04-20-2009, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Shanna
I have a 29 gallon tank. Just put 5 cherry barbs in today. The pH was good earlier...about 7.2. My question is, how often should I do water changes during the cycling period? I read that you should do a 5 percent water change daily during the 1st week. Is that enough water? Too often? And do I do the tests (ammonium, pH, nitrate, nitrite) before or after the water change?
So far you haven't had your question on when to do the tests answered, so the answer is, before and after a water change. You need to know the state of the water before you change it. It is also usual to do another test a few minutes after a water change; this lets you know the effect of the water change (sometimes it can surprise one). Also test the ammonia, nitrite and pH of your tap water once just so you'll know what might occur during a water change; hopefully the ammonia and nitrite will be "0", but in some areas tap water does have ammonia, and that is bad but a water conditioner that removes ammonia will handle this.
In a new tank at the beginning the ammonia and nitrite will be `0`and once the cycling starts (you add fish) the ammonia will rise and then drop back to `0`and the nitrite will do the same a few days later(once the ammonia has `peaked`the nitrite will start). Ammonia tests should be done every day on a new tank until such time as the ammonia has fallen to "0" (usually 5-9 days). Once the ammonia lvel shows that it is starting to drop, start nitrite testing and maintain that evey day until the level drops to "0" (another 5-9 days). Nitrate can then be tested, and provided it is acceptable (under 40ppm is OK) only periodic tests are required unless it is fluctuating a lot or starts rising--both of which indicate a problem. Once a tank is biologically established (the cycling is complete, anywhere from 2-8 weeks) the ammonia and nitrite should always be "0" and unless you do something to cause the biological equilibrium to crash (neglect weekly partial water changes, add too many fish, overfeed, leave dead fish and plant material in the tank) these will never be above "0".
As to water changes during the cycling, I generally do them once a week provided the cycling is normal. Adding a biological `seed`such as `Cycle`when you put in the first fish will greatly reduce the stress on the fish and slightly quicken the cycling period. Never vacuum the gravel during the cycling period (it will remove the good bacteria you are trying to establish on and in the substrate) and never clean the filter until after the 8 weeks, and then only rinse the media to remove the particulate matter and use water from the tank (tap water contains chlorine which will kill the good bacteria). Filter media should never be replaced unless it is literally falling apart or has lost its usefulness (depends upon the media); it will be colonized with the good bacteria and you don`t want to remove it.