Endless Newbie Cycling questions...

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Bugeyed

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Hello all! What a great resource this is! I am in desparate need of your help. I recently got back into fish and set up my 15 gallon hexagonal tank about 6 weeks ago. I researched and let it cycle properly before I added fish. I now have two small goldfish, a calico and a black moor.

I have done 25% water changes and vacuuming 30% of the gravel every week. Except this last week when I vacuumed nearly all of the gravel, and my recent water test results scare me. Everything is well into the normal, healthy range EXCEPT Nitrites... which are WAY TOXIC. I've added some nitrite remover (can only do so every 24 hours) and did a 25% water change last night. This lowered the Nitrites, but it is still in the toxic and I'm concerned for my fish. Did I screw up the cycle by vacuuming too much gravel?

What can I do... a massive water change? Won't that cause the tank to be cycled again? Will the fish be okay if it starts cycling again? I just want to get everything back to normal ASAP so I don't hurt my little guys.

Thanks for your help!
 

Tumbleweed

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What are your numbers? Knowing this will help. Regular and offten water changes will help.
 

Isabella

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Welcome to Fish Lore

How do you clean your filter media? How often?
 
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Bugeyed

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Don't have the numbers handy (I am at work.) Since the tank is only 6 weeks old, I have changed the filter once... about two weeks ago. Other than that... I have done partial water changes routinely every week. I have tested with the test "strips" and I am now finding that they may be quite innacurate?

I suspect:

- I over-cleaned my tank and broke the cycle, because I recall the tank becoming cloudy for a few days which indicates the bacteria free-floating.

- I may be over-feeding.

So I intend to do another 50% water change tonight (no gravel cleaning) and see where that gets me. Thanks for your help! I will post numbers later this evening, but since I am using the test strips, I'm not sure how accurate they are.
 

Isabella

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If you have changed all filter media for new filter media ... you have removed all the beneficial bacteria from your filter that were supposed to keep your tank cycled. This is why your tank is cycling again.
 
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Bugeyed

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Isabella said:
If you have changed all filter media for new filter media ... you have removed all the beneficial bacteria from your filter that were supposed to keep your tank cycled. This is why your tank is cycling again.
Yes, exactly. But I am confused. If I am supposed to change the filter every 2-4 weeks but in doing so I destroy the bacteria... how can I change it without destroying the cycle?
 

Tumbleweed

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Bugeyed said:
Yes, exactly.  But I am confused.  If I am supposed to change the filter every 2-4 weeks but in doing so I destroy the bacteria... how can I change it without destroying the cycle?
Yes I was wondering the same thing, would rinsing off a new filter in some of the water you are taking out of the tank help any?
 

sasha

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Sometimes people read the instruction on the filter media packet and take it as gospel , but what it says on there is rubbish, as they only want you to buy more and more of their product, in actual fact you rarely have to change the media, you only rinse it out if it only needs it, and it is just a rinse dont squeeze too much of the gunk out as that is the good stuff the tank needs.
Hopefully other people will reply and agree so you will know that everyone does this , in fact i think a member on here said he had the same filter media in for 12 YEARS or so before he replaced "i think it was "dino" not sure though, that shows you dont have to replace them as often as the manufacturers say you do ....
 

Timesdragonfly

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I had asked the same kind of questions in an earlier post, it was suggested to me that I swish the filter media around in tank water that had been removed during a water change to get the bigger gunk off. And when you have to change the filter media, cut a section of the old filter media and put it next to the new one for a while that way you aren't loosing everything!
~Jamie
 
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Bugeyed

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Awesome responses... thanks all! Hopefully I can get everything to a safe level and keep my little guys alive.
 

Isabella

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You don't "have to" change every single filter medium every month. The manufacturers will tell you to do so, so that they can make more money off you. Get it? LOL . Depending on the type of filter you have, the sponge is what we usually never change because it contains the most of the beneficial bacteria that are supposed to keep your tank cycled. Activated carbon (or charcoal) can be changed every month if you wish to change it. As for the sponge, we only rinse it in tank water if it gets too clogged up. However, if there comes a time when a filter cartridge is so worn out that it needs to be completely replaced, here is how to do it safely, without killing your bacteria: . This is a topic by Hopesmom where she asks how to change filter media without having any mini-cycles or new cycles. Read it thoroughly. Hope that will help you.
 
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Bugeyed

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GREAT info! Thank you so much. I'm going to do a good water change (50%) tonight and will do so daily until I get my readings back to normal. The little guys don't seem to be affected yet so hopefully they're durable enough to withstand it while I get things straightened out.
 
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Bugeyed

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Okay, two hours after a 50% water change, readings are:

PH: 7.2
Alk: 100
Hardness: 110
Nitrite: 5.0 (ouch! still toxic!)
Nitrate: 20
Ammonia: 0

Before I changed, the Nitrite WAS 10.0! So I cut it by half. Remember, this is all done by the test strips... so accurancy may be slightly off. Do you suggest another 50% water change tomorrow... or even sooner?
 

Isabella

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50% water changes EVERY DAY until ammonia = 0 and nitrite = 0 ... I know that's a lot, but this is what you should do if you don't want your fish to get sick or die from the cycle. Even with all of these water changes, there is no guarantee that nothing will happen to them, as they're being exposed to ammonia and nitrite every day.
 
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Bugeyed

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Good news! 50% water changes every day has brought everything back down to normal. Fish seem no worse for the wear.

Just thought I'd share.
 

Tumbleweed

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That is good to hear.
 
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