Cycling w/ fish + TSS: 0, 0, 40+ x 3 days. Ok to change water?

H20girl

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Hello,

I started a 20G tank on May 3rd with 5 platties.

Everyone on this site was super helpful and gave me lots of suggestions for keeping the fish healthy during the cycle.

For the first 1.5 week I did daily ~30% water changes + Prime. Ammonia and nitrite were around .25-.50 during that time (24 hrs. after water changes).

After a week and a half, I added TSS (2x+ the regular dose). I continued to test daily. Ammonia and nitrate crept past .50 (not quite 1.0). I know that you're not supposed to worry about water readings while using TSS, but I'd decided before I used it that I'd intervene if the levels exceeded 1.0, so I decided to do a water change (see below). I was prepared to do daily water changes again if need be.

Water change: I treated a bucket of water with Prime, waited 48 hours, then changed 15% of the water and added more TSS (7 days after adding 1st TSS).

After the water change and additional TSS, ammonia went down from 1.0 to .50. The next day (Friday), the readings were .25, .25, 20-40. Saturday, the readings were: 0, .25, 40. Sunday, Monday, and this morning the readings were 0, 0, 40-80.

The 5 platties and their 2.5 week old fry look great (healthier than when I got them).

I know the current nitrate level is unhealthy. Can I do a water change tonight? (I treated a 3G bucket water with Prime last night and could use that if water conditioner + TSS would still be problematic).

Also, when can I surface vac the gravel? (I'll start doing deeper vacs one the tank is more established).

When can I swish around the carbon part of the filter? It looks pretty cruddy.

Thanks!!!
 
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BritJo

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If you've had 3 days of those last readings, I would say the cycle is done and to go ahead and both vac the gravel and do a water change. The next water change I would swish the carbon unless you aren't getting good flow from your filter now, if thats the case I would go ahead and swish now. Congrats!
 

jerilovesfrogs

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hi, so what is cloudy? the tank water? well the filter media can't be that dirty.....but if you started may 3, that's working on a month....you may just need to cut the carbon out, and continue using the pad, until it falls apart. i've cut all mine out.

gravel vacs should probably be light at this point, and deeper as it gets more established.

i'd go ahead and do a 25% water change and then test the nitrates.

also, you don't need to let the water sit if you're using prime, or any other conditioner. you're fine to add it right away to the tank after treating.
 

mcurtissdsu

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Hmmm...maybe I should buy some TSS. I've been cycling my 29 gallon since the middle of February and my readings have barely changed everyday. I'm getting incredibly frustrated and am ready to just give up trying to cycle it because I honestly don't think it's ever going to happen.

Seems like the TSS worked for you though...I can't keep doing these 15 gallon water changes everyday. I don't have the time and I no longer have the patience after 3.5 MONTHS.
 
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H20girl

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Thanks for the input. The water isn't cloudy, it's just the pouch (?) that the carbon is in that looks dirty (i.e. brown, not white). Then again, this is the first filter I've had, so I really don't have a good idea of what a really dirty one looks like! The flow seems to be fine. I think I'll wait until the next water change to swish it.

Michelle, I can't believe you've been cycling for 3.5 months! What a pain! Is your pH ok? Any chance you are changing too much water or cleaning the tank/filter too well? I think I'd recommend TSS... the only bad thing is you can't use Prime with it, so the fish will be exposed to whatever ammonia and nitrite are present. TSS says it will keep ammonia and nitrite at "non-toxic" levels, but I worried about getting a bum bottle, so I tested daily and did a water change when I got uncomfortable with the results. Overall, I think it probably sped things up, although the tank seemed to be moving in the right direction before hand. I probably wouldn't have used it had there not been one or two nights when I knew I wouldn't be able to do a water change and was afraid of something spiking.

I couldn't find TSS anywhere and ordered it online. With S&H it came to $25. Yowsers! I bought the bottle designed for a 75G tank and used 2/3 initally (I shook it really well to evenly distribute the bacteria). I added the last 1/3 when I did the one water change.

Anyways, I good luck... I hope it cycles soon!
 

Shawnie

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I wouldnt change anything for the 7 days...the bacteria colony is too sensitive...and then id only do small amounts depending on how high the nitrates are....disturbing that too soon, (3 days is too soon IMO) could put you back to square one..
 

ccb04

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I've successfully cycled 3 tanks with TSS. The one thing I would stress is to follow the directions.

The readings will fluctuate ... which is why they direct not to test during the recommended 7-10 days. Testing too soon will drive you crazy. Also, as Shawnie mentioned ... doing a water change now could disturb the sensitive beneficial bacteria colonies as they're trying to establish themselves.
 

jerilovesfrogs

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i thought if there were fish, and the readings were 0, 0, 40-80, you should do a slight water change. that's what i was told when one of mine was finished cycling (via tss), and the nitrates were really high. everything was fine, didn't disturb the cycle.

though i agree the vac thing could disturb it. but i thought doing a water change wouldn't affect anything concerning bacteria? since there really isn't any in the water itself.....
 

jetajockey

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At this point you really should just wait out the 7 day period that TSS asks for. You can keep testing, using TSS does not give false positives. 40 nitrate is a bit high, but it's not 'panic mode' high, ammonia and nitrites are your immediate concern. just wait it out.
I wouldn't surface vac the gravel unless there is some major gunk in there, and even then, do it very lightly. Don't mess with the filter cartridge unless its restricting flow in some major way.
 

jetajockey

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though i agree the vac thing could disturb it. but i thought doing a water change wouldn't affect anything concerning bacteria? since there really isn't any in the water itself.....
The bacteria needs a medium to travel in, in the aquarium it is water. I've read from different sources that water changes inevitably lose some BB, and not all of the BB is firmly adhered to the tank surfaces and filter media like we often portray it to be. I read a thesis once that gave evidence that some forms of nitrifying bacteria are actually motile.

So the way we describe how bacteria works here is very simplified IMO, but accurate on a general level.
 

jerilovesfrogs

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i think i follow you jeta.....yeah i could believe that some forms of bb might be less likely to adhere to surfaces.....not all bacteria behave in the same way i'm sure.

but simplified is what a lot of people like! haha. besides, it would be very overwhelming to a new newbie to have the explanation of bb anything other than simplified.

so her nitrates are high, and she has fish......wouldn't waiting a week cause them some stress/problems?

also to the OP, why were you breaking up the tss into like 3 diifferent times of adding it? why not just dump the whole bottle in, wait a week, then test. that's what i did. worked well
 
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jetajockey

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40 nitrates really isn't *that* high. Obviously any level of toxins aren't a good thing, but I'm a lot more comfortable seeing a moderate level of nitrates than I am seeing any level of nitrites or ammonia.

It normally takes very high levels of nitrates over a long period of time to have any noticeable effects on fish. I've tested tank water for people at work and in the established tanks i've yet to see a nitrate reading below 80. They aren't having any issues in particular, they just know that I have a method to check their water parameters and tell them what they should do. Ideally we should be changing our water every time the nitrates get up to 20 or higher, but I am a firm believer that MOST fish-keepers are not as diligent as we are here on the forum.
 

Shawnie

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after the 7 days, I bet you will see a drop in the nitrates as well..I still wouldnt do a water change this soon even with 40 nitrates...the bacteria just isnt strong enough IMO ..unless you are over feeding, 5 platies should be fine in that tank...and if you have gunk on the filter media after a short amount of time, its probably food residue
 

jetajockey

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another option is to throw a few lowlight plants in there, something like moss or anacharis. I don't know what your lighting is but if it can support plants then they will help reduce (or at least slow down) your nitrate buildup.
 
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H20girl

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I just want to clarify that the tank was going for 10 days before I used TSS.
I put the TSS in (170ml - enough for 50 gallons; my tank is 20G) and did nothing for 7 days (though I did test).
On the 7th day, I did a 15% water change with pre-tx'd water, which other than potentially losing 15% of the BB, I don't think should have been a problem. At that time I re-dosed with the remaining 80ml.
The last 3 days the readings have been 0, 0, 40-80.
In total, there has been TSS in the tank for 12 days.

The reason I didn't put all the TSS in at once was because I was leery about putting in 4x the standard dose. Also, I wanted to have some leftover to redose the tank if I did a water change or when adding fish.

It sounds like the consensus is to wait on a water change?

Thanks everyone for the advice, I appreciate it.
 
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FriendsNotFood

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So you're saying the bag the carbon is in changed colour? I wouldn't worry about it. It's probably a combination of bacteria/food scraps/carbon itself. Carbon + water = black bag. Only worry when the carbon itself gets gunky.
 

jerilovesfrogs

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or if the carbon is a month old, then it needs to be replaced, or not used, and replaced with something else, like a sponge and biomax. and/or cut the carbon out, and keep using the pad.
 
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H20girl

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Here's a photo of the filter cartridges my Aqueon 20 filter takes (petco photo):
441.jpg


So are you saying I cut into the white part and put new carbon in there?

My readings were the same this morning... 0, 0, 40-80. Do you think I can do a water change this weekend?
 

jdhef

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Yes, just cut a slit in the white floss and dump the carbon out. If you want to continue using carbon you can put some back inside. If you had enough room you could get a little mesh "media" bag (they sell them at most fish stores) and put it in the filter box somewhere. But I have an Aqueon 20 and there really is no room in the filter box.

But keep in mind carbon is not necessary in most cases.

If your nitrates are 40-80 and you have fish in that tank you should definitly be doing a water change asap. It is really best for the fish if you can keep your nitrates under 20.
 

mcurtissdsu

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Michelle, I can't believe you've been cycling for 3.5 months! What a pain! Is your pH ok? Any chance you are changing too much water or cleaning the tank/filter too well?
It's a huge pain and I don't have time to do it anymore. I've been putting my studies on hold, scheduling my evenings around water changes, not going out of town, etc. It's ridiculous and I'm not doing it anymore. I seriously gave this cycling thing everything I have and I got absolutely nothing in return. I don't know what to do anymore. I've tried doing small water changes, medium water changes, big water changes, multiple water changes....the only thing I haven't tried is less frequent water changes and I gotta tell ya...it's looking pretty appealing right now.
 
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