cycling tank; water test results - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 3 Old 02-01-2015, 06:53 PM Thread Starter
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cycling tank; water test results

I've had my first aquarium, a 29 gallon, about 2-1/2 weeks. I thought I was cycling it by letting it run for a couple of days. Obviously, that was wrong. So now I have a tank with the following:
3 dalmation mollies
4 sunset plates
3 golden panda mollies
2 black phantom tetras and
1 green cory catfish

The first week and a half went well as I added some "Quick Start" and it took care of the ammonia. I then continued to add with each water change. Each test was showing 0 ammonia and close to 0 nitrites and nitrates. I realized 2 things:
1) I was testing with strips which I've been told are unreliable and
2) Continuing to add the "Quick Start" may be stopping the nitrites and nitrates from forming.

A couple of days ago the ammonia was rising (according to the strips) and still no NO2 or NO3. I stopped feeding for 2 days and did 2 water changes. This morning I fed just a bit and then went out and bought the API Master Test Kit. Here are the results I just got:
Ph: 7.6
High Ph: 7.4
Ammonia: 1
Nitrite: .5
Nitrate: 30

Does this sound reasonable? Do I just continue with water changes when ammonia reaches (what level)?

I should mention that a week ago I added 2 spotted cory cats and both died - one after 2 days, the other 2 days after that. This is when I added the green cory (you'd think I would've learned).

Thanks for your help.
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post #2 of 3 Old 02-01-2015, 07:39 PM
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Ideally, you want your beneficial bacteria to have built up to match the bioload the fish create. (Ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates then controlled by waterchanges) Tetra Safe Start usually would let you simply add the amount of bacteria you need to create the stable system, but it didn't work for the tank I started in december. (I think the store I got it from might have allowed it to sit in the winter cold for too long.)

The advice I got was to first do more 25% water changes, either every day or every other. That helped a little, but after two weeks, not much difference. I was keeping the toxins from building up but even without cleaning the surfaces or changing the filter, the beneficial bacteria weren't taking hold. The next advice I got was to do the water changes half as often. The results were the same, but the ammonia did start building up more slowly than it had been.
In the middle of January, I got tired of a month and a half of reacting to a problem, and sought advice from yet another informed source. He agreed that the steps I had taken seemed like they should have made more of a difference, reassured me that every tank is different, and talked me through the process of adding plants. I'm still not 100% happy with the results, I haven't seen a zero reading on my ammonia tests yet, but I've never seen a 2 either since I put the plants in. I now do a 10-25%water change on Tuesday and Saturday, and every Tuesday when I test ammonia before the change, it is lighter than the week before.

Don't get discouraged. Every tank is different, but remember that stress causes the fish to produce more ammonia, so you do want to keep up with water changes but in the best way you can to not stress them out too much.

Some pointers you may or may not have recieved:
-If at all possible, match the incoming water temperature to the water already in the tank.
-when gravel vaccuming, do a different area each time so if the fish hide, the don't keep getting chased out. Less stress this way.
-add more bacteria at every waterchange. If possible, add directly into the filter tank.
-try to clean the decor and tank sides as little as possible. If there's no unsightly algae, these surfaces can house the bacteria you are working so hard to establish.

Last edited by NightwishFae; 02-01-2015 at 07:44 PM. Reason: .
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post #3 of 3 Old 02-02-2015, 07:50 AM
Do you age your water with the conditioner in it like say ten minutes or more? Might want to try that clorine kills the bacteria fast, that could be why your tank is slow to cycle. Also depending on you filter you might be able to fit some better media for the bacteria to grow on. I like sintered (sp?) glass for this purpose or de-nitrate is seachems product.
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