Cycling new tank with tetras

  • #1
Ok so I am stupid and I listened to the guy at the fish store. Long story short - I have a 30 gallon tank that has been set up for a week with a school of 9 serpae tetras in it, as he told me they were great for cycling. After reading this site I realize that was a huge mistake and I should not be cycling with fish, but not sure what to do to correct it now. It is my only tank so I can't put them into a different tank... everything seems fine but now I am terrified I will wake up one moring and these fish will be dead. I'm monitoring the water and prepared to do any maintenance necessary, but not sure if there is something else I can do to ensure the tetras don't die. Any suggestions? I don't care about the financial investment, just really don't want to be responsible for these fish dying due to my stupidity. Any advice appreciated. This is my first fish tank....
  • #2
HI indydoug
lots and lots of water changes . Your tank would just be starting to cycle so you will need to keep a close eye on things. Dont give up and you will get through it.
  • #3
HI indydoug welcome to Fish Lore
Unfortunately a lot of us have gotten bad advise from fish stores. I'm glad you found us.

What test kit are you using? The API master test kit is highly recommended, it's very accurate.
What are your readings for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates?

I don't have personal experience with it, but if you can get some Bio Spiro, it would seed your tank with the beneficial bacteria your tank needs.
A lot of people here recommend it.

If you can't get any, you must do daily water changes, 25 to 50%,don't rinse your filter or change out your filter media.

Serpaes are beautiful, I hope they do well.
Good luck with your tank and don't be afraid to ask lots of questions!
  • #4
HI indy...welcome to fishlore!!!!!!! a lot of us have done this because of not personally thank god I found this site before too many lucy said, bio-spira will help tremendously! and save you lots of work....otherwise as she said, daily water changes of at least 50% until you finish the cycle....ammonia & nitrites should always be 0 with nitrates under 20....goodluck! and welcome again
  • #5
HI indydoug and welcome to fishlore!!!

like Lucy said you can get Bio Spira. I used it before and it works great. Just make sure to really read the directions and don't panic if you see ammonia in your tank after adding the bio spira. I did and messed up the whole purpose of it. also you need to get a water conditioner that won't do anything to the ammonia or one that the bacteria in the bio spira will be still able to use after you doing a water change. do NOT get the Prime water conditioner because it will just not work with the bacteria in your tank and don't add any ammolock or such things to bring the ammonia down or to make it into some other sort of ammonia if you are using bio spira.

if you don't use bio spira then just keep doing your water changes (everyday) and use stress coat so that it will protect your fish.

it is also very important to have your test kit like the API liquid test kit which almost everybody here has and works very good. always test your water right before doing the water change to see how much water you have to change.
example: when I had ammonia readings of 8 the folks here recommended to do two 50% water changes a day to bring the ammonia down which I did and in a couple of days the ammonia went down to half that but my tank had been cycling for like 2 months by then.

**also don't do gravel vacuum because a lot of the beneficial bacteria will be in the gravel and you wanna keep it there**

just use bio spira and don't do water changes or do as many water changes as you need.

good luck!!!
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
you guys are great

Thanks to all of you who responded! I am so thrilled there are so many on this site willing to help. I had to travel for work this week and am in NYC today but will be home tomorrow (left yesterday evening.) According to my pet sitter everything is fine at home as of right now. I DID buy two test kits when I got the fish - one for ammonia and one for everything else. As soon as I get home tomorrow afternoon I will do the tests and see if I can make it to the fish store to buy the birospira before they close - if not I'll get it first thing Thursday morning. The BiroSpira sounds much easier than changing out half of the water every day, so I will certainly give it a shot. If it doesn't work then I will go to the daily water changes, which will make for a busy May!!

I do have one more question - everything I"ve read says you have to change the water with water of a similar do you accomplish that? I could put it in a 5 gallon bucket and put a tank heater in there, but that seems like it would take forever, plus I'd have to do that three times a day to get 15 gallons changed do the experts do it? Run the tap water with a thermometer underneath until it is 78-80 degrees and then switch it out right away?
  • #7
Welcome to Fishlore. Water changes are going to be your friend. Unknowingly, I cycled my first tank with the fish in it, and I only lost one fish, so your tank isn't lost.

I just run the water until it feels right. If you're changing out more than 25% at a time, I would suggest doing the thermometer thing, just to get the water as close as possible.
  • #8
Fish Lore is a great place, so many helpful and caring people.

If you have a spare heater, you can heat the water in a 20 gallon bucket (is there such a thing?)....change the water...refill the bucket add the heater, it will be ready for the next day.

I do mine by touch, I haven't been off too far, a degree or so, but I only have 2 10 gallon tanks and they are both established so I don't have to change out too much water.
  • #9
One thing to keep in mind. I read somewhere that using hot tap water can be dangerous as a lot of the pipes are copper and fish don't like copper. Dont know how proven that is but I like to err on the side of caution and use the cold water tap.
Rain is usually cold when it hits the sun-warmed habitats of most of these fish in the wild. I imagine if you added the water gradually over a period of time it would have the same effect. Btw, if I am wrong corrections will not offend me.
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
Thanks! I don't have to worry about copper pipes because my house is new construction and they are so cheap these days I am pretty sure all the pipes are plastic!!
  • #11
All great advice and yes fishlore is a great site with lots of helpful people. What I tend to do for water changes is the following, I have a fish bucket that I use to take water out into I take out two buckets worth, and I have a tupperware bin that is the size of two buckets of water. I run cold water into that bucket 24 hours before I am going to do a water change, treat the water and leave it sitting with a heater in the bin that is set to the same temp as my tank 80 degrees in my case. I have a powerhead in the bottom of the bin with a hose off its outflow, I just turn it on and let it refill the tank. Seems to work really well and there is minimal stress on the fish as the water is the same in temp and is aged and declorinated and minimizes my disruption in the tank.
  • #12
LOL.. Yea, that's true.. I guess that's one plus to the cheap construction tactics most builders use.

Thanks! I don't have to worry about copper pipes because my house is new construction and they are so cheap these days I am pretty sure all the pipes are plastic!!
  • #13
great to know how other people do water changes.
all I do is try to get the tap water as close as I can to the temp in my tank and add the conditioner. then just put it in my tank and my fish are just fine. oh and by the way I do about 30%-40% water change (every day) in my tank so that's a lot more than what you'll be doing in your tank.
the way I do it seems to work for me but we all find our own way.

good luck with your tank and keep us posted on what happens!
shortcut mary
  • #14
Welcome to Fishlore indydoug2008! I've only been on Fishlore a few weeks and boy am I glad I found it...People here are very helpful, patient and a joy to be around. Because of them, I was able to save my tank from total destruction{water issues etc} Our aquarium never looked better!!!
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
Quick update: When I returned home the ammonia was pretty high in the tank, so last night I did about a 30% water change (with the new python system I bought yesterday - so easy!!) and brought the ammonia down. I'll do another water change today and hopefully bring the ammonia down some more. None of the stores in my area carry biospira, so I have not been able to add that. Amazingly, the fish seem to be doing very well so far, so I am keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks again to everyone for all your help - I'll post another update in a few days and see if I can figure out how to post a photo.
  • #16
as long as you keep doing your water changes your fish should do fine. you just need to get as much of the ammonia out as you can so that they don't suffer.

goof luck n keep us posted.
  • #17
It helps to take a reading on your water just before changing it and keeping track of it.
That way you'll know when your water has spiked and is starting to come down and showing nitrates.

It sound like you're doing the best for your fish, good luck.
  • Thread Starter
  • #18
HI Everyone,

Just an update: My ammonia levels have started to come down and I am now reading nitrites of about 3.0, and still doing my daily water changes of about 30%. The fish are doing amazingly well, and their color has become much more intense since the ammonia levels came down even thought I know the nitrites are no better for them. I did lose two of the serpaes, but I don't think it was because of the water quality. I did a water change a few nights ago and afterwards I did notice that the temp seemed to be taking a LONG time to go back up. When I woke up in the morning, the temp in the tank was below 65 and I realized something was wrong with my heater. The little red light had been on the whole time but apparently for some reason it wasn't working, and this heater is only 9 days old. So I RAN to the LFS and got a new heater, and by the time I got home two of the serpaes had died, which was very sad as there was no reason in the world this brand new heater should have stopped working. But I now have a back-up heater and the fish look better than they have the whole time I've had them. Again, thanks to everyone for your help and I will be posting plenty of more questions!!
  • #19
I'm sorry to hear that you lost a couple fishes.
You did the best you could considering it was a heater malfunction.
I have to say, that and a power outage are my worst fears when it comes to my fish.
  • #20
Power outages and thunderstorms when u haven't yet got a surge protector for your tank's powerboard. Sorry to hear about your fishes. Its really upsetting when that happens especially for such a random reason like a dud heater. At least you can safely say that it wasn't your fault.
  • #21
I HATE heaters malfunctioning! Sorry that you lost those 2 serpae's, but glad you noticed the problem in time to save the rest.
  • #22
LOL.. Yea, that's true.. I guess that's one plus to the cheap construction tactics most builders use.

If building codes in the US are similar to those here in the UK, then all new houses must be fitted with plastic water pipes. This has been the case for around 10 years now over here :

  • #23
Most of the houses I have lived in have been over 20yrs old at least. The downsides of renting I guess. What about the ones coming off the hot water heater tho? All hot water would have to pass through them wouldnt they? All the ones Ive seen have been copper. I'm not sure where Aust. laws stand on this. Are copper tests available? If so, I should totally buy one and test my hot water.
Anyway, indydoug, you are doing a great job and at least those fish were sold to someone with sense enough to do more research like yourself than to some of the dolts I have encountered that have no clue and don't seem to care. Good job, those fish struck it lucky with you.
  • #24
Hey Indydoug,

Like you I am new to this forum and like you have discovered people are more than welcoming and helpful with their advice, keep doing all you can to save your guy's, it sounds that you are a considerate fishkeeper and keen to do things right, darn those lfs's!
  • #25
hI indydoug u seem to have things under control with your water changes , that was very unforunate with the heater just goes to show that anything can go wrong.with fish you will always learn or find out something new best of luck

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