were moved successfully.
By the time he had finished moving the fishys the water was clear of the 'cloud' and now just has a little detritus flowing about. I'm guessing that will clear.
So in terms of fishy status, the minnows are LOST in this tank, they are so tiny! They seem to be schooling in the filter current more, then breaking off to explore, then re-schooling. The loaches hid for about 10 minutes then started exploring. Dave, the one with the damaged dorsal fin, has been popping up to the top (for air?) so I've adjusted the spray bar to agitate the surface more.
We are now only two hours into the new tank and I'm feeling like I'm on amber alert. Hopefully all the fishys will survive the immense stress of what we have inflicted on them.
Next step is to gradually change over with RO water to get it within the hardness parameters for the loaches. I'm planning on doing that minimally as part of the daily 10% water changes, over the next few weeks.
Anyhoo, we shall see how it goes, any problems you guys will be the first to know!
So it's exactly two weeks to the day that we started testing the water with an API master kit. Levels today:
Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrate 20ppm
Nitrate has dropped since we started introducing the RO water. Hardness isn't yet down to the 12 required (testing this with dip strips) but daily water changes continue and this will happen imminently. Ammonia and nitrite have remained at 0 daily, does this mean we have avoided a mini cycle?
Our tap water had insanely high nitrate readings, so I guess the RO unit is removing a lot but we may need to invest in a pump for it, to lower the nitrates to absolute zero.
All the loaches are still healthy and really great fun to watch, the WCMM's are now doing courting dances and going into the plants to scatter eggs. I'm hoping this means they are happy too!
It does sound like you've avoided a mini-cycle, well done! You'll never have 0 nitrates in the tank as the fish are constantly producing ammonia which ends up via nitrite as nitrate in the water. Test your RO water to see how much the filter is removing. Most people have some in their tap supply and as long as the tank remains under about 40ppm you'll be fine.