Headaches with nitrates and a new tank setup

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magicdan

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60gallon freshwater. Filter, heater, pump, co2 reactor, light, and thermometer all in perfect working condition.

2 kissing gouramis, 3 catfish, 4 suckerfish, 1 red tailed shark (all at 2 inches)
2 blue gouramis (3 inches)
Heavy plant life.

Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 10ppm (the tank has not yet cycled though)
pH 7-8
84 degrees Fahrenheit


I inherited this tank from a rather unknowledgeable owner. This is my first experience with a fish tank, but soon after receiving this tank I quickly learned all the wrong steps we had inadvertently taken.

Upon first setting up the tank, it was emptied, scrubbed, washed with tap water and refilled at my house. We also discarded both of the old filter cartridges and put new ones in. The water was treated, allowed to heat and circulate then we put the fish in. From the start, the water was a white milky cloud. Perhaps 3/4th of the tank's depth was visible, but I could not see to the other side. I put a friend's old filter behind one of my cartridges to hopefully kickstart the cycle. He however never did water changes and the old filter material was so soaked in nitrates it raised my tanks nitrate levels to 10-20ppm. I took out his filter after a few days and replaced one of mine since it was already so dirty. A week later the tank starts turning more green. (I'm not sure if it's a bacteria bloom or algae). I've been doing 4 water changes per week of 10-15% and careful to not over feed. It's been about two weeks and no sign of any ammonia.

Should I keep a high frequency of water changes to keep lowering the nitrate levels? or wait until ammonia has time to accumulate? I am still unsure, but doesn't a high frequency of water changes make it difficult for ammonia to accumulate?


Many thanks from a newbie,
dan
 

Shawnie

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welcome to fishlore dan
Do you have nitrates in your tap water? did you really bang that # 2 of nitrates bottle on a hard surface to mix up the crystals? what's the lot $# of your test kit? with those readings, you ARE cycled and some of these questions could help us figure how..the cloudyness could be from just not enough rinsing of new materials used, and the current readings could be from your established filter you are using with a minI cycling coming up from behind...
 
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Lucy

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Welcome to FishLore!!
You're right, water changes to keep ammonia levels down probably slow the cycle but we do them for the sake of our fish.
However, using so much used filter media makes me wonder if you were able to keep the cycle. With the amount of fish you have, surely you'd have an ammonia reading after 2 weeks if it wasn't.
If it were me, I wouldn't do water changes just yet. Keep a close eye on the readings.
If you get ammonia readings, start water changes. If your nitrates rise and nothing else, do your weekly maintenance to keep the nitrate level down.

Good luck!
 

LyndaB

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I've used filter media from other tanks to jumpstart new tanks and gotten "cycled" readings from the second day, and no spikes, so I do believe it's possible you're cycled.

As far as your treatment of the tank when you got it, looks no long-term harm was done.

And, I'm sorry, but didn't you mean to attach photos of said tank?

Where are my manners? Welcome to the Forum!!!
 
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magicdan

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Shawnie, I'm pretty confident the test kit is correct. I've done tests with a friend's kit and strips as well...they're all showing the same thing w/ the high nitrates. I tested everyday and never got any ammonia readings...but I was doing water changes almost daily when the water started clouding up even more. Which is why I'm debating between stalling water changes until ammonia starts to show or continue as if the tank is already cycled.
I tested the tap water which gives me a reading of somewhere near 2ppm nitrate. Would that be enough to stimulate enough algae growth/bacteria bloom to cloud the water green? Nitrate levels were next to none when I tested the tank water before I put the used media in. I tested water from my friends other tank and the nitrate levels were incredibly high, so the media that I got from him was soaked in nitrates...This would seem to mean now that 1 the tank is cycled and producing nitrates or 2 that the high nitrate level is leeching from my old filter into the uncycled tank.
The tank is out of direct sunlight and I leave the light on for no more than 12 hours a day. I'll be sure to get pictures of the tank, its water, and the light specifications up soon. Also, could the higher temperature be a factor? (84F)
 
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magicdan

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this was mid water change yesterday:
455.jpg
 
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It's been almost 2 days with no water changes
ammonia 0.25
nitrite 0
nitrate 5.0

is this a minI cycle? And should I start the 10% water changes a day asap or should I let the ammonia ride at 0.25-.5 until I start getting nitrite readings?
 

Shawnie

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hI dan!
yes with an ammonia reading, daily water changes are needed..and try to find some prime or amquel+ as that will detox the ammonia/nitrite phase but still keep it so the tank will cycle....as far as the green, run some fresh carbon and fresh filter floss(pillow stuffing from walmart works wonders...just make sure no perfumes or dyes) and with the daily water changes you have to do now, that green will be gone in no time....
 
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magicdan

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Just did a partial water change. I've got Prime in the tank & fresh filter floss + carbon in the filter. Many thanks to everyone for your advice during this shaky time. As I said, I am new to the fish world and excited to get on my feet.

As a quick question for my specific situation, would you guess that am I looking at more than 2 weeks for the tank to establish now? Because I am going out of town and would hate to put the burden of cycling on my brother!
 
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magicdan

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Day after my 10% water change & adding Prime to the tank

Ammonia 0
Nitrites 0
Nitrates 5


I've heard debate about Prime causing misreadings with the relative ratios of ammonia and Ammonium. Could it possibly go on the lower side and show none present though?? Or could the water change too soon have depleted too much of the ammonia content?
 

mosin360

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Isn't 84 a bit high for a temp? I know that's high for Cory catfish.
 
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magicdan

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True, the heater I inherited was too powerful... it's a 300w Top Fin. Even on the lowest setting it wasn't working right (possibly because it's a Top Fin). My house temp is 78 so I'm going to gradually cool down & then look into another heater for when it gets cooler.
 

claudicles

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I was looking at your stocking list wondering how you and the previous owner managed to avoid aggression issues with two kissing and two blue gouramI then I saw the photo! Maybe they can't see each other I hope that isn't naughty of me joking about it like that.
 
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magicdan

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Haha! The blue gouramis are a little more than twice the size of the kissing gouramis...

The kissing gouramis tend to be nice to each other but will pick on the larger blue gouramis. The blue gouramis stay to themselves but the larger one always chases the smaller one.
 
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