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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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