Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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nicktoozoff 09-09-2006 02:32 AM

Completely Clueless!!
G'Day All,

I am very new to the world of goldfish and aquariums. I am reading lots about cycling, nitrates/nitrites, ammonia, bacteria and none of it makes any sense to me. I have been given a 19lt tank and two goldfish. The tank has a filter to suit the tank size (starters kit), and I have conditioned the water and am yet to test the ph. Both fish are living quite happily 1 week now!!!! Could someone explain to me what a cycling tank is, and do I have one. How do I test for ammonia and nitrate/nitrite levels etc. Also are there any good websites (apart from this one) that can spell everything I need to know out to me??

Cheers Nick Toozoff.

Lupin 09-09-2006 02:40 AM


Cycling is simply trying to produce bacteria and let them established in the tank. Bacteria converts fish wastes(which is ammonia) into nitrites. Then they convert the nitrites into nitrates. Take note that a high level of ammonia and nitrites is dangerous for fish hence we advised you to choose fishless cycling which is cycling without fish.

Without bacteria, you'll find your test kits reading an increasing level of ammonia and nitrites which will eventually kill your fish.

If you cycle with fish, then you have to test the water parameters daily and if you see a spike in ammonia and nitrites, do a water change.

When doing water changes, there is no need for you to remove the fish.
Simply remove a partial percentage of the water and replace it with new water straight from the tap. Before you place the water in the tank, treat it with dechlorinator to eliminate chlorine and chloramine which are harmful to the fish.

Goldfish won't thrive long in a 19 liters tank. You'll need 50 gallons for two alone. They can produce wastes a lot meaning you do more water changes than usual which is almost daily water changes.

Test the following water parameters:
Ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, pH
You buy those in a test kit which is often available in your shop.

newby 09-19-2011 01:44 PM

I would suggest the Tetra Easy Strips. 6 in 1. I got mine at Petco but here is also a link Buy Tetra EasyStrips? Aquarium Test Strips from FosterAndSmithAquatics

k19smith 09-19-2011 02:08 PM

Most people don't recommend the strips as they can be hard to read and not give accurate results.

If your fish have been living in this tank a while it should all ready be cycled. If I'm correct this is a 5gallon tank? In order to keep these fish they are gonna need a much bigger tank or maybe you could trade them into a fish store and get something that will actually be happy in 5gallons.

You can take a sample of water to most pet stores and they will test it for you. At this point with it being such a small tank with large fish I would recommend gravel vacuuming a good bit and water changes every few days just a small amount of water 1 gallon say.

Lupin explains it very well. Basically without bacteria (cycled tank) you have ammonia and nitrites which will kill your fish. Also not changing water can cause ammonia and nitrite and nitrates spikes. Nitrates will be present in small quantities water changes keep the down, most people try to keep there's around 20ppm or less. Ideally it is easier to buy a test kit as you want to test you water once a week instead of running to the store.

I tried to make that as simple as possible. Hope it helps.

newby 09-19-2011 02:17 PM

Every time I take the water to the pet store they use the strips. I bought the same strips they use. Is this not right? Thanks for any advise.

KendraMc 09-19-2011 02:23 PM


Originally Posted by newby (Post 831806)
Every time I take the water to the pet store they use the strips. I bought the same strips they use. Is this not right? Thanks for any advise.

stores use strips because they are cheaper. they are not very accurate, but stores are looking for glaring problems, not subtle ones. they don't care if your nitrates are 10 or 20, so long as they aren't 80 (for example, though those numbers aren't from specific information). liquid kits are much better and are able to show small changes that can be more important in the health of your tank. they look at your water once and forget it. you need to be able to track any changes, and for that liquid kits are far better.

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