Amateur Mistake - Need Help Recovering

Charles B

Hello.

Disclaimer: this was an absolute terrible mistake and I realize it, so no need to point out the obvious.

Three days ago I added about ten fish to my 20 gallon tank at ONCE that did not have fish in it for about a week and a half. I did not have any used media in my filter, nor did I have fish in that tank prior. Since I did not have those two things, I was not able to cycle my tank correctly. The ammonia levels are going to spike very high soon, most likely killing my fish.

I was wondering if there is any possible way to cycle my tank now, even though I have already stocked it? I do not have another tank filled at this time for the fish to stay momentarily either. Please let me know, and thank you in advance for responding.
 

bizaliz3

Common mistake. Don't be too hard on yourself!!

Do you know anyone with an established tank you could steal some filter media from?

They sell bottled bacteria that can help speed it along too.

Definitely pick up seachem prime if you don't already have it. It's a dechlorinater that also helps detoxify ammonia and nitrites.

Do you have a test kit you can use to keep an eye on the levels?
 

Gone

First of all, please stop beating yourself up. There's no reason to panic.

You need to test for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. The API Master Test Kit is accepted by most people as the best kit you can use. They're usually around 30 bucks, but you'll get tons of tests, and you should have that around.

Feed very lightly. How much you feed will determine how much, if any, trouble you're in.

I've cycled with fish in doing 25% water changes every other day. You should do that amount at least. I used Prime to condition the replacement water. The tanks cycled just fine, with no ill effects for the fish.

You might need to do larger water changes because of the number of fish you added, depending on your water readings. A low reading of ammonia or nitrites is not going to crash the tank unless they spike. Frequent water changes will dilute the toxins. Again, it depends on the readings you get.

Feed lightly, water change one day, water readings the next, change volume of water change as necessary, and you should be cycled in four to six weeks.

The bottom line is you can control what happens if you keep an eye on your water tests and adjust accordingly.

Personally, I wouldn't add bottled bacteria. The test readings will get all wacky, and you won't know what is going on in your tank. I know people who swear by the stuff, but I think even they would admit the water readings get really funky.
 

Charles B

First of all, please stop beating yourself up. There's no reason to panic.

You need to test for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. The API Master Test Kit is accepted by most people as the best kit you can use. They're usually around 30 bucks, but you'll get tons of tests, and you should have that around.

Feed very lightly. How much you feed will determine how much, if any, trouble you're in.

I've cycled with fish in doing 25% water changes every other day. You should do that amount at least. I used Prime to condition the replacement water. The tanks cycled just fine, with no ill effects for the fish.

You might need to do larger water changes because of the number of fish you added, depending on your water readings. A low reading of ammonia or nitrites is not going to crash the tank unless they spike. Frequent water changes will dilute the toxins. Again, it depends on the readings you get.

Feed lightly, water change one day, water readings the next, change volume of water change as necessary, and you should be cycled in four to six weeks.

The bottom line is you can control what happens if you keep an eye on your water tests and adjust accordingly.

Personally, I wouldn't add bottled bacteria. The test readings will get all wacky, and you won't know what is going on in your tank. I know people who swear by the stuff, but I think even they would admit the water readings get really funky.
Fantastic, thank you! I’m testing the water very soon, and I’ll decide off of that.
 

finnipper59

Well...you already know your mistake, but correcting it in a hurry leaves you with very few options. I would first call the manager of where you gog them, explain your situation, and ask if he/she will take them back for store credit so you can come back and get more when your tank cycles. That would be the ideal situation. Twice a day water changes would work along with the conditioners that detoxifies ammonia, but the amount of ammonia you need to keep in order to get the cycle going is greater than your fish could survive. And ultimately you need to cycle the tank. If you have a friend with a nice canister fillter who could share some seeded media would be a helpful possibility. Beyond these suggestions, you may only have some dead fish to remove soon. Good luck.
Hello.

Disclaimer: this was an absolute terrible mistake and I realize it, so no need to point out the obvious.

Three days ago I added about ten fish to my 20 gallon tank at ONCE that did not have fish in it for about a week and a half. I did not have any used media in my filter, nor did I have fish in that tank prior. Since I did not have those two things, I was not able to cycle my tank correctly. The ammonia levels are going to spike very high soon, most likely killing my fish.

I was wondering if there is any possible way to cycle my tank now, even though I have already stocked it? I do not have another tank filled at this time for the fish to stay momentarily either. Please let me know, and thank you in advance for responding to this idiotic mistake.
 

Mom2some

Welcome to Fishlore. Sorry you are off to a rough start - good news, after you cycle this tank maintenance will seem much easier.
It may take up to 2 water changes per day. A general rule of thumb for cycling fish-in is:
If ammonia + Nitrite > or = 1.0, do a 50% water change, then dose with Prime for the full volume of the tank.
If ammonia + nitrites <1.0, dose Prime & recheck in 24 hours.

What fish do you have in there? Please provide a specific list including # of each.
 

snowballPLECO

Literally buy prime and you’ll be set. water change + prime solves 95% of problems
 

mattgirl

I agree with WhoKnows A fish in cycle it completely doable and can be done with no fish loss. Just keep up with the water changes as needed and you should be fine.
 

Fishlover832

Also, some easy low light floating plants will help, or you could try cheap plants like jungle val. If your lfs has any of those plants in their aquariums for sale, they should already harbor BB and will continue to take up ammonia and nitrates.
 

TexasGuppy

Also, don't turn up the heat too high.. the higher the temp, the more toxic ammonia and nitrite are for the fish. Keep it on the lower end for the fish if possible... 74 or lower is good.
Also, check your water PH, if it too high, you may want to dilute it with distilled water during water changes.. again, keeps the toxicity down.
You may be fine with just prime, but these are things you can control if you want to.
 

Gone

Well...you already know your mistake, but correcting it in a hurry leaves you with very few options. I would first call the manager of where you gog them, explain your situation, and ask if he/she will take them back for store credit so you can come back and get more when your tank cycles. That would be the ideal situation. Twice a day water changes would work along with the conditioners that detoxifies ammonia, but the amount of ammonia you need to keep in order to get the cycle going is greater than your fish could survive. And ultimately you need to cycle the tank. If you have a friend with a nice canister fillter who could share some seeded media would be a helpful possibility. Beyond these suggestions, you may only have some dead fish to remove soon. Good luck.

There's no reason to panic. I think it's ridiculous to say all hope is lost and all your fish are going to die. Just stay calm, test your water, and do your water changes accordingly.
 

Brannor

I was told, and used, Stability during my fish-in-cycle. It helped boost the BB I believe. I also used AmGuard.
I only switched to Prime after the cycle was complete.

-G
 

finnipper59

Well...you already know your mistake, but correcting it in a hurry leaves you with very few options. I would first call the manager of where you gog them, explain your situation, and ask if he/she will take them back for store credit so you can come back and get more when your tank cycles. That would be the ideal situation. Twice a day water changes would work along with the conditioners that detoxifies ammonia, but the amount of ammonia you need to keep in order to get the cycle going is greater than your fish could survive. And ultimately you need to cycle the tank. If you have a friend with a nice canister fillter who could share some seeded media would be a helpful possibility. Beyond these suggestions, you may only have some dead fish to remove soon. Good luck.
I'm sorry if the post I made sounded like all hope is gone. I did offer a couple of options. I know that stores don't like refunding for their fish, but I thought they may just take them back for temporary store credit.
 

Cardeater

You can get the fish through this but as others have said, you'll need to do daily water changes. Ideally you'd test daily so you can water change and or dose prime to keep things in check.

Prime (or safe) can be used to detoxify Ammonia and nitrate. Seachem says you can use up to 5x the dose and that will detoxify up to 4ppm ammonia or nitrite (note the amounts will still show up on say an API liquid test, but they won't be toxic to the fish)

They warm not to overdose as when Prime runs out of ammonia etc to reduce , it starts reducing oxygen. An airstone and good surface agitation will help prevent against this.

I had a cycled filter but it wasn't ready for my load of 4 clown Loaches and 5 rainbowfish in a 10 gallon QT so I had minI cycles that I water changed and used prime to get through.

I've never used the bottle bacteria. There are mix reports on if the products work. Some argue that it's too easy for the bacteria to die in there despite what the manufacturers claim. It doesn't seem to far-fetched to imagine the stuff sitting in a delivery truck in 100+ degree heat killing the bacteria.

I heard there's some refrigerated bottle bacteria for cycling that's hard to find but if your LFS happens to have it, that might be worth trying.

Personally, if I had an uncycled tank I'd probably try the bacteria as I don't see how it can hurt. The reports I've seen are that often it just doesn't even seem to speed up the cycled. It could help and you're only out a few bucks if it doesn't. Just my opinion.

I was just thinking, you found this forum so don't panic and you'll be fine.

When I got started, I had a book but it didn't have nearly as detailed info as is available now on the internet. The LFS advised me (and this place was a good store) to just buy 5 hardy fish for my 39g and wait a few weeks. I added 5 serpae tetra and then added fish slowly till then.

As I said above, with test kits, water changes, and prime, the fish can get through this with little danger.
 

Charles B

Thank you to everyone for their detailed responses. I really appreaciate it. I’ve taken a visit to the store where I bought them, got my water tested in a detailed way, parameters are looking okay as well as the ammonia. I’ve gotten different products in order to help it, and the guy working there gave me advice on it, and he said it should be perfectly fine. Thanks again you guys!
 

Hunter1

You really need to purchase the API master test kit, $25.00 on Amazon.

Blind luck, daily trips to lfs, or 50% water changes are the only way you will keep your fish safe without the kit.

And unless you opt for daily trip to lfs, you won’t even know when you are cycled.
 

finnipper59

Thank you to everyone for their detailed responses. I really appreaciate it. I’ve taken a visit to the store where I bought them, got my water tested in a detailed way, parameters are looking okay as well as the ammonia. I’ve gotten different products in order to help it, and the guy working there gave me advice on it, and he said it should be perfectly fine. Thanks again you guys!
I agree with Hunter, you really do need your own test kit. If you're not running to the fish store constantly for testing, then you're dealing with your tank blindly.
 

Gone

Personally, I don't recommend dumping in a bunch of cycle additives. I'm not convinced they do anything good. One thing I do know, the cycle additives will give you all sorts of wacky water readings and you won't have any idea how your cycle is progressing. The most important thing in this situation is to know where your tank is in terms of ammonia and nitrites so you can adjust the water changes accordingly.
 

Charles B

I agree with Hunter, you really do need your own test kit. If you're not running to the fish store constantly for testing, then you're dealing with your tank blindly.
I already have a test kit, haha. But, I didn't then.

Personally, I don't recommend dumping in a bunch of cycle additives. I'm not convinced they do anything good. One thing I do know, the cycle additives will give you all sorts of wacky water readings and you won't have any idea how your cycle is progressing. The most important thing in this situation is to know where your tank is in terms of ammonia and nitrites so you can adjust the water changes accordingly.
True, I don't agree with that either.
 

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