help with cycling a new tank?
Hey everyone. I thought I'd post here to see if anyone can help me out. I'm learning more and more about tank cycling while I'm doing it, and I'm afraid I may have messed up somewhere along the line.
I've got a 28 gallon tank which I just set up on Saturday. Currently, it's inhabitants only include two mystery snails and two African Dwarf frogs. I also have about 5 live plants, three of which are just baby plants. When I set up the tank, I did use gravel, decorations, and a filter from an established tank, as well as about 50% of the old tank's water. I made sure to keep everything wet to keep the bacteria alive in the transition.
Now, I bought some test stripes for everything but ammonia. Everything in the water seemed fine up until Monday, and that's when I put in some stuff to try to increase the ph because our tap water is slightly acidic which is bad for the snails.. I also fed my frogs, then I went to bed and woke up to a cloudy fish tank with nitrites and nitrates through the roof. I made the assumption that my ammonia was through the roof as well so I did an emergency partial water change and put in some stuff to eliminate the ammonia. I also put in some easy balance with "nitraban" which lowers nitrates...
The cloudiness has gone down some, and I was able to take some water into petsmart for them to test. My ph is back to what it was previously (about 6.8?) And my ammonia is nearly at zero, but my nitrites are off the chart still. The nitrates are in the safe zone, but not at zero.
My question is, by removing the ammonia and adding "nitraban" did I mess up part of the cycle? I guess I over reacted because I do have frogs living in there and I was worried they would die. Now my nitrites are high and that has me obviously worried as well. I bought some Prime per the pet stores recommendation, but that hasn't helped at all.
Also, I bought Kent's calcium for my snails - is this enough to stop the affects of the acidic water? If I get fish who like the ph of the water, I'd like to leave that alone but I don't want the snails to suffer.
Oh, also, I did buy a new, bigger filter for the tank which won't fit the old bio filter from my old filter. I read online that I should just tin the two filter together for about two weeks to help with the growth of the bacteria on the new filter, is that right?
First thing is, welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum. Glad you found and joined us.
Yes on the filter question, run both together for a couple weeks.
From your description I would expect plenty of bacteria to have been transferred over. Let's eliminate obvious things first. What exactly is the pH adjuster you used? And how often?
Adding more chemical mixtures is usually not helpful unless the cause of the problem has been clearly identified. These chemicals compounds can often interact with toxic results. I personally am not a fan of Easy Balance, the claims it makes are scary since it messes with the natural bacteria and biological cycle. And it causes ammonia and CO2 to increase by speeding up the breakdown of organics, if it does do that.
A 50% water change using Prime (proportionate to the new water added, no more) will do no harm. This will help to dilute the chemicals and the ammonia/nitrites. Test for both an hour after the water change and post the numbers. [And don't forget to mention the pH stuff.]
Your on the right track. Cycling/stabilizing a new tank takes some patience. Byron has given you some good advice. I might only add that you might do a 25-30% water change every few days or twice a week. This keeps Ammonia and Nitrites in check until the beneficial biology develops.
I used a Seachem Ammonia Alert to detect an ammonia spike. Folks here are pretty down on test strips as the seem to be subjective and inaccurate. Most recommend the API test kit.
Once a tank is stabilized, routine testing isn't really required as long as you keep up with proper tank maintenance - weekly water changes w/gravel siphon unless you have plants, proper feeding, not overcrowding, filter ...
Welcome and hang in there!
Yeah, I was going to look into a different option for testing. They used the strips at petsmart, so I thought I was doing the right thing till I read more online.
I did a 50% change with the Prime. The nitrites look like they went down from being pretty much off the chart to more around 3-4 ppm. Nitrate is the same at about 20 ppm. The water shows as soft, and the ph seems a little lower than the 6.8 on the test stripe's package. I know it's my tap water that's somewhat acidic, but the last two tanks I had didn't seem bothered by it. Like I said, I don't have a test for ammonia but it was at zero yesterday and I skipped on feeding the froggies today.
As far as the ph balancer I was using, it was some sort of tab made by Jungle.
The cloudiness is really clearing up today. It was cloudy for about 3 days.. my decorations are all pretty slimey still, too.
Don't put any fish into this tank until this is all sorted out. If the nitrites really are at 3, any fish would be dead within minutes. I've no experience with the frog, so can't say if it would or wouldn't be so affected. Again, I'm not sure the numbers are reliable.
Don't mess with the pH. I don't know what the "tab" is, presumably a tablet; don't use it. It would help to know the hardness of your tap water; you can find this out from your water supply people. Many now have websites with water analysis charts, you can give me the link if you find it and I can check it out. Hardness affects pH, so messing with adjusting pH without knowing the hardness is stumbling in the dark and likely to be worse than leaving it alone. And 6.8 is perfect for many fish anyway. The snail issue is more the hardness than the pH, so let's find that out.
Thank you for your help. I plan on stopping by petco today anyway, so I will get a better test kit while I'm there. I also didn't plan on using the tabs or anything again. I must be reading the strips wrong, but it looks like nitrates went down a bit and nitrates look like they increased slightly - which should be good, right?
I guess I'll get back to you later tonight with better test results and more info on my tap water.
You used "nitrates" both times, one I assume is nitrite, hopefully this is the one going down.
I can sort this out better once I have the tap water data; if you find your supply company's website send the link and I'll check it out.
I'm still at work, so I don't have the kit yet. I'll post those numbers asap. You're right, I did mean nitrites appeared to be going down and nitrates up by a small bit.
As far as my tap water, I'm about 80% sure I found the water quality reports for my area. There are actually two sources for my city, but I'm fairly certain this one covers my location. I wasn't able to find what the other source is.
Water Quality Testing
I'll keep looking to see if I can find anything else about the water. Our actual city website was pretty useless on the topic.
What the hardness means is that the water is soft, with low KH so pH buffering will be minimal. You are ideally suited to soft water fish--characins (tetra, hatchetfish, pencilfish), most cyprinids (rasbora, danio, barbs, loaches), gourami, dwarf cichlids, angels, discus, and many catfish. The only fish that will not do well in your water are livebearers and rift lake cichlids, and any other fish requiring hard water (a few cyprinids do).
With respect to the snail, I will leave this for those with experience to comment. Personally, I would not tamper with water adjustment in this instance because you have what is ideal for so many fish. Probably the envy of many of our members. I also have very soft water, yours is a tad better than mine actually as you have a trace of mineral.
The hardness explains your pH. Without mineral buffering it will tend to lower. Don't fight it.
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