Double Water Change... Safe? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 13 Old 01-28-2014, 08:31 PM Thread Starter
Unhappy Double Water Change... Safe?

I'm doing daily water changes in an attempt to reduce NitrIte in my new 20-gal freshwater tank. The tank has been running for a total of fourteen days, and fish have been in it for ten. Ammonia is under 0.25ppm, but NitrIte has been 5ppm or higher for a week. Today, I did a 40% water change and saw no measurable decrease in NitrItes immediately following the dilution. Note that there are no detectable NitrItes in my tap water.

Is it safe to do back-to-back water changes on a single day? Is there a minimum interval I should wait?
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post #2 of 13 Old 01-28-2014, 09:03 PM
Sylverclaws's Avatar
Depending on the size of the change it may be alright.

Are there any fish in there? If not, you can do two larger ones per day like two 5-8 gallon changes, or even 50/50 provided you do them about 10-12 hours or so apart. If you have fish in there, you will not want to do more than 50% or so...I mean you CAN, but it's not good in an unstable tank to do more than a 20-25% change twice per day.

Again, safety depends on if you have fish, how large of a change each time we're talking, and which would be worse if you do have fish...Worse is letting them stay in the ammonia, if it is too high, you can do larger changes, just don't tamper with the filter.

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post #3 of 13 Old 01-28-2014, 09:59 PM Thread Starter
Yup. Fish are in. Started w/ five Zebra Danios, but lost one four days later. Trying to protect and sustain the remaining population. Thanks for the advice.
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post #4 of 13 Old 01-28-2014, 10:26 PM
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Treat Seachem Prime when you change, it will help remove ammonia and detoxify nitrite and nitrate, this will HELP protect your fish while the tank finishes its cycle. Unfortunately you will still need to do daily changes until it's stable, it's just slightly less likely to kill the rest of your fish. It wont remove the possibility of more dying though, as damage has likely already been done, but you can help. It's really not good to get any fish until the cycle is done unless you're prepared for losses or sick fish, it's very hard to prevent issues even with protective chemicals. But Prime will HELP. Be prepared though, it does smell. >< But it is one of the best water conditioners to use when changing water or setting up a tank out there.
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post #5 of 13 Old 01-28-2014, 10:57 PM Thread Starter
I ordered some Prime... hoping it arrives tomorrow. I thought I knew what to expect from the nitrogen cycle when I chose to add fish. It seems, however, that the advice of my LFS and the testimonials I read about the effectiveness of "quick start" bacteria conditioners (I chose Nutrafin Cycle) took me down a path I regret. Next time, I'll do a fishless cycle for sure. The fish-in approach comes with too much work, too much risk, too much anxiety.
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post #6 of 13 Old 01-29-2014, 12:10 AM
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Awuh, I'm sorry about that! Yes, a lot of LFS's give bad info, or just info they're "Told" to give without realizing that stuff isn't that great. I'm sure it sometimes works out right, but probably only if you get really, REALLY well-bred healthy fish with strong systems...and you just rarely get those fish at pet shops.

Now, here's a little something else that can help even it out and make it a bit safer for your fish. Plants. Live plants. If you can, go to your LFS and buy some cheap stem plants(plants that are more...long and viney), it doesn't really matter what type provided your tank doesn't have a lot of salt. If you can find some duck weed or giant duck weed, that's good too, just make sure you block it off from your filter or it'll get sucked up and die. Another user on here, showed me a homemade "Pen" for it, she used a little plastic tube, like the stuff that comes with bubblers, and the sticky cups like you have to hold the heater to the glass, just block off a place up top with those. Plants will help even out things, make more oxygen and even food, and help suck up toxins in the water...they're kinda like a filter helper. They'll also help lessen stress to your fish because they can hide and forage. Most plants will do, smaller anubias nana are often good...but the stem plants(I wish I could remember the names of mine, I hope someone can help you out there, lessee if I can find you some photos so you know what to look for by sight at least!), and duck weed are really the best at sucking up ammonia and lowering nitrites and nitrates. Most floating plants are good too if you're lucky enough to find them, they're extremely hard to find here. Guppy grass is also good, float weed too.

Here's some photos...I don't have many of JUST my plants, but if you can find the ones that look like the plants in the photos, go for them. If they get too long for your tank, just break/clip them in half and replant those clippings, they'll re-grow. I wish I had thought to take more photos of JUST my plants so I could use them as examples for people. Now most of these you can only buy "Dry" and I actually suggest that over buying plants out of tanks...usually little packages, even some bulbs, at a lot of pet shops, petco and petsmart often have them. I wash off the gel really good, leave them to soak in a bowl for an hour to get any I missed off and rinse them thoroughly again, and then just stick them into my sand or gravel. Those tend to do pretty good surprisingly. Perhaps you or another person will know what these plants are called. ^^;

These are especially delicious. =)

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post #7 of 13 Old 01-29-2014, 02:50 AM
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A couple 50% water changes equals a 75% water change. Just do a 75% daily, triple dose with Prime. Future tanks can be cloned from an existing mature tank, it minimizes if not eliminates the cycling thing.
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post #8 of 13 Old 01-29-2014, 06:24 AM
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Unfortunately you were given poor advice on the brand of bottled bacteria to use. Nutrafin Cycle does not contain the nitrifying bacteria that performs the nitrogen cycle. Tetra Safestart does. It is th most commonly used and recommended live bacteria product around here. It is especially effective in oxidizing nitrite.

As long as the bottle is fresh and has never been frozen or overheated, it works great, frequently in less than a week.

In the mean time, Prime is your friend. A 4x dose will not hurt livestock but will help against nitrite (and, of course, ammonia).

Live plants are great. They actually work faster at ammonia-removal than bacteria. But you have to have healthy fast-growing plants already established in your tank. The exceptions are floaters like Wisteria, Frogbit, Anacharis, Water sprite which grow fast floating in the water column. They work by consuming ammonia before it can turn to nitrite and nitrate. Duckweed works, but you'd better have it corralled. It's nasty stuff which grows like weeds and sticks to everything.

For now, if I were you, I'd just use Prime and water changes and wait out the cycle, or get some Tetra Safestart and be done in a few days.
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post #9 of 13 Old 01-29-2014, 09:37 AM Thread Starter
Thanks very much Sylverclaws, Tolak, and Hallyx for taking time to respond. I'll do another big water change tonight and multi-dose with Prime (hoping it arrives).

What are the strains of bacteria in Safestart that are different from Cycle?

I have read so many conflicting posts regarding these products. Everyone seems to have a favorite they swear-by, which is understandable. But there does appear to be evidence that these are very different products, not just commodity alternatives.

Some folks claim that Cycle the formulation was changed a few years ago to include the "right" bacteria. Others claim Seachem Stability is effective. Detractors say that while Stability does reduce nitrogen it does not promote sustainable colonies of nitrifying bacteria, thus creating a chemical dependency in the tank. Purists claim that none of these products work.

I have information burn-out at this point, and I'm inclined toward low-intervention sustainable methods. I don't want to lose more fish, but I can't be a slave to a cocktail of additives with a tank that sits on the hairy-edge of stability. Water changes, de-toxing conditioners, and live plants are the most appealing suggestions I have heard to date.

I do have a single banana plant in the tank now, which is doing well. I was thinking about adding one or more of: java fern, spiralis, anubias, and amazon sword. To the extent that this additional biomass will have some decay - and therefore produce ammonia - do you think I should wait any longer in the cycle, or is it advisable to add something now in service of the nitrIte problem?
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post #10 of 13 Old 01-29-2014, 04:41 PM
I have, personally and recently, use Tetra's SafeStart. I double dosed my tank. SafeStart will prevent the ammonia from rising over 1ppm so long as it is under 4ppm when it is added. I monitored my tank as closely as possible with my treatment and I never saw it anywhere over 1ppm. It took my tank two weeks to fully cycle with fish in it. I did no water changes, as advised by Tetra until I had nitrates that got to 20. I also did not use it within 48 hours of using Prime, also as advised by Tetra.

Personally, I would get the large bottle (Petco has it cheaper than Petsmart) or two small bottles (Walmart has them for $6) and use that. When I emptied the container, I squeezed it to get as much air out as possible, then sucked up water directly from the tank and squirted it out a couple times. I used a whole bottle on a 10 gallon, and it is advised to just use the entire bottle, regardless, because the bacteria will spoil. I hope my personal experience helps you out a little.
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