confused!!

dfrap

Member
I am new at keeping tropical fish. I bought my first aquarium (a 10 gallon) about 5 weeks ago. Set it up and 3 days later bought a fancy guppy, 2 mollies and a pleco. Within a week, one of the mollies died. A week later, the pleco died. And another week later, the other mollie died. So now we have a pleco (which I thought I needed for the algae, I now know better) and the fancy guppy. When I found out the cause of fish death was ammonia poisoning, I started doing 50% water changes for a few days. The ammonia dropped from 8.0 to 2.0. I also changed the filter which someone suggested. Right now my levels are as follows:

ammonia: 1.0
Ph: 6.6
nitrites: 0
nitrates: 0

I'm confused about the cycling process. I know the ammonia levels are suppose to spike up so the bacteria can grow. Then convert it to nitrites, etc. But I've been told to keep changing the water until the ammonia drops to zero, so the fish I have don't die. So, I'm doing 20% water changes every day and vaccuuming the bottom. My question is this...if I keep doing water changes to get the ammonia down, how will the good bacteria start to grow to get my tank cycling? And is it possible the my tank DID cycle already? I didn't start testing the water (I do have the good Master Test Kit) until I had the tank for about 2 weeks. This question probably has an obvious answer, but I've asked many people who aren't giving me the info I need. So if anyone can help me out, it would be MUCH appreciated! Thanks!
 

Isabella

Member
Welcome to Fish Lore Dfrap

You've made some mistakes on the outset ... but haven't we all? Now you're on the right track as I can see you already took some time to learn about the cycle and how important water changes are.

OK, a tank is cycled when ammonia = 0 and nitrite = 0; nitrate is showing. Ammonia and nitrite have to be at 0 at all times in order for the water to be safe for fish. Nitrate can be present in water, but you cannot allow it to become to high either because if you do, you may have serious problems as well (i.e. sick or dying fish). On the label of AP Nitrate test, it says Nitrate shouldn't exceed 40 ppm, but I believe it shouldn't exceed 20 ppm. I think 40 ppm is WAY too high. I always keep my nitrate below 20.

Now, if you have any fish in your tank while you have ammonia and/or nitrite in your water, you should be doing DAILY 50% water changes in order to increase the chances of your fish surviving. Even tiny amounts of ammonia and nitrite can kill your fish or make them very sick.

NEVER clean your filter media in tap water! Chlorine from tap water will kill all the beneficial bacteria (that are supposed to keep your tank cycled) in your filter, and you'll get another cycle. Frequent water changes will not kill the beneficial bacteria because the bacteria live on all surfaces of the tank, and especially in the filter (which is why you have filter media in the filter). The purpose of the filter and its media is not only to remove debris from the water, but also to provide a lot of space for the nitrifying bacteria. Also, NEVER throw out the sponge from your filter or any bio-cubes (or other media like that) because that's where the bacteria live. If you throw out the media, you're also throwing out the bacteria that are supposed to keep your tank cycled. All you need to do is rinse the filter media in TANK WATER (not tap water). Simply take some tank water in some bucket, and clean everything there.

If you're using activated carbon or charcoal in your filter, this one needs to be replaced every month or so. This is the only medium that needs to be replaced because when it has absorbed a maximum amount of toxins from the tank and it has no more space left, it will start leaching the toxins back into the tank. But if you don't want to, you do not have to use activated carbon / charcoal at all. Just do your regular weekly water changes, do not overstock your tank, and you'll be fine.

Last thing: A Pleco will grow WAY too large for a 10 gallon tank. If you do not have any algae, why do you need an algae eater at all? You can get an algae eater once you start noticing algae in your tank. Algae eaters DO need food just like fish. They will not live on algae from the tank alone. I do not know if you want to keep this Pleco, but if not, you can get a few Otos for a 10 gallon tank if you ever get algae. Otos are small and will be OK in a 10 gallon tank, but not a big Pleco (it will not be able to move around in your tank when it grows up).

I hope this helps you somewhat
 
  • Thread Starter

dfrap

Member
Thank you SOOO much for your advice. You wouldn't believe how many people at many different pet stores I've asked these questions to, never getting any straight forward, understandable answers. I will continue doing water changes, 50% daily until my ammonia is at zero. I definitely don't want to lose the one fancy guppy I have in there, he's a tough little guy

As for the Pleco...after learning more about fish, I did realize they grow to be very large and I will be unable to keep it. This was another bad recommendation I guess, from a pet store employee. If algae becomes a problem, I will get some Otos.

I also want to add that I think this is a great website! It's nice to see I'm not the only one out there who has made the "new tank" mistakes! And I'll most likely be back to ask more questions, as I realize there are many when it comes to aquariums and fish!
 

Isabella

Member
You're very welcome
 

starshine

Member
After having issues with keeping plecos myself, I got 2 otos for my 10 gallon tank. In my opinion, they keep it cleaner than a pleco ever could. They even clean the algae off of the leaves on my plants. And they're so darn cute!!
 

Isabella

Member
I love Otos too I may get some of them for my 75 gallon tank if I start getting algae in it.
 

susitna-flower

Member
For me one of the really great things about having a community tank is that all the fish have different behaviors, and inhabit different parts of the tank. My otos remind me of "busy little beavers", they are always working, then rest for a second, and just about the time you go to try and count them they are off in a different part of the tank working again. Really sweet little things.

Fish in the Frozen North. -6 f this morning.
 

tan.b

Member
algae eaters amuse me too! they do work hard!!!!
 
  • Thread Starter

dfrap

Member
Well things are looking up here. Ammonia is between 0.25 and 0 Nitrites 0, Nitrates 5. Getting there slowly but surely!
The pet store took the pleco back, hope he'll get a better (& bigger home)
I looked at the Otos today, and I think I will be getting some. You're all right...they are SOO cute!
 

tan.b

Member
results are looking good! keep up the good work!!

when you so start adding more fish. just add a few a week. if results start creeping up, stop adding fish, and do extra water changes until results settle again. sorry if you already know this! (better for me to tell you something you already know than not tell you and you not know still......am I making sense or just rambling again?!!!!!!!!!). just by adding fish, you increase the ammonia, and then you can have a lag time until the bacteria catches up with processing it to nitrite and same for the bacteria that convert that to nitrate.

good luck, any questions lat all et us know. the cycling thing.....we've all been there!! its hard work, but worth it in the end!!

tan
 

susitna-flower

Member
tan, did you get your second new tank all set up yet? Maybe I missed something, I was in town and really didn't follow all the threads. This weekend I am traveling 300 mI North to spend a couple of days with my oldest daughter and my son is going to take care of my tank....He was really stressing about it when I told him today. Two days, they could almost fast that long, but I don't want to give my B Ghost Knife any excuses to ever be a bad boy. They have a really super cool fish store in Fairbanks, I'll have to drop in. ;D

Fish in the Frozen North.
 

tan.b

Member
now something strange has happened! I replied to this last night...but it seems to have disappeared . just looked at every post I did last night and the others are all there. then thought maybe i'd rambled about the tank in another post....but nope :! how odd!!
anyway, yes,got it all set up. got most of it done on mon night when it arrived. plugged heater in overnight to check it worked. the filter didnt, so bought a new one on tues (yesterday). the heater did work, so that was a bonus! while I was buying filter yesterday is when I got my shrimps and penguin tetras! didnt want to get any fish for the newest tank yesterday until filter had been running. so put filter in yesterday, put some food in too in a hope to ensure its still cycling. i'd used gravel from the 45gal which was emptied on sat, also some gravel from the previous owner of the new tank which was an established tank earlier that day, so the bacteria would be "fresher" if that's the word (you know what I mean!!!!). plus she gave us loads of decors, so there'll be some bacteria on those to. so with all that there should be plenty of bacteria. only thing lacking in bacteria is the filter. anyway, filter ran all day yesterday and last night. checked levels this morn. 0 for ammonia and nitrite and 5 for nitrate. same as my other tanks, so its safe for fish. went to lfs this morn to get some danios (as wary of tank going into a minI cycle when I add more fish, so wanted something quite hardy). anyway, lfs man gave me some alternatives. considered pearl danios, then he showed me these scissor tailed fish. I don't know much about them, but he said they're peaceful and easy to look after and will tolerate a minI cycle should that occur. so I got 6 of those. I'll be searching internet to read up about them after this. they look similar to my penguin tetras and about the same size too. anyway, they've settled in and doing well. also while I was at pet shop I was eyeing up my next purchase (as I always do!) and i'm considering a betta! he said it would do fine in a tank with my tetras and loach. will ask around on here first though for a 2nd opinion! my only concern is the loach attaching himself onto the betta. what do you think? if the betta causes problems I can't move him to the guppy tank as that will def end in disaster, and not decided on what else is going in the tank with the scissor tails yet. so, i'm off to read up on scissor tails and bettas!! hope all is well in the frozen north and sorry for not getting back to you sooner...its just I thought I already had!!!! my computer has a mind of its own!! :
Tan
sunny day here 11C here today! lovely . spring is definitely here at last!!! ;D
 

susitna-flower

Member
Morning...The weather here has been brutal on the 82 mushers in the Ididarod. My favorite a 50+ woman Dee Dee Jonrow had to quit the race at the end of the second day after a crash where she broke her hand. The mushers have to be fit to tend to their own dogs. The trail was ice, rough, with wind 45-75mph the first 3 days with temps. -10 down to -30 at night.....I just can't imagine being out there and not in my cozy warm house! Well in the first 3 days 10 mushers in all scratched from the race. It has been the hardest conditions I think I can remember.

Glad you got the new tank cycle so fast. I have no experience with bettas or loaches. There are some on here that have all the answers you need.

Spring sounds wonderful, ours won't be here till the middle of April.

Fish in the Frozen North. +6F light snow :
 

tan.b

Member
shame for the mushers. sounds like a hard time. I certainly couldnt do it! i'd be staying indoors too! why don't they do these events when the weather is more favourable? in a few more months time?!

I put a thread up on the betta board, and its not looking hopeful for the betta!! oh well, I better concentrate on what to put in the new tank! also i'm reading up on the salt water aquariums! they seem fab. where will I put all these tanks?!!

Tan
 

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