Forgot To Cycle Cichlid Tank- Trying To Take Action

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by mayorparsnip, Apr 24, 2017.

  1. mayorparsnip

    mayorparsnipValued MemberMember

    Before anyone rages, know that it was an innocent mistake. I had owned fish as a child and was very involved in the process (water changes, catching fish, cleaning tank objects, even treating illness and raising fry). THE ONE THING that I forgot when I went to get a fish recently was the most important: the nitrogen cycle. I am well aware of how it works after reading up on it these past few days, and I think things are going to be okay BUT I do have a few questions. Before asking questions, here's my setup IMAGE INCLUDED:

    one 1.6 inch convict cichlid
    10gal tank (will be transferring the lil bub to a 20 or 30 very soon)
    1-1.5 inches of very well rinsed pebble/gravel substrate with pebbles ranging from a few cms to 1/4 inch.
    Water poured into the tank with 1 bottle of AquaSafe Plus, waited 30 minutes, then introduced one 1.2 inch convict cichlid. (Made sure it was up to temp)
    1 hang-on filter that has a sponge and a filter (the filter seems to disrupt the surface sufficiently as well as adds bubbles that rise to disrupt the surface even more, the fish seems to enjoy the current)
    1 amazon sword
    1 java fern
    1 anubias barteri
    clippings of a variety of freshwater plants given to me by an expert who knew what type of fish I had but did not tell me what the clippings were from
    **no plastic plants
    one ceramic hidey pot which it typically sleeps in

    First night was rough for it, but I didn't really expect any different. It was lying on its side throughout the night to the point where I did sort of expect it to be dead the next morning, but instead it perked right up. As of now (4 days later an 2 partial water changes later) it appears to be a very normal looking fish, examining surroundings, darting around when something moves, flaring its fins and darkening its stripes when I get close, which I assume is a good sign... but, I do not have access to an ammonia testing kit at the moment. I DO have the ability to almost constantly monitor the fish (I'm home often).

    So my questions are: How can I tell if my fish is suffering from the first signs of ammonia poisoning? The fish doesn't go to the surface and gulp and it doesn't seem tired, but I can't tell if it is breathing hard or not (already looked at a few videos of 'panting' fish). What should I do in the coming weeks to ensure the survival and comfort of the fish (should I continue partial water changes more often than I would if the tank was cycled)?

    So far today it has exhibited these behaviors:
    Swimming around, eating, moved several pebbles around, shimmied on some plant leaves, and 'played' in the filter current. So far so good, but if I continue doing what I've been doing am I going to prevent the cycle from finishing or just prolong it?

    Sorry that the questions are a little scattered. Thanks for any responses. I love the personality of the little fish so far. I think I have a female but I can't tell!

    **it was about 1.2 inches when I got the fish, now about 1.6 (this is under a week so maybe i'm a little wrong on that)

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  2. KimberlyG

    KimberlyGFishlore VIPMember

    It would be a good idea to go get the API master test kit. A fish in cycle is almost impossible without one. I would pick up Seachem Prime also. This is the number one item in our first aid kits as it binds ammonia and nitrite into a non toxic form. (My fish would be dead without it). You need to keep doing those water changes. The ammonia is going to build fast. Don't wait to see signs of ammonia poisoning, that is a rough road to come back from. The test kit and the prime would be what I would suggest for must haves in this case.
  3. Da_MOJO

    Da_MOJOValued MemberMember

  4. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    Welcome to FishLore!

    Raging at people is not allowed here, so have no fear. I kept fish on and off since I was a child. At one point I had dabbled in saltwater and learned that the saltwater tank needed to be cycled (I had never heard of cycling prior to that). Then years later when I got back into fishkeeping, it never dawned on me that a fresh water tank would require cycling. So don't feel happens.
  5. Herkimur

    HerkimurWell Known MemberMember

    Buy some Poly Filter, you don't need to put it in a filter, just cut a strip off the product and float it in your tank.

    This stuff will help absorb Ammonia so you don't have to do a WC every minute of the day and break your back schlepping buckets.
  6. OP

    mayorparsnipValued MemberMember

    Did about a 25% water change today and squirted a few mL of AquaSafe in there along with it and the fish seems slightly more active. I hope that works until I can get the API kit and an ammonia reducing product (gonna get that before the API). I won't be making this mistake again. So far she's moving pebbles around and attacking moving things so I think we're in good shape for now but like someone said it happens quickly so I'm still nervous.
  7. OP

    mayorparsnipValued MemberMember

    Sorry for posting again (not sure if anyone is even notified) but I'm trying to scrape up money for the API today.. but if ammonia is high, should I immediately use prime? Anything else I should be using (I assume I shouldn't use prime and the poly filter) so which is better?
  8. KimberlyG

    KimberlyGFishlore VIPMember

    Prime will have no effect on the poly filter. Go ahead and use it.
  9. OP

    mayorparsnipValued MemberMember

    UPDATE!! got the API master testing kit after a kind woman at Petco gave me a discount (literally the only store nearby and I felt that it was important to be quick). Ammonia isn't extremely high but definitely above .25 ppm and that's WITH the 25% water change today. Got some Prime that I'll be using shortly (although I discovered the bottle was open after purchasing, the smell was overwhelming!! I think I'm going to use it anyway because traffic is now backed up and I can't get back to the pet store for over an hour). Thank you all for the help and advice.
  10. Herkimur

    HerkimurWell Known MemberMember

    The bottle was probably not opened. That little round paper that's supposed to 'seal' the top always sticks to the lid.
    I think they designed the paper too big.
  11. purslanegarden

    purslanegardenWell Known MemberMember

    Fish keeping can get expensive. Check various places, including Amazon, for prices on items. For example, I've found that the API master test kit, my pleco's favorite algae wafers, and several medication and conditioning bottles, certain filters, are cheaper online than locally. Also, some bottles might be cheaper if bought in the larger quantity, even though the smaller quantity bottle should still last you a long time. So if you have multiple tanks (in the future) to deal with, the larger bottle might be a better way to go.

    There are expiration dates on some of these bottles, so you can check if your bottle has that, in case you are suspecting that a bad smell from the bottle might be a bad thing. At the least, you might get it exchanged for feeling safer about what you're using on your fish.
  12. KimberlyG

    KimberlyGFishlore VIPMember

    FYI, Prime stinks to high heaven! Why anyone would put their nose up to the top of the bottle is beyond me. lol
    (Okay, maybe you would do it once to see where that awful smell is coming from, but certainly not twice.)
  13. stella1979

    stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    I agree about the paper coming loose on Prime bottles. Also, it smells like death :D

    I also know what it's like to be an aspiring aquarist on a budget. I would highly recommend checking online. I know you needed that test kit right away but for the future, Amazon sells it for $20 and my Petco charges $38. I've also found that a lot of items are cheaper on the Big Al's website, often better priced than Amazon. They also have a good rewards program, I just got a few Seachem products and 2 glass thermometers for free! Well, I had to pay for shipping and I had made prior purchases that earned me the rewards dollars that I used, but still, it felt good :D
  14. Culprit

    CulpritFishlore VIPMember

    It smells like sulphur lol I always dump enough in then go run away for a few minutes to let the smell go away!
  15. OP

    mayorparsnipValued MemberMember

    I was fortunate enough to get it for 20$ but the price was over $30 without the discount I got so I was INCREDIBLY lucky. I will definitely order online from hereon out. Would you recommend online purchasing even for things like live plants? Thanks so much for the information.

    That's exactly why I did it haha! We were in the car and I had to make sure something wasn't malfunctioning with my car :emoji_joy: but not gonna lie I did it a few times after that because I love to suffer hahaha.
  16. purslanegarden

    purslanegardenWell Known MemberMember

    Plants are iffy. There are reputable dealers or companies that will sell online, including offering you replacements at no charge.. I like to see the condition of my plants before I buy them, but locally there aren't as many variety of plants, either. So when you start wanting more specific plants, you might have to get them online.
  17. OP

    mayorparsnipValued MemberMember

    ALRIGHT SO: The ammonia levels do creep up very fast (according to the API kit) so I have been adding very small amounts of Prime to the tank when the ammonia is over .25ppm (I have not let it get over .5ppm). I tested my tap water and that seems to be a partial source of the ammonia) BUT!! QUESTION! is it okay to add the prime periodically like this? Most sources say to do it with partial water changes but I don't see how that would help if the tap water is part of the ammonia issue. Since it works only for 24 hours I figured that at around 24 hours it should be safe to add a little more if the ammonia and nitrate levels have increased over .25ppm. Bad idea?? I don't want to OD my fish on Prime so what's a good set of rules as to when to add more and how much? (I have already thoroughly read the back of the bottle)
  18. stella1979

    stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    It's OK to dose Prime daily and to put it directly in the tank :)

    I don't have experience in ordering live plants or fish. However, I have seen many recommend ebay for live plants and am probably going to do it since I can't find what I want locally. I've been pricing some plants there lately and find the cost and shipping to be better than online stores that specialize in that type of thing.

    Even better, look in the buy sell trade section of this forum. I think there are some regular plant sellers, maybe @Dolfan??? I would feel much better about buying plants from a fellow fishlorian than from a stranger :) I'll be looking into that myself tonight.

    Forgot to mention - Prime is safe to use at up to 5x it's normal dosage. This would be in an emergency with higher ammonia levels than you are reporting. Anyway, I wouldn't worry too much about OD'ing your fish :D If your ammonia is 1ppm or less you'll be good dosing daily for your tank volume.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  19. Dolfan

    DolfanFishlore VIPMember

    @stella1979 thanks stella for the shout out and I would be happy to help. Although forum rules dictate that a member have 50 posts before participating in the buy/sale/trade forum. I believe the OP is a newer member, so hopefully soon enough they will be at 50. As for suggestions for water quality, you would want some easy low light/fast growing plants that eat up ammonia quickly. Hornwort, anacharis, frogbit, or even the dreaded duckweed would all help get that ammonia down.
  20. OP

    mayorparsnipValued MemberMember

    Not sure what buy/trade/sell is I'm sorry but I'm sure I'll be at 50 posts soon I love this forum and I'll be using it a lot in the years to come I'm sure. (I'll read through the rules more thoroughly after finals haha).