Tank Cycling (unexpectedly) expert opinion needed
I've been keeping fish for 6 years now, so i like to think i'm somewhere around "intermediate" when it comes to issues with tanks. This is my first post to one of these forums, so please bear with me, as i need to be as descriptive as possible here...
I was required to move, and also out-grew my 29G setup, and therefore bought a 55-gallon and set it up in my new apartment about a week before moving out of the old one. this 55 gallon tank was used. i thought, "perfect, no cycling needed". i thought i'd give the awful tap water (chloramine/ammonia mix instead of free chlorine in the new water) a chance to get settled into my new Filstar XP3 and since i had all the ornaments, gravel, and hang-on filter from this guy's tank, + 7 days before adding new fish, i figured i was in good shape. daily testing of water parameters yielded low ammonia (from the tap water, or so i thought), 0 nitrite, 10 nitrate. (using API freshwater liquid test kit).
I dropped the new fish into my tank the day i moved in, and everything was fine, until 1 week after move in. ammonia hit 1-2ppm and nitrite at .25. testing today (1 week later) ammonia is at 0ppm and nitrite is so purple i cant tell if its 2.0 or 5.0ppm, but either way its entirely too high. the fish are visibly stressed. so, in desperation, i un-hooked my XP-2 filter from my 29 Gallon tank (currently empty of water...for 2 days now, and added it to the xp3, hoping that the bacteria from my XP-2 hasn't been destroyed from spending 2 days drying out. I also added half of the gravel from my 29 gallon tank (this never fully dried) into the new 55 gallon setup.
I never expected the tank to re-cycle. i thought there was more than enough beneficial bacteria in the tank, but apparently I was wrong. To make matters worse, there is now a rapidly developing case of Ich, (which i know can happen when fish are stressed out, their immune systems dont function as well). Here are my questions:
1. The amount of water flow is a LOT right now using both filters on a single 55 gallon tank, but i feel incorporating an established filter (assuming the bacteria hasn't all died off) is worth the increased flow. thoughts?
2. I have a 12X (36 watt) TurboTwist sterilizer and i'm debating whether or not to hook it up. My immediate thought is, any lag that this could cause to the re-cycle of the tank could be outweighed by the effects on UV killing the Ich while it is in the tomont stage. thoughts?
3. i know the UV wont eradicate the ich by itself. However, since the tank is cycling, and the fish are already stressed enough, i'm very hesitant to add medication to the tank unless given direction to do so by an expert.
4. do i just perform daily 25% water changes despite the tank being mid-cycle? turn on the UV-filter? how long will it take before i know whether or not the added filter & gravel are helping the Cycle? considering nitrite levels generally continue to grow before converting to nitrate, i find this very difficult to tell if its helping. do i CONSIDER treating the tank for Ich right now with something like malachite green? my gut says no.
5. In hind-sight I know i've made a couple huge mistakes here (letting my old filter dry-out), but please go easy on me, its been a hectic few weeks.
6. despite having extremely hard water, i've seen the PH steadily drop from 7.4 (tap- 2 weeks ago) to 6.6 (today). since my buffer is extremely high, how concerned should i be by this? my last tank took 6 months for the PH to drop to 6.6.
7. i found out today that the guy who sold me the tank was "nice" enough to take all his ornaments out and clean them in diluted bleach. awesome.
Thanks to everyone for your advice in advance.
Nice to hear that you got a 55, lots better than 29. Soumds like your thank was just starting to cycle. First you need ammonia. Then bacteria that process ammonia can colonize and comvert it into nitrite. Nitrite is just as harmful to fish as ammonia, maybe more so. After nitrite is being produced, a second type of bacteria can colonize. This second type converts it into nitrate which is much less hazardous than ammonia or nitrite, but still harmful. The final stage would be if you have plants, they use nitrate as fertilizer for growth and respiration. You'll still need to change water to prevent accumulation of toxins.
So... according to your test results I would say that first stage bacteria are present and are converting ammonia into nitrite, but nitrite consuming bacteria have not yet colonized to produce any nitrate. Youneed nitrites to grow the bacteria colony that will stabilize your tank so your not in bad shape, just need to be very, very, very, very patient. When you start to read nitrate you'll know your getting there. Your tank is not cycled if it is not producing nitrate. I
I hope this helps you good luck with your fish!
Ps. I've waited as long as 6 weeks for a full cycle
P.P.S in my humble opinion the best thing you can do for your fish is to keep changing water. Remember, its not the water that has to age and cycle , its the tank and filter
Raise the temp to at least 86 degrees for 2 weeks to cure ich.
+1 JaySee, Do a water change to get the nitrite down to a reasonable level, add a minimal dose of salt to control brown blood and wait is all you can do
it sounds to me like you are indeed cycling. first i want to point out that letting things dry out will almost always kill Bactria so you can not count on them being alive at this point. since you gravel never fully dried out you may get lucky there and some would survive and this will help speed up the cycle. the best thing you can do now is to do 10-25% water change daily to keep your nitrite levels down(this will slow down cycling of the tank though) a second option is there is chems that are out there to detoxify nitrite and ammonia but i personally do not like to use chems but i have in the past and the one i recommend is Seachem stability.(follow directions on bottle). as for your ick porblem again i do not recommend chems for this but you can use them but it may not be a good idea this is why meds stress fish and yours are already stressed that could be very bad and could cause death. second reason you must remove your carbon filter during treatment this could be bad in the middle of a cycle because the carbon filter is helping control ammonia nitrite ect. thats in your tank now. my suggestion would be to raise your water temp up to 83 degrees slowly and treat the ick with salt. i think the ratio is one tsp per gallon of water. the temp increase will speed up the life cycle of the ick and cause the white spots to burst releasing the ick into the water where it can be killed and the salt and heat will take care of the rest. if the ick dose not find a host (another fish to attach too) within 3 days it will die. that being said you will need to continue this treatment till the all fish have been spot free for 3 days. this is important salt never evaporates form water so you will need to only add more salt if you remove water. i.e. your daily 10-25% water changes to control your nitrites.
hope this was helpful best of luck
p.s. i would leave both filters on there and running for now until your tank is done cycling. as for your ph im not so good my self with ph stuff but i would have to say if your taps ph is where you want it to be the water changes should help. but im not sure how you would keep it up beyond that.
thanks for the advice! if you were me, would you turn on the UV sterilizer to assist the ich problem? i just dont want to subject my fish to elevated nitrite levels any longer than absolutely required at this point. my concern with water changes is that the tap water in this area is at .5-.7ppm ammonia (i know, awful situation), and i don't want to prolong unnecessary exposure to ammonia, but i feel i have no other alternative. I just invested $180 in the 36W UV sterilizer and really cant afford a R/O filter at the moment to remedy my tap water problem. thanks again!
also, i have a variety of fish (can you see my aquarium stock on my profile?) and i've chosen 77 degrees because it is the only temperature that is in the ideal range for all my stock. if the ideal range for some of my stock is, say, 72-79, and i raise the temp to 84, how much additional stress are we talking about if i do this for 2 weeks?
Carbon does not help control ammonia or nitrite.
sorry did not see on your original post that you had one. thought i have never use one i do hear many good things about them and they do kill ick only if its free floating in the water. so since you do have one i would use it. but you would still need to make sure that all fish have no visible sign of ick on them for at least 3 days. now to what i previously had told you to do the raised temp is to speed up the life cycle of the ick making getting rid of it be a quicker process. and the salt will kill it free floating in the water because it can not survive the salty conditions. Your uv should kill it once it enters the water and if you slowly raise the temp up i would say to 82-83 degrees it would speed up getting ride of your ick and as long as you are very carfull and raise the temp up over a few days your fish should be able to handle those water temps in the tropical areas water temps do occasionally go that high.
You can raise the temp in an evening, not in a few days. The heater can only raise the temp so fast, and in my experience (treating with JUST heat - 2 weeks at 88) one can set the heater to the desired temp and it will SLOWLY get there at a rate of 1-2 degrees an hour. A word of caution - until you are familiar with your particular heater, always monitor it. Sometimes the thermometer is not calibrated correctly and the temp of the water and the temp you set it to will be different. Sometimes heaters come broken out of the box.
Lots of live plants can help with ammonia, but always treat tapwater to remove/neutralize harmful additives/contaminants
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