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Discussion Starter #1
Hello there..I am not new to owning an aquarium but it has been awhile so please bare with me. I have a 55 gallon aquarium. We let it cycle for 3 weeks, before we added ANY fish..and when we did add the fish it was because the pet store guy said are water was good to add when I brought him the sample. We had only added a few guppies and a female betta. Everything was well and fine, and then our fish just kept dropping off like flies. We would get our water tested..everything fine...so we would replace them. But the cycle of replacing the fish kept going and going. Well then I finally got tired of having our little fishies die, so I switched pet stores. When I did, the new guy told me we had alot of ammonia in our water! So I bought a couple Seachem products.."Prime" and "Stability". After a couple water changes and the medicines, our ammonia was back to 0..but now I got Nitrates and Nitrites in the tank! Is this normal? Is there anything else I should do? Any feedback would help me! Thank you!
 

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Welcome to the forum and sorry about the losses.

Completely normal. Really crappy first fish store too. Not sure how you cycled it those first three weeks but unless you had something in there that was adding ammonia, you weren't doing anything.

Prime is good, use that with every water change. You might also want to buy your own test kit. Liquid is better than strips. I, and a lot of others on here, use the API master kit.

Right now you are doing a fish-in cycle. Not the end of the world, but does require work on your part. What happens in an aquarium is bacteria grow that convert ammonia to nitrites to nitrates. Two different types of bacteria. You have enough of the first type to handle whatever fish you have now. It will take a little to grow enough of the second type that converts nitrites to nitrates. That's why I said about having your own test kit so you can tell if those get to lethal levels.

Nitrates will be present. That's why weekly water changes are needed to remove them.
 

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Thank you so much! Ive looked all over the internet, and talked to several people...always getting different answers! So I should just wait it out then for a few weeks..doing a like 10-20% water change each week? Also, Ive been reading some things on here..are water changes different than vacume the gravel?
 

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If you wait it out you are likely to lose more fish depending on how high the nitrites get. It's much better to do more frequent water changes at this point. This might be daily. You don't want nitrites. When the tank is fully cycled then you can go to week water changes, but I'd recommend more than 10%. 25-30% might be better. People normally vacuum the gravel while doing water changes.
 

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For a 55 that's about the right amount. Some people on here will say to only add the amount you need for new water. I dose for the whole tank though and have never had a problem.
 

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Since Prime can be dose up to 5 x the amount in emergencies, using the "tank" volume would certainly help protect you from chemical dumps our water departments like to do to the water systems. Sounds like a good idea considering.
 
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Yes, dosing Prime for the tank volume is especially important while cycling.

How are you determining that you have nitrite and nitrate? What are the actual readings? What is your stocking level at this time?

You should j\keep the nitrite level <0.25ppm (ammonia also). Nitrate is OK >20ppm up to 40ppm. But you should eventually strive for <10ppm.

Do not be afraid of large water changes to keep your nitrite down. Remove wastes rigorously. Keep your tank clean. Feed lightly. Prime is your friend.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you for replying! I have those multi test strips for the nitrite and nitrates. Which for me is hard to tell what the actual readings are..all I know is the nitrates are showing up light pink, and the nitrites are a slightly darker shade of pink. Which im told the nitrates are okay, but its the nitrites ive gotta worry about. For the ammonia I have the liquid API test, which was high, but then got it to 0 finally. I guess I am kinda worried about doing larger water changes, I always assumed it would stress the fish. When I had aquariums in the past, I never tested the water( because more or less I was unaware it was important) and had absolutly no problems! Back then i only did a water change once a month. Now that Im doing it by the book, Im noticing things I didnt before. One being, more water changes are better!
 

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Thank you for replying! I have those multi test strips for the nitrite and nitrates. Which for me is hard to tell what the actual readings are..all I know is the nitrates are showing up light pink, and the nitrites are a slightly darker shade of pink. Which im told the nitrates are okay, but its the nitrites ive gotta worry about. For the ammonia I have the liquid API test, which was high, but then got it to 0 finally. I guess I am kinda worried about doing larger water changes, I always assumed it would stress the fish. When I had aquariums in the past, I never tested the water( because more or less I was unaware it was important) and had absolutly no problems! Back then i only did a water change once a month. Now that Im doing it by the book, Im noticing things I didnt before. One being, more water changes are better!
Listen to Hallyx and everything will turn out right.
 
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Strips are not considered as accurate as liquid testing, but it's not hopeless. If your strip indicates any nitrite, do a >25% water change. Nitrite is as dangerous as ammonia and should be kept <0.25ppm. If you can afford the API nitrite test, you should buy one.

Don't worry about nitrate for now.
 

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okie dokie! thank you so much! Should I add a capful of Prime at every water change?
NOTE: You MUST add the prime to the NEW water BEFORE adding the new water to the tank.

If you add the water without prime already in it, then all the chlorine in the new water will kill the bacteria in the tank and your cycle will be ruined and you will need to start it all over again.

I hope this helps.
Juggernaut
 

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Welcome to the forum and sorry about the losses.

Completely normal. Really crappy first fish store too. Not sure how you cycled it those first three weeks but unless you had something in there that was adding ammonia, you weren't doing anything.

Prime is good, use that with every water change. You might also want to buy your own test kit. Liquid is better than strips. I, and a lot of others on here, use the API master kit.

Right now you are doing a fish-in cycle. Not the end of the world, but does require work on your part. What happens in an aquarium is bacteria grow that convert ammonia to nitrites to nitrates. Two different types of bacteria. You have enough of the first type to handle whatever fish you have now. It will take a little to grow enough of the second type that converts nitrites to nitrates. That's why I said about having your own test kit so you can tell if those get to lethal levels.

Nitrates will be present. That's why weekly water changes are needed to remove them.
Well said and I agree with buying your own test kit instead of relying on others as it sounded like they just wanted you to keep coming back for more fish :cry: The ol nitrogen cycle takes time remember and even though it is tempting to go get your fish you have to make sure the tank has cycled first. This cycle seems to be an ongoing problem with new tank owners as it is something we can't physically see happening so we kinda overlook it when first starting a tank. I made a video on the Nitrogen Cycle aka "the Silent Killer", so if you are interested you can check it out as I describe how the cycle kinda works. Best of luck with your tank and keep at it!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhBHxzV1jqI
 

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NOTE: You MUST add the prime to the NEW water BEFORE adding the new water to the tank.

If you add the water without prime already in it, then all the chlorine in the new water will kill the bacteria in the tank and your cycle will be ruined and you will need to start it all over again.

I hope this helps.
Juggernaut
Good Point and I like to add the dechlorinater a day before I do the water change so that way I know in my brain that the water is treated throughout and ready to go :-D
 

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Good Point and I like to add the dechlorinater a day before I do the water change so that way I know in my brain that the water is treated throughout and ready to go :-D
I don't know that I would advise this practice!...but I'm open to hearing why if I'm wrong here. It should be before or during the water change. As every tank is different with a different mix of fish, this practice could allow large amounts of ammonia to build in your tank again before you add new water. I've heard that de-chlor lasts about 24 hours... can't confirm this but that is the thought. I did find the Prime site and it is a great read! I've shared it to help. Prime costs more but one cap does 50 Gallons! So a small bottle for a few dollars more is an awesome insurance against lots of troubles in your tank. Troubles come up ongoing. I wouldn't use anything else and I keep it in my supplies and would never allow myself to run out! Buy it when it's on sale and stay ahead of your needs.

Seachem. Prime
 

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I don't know that I would advise this practice!...but I'm open to hearing why if I'm wrong here. It should be before or during the water change. As every tank is different with a different mix of fish, this practice could allow large amounts of ammonia to build in your tank again before you add new water. I've heard that de-chlor lasts about 24 hours... can't confirm this but that is the thought. I did find the Prime site and it is a great read! I've shared it to help. Prime costs more but one cap does 50 Gallons! So a small bottle for a few dollars more is an awesome insurance against lots of troubles in your tank. Troubles come up ongoing. I wouldn't use anything else and I keep it in my supplies and would never allow myself to run out! Buy it when it's on sale and stay ahead of your needs.

Seachem. Prime
I mix Prime in a 5 gallon bucket the day before I do water changes in my tank. Everyone does it different, but I been doing this for a year and a half now and have had no troubles since the beginning up till now with the tank. The thing I don't like about adding it to the tank as it is filling is everything from beneficial bacteria to your fish are being exposed to chlorines as I'm sure Prime doesn't instantly remove the chlorine and chloramines. I'm sure it takes time to work it's way through the water column and do it's job and that's why I premix the day before my 25% weekly water change. Check out my video on my channel on water changes below for how I do water changes and what has worked for me. Cheers :)

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZYybqTe9S7O-kIHF_aq69w
 

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I's OK to dose Prime into the refill bucket as you fill it. It really does work instantaneously. And, truth be known, if your water is within the legal limit for chloramine, it takes a while for it to kill off the nitrifying bacteria. Prime will have split it into chlorine and ammonia long before that, and treated the chlorine and detoxified the ammonia as well.

This is the disadvantage of "aging" water for a day or more: The ammonia that Prime splits off is converted to harmless ammonium. Ammonium wants to return to being ammonia within a day or two; so it's on its way there by time you fill your tank. Better to refill right away and let the nitrifying bacteria eat the ammonium before it reconverts back to ammonia.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thank you so much everyone for the helpful information! It is so hard to understand whats going on in my tank without seeing it, like you said. I do keep getting frustrated cause I want to add more fish, but know that it is a death sentence if I do. I will go to the shop today and pick up a liquid test kit, even though more expensive...it is well worth it to me!
 

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I's OK to dose Prime into the refill bucket as you fill it. It really does work instantaneously. And, truth be known, if your water is within the legal limit for chloramine, it takes a while for it to kill off the nitrifying bacteria. Prime will have split it into chlorine and ammonia long before that, and treated the chlorine and detoxified the ammonia as well.

This is the disadvantage of "aging" water for a day or more: The ammonia that Prime splits off is converted to harmless ammonium. Ammonium wants to return to being ammonia within a day or two; so it's on its way there by time you fill your tank. Better to refill right away and let the nitrifying bacteria eat the ammonium before it reconverts back to ammonia.
I agree but just remember if you have a well established biological filtration in your tank, than those ammonia loving bacteria (nitrosomonas bacteria) will take care of that ammonia with no problem that is if your tank is established and has a healthy colony of nitrifying bacteria. I see what you are saying though and I honestly have never had problems with the way I have done it, but everyone does it a little different eh? Thanks :-D
 

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Thank you so much everyone for the helpful information! It is so hard to understand whats going on in my tank without seeing it, like you said. I do keep getting frustrated cause I want to add more fish, but know that it is a death sentence if I do. I will go to the shop today and pick up a liquid test kit, even though more expensive...it is well worth it to me!
Good choice in not rushing this and good luck! :p
 
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