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Discussion Starter #1
I am currently fish-in cycling my first tank(20 gal). I have 1 molly and 1 swordtail in it, and used Tetra SafeStart Plus. It's been 8 days since I added the fish, and I've been doing frequent water tests.

First day, my readings were:
0.25ppm Ammonia
0ppm Nitrite
10ppm Nitrate

Today:
0.25 ppm Ammonia
0ppm Nitrite
20ppm Nitrate

My ammonia and nitrite levels have not moved at all in 8 days. Is that normal? Also, when should I do water changes? I haven't done one yet, as I wasn't sure when to do them and how much water to change at a time.


Thanks guys.
 

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They have moved, you just don't see it all the time. If you had a monitor in there at all times you would see it fluctuate some ^_^ The bacteria are growing and consuming as they go and build up. So you won't always see nitrite or ammonia but the fact that you have more nitrate means that they are doing what they're supposed to be doing: eating Ammonia to convert to Nitrite, then turning that in Nitrate ^_^


Nooooo on the water changes lol. You have to follow the directions on the bottle, no water changes for 2 weeks while it cycles. When it's done, you can do a big 70-ish percent change to bring the nitrate's back down.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Okay thanks for that. I actually threw the bottle away, so I forgot about that part of the instructions. Thankfully, I haven't done a change yet!

When I do finally do that big water change, I know I have to add the dechlorinator to the water, but do I add it to the buckets of water, or to the tank? If to the tank, is it before or after the new water is added?
 

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You can do it either way.


I personally find it easiest to only treat the new water that is going in.
Some will treat the tank, but if you do that then you should treat it for the entire tank, not just the new water going in so it will be a higher dose of water conditioner :) And you'd do it before you add the water ideally.
 

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The way I see it, if you are doing a small water change, then dose for the water you are adding. Whether you add the conditioner to the tank first, or after, or to the new water directly, it doesn’t make much of a difference practically speaking.

For large water changes, things are a little different. Suppose you change out 80% of the water, and refill the tank before adding conditioner....the fish will be exposed to more for longer, then if you did a small 20% change before adding conditioner. Considering the time it takes to change out 80% of the water, there’s really no reason not to dose the tank before it’s finished refilling.

As far as how much to dose - some people dose the whole tank no matter what and other people only dose for the water being changed. And guess what?! Both ways work, as was stated. Personally, if I change half the water or less, I dose for the volume being changed. If I’m changing out a majority of the water, then I dose the tanks volume. That’s just what I find easiest.

Too, I think this whole conversation is a moot point when dealing with small tanks. The difference in the amount of product used to dose an entire 10 gallon vs a few gallons of changed water is not worth the time it takes to figure out how much to dose for the partial change, in my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Thank you both for the answer. I'll go ahead and dose for the full size of the tank when I do that water change when my cycle's done.

Also, me and my gf were at the fish store today, and we saw an absolutely beautiful swordtail and we didn't want to leave without it. We went ahead and bought it and acclimated it to our tank, then added it in. It's 2.25 inches long, and our other swordtail is 1.75 inches, and we also have a 2 inch molly. The molly and the small swordtail like each other a lot. The molly and the new, larger swordtail had a brief standoff, and the molly asserted his dominance. The larger swordtail now doesn't mess with the , molly. It does however still menace the smaller swordtail. The small one swims away when the large one comes close, and the molly will also defend the smaller guy. Is there anything we should to do make sure the larger swordtail doesn't end up attacking the smaller one when we're not around?
 

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Yes, there is something you can do - but it should wait until your cycle is finished. The issue as it stands is you have 3 fish in the tank - the way you handle aggression is to spread it around, which means more fish. You can’t stop an alpha from being an alpha, but you can help prevent the same fish from being the target of the alpha 24/7.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Ok, so just give it more targets after the cycle. It hasn't actually nipped at the little guy yet, he just stares him down and will follow him a bit so far. Just worried to come home to a damaged fish.
 

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Nipping is not an inherently bad thing - it’s how fish interact with each other. It’s bad when it’s constant and doing visible damage, or if it causes the nippee to become withdrawn and in hiding as such stress can be lethal.
 
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