Need help from Experts please --newer tank help --
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Need help from Experts please --newer tank help --

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Need help from Experts please --newer tank help --
Old 07-17-2013, 12:08 PM   #1
 
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Exclamation Need help from Experts please --newer tank help --

Hello TFK community. after many days days of looking around for a good community to join i have decided to settle here for now to see how much help and information i can get/learn from this community. so looking forward to it guys!

I always loved fish! but it wasnt until very recently wife approved for me to get my own tank set up on my condo. After searching around sizes and what kind of tank I wanted to "create" I have decided to go with a 40 gallon (37 gal actual water capacity), Whisper EX 45 power filter, got a expensive heater, some rock/drift wood decor and fake plants. Also using deep blue rocks for gravel.

I was complete noob (lets be honest here) in setting up freshwater tanks, so after reading some posts i have decided to cycle my tank with few fish.

Set up my tank, decorated it, filled up with water, ran the filter and the heater for about 24 hours, and then went to Petco to get some cheap fish so i could start the bio cycle. I ended up picking out 4 silver tail mollies, (live bearers), 1 male swordfish. After i added the fish, within the first 12 hours the tank's water got very cloudy, and fish started to gasp for air. I assumed that's a normal sign for the brand new tank and was told that my tank was going through ammonia spike. I let it be for few days, and then started to do 15-25% water changes every 2-3 days just to help out the fish. I did not have any water testing strips or tubes, so i just monitored fish's behavior for now.

Tank's water became semi clear, and looking like things were getting established after 4-5 weeks of cloudiness.

Than someone advised me to make sure im changing out my bio filter pads every month or so, so... without any research, stupid me, i went home and threw away my bio filter pad, and inserted a new one (the filter came with pack of 2). Next day the water got pretty cloudy again, and i was puzzled to why that would happen. Did some research and found out that I just made a biggest mistake ever, by throwing the good established bacteria away and putting a brand new filter pad.

It has been over 4 weeks since I have done that. Here is my ISSUE NOW, I invested some money in purchasing API Master Test Kit, and been testing my aquarium water every other day. The readings are what trouble me, and i cant find a solution to what am I doing wrong, or do i just patience. Looking for some advice from the experts.

Did my water readings today and this has been the SAME result for 1.5 weeks now.

pH - 6.6
Ammonia - 4 (4-5ppm)
Nitrate - 0
Nitrite- 0

My Tap water test results:

pH - 7.6
Ammonia - 0
Nitrate - o
Nitrite - 0

I have not been able to reduce the ammonia even with water changes, and also the pH seems a bit low. Also not getting any Nitrate readings question my filter cycle process.

I have been doing 25% water changes every 5-6 days just to give the filter a bit of time to fight back the ammonia levels.

I feed the fish tiny bit once a day.

Anyone can advice me on my tank keeping methods? I know the tanks is not cycled due to ammonia readings, and is my pH levels too low? I been struggling with this tank for over a month now not knowing what am I doing wrong. Fish seem to be okay once in a while, and few times have I witnessed them gasping for air. Any advice would be greatly appreciate it. I thought about re-starting the tank completely few times now... because it seems I can not get the nitrate/nitrite levels to go up to start the actual cycle.

Thank you guys in advance!

-forged
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Old 07-17-2013, 06:05 PM   #2
 
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Welcome to the forum

Can I just ask - who advised you to throw out your media? Yeah, that's a pretty monumental mistake. The upside? You'll never do that again There's definitely a learning curve and you should expect to make some mistakes and lose some fish. What's important is that you learn from your mistakes and not repeat them.

The first 6 months are the hardest. All too often people new to the hobby make things harder on themselves by doing too much. In my experience the aquarium is pretty self sustaining, in that it does not require constant attention. Of course, some people enjoy paying constant attention to their aquariums, and they usually have more high tech tanks to satisfy that need. My point is that if you feed minimally and stay up on water changes, you'll make it through the cycling process with relative ease. After that, you can relax your water change routine to something that's more sustainable long term, such as once a week rather than every other day.

Gasping at the surface is ammonia poisoning - if you see the fish doing that it's an indication of poor water quality, and you're past due on a water change. You want to stay ahead of the poisoning. Like with taking pain meds - you don't want to wait till it hurts to take the next pill. Your goal cycling with fish is to keep the ammonia levels as low as possible. It's not easy on the fish, and it's not easy on the keeper either, which is why many people advocate a fishless cycle.

Since you have ammonia, the cycling process has started. Nitrates are the end result of the cycle. You will battle ammonia for 2-3 weeks. Then the ammonia levels will fall and the nitrites will rise. Then you will battle nitrites for another 2 weeks or so. All the while, ammonia will be 0. THEN, nitrite will drop to 0 and nitrates will rise. At that point the tank is cycled - ammonia and nitrite will be 0, and nitrates will steadily climb over time. The FINAL stage of the nitrogen cycle is the water change, to remove the nitrates. Things are a little different with planted tanks, however the same water change is required - just for a different reason.
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Old 07-17-2013, 06:50 PM   #3
 
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Jaysee thank you very much for the information.
Yes i learned the hard way by throwing away the media, dont even know why i did that, and the guy who advised me to do so works at a local "pet" store and has few aquariums himself so i trusted his advice, now i question his methods.

How ofeten would you say i should change my water? right now im doing it every 5-6 days. and yes when i see the fish at the top of the tank asking for air, i change the water that day. But i do agree with you, i should be one step ahead to prevent that.

Thank you once agian for your advice, just wanted to make sure im on the right track of getting the tank cycled.
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Old 07-17-2013, 07:35 PM   #4
 
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There's more than one way to keep fish. We're now in the golden age of fish keeping - it wasn't too long ago that there was quite a bit of mysticism when it came to keeping fish, and people did what their fish store told them to do. There are some people that have been doing what they do for a very long time. To those new to the hobby in this information age, some of the old time methods and practices may seem archaic. And to some degree they are, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't work, because they clearly do for those individuals. However, the mechanics of an aquarium are not the mystery they once were, and we can proceed in the hobby from a much more informed perspective.

LOTS of people fall victim to fish store employees. When you think about it, it's easy to do when people don't do any research of their own before going to the store. The store employee could be giving the best advice, or the worst advice, and those people wouldn't know the difference. That's how MOST people start out in the hobby. We all started somewhere

While the tank is cycling, I would do daily or every other day water changes. You can use a product like prime to detoxify the ammonia and nitrite between water changes, or when you see the fish gasping and you don't have time to do an immediate water change. I know it's a PITA, but the more water changes you do the better it is for the fish. Can you keep a less vigorous schedule? Of course, but I think 5-6 days is too long to go between water changes when cycling with fish. Daily really would be best, and 5-6 days is too long, so something in the middle would probably be practical for you till the cycle is reestablished. Should take less time than an initial cycle.
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Old 07-17-2013, 09:19 PM   #5
 
Welcome to the community, I have learned so much here myself already. My husband and I started out the exact same way you did. It took my husband every day to every other day of water changes for the first several weeks before our ammonia went down, but don't get discouraged it will. After the constant water changes our water became very cloudy and we learned it was good bacteria and then algae started to grow but we left it alone for a while to build good bacteria. Then finally after at least 6 weeks we had clear, healthy water. The best thing is just to keep doing water changes.

We eventually went away from gravel and fake plants to real plants and sand. Some of your ammonia problem could be food at the bottom of the tank you can't get. Try picking up the artificial plants and shaking them around in the water and seeing if a lot of stuff doesn't come out, waste and old food. Waste can really get down in those crevices where you wouldn't even imagine. After you stir some up you can catch it with a net or vacuum it out during your water change. Live plants can grow in gravel too and it may help your tank cycle if you could get at least one to mix in with your artificial plants. Hang in there!
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Old 07-18-2013, 09:18 AM   #6
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Welcome to the forum!

You've got some good advise to start with. If you change 50% of the water every day or two and use Prime to treat the water, that will alleviate the fish gasping issue and get the ammonia lower. Prime de-toxofies ammonia, nitrites and nitrates for a day or two. Ideally if you can get it down around 1ppm the cycle will progress quicker... but ultimately it takes as long as it takes. Vacuuming the substrate to remove the excess waste (uneaten food and fish crap) will help to keep the ammonia factory in check.

Good luck.

Jeff.
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Old 07-22-2013, 09:15 AM   #7
 
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Update.

Taken the advice to change my water every other day 15-20% ... Seems like it helps the fish have a temp relief from ammonia. No more gasping. Checked my water state and the results still read pH 6.6. Ammonia 4.0 ppm Nitrate and Nitrite 0 .... Been like that over 4 weeks... Is this normal??
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Old 07-22-2013, 10:08 AM   #8
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Normal seems to be a loose term.

Did you ever see any nitrites in the testing? If so, and they are now zero, you've probably just got something creating a lot of ammonia... but anecdotally, 4 weeks is not unusual. Some have reported 6 or more weeks. Even with the mistake of tossing the filter media it will not kill the cycle, it will just increase the time to get to fully cycling as the filter is not the only place where the bio-films grow.

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Old 07-22-2013, 03:01 PM   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDM View Post
Normal seems to be a loose term.

Did you ever see any nitrites in the testing? If so, and they are now zero, you've probably just got something creating a lot of ammonia... but anecdotally, 4 weeks is not unusual. Some have reported 6 or more weeks. Even with the mistake of tossing the filter media it will not kill the cycle, it will just increase the time to get to fully cycling as the filter is not the only place where the bio-films grow.

Jeff.
Jeff,
I don't recall my nitrates ever showing up.. But then it might of during the first initial cycle. I didn't have my water tester kit to txt my water so I'm not sure what the tank went through. I only got the tester kit when I replaced my filter bio pad and kept the track of water since then. Like I said has been 4 weeks since then and nothing is showing up besides ammonia.

As far as something creating the ammonia, I highly doubt it due to my very little stock for the size of the tank. I have 3 silver tail mollies, 2 red mollies, 1 yellow molly, I bright yellow molly, 2 Japanese placos. All fish are around 1-2inch long. I have a 40 gallon tank.

When I do water changes I vacuum the fish crap pretty good.
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Old 07-22-2013, 03:51 PM   #10
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I know, it seems off but if the ammonia keeps coming up to that level there's some decent source of it in there.

If you are doing frequent water changes your nitrates may just not be accumulating but they should be higher than zero at least, if everything were ticking along properly.

The long ans short of it is the cycle will establish, there isn't much that you could do to stop it anyway, you just have to have some patience and keep up the changes and treating the water... it'll come around.

Something that you might want to try is skip feeding the fish, I mean skip a day or two at a time. I do that with the office tank as I would rather miss a day or two than have staff drop in too much food. I often don't feed them Saturday or Sunday. It could help keep some of the ammonia production down.

Jeff.
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