Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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prg9483 07-26-2008 12:50 PM

My cycling tank is in real trouble!
Please help!
1. Size of aquarium (# of gallons) 20
2. Is your aquarium setup freshwater or brackish water? freshwater
3. How long the aquarium has been set up? 3 weeks on Monday
4. What fish and how many are in the aquarium (species are important to know) 4 female bettas, 4 platies, and 1 UD cat
5. Are there live plants in the aquarium? some floating wisteria something or other
6. What temperature is the tank water currently? 79 degrees
7. What make/model filter are you using? Top Fin 20
8. Are you using a CO2 unit? no
9. Does your aquarium receive natural sunlight at any given part of the day? very slight amount
10. When did you perform your last water exchange, and how much water was changed? last Sunday-25%
11. How often do you perform water changes? once a week
12. How often and what foods do you feed your fish? twice a day, and a combination of flake, pellets and either freeze dried or frozen tubifex, blood worms, brine shrimp or daphnia (I use a different one each time, not all of them at one time) and with the flakes and pellets I use one or the other, not both at the same time.
13. What type of lighting are you using and how long is it kept on? flourescent-4-6 hrs daily
14. What specific concerns bring you here at this time? I have lost 3 fish now and my ammonia levels have sky-rocketed
15. What are your water parameters? Test your pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. nitrate=0, nitrite=0, GH=75, KH=300, pH=8.4, ammonia=6.0
16. What test kit are you using and is it liquid or test strips? test strips
17. When was the last time you bought a fish and how did they behave while in the pet store tank? 2 weeks ago, and they were fine...acted like normal, happy, healthy fish.

I am just very concerned about the ammonia levels. Why is the ammonia high, and the nitrate and nitrite levels staying at 0? I know that this is just cycling tank right now, and that the fish that I put in there were for the purposes of cycling only, but I still hate to see them die. Knowing that it may be something I'm doing or have done.

Little-Fizz suggested small daily water changes, but I haven't had the chance yet. Thank you for the advice Little-Fizz, sorry that I haven't taken it yet. I am getting ready to do that this morning. But being that the ammonia is so high, should I do more than a small water change? If so, how much?

Help from you experts is greatly appreciated, and my fish will love you too!

Little-Fizz 07-26-2008 04:55 PM

:? Hm well its hard to say really... Because your using test strips we don't really know where your ammonias at right now. Like you could go out and get a liquid test kit, come home and test, and your ammonia might only be .25. If you get what I'm saying :wink: You need a liquid test kit.... I also just noticed your pH is like really high(again only if your test strips are telling the truth, and that doesn't happen often).

If your tanks been cycling for three weeks now and your only doing weekly water changes with that many fish in there, then theres no way you have no nitrite readings. I wish I could give you some solid advice right now but I can't really tell you anything until I know for sure your water parameters are. So if you can I would recommend getting an API liquid master test kit with ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH. Then we will know for sure whats going on with your tank.

But a water change isn't a bad idea right now. I wouldn't change to much, say 25%? It will be enough to make your fish a little more comfortable.

beweeb 07-26-2008 04:57 PM

test strips are very inacurite :evil:

prg9483 07-26-2008 05:25 PM

Liquid is better? Okay...I will head there the meantime I have done a 25% water change, and will see how things go. I also lost another fish, that makes 4 fish lost now.
As for the pH, I am on well water, and I assume that is the reason for the high pH. I keep adding pH down...but to no avail. I do have a liquid pH test kit, but have just been using the test strips. I will use the liquid test from now on.

jeaninel 07-26-2008 08:10 PM

It's good that your getting a liquid test kit...much more accurate than the strips. Since your tank is cycling with fish I would do partial water changes at least every 2-3 days depending on the readings. Also, cut back the feedings to only once a day and make sure it all gets eaten. Excess food will contribute to your ammonia problem.

If your ammonia really is at 6ppm then you'll need to do a couple massive water changes to get it down to a bearable level for your fish.

prg9483 07-26-2008 08:12 PM

Okay, I used my liquid pH test kit and the pH level is 7.6. Does that sound better to you Little-Fizz?
Tomorrow I will go buy a Master Test Kit and post the readings. I added RO and ultra violet filtered water after taking out 25% today, hopefully that will help out. It's using up my drinking water, but that's okay, if I can save some of my fish it's worth it.

Little-Fizz 07-27-2008 01:05 AM


Originally Posted by prg9483
Okay, I used my liquid pH test kit and the pH level is 7.6. Does that sound better to you Little-Fizz?

Yes!! That sounds way better! I'll be away for most of the day tomorrow but I hope to be around for when you get your liquid test kit. I have a feeling it will tell us differently then your strips have been reading.

Sorry to hear about your loss. Hopefully it won't happen again :wink:

prg9483 07-27-2008 03:37 PM

Okay, so here are the results from the master test kit:
Ammonia=between 2.0 & 4.0

So the test strips weren't so far off the mark. So now I'm really confused. How can my ammonia be so high and the nitrate & nitrite levels be 0?

prg9483 07-27-2008 04:59 PM

On a good fish look like they feel a lot better, AND I haven't lost any in the last 24 hours.

I was wondering...I have some rocks in my tank that did not come from a pet store...they came from my back yard. I DID soak them before hand and scrub them VERY WELL and they do not, nor ever have bubbled or anything...but could they be contributing to my ammonia levels? What about that live wisteria plant stuff that I have floating on the surface? It came with my bettas, and I was assured that it has been growing in my friends tanks for a long time. Should I remove that stuff (the rocks and plants)?

jeaninel 07-27-2008 06:18 PM

Don't worry about the rocks or the plant. They won't contribute to the ammonia problem. Your tank is only 3 weeks old so it is still in the beginnings of the cycle. Ammonia shows up first, then nitrite, then nitrate. That's why you have an ammonia reading but not nitrite or nitrate yet. Ammonia between 2-4ppm is still very lethal to fish so I would do at least a 50% change now and then another 50% later tonight. Try to get the ammonia down to about .25-.5ppm. Since you have fish in the tank it will take longer to cycle because you need to do water changes often to keep it bearable for the fish. Don't rinse your filter cartridge or vacuum the gravel too much. Feed the fish lightly once per day. Don't add anymore fish either until the tank is fully cycled. It may take 6-8 weeks or longer for your tank to cycle. Patience is key. Good luck!

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