Do You Do Water Changes When Cycling With Fish?

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by XenoMarc, Apr 16, 2017.

  1. XenoMarc

    XenoMarcValued MemberMember

    I am currently cycling my first fish tank with 9 neon tetras (this is the tank I have: Every two days, I do a 20% water change and every other day, I clean the filter with the tank water. I currently don't have any test kits or a gravel cleaner.

    After visiting one of my LFS, they tested my tank water with a liquid test kit. The pH was neutral, the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates were low as well I think. The employee there also said you shouldn't do water changes as it starts the cycle over again. So, my LFS and parents insist I should stop doing water changes and let it be.

    However, I'm having second thoughts and I want to continue doing 20% water changes since many websites and sources said to change water frequently.

    Do you do water changes when cycling with fish or does it 'restart' the cycling process?
    Should I continue doing my water change routine or stop?

    Thank you :)
  2. Bizarro252

    Bizarro252Well Known MemberMember

    Nice first tank!

    First off, get your own test kit :) API Master Freshwater kit if at all possible. Stay away from strips, they are terrible.

    Are you using any sort of water condition to treat the tap water for chlorine? This is needed unless you are on a well, the chlorine is harmful to the fish and will also kill your bacteria
    Are you using any sort of starter bacteria product (Seachem Stability, Tetra SafeStart Plus, etc?) These will make the cycle complete much faster.

    You absolutely need to do water changes with a fish in cycle, else you will lose fish, and if you dont you will harm them/make them sick. 20% every other day sounds like a good start, we would know for sure if you had a test kit :) Go light on the feeding as well during this time.
    I would back off on cleaning the filter, not sure how often you are cleaning it from your post, but I would skip that completely unless it gets so dirty its reducing in flow until you are cycled (as long as you are not grossly overfeeding it should stay pretty clean at this stage anyways).

    Water changes will not hurt your cycle, the bacteria live on surfaces and in your filter media, not in the water. The only exception to this is I would not do a water change RIGHT after dosing a bacteria starter product, but even a few hours after you should be fine to do a change. It in no way restarts your cycle, unless you were to not treat for chlorine that is!

    Hope that helps!
  3. Kiks

    KiksWell Known MemberMember

    Alright, first of all you need to get a test kit. I suggest the API, which is the one I have myself and it works well. You wont know how far you are in the process of cycling or when you're done, if you can't test the water.
    You also need a test kit in order to figure out how much water you need to change. If you have a canister filter you definitely do not need to clean it every other day, more like once a month.

    Water changes wont make the cycle start over, but one of the downsides to cycling with fish is definitely that it takes much longer, because you have to do water changes in order to keep the fish alive. I guarantee you that if you stop doing water changes your fish will die very fast.
    However, your excessive cleaning of the filter will make it very hard for your aquarium to cycle since that is where pretty much all of your bacteria colony is located.

    When I had to cycle my 30 gallon I did it with fish. I was told at my local store to put in some bacteria-starter product, wait 10 - 14 days and then add fish. By then it should be cycled, he said. I didn't know better, added fish and found out that apparently I was cycling with fish, since the tank was nowhere near cycled. I tried to do the best I could, but the fish ended up dying after a week. After they died I researched a lot and found out how to do a fishless cycle with pure ammonia. It was so much easier and faster!

    I really suggest that you consider if this is how you want to do it. I know you already have the fish and stuff, but when I found out what it does to fish when you use them for cycling, I felt really bad. I've never done it since.

    There's a very good guide on this forum on how to cycle with pure ammonia if you feel like trying it.
  4. Lindsay83

    Lindsay83Valued MemberMember

    Continue to do the water changes, unless you have a product such as Tetra Safe Start, but don't rinse the filter media as you could be damaging the bacterial colony just as it's trying to establish.
  5. Bizarro252

    Bizarro252Well Known MemberMember

    LOL sorry this just made me laugh, we were typing at the same time apparently

  6. Kiks

    KiksWell Known MemberMember

    Haha, yeah! I was just about to type something like that... Well, it's good advice!
  7. OP

    XenoMarcValued MemberMember

    Thanks for the help guys! :)
    I'd get a test kit but we have already spent quite a lot of money on the aquarium, rocks, Driftwood, plants etc already.
    When doing a water change, I add de-chlorinator and bacteria that digests ammonia and nitrites.
    So, overall, I should stop cleaning the filter too often and I should continue doing 20% water changes every other day as it doesn't slow down the cycle?
  8. NavigatorBlack

    NavigatorBlackFishlore VIPMember

    Yes. Don't clean the filter unless it slows, and even then, a rinse in (removed) tank water is all. 20% every second day is wise.
    Figure on 6 weeks before you can take your foot off the gas. No new fish, and regular water changes.
  9. Kiks

    KiksWell Known MemberMember

    I suggest you clean your filter once a month or less. Some people only clean it when it stops taking in as much water as it used to, hence making less current and surface agitation.
    Yes, continue to do the water changes. It's very difficult to advice you when it comes down to how much water should be changed, since you don't know the water parameters.
    I understand that you've already spend a lot of money on your setup - fish keeping isn't very cheap and especially not at the beginning, but right now is when you need the test kit the most and you will continue to need it as long as you keep fish.
  10. Caitlin86

    Caitlin86Well Known MemberMember

    Just wanted 2 add one more thing...wait 24 hours after dechlorinating ur water when doing water changes to add TSS or any similar product!
  11. Kiks

    KiksWell Known MemberMember

    TSS is something you only add once, isn't it?
    And what happens if you don't wait?
  12. NavigatorBlack

    NavigatorBlackFishlore VIPMember

    A lot of stores have begun to suggest bacterial supplements after every water change. TSS and its competitors were designed for one time use, for jump starting the cycle, but one time is only 6 dollars. Three times is 18, and so on. It's the sole reason I can see.
  13. Bizarro252

    Bizarro252Well Known MemberMember

    Agree, I just saw a bottle the other day of TSS and it suggests two different directions, one to start the tank and the other to maintain by adding at water change. IMO once you are cycled you should only need to add it if you disrupt the filter..a lot.. like a quick rinse? Nah, but tear down the filter for a through cleaning? yep :p

    Some sources, most notably Tetra themselves have stated you should not use any conditioners that lockup ammonia while using their product. Personally I have a very hard time believing this as it just Prime for example temporarily detoxes ammonia by converting it to ammonium, this process is reversible as it only last for 24-48 hours. BB can eat ammonium, if they couldnt then what would happen to people that do every other day water changes on something like a fry tank, always dosing prime?? They would have no BB... so I call Bull. They claim that their bacteria is housed in a 'special' form of ammonia and that things like Prime will ruin it.

    HOWEVER - I have no proof, just calling Bull, IMO you should follow the suggestions of the manufacture - I myself am cycling a tank right now, have a bottle of TSS, but am not even using it because I use prime. Instead I am using Seachem stability (their bacteria in a bottle product) and it is compatible with prime (yet another reason I call **** on Tetra - what makes their bacteria so special? And honestly I wouldnt WANT bacteria that cant deal with ammonium or prime in my filters! Again...speculation...

    So for now, if you are using Prime, and TSS+ I would suggest you stop using prime and buy Tetras conditioner, that of course they say works just fine with their stuff - as it doesnt bind ammonia, only detoxes chlorine. They say to wait 24 hours after dosing prime or something like it to add TSS, so I would use a second bottle if thats the route you wanted to go, and swap to their conditioner...

    OR get stability, and continue as normal, just with a large dose up front and maybe daily addings until you are cycled.

    Personally I would go the second route as with a fish in cycle you will want the benefits Prime offers by converting at least some toxic ammonia to ammonium.

    I really hope my rambling made sense... If not please ask questions :)

    Sources for TSS and prime issues:

    Q & A With Tetra about Tetra SafeStart

    Ammonia Instructions when Cycling with TSS+ or other Bacterial Starter