Filter question

new2fish

Member
HI Everyone..
Here is my problem... I bought my tank set it up was told by a guy @ a mom & pop pet store to stay with the under gravel filter... well, I think I have made a mistake with that.

My nitrite levels were @ about a 3 a few days ago... I just done a water change the day before & all fish were doing fine, the next day one was inactive & not acting right @ all... so that's when I went to have the water checked. My other issue is, I  don't think the air pump I have is enough to feed the 2 UGF tower thingies (yes, I have never had a tank before  ;D)

Anyway after reading some posts here & asking around.. everyone suggests I go with an over the back water filter.... one person said, upgrade the air pump & keep the UGF , then possibly add the over the back type filter if needed... & the other said "wait till the levels are normal...  @ least a few days) & rip that UGF out & just go with the over the back filter..
Anyone have any suggestions?? the questions I have asked here before, I have got great ideas from & really appreciate the help.

I hope someone can help me out here again.

Oh, I guess I should mention... After the first water change  (let's call this day 1) I noticed the fish acting weird. Then  (day 2 )  had the test with a 3 on Nitrite...I was told to wait till the next day & do another water change. So (day 3) another partial water change. Then today (day 4) since I was going there anyway.. I took a water sample & had it checked.... I was almost a 1 on Nitrite, so definitely coming down good.

Thanks again for any input 
 

Stradius011

Member
It could be that it just finished cycling. The cycling process is when the ammonia goes up and then down. Then the nitrite goes up and down. Then the nitrate goes up. This whole process can take from 1 week to over 1 month, usually 1 month for me. I personally suggest against undergravel filters. They are esspecially bad to live plants and fish with fancy tails such as guppies and bettas.
 

sgould

Member
For my money, I would also recommend against the UGF. There are lots of good HOB options...whisper, aquaclear, bio-wheel, etc. As for the water quality, I would test pretty regularly until you are sure both ammonia and nitrite are back to 0 and staying there.
 
  • Thread Starter

new2fish

Member
Thanks guys...I don't think I wrote this as clear as I should have... Let me see if I can expand on this...  :-\
I got the tank a few weeks ago...set it up did the 1 week cycle....water tested fine... bought 3 neon tetra's.... waited about 5 days... added 2 zebra danios & 2 rosbara's & 1 ghost shrimp... a few days later, I did a water change... that's where I started explaining above calling the water change day... day 1... sorry if I have confused anyone.. just want to provide any important info. with you 
I was told All other levels were fine & just the nitrite was the only thing that was high.  So does the tank have to cycle every time there is a water change  ???

I was shown the Whisper today as a good option, but I have not had time to look @ it very closely & research it.


If I loose the UGF & go with the Whisper...any suggestions on removing the grates from under my gravel? It's going to be a pain uh?
 

COBettaCouple

Member
what testing kit are you using? it's very, very, very unusual to say the least for a tank to cycle in 1 week. did you have any gravel from an established thank to 'seed' it with? if you don't have the apI freshwater master kit, i'd recommend that if you're using strips now. what are your current ammonia, nitrite and nitrate readings and do you have any live plants?

I'd run both filters at least a couple days before taking the UGF out, just to let the new filter start getting good bacteria going on the sponge. i've never had a UGF so i'm not sure how's the best way to remove the grate, but I think the fish might be better off in a loosely (to let in a little air) covered container while you do it.
 

sgould

Member
If you have nitrite readings above zero at all, the tank is not cycled yet. The good news, to answer your question, is no...you do not need to recycle after a water change. The bacteria that keep your tank cycled live on surfaces, in gravel, and on filter media, not loose in the water. Filter media is a particularly prime place for the bacteria to colonize. Because you do not yet have an HOB with filter media to house your bacteria, I would suggest NOT disturbing the gravel overly much to remove the filter plate until after you get whatever HOB you choose installed and running for a week or two. That will allow the media on your new filter to start growing bacteria before you start ripping up the gravel and possibly losing some of what is living there.
 

armadillo

Member
Hi, New2Fish. Were you the person who bought the fish for your 3-year old son? I get confused, so many posts. If so, hope he enjoys his fishies!

So all your fish are fine (read, alive)?

If you have the slightest doubt about nitrite/ammonia/nitrate poisoning, I would use Prime water conditionner. This was recommended to me by BettaCouple and I have 3 fish' lives to thank him for that piece of advice. My tank spiked huuuugely and for days, despite lots of water changes, in ammonia first, then in nitrites. All the fish made it OK. Am now at the tail end of my nitrite spike and will continue using Prime as a normal conditioner, not just for cycling. It detoxifies ammonia/nitrites/nitrates.

P.S. I wouldn't recommend cyclign with fish, but who am I to talk? I just did it twice because of various fishie emergencies.

Good luck!
 
  • Thread Starter

new2fish

Member
HI Guys,
I am having the pet store test my water, they do it free... I can't remember the exact readings....all I know is when they explain to me how the water is & tell me the numbers I always ask them what they SHOULD be & all the numbers were within the "range" except the Nitrite. They use strips... I am not sure of the brand,.

It may have been set up a week & a half or so... Yes, I put the gravel, cleaned rocks, plants (Went with Fake) heard too may stories about the real ones)

The water was checked about 3 days before we actually bought fist & some of the numbers were high, so we waited & went back... the Numbers from the day we bought the first fish were:
Had------- Sheet Says Normal is-----
Ammonia: 0 0.0 - 0.25mg
Nitrite: 0 0.0 - 0.5mg
Nitrate: 10 0 - 40mg
PH: 7.2 6.5 - 8.5mg
Alkalinity: 200 (I think that's what it says) 80 - 300 mg
Hardness: 150 75 - 300mg
Chlorine & Chloramine: 0 0.0mg


armadillo: Yep, I am the one with the 3 yr old son =) Is there something special bout the prime water conditioner vs. others?? I use something.. I will have to go see what brand it is.

I actually lost my smallest Neon last night.. I knew he was not doing good... he was breathing really hard & had been hiding away from the others (more than usual). My so does not know & I plan on returning him for a new one (if the water levels have come down enough... since the Nitrite was 3 on Wed (I think) then not quite a 1 yesterday, I hope it has straightened out. I will have to look 4 the prime conditioner when I go.

What would cause only a Nitrite spike & everything else to be in range?
How long should a tank Cycle.. I was told for a small tank it would not take that long... most people told me a week.. I think I actually went past a week.... some even told me 5 days for such a small tank. I wanted to make sure so I waited & tried to do everything right. so I would not have lots of problems.


When I did my last water change / rock vac... I did about 1/2 the rocks or so... all kinds of little particles were floating around in the tank, could this have something to do with the loss of the one fish?

Thanks for further info on this.
 

COBettaCouple

Member
- i'd recommend getting this kit and testing your water yourself. The strips are notoriously inaccurate and can give you the craziest readings that are WAY off the mark.

your tank sounds like it could be cycling and a nitrite spike is a part of the cycle.. cycling can easily take 3-4 weeks at least, even for a small tank. unless you have biospira or have seeded the tank well from an established tank, a 5-7 day cycle is pretty much impossible. you'll want to be doing daily water changes and using the Prime conditioner while you cycle the tank. the way the neon died would indicate high ammonia and/or high nitrites. Prime removes the harmful metals from the tap water and locks ammonia & nitrites to help the water be safe for fish. It is by far the most effective conditioner and very concentrated.. just 1 drop can treat a gallon.

the particles were probably just gravel dust and I don't think a factor in the loss of the neon.
 
  • Thread Starter

new2fish

Member
Re: Prime water conditioner

Can I get it locally?? is it common, or will I have to order it? I really think I need this like..... last week :

I really don't want to loose anymore fish.

Now I am ticked off @ all the places that told me I would have a cycled tank in a week or so.... to find out now I have done everything wrong, when I was trying so hard to do it right.  :-[
Also for them telling me not to do anything but water changes, even when I asked if there was some kind of treatment to use. Jeeze.. on girl said she had 6 aquariums & had had them for years ???

Thanks again
 

armadillo

Member
HI New2Fish.

It sounds to me like Prime is very common in the US, as it was recommended to me by a lot of members and a few of them were surprised I couldn't get it as easily as them (I live in Europe). So it sounds good for you getting it if you live in the US. I would guess it's a really common product.

What differenciates Prime from the other conditionner I was using (AquaSafe) is that Prime somewhat protects the fish against nitrate/nitrite/ammonia spikes. This is therefore ideal if you've had to cycle with fish. I have had crazy amounts of nitrates/nitrites despite twice-daily water changes in one of my tanks for a while, and I was amazed my fish were still alive (it was really deadly levels). A member suggested to me that it must be because I use Prime and I put 2 and 2 together. That explanation made the most sense.

I know how you feel. You really try to give those fish the best chance and you reckon you therefore you get more success, yet you still have casualties. It can be disheartening to spend all this time and energy and have problems anyway. All I can say is after nagivating on this site a lot, asking every time I had any doubt, and getting the answers, the number of truely puzzling questions are decreasing and my fish seems to be doing great. I guess it's the initial hurdles, and you're doing great. 

This girl with the many tanks was perhaps very lucky, or her water change regime was quite frequent, or her water where she lives is not toxic in any way to the fish. I had the same remarks from my dad asking: 'Conditioning the water? Testing the water cycle? Aren't you overdoing it? We did great and we had fish for years'. I guess my dad was very well adviced by the fish store as to what fish to get during cycling, and his water was not toxic to the fish. I just know that I want to eliminate the known causes of distress so if there is a problem, I can get to the cause mroe easily. It's better for my peace of mind too.
 

COBettaCouple

Member
they lie to customers like crazy unfortunately.. prime is available at petsmart, petco and the DFS website.. probably at your LFS. If you can't find prime, amquel+ works well to help with the ammonia/nitrites/nitrates being high.
 

armadillo

Member
Your water chemistry results shows a cycled tank, but these were taken from the paper strips, so you never know. I know the home test kit is a big investment to start with, but it's a lot more reliable than paper strip results.

For future reference: if you want to cycle really quickly, get your hands on an old panty hose (easy) and some gravel and filter material from an established tank (not so easy, but far from impossible), you could really kick start your cycle. See for my experience in it. Am discovering that cycling doesn't have to be traumatic (after 2 traumatic tanks)...

Oh, and as a matter of course, I would have a second, small filter in every tank if I were you. That way, if you ever need to urgently cycle a new tank again (you may want to set up a quarantaine tank), you can grab the filter pad from that secondary filter without upsetting your main filter's bacterial balance. And the extra filtration will do keep your waste levels under control.

You're doing really well, you know. Those are classic mishaps that I had happen to me not even 3 months ago. I think it's great that you're bothering to find out to give the fish a good chance. Am sure you'll get plenty of nice fish years ahead of you. Just that difficult first hurdle. I don't know if you saw, but there are a couple of informative stickies at the top of the Freshwater beginner's section which helped me loads. I also created one of mine there to show my early mistakes.
 
  • Thread Starter

new2fish

Member
OK, Found the prime @ Petsmart... just want to make sue... I use this when I do a water change... & this replaces any dechlorinator I have been using right? Should this be what I use every time I do a water change or should I only use if there are problems?

I went & exchanged the little neon for a new on... getting him ready for the tank now... should be ready in another 5 min or so.

I also picked up the master test kit that was recommended.. I sure hope I can figure that out

I also went ahead & got the whisper filter since I was there I am either going to install it tonight or maybe I should wait till the levels are normal??
I plan on adding the whisper & leaving the UGF until thing's straighten out....

Thanks Again Guys for all the help with this.
 

COBettaCouple

Member
The prime is used on all the water that you put in the tank. you won't need any other product to treat your tap water with to make it fish safe.

The API kit is pretty straight-forward.. just follow the nitrate instructions exactly (on times given) to get the right reading. That 2nd bottle has to be shaken each time you test. Install the filter as soon as you can.
 

Old Sloppy

Member
I also went ahead & got the whisper filter since I was there I am either going to install it tonight or maybe I should wait till the levels are normal??
I plan on adding the whisper & leaving the UGF until thing's straighten out....

Thanks Again Guys for all the help with this.
Go ahead and install the wisper filter now.

It will help to speed cleaning things up.

As for a UGF I see no reason to remove it ever. It is a form of a filter, why remove any filter?

But do not remove it at least until the tank is running smoothly. when you remove it you will mess up the biological layer that grows on it.

Harry S.
 
  • Thread Starter

new2fish

Member
OK, Got it installed finally tonight, just had zero time to do it sooner... you should see all the stuff it is stirring up... is this normal?
I went with the Whisper 30 (10 -30 gal tanks) instead of the Whisper 20 (for 10 -20 gal) I have always been told one step up is better, just to be sure.

I think you make a good point Old Sloopy... but one problem is, the air pump I have was not enough power to run both tubes of the UGF... I even un hooked one side & was using the pump, we had hooked to the novelty diver.. that actually helps a little... & the one tube has a broken tab on the bottom... it's pretty steady now, because of the way I have aquascaped it.... but I think when I do my next water change, I am going to remove the filter on the left (since this is where the new Whisper is)... & leave the UGF on the right side of the tank going, hopefully that will keep a good flow going... @ least that's the plan for now... I guess the levels will tell me if I have a good balance going there. 

The fish must really like the current from the "waterfall" on the Whisper... they look like they are playing in it... well everyone except the neon's =) It seems pretty powerful though.. I hope they don't get hurt  :-\

I hope things are getting back to normal in the tank... my rasbora that was not looking so good for several days, acts like he feels better & the new (replaced neon) has buddied up with the other 2 just fine.

Actually now the Neon's look like they are joining in to see what's going on
 
  • Thread Starter

new2fish

Member
Re: Testing kit

Tested today with my new API Master kit.
Was hoping for some feedback from the results I got.


Had-------                                                 
Ammonia: 1.0                                             
Nitrite:  0.50 (maybe slightly higher, but not 1.0)...possibly 0.75?                                               
Nitrate:  10 (or not quite)                                             
PH:  7.2 (possibly a little higher, but not 7.6)   
                                   
These were tested before @ the pet store... this kit does not test them, should I be testing these??

Alkalinity   
Hardness                                         
Chlorine & Chloramine                           

I was thinking about doing a water change today so that I can use the Prime... Thinking another 5 gal change (Just found out this is a 20 gal High tank) Am I on the right track?

Thanks Again for all the help ;D
 

COBettaCouple

Member
that's a fairly high ammonia reading and a high nitrite reading. the nitrates and pH are good. I never test for alkalinity (which is the pH below 7.0, I believe), hardness or chlorine/chloramines.

yes, water changes are definitely the way to go and i'd keep testing and checking daily to see how your tank is going and what effect the water changes have.
 

armadillo

Member
Well done on getting the kit, oh fellow amateur chemist! Feels funny to be playing with vials and stuff doesn't' it?

I would do at least 50% water change and measure my water again. I would continue gradually changing more water 10L by 10L until you have ammonia close to 0; nitrites 0.5 max; nitrates 25 max.Then I would test the water again tomorrow.

Indeed, do treat the new water with Prime because ammonia is very toxic, and so are nitrites (although slightly less so). You're cycling, so it's normal that you have some, don't worry. Prime should detoxify these substances so your fish can survive this. At the moment, I personally change 30% of the water 2x per day on my cycling tank as the nitrites just keep peaking really high really quickly. It's just a question of measuring once a day, really.

So what you need to do is keep an eye out for: ammonia > 0; nitrites > 0.5; nitrates > 25. If you are above any of these numbers, then change the water until you are close to the safe numbers again.


Your ammonia is going to go up, then down, as it is replaced by nitrites. Same will happen later to your nitrites -> nitrates. When you have no nitrites at all anymore you're fully cycled. In the meantime, it's a punishing regime of frequent water changes am afraid. I konw it's a chore, but it won't last that long. Just another couple of weeks or so and you could be cycled already.

Alkalinity basically means pH, so your test kit does test it. You can also say acidity to refer to it. If your pH is above 7, your water is alkaline. If your pH is below 7, it is acidic. If it is 7, it is neutral. With 7.2, you have slightly alkaline water which is no problem. Except with more extreme pH (over 8.5 or under 6), you shouldn't worry too much about the value of the pH. What affects the fish are fluctuations in pH. So it's good that you keep an eye out for large pH fluctuations, but I definitely wouldn't test that all the time.

Chlorine and Chloramine you shouldn't worry about testing as Prime binds these if they are present in your tap water (which likely chloramine will be).

Your hardness is a useful measure in the long run, so I wouldn't worry about it now.

You are totally on the right track. Your backbreaking water changing days will be over soon, I swear! After that, it's just a question of maintaining the aquarium regularly clean (weekly?) and you'll be OK.

Nearly there!
 

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