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1st Time Seeding A Tank

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Pnwsteelhead, Apr 9, 2019.

  1. PnwsteelheadNew MemberMember

    4 days ago I upgraded from a 5 to 20 gallon tank. I used the substrate from the 5 gallon tank ( I kept some tetra glofish in it for 2 years). In the new tank I have planted water wisteria, Java fern, and Anubis nana. Also, transferred 2 blue mystery snails. Saturday Ammonia levels at 0.25, nitrite and nitrates at 0. Today ammonia levels at 0.25, nitrite at 0.25, nitrate at 5.0. I’m surprised at the raise in nitrates. Is it typical to see that? Also, should I do a small water change if nitrates continue to rise?

    Planning my stock now. Probably some combination of cories, guppies, eventually neon tetras. I’ll only add fish when I feel good with the stability of the tank, but out of the fish above, what should I add first? I figure every couple weeks is probably ok to add fish until I’m at capacity. Any and all advice or on anything at all would be great. Thanks.
  2. david1978Fishlore LegendMember

    It sounds about right. Fish produce ammonia. Bacteria turn ammonia into nitrites then other bacteria turn nitrites into nitrates. Nitrates are removed with water changes. Anything under 20 is good.

  3. DuaneVWell Known MemberMember

    Only moving the entire filter setup will actually give you an instant cycle as the substrate doesnt have a lot of bacteria on it because the majority of your bacteria lives in your filter media. The waste in the tank is causing ammonia, the Nitrosomonas are growing and producing nitrites, the Nitrospira are growing and producing nitrates. You have a "fish in" cycle going right now. Go easy on stocking it, your parameters WILL shoot up.

    I like the Corys and Neons idea, or a Guppy biotope. Im not big on putting Guppies with other small, mid-column fish. They can get nippy. Id add the Neons first as youll see them more, then the Corys. Theyll stay at the bottom and the tank will look empty if you put them in first and build around them.
  4. smee82Fishlore VIPMember

    You dont cycle a tank you cycle your filter. Just add the old filter to the new tank as well as the new filter for a month.
  5. GuppyDazzleWell Known MemberMember

    You provided enough bacteria to seed the new aquarium, but the colony has to grow before your tank is cycled. Forget about nitrates at this point, it's buildup of ammonia and nitrites that could cause problems. If you keep combined ammonia and nitrites at 1 ppm or below through water changes, your fish will be fine and there will be enough toxins to feed the bacteria colony. Once your tank is cycled, then you can worry about nitrates.
  6. PnwsteelheadNew MemberMember

    i was just surprised to see nitrates already.
  7. mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    Was the gravel and the snails the only things you moved from the 5 gallon to the 20 gallon? Hopefully you also moved filter and deco from the small tank. Contrary to what has been said, bacteria grows on every surface in our tanks.

    How long had the 5 gallon been without fish before the move? You said you kept some tetra glofish in it for 2 years. I am just assuming from this that they are no longer with you.

    The reason I am asking is, if the only inhabitants these tanks have had for any length of time are your 2 snails you won't have a very large bacterial colony. A tank will only grow as large as needed for the bio-load of the tank so you want to add your new fish a few at a time to allow the bacteria to grow

    or you could remove the snails, add ammonia up to 2ppm to the tank and with it grow enough bacteria to handle the bio-load of all the fish you want to put in there. This way you can add all of them at the same time because there will be enough bacteria to handle their bio-load.

    Actually we are doing both. Bacteria grows on all surfaces including the filter so we are in fact cycling our tank. We aren't cycling water though.
  8. PnwsteelheadNew MemberMember

    The tank was without fish for 2 weeks. Transferred everything in the old tank to the new tank. I did also put the old filter media in the new filter and left it overnight.

    Again, I was just surprised to see the rise in nitrates so soon, and without any fish in the tank. Makes me think I can add fish, but I’m going to give it another week or two. That should be my question: When do I know it will be safe to add fish?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 10, 2019
  9. mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    As long as you are seeing no ammonia or nitrites and are registering nitrates it is telling me that you instantly cycled this tank by transferring everything from the small tank to this one. You basically just moved the cycle from one tank to another.

    Keep in mind that there is just enough bacteria to handle the bio-load of the snails you have in there now so when you start adding fish just add them a few at a time to give the bacteria a chance to grow enough to handle the new bio-load.

    You may have a mini cycle, meaning a small spike in ammonia/nitrites as the bacteria catches up so just keep a close eye on the perimeters.
  10. GuppyDazzleWell Known MemberMember

    You keep saying you're surprised to see nitrates so soon. The reason nitrates are showing up is because you did transfer enough of a bacteria colony to process ammonia and nitrites into nitrates, but the colony is not established enough to keep up with the bioload. It is processing at all levels, just not enough to eliminate ammonia and nitrites.

    I've always used fish to cycle tanks. As long as you test frequently and do water changes to control the toxin levels it works great. If it was me I'd add fish. Maybe not too many, but again it all depends on how often you want to test and do water changes.

    Your numbers look similar to what happens when you have a mini cycle, like what happens if you over clean your aquarium. Suddenly ammonia and nitrites show up, but it quickly catches up in a few days because the colony is there, just low numbers. The colony can double a couple times a day.