Seachem Stability Review

stability

This will be a review of the nitrogen cycle starter, Seachem Stability. To learn about the nitrogen cycle please visit my page on it here. Because I was starting a new tank and my previous fish had died of a disease I could not risk transferring the infection over by using any cycled substrate or water, so I had to start fresh. There are many different brands of tank starters available, but I chose Seachem because it is a well-known, respected, and trusted brand.

I have also used Seachem Prime which dechlorinates and detoxifies ammonia, nitrite and nitrate, and provides a slime coat. When I was first cycling my first tank I was worried about ammonia poisoning so I used this product and as far as I can tell it worked. So I decided to check out their other products. Stability had good ratings so I thought I’d try it out.

Review:

I started using this product and within two days my tank was reading as cycled. I continued dosing my tank per the instructions. In the 8 months I have owned my tank I have never had it fall out of balance. I haven’t even had to do any water changes. Everything has been balanced perfectly, almost like a self-contained ecosystem. I keep doing readings to be sure, but as of yet there has been no need for water changes which seemed crazy to me but has been fine. I have done the occasional water change within those 8 months, but not on a regularly basis like I had needed to do with my old tank. I got to say this stuff is amazing and I will always use it whenever I need to cycle a tank. 5/5 stars for sure. Highly recommend.  

New Fish Tank Review

After the unexpected death of my female betta fish I figured it was time to move on into male betta ownership. I didn’t feel comfortable placing an adult male in a 2.5 gallon tank. It was just too small. For my 1 inch long female betta it worked out great, but with a potential 2-3 inch male betta it would be really inhumane. So I purchased a new 5 gallon tank. Here is the amazon link. I really like the look of this tank. Here’s my pro and con list for this aquarium.

 

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Pros:

  • It is very modern and sleek
  • All the equipment is housed in the compartment in the back
  • It comes with one filter pad which I haven’t had to change yet (8 months)
  • It is tall and thin instead of short and wide so it doesn’t take up as much table space
  • The LED lights are really nice and have multiple settings

Cons:

  • The filter provides too strong of a current for a betta
  • The filter slot is at the top so the dirt at the bottom of the tank is not sucked up
  • It’s a bit hard to decorate the tank because everything has to be tall and thin
  • The back compartment cover is loose
  • The lid doesn’t quite fit and you have to fiddle with it
  • The back compartment is dark and it’s very narrow so it is hard to adjust items inside

Overall I’m happy with this tank, but I probably wouldn’t buy another one or one like it. I really like decorating my tank and mixing it up, but with this one most of my old decor doesn’t fit and I have to stick my entire arm in up to my elbow to adjust items at the bottom. If you’re not into changing your tank decor then this will be a non-issue for you.

If you are planning on purchasing a fish that doesn’t like strong currents (such as betta fish) this tank probably isn’t for you. I didn’t realize until it was too late. The part of the tank that spits out the filtered water has a removable fan shaped attachment. By removing this attachment it does help slow the current a little. Even if you did not remove this attachment and set the filter to high speed I still think the dirt at the bottom of the tank would remain untouched. It is just too tall for any current to pick the dirt up and filter it to the top of the tank. I have a bit of a hard time feeding my betta because the second I drop a pellet in the current pulls it away and then eventually the pellet sinks.

The back compartment is great because everything is hidden and out of the way. All the cords come out the back and can be hidden fairly easily. The downside is that this super dark narrow compartment is hard to navigate when you first set up your tank. Trying to adjust tank flow in that little compartment is very hard. I also purchased a tank heater. Most website I visited recommended that you keep your heater in the main chamber of any tank to prevent the heater from melting any plastic and leeching chemicals into the water. The heater I purchased has many safety measures to prevent such an event from taking place. Also, since my tank is so narrow it would have been very apparent and would have taken up valuable space, so I chose to keep it housed in the back. I tested it out and made sure everything was working fine and so far I haven’t had any problems. I do have a suction cup thermometer placed at the front of my tank to monitor temperature levels.

The final major issue I have with this tank is the lid. Now according to reviews not everyone has this problem so it must be an inconsistent manufacturing issue. The cut of my lid does not fit the shape of the tank. I have to really fiddle with it to ensure it doesn’t fall into my tank and potentially kill my fish or crack my tank. My lid is made of glass while others seem to receive a mesh top. The lid only slides as far back as the back compartment, so if you need anything more you have to fully remove the heavy glass lid.

The light is really nice. It has two settings: day and night. The night setting is actually a blue light that will cause any “glow” decorations or decor with white on it to light up. The day setting is very illuminating and lights up the whole tank. You can easily flip the light up or remove it for cleaning, etc.

Here is a link to my gravel if you’re interested. All the decorations are by Top Fin and cost between $1-4 dollars except the tree which I believe cost between $14-20 I can’t remember. I purchased everything at my local PetSmart.

Non Typical Tools

I thought I would list some tools that I’ve found really helpful, but aren’t listed in any tank manual.

  1. Straw
  2. Chopstick
  3. Baby nose/mouth cleaner
  4. Dr. Clean magic eraser original

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I use my straw all the time. It’s useful for pulling up food that might have fallen to the bottom or snail poop. You can also use it to scrape off small specs of algae. If you have a large tank, it of course becomes more obsolete as straws only come so long.

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I use my chopstick all the time. It is a wooden chopstick that is dishwasher safe. It is not one of the disposable ones you get with take out. Those are more porous and take in bacteria, which is why you are supposed to dispose of them. You can buy them fairly cheap online or stop by your local Asian market. Mine is called H Mart, so you can check your area for one. It’s a very popular large chain store. I use my chopstick to move or adjust decorations, scrape algae or dislodge a stuck snail.

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I’m not sure what the official name for this is so I’m just gonna call it BNMC for baby nose/mouth cleaner. I picked this up from Target for $1.99. I use the BNMC for tank checks. It holds a lot of water and I use it to fill all the little test tubes in my water kit. I also use it for my Marimo holder to remove all the water.

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Lastly I recently discovered Mr. Clean magic erasers. The originals don’t contain any chemicals but the kitchen and bath versions do so be careful. The eraser is great because it doesn’t scratch acrylic like the magnet scrapers to. You could also use a regular sponge if you so desired. I like this sponge instead because it dries quickly and doesn’t smell.

If I think of anymore tricks I’ll add them here as an edit.

Tank Cleaning

Tank:

Once your tank is established, you shouldn’t have problems keeping it clean. You should test you water every week using the API Master Test Kit. If the levels look good you don’t have to change the water. Some tanks can go two to three weeks before their levels bounce. It depends on how many fish or live plants you have. Fish and dead plant matter produce ammonia. As you should know by now, ammonia turns to nitrites, which turn to nitrates.

Nitrates cannot be recycled in a closed aquarium. They must be removed or they can poison your fish. Partial water changes, usually 20% fresh water, will keep your tank spic and span and your fish healthy.

Around once a month you can do a minor gravel cleaning. What you do is use your gravel vacuum and clean the top layer of gravel. Don’t dig too deep. Good bacteria grows in your gravel. If you clean all the gravel off, then the bacteria comes with it. Don’t clean your gravel at all when cycling.

If you tank isn’t balancing or the water is getting foggy quickly, you can do a full gravel cleaning. You can dig your vacuum in all the way and clean the gravel at the bottom. This advice is for people with small tanks (<10 gal). With small tanks cleaning the gravel can be hard to do without sucking all the water out of the tank. During your weekly water change you can try and clean around 1/3 of your gravel. The point is to clean up uneaten food and poops. Most food packages recommend feeding your fish waaayyy too much food. Like kill your fish in a month amount of food. I don’t ever have extra food in my tank. The only thing thing to clean is fish and snail poops.

Lately I’ve had to mess around with my decorations. When doing this the gunk got disturbed and fogged up my tank a bit, but the filter sorted it out. I’ve haven’t used my gravel vacuum yet because I was worried I would suck my little ghost shrimp up. They both have died now and so I can proceed to try it. I’ll give tips once I try.

Filter:

You need to realize that the tank companies need to make money. They will always advise you to use more than you need. Keep this in mind with your filter. A common mantra amongst tank owners is keep your filter till it falls apart. You should not change out your filter every four to six months like the packaging recommends. I’ve heard of people keeping theirs for over a year.

When you change yours out be sure to keep a section of it. Lay that on top of your new filter. That way the water can run through the good bacteria in the old filter and help keep your Nitrogen cycle established. When changing a filter, be aware that you may get fluctuating levels. Be careful of New Tank Syndrome during this time.

I think that’s everything! If I think of anything else I add it in.

More Necessary Expenses

At this point I started researching. I wasn’t sure how much to feed my fish, and my snail was acting sluggish (no pun intended). I soon learned that I made a foolhardy mistake. Fish tanks are actually a working ecosystem, ironically what I wanted in the first place. Tanks go through a cycle of producers, consumers and decomposers. This is called the Nitrogen cycle. I’ll link my blog post about the Nitrogen cycle here.

If you don’t set the cycle up first, fish death is very possible and probable. If your fish are always dying within weeks of ownership this may be why. To counter this you need a plethora of supplies, diligence, and time.

I went to the store and got some supplies. I got a ton of water treatments (to establish the cycle) and some other things. I’ll talk about everything here and provide pictures. There will be a list at the bottom. Everything is stored in a black box purchased for $3 at Target.

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I noticed what appeared to be Ammonia burns on my fish. I learned that high ammonia levels can actually cause black burn spots on your fish (I later figure that those spots were actually a part of her because they never went away, and are actually fairly symmetric). So I purchased Stress Coat+ because that’s what was recommended to me by people on this amazing website. All my questions were answered within hours of posting them.

I would recommend Stress Coat+ for anyone anyway, because introduction into a new tank can cause stress. Also if you ever removing your fish to clean their tank, this will help when you replace them into the tank. It also replaces their slime coat, which keeps them healthy.

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Because of the Ammonia problem I also purchased Am Guard. It removes ammonia and is good for use in emergencies. The packaging claims that standard water tests gives false positives because of the chemicals in the products and tests.

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My pH was a bit high, and even though people recommend leaving pH levels alone, I went ahead and got a gentle pH balancer. It’s meant to be used weekly and keeps the levels even. It does not instantly change the levels, which is good because rapid changes can send fish into shock.

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The last product is the most important and most recommended. It’s called Prime and it’s by Seachem. It helps detoxify Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrates. Those three things are what throw your tank out of balance. You need all three, but you need safe levels.

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You have a choice of water testing kits, but the ultimate, almighty kit is the API Mater Test Kit. It’s expensive, but you need to test your water levels around once a week, and at least once a month in an established tank. When establishing a tank you have to test everyday.

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If you have a small tank like me, you’re going to need fractions of ml to treat your tank. I already owned 1 ml syringes that were segmented into tenths. We had them for medicating our guinea pigs. They are super helpful and should be fairly cheap. Check your local store for some.

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The last thing I got was a gravel vacuum. It is hard to photograph so I’ll link it here. It is essential for any tank maintenance. You don’t only use it for vacuuming gravel, it also siphons out water. I use it every time I do a water change. Technically you can do it with any tube, but you need to create a suction by sucking the air out with your mouth. This vacuum provides a pump to create that suction and is super easy to use.

  • Gravel Vacuum Small = $9.99
  • API Master Test kit = $27.49
  • Marineland pH regulator .8 fl oz = $8.99
  • Prime by Seachem 3.4 fl oz = $4.69
  • API Stress Coat+ = $5.99
  • Am Guard by Seachem 8.5 fl oz = $4.97
  • TOTAL = $62.12

Buying a Tank

I went to Petsmart ready to get a real tank. This was October 10, 2014. I went in knowing I needed a small tank, but also a cheap one. If you read my previous blog you know that at this point I had a running total of $57.27 on this project so far. Everything I had bought was able to be put to use in the new tank as well, except the air stone, tubing, and pump. If I had known, I could have saved $13.14. So now you can save money! Anyway, I went in and saw this tank and misread the label. The label was poorly placed and led me to believe the tank was $17. The 1 gallon tanks below these on the stand were $17. This stand was a cardboard “sale” stand, so placement and stickers were everywhere. I don’t regret the purchase though, because this tank is perfect and I saved $10.

It is a 2.5 gallon tank, and also comes in 5 gallon. The 2.5 is $39.99 and the 5 is $59.99. Seems a little steep, but it comes with almost everything you’ll ever need.

So the tank itself is very modern looking. It is rectangular with a bowed out front. It is 11.5 inches long, 12.5 inches high, and 7.625 inches deep. It weighs 3.5 lbs unfilled.

It sits in a stand that looks a little more modern in the white color, but I like it in black too. The stand contains a built in drip tray, which has been handy for me a few times.

The lid is equip with two LED lights, and a feeding hole. It also has a narrow slit down the back to allow the filter cord out. Should you need a water heater, the slit should allow ample access for that cord as well. It would easily accommodate a thermometer. You won’t have to worry about cutting anything or creating additional holes. The LED plugs in separately of the filter and has an on/off switch located closer to the tank than to the plug.

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It comes with what I like to call, a waterfall filter. It pulls in water, filters it, and then the water pours out the top like a little waterfall. The company call it a Quietflow filtration system. Because of this, the water is aerated and you don’t need an air stone. The filter is silent. 100% SILENT! This is by far the best part of this tank. It comes with one filter pack (which could last well over a year, I’ll explain why in a different blog), one packet of color enhancing Betta food (which will also last forever), and a water conditioner containing a dechlorinator, good bacteria, and nutrients good for Betta fish. I believe the labeled warned that it must be placed on a flat table that can handle 45 lbs of weight.

It comes with a divider. NEVER ever place two bettas in such a small space. 1.25 gallon is not enough for one betta fish. Technically 2.5 isn’t big enough either. I have the divider tossed in a drawer.

It also came with coupons for and samples of Aqueon Betta bowl plus, and Aqueon color enhancing Betta food. Betta bowl plus sample is one use, but the food sample could last you months. (Go down to the ** for a review on Aqueon Betta food)

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I had to get decorations! So I found this adorable flower arrangement. It was well priced and fit perfectly in my tank. Along with the shells I already had, I knew my tank would look very sleek.

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While I was buying everything, almost all the packaging had Betta fish on it. Betta this, Betta that. Soooo…. I looked at the fish available. I hadn’t even told my parents I was getting a new tank, let alone a fish. I’m 19 and in college, but live at home and commute. I figured, “Hey I’m the one taking care of this tank, right? So I can buy what I want.” With that in mind I pushed forward. Since the tank was so small, I didn’t want to get one of the large (beautiful) male Betta fish. Also, they were like $14 for one fish! That’s more than my hamster cost! Anyway, I looked at the girl fish and found a baby one. She was so much smaller than the others and I knew she had some growing to do. Some fish stop growing if you put them in a small tank, so I hoped this would happen and she wouldn’t get too big. I really didn’t want to stress any fish out because the tank was too small. She was a pale bluish white, but when the light caught her she was a beautiful teal/turquoise color. So everything in hand I went home and set the tank up before my parents came home. My next blog will explain why this was a stupid thing to do (buying the fish and the tank at the same time). If you plan on owning a tank you MUST read my next blog on Nitrogen tank cycling or read up on your own.

**Review – I had Betta food from previous fish. We had always owned male Betta fish. I was using the sample provided, but thought I’d try the old food (we had so much left). The pellet was too large for my poor fish to swallow. She tried about 5 times before I took it out and gave her the Aqueon food. The Aqueon food was great! I stated above she was a pale bluish color. After eating this food, almost immediately her color darkened and became more vibrant. She is now a beautiful blue/purple/green, light depending. Originally, my mom had asked me why I bought such an ugly fish. She hadn’t seen the way the light had reflected off her in the store. I knew she was beautiful and this food helped bring her natural beauty out! Highly recommend.

  • Tank = $29.74
  • decor = $9.99
  • fish = $5.79
  • Betta color food = $4.29
  • TOTAL = $54.57

*Note: a second shrimp had died that day, prompting me into hasty purchasing. Normally I like to research before major purchases. I knew the water quality was getting worse and had to buy a new tank.

Lastly, I need to mention that this tank does NOT include a heater. The room I keep my tank in is always around 75 degrees (F). I’ve never needed a heater. Be aware, most fish require a temp of 70-80 degrees (F).