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Big Fate 03-17-2011 05:32 PM

Water change or not? (Cycle)
I've been cycling my tank w/fish exactly a week today.
I jump started it a bit by removing some gravel, rocks and filter from my other tank and threw it in this tank. Haven't done a water change yet and went to test and it looks like my Nitrate levels are there, no nitrIte but reading a 0.7 on Ammonia. I thought ammonia wouldn't even show up since I'm reading Nitrate levels and no NitrIte.

So anyways I was going to do a 20% change and my LFS tells me to hold off because I'll slow the process and to let the bacteria do its thing. Whats your guys take on this?

Byron 03-17-2011 05:51 PM

Bad advice. Nitrosomonas and nitrospira bacteria colonize hard surfaces covered by water, they do not live in the water. Only the bad stuff does that--ammonia, nitrite and nitrate--so doing a water change will dilute any of these that are there.

I suppose one could argue that removing ammonia and nitrite may slow the establishment of the bacteria, but considering the highly toxic effect of ammonia and nitrite to the fish it is better to do a water change and save your fish than not and risk losing them. While some fish--I say some--can apparently "survive" through cycling (depending upon the level of ammonia and nitrite, it varies obviously), they are frequently harmed internally and down the road other problems may occur which would not otherwise have except for the cycling stress, and premature death is often the result. Nitrite accumulates in the red corpuscles of the fish's blood and hinders the absorption and transport of oxygen in the bloodstream and this can have serious detrimental consequences even at small levels of nitrite. The fish's threshold for ammonia is actually higher than for nitrite.

If either ammonia or nitrite exceed .25 ppm, an immediate 50% water change should be carried out, using a good conditioner. Prime (made by Seachem) and Ultimate (made by Aquarium Solutions) are the only two I know of that detoxify both ammonia and nitrite. They only last for 24-36 hours however, so daily monitoring of the ammonia and nitrite is needed, and a pwc if levels call for it.

So, if you read .7 for ammonia, I would do a 50% water change. If your water's pH is below 7, this is less critical. At an acidic pH, ammonia automatically changes into harmless ammonium. Bacteria still use ammonium same as ammonia, and test kits still show both as "ammonia." Of course, nitrite is nitrite, so that is still something to watch for.

Don't mess with the substrate or filter media when you do these water changes during cycling.

Live plants help, as they consume a vast amount of ammonia/ammonium if there are enough of them.

If ammonia and nitrite remain at zero, water changes should be done weekly as normal, the amount can vary depending upon the fish, water volume, live plants present. But that is "normal" conditions, not during cycling.


Big Fate 03-17-2011 11:02 PM

Yea you're right, i'll most likely do a 20% tommro to bring down the ammonia a bit. I still dont get how theres NitrAte readings, no nitrIte but yet theres ammonia? Tells me theres not enough beneficial bacteria available yet, but, I should be seeing NitrIte levels no?

Big Fate 03-17-2011 11:37 PM

I think i figured out what happen...

A few days ago I was testing only NitrAtes in the tank, no nitrIte or ammonia. So I said I'll check again on Thursday and if NO ammonia or NitrItes i should be complete. Well I was using the filter for my 29 gallon goldfish tank in my 10 gallon to speed the process and vice versa. So when I took my new filter from the 29 gallon to put back on my 10 gallon I rinsed the filter pad thru some tap water just to make sure no Goldfish extras get into the 10 gallon and cause a ammonia spike. Which I think I ended up doing anyways because the chlorine from the tap must of killed most, if not all the beneficial bacteria I had growing on that pad..

As we all know, most of the bacteria is housed in the filter, so with that being said the gravel in the 10 gallon is not fully colonized, so the ammonia from the fish waste and food must be giving the bacteria a good fight seeing that I read a 0.7 on ammonia now. I'm going to grab some more gravel from the 29 gallon and sprinkle on the 10 gallon to give and take.. What you guys think?

Amethyst123 03-18-2011 02:21 AM

I agree that your hypothesis on what happened to your cycle makes sense, and yes, adding some gravel from your other tank will help. You can also add bacteria, with products such as API StressZyme, Bio-zyme, Special Blend, etc. to speed the process.

Doing a water change to bring your ammonia level down will slow down your cycling process, because with less ammonia, the beneficial bacteria that turns the ammonia into nitrite will not reproduce as quickly. That said, do a water change anyway, for the sake of your fish.

Do frequent changes until the ammonia level comes down, at least under .5, .25 would be better. For a cycled tank, it should be 0, but you do need some ammonia to get your beneficial bacteria colony going strong. Most fish can handle .25 for awhile, hardier fish should be ok up to .5, so long as it's not longterm. When your ammonia goes to zero, start checking your nitrites, and again do water changes to keep them from getting to high, but you need enough for the bacteria that transforms the nitrites to nitrates.

In the future, you might want to consider fishless cycling. It's quicker, because the levels can peak without endangering any fish.

thefishes 03-19-2011 09:13 AM

The old gravel and filter media will speed you along but i would still bet on seeing some kind of ammonia spike depending on how many fish you added and within 4-12 hours after feeding them. If you don't do a water change to dilute the ammonia you are more then likely going to have one of your fish or more get ammonia poisoning. Alot of stores that tell you not to do water changes as it will slow your cycling process end up making more money off of you in fish sales. Im still new to fish tank's myself but i do non stop research and i have learned alot in a short amount of time.

Do whatever it takes to get the ammonia down to zero at least once a day, And if signs of ammonia poisoning occur then immediately stop feeding the fish for a couple of days and use live bacteria it will help out even more. I would suggest using a live bacteria product that you can add with every water change because it gives you a piece of mind knowing your giving back to the tank and not just taking. Signs of ammonia poisoning will be : Loss of appetite, very pale looking and not interacting with the school, Laying on the bottom or constantly hiding or hiding in corner's near your filter where the clean water comes out also appearing very stressed. Using the fish in cycle i usually always do 50% water changes daily even if i only need to do 25%. The fish seem to love it and it makes me feel good that i removed some extra waste.

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