Need help with 5 gallon tank cycle
Hi guys. I bought a 5 gallon tank and I am about 17 days into a fish-in cycle. I have a red wag platty, black molly and a peppered cory (I never had a tank before and didn't know about cycling a tank until it was already setup with the fish in it). The tank has an under gravel filter that has the air pump with the stone, a 5-10 gal filter, and a heater that is set to keep the water at a constant 78 degrees. I have been testing all the things that needs to be tested and have yet to get any nitrite or nitrate readings. There is and has been ammonia present since I first started testing for it which was about day 2 or 3. Is it normal to not yet have any nitrites even though there has been ammonia in the tank for this long? Also when someone refers to the "ammonia spike" what exactly does this mean, that it gets to a certain amount of ammonia or what? Also the ammonia had gotten to about 2 ppm so I have been doing close to 50% water changes daily to try to get it to go down (It seems to be around 1 ppm right now) because I read that it is unhealthy to be over a 1. The fish are not showing any signs of stress so I am also wondering if somehow I am getting a false reading on the ammonia levels (the fish are very active, swimming all over the tank). Should I still be doing these water changes to get the ammonia down or is this part of the spike? Also the other levels are Hardness: 25, Alkalinity: 40, and pH: 6.8-7.0. If there is anything else you need to know to help me out let me know. Thanks in advanced for the help.
Are you using test strips or the liquid chemical test kits? The strips are notorious for being inaccurate.
For testing the ammonia I am using the liquid test kit and for the others it is a 6 in 1 test strip.
One of my tanks took 24 days and the other about 3 weeks to show nitrites. I'd keep doing what you've been doing and give it a bit longer. Keep up the water changes to keep the ammonia down, and wait.
There are a couple things you can do to help keep ammonia levels manageable. Do you know anyone with an aquarium already set up with fishes? If so, borrowing some filter material from their tank ,and placing it in your tank can help speed the process .
You can/should also reduce the feedings to once every other day and only feed the three fish a few flakes of food crushed with your fingers. this will help excess food from increasing the ammonia levels in the tank.
I would also suggest that you not clean or remove the filter cartridge,sponge,pad etc for the next three weeks. This area is where the majority of good bacteria that all tanks need will develop and therefore should not be disturbed .If you don't overfeed the fish =ammonia,,then the filter material should not need cleaning.
If however the material does need cleaning which will be evidenced by flow returning to the tank being reduced to a trickle,,then simply swishing the filter material around in old tank water that you remove during water changes and sticking it back in the filter is all that is needed. Should never clean this material under tapwater for the same chlorine and or chloramines found in tapwater to kill bacteria will also kill the good bacteria that the tank needs. I would suggest a water conditioner/dechlorinator such as PRIME ,or AMQUEL PLUS for all new water added to the tank. These products will detoxify the toxic chlorine,chloramines, nitrites,and ammonia that could be present in the tapwater.
Water changes should take place anytime ammonia or nitrites are above .25 on test kit. both these toxins are lethal at elevated levels.30 percent water change is good place to start and should ammonia levels remain at dangerous levels after 10 or 12 hours,,then another water change will be needed .
I would resist the urge to add anything to the aquarium other than tapwater and afore mentioned dechlorinators and you will have WAY fewer problems.
The molly and platy you have are not suited for 5 gallon tank and both fair much better in hard alkaline water with pH between 7.5 and 8.0 . I would not expect them to do well in the long term with the ph you posted. I would look to small tetra's for five gallon tank and with the pH you have, rather than trying to adjust the pH to suit the molly and or platy which both need upwards of 20 gallon tank with pH mentioned 7.5 to 8.0.
Much easier and more enjoyable ,to select fish that appreciate the water you have from the tap than attempting to adjust water chemistry to suit the fish. pH up and down powders work but one will spend a lot of time constantly adjusting water that goes into the tank and the fluctuating pH as a result is often the cause of sick ,dying fish.To use such products,requires a firm knowledge of how they work and as mentioned ,they make fish keeping more tedious in my view than is necessary.
Hope some of this helps.
Thanks for all the info. When doing the water changes I have been buying gallon jugs from the store with the thinking that that water has been filtered. Is this something I should continue or would the tap water with the Prime or Amquel Plus be better?
Buying water will work out very expensive. Unless there's something wrong with your tap water levels, I'd just use tap water. Have you tested your source water for ammonia?
Tapwater and Prime or Amquel Plus would be my choice unless my tapwater was undrinkable.
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