Confused about cycling and ammonia levels - Page 5 - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #41 of 70 Old 12-05-2009, 12:02 AM Thread Starter
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(.25 - I'll do a water change in the A.M.)

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post #42 of 70 Old 12-05-2009, 10:45 AM
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my nitrites are almost to .25, but ammonia is at 1.0 - why r u doing the water change if the ammonia is turning into nitrites isn't that what you want to happen?
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post #43 of 70 Old 12-05-2009, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by billswin View Post
my nitrites are almost to .25, but ammonia is at 1.0 - why r u doing the water change if the ammonia is turning into nitrites isn't that what you want to happen?
The nitrosomonas and nitrospira bacteria [nitrosomonas convert ammonia/ammonium to nitrite, nitrospira convert nitrite to nitrates] do not live in the water, so doing a partial water change will not affect the cycle. Only change the water, don't vacuum the substrate as the bacteria colonize hard surfaces like the grains of gravel, and you don't want to remove them. Similarly don't clean the filter (unless it gets clogged) during the cycling period.

A pwc every day will not harm any fish, it will be positive. It is done during the cycling to keep ammonia and/or nitrite levels low, since these stress fish and if high enough cause internal damage which can lead to health issues and early death, or if really high can outright kill the fish.

The earlier comment that store staff recommended pwc if fish were showing stress is fine, but if you are testing ammonia and nitrite you can see the level rising before the fish start showing stress and causing further damage, so do the pwc. Don't wait for the fish to become permanently damaged internally before taking action.

On the ammonia, if you are using Prime or a similar detoxifier don't fuss over high ammonia readings; these products detoxify by changing ammonia to harmless ammonium. The nitrosomonas bacteria will still use the ammonium same as ammonia. Prime also claims to detoxify nitrite, but I've no experience or data on how this occurs or to what degree, so myself I would do a daily pwc with nitrite above .25.


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 #44 of 70 Old 12-06-2009, 11:25 PM Thread Starter
Cool Cycle is FINALLY starting...but a few ??s

So, I'm finally getting nitrite readings (around/below .25) and doing 20% water changes to keep them there (one yesterday and one far).

My three NEW questions are:

1) My tank seems to be smelling a little "fishy". Now, I know fish live in there, but is it supposed to smell "fishy"? I believe I started noticing the smell about the same time that I started getting nitrite readings. I don't know if the two are related. I can really only smell it if I put my nose right above the water, and the smell is greatly reduced after a 20% water change. The filter definitely smells "fishy", but still not something I can smell unless I put my nose up to it.

Anyway, is this normal?

2) I've just noticed that there is a white film growing on some things in my aquarium, particularly the suction cups for the heater and feeding ring (or maybe it's just more noticeable on them, since they are black). I also noticed the film on an air tube, at water level. Again, I seem to have noticed this about the time I started getting nitrite readings and don't know if the two are related.

So, is this anything to be worried about?

3) When should I change my carbon filter? I have an Aqueon QuietFlow 10. It has the carbon filter and a "Bio-Holster" that supposedly "holds" the bacteria, so changing the filter won't affect the bacteria. According to Aqueon, it should be done every 4-6 weeks, or when water starts entering the filter by-pass channel (whatever/wherever that is). I've pulled it out and it is definitely dirty and smelly, but I don't want to screw anything up with the cycle, if I replace it...


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post #45 of 70 Old 12-07-2009, 12:29 AM
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Don't put your nose right over the surface of the tank. All kinds of organisims and bacteria begin to develop in the aquarium and there is ample time to clean the stuff you mention while doing water changes AFTER the tank has matured.
If it bugs you terribly, you can use a new toothbrush and or paper towel (clean) Folded into fourths to wipe down surfaces but again,, I would wait until the tank matures (cycled).
You really need to try and get as much mileage as you can from carbon inserts,cartridges etc. Most folks simply swish this material around in a bucket of old aquarium water that is removed during water changes and stick em back in. Recommended filter changing by manufacturers is way for them to make money. The carbon in these cartridges ,given the small amount,,, is only effective for a week or two. After that the surface of the carbon and the material covering it, becomes home for the beneficial bacteria and hence the reason why most folks sim0ply clean it as described,and stick it back in. In newer tanks,I would not be inclined to replace it too quickly. Once the tank has become3 established, (cycled) then you can replace it if you like so long as there is also the bio material you speak of. Fresh carbon will reduce the smell in tanks but again,, I would not worry about it till after the tank is more mature.
Others will say carbon is not needed and is true,but for this particular tank, at this particular time,,,I would not remove,replace anything till the tank has matured.

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.
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post #46 of 70 Old 12-08-2009, 09:37 AM Thread Starter

Thanks 1077!

Just to clarify one more thing: Now that the ammonia is being processed into nitrates, do I still need to feed small amounts every other day?

I only ask because my betta has become a bottom-feeder, pecking anything he can find off the bottom of the tank.

I guess I should be glad he hasn't eaten any of my minnows or ghost shrimp. He seems to only like to snack on danios, so far...
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post #47 of 70 Old 12-08-2009, 09:44 AM
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Foraging along the bottom is what fish do in the wild. Nobody there to drop food on surface for them at regular intervals. Best to feed fish a small amount and watch to see that they eat it. Then you can offer a little more and see that it too is eaten. Many folks sprinkle Xamount of food on the surface or throw in X amount of pellets. Fish will eat what they can or want and the rest begins to decay which is the beginning of water quality deterioration. I am not advocating starving the fish ,just advocating controlled feeding.

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.
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post #48 of 70 Old 12-08-2009, 07:12 PM Thread Starter
Thanks again.

I understand that, as far as the flakes go. The betta food is floating pellets and if I drop them in, one at a time, he'll eat at least 4 or 5 of them. When I only let him have 1 or 2, then he goes over to the other side of the tank and starts eating the tropical flakes.

I can feed the betta 4 or 5 pellets a day and he will eat them. Will this create enough extra waste to cause an ammonia problem, though? By the way, I just tested the ammonia and it is very near 0...mostly yellow, with a tiny bit of green in it. I'll post the full results when I'm done.
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post #49 of 70 Old 12-08-2009, 10:10 PM Thread Starter
So, here are the full results from testing tonight:

Ph: ~7.2
Ammonia: 0 (yellow w/ very small amt of green)
Nitrite: between .25 & .5 (doing a pwc tonight)
Nitrate: 0 (similar level to Ammonia - mostly yellow w/ very small amt of orange)
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post #50 of 70 Old 12-09-2009, 12:24 AM
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Were it me, I would like to see Betta eat a couple three pellets a day and some flake . Variety of foods are better than one type food. Fish sounds to me to be doing well with the way you are feeding. Nitrification process (cycling) seems to be moving along well also. I would just keep doing what you are doing. Soon the nitrites will fall off to zero and nitrAtes will appear. Once this happens,and ammonia and nitrites read zero for five or six consecutive days, You will be good to go.

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.
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ammonia , freshwater aquarium , new tank

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