First try failed, time to start over.. Need Help! - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 17 Old 02-04-2015, 10:32 AM Thread Starter
First try failed, time to start over.. Need Help!

Hi everybody,


Well I posted on here a few weeks ago, I'm new to fish keeping, bought my first tank and fish, then was forced into doing a fish-in cycle, as I had no idea about the nitrogen cycle beforehand and rushed in.
Anyways, for weeks my Ammonia readings were just rising and rising, and no nitrite or nitrate readings ever showed. Despite doing a 75%+ waterchange 2 days in a row, using the bacteria in a bottle stuff(Top Fin), the ammonia level still just rose with no other readings ever showing. So finally last night, I decided to start over. I took all of my little fishies out, took the plants out, and began draining the water. When i got down to the gravel, I decided to push all of the gravel to one side so that i can get all the water beneath the gravel. Well, when doing that, I found a LOT of muck and debris down there! I do not have a gravel vac, so I'm guessing that was a major issue with why my ammonia was rising so fast. So I decided to go out and get an under-gravel filter.

Just a little back ground on the tank -

It is a 20 Gallon Long, I have a Tetra Whisper EX45 filter, I now have a Top Fin Undergravel Filter, a heater, a little coral cave with an air stone in it, and a variety of a few live plants (Some Ribbons, Peacock Ferns, and some misc bubls that are sprouting into these long vines with a leaf at the end of each one). I have 2 Balloon Mollies (females), 5 Cherry Barbs, 3 Zebra Danios (Had 7, some have not survived the cycling process so far .), 2 Albino Cory Cats (Had 4 of these guys, same as the Zebras ). I will be getting more of the Zebra Danios and Corys after the tank is sucessfully cycled.
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post #2 of 17 Old 02-04-2015, 10:57 AM Thread Starter
How do I delete this? It posted it before I was finished....


Edit - Here is what it should have read!!!!



Hi everybody,


Well I posted on here a few weeks ago, I'm new to fish keeping, bought my first tank and fish, then was forced into doing a fish-in cycle, as I had no idea about the nitrogen cycle beforehand and rushed in.
Anyways, for weeks my Ammonia readings were just rising and rising, and no nitrite or nitrate readings ever showed. Despite doing a 75%+ waterchange 2 days in a row, using the bacteria in a bottle stuff(Top Fin), the ammonia level still just rose with no other readings ever showing. So finally last night, I decided to start over. I took all of my little fishies out, took the plants out, and began draining the water. When i got down to the gravel, I decided to push all of the gravel to one side so that i can get all the water beneath the gravel. Well, when doing that, I found a LOT of muck and debris down there! I do not have a gravel vac, so I'm guessing that was a major issue with why my ammonia was rising so fast. So I decided to go out and get an under-gravel filter.

Just a little back ground on the tank -

It is a 20 Gallon Long, I have a Tetra Whisper EX45 filter, I now have a Top Fin Undergravel Filter, a heater, a little coral cave with an air stone in it, and a variety of a few live plants (Some Ribbons, Peacock Ferns, and some misc bubls that are sprouting into these long vines with a leaf at the end of each one). I have 2 Balloon Mollies (females), 5 Cherry Barbs, 3 Zebra Danios (Had 7, some have not survived the cycling process so far .), 2 Albino Cory Cats (Had 4 of these guys, same as the Zebras ). I will be getting more of the Zebra Danios and Corys after the tank is sucessfully cycled.

So after cleaning out the tank, filters, everything to start over, I made sure to use Prime in the new water, and when I refilled the tank, let it cycle through the filters for 15 minutes, then checked. It looks like the Ammonia is still reading, but barely. It doesn't seem quite at 0.00, but it still is lighter than 0.25ppm. I then waited another 15 minutes and added about half a bottle of Tetra Safe Start inside of the filter and also some into the tank. This morning I added a bit more of the TSS to the filter. I will check the readings again when I get home, although I don't expect anything to really change within such a short time frame.

I was just wondering if anyone has any suggestions that would help me out? Previously, I was feeding them every day, which from reading some of these posts, might be one of the reasons the ammonia was so high. Its just hard not to feed them when they swim up to the glass every time you go by it with the look saying "feed me, feed me!" But anyways, any suggestions on how often I can feed them to where they are not pooping as much, but also enough to where they are not starving and hating life?
Any other advice you can give me on anything will help also!
Thank you all in advance, I really appreciate it!

Last edited by ThaMilkshakeMAN; 02-04-2015 at 11:00 AM.
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post #3 of 17 Old 02-04-2015, 04:21 PM
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Hi ThaMilkshakeMAN:

Sorry that you're having this frustrating experience with your tank, and that you ended up starting over.

Tetra SafeStart was, I believe, designed to be used in fish-in cycling, so provided you added the appropriate amount for your tank size the nitrifying bacteria should begin colonizing your media and substrate. Prime contains an ammonia neutralizer, so it will help protect your fishes from ammonia and nitrite poisoning until the cycle is established.

Given the number of fish you have, my first reaction is that once-a-day feeding is not too much, provided you're judicious in the amount of food you provide at a feeding.

You have plenty of filtration in your tank and, therefore, plenty of aeration, so the beneficial bacteria seem to have a good environment in which to grow. Have you checked your ph recently? The bacteria will probably grow more quickly if you're slightly on the alkaline side. What is your current water temperature?

With undergravel filters you have to be careful to get the substrate just right (i.e. the right size stones and the right thickness of the layer above the filter plate). If it's too thick or too thin it can prevent the filter from working properly. And, of course, you have to balance that against the appropriate type of substrate for corys and for plants (this hobby is never boring, is it).

It sounds to me like you're doing everything right, especially with using the SafeStart and the Prime. At this stage, I'd say keep testing, feed your fish daily but try to under- rather than overfeed them for now, and keep a real close eye on the UG filter to make sure it's working properly, not getting clogged up, not creating anaerobic zones, etc.

It sounds like you have a great quantity of patience, which is absolutely the most useful thing in this hobby!

-Yorg

Quote:
Originally Posted by ThaMilkshakeMAN View Post
How do I delete this? It posted it before I was finished....


Edit - Here is what it should have read!!!!



Hi everybody,


Well I posted on here a few weeks ago, I'm new to fish keeping, bought my first tank and fish, then was forced into doing a fish-in cycle, as I had no idea about the nitrogen cycle beforehand and rushed in.
Anyways, for weeks my Ammonia readings were just rising and rising, and no nitrite or nitrate readings ever showed. Despite doing a 75%+ waterchange 2 days in a row, using the bacteria in a bottle stuff(Top Fin), the ammonia level still just rose with no other readings ever showing. So finally last night, I decided to start over. I took all of my little fishies out, took the plants out, and began draining the water. When i got down to the gravel, I decided to push all of the gravel to one side so that i can get all the water beneath the gravel. Well, when doing that, I found a LOT of muck and debris down there! I do not have a gravel vac, so I'm guessing that was a major issue with why my ammonia was rising so fast. So I decided to go out and get an under-gravel filter.

Just a little back ground on the tank -

It is a 20 Gallon Long, I have a Tetra Whisper EX45 filter, I now have a Top Fin Undergravel Filter, a heater, a little coral cave with an air stone in it, and a variety of a few live plants (Some Ribbons, Peacock Ferns, and some misc bubls that are sprouting into these long vines with a leaf at the end of each one). I have 2 Balloon Mollies (females), 5 Cherry Barbs, 3 Zebra Danios (Had 7, some have not survived the cycling process so far .), 2 Albino Cory Cats (Had 4 of these guys, same as the Zebras ). I will be getting more of the Zebra Danios and Corys after the tank is sucessfully cycled.

So after cleaning out the tank, filters, everything to start over, I made sure to use Prime in the new water, and when I refilled the tank, let it cycle through the filters for 15 minutes, then checked. It looks like the Ammonia is still reading, but barely. It doesn't seem quite at 0.00, but it still is lighter than 0.25ppm. I then waited another 15 minutes and added about half a bottle of Tetra Safe Start inside of the filter and also some into the tank. This morning I added a bit more of the TSS to the filter. I will check the readings again when I get home, although I don't expect anything to really change within such a short time frame.

I was just wondering if anyone has any suggestions that would help me out? Previously, I was feeding them every day, which from reading some of these posts, might be one of the reasons the ammonia was so high. Its just hard not to feed them when they swim up to the glass every time you go by it with the look saying "feed me, feed me!" But anyways, any suggestions on how often I can feed them to where they are not pooping as much, but also enough to where they are not starving and hating life?
Any other advice you can give me on anything will help also!
Thank you all in advance, I really appreciate it!
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post #4 of 17 Old 02-04-2015, 04:46 PM
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you might try the methods in the link in my signature.

FWIW ammonia locks/water conditioners do make the ammonia safe but most test kits still test for ammonia. (like the api kit). so you treat, test positive for ammonia then treat again even though the first treatment had made the ammonia safe. the danger is that the chemicals also lockup oxygen in the water and the fish can suffocate with symptoms very similar to ammonia poisoning.

to top that off live plant actually prefer and will consume ammonia before nitrates. So with enough live plants and by limiting the fish and feedings, ammonia spike are small and last nor more the a day or even just a few hours.

You will get gunk especially with under gravel filters but even with sand type substrates. that's the reason I don't disturb the substrate after the initial setup. But you should smell the junk 10 years later. LOL.

best tank ever and as usual this is just my .02

maintain Fw and marine system with a strong emphasis on balanced, stabilized system that as much as possible are self substaning.

have maintained FW systems for up to 9 years with descendants from original fish and marine aquariums for up to 8 years.

With no water changes, untreated tap water, inexpensive lighting by first starting the tank with live plants (FW) or macro algae( marine)

see: https://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/a...-build-295530/
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post #5 of 17 Old 02-04-2015, 08:00 PM Thread Starter
Yorg - When i checked the PH last night, it came out to be about 7.5 (It was on the highest end of the low PH test and lowest end of the High PH test). The temperature is 74-75 degrees. Thank you for your help and input!


Thank you also Beaslbob!
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post #6 of 17 Old 02-04-2015, 10:10 PM Thread Starter
Well, I can't help but feel that this is wrong, but these are my readings since I got home from work tonight. About 24 hours after resetting up last night, I'm reading :
Ammonia - 0.5
Nitrite - 0.0
Nitrate - 10 or 20?

Can that be right?
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post #7 of 17 Old 02-04-2015, 10:20 PM Thread Starter
Just tested Nitrate 4 more times, all came back with the same result..
Not sure what that means!
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post #8 of 17 Old 02-05-2015, 07:57 AM
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Means your filter is working! Haha yeah thats good, only way to take those down is a WC. My point is your 75% changes with fish in, I would only do 35-50%, you are most likely stressing fish doing more than that. I would also go two or three days between the changes, this is to keep the stress level down (stressed fish make ammonia alot faster)
I would spend some time on youtube watching videos, start with tank cleaning and filtration (seems like its easier to understand a video sometimes)
Next point is careful with chemicals as to much can wipe a tank right out.
Last pointer is to keep a tank log, it makes it way easier to keep it all straight (tests, WC, fertilizers, meds, and filter replacments)
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post #9 of 17 Old 02-05-2015, 11:19 AM Thread Starter
Thanks for the advice!!!

I was just very suprised to see Nitrate readings so quickly!
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post #10 of 17 Old 02-07-2015, 11:57 PM Thread Starter
So, just an update : I was away for two days and came back, and first thing I did was test the water.
My levels are now :
Ammonia - 0.00
Nitrite - 0.00
Nitrate - 30-40 ppm

Water change time!!!
So it seems to me like my tank is good to go now!
From reading some of these forum posts, it sounds like if the Ammonia levels get too high, it can cause the bacteria to sort of "hibernate" ?
So I'm wondering if that may have been what happened my first time around.
I will continue to monitor it, but hopefully this is a good sign!
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