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First 29g 'planted', Fish-less Cycle Complete

Discussion in 'Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle' started by krohner5, Apr 10, 2018.

  1. krohner5 New Member Member

    **first fish tank; first post**

    So I just wrapped up my fish-less cycle on my 29g tank. (got it to cycle naturally in just over a week!) I put "planted" in parenthesis because all my plants are still on their way. I just have 6 marimo moss balls bouncing around in there currently.


    29 Gallon Tall
    AquaClear 50gal HOB
    Finnex Planted+ 24/7 CC LED, 30 in
    HyggeR Submersible Heater, 200W
    Treated Tap Water: Amm: 0ppm / Nitrite: 0ppm / Nitrate: 40ppm
    EcoCompleted Black, 2 20lbs bags

    QUESTION: I have 6 Peppered Cory's on the way as well as 10 RCS. I currently have a lot of decaying fish food in the bottom of my tank and my LFS recommended I start with the Cory's as cleanup. I just don't know if I should rely on them to do ALL of the cleanup or if I should vacuum a majority of it out before adding them? I just don't know when the food becomes inedible to them. I know I would not want to eat food that has been sitting around for a week.

    Any input or ideas are more than welcome. Happy to be posting instead of just creeping through the forums and borrowing all of the best ideas for personal use!

    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
  2. A. Rozhin Valued Member Member

    I would vacuum the substrate WELL before you add livestock. My cories like fresh food. I don't know if they can eat it, but I'm sure they would rather not. I leave the rotten junk to the MTS (or gravel vac). Feed some pellets to your cats when they arrive. :) That's my take on it, anyway.

  3. krohner5 New Member Member

    So I vacuumed the substrate and got a majority of the food out.I did a water test a couple hours afterward and instead of an ammonium spike like I expected from the food being stirred up, my ammonium was 0ppm but my Nitrites were over 4ppm!!! (Nitrates were 40-50ppm)

    I am freaking out slightly, as I thought my tank was cycled and ready for fish so my Cory's and RCSs arrive today in the mail. What can I do? I have read about a tank flush, but I am concerned that if I do that to remove the Nitrites so I can put the fish/shrimp into a healthy environment, I worry that my tank is not fully cycled and the flush will stall the process from completing.

    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
  4. Nataku Well Known Member Member

    Thought a week sounded way too fast for a cycle. You are atill in the middle of your cycle by the sounds of it.
    Do another large 50-70% water change, refill tank with dechlorinated water and retest about an hour after the refill. If nitrites are still above 2ppm, follow up with another 50% water change. Better to get those done before there are fish in there to upswt too much from constant water changes.
    Looks like you are switching to a fish in cycle. Just means some more work on your part. Check levels daily, if tests come back high on ammonia or nitrites do a partial water change. You will need to keep up with those happening frequently until the tank finishes cycling to prevent your fish from getting ill.
  5. krohner5 New Member Member

    Agreed, fish-in cycle it is. But unfortunately that's what I was trying to avoid from the get go.
    Everything I read said, 'be patient' and 'dont rush it'...but I jumped the gun it seems. Thought my water tests were consistent enough for the addition of fish.
    Just wanting to make sure my new fish friends don't suffer from my eagerness/naivety.
    Alrighty, massive water change once I get home to level out the toxic shtuff. Will it be OK to 'acclimate' the fish/shrimp with the newly added TREATED tank water? or should I let it cycle/filter for a few hours first?
  6. Celestialgirl Well Known Member Member

    The other thing you could do is get a second tank (or even a plastic tub) and use it for a QT in the future. You could then put your fish in there while finishing off your fishless cycle.
  7. A. Rozhin Valued Member Member

    That's too bad. I'm really sorry. Cycling can be so frustrating. The good news is that you're halfway there, and in my experience, the nitrite-spike period is not so bad -- it's almost like magic, it doesn't go down gradually so much as boom, one day the tube is completely light-blue and you're there. This is doubly true if you already have some nitrates. It's not much help but some: you can bump the temp up -- my corys don't mind 82 or so when I had to raise it for a fin infection my gourami had.

    In checking the nitrite level after water changes, I was told by the API people that I should wait at least a few hours before checking again to get an accurate reading, but others may have had different experiences with this.

    I'm sure you already know this, but if you can get some filter media from a LFS or friend with a cycled tank, it can help.
  8. Mom2some Well Known Member Member

    My suggestion would be:
    Get home, massive water change (75-80%), let sit for 2 hours retest, if Nitrite <1.0 go ahead & add fish with a full tank dose of Prime. If Nitrite >1.0, do another large water change & repeat. Do NOT open the bags the fish have been shipped in until you are adding them to the tank. It has to do with the Ammonia in the bag being much toxic once it is exposed to the air.
  9. krohner5 New Member Member

    Thank you all for the quick and helpful follow up. I will let you know how it goes tonight!
  10. krohner5 New Member Member

    Good News Thus Far: all Cory's and RCS's are doing great! Acclimation went smoothly and they seem to be doing alright as of this morning.

    I got home and did 50-60% water change; Nitrites were still at 4ppm. Did another 50-60% water change and started the acclimation with the nitrites at 1ppm. They took to the tank fine last night after a slow and steady acclimation process. Fed them a few shrimp pellets last night once they got into the tank and all the pieces were gone as of this morning. They were all swimming around/foraging too once the lights transitioned on; the shrimp are super active!

    I will check the water parameters when I get home and prepare for another water change to remove any nitrites that have built up overnight.

    My plants are due to arrive today (they were supposed to arrive with the fish and I hoped to plant the tank before introducing the fish/shrimp but there were issues with shipping), do I need to remove all of the tank inhabitants before planting? Or can I do the planting very carefully with the fish and shrimp still in the tank; probably in the middle of my water change this evening?
  11. Mom2some Well Known Member Member

    Plant around the fish during the water change would be my recommendation.

    Glad to hear they are doing well. You are going to be the king of water changes by the time this is over!
  12. A. Rozhin Valued Member Member

    I agree with Mom2some, do the water change and plant around the fish before you put new water back in, UNLESS you have tall plants, like anacharis, or a really tall sword plant. Tall plants have a tendency to come unplanted if you've got them in the ground when the level is low and they are "slumped over" from not enough water, and then you add water and the tops float up and can drag the plant with it. So, plant those after all the water goes back in. The fish will be okay in there. They will either hide or swarm over your hands to anxiously see what you're doing, but if you are aware of them they will be fine.

    Also, be prepared for your Corys to act as if you have provided them with a new playground once the water is in. Mine love plants. You're going to enjoy watching them. I put a new banana plant in my tank when I first was setting up, and they swam up and bounced from leaf to leaf. :)
  13. krohner5 New Member Member

    Got it all planted last night, but I expect due to the delay in transit that some of the plants will go through an establishing phase of not looking so hot. I am happy with my plant choices and excited to see them become established. You were right, the Corys were going crazy last night and this morning. And the shrimp are busy bustling around getting any snacks they can off the new additions.

    I will post pictures once the water clears.

    Will likely have to do another water change tonight; Nitrites were at 4ppm yesterday before my water change. No one is acting lethargic or stressed from what I can tell thus far. Been a hectic couple of days for these little guys, so I am just hoping they can finally settle in and enjoy themselves in their new home!
  14. A. Rozhin Valued Member Member

    I would do the water changes for the nitrites, and think happy thoughts. You're on your way, with all those plants -- when you finally do get the nitrite drop (and it WILL come), your plants are at the ready to handle at least some of the nitrates that will accompany that drop. Also (not an expert, but...common sense, others can correct me if I'm wrong) your plants will soak up some of the ammonia. That gives the nitrite bacteria less to eat, and so your nitrite spike might not be as severe after the water change (as I say, others can correct me if I'm wrong, but this is how it happened with me -- I did fishless but it played out like this because it was heavily planted during the cycle).

    Keep us posted! And yes, pictures required! :)
  15. krohner5 New Member Member

    So I did a water change again yesterday to get my nitrites down from 3ppm. Today my water is reading:
    ammonia- 0
    nitrite- .5

    Everything seems to be balancing out nicely, the Corys are loving life and I've noticed their colors darkening. Will have to do a bit of plant trimming today since some of the leaves took a beating during shipping/transit.

    Unfortunately I have lost a few of my shrimp. Two of them were sucked up in the filter (not all the way, just past the first attachment...this happened before my sponge-intake filters arrived. I pulled them out but they never recovered. And another I found dead on the bottom of the tank just this morning. Not sure if it's because of the initial high nitrite water they were living in?

    My water is also becoming a little more 'murky'. **it was super clear the 24-48hrs after the initial planting** Not green colored water like algae but white-ish. Its not bad and frankly its very hard to tell, but I just noticed it midday today, and I am wanting to be proactive instead of reactive. Any ideas what this could be?.. I have heard it good be a bloom of bacteria that could work itself outI turned the pump down because I heard a slower pump-rate will give the filter more time to catch the smaller particles...and because the shrimp incidents. Should I turn it back up to full capacity now that I have the pre-filter sponge?
  16. A. Rozhin Valued Member Member

    That is great nitrite reduction!! Personally, I would turn the filter up to maximum right now. The particles are one thing, but I think what you’re more concerned with is that beneficial bacteria in the bio filter. That lives mainly in your filter so the more you circulate the stronger you make that. You can deal with mechanical filtration after your levels are perfect. And it looks like you’re close! I would not worry about cloudy water. You’ve been doing a lot of water changing. That’s bound to stir up things. Congratulations! I think all your little guys are going to be OK.
  17. A. Rozhin Valued Member Member

    … And yes, in my experience if it is mechanical filtration you’re going after, slower is better. Or, if you have an HOB filter, throw in some filter fiber and it will polish your water right up.
  18. Mom2some Well Known Member Member

    The white-ish is probably new tank bacterial bloom. You just have to ride it out. Sorry about your losses.
  19. krohner5 New Member Member

    Well my tank has cleared up nicely, and my levels have all based out at 0-amm, 0-nitrite, 5ppm-nitrate for the past week. My Corys are absolutely loving themselves in the open tank. I am currently experiencing a bit of algae, but I am hoping the addition of my Otos and tweaking my light schedule will help to curb that. Sadly, I have lost all my shrimp, I am thinking it was the initial nitrite issues that I introduced them into. Hoping to try again once the plants grow up and the tank becomes more established.

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