1st cycle of tank - going into 10th week - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 6 Old 04-07-2012, 08:03 PM Thread Starter
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1st cycle of tank - going into 10th week

Hi all:
I have been getting some advise on another forum, but could use a few more opinions. I have 37 gal., freshwater tank with gravel substrate, Marineland Penguin 200 biowheel filter (hooks on back) that filters up to 50 gal. tank. & decorated with 3 beach rocks, 1 small piece rose quartz, plastic plants & elodea (just added yesterday), & 2 aquarium ornaments. Currently inhabited with 5 danios (2 zebra & 3 pearl) who are schooling well together & are fed minimal amt. once daily (pellets & flakes).
I am using a wooly pad filter affixed onto a plastic frame that has carbon particles on the reverse (filters that are sold to fit the filter).
I originally was just surfing the net and getting info from staff at local fish store, but found this insufficient when my tank was still cycling at 7th week. (ammonia high - 1 or more ppm, nitrites low .5, 0 nitrates.
The only additives I was using for tank was 'prime' water conditioner/dechlorinator (I was originally using in huge amounts [200-300 gal. worth] as I did not know that my API ammonia kit also picks up ammonium) & Big Al's bacteria culture, as directed.
At 7 weeks still a neophyte, not even realizing fully understanding the implications of such high ammonia levels and what to do about it. Fish store staff did not know why my tank was not progressing with its cycling and why the readings were remaining stable. They recommended that I kick-start the cycling by adding some hardy fish (3 pearl & 3 zebra danios).
I also did not know by week 8 that I should not scrub aquarium (no t til cycled)& aggressively vacuum gravel (not til cycled and then just surface so as not to disturb the anaerobic bacteria that culture in substrate), & also changed my filter (not during cycle or keep old one in back with new one in front). My ammonia increased to 2 ppm, the water got real cloudy (possibly bacteria bloom in response to high ammonia) and 1 zebra danio died, gasping for air at top of tank. When I seen cloudyness, I tested water, found high ammonia and seen fish in state of distress at top of tank, and I called fish store - I was told and did 50% water change and bought ammonia reducing pad...all of this reduced ammonia back to 1 ppm.
I called makers of 'Prime' to make sure that I could not poison my fish with the extra prime I was dosing with, got more info. on how to establish bacteria colony (main way to combat ammonia and finally finish cycling and establish tank), and suggested use of 'Stability' bacteria colony formula (which I have now started using).
The friendly people at the fish forum recommended that I do 25% water changes daily til cycled (ammonia, nitrites, nitrates 0) (reduce ammonia, etc. as bacteria colony not sufficiently built up yet); get used filter media donation (will hopefully get this monday); get plants (hence the elodea). They also linked me to some great articles on cycling but I am still concerned that nitrite (1ppm) & ammonia (.5 ppm) high - Any suggestions?
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post #2 of 6 Old 04-07-2012, 08:51 PM Thread Starter
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also - I have had filter running since day 1 and heater with water temp. btwn. 24-26 C.
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post #3 of 6 Old 04-08-2012, 03:33 PM
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The advice from the fish store for once was pretty good. Daily or alternate day water changes are advisable until ammonia and nitrite is zero and remains zero. Using Prime at each water change will allow you to do them on alternate days since the detoxifying effect of Prime lasts 36-48 hours. Tests like the API will still show ammonia or nitrite, as you've noticed, even with Prime.

I also agree with Seachem's advice to use Stability. This is 100% live bacteria and it will quicken the establishment of the nitrifying bacteria.

Another helpful aid are live plants, especially fast growing ones. The Elodea is good, being a stem plant, this is fast growing and will pull lots of ammonia from the water. More plants, especially floating plants, would help further.

And, welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #4 of 6 Old 04-09-2012, 07:54 PM
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1st Tank cycle

I would not get any more fish for your tank even is encouraged to do so by the pet store until the water quality gets under control. Keep doing water changes until it stabilizes, then try 25% every other day, then 25% every third day, etc until you can go at least a week and be stable. After a couple months if your not stable with weekly 25% changes then I would start to question the filter set up. Good luck.
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post #5 of 6 Old 04-13-2012, 12:24 AM Thread Starter
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Hi all:
Just thought I would post an update in case it may be helpful for anyone else that may be in a similar predicament. Since Tuesday my ammonia, nitrite, & nitrate readings have been zero . Finally.
I don't know what made the most difference - the daily 25% water changes (I feel like I have really toned my arms up nicely, but my back is a little achy...), recent intro. of Stability bioculture, recent addition of Matrix biofilter media ( I just poured into nylon bag and shoved in 2nd slot section of filter), recent addition of used filter sponges from local friendly fish store (again, just placed on sides of Matrix in 2nd filter media slot), or the recent addition of elodea plants.
Anyway, just glad that things are improving but will continue to keep an eye on it (daily water testing) for another few weeks and will reduce water changes to once weekly unless I see spikes in my levels. After that I will consider adding a few more danios to boost their schooling companions (as I have started to notice more that the 3 bigger pearl danios [especially the one with wiskers] are kinda picking on my 2 smaller zebra danios).
Thanks again to everyone who offered suggestions.
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post #6 of 6 Old 04-13-2012, 04:50 PM
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I have cycled a tank about the same size using Stability in one week. Keep it up and you should be good in a few days.

Also, welcome to the Tropical Fish Keeping forum!
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