Hello! And I must have Majorly Messed Up

  • #1
Hello, first let me do a quick intro, my name is Matt and I'm in NE Philly.

My problem is the readings I am seeing on my testing. I will say that I'm a bookworm and did an immense amount of reading before setting up but the urge took over and we put in fish.

We bought 2 zebra's 2 days after set up. I realize I majorly messed up here. It gets worse. A week later we got 2 neons and a pleco (which we wound up donating about the third week in) and then 2 weeks later we got 2 Platy's and one more neon.

The rundown:
1. The tank we bought was a 20 gallon Tetra starter kit from Petco about 6 weeks ago.
2. I tested the water almost every day since we owned the tank.
3. In the beginning I was seeing ammonia levels around 3 then dropping.
4. I started to see the Nitrites increasing. It was about a month so we changed the bio-bag in the filter.
5.! The platy's and neon we bought died within 3 days. This was our fifth week in.
6. At the same time I seen the ammonia levels go through the roof, from an avg. of 1.5 to over 5 within a couple days.
7. We've done 2 20% water changes on the 5th week and 6th.
8. The ammonia levels are still up and Nitrites have been at 0 for awhile now.

The Dillema:
Obviosly this Is this all because I was impatient and implemented fish early. I'm doing daily 10 or 20% water changes and am being **** like with the feeding. Would anyone suggest that this is all because I added fish to early or some other reasoning? I can't understand why the ammonia would shoot up like that. Should I add any of that ammonia detox stuff or anything different with the water changes? Do you think I have a bad test kit? I will say the 4 fish we purchased in the very beginning (2 zebras then the neons) are doing very, very well and look great.

Thank you very much in advance.


  • #2
The Bio-Bag in your filter should never be changed. This is where the bacteria grows, the bacteria is what cycles the tank good luck and welcome to FishLore.
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
Jmarcus, thanks for the quick reply. However, the maintenance book that came with the Whisper Filter says the bio-bag should be changed once per month? Please advise. But I see where you are going. The ammonia did start to shoot up after I changed it.
  • #4
Carbon filters should be changed once a month if you use them. Many people don't use them unless they want to take meds. out of the tank. I keep carbon filters in my tank and change monthly if only for peace of mind. After four to six weeks the carbon will stop collecting and start releasing impurities into the water. Bio-Filters on the other hand grow bacteria that remove are change these impurities into nitrAtes that are not harmful to your fish. To much nitrAte is not good but can be controlled by water changes and live plants
  • #5
Don't change your filter while your tank is still cycling.
If you must... rinse out the filter in some of the discarded tank water when you do your water changes... but enver rinse the filter out with tap since the chlorine in the tap will kill any bacteria growing.
I personally would not put anything into the water to try to lower the ammonia... just do a larger wter change.. like 50%. If the next day, the ammonias are still high, just do another large water change to keep it under check.
  • #6
its best to disregard most of what those "instruction" booklets say, exceptfor the carbon filter, the others do not need to be replaced until then no longer be held together, this is just money making scheme for the aquarium makers. If you want the best information, you've come to the right place. Since you have added fish already, I would be doing daily 50% water changes, beneficial bacteria does not accumulate in there, but rather in the filter and gravel, so changing that much water daily isn't a problem, there's no such thing as too many water changes, also you will have a to vacuum half of your gravel every week. but to try and control the ammonia, I would try a product called ammolock.
  • #7
Mattyluke ... please read at least first 2 pages of this thread: - it explains how filter media should be maintained.
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
Wow, thanks a lot for all this info. everyone. That makes a lot of sense what was said about the filter bags, especially changing it during it the cycle and the money making scheme. Isabella, I'm going to check out that thread right now.

One more question, sorry
If you are going to do 50% water changes every day, is it safe to use the Aquasafe and let it sit for 24 hours? Is that the best way for water changes? I guess I need some rough time water change tips now. My fault...

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