Cycling with fish - wish I hadn't

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by MikeS29, Mar 11, 2012.

  1. MikeS29Valued MemberMember

    Hi all,

    Used to keep fish years ago and the science has improved in the years since. I have successfully had ponds, marine tanks, and freshwater, but it has been a long time now.

    I recently (2 weeks ago) set up my old 25 gallon acrylic tank (36" x 10" x 16" high). Bought a new Aqua-clear 50 filter and some Prime water conditioner from Seachem. Let the tank run a week, then last weekend (March 3rd) added 5 neon tetras and 2 corydoras.

    My substrate is a fairly small natural smooth gravel, not very deep (1/2" - 1").

    I am feeding Tetra-min flake and yesterday bought some sinking wafers (was worried the cory cats might not be getting anything). Trying not to overfeed.

    Tested the water yesterday, and here are my parameters:
    pH = 7.6 (same as my tap water)
    Ammonia = .25
    Nitrites = 0.00
    Nitrates = 0.00

    I was preparing to do a water change, but was advised against it by the clerk at the aquarium store, until the cycle is completed.

    My question: Is that sound advice? No water change until cycle is complete? I have one corydora that seems listless today and has clenched fins. Looks a bit stressed and now I am regretting putting the fish through the cycle. Never considered alternatives to what I learned back in the day.

    What say you, fish gurus?

  2. Akari_32

    Akari_32Fishlore LegendMember

    Welcome to FishLore!

    If you haven't used something like Tetra SafeStart, you'll certainly want to do daily water changes, with lots of Prime :)

    Actually let the ammonia build up with kill off the bacteria that eat the ammonia, besides it not being healthy for the fish.
  3. nippybetta

    nippybettaWell Known MemberMember

    Welcome back to the hobby!

    Pet store employees are usually not very well informed, especially at stores like petsmart or petco. You'll want to do frequent small water changes (around 10%, every day or two) to keep the ammonia levels low, otherwise it'll stress the fish.

  4. snapperWell Known MemberMember


    It's really bad advice. Daily water changes are required in a fish-in cycle. The fish you have are pretty sensitive too so you'll really need to be on top of it.

  5. OP

    MikeS29Valued MemberMember

    Thank you one and all.

    I will be preparing a bucket with about 4 gallons and a good amount of Prime. As soon as it is up to temp (running at about 76-77 f BTW) I will be doing it.

    My fish thank you, and it is good to be back in the hobby.
  6. psalm18.2

    psalm18.2Fishlore LegendMember

    Welcome back!
  7. OP

    MikeS29Valued MemberMember

    Thanks, will post some pics shortly.
  8. OP

    MikeS29Valued MemberMember


    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018
  9. Akari_32

    Akari_32Fishlore LegendMember

    Thats a great looking tank!
  10. OP

    MikeS29Valued MemberMember

    Thanks! Here's the cory that isn't doing too well. Was fine for 6 days, but today is sluggish and seems stressed.

    As soon as my bucket is up to temp, I'll swap about 4 1/2 gallons.

    Much appreciated for the advice and support.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018
  11. Akari_32

    Akari_32Fishlore LegendMember

    A cycling tank is a stressful place for fish.
  12. AlyeskaGirlFishlore VIPMember

    Don't let Prime fool you as it works instantly but your test kit will still give you an ammonia reading. Kit won't tell you how much is the "true" ammonia and less toxic ammonium.

    Based off your test results you should be doing 30-50% daily water changes with Prime.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2012
  13. Brainlady

    BrainladyWell Known MemberMember

    Don't be frightened of doing large water changes and using Prime or Amquel+. I wish the folks at these stores had a clue.....
    I would agree with AlyeskaGirl and do 50% water changes or more each day. When I do my tank maintenance every two weeks I take out about 75% of the water. Fish thrive and tank looks great.
    Your tank picture is cool...I also love the Home Depot bucket with filter.... very edgy!!!
  14. OP

    MikeS29Valued MemberMember

    Lost the Cory. :(
  15. AlyeskaGirlFishlore VIPMember

    I am sorry you lost him. :(
  16. Wendy Lubianetsky

    Wendy LubianetskyWell Known MemberMember

    I am sorry you are struggling. Be patient a lot of water changes and Prime. I have learned more here than at any Petstore. They seem to tell you the opposite of what is true. I am cycling a tank with LARGE fish and I am doing 25% water changes at least everyday with Prime.
  17. Donnerjay

    DonnerjayWell Known MemberMember

    hello and welcome!
    Like you, I kept fish many years ago and recently started up again. Boy, have things changed. As I continue to learn, my fish continue to thrive. Back in the day, we'd condition the water, put the fish in, take the fish out, dump the tank water outside, rinse it with a hose, put water and fish back in and condition. Kept adding fish, too, because they kept dying.

    When I started keeping fish again, I ended up doing a fish-in cycle because I didn't know about cycling, so I know what that's like. Stay encouraged; it gets easier. :)
  18. OP

    MikeS29Valued MemberMember

    Thanks for all the encouraging words. I'm not discouraged, and I'm already learning what a great community and resource this site is.

  19. OP

    MikeS29Valued MemberMember

    Here's the daily log I have been keeping, I hope it isn't too hard to read in this format:

    Date Event Water tests (pH,Ammonia,Nitrite,Nitrate)
    2/25/2012 Initial Setup
    3/3/2012 Added Fish: 5 Neon Tetras, 2 Corydoras
    3/10/2012 Water Test 7.6 0.25 0.00 0.00
    3/11/2012 1 Cory seems sick, clenched fins, inactive
    3/11/2012 Water Test 7.6 0.25 0.00 0.00
    3/11/2012 Added more Prime (full capful), retested water 7.6 0.25 0.00 0.00
    3/11/2012 Cory died, burial at sea
    3/12/2012 Water Test 7.6 0.25 0.00 0.00
    3/12/2012 Water Change 4.5 Gallons
    3/12/2012 Water Test 7.6 0.125 0.00 0.00
    3/12/2012 Remaining Cory looks stressed after water change
    3/12/2012 Cory much better 1 hour later
    3/14/2012 Water Test 7.6 0.125 0.00 0.00
    3/14/2012 Water Change 4.5 Gallons
    3/14/2012 Water Test 7.4 0.00 0.00 0.00
  20. Donnerjay

    DonnerjayWell Known MemberMember

    Hi Mike. Keeping a log is a smart practice. Well done! :happy0034:

    I noticed that you're not showing any nitrate levels. That is puzzling. Your tank has been going for a while now and you should be seeing SOME nitrates, I would think, even though your tank is not cycled. (others chime in here.)

    Are you using the API freshwater master test kit? If so, make sure that you shake the nitrate test bottle vigorously to break up crystals in the solution. Otherwise you may get false readings.

    Great to see that ammonia at zero! :;hf

    Keep us posted!

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