Fish In Water Change Question

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Nierums, Mar 31, 2019.

  1. NierumsValued MemberMember

    Hey all,
    I'm sorry if this is redundant
    Current situation - was unaware of complete nitrogen cycle, waited 2 weeks to add fish after water cleared up from bacteria bloom - then learned about nitrogen cycle. 20 gallon tank been up 4 weeks now, had fish 2 fish in for 2 weeks.

    I have been managing my ammonia with 25 - 50% water changes also treating with   and adding  
    Current papameters after 2 weeks with fish
    ph - 7.2
    Ammoinia - .25 (was 1.0 but just did a WC)
    Nitrates - 0
    Nitrites - 0

    Question - previously I was adding the tap water to my tank, and then the prime. Was this setting me back because of the chlorine in the water killing my bacteria? As in, everytime I did a WC, was I essentially starting the cycle over? My water has been cloudy since I put fish in, although my new filter has been helping with that.

    I just feel so bad for putting 2 fish in this scenario so I want to do what ever I can to keep them safe and happy while the tank cycles.

    As always, any feedback is greatly appreciated yall have been wonderful for a this beginner.

  2. mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    I think it is best to add the prime to the water before pouring it in the tank. If you are doing your water changes with a python type system you should turn off your filter, add enough prime to treat the full volume of your tank and then fill back up. The water going in the tank should mix the prime into the water enough and only then should you turn your filter back on. You don't want to pull untreated water through your filter.

    If you have chlorine or chloramines in your source water adding it before treating it could be killing off the bacteria 'specially if untreated water was being pulled through your filter media.
  3. Thor555Valued MemberMember

    The tank won't complete it's cycle in a very timely manner if you keep doing water changes to bring the ammonia to zero. Some level of ammonia is required to kick start the cycle.

    What I would do ...

    1. Raise the tank temp to around the upper limit of what the fish can stand. Bacteria grow better in a bit high temperature water.

    2. Do water changes, but keep at least 1ppm ammonia in the tank. You can detoxify that by treating with Prime. I would dose it every day but I think Seachem says it's good for 48 hours.

    3. Dose STABILITY every day.

    Hope for the best!
  4. NierumsValued MemberMember

    Great, thank you for letting me know, this was what I was worried about because I was indeed pulling the new water through the media. Thanks for the information!

    This is great, I will do that, thank you for taking the time!
  5. mattgirlFishlore VIPMember

    I do know some folks recommend letting the ammonia go up some but I can't agree with that. For the safety of the fish I wouldn't let the ammonia get up to any more than .50 and for me even that is too high.

    I was out of the fish keeping hobby for about 6 years after a move. When I set my tank back up I was starting from scratch. I went from a dry tank to fully cycled in 6 weeks doing a fish in cycle. Since the lives and health of my fish was at stake I kept the ammonia levels down to negligible levels. I kept it so low the API test couldn't pick it up. I know the ammonia was there because the tank did in fact cycle.

    With fish in there there's a steady supply of ammonia so keeping it down as low as possible will not remove all of it. There will be enough to feed and grow bacteria.

    I didn't add anything other than Prime as my water conditioner and I used a lot of it because I was doing water changes every other day and every day once the nitrites spiked. Thankfully the nitrite phase only lasted 5 days. :)
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2019
  6. Thor555Valued MemberMember

    You can keep the ammonia low ... but the cycle will take much longer. PRIME has no problem detoxifying the ammonia for at least 24 hours. A dose of that everyday, water changes to keep ammonia from climbing above 1ppm, along with stability ... I've found that's the best way to recover from an ammonia spike and if you have to cycle with fish in, I'd do it that way too.

    When I started this hobby about 30 years ago I cycled fish-in because everyone did it that way back then. I changed water almost everyday because ammonia was present in the tank. The tanks never cycled even after 5 months of trying.

    EDIT: You know, another option that might be faster is to set up another tank or container, buy a new filter ... and cycle THAT container "fish-less". Then you can do daily water changes like matt girl suggests and keep the ammonia low in your fish tank. In your "empty" tank, you can elevate the temps which will help speed up the cycle on it and also dose it with stability on a daily basis. You might even get it cycled in a week. Then you can move the newly cycled filter to your FISH tank ... and it should work.

    Come to think of it ... this may be a better idea. Everyone can use an extra filter on their tank, right?!! LOL - I have at least three on each of mine!
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2019
  7. NierumsValued MemberMember

    Thank you mattgirl! This is really helpful, I've been doing water changes like 25 - 40% every other day, but I think I was doing a disservice to the bacteria not treating the tap water prior to putting it in the tank, turned filter on, and then primed it, rookie mistake but I just got a new filter, and with it got some really good media, so I'm hoping this will jump start soon. Today was my first water change kn the new filter and I put prime in the tap water prior to adding it. Thanks for all the information, I will watch for that nitrite spike and start doing it daily! Thanks again!

    @Thor555 thank you! This is a really good idea! I have my old filter and I've been wanting to set up a better quarantine tank anyway. The old filter is pretty basic just a pad and some activated charcoal, but I don't need anything fancy for it. Thanks for showing this rookie the ropes and taking the time to explain. Have a good one!