Cycle issues after transferring to new tank, cycling goldfish in discus parameter water

wyse

Tank
What is the water volume of the tank? 40 gallon breeder
How long has the tank been running? Just upgraded January 29th from 29 gallon (filter and gravel brought over to new tank, previous tank running since March of 2020)
Does it have a filter? 2, HOB Aquaclear 30 and 70, turns 450 gph
Does it have a heater? No, tank sits at 69 this time of year consistently
What is the water temperature? 69 F
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.) 1 Oranda goldfish, approx 4 inches.

Maintenance
How often do you change the water? Currently everyday/every other day
How much of the water do you change? Anywhere from 30 - 50%
What do you use to treat your water? Fritz ACCR, switched from Seachem Prime at start of current tank
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? Typically water, lightly graze substrate about once per week with electric siphon.

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? Previous tank was cycled, brought over filter and sand to current tank
What do you use to test the water? API Master Test Kit
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Ammonia: .5ppm *Tap contains .25ppm ammonia
Nitrite: 0ppm
Nitrate: 5ppm
pH: Less than or equal to 6. Tap is 7.2 but off gasses to 6.
KH of tank as of this moment: 0!!
KH of tap: 2 degrees
Have cuttlebone in both filters.

Feeding
How often do you feed your fish? Currently every other or every third day
How much do you feed your fish? 1-2 pellets of Fluval bug bites or a bit of Repashy
What brand of food do you feed your fish? Fluval
Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods? Since tank was set up I gave less than 1/4 cube of frozen bloodworms

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish? June 2020
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? Nothing overly concerning at the moment
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? Flashes occasionally
Have you started any treatment for the illness? No
Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase? Developed ich when added to the tank in 2020, treated and has not come back.
How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all? Ripped caudal fin, probably from new filter. Lethargy.

Explain your emergency situation in detail. (Please give a clear explanation of what is going on, include details from the beginning of the illness leading up to now)
Alright y'all, I upgraded my goldfish to a 40 gallon breeder because I read online goldfish are social and I wanted to get her a friend. Little did I know it would lead to this mess! From the first aquarium I kept I know my water here is very soft and acidic, it took me ages to fish in cycle a betta tank when I started out. Lips' 29 gallon also took ages but was considerably less stressful considering I knew about the nitrogen cycle and how to fishless cycle ahead of time. The previous tank ran fine after it finally cycled, never had any issues. I recently upgraded her tank, moving over as much of the sand and decorations (several slow growing live plants and rocks) as I could as well as the filter, and adding a new one. Water was all dechlorinated before anything was added or plugged in, so I don't think my BB got nuked. The only thing I can think of that happened is I had a power cut the morning after I set the new tank up and the bubble and filters were out for a few hours. I can't say how many as I wasn't home, was told about it by my roommate. From day 1 ammonia has never dropped below .5ppm (tap has .25ppm off the bat). Never registered nary a nitrite. Despite doing frequent, and sometimes large (75%) water changes I am consistently getting low nitrate readings, which leads me to believe something is happening in there, but very slowly. Nitrates were 5-10ppm before I added a few lucky bamboo stalks, now they sit at 5ppm and the bamboo is rooting. My concern is that my pH/KH is stalling the cycle, the only thing keeping it going is my water changes refreshing some degree of KH and giving the bac enough of a pH boost to do something, however short lived it may be. It's been two weeks with no change, tests come back the same each morning. What should I do?

I have a heater I bought on clearance but it is not calibrated, and I'm not sure how to do that safely with a fish in the tank. I know increasing the temperature will increase the growth rate of the bacteria.

I bought a bottle of TSS but haven't added it. Never had any luck with these products (and with my water conditions I see why). Should I dump it in and cross my fingers? Try to wait for the cuttlebone to kick KH and pH up a bit then add it?

I have more cuttlebone, should I put more in my filters so maybe my KH will do something?

Thanks for any and all advice.
 

86 ssinit

Your acidic water is going to be your problem. I’m surprised your tank didn’t instant cycle. Even with the power outage the bb would still have lived. Some people add crushed coral to there filters to bring up the ph. You will need to test regularly to make sure the ph stays where you want it. Yes everything will be slower! The acidic water pretty much stops the cycle. Ammonia is less dangerous in acidic water.
 
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wyse

Your acidic water is going to be your problem. I’m surprised your tank didn’t instant cycle. Even with the power outage the bb would still have lived. Some people add crushed coral to there filters to bring up the ph. You will need to test regularly to make sure the ph stays where you want it. Yes everything will be slower! The acidic water pretty much stops the cycle. Ammonia is less dangerous in acidic water.
I was also very surprised, figured maybe I lost BB in the sand transfer or something. Even that didn't add up with the cycled filter, by now it should be leveling out I'd think! I've had difficulties cycling in the past because of the water, but once I figured out my KH needed a boost it fixed it. I was hoping cuttlebone would provide some kind of results, but I'll go ahead and bite the bullet for some coral. Hopefully my bac doesn't die off before it gets here (if it hasn't already!)
 
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mattgirl

Welcome to Fushlore

I agree with 86 ssinit This tank will continue to struggle until you get the pH up. I don't know it for a fact but I think your Goldfish will eventually struggle in these conditions too.

Don't fear running crushed coral in your filters. I run it in mine and have been for years. I have very soft water almost devoid of any kind of minerals. I also add Equilibrium to my water but only because I also have live plants and it helps them. My fish were fine with just the CC to keep the pH up and stable at 7.2

The best thing about CC is you pretty much add it and forget it. You don't have to add it with each water change like you would have to when adding anything from a bottle. Once the pH is up and stable you will know the CC needs some attention if the pH starts dropping so you need to check it every month or so. By attention I mean pull the media bag out and scrub it off in some used tank water. This scrubs some of the bio-film off it that is preventing it from dissolving.

I have to think your bacteria is alright. With a pH and temp this low I have to think it is just dormant. Add the CC and your heater. The only calibration I have ever done with a heater is put it in the tank along with a reliable thermometer. If the temp in the tank is where you want it and the heater is still on turn it down until the light goes off. I have never depended on the numbers on the heater. I depend on what my thermometer is telling me.
 
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wyse

Welcome to Fushlore

I agree with 86 ssinit This tank will continue to struggle until you get the pH up. I don't know it for a fact but I think your Goldfish will eventually struggle in these conditions too.

Don't fear running crushed coral in your filters. I run it in mine and have been for years. I have very soft water almost devoid of any kind of minerals. I also add Equilibrium to my water but only because I also have live plants and it helps them. My fish were fine with just the CC to keep the pH up and stable at 7.2

The best thing about CC is you pretty much add it and forget it. You don't have to add it with each water change like you would have to when adding anything from a bottle. Once the pH is up and stable you will know the CC needs some attention if the pH starts dropping so you need to check it every month or so. By attention I mean pull the media bag out and scrub it off in some used tank water. This scrubs some of the bio-film off it that is preventing it from dissolving.

I have to think your bacteria is alright. With a pH and temp this low I have to think it is just dormant. Add the CC and your heater. The only calibration I have ever done with a heater is put it in the tank along with a reliable thermometer. If the temp in the tank is where you want it and the heater is still on turn it down until the light goes off. I have never depended on the numbers on the heater. I depend on what my thermometer is telling me.
Yes, Lips loves the water changes. Tries to swim directly into the freshwater being added, can be quite a pain when I'm trying to be efficient. I've been suspecting it has something to do with the pH of the new water temporarily being higher than the tank. I'll add the heater and try to slowly adjust it up to 73 by Saturday. The coral should be here Friday or Saturday, and I added on some equilibrium too. I had a GH test ages ago that was misplaced, haven't been able to find it since. From memory, my GH is around the same as KH, and I imagine it's being depleted by the plants I do have.

I also bought some water wisteria which will likely end up being an expensive snack, but I'm hopeful. I guess this is as good a place as any to ask about that. Prior to buying the water wisteria I read you can use organic potting soil for substrate with plants. I have a very fine layer of sand in the tank so I bought a terracotta pot and sifted Miracle Grow Nature's Care with a fish net to remove the perlite and bark bits. I capped this with about an inch and a half of sand so it'll stay planted and the soil won't find it's way out. I've had this sitting in a gallon sized glass container so I can monitor the parameters as the soil contained some fertilizers (didn't see urea on the ingredients though). The ammonia this morning was higher than my tank! At least 1ppm. Is this normal, and if not should I switch out the substrate?
 
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mattgirl

Water wisteria really doesn't need much to grow well. It is a water column feeder and can thrive even if not planted. It should grow just as well in your sand as it would in potting soil or even used as a floating plant. I have it in my shrimp bowl. It isn't planted in the gravel. I have to cut it back pretty often. When it starts growing above the water line it is time to cut it back.

I used tiny rubber bands to attach it to little rocks to help hold it down where I want it to stay.
 
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wyse

Water wisteria really doesn't need much to grow well. It is a water column feeder and can thrive even if not planted. It should grow just as well in your sand as it would in potting soil or even used as a floating plant. I have it in my shrimp bowl. It isn't planted in the gravel. I have to cut it back pretty often. When it starts growing above the water line it is time to cut it back.

I used tiny rubber bands to attach it to little rocks to help hold it down where I want it to stay.
Thanks, I've read tons of conflicting stuff about it but figured as a stem plant it wouldn't need much in the way of roots. I do want to add a compact amazon sword some day, been eyeing echinodorus parviflorus. Maybe I'll figure out the substrate at that time. For now I tied the wisteria to a rock and we'll see what happens!
 
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86 ssinit

Sand and gravel will grow plants. Yes like mattgirl I don’t plant my westeria. I attach it to the top of driftwood. I find it needs more light than other plants.
Yes soil does release ammonia. That’s why it’s going up. You don’t need that now.
 
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wyse

Sand and gravel will grow plants. Yes like mattgirl I don’t plant my westeria. I attach it to the top of driftwood. I find it needs more light than other plants.
Yes soil does release ammonia. That’s why it’s going up. You don’t need that now.
Thanks, I added a clip-on light from an old tank directly over where I put it in the tank. Hopefully the light will reach it, I don't think that light is meant to be used in a 40gal but maybe it will help a little. I'll update after I add the coral and see what happens water-quality wise.
 
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wyse

Added the coral yesterday afternoon, my pH has already gone up from lowest on the chart to 6.6! That stuff works fast. Hoping for 6.8-7.0 tomorrow, I'll check before work in the morning. Lips is no longer lethargic and I haven't seen any flashing either, it's like a whole new fish.

No change in the parameters yet, aside from nitrate looking a little more on the yellow side than it has been (I added the wisteria though, which is already angling toward the light and a pothos cutting that sprouted a root!) I use a colorblind app to record my nitrates, my kit is a bit faded so 10ppm and 20ppm look the same to me. It hasn't gotten close to that high yet, but even with a 50% water change today I was still very close to 5ppm. Nitrates never seem to move, tested at 10:30 this morning and they were a solid 5, then after a 50% water change I tested at 4:00 PM and they were very close to 5, a hair lighter. I'm taking this as a good sign but still being cautious. Time will tell.

I bought a new light for the tank as well, because obviously spending $90 to grow a $7 plant is rational.
 
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wyse

I caved and added the Tetra safe start this morning, I hope it works. My pH has been fluctuating between a high of 7.2/7.4 (this morning) and a low of 6.6 (just before lights off last night), which I believe are natural fluctuations from the tank cycling/plant processes. Yesterday I noticed a small amount of excess ammonia foam forming above my bubbler. Ammonia is not dropping, no nitrites at any point, and if anything nitrates have dropped with the addition of the other plants. Frustrating to say the least, but hopefully the bottled bac will right whatever is wrong.
 
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86 ssinit

Not sure but the ammonia may be from the gold fish waste. May need a bigger filter? The safe start is a good option. How’s the goldfish?
Just noticed your new here so welcome to fishlore.
 
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wyse

Not sure but the ammonia may be from the gold fish waste. May need a bigger filter? The safe start is a good option. How’s the goldfish?
Just noticed your new here so welcome to fishlore.
Fish is great, actually acting better than before when my pH was so low. She did destroy a marimo moss ball though, if that can add to ammonia. I clean out the bits of moss ball but have left the somewhat in tact piece in for her to mess with. I added two huge prefilter sponges yesterday that I hope will provide some extra area for bacteria to colonize. Between the aquaclear 30 and 70, I believe there should be enough filter space.
 
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mattgirl

I caved and added the Tetra safe start this morning, I hope it works. My pH has been fluctuating between a high of 7.2/7.4 (this morning) and a low of 6.6 (just before lights off last night), which I believe are natural fluctuations from the tank cycling/plant processes. Yesterday I noticed a small amount of excess ammonia foam forming above my bubbler. Ammonia is not dropping, no nitrites at any point, and if anything nitrates have dropped with the addition of the other plants. Frustrating to say the least, but hopefully the bottled bac will right whatever is wrong.
There is no need to be concerned about not seeing nitrites. When moving a cycle from one tank to another we shouldn't get a nitrite spike. We found the root issue causing your problems. Now that your pH and temp is up it is just going to take time for the dormant bacteria to get back to work. I'm not sure it is ammonia foam you are seeing. I lean more toward a protein build up. That is another thing I wouldn't be overly concerned about at this point.

I recommend you only run the pH test one time a day. Run it at about the same time each time. If it is run at various times you may see a problem when there really isn't one to see.
 
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wyse

Well, I had nitrites show up on my test today. Nitrates are exploding, yesterday they were at 5ppm, today they're between 10 and 20ppm. Ammonia is maybe a smidge lighter, but still looking mostly the same as ever. I'm resisting the urge to water change today due to the TSS, its been exactly a week since I added it. If Nitrate goes past 20ppm I'm going to water change, which I suspect will happen tomorrow, Wednesday at the latest.
 
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