Cycling of new tank

red020804

Member
cycling of new tank (april 20th update)

on March 18th we had bought a brand new 20 gallon tank. we wiped it out with a damp cloth and then set the tank up. We let it run for a day then we transfered our 10 fish from the 10 gallon tank to the 20 gallon tank. We didnt know about the the whole nitrogen cycle thing. so we are desperately trying to keep our fish alive. we have 4 mollies, 4 guppy's, and 2 black phantom tetras. We have been having issues with very high nitrites and stress levels of ammonia. We have been doing 20 percent water changes about every other day to try to keep the nitrites and ammonia down. two of our female mollies we believe are pregnant (one for sure) and we are really worried about what this cycling of the tank is gonna do to them. if we had know about this we wouldnt have transferred them till the new tank was cycled but now its already to late to take them out.

our readings tonight (April 1st) an hour after the water change:

nitrate: 10
nitrite: 3.0 (earlier in the week it was 10.0 and higher)
chlorine: 0
total alkalinity: 30
ph: between 7.2 and 7.8
ammonia: between 0 and 0.5

i'm wondering how much longer do you think this cycling will take and should I continue to do 20 percent water changes every other day, or do them everyday, or once a week, what? also our water has gotten cloudy this week. is this bad? please help.
 

blueiristyson

Member
I had the same problem with a goldfish I adopted. I had a tank but it wasn't cycled. I just did a partial water change everyday and eventually I started getting 0 ammonia readings and my fish is fine. Do your partial water changes everyday and test the water everyday. A partial water change everyday will dilute the ammonia in the tank. I hope your fish make it.
 

Jaysee

Member
If your other tank is cycle, then you can transfer some of the media from it to the new tank. That will speed up the process. If you can't do that, then I would put some of the gravel from the origional tank, put it in a mesh bag and put it in the new tanks filter. The bacteria on the gravel will colonize the filter media. You'll still need to continue doing water changes.

If you want to minimize the damage and suffering of your fish while the tank cycles, you should be doing water changes every day.
 

Hendryx

Member
I would do daily water changes useing prime to neutralize the ammonia.
 

AlyeskaGirl

Member
Hello!

Don't panic. It's not your fault, you didn't know.

There is not specific time to tell when the tank will be done cycling. It can take up to six weeks or longer. Longer due to that you have fish and need to do water changes to keep the toxins way down. I recommend get a bottle of Prime or Amquel Plus for a water conditioner and bump you water changes up to 50% daily. Both of those conditioners convert ammonia into a non-toxic form and detox nitrites and nitrAtes for 24 hrs until next water change. Feed fish only once a day during this time.

The filter from the 10 gallon could of been takin off and ran on the new tank with the new filter if the tank was cycled. That would of given the tank a boost plus it already had the bacterial colonies for your fish load. Again if it was cycled.
 

Jaysee

Member
Yes, definitely limit feedings. The more you feed, the more waste is produced, and the harder it is to maintain water quality.
 
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red020804

Member
I have been using prime everyday. we are using the original gravel from the 10 gallon tank plus we used the filter that we had been using in the 10 gallon tank. I'm not sure if the 10 gallon tank was cycled or not the water was alway cloudy but the nitrites and nitrates and ammonia were always fine and we had put fish in 24 hours after setting up like we did for the 20 gallon. but we also had some losses in that tank. I think we lost a tetra (had pop eye) and a silver molly (had what we were told was dropsy but after reading post from this site he had swim bladder) petsmart told me not to do anymore than 20 percent water changes or my tank wouldnt cycle. should I do 50 like suggested in here or just do 20 percent everyday instead? also I will go to just feeding once a day before I was feeding twice a day. flakes in the morning and blood worms at night.
 

Aquarist

Member
Good morning,

Sorry to hear about your tank and fish woes. I recommend at least 30 to 50% daily water changes. Continue with the Prime or Amquel + daily too and then wait 24 hours to test again so that you get an accurate reading. Since you've used the filter and substrate from the other tank, (as long as the other tank was cycled) you're time to cycle the new tank may be reduced a good bit. <---called Seeding. If the other tank was cycled it may take a few days to two weeks. It's really hard to put an exact time frame on it.

Best wishes!
Ken
 

Prince Powder

Member
red020804 said:
petsmart told me not to do anymore than 20 percent water changes or my tank wouldnt cycle. should I do 50 like suggested in here or just do 20 percent everyday instead? also I will go to just feeding once a day before I was feeding twice a day. flakes in the morning and blood worms at night.
Hello red, sorry about your troubles. The tank will still cycle with the larger daily water changes. The important thing is to let your readings guide you. Since you have fish in the tank it will be extremely important to keep your ammonia and nitrite levels as low as possible. Since your nitrite is already up to 3ppm, doing a 50% change will bring it down to 1.5, but ideally while cycling you'll want to keep your levels below 1ppm. I would do enough 50% water changes to get your level down to about .25-.50, then do as large of a water change is needed to keep it there until you're done cycling. If 20% is sufficient to keep your levels at around .25-.50 on a daily basis than that should be good, if your levels rise above that then larger is necessary.
 
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red020804

Member
the cloudiness of the water has gone from white to green despite the daily water changes. what does this mean and what should I do?
 

Prince Powder

Member
If your water is green it sounds like an algae issue. Make sure your tank isn't in front of a window where it is getting hit by the sun. If it is then you'll have to move it somewhere that sunlight won't be an issue. Otherwise you will have constant algae issues which will only get worse. If you're sure that it's not getting sun then the issue is probably tank lighting. Make sure your tank lights are not left on for more than 12 hours a day. If possible get a timer that will turn your lights on and off automatically for you so you can be sure to not overdo it. If the problem is tank lighting, try doing a few days with either no lights or little light (6-8 hours). That should help with the algae bloom a bit.
 
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red020804

Member
the tank isn't in sunlight I know for sure but we do leave the lights on for more than 12 hours a day so I'll turn the lights off for a few days and hope that it helps. thank you so much
 
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red020804

Member
we did another water change tonight and a couple hours later tested the water again and these were our results
Nitrate: 10
Nitrite: 1.5
chlorine:0
Total Alkalinity: 80
Ph: 7.0
Ammonia: is closer to safe then stress color wise which is an improvement.

I think we are getting closer to being cycled. what do you guys think?
on a suggestion by the pet store we also put bacteria supplement in our tank tonight. they said it would help the tank cycle faster and we also have two filters on our tank.
 

Prince Powder

Member
red020804 said:
Ammonia: is closer to safe then stress color wise which is an improvement.
Do you use test strips? Many test strips offer "safe" and "stress" ranges however it would be important to note that the only safe range for ammonia and nitrite is 0. Anything above is toxic. Although being in the "stress" range probably means your levels are low which is where you want to keep them until you hit that all important 0. Another thing I'd like to mention is that test strips have a reputation of being very inaccurate. If possible I would recommend investing in a quality liquid test kit like the API Master Test Kit. With strips you can never be sure of the accuracy of your readings so it would be hard to know for certain when you've truly cycled. The API kit can be pricey up front, but it provides you with so many tests that it actually saves you money over strips in the long run. Besides, having accuracy in your readings is so important that it is worth the cost regardless.

on a suggestion by the pet store we also put bacteria supplement in our tank tonight. they said it would help the tank cycle faster and we also have two filters on our tank.

Having two filters is definitely a plus as it will allow for more media on which your bacteria will colonize. Be wary of most bacteria supplements that are on the market. 99.9% of them contain the wrong bacteria. Some contain bacterias which do consume ammonia and/or nitrite, but the bacterias are often terrestrial so they do not survive for long. In the meantime they consume the ammonia and nitrite that your true beneficial bacteria needs to survive essentially starving them out. Once the terrestrial bacterias die your beneficial bacterias have not been able to properly reproduce so the cycle crashes. Tetra SafeStart is the only bacteria supplement on the market that contains the correct bacteria for cycling a tank. If the product you added was anything else than I would recommend discontinuing it's use and continuing your daily water changes until your cycle is complete. Keep an extra close eye on your parameters as you may see another ammonia spike as the wrong bacteria dies. If it was TSS that you added than here's a link that will help you succeed with it's use. Q&A with Tetra on TSS
 
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red020804

Member
we used a top fin product for the bacteria supplement. I understand about the test strips and if we could afford it we would get the API Master Test Kit but as of right now my husband and I are unemployed with no unemployment so we basically have no funds at the moment. my husband does some odd jobs here and there that don't pay much so the strips are all we can get right now but when things start looking better for us we will diffidently get the API Master Test Kit.
 
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red020804

Member
ok I have an update. we finally bought an API master test kit. and in our 20 gallon tank as of yesterdays testing is
Ammonia: .25
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 10
PH: 7.5

We can't seem to get rid of the Ammonia. we had done 50 percent water changes almost everyday this past week because we had the green cloudy water. that is gone now. It's still slightly cloudy but its white not green. we use the prime every water change.

Should I continue to do Daily water changes till the ammonia's 0 or every other day? If so should I continue doing the 50 percent or can I do less? how long do the readings need to be 0,0,10 to confirm my tank has finally cycled?

i'd appreciate any help. I hope this tank gets cycled soon. lol
 

midthought

Member
If you can manage it, daily water changes until you're fully cycled is the way to go. If you can't, I'd recommend at least dosing the Prime directly into the tank to neutralize the ammonia and nitrite until the next day. The white stuff is bacterial bloom and will go away in time.

Once you hit 0,0,10 (or 0,0,15 or whatever), you're basically cycled, but I would continue to do tests for the next few days just to confirm that it's stable. If you're still reading 0,0,X, then you don't really need to be doing the water change. You can probably fall back to weekly 20-25% changes at that point.

I read above that you can't afford the liquid test kits just now. The freshwater mater test kit is pretty cheap online and a good investment once you can scrape up the money. It is cheaper per test and much more accurate than the strips. Try to get it online if you can; even if you pay for shipping, it will almost certainly be cheaper (<$30) than if you buy from a brick and mortar store (usually $30-40, and I think I've seen one place sell it for $45ish).

Good luck with your tank.
 

jetajockey

Member
did you test your water straight out of the tap?
 
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red020804

Member
we did buy the liquid kit a few days ago so we should be set for some time. it says it can do 800 test. we did the math and its way cheaper to spend one big chunk of money on the liquid test then to have to keep buying the strips. lol. so once my tank is cycled and I can cut down on water changes do I still keep putting the prime in everyday even though I don't change the water?
 
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red020804

Member
we did with the strips. and the only problem it had was high ph and chlorine. but we haven't tested it with the new liquid test kit we bought
 

midthought

Member
red020804 said:
we did buy the liquid kit a few days ago so we should be set for some time. it says it can do 800 test. we did the math and its way cheaper to spend one big chunk of money on the liquid test then to have to keep buying the strips. lol. so once my tank is cycled so and I can cut down on water changes do I still keep putting the prime in everyday even though I don't change the water?
Once your tank is cycled, you only need to dose with Prime when you're doing a water change. Weekly water change = weekly Prime dosage. No need to dose in between.

red020804 said:
we did with the strips. and the only problem it had was high ph and chlorine. but we haven't tested it with the new liquid test kit we bought
Chlorine is normal in untreated tap water. The Prime should be dechlorinating it, so that shouldn't be an issue. High pH also isn't a problem usually because most fish can adjust to whatever pH you have. It's better for fish to have a *consistent* and stable pH rather than one that is exactly in between their suggested parameters. Just acclimate new fish slowly and carefully, because many fish come from a pH of 6-7 at the store. You may also want to research any fish you want to buy to see if they are sensitive to pH changes or don't do well in high pH. Less than ideal pH may affect breeding, but it doesn't sound like you're there yet.

You can try to use peat in your filter to bring your pH down, but definitely avoid chemicals like pH down. They only work temporarily and serve only to stress out your fish. Again, a stable pH is better than the "recommended" pH.

Edit: here some more links on pH if you're interested

https://www.fishlore.com/acclimating-tropicalfish.htm
https://www.fishlore.com/aquariumfishforum/threads/changing-your-ph.28528/
 

jetajockey

Member
what do you consider high PH to be? fish can tolerate a wide range of PH levels so in many cases its best to leave well enough alone. I was asking if you tested the water out of the tap in case you had an ammonia reading in the actual tap water.
 
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red020804

Member
when we tested the tap with the strips the nitrites, nitrates, and ammonia were exactly were they are supposed to be. the ph was off the chart. according to the chart that came with the strips it was 7.8 and higher. but the ph doesn't bother me like it did before because I keep reading about fish adjusting to it. and we do use a dechlorinator for the chlorine and it takes care of that problem. we have no intention of adding anymore fish. any babies that our mollies may have will be in a different tank that we will cycle beforehand so we don't have to deal with what we are dealing with right now with our 20 gallon.
 

midthought

Member
Good call! Going through this once is more than enough. ;P
 
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red020804

Member
thank you for your help. I'll be posting a new thread on how to cycle a fishless tank soon. lol
 

midthought

Member
I'll just share some links here, as your question might already be answered in another post:

(very comprehensive)
(using fish food instead of ammonia)
(using the product Bio-Spira, which is now called Tetra Safe Start)
 
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red020804

Member
ok new problem

I just check my readings in my tank and

Ammonia: .25 (still)
Nitrite: 0
and now my
Nitrates: 0 (they used to be between 10 and 20 the last couple weeks)

what the heck happened to my Nitrates? what should I do? help
 

midthought

Member
Is it possible you didn't shake the nitrate bottle and/or solution well enough (or for long enough)? The nitrate test, more than the other ones, is easier to mess up because of that. Maybe try again?

I've also seen people forget to put in the second bottle.
 
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red020804

Member
ok. I set a timer for it but I'll try again. I hope I screwed up the first time. lol, but if I didnt what should I do?
 

midthought

Member
There are no live plants in the tank, right?

I'm hoping it was just a testing error. If it's not that, I'm not sure what it could be unless somehow you nuked your beneficial bacteria. Things that could do that: medication, chlorine (from untreated tap water)...hope it's not that though, since that would put you back to square one in the cycling process.
 
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red020804

Member
we have one tiny live plant in the tank. don't remember what its called but its been in there since we set it up. the water was for sure treated for chlorine before it was put in the tank during water changes. man I hope we don't have to start again. I don't think the fish would make it through the process again.
 

midthought

Member
Here's hoping that it's a test error then! The liquid in the bottle can crystallize and throw off the readings when it's not shaken up enough. Not hard to mess up, especially when testing for other things that don't require the shaking.
 
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red020804

Member
Thank Goodness!!!! Human error. retested and its 10. lol.
 

midthought

Member
Woot.
 
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