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My cycling tank is in real trouble!

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My cycling tank is in real trouble!
Old 07-27-2008, 07:34 PM   #11
 
Okay, 50% water change done! Let's see what happens next!
Thanks, jeaninel...my fish say thanks too!

Patty
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Old 07-29-2008, 08:06 PM   #12
 
Okay, after two 50% water changes on Sunday, a 25% water change on Monday, and a 25% water change tonight, my ammonia reads between 1.0 and 2.0. That still means stress, right? Why can't I seem to get it lower?
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Old 07-29-2008, 11:01 PM   #13
 
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Try changing 50% next few changes. You have quite a few fish in there for a new tank so it's probably a struggle to keep up with the waste they're producing. How big is the UD cat?

You might also want to test your tap water to see if there's any ammonia right out of the tap.
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Old 07-30-2008, 10:08 PM   #14
 
about 1 3/8" maybe...why?
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Old 07-31-2008, 01:07 AM   #15
 
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Upside-down catfish (assuming you've got S. nigriventis and not another species of synodontis, which are sometimes sold as upside-down catfish) can get up to 5 inches long. A 20g tank is fine for them but a 5" fish would produce a lot more waste than a smaller fish, which could be contributing heavily to your ammonia problem. Since he's so small I don't think that's a big problem.

You're seeing firsthand the effects of "New Tank Syndrome" - where an uncycled tank is heavily stocked and the fish suffer from elevated ammonia levels. Now that you've got the appropriate test kit, keep an eye on those ammonia levels and keep changing the water if your ammonia gets above 0.5 ppm. Really, keeping below 0.25 ppm would be ideal as any amount of ammonia is harmful to your fish. After a while, you should start getting readings for nitrite. Nitrite is very harmful to your fish as well, so you'll need to keep your nitrite levels below 0.5 ppm (below 0.25 ppm would be even better). Eventually, your ammonia and nitrite will stay at zero on their own but nitrate levels will slowly build up. The nitrate is also bad for your fish but they can tolerate much higher levels. Once you get to this stage, your tank is cycled. You still have to do water changes to keep the nitrates in check (anything above 40 ppm is bad, but it's best to try to keep them below 20 ppm).

Since your aquarium is fairly heavily stocked, you will need to do a lot of water changes during the cycle in order to keep your fish alive. This will prolong your cycle, but otherwise you'd have even more dead fish. You shouldn't need to use RO water unless you've got big problems with your tap water. A good water conditioner should remove chlorine, chloramine, heavy metals and ammonia from your tap water.

Also - how much are you feeding the fish at each feeding? Uneaten food can produce a ton of ammonia in your tank. Trust me - fish are worse than dogs when it comes to begging and I definitely own more than one fish that would keep eating everything in site until their little bellies popped. However, fish are cold blooded animals and can survive on much less food than you'd expect.
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Old 07-31-2008, 12:47 PM   #16
 
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sounds to me like your tank is cycling, and doing water changes everyday is going to prolong the process, not help it, IMO. (except for the fact that there are so many fish) not to mention, why are you cycling your tank with bettas? the platys will be fine, but i cant say the same for the bettas or UDC...you probably should have held off on them until after your tank was established. you only need one or two fish to cycle a tank. when your tank is cycling, the ammonia will spike (which will result in the death of any sensitive fish in your tank ), and which is why you are having the high readings. i'm not sure about anyone else, but i might take the bettas out, and put them in another container, bowl, tank etc, until that tank is cycled, and then add them back to the main tank. my betta survived for years in an unfiltered bowl until I got into fish tanks and decided to put her in a bigger tank. someone else might have better advice for you..sorry.
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Old 07-31-2008, 03:02 PM   #17
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The water changes are a must. As long as there is some ammonia, the tank will continue to cycle. The higher levels will just result in more fish deaths. Putting the bettas in bowls would help them survive, but you would have to do water changes every couple days or ammonia could build up in there too. I agree with everything iamntbatmat said. It is good advice. Good luck.
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Old 07-31-2008, 10:42 PM   #18
 
Thank you everyone for your help. I have been doing everything you have told me, but ALL of my bettas died today. Came home from work and they were all dead. The reason I was cycling the tank with them, was that I was told that they were very hardy fish (from the breeder), and that she never even cycled her tanks before putting them in, just started them up. I told you that I have never dealt with bettas before, only cichlids. I had no idea how to care for them. The platies were an after-thought.
Anyway, I have learned a very harsh lesson. I took the water down 50% again tonight, and the platies are doing great. Looking for food as always.
As for the feeding, yes, I have cut the food way back, and down to one time a day. I even go so far as to not feed at all on Sunday.
I hope that my UD cat is okay...she hides out all the time, and I only see her once in a while. Hard to monitor how she's doing if I don't see her.

Again, thanks for your help. I will keep you posted. It's just the Mafia (platies) left in the tank now (oh, and the UD cat), so maybe it won't be as bad.
Patty
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Old 08-01-2008, 11:29 AM   #19
 
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Oh, so sorry to hear that! Hard lesson learned.

As for your UD cat, I believe they are nocturnal so that may be why you don't see her often. Also, they're pretty shy when they're not with more of their kind.

Best of luck with the rest of your cycle.
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Old 08-01-2008, 12:15 PM   #20
 
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Bettas are hardy fish, but unfortunately many of them come from the store in pretty rough shape. They've been through shipping and prolonged stays in small containers. Two out of three bettas I've owned came home from the store with pretty bad fin rot. It sounds like the stress of the aquarium cycle dealt the final blow.

Keeping up with water changes to keep your ammonia and nitrite levels down is the way to go, though like others have said it will likely prolong your cycle. I can't promise that you won't lose anymore fish, but I can say that if you keep the fish exposed to high levels of ammonia and nitrite you certainly will lose more fish.

I think a lot of people get the wrong impression with these kinds of posts, like we're getting on your case. I hope I'm not coming across as doing that. Everyone makes mistakes when they get started. Those mistakes are a learning experience, and it's much better to learn exactly what's going wrong than to give up on the hobby or do what the pet store wants you to do: keep replacing those fish and buying more quick-fixes without really addressing the problem.
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