Cycling with fish?

  • #41
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?

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.
  • #42
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.
  • #43
Welcome back!
  • #44
Thanks, will post some pics shortly.
  • #45

  • #46
That's a great looking tank!
  • #47
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.
  • #48
A cycling tank is a stressful place for fish.
  • #49
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.
  • #50
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!!!
  • #51
Lost the Cory.
  • #52
I am sorry you lost him.
Wendy Lubianetsky
  • #53
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.
  • #54
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.
  • #55
Thanks for all the encouraging words. I'm not discouraged, and I'm already learning what a great community and resource this site is.

  • #56
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
  • #57
HI Mike. Keeping a log is a smart practice. Well done!

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!

Keep us posted!
Wendy Lubianetsky
  • #58
You know I made that mistake with the API test kit until I read on-line that you should shake it more than the 30 seconds recommended on the directions. One of the fish sites I visited recommends more like two minutes on the nitrate test kit.
  • #59
HI Wendy, thanks! That is he kit I am using. I'll try that tonight when I get home. I know that there have been good recommendations about larger water changes, but I only have the 5 gallon bucket method, and it takes my spare heater a while to bring it to temp. Plus it affords me the ability to leave the filter running as the tank draws down only so far. So in essence I am doing 20% water changes every other day. Not a lot, but I am heavy handed on the Prime too. Everyone is doing well now. I'll keep you posted!

Oh I meant thanks to everyone, not just Wendy!
  • #60
If you just want to let the water sit a few hours to bring it up to room temp (as long as its not too far off of the temp of the tank), you'll be fine. You could also buy a couple gallons of water, drink it (not all at once lol), and then use the jugs, as well. That'll give you a couple more gallons to work with at water change time
  • #61
You're welcome, Mike!

It's the second nitrate bottle that really needs a shakeup. Also, of course, shake the vial for one minute before starting the 5 minute clock for your readings.
  • #62
Well I paid more attention to:

* Shaking the test chemical bottles (all of them, especially the notorious 2nd Nitrate)
* Shaking the vials for one minute
* Allowing the full five minutes before taking a reading

...and I got the same results. pH 7.6, Ammonia 0.00, Nitrite 0.00, Nitrate 0.00.

I am wondering if my dosing (overdosing?) of Prime is suppressing the ammonia and depriving the fledgling colony of bacteria the chance to convert it to nitrite, and the subsequent nitrite to nitrate. Do I understand that cycle? Is that a plausible scenario?

The fish in the tank (5 neons and 1 cory) are exceedingly happy and active, eager to be fed, vigorous, entertaining...but are they dependent on my water changes and the Prime? I'd like to see the spikes and know the cycle is underway. Heck, I'd like to get some more fish at some point in the near future.

Thanks again, peeps.
  • #63
Perhaps this is you tank being cycled, though its usually in heavliy planted tanks that read all 0's....

Try backing off on the Prime a bit. You are waiting 24 hours after each dose to test, right?
  • #64
Those are not the best species to be cycling a tank would have been much better off with danios.
  • #65
Ahh, the patience needed for a fish-in cycle.

Your fish seem healthy? Happy? Energetic? That's the important thing. Sometimes in the hobby, it's more art than science. I say, keep doing what you're doing. Unless you're pouring in half a bottle of Prime, you're not hurting the cycling process. Prime doesn't REMOVE the ammonia, it DETOXIFIES it so that it does not hurt the fish. The ammonia is still available for the bacteria to consume. (I suppose even if you poured in half a bottle of Prime it wouldn't hurt. It's that good of a product.)

From what I've read and experienced, it can take 4-6 weeks for a fish-in cycle to complete. So if you started end of February, you're just three+ weeks into the cycle. Sigh. Hang in there. Your fish will tell you when they are stressed. And you know fish.

The only other suggestion I may offer is that if you test the water immediately after a water change, your results won't tell you anything. Why? Because you just removed the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates. So, it's expected to get zeros across the board. Most people recommend that you wait a day after a water change to test.

OK,one more thought: Don't change your filter media. MOST of the bacteria colonize there.

Hang in!
  • #66
Thanks yet again...

I have been testing before and after my changes, and changing less than 5 gallons every-other day. Using a shy capful on each new 5 gallon bucket I make. I'll keep at it!
  • #67
Still absolutely no sign of any Nitrite or Nitrate... ammonia has been fluctuating between 0.00 and as high as 0.50 ppm, and my water changes have been every-other day, about 5 gallons (which equates to about 20-25%). My tank has been running nearly a month, but fish only since March 3. Stepping up my water changes as the ammonia level creeping above .025 is a relatively new thing (last 4 days or so).

All 5 neon tetras are very active, happy, attractive, healthy and eat fine. My lone cory cat likewise, he's very happy and active. Next tank (oh, and there WILL be another this fall!) I will do a fishless cycle.

Thanks for all the help and encouragement.

Today's pre-water-change numbers are (pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate): 7.6, 0.25, 0.00, 0.00. Temp about 78-79 f.
  • #68
If you haven't already, check that your test kits for expiration dates. The API kits print the month and year of manufacture as the last 4 digits on the Lot #. The kits are good 3 years.
  • #69
Good advice...will do when I get home on Sunday. Did another water change this morning and have one brewing for Sunday, but out of town now.


  • #70
Looks like my bottles are all 2015-2017! I didn't know they had 5+ year dates...I thought 3 was tops.
  • #71
HI Mike, welcome back!
  • #72

Added a scoop of gravel from a friend's established tank tonight. I rinsed it gently in tank water and spread it over the surface of my gravel in hopes of seeding the gravel bed with some couple million nitrifying bacteria. I hope that was wise. I am still seeing absolutely no Nitrite or Nitrate after 3 weeks, so I wonder if my fledgling colony of bacteria is not up to snuff, hence the added gravel.

Please let me know if I did the wrong thing here (even though I'm not sure what I'd do about it).


  • #73
So it appears that my Ammonia is low and is stable at about .25, even not having done a water change in about 4 days. In fact, it crashed to 0 on its own, then slowly came back up to a very pale green yellow. But there are STILL no signs of Nitrite or Nitrate!

If Ammonia goes down not as the result of a water change, it must be going down for a reason, such as conversion to Nitrite, am I wrong?

I beat the bottles on the table and shake them really well, especially the 2nd Nitrate.

What gives?
  • #74
Is your test out of date? That can give you some weird readings, or none at all. I forget, does this tank have live plants?
Wendy Lubianetsky
  • #75
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.

It is funny you mention that, because that is exactly how I used to clean my tank..... and I wondered why I only had one fish left. That thing must have been made of iron.
  • #76
The expiration dates are fine, and I am following the recommendations of really shaking the bottles and giving time for color to develop too.

I only very recently added a small bunch of Elodea to the tank, so not enough (I suspect) to remove Nitrates. All that has done is give me a few hitchhiking baby snails to have to worry about!
  • #77
FINALLY! Got a small amount of Nitrates! Must have missed the Nitrite spike, 'cause it still reads zero. But Nitrates are finally showing themselves @ 5.0 ppm.
  • #78
That great! You're almost done =D
  • #79
Whew that's great news Mike! What a feeling, FINALLY, eh? LOL.
  • #80
Going to test it daily until the weekend, and if no ammonia, then a couple new fish may be in order.

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